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Develop your inner strength in a tactical choice-driven RPG inspired by Caledonia, featuring Doug Cockle, the voice of the Witcher.
Develop your inner strength in a tactical choice-driven RPG inspired by Caledonia, featuring Doug Cockle, the voice of the Witcher.
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1,435 backers pledged $65,000 to help bring this project to life.

Update #27: Final editing of the preview + what RPG rulesets inspired us

Posted by Poetic (Creator)

Hello everyone,

Here’s our July update regarding the progress of the development of Sacred Fire and a short piece by Andrej about RPG rulesets that inspired Sacred Fire.

We’re almost done coding the preview which is planned to be delivered to those of you in the Firestarter and higher tiers this summer. Our coder Blade is putting finishing touches to our narrative/RPG engine and we have done a lot of progress in finalizing the writing for the preview.


Andrej has added unique failure consequences to almost every choice. This makes the whole narrative experience even more special. There’s a different consequence when you fail to quietly pick up your weapons or when you fail to speak up in front of other people. 

In the former case, your sword may fall on the ground, make noise and somebody may notice, but definitely your anger rises and you lose your confidence.

In the latter case, nobody knows that you wanted to speak up, so nothing really happens. Although it may have a psychological consequences for you. That’s one of the areas when our psychological mechanics really shine.

Example of a basic failure when you fail to focus and your Anger and Fear increase as a consequence (placeholder art in this build).
Example of a basic failure when you fail to focus and your Anger and Fear increase as a consequence (placeholder art in this build).


Unity has recently added the possibility to use transparency in videos which is good news and it will substantially reduce the size of the Sacred Fire installation.

We’re also working on the final editing and proofreading for the preview. What’s ahead of us is also playtesting before we can send it off to Firestarter+ backers. We will have a Discord channel for you to be able to discuss things with you directly. After we collect your feedback, we’ll be able to estimate and plan the final release.

Keep your fingers crossed.

And here’s a short piece by Andrej, which was triggered by a question on an RPG forum.

What RPG rulesets inspired Sacred Fire

“The first inspiration and influence was a funny situation when I was a kid and briefly borrowed a D&D rulebook from a friend. I went through it and had to return it soon. The following day my friend told me he had burned it. He became convinced it was occult literature.



But it had the inevitable effect of me starting to create my own rulesets. As a kid I had no idea where to buy such a book.

Later I came across different systems in video games. I liked the Fallout traits and perks, but there were things I felt were missing, such as the simplicity of the alignment system in D&D and the lack of use of charisma.

One influence that stands out for me is the P&P ruleset of The Riddle of Steel, with its intricate set of detailed combat rules.

The great thing about P&P is the group of people and the GM. The bad thing about the P&P is the group of people and the GM. So another inspiration came when I wanted to do something outside the box and the GM just wouldn't go for it. Or when someone was out of character and the GM wouldn't call bullshit on it.

I was also inspired by books and movies. In fairy tales, the hero wins because he has a magic sword and a magic horse. In serious stories, the hero wins or survives with inner strength: cunning, willpower, beliefs, or hope.

Then there was a real life experience from rock climbing. Fear affects your performance in a brutal way. Yet, all the characters in the RPGs I played perform at a peak level no matter what.

I understood that the reason why P&P doesn't bring these aspects (personality, emotions, motivation, relationships…) into the ruleset is that it would bring the live session to a halt for each interaction.

So my idea was to implement all this in a cRPG. There would be no slow-down as a computer can run the numbers and determine for example how likely it is that you find the courage to speak up to a bully. And it can crank all the numbers, such as:

- you predisposition to fear,
- your history with bullying,
- your history with this character,
- their appearance,
- their renown and allies,
- the circumstances you are in,
- and who is witnessing the situation.

I really hoped someone would make such a cRPG. I remember thinking Peter Molyneaux would do it, when he first started to talk about the first Fable. Then I thought that the next Elder Scrolls would do it. It wasn’t quite what I had expected.

I used to hope that somebody would make a cRPG with more psychology in it...
I used to hope that somebody would make a cRPG with more psychology in it...

That being said, I do like the Witcher games and the Shadowrun games. They have serious focus on storytelling and characters, where the devs don't just think about WHO the characters are, but WHO YOU get to be to these characters.”


What are you favorite narrative and RPG games, that push the boundaries of storytelling and explore characters in depth?

Nakano, Andreas Trageser, and 16 more people like this update.


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    1. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      @Kamen42 Thanks for the explanation. The scenes in the preview where you have the opportunity to interpret past events actually do influence the NPCs. You're right that we don't offer to change the past events, but those scenes have a huge impact on the here and now. For example *SPOILER ALERT* the way you tell the 'how I was captured by the slavers' story, may express your love for Etain or not. Or you influence Raven by your example that when push comes to shove you rely on the gods or on yourself alone.*/SPOILER ALERT* This influences the NPCs in a dramatic way. Yes, it's not done by actually choosing what you did in the past (perhaps this would be too simple), such as 'I was a hero back then', or 'I was evil back then'. So we do it based on how you interpret the facts that happened, as perspective is everything. PS. Sorry for the late reply, I'm travelling and it's a bit difficult to respond quickly.

    2. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      @Edhel Yeah, for me it's really tough to play as somebody else (for example braver than myself or more sinister). I'm testing different story branches and making different choices, but it's more difficult than I thought.

      Also, thanks for the suggestion regarding the DLC. It's a good idea! And sorry for my late response, I've been on the road since the last week, so it's a bit more difficult to comment.

    3. Kamen42 on

      @Martin You are correct. The more I hear the more I think this is the game I have been waiting for the entire time :) But I am not sure it is clear from the way I said it. What I meant was that the scenes from the past could influence not only how I feel, but also how the other person feels about me. For example if one of the "formative" situations was something like "When you were 10, another kid lost their dog. What do you do. Help them / Ignore them / Send them the wrong way for fun". Then your answer would form not only your character, but in a small way this could also influence the other person's attitude when you meet in the main story depending on whether you helped them or not. If I remember correctly, the scenes from the past in the text preview did not do this.

      @Edhel I mean to try Divinity one day. I keep hearing a lot of praise on it's storytelling.

    4. Missing avatar

      Edhel on

      @Martin That is exactly what I wanted to know. I can't wait to see if I manage to create a character braver than myself:)
      I think it would be really nice if there was possibility to get the character stats by answering some questions in Morrowind style (or even going through some short scenes from the past). Maybe, if you are planning some later DLCs, this might be a great one - not necessary for the game but definitely enhances the experience. I remember from the text preview that there were moments when I could define some previous events when it became relevant so this feature actually is in the game in a way:)
      @Kamen If I remember right, there wasn't option to edit the past but when creating a character for Divininty: Original sin II, you could pick a background or some tags (like educated, jester...) and some NPCs would respond to you / like or dislike depending on them.

    5. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      @Edhel Let me say more about your question about anger and fear. I discussed this further with Andrej, our creative director, and he always comes up with ideas that help to clarify things. Regarding the developer's hell you mentioned, the trick is that the same situation can trigger anger in one person and fear in another (or both or none). Depending on your anger and fear resistance, anger and fear is triggered and possibly increased. And then you get penalties and bonuses (depending on the situation) from your fear and anger levels (so if you need to speak up, anger may make it easier for you, or if you need to keep your mouth shut, fear makes it easier).

    6. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      @Kamen42 Thanks for another great insight. I see what you mean and it's exactly what Sacred Fire is about. The whole game is basically character creation or to put it in a different way - character creation never stops. Almost all your choices shape your character, but also in the way you mention: there are many opportunities to reflect on your past (such as your relationship with your brother Wid, with your mother or father or whether you trust Etain or not - you can find situations like these in the text-based preview). These choices have a profound formative effect on your character. So it seems that this is very close to what you want. :)

    7. Kamen42 on

      @Martin This system was used in many games already. I usually answer what I would do to create "me" as the character instead of creating something I would like to be :D I always thought it would be cool if these questions were not some hypothetical situations but some scenes from the character's past and the choices you make would shape not only your character, but also other smaller things like relations with other characters. Basically it would create a slightly different starting points, where someone likes you, because you helped them, or someone already dislikes you for whatever reason. I have never seen a game do that. Unless it was a sequel and you could choose some important points from the previous games.

    8. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      Hi @Kamen, thanks for the encouraging comment. Regarding your question about character creation, you'll be able to modify the attributes directly but you'll also be able to choose personality and appearance traits that modify several attributes at the same time. But I really like your idea of going through a set of questions and then creating a character based on the answers.

    9. Kamen42 on

      YAY. Another update closer to getting our hands on the game :D
      Interesting response to Edhel's question. I am really looking forward to see how the character changes based on their experience :)
      What about the starting character? Are you planning to implement more than one way for character creation? For example something like the system in Morrowind or Tides of Numenera, where you are presented by a situation, you are asked what you do and your character is shaped by the responses.

    10. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      @Edhel, happy to see that you studied the gif. :) And your question is spot on! Every single choice that you make has two types of consequences. The obvious consequence (for a narrative game) is that you change the story. But almost every choice has impact on your character's stats and relationships with NPCs. There are 16 character attributes in this build, if I remember correctly, most of them are psychological. They change based on the choices you make and then they impact your choice probabilities. So if you make choices that build up your empathy, it will become easier (you'll have a higher %) to make a choice requiring empathy. And it's exactly how you described it with anger. You can actually build your anger and fear resistance. From the developers/designers/writers perspective, we've found a way how to do it efficiently, so it's not causing any troubles. Thanks again for such a great comment!

    11. Missing avatar

      Edhel on

      A curious question just came into my mind. I can see in the example picture that in that specific case of failure, there is +1 fear and +1 anger added (and I see the bars - calm, scared, motivation...). I look forward to play with this:) Will this take in consideration the character type of the player? Because different people respond in different way in the same situations. Let's say there is a discussion and another charater says something mean to me. If I play impulsive character, I would get +1 anger, however should I be more careful or hesitant, I would get -1 motivation (or something like that). The more the impulsive character is pushed and more he/she fails, the higher the chance of doing something rushed, the more the hesitant character is pushed, the more he/she is closing and lesser the chance he/she will act in the right moment. So simply, will the failure outcome or let's say "penalty" depend on previous character choices? It would be neat but I guess also developers hell:)

    12. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      Thank you @Vocarin. Your comment made me want to play those two games now. Especially Eclipse Phase looks really cool. Sometimes I wish I had a chance to play more PnP when I was younger (or now!). Thanks for sharing this and for the encouragement. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

    13. Vocarin on

      Some tabletop/PnP games that push the bar on character depth and storytelling? I can think of two. The first is Vampire: The Masquerade. Not only is one's Humanity a consideration, a philosophy even, that ties into the experience of being one of the undead, but the deep history of each of the clans is very impressive, particularly when one can act the role out. No two clans are the same, and there's a lot of opportunity for varied gameplay. The other example is Eclipse Phase, where one's emotional state is tied to stats and gameplay, how a more emotionally available character has a better modifier on charisma rolls, but combat and traumatic events can harden the character. This costs them the emotional openness, but grants them better buffers against future trauma, and can result in complete insanity/sociopathy if taken too far, so there's a balancing act between being functional for the role being played and dealing with the traumas of whatever challenges come your way. And not just combat has this effect, but being tortured, being in a car accident, seeing "magic" or coming up against an "outsider" all grind away at one's sanity. A pretty fun mechanic, I found.
      I'm looking forward to the release of this one, especially if the rest of the story follows the same great example as the first chapter. Keep up the good work!

    14. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      @Dave, Shadowrunner, thank you for the tips. So, I need to look at Expeditions: Vikings finally. I've been hearing a lot of great things about the game for quite some time. Also, thanks for the info on the D&D controversies. I didn't know it was such an issue.

    15. Dave, Shadowrunner on

      Aside from HBS' Shadowrun games, I'd say my favorite recent narrative driven CRPGs are "Expedions: Viking" and "The Age of Decadence". Expeditions: Viking has some great companions characters and decent dialogue / NPC interaction, with good amount of choice & consequence, too. Age of Decadence is another game where your choices matter a great deal and how you approach various quests depends on how you build your character. Anyway, I'd highly recommend them to any RPG fan if you haven't played them already.

    16. Dave, Shadowrunner on

      I've heard of parents destroying / confiscating D&D stuff b4 but never a player destroying their own books. In the 80's D&D was a major scapegoat In the early 2000's there was apparently a prison that banned D&D books believing they encouraged gang activity. But nowadays it seems video games get much of the blame for acts of violence.

    17. Martin // Sacred Fire RPG Collaborator on

      @Edhel, thanks for the comment and for sharing your DnD experience. So it seems that the story is more common that we thought. A backer on Indiegogo mentioned something similar happening to him as well.

      E3 was huge, you're right. It's worth a visit just to experience it, but I'm not really sure who is it tailored to. I only went there as a visitor to talk to publishers. There's not much to publicly reveal at the moment, but we've been happy with the response so far. :)

    18. Missing avatar

      Edhel on

      I could swear I have heard that story about burning DnD rulebook before:) (Holt, svět Dračího doupěte není tak velký:)
      Thank you for another update. I find the insight in the rulesets inspiration especially interesting; as long time DnD players, my friends and me came to similar ideas but we don't find it difficult to give ourselve disadvantage in such situation or even automatically fail.
      I admit I was hoping for some E3 update. It was a big event rght? Did anything interesting happen there (considering Sacred Fire, of course)?