Win the throne through intrigue or force in a procedural storytelling RPG with roguelike step-based combat for PC, Mac and Linux.
What a ride it's been! I'm forever grateful for all the support you've shown this campaign. We didn't hit our funding goal, but there's a lot of positives I can draw from the campaign.
I'll do a fuller debrief on an update, but suffice to say if you'd like to stay in touch with the future of Ealdorlight, sign up to our mailing list here:
The combat demo is still available for download for Windows 64-bit:
There's lots more about it, including a breakdown of the combat mechanics on the announcement update.
Ealdorlight is a new kind of RPG which merges procedural generation of history, a realistic damage model and "step-based" Roguelike combat.
It combines elements of Mount and Blade and Dwarf Fortress: Adventure mode gameplay with a compelling story that guides and gives focus to the player.
The game has a realistic damage system that models bones, limbs, muscles and organs. It also procedurally generates a new kingdom history, society and people every game. Each time you play you'll meet different characters with different backstories.
The game is set in a medieval kingdom where magic is rare and mysterious. You discover at the beginning of the game that you were found lost as a small child, and the identity of your real family is unknown.
Soon after, you meet the Ealdorlight, a legendary supernatural being not seen for centuries, who tells of darkness in the kingdom and invites you to take the King's place.
You must leave your adopted home and travel the land, gaining connections, title and influence in order to discover your real family, and to win the throne: through honour, intrigue, or force.
Ealdorlight builds on the tech from my previous game Sol Trader, which was successfully kickstarted in 2015, and my years of industry experience working on AAA titles such as Republic: The Revolution and Evil Genius. I'm very excited to be back on Kickstarter after the hugely positive response last time round!
You start by generating a character and make all your significant life choices from the age of three to twenty. The world generation will continue to run as you do so, generating all the other game characters alongside you. This allows your character to grow up in the world with everyone else, making friends, having adventures and experiencing joy, loss and pain.
You'll also get to choose your appearance after you generate your character, which will directly affect the appearance of your real parents and family.
Once you discover your true past, you'll start by travelling between villages and towns on the edge of a randomised kingdom map.
You might craft simple items and farm crops, selling them at the market, all the time asking for information about your family from tinkers and travellers passing through.
You can take on quests from the townsfolk, and be rewarded with reputation, gold, and ancient items. Alternatively, you can steal money or items from them.
Work for someone with the right contacts, and you might also gain introductions to more powerful characters.
Impress the right people, and be granted lands and titles as you get ever closer to the King.
You can recruit characters with different skills, abilities and contacts to aid you in your struggle.
Along the way you may discover who you are and where you came from, and why you cannot remember your past.
In the end-game, you’ll earn access to the court of the current King, and work out how to take his place.
You might win over the ruling nobles through tales of your great deeds and your strength of character.
You might cause a scandal which causes the court to lose faith in the the King - he might have one or two skeletons in the closet which you could discover and expose.
If he refuses to step down, you can hatch a plot to arrange the King's untimely death, with you lined up to take his place.
If all else fails, you can storm the castle and take the throne through force in a bloody military coup.
You might use a combination of these methods to take the throne: but how do you stay true to your character in the process?
Ealdorlight combat is inspired by the strategy/action mix of classic Roguelikes of old. Instead of using hit points, the game uses realistic damage, modelling bones, skin, muscle, hearts, brains and limbs.
When a combat situation arises, your location gains a hex grid and characters move in step - when you take an action every other character then moves. This allows you to think about your next move, but also means that your enemies don't get too much of a chance to act before it's your turn again.
Losing a fight often isn’t fatal: your character might be permanently maimed, captured, or both. You may then get ransomed quickly by the local mayor (who will then consider you in their debt) or escape several in-game months later.
Each new game of Ealdorlight creates a randomised hex-grid world and generates several hundred years of a kingdom’s history and people, inspired by the legends creation in Dwarf Fortress. There is a fixed starting point in which the great legends and characters of the past lived and died. The most recent few centuries are randomly generated every new game, ensuring that every character you meet has a different story and family.
Before the start of the game, rulers rise and fall, settlements are founded and spread, and are attacked or abandoned. Roads are built, crops are planted and wars are fought. Peasants, nobles, heroes and villains are born, live and die, creating legends and leaving ancient weapons and armour behind for you to find.
This generation leaves you starting the game with a whole kingdom of characters and relationships to explore and exploit. Your character, and every person you meet has an entire lineage and family tree - from a mighty duke to a lowly farmer and everyone in between.
Ealdorlight abstracts long distance travel on a hex based world map. You must manage your food and supplies when travelling long distances. The game takes you to a 3D view of your character when you visit a town, village, dungeon or other interesting location.
Certain quests will take you deep into forests or into caves in the mountains. Here you will find bandits and vagabonds, outcasts and the mad and sick. These places have sometimes been touched by darkness in unexpected and strange ways, and deeper places contains wilder and stranger sights. Perhaps you might even catch another glimpse of the Ealdorlight…
In Ealdorlight, identity is power. You will in time discover your real family, and what happened to you in their past. This is the key to understanding your own identity and unlocking your true potential - until you know who you are, your skill advancement will be limited.
Knowing the secret history of other characters gives you influence over them. You must win their trust or blackmail them to advance your interests, gaining introductions to more powerful characters, with whom you can repeat the process.
You will take those who think highly of you with you on your travels, and have a chance to hire mercenaries and to lead small bands of soldiers into battle. Gift them your best equipment to win their undying favour and loyalty. Discover your allies' backstories and who they truly are to help you to lead them to the utmost effectiveness. All this will aid you in your mission to confront the King.
You will earn money to buy more equipment, and obtain ancient items through friendly or forceful means. Learn the history of your weapons and armour to unlock their true potential, and through your own deeds, for good or evil, you can start to create a legend of your own. Each item will have its own collection of quests you can undertake to discover its unique abilities.
Each quest built into the game has a set of criteria before it’s applied to the world. If the quest matches a character, it will be available to the player. Therefore random characters in different games offer interesting and varied quests to the player - although the core aim to win the throne stays the same, the route to get there is always different. Some quests unlock other quests, and the sheer number of quests available means that there’s always a new and interesting path that can be taken through the game.
Some of the planned quests include:
- Retrieve a precious item of jewellery stolen from bandits
- Present a letter of complaint to the town mayor
- Fetch extra barrels of ale from the next village for a party
- Find a lost cow that’s strayed into the forest
- Deliver an urgent message to the local baron
- Find out who forged your suit of armour, and what their biggest secret was
- Discover if the mayor’s wife is having an affair
- Rescue a child kidnapped by an estranged husband
- Avenge the death of your real father
- Teach a noble's errant son the basics of swordplay
- Explore an abandoned village for the tell-tale signs of darkness
- Find a long lost centuries old amulet forged by your wife's great grandfather
- Steal a necklace for a gang of thieves
- Discover the details of a great battle your sword was used in
- Play a song on your lute to keep the king’s daughter happy
- Lead a troop of soldiers to burn a rebellious town
The true story begins in the long ago, with heroes of great renown casting long shadows on these shallower deeds of merely twenty years gone. You might know of the fires of the Reckoning; the tragedy of the King of Talos; of Necrilith and her winged armies black against the sky, turning day to night. At the fireside you may even have heard whispers of stranger things, and even perhaps the Aglaeca, though most known better than to tell those stories.
These early rumours of the Ealdorlight I have no right to speak of and only a little knowledge. No; we must be content to hear my small part of the larger whole, which began on a cold evening some years past, near the end of Ostär but before winter had taken a firm hold. It was after the fires of Woodhaven had been lit, and the villagers had retreated into their homes before the gathering night, that the story began with my father, a much delayed conversation, and with the truth.
I remember the fog thick outside the window, clinging to the ground, as my father’s words hung in the air between us. I remember the silence in the room after his confession. I remember the fire crackling in the grate, and the iron kettle steaming above it. I remember his kind face, and his dark eyes looking sad as they watched me intently. I remember the tears on my mother’s face.
My father had chosen this night, the day after my twentieth birthday, to tell my true story. I was not born into this house. I was found by my mother seventeen summers prior, wandering in rags in the dust of the village street. My words had been strange and unformed, and it was guessed that I had travelled a great distance, but no trace of where I had come from or who brought me here could be found. My father had agreed to take me in, being without children at the time, but my real family, parentage and even my true age remain a mystery.
I do not know what came upon me to walk out of the house, against all good sense. I barely heard my mother’s sobs upon the doorstep, as she implored me to stay and talk. The cold night clung to my heart as I found myself amongst the first trees of the Havenfall, a mile from my home: the home I now had no right to, a guest of my parents’ charity. I wandered forward into the darkness of the forest with no plan, save to understand and order my thoughts.
It was then that I saw it: a light between the trees, far off, gliding through the forest. The darkness of the wood surrounded it, yet could not touch it, and even the trees seemed to move aside to let it pass. As it reached a clearing I realised the light had the form of a figure, almost of a man, but fleeting and ever moving. It stopped for a moment, then changed direction and began to move towards me. My first thought was to run, but I could not seem to move my feet. With a sudden jolt, I recalled tales of missing men and women who emerged from the forests centuries ago, without ever speaking of what they'd seen, save to whisper one word.
As it approached, the form of the light began to alter. Swirls of patterns and symbols appeared and vanished across its surface. I felt my heart turn within my chest, as if it was being somehow considered. After a moment, something within me changed. My limbs felt stronger, with the dull aching gone. My lungs and chest felt larger. Distant sounds from the forest flooded into my mind. Then the light spoke. I heard no sound, yet I could feel the words within me, imprinting a message onto my soul in swirls of gold.
That was the moment when I acquired two unshakeable beliefs. Even now, days later, I cannot seem to shift them from my waking thoughts.
That I must find my real home, and that I must save it.
Chris Parsons started his professional video games career as a AAA programmer at Elixir Studios for four years. After working as a developer on Republic: the Revolution and Evil Genius, Chris founded his own software development agency, before returning to games and releasing Sol Trader as a solo indie title in 2016.
Here's the full team that have worked on Ealdorlight so far:
Here's a table showing exactly which rewards you get for your pledge. Note that all backer rewards for in-game content are cosmetic only and do not affect core gameplay (no "day zero DLC").
(All backer-provided content for the finished game is subject to approval.)
Exclusive Ealdorlight T-Shirt: In partnership with the fine folks at Shirt Monkey, we're very excited to offer a Gildan Softstyle Ringspun T-Shirt, emblazoned with one painter's impression of the Ealdorlight gathered from scant eyewitness reports.
This shirt is available in sizes S - 3XL. It's an exclusive Kickstarter reward and will not be generally available after the campaign.
Numbered DVD Boxset & Manual: We're very excited to be offering a strictly limited edition DVD boxset of the game, soundtrack and printed manual!
These boxsets will be cello-wrapped with individually numbered discs, complete with Game Disc and Official Soundtrack and a printed manual insert. Numbering will be in backer order - back early to receive a lower number!
We have some incredibly exciting ideas for new game features and in-game items we'd love to see made a reality. Let's get these backer achievements unlocked to see how far we can take the project together!
Ealdorlight leads: can you help us find the Ealdorlight? He's known to only appear in the most remote and desolate of places. Share a photo on social media you've taken of a beautiful yet desolate place, and link back to the project to help unlock this achievement.
Ealdorlight cakes: share photos of your celebration of the Ealdorlight's return through an Ealdorlight-themed cake, linking back to the project. Bonus points for medieval recipes!
Ealdorlight fan art: share a photo of your original Ealdorlight fan art, linking back to the project, to help unlock this achievement.
Ealdorlight cosplay: dress up as the Ealdorlight or a medieval character and share your photo on social media, with a link back to the project to help unlock this achievement.
The Ballad of the Ealdorlight: compose a verse for the Ealdorlight ballad: a wistful retelling at the tales of the Ealdorlight from long ago. Use the same style as "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner". Share on social media with a link back to the project to hep unlock this achievement!
High resolution wallpapers: These are beatiful desktop wallpapers with offical concept art, individually numbered to reflect backers' personal involvement in the campaign. Numbering will be in backer order - back early to receive a lower number!
Full moddability: Hit this goal and I'll put the extra effort in to ensure that as much of the underlying data behind the game is as exposed as possible.
I'm right at the beginning of making this game, and I want to make sure that the game I want to make is also the game that you want me to make. A Kickstarter campaign is a great way to get that kind of feedback.
Games like this cost money to make well. I'm under no illusion that I can do everything myself on this project. I’ve already got a composer and several artists on the team, and need to continue to build a great group of professionals to make this game the best it can be.
I’m asking for £40,000, which is just under a third of the budget of £125,000 I need to do this game justice. That's the smallest amount for which I'd consider the project viable to proceed with further.
I’m currently planning on financing the rest of the cost through grants, contract work and a publisher deal. However, the better the campaign goes, the more I can focus on making the game amazing, rather than being distracted raising money.
I believe in Ealdorlight: I’ve already put money into it and I want it to be made. Please partner with me and help the game achieve its potential!
Risks and challenges
Every video game project carries inherent design and production risks. The Kickstarter campaign represents about a third of the budget for the game. I'm planning on funding the rest from part-time consultancy work, grants, and a publisher deal. As I've said, the better the campaign goes, the more I can focus on making the game amazing, rather than being distracted raising money.
I’ve spent my career building software teams to get projects done. I've experienced dodging burnout, putting a team together, leading it, and completing a project. I’ve already completed a successful Kickstarter, and have a finished game on Steam.
By stating early 2019 as my release window, I've built in several months of extra time into the schedule to polish and build the game. There's a small chance that the project might be delayed further than this, especially if raising the remaining funds takes longer than expected. I shall be upfront and clear about any and all delays or challenges with my backers, as I was with Sol Trader's campaign.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)