Year-End Message from Brian, A Monstrous Menagerie
Nathan Long here. With the end of 2016 nearly upon us, I wanted to share a video from Brian Fargo where he discusses inXile's work over the last year, Bard's Tale IV included. He also has a hint of what we are planning to show you on the game shortly after the winter holidays, so please enjoy!
To whet your appetite for now, I'd also like to give you monsters you'll be facing in The Bard's Tale IV. You might recognize a few of these faces from media we've shown before or brief mentions in earlier updates, but this time we're going to go a bit deeper.
Just as we've crafted the story of The Bard's Tale IV by combining the lore of the first three Bard's Tale games with the legends and folktales of Scotland, so have we taken from those sources for the harrowing host of creatures and characters you'll face when you enter the land of Caith. What follows is just a sampling.
Bard's Tale Monsters
We haven't kept all of the monsters from the first three Bard's Tale games. There were a lot - A LOT - and to be honest, some were a shade on the goofy side, but we're incorporating the coolest and most iconic into The Bard's Tale IV. And there is none more iconic than our first contender...
In the original games Berserkers were famed as much for their numbers as their battle rage. You never encountered just one. In The Bard's Tale IV, berserkers are worshipers of Vidlsvin the Boar, the Einarr god of War. While the rest of the Einarr people are content to be fishers, farmers, shepherds, and good neighbors to their Baedish and Fichti cousins on the mainland of Caith, the Berserkers crave a bolder, bloodier life. Whipped up to a frothing fury by the priests of their cult, they seek to bring back the ancient Einarr traditions of raiding, pillaging, and slaughter, and thus restore the lost glory of the Jarls of the Stanish Isles.
Dragons in the first three Bard's Tale games came in many colors - blue, green, copper, white, etc. - and there will be quite a variety in the Bard's Tale IV as well.
Dragons are originally natives of the realm of the Dwarfs, and one of the reasons that dwarfs build underground. (Castle walls aren't much use when a dragon can drop right into the courtyard, are they?) Unfortunately, a few of these monsters escaped into Midgard, the human realm, during Ragnarok, the war of the gods, and they and their offspring have been menacing humankind ever since.
The dragons of Caith are not, however, sentient beings. They're just the alpha-predators of all alpha-predators. Fire-breathing, mountain-dwelling stealers of cattle, killers of men, and wreckers of village, town, and castle. They fear nothing, and vigorously defend their territory and their kills. Worse, they are not immune to corruption, and their simple animal minds can be taken over by practitioners of dark magic and made into living weapons. That is when you really need to fear them.
Another nasty and numerous enemy in the three original Bard's Tale games was the skeleton. In The Bard's Tale IV, skeletons are the servants of necromancers, summoned to fight and die to protect their masters. They are merciless, relentless enemies who feel no pain and know no fear, and worse, if you see a skeleton, you know a necromancer isn't very far away.
Scottish monsters have a grotesque, nightmarish quality about them unique to the land. Maybe it's got something to do with whisky being Scotland's national drink, or sheep intestines its national dish. Whatever it is, you will not find a more twisted, bizarre collection of creepy-crawlies in Western mythology.
Of course, The Bard's Tale IV versions of these horrors are not exact translations of their Scottish kin. The artists have re-interpreted them to fit the tone of the game, and we writers have adapted their lore so that it weaves smoothly into the world of Caith and Skara Brae.
There are actually few mentions of the Fachan in old Scottish lore, save one tale where Murachadh MacBrian, the King of Ireland, won a footrace against one of them, and a suggestion that they might have come from muddled tales of druids standing on one foot while they cast spells. In all the tales, however, they are described as fierce creatures having one leg, one arm, one eye, and a stiff tuft of hair sticking up from their ugly heads.
Our Fachan are twisted monsters of corruption and darkness, the result of a botched summoning by the Fichti outcasts known as the Siambra Du. No one knows how their numbers have multiplied since that first malignant mistake (perhaps by regeneration from severed limbs?) but now Fachan are seen all over Caith, and populate the hellish realm of Malefia too, from whence evil conjurers can call them forth to fight for them in battle.
In the traditional tales, Red Caps are short, wiry old men with sharp teeth and hands like claws, who wear caps soaked in the blood of their victims, and who enjoy killing people with pikes. They are also supposed to be so fast that you can't outrun one. One tale has an evil lord summoning one and making a pact with it to protect him from his people. Naturally, the Redcap killed on the lord when he violated the terms of the pact, then turned his body over to his subjects. That's the way things go in folk tales.
Our artists have taken some liberties with the traditional conception of the Red Cap, making is more of a monster and less of a man, but it still has its red cap, and you still can't outrun it, no matter how hard you try. In Caith, the Red Cap is a demon of Malefia, and is one of the swiftest, most deadly creatures a conjurer can summon.
The legend of the Ghilli Dhu is much more recent than the other Scottish tales we've plundered, and may have some basis in an actual incident. In the 1800s, a young girl got lost in the woods and was cared for and returned to her village by a shaggy person who might have been a hermit. Out of this grew the idea of the Ghilli Dhu as a benevolent forest spirit, wild of aspect, but gentle in manner, a caretaker of the forest.
In The Bard's Tale IV, the Ghilli Dhu are exactly that, gentle giants who watch over the forest and those who travel through it. Unfortunately, some Ghilli Dhu have been corrupted by the Siambra Du outcasts, and are now the opposite of everything they once were. Now they spread corruption and death, and attack all who enter the forest, and shall continue to do so until the curse that poisons them is lifted.
Also known as Blemmyes, Anthropophagie are not as particularly Scottish as the other monsters on this list, but we liked them too much not to use them. They come from medieval books such as the Otia Imperialia, a "book of wonders" that presented garbled translations of earlier works about far off places and peoples. The Anthropophagie were said to be giant headless cannibals from Syria whose faces were in their chests.
For The Bard's Tale IV, we have made them denizens of Malefia as well - monsters out of your worst nightmares who can be summoned to fight against you, and our artists have really emphasized their hellish aspects, with not just their mouths displaced, but hands, teeth, and eyes. Horrifying.
So, there you are, a broad and bloody bestiary of brutal bogies for you to battle - and just a sampling of the monsters you will find and fight in The Bard's Tale IV.
Until next time, happy adventuring!