‘Skald: Against the Black Priory’ is an old-school roleplaying game that combines modern design and a fully realised narrative with authentic 8-bit looks and charms.
Delve into a dark fantasy world, full of tragic heroes, violent deaths and Lovecraftian, cosmic horror. Explore an engaging, branching story mixed with rich exploration and crunchy, tactical, turn-based combat that will seem familiar yet innovative to RPG fans, old and new.
The game is currently in development and but coming soon. Skald is being published by Raw Fury.
Check out the store-page today and feel free to wishlist and play the free demo:
That special time of year is descending upon us and uncle Andy’s coming in hot with red cheeks and smelling vaguely of Christmas schnaps. He’s also bringing gifts!
By the time you’re reading this, we should have updated the demo online. This is a pretty chonky update that more then doubles the amount of content. It includes a bunch of never before seen areas and narrative content as well as a new recruitable NPC.
It also adds in a lot of new features, like the option to build your own character. We only have a handful of the classes, feats, portraits and backgrounds available yet but this still adds a lot of variety so go nuts!
Needless to say, we’ll be adding a ton more of everything in the final product so no need to worry.
The Quest for the Santa Fury
Adventurers and treasure hunters have been searching for her ever since. None have succeeded. Lately however, a rumor has begun to spread in dockside taverns and brothels:
The Santa Fury has been located. The rush to recover her is on. Will you partake?
Yes we hid an entire ship in the latest demo and you get to go on a real treasure hunt FOR REAL TREASURE!
How to enter
Download the demo and start playing. You’ll soon enough find someone who’ll tell you the legend of the Santa Fury and you’ll be off!
Once you find the treasure and see the phrase “amorphous shape of eyes, mouths and tentacles” take a screenshot.
Amble over to the Skald Discord and DM the screenshot to our lovely community person, Fiona (Discord name “Feeona#0001″) . Do NOT post the screenshot in one of the public channels.
Contest is open until January 9th and once it closes we’ll draw five winners who’ll receive a free key to a game of their choice from the Raw Fury catalogue!
Happy Holidays to you all
I’ll be lurking a bit and seeing how the contest is going but I’ll also try to take a few days off. In other words, I’ll see you all on the other side of the year in what will surely be the year of Skald!
I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to pursue my passion and I hope this is a project that will bring joy into people’s lives for years to come. Be kind to each other and please be mindful of those who find the holidays difficult. A kind word or gesture might go a long way.
What remains is to wish you all a very happy holidays and good luck on the hunt for the Santa Fury.
I try to get one update out per month and this one was slated for November but the weeks are just flying by. You’ll have to forgive me and rest assured the time not spent writing this was well spent elsewhere!
If you’re reading this and somehow don’t know what the game is about yet, check out the Steam page and demo before reading on:
We’re doing a major update to the demo around the 20th of December as part of Raw Fury’s Rawcember promotions.
This means a bunch of new demo content including a character creator, a new recruitable NPC, several new map areas and… *drum roll*… a special Rawcember contest:
The Hunt for The Santa Fury
Uncover cryptic clues and mysterious leads as you embark on a quest for the mysterious missing vessel the “Santa Fury”.
If you uncover the secret at the end of the puzzle, you are eligible to enter into the Skald Rawcember lottery and compete for three Steam gift cards!
We’ll be dropping another devlog update when the demo goes live and you’ll find all the details in there!
In preparation for the upcoming Rawcember demo I’ve been doing a lot of work on the character creator. It was noticeably absent in the latest demo builds but it’s coming home for Christmas.
Even though only a few of the character options (classes and backgrounds) are playable at the moment, we’ll be showing them off in the demo to at least give you an impression of what we’re aiming for in the final game!
Classed in Skald are each tied to one of five archetypes which, in turn, are tied to on of the five primary attributes. Behind the curtain, each archetype conforms somewhat to the classic tank / DPS / support trinity
Officer, Veteran, Armsmaster
A resilient combat workhorse and tank.
Thief, Duelist, Assassin
Uses the backstab ability to deal large amounts of damage. Also brings important adventuring skills to the party (traps and locks).
Battle Magos, Inquisitor, Guild Magos
Ranged damage dealers and crowd controllers.
Skald, Ranger, Augur
Varied support class that bring a variation of support spellcasting and important adventuring skills to the party.
Champion, Hierophant, Hospitaller
Healers and buffers.
Note that the archetype role is a rough guideline. The different classes may vary greatly in how they actually play. I’ll say more about the individual classes as we go so stay posted for this in the upcoming devlogs.
Backgrounds are much lighter than classes and help flesh out the character in the context of the world. They will add bonuses to skills and may affect starting condition (such as starting gold and equipment). I also intend to use these to provide world interactivity as certain NPCs may react to your background in dialogue etc.
As for attributes you’ll of course be able to edit these as well in the character creator. I’m doing my best to keep the rules as transparent as possible and visualizing the interrelationship between the attributes helps a bit. Note how updating a primary attribute causes the rest of the sheet to update etc.
Some players might be a bit off-put by the wall of numbers but we’ll try to add options for them as well (maybe an “auto complete” function?).
In general however, I think RPG fans enjoy a bit of rules crunch and I intend to deliver that.
Finally, here is a peek at the character editor. Nothing revolutionary here but I am proud of how modular the character models are. You can pretty much edit any aspect of them and this carries over to any outfit you might equip etc. It’s a small thing, but I think customization is a pretty big deal to a lot of players.
Be sure to check out the updated demo as it drops December 20th! I’m excited to see it any of you manage to learn the fate of the Santa Fury!
Hey everyone and happy spooky season! I for one love this time of year and I couldn’t help myself from sharing some love with the Skald community!
Halloween Update for Demo
There’s now a new area to the demo for you to explore. It even has a creepy little Halloween-encounter in it! And I promise: It’s still very much Skald-themed.
Download and play the new Halloween-demo here:
We’ll be expanding this area quite a bit further in the time to come as we try out and test “new” features (more on this below) so keep checking in.
Mac demo is finally live on Steam
This is criminally overdue, but it’s finally here: The Skald Mac demo! To all my awesome Mac fans, I’m so sorry for the wait and hope this makes it up to you!
Once again, check out the demo here:
Some “New” Features
The new area that we’ve added to the demo will be used as a little sandbox for us to add in all the secondary mechanics that need to be (re)implemented. For now we’ve added in trading and leveling up, and next on the list is the character builder and camping mechanics.
Quite a bit of dev-time the last few weeks have gone into redrawing tilesets for some of the biomes that feature in the new demo content.
Caves are a staple of any self-respecting CRPG:
… and this part of the game features a lot of costal areas so costal cliffs and shore lines are a must as well:
I’ve done some work on making the submersion into water look all nice like but the GIF above has too low FPS to do it justice. You’ll just have to see it yourself in the demo.
We’re spending the next three weeks fixing bugs and reacting to feedback as well as increasing the size of the current build to be as big (or bigger) than the prologue.
Some of this might be featured in the demo (though we might keep it shorter than the old prologue) and all of the content will of course be available to testers.
Still waiting for your tester’s key? It’s coming once I get Halloween out of the way.
Keep playing the game and as always feel free to reach out to me at any time. Note however: The last weeks have been insanely busy and I’m behind on all my social media. I 100% indend to catch up though so please just be patient with me.
Please note this is NOT the prologue page. In fact, as of next week, the prologue will be unavailable going forwards as we phase it out for the new and updated demo.
As for scope, the build you’ll play on Monday, is much shorter than the current prologue. It should take you about 20 minutes to finish and it recycles quite a bit of dialogue content.
However, as Nextfest progresses, we will be adding content to it so be sure to stay posted and follow our development as the demo grows.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Raw Fury head honcho Jonas Antonsson last time I was in Stockholm. We had an awesome talk about all things fantasy and RPG. Check it out:
I just thought I’d give a short update on this as well! We’ve invited a small subset of the community to start testing builds and I fully intend to get keys distributed to all the other testers in the coming weeks. I’ve just been so swamped with demo development that it has had to wait.
However, if you backed the game at the Freeman level or up, your key IS coming!
All the following updates are featured in the new demo.
Inventory system has gotten a huge update where I converted it to the new UI system. It’s far from done but it’s still a huge update! It looks a bit noisy, but I promise it plays well and feels snappy and responsive.
I’m also going to do more tooltip stuff where you can hover over stats on the different character sheets for explanations etc but didn’t have time to do that as fully as I wanted for the demo so you’ll have to wait a bit to see that feature in action.
Yup! I put crafting in the game! For now you can cook stuff and there are just four recipes. The system of course still needs polish as well but it’s technically sound and I love it.
I’m going to delve deeper into crafting and consumables in an upcoming devlog when I’m less sleep deprived. Stay posted!
Stealth was very wonky in the prologue. Who knows how it even worked! I’ve updated it now to a more active system, where you can choose to enter “Stealth Mode” Your model then goes transparent and your see a stealth meter. As you move around the meter drains. Having a high stealth skill, wearing light armor, sticking to shadows etc, all influences how fast your stealth meter drains.
All in all it works really well for all it’s simplicity and I’m pumped to see the hijinx it will lead to in the final game!
In short: Play the demo on Monday! Keep checking in as we add more content!
I’m exhausted now – this is me looking for a bottle of wine to knock me out!
It’s time for a new update already. I get to nerd out hard in this one, so let’s goooooo!
We’re getting pretty close to sending out a round of builds to our testers to get some more eyes on the upcoming demo!
WHEN: Within the next week!
WHAT: The builds we’ll be sending out will be VERY short (about 5 mins of gameplay). It’s critical that we get a first round of testing in to see how the project works on different setups. More info on what to look for will follow as the test builds get sent out.
WHERE: We are moving testing to Steam (from itch.io). This means you’ll need a Steam account to continue as a tester at this point.
WHO: Steam beta keys will be sent out to crowdfunding backers who serve as our primary testers. We’ll start by sending out keys to a small subset of testers to begin with just to see if this is a good workflow (sending out keys takes time and I don’t want to send out 500 keys before realizing something is wrong).
As I mentioned in my previous post, we have quite a few fans who are subscribing to our Prologue Steam page instead of the main game page. Our intention is to move all of our Steam activity to the main game page and we’ll only be publishing updates there from now on. We’ll still nudge the Prologue followers when we post stuff but be sure to make the swap if you’re following the Prologue instead of the main game.
The same goes for wishlisting: Be sure to wishlist the main game – NOT the Prologue!
As I’ve talked about before, a big emphasis for this period of development has been to add interactivity to the game world. Allowing players to interact with objects encourages exploration.
I needed a UI feature for interacting with objects that was different from the dialogue UI that I’ve used as a catch all so far. The solution was a pop-up box.
They are super easy to work with and flexible enough to offer anything from an interface for interacting with objects to adding more fourth-wall breaking stuff such as giving prompts (“Are you sure you want to attack this friendly NPC?”
I’ve also used them to help make skill-tests more transparent and interesting:
I personally think the dynamically animated dice are a cool touch. It adds a bit of a tactile feeling and ties the game closer to its tabletop roots. Here we see an early draft of interacting with locked doors:
And don’t worry: I’ll be super careful to not make this take too much space. It’s reserved for when you actively use your characters skills to interact with the world and the reason I like this system is that it makes it more explicit what your skills actually do in the game.
Save or Suck?
In general, skill tests in RPGs can be tricky. I’ve written about the challenges before but in short the issue comes down to the fact that a lot of skill tests in RPGs are “save or suck” meaning the game penalizes the player so badly for failing tests that the player is incentivized to reload every time they fail a test. I’m very cognizant of this problem and I think the best way to solve it is to:
Avoid having save or suck tests be random. If a test is save or suck, then the test should be static (not based on a random dice roll).
When random rolls are used, failing should be as interesting as succeeding and the player should feel “going with the result” is as viable as save scumming.
Of course the problem cannot be fully avoided but I feel pretty confident that I can strike a balance the allows for the best from both worlds.
Warning: We’re about to go down a pretty nerdy RPG-rabbithole here.
Observant readers will have noticed that the game seems to use 2d6 as a basis for the tests above. This is correct! I may tune this before launch but I feel like emulating tabletop dice mechanics has a few advantages to the old (more abstract system):
It is easier to explain the rules for the skill test mechanic: Roll over a difficulty number (typically around 10) with 2d6 + skill
It is easier for both me and players to assess what is an easy vs a hard test: A roll of 2d6 + 3 vs 7 is easy. A roll of 2d6 + 3 vs 15 is pretty hard.
It is self-explanatory how good you rolled on a test
It ties the game more closely to it’s tabletop roots and makes a tabletop conversion MUCH easier.
Dice-rolls can be visualized (as in the GIFs above).
2D6 is also an interesting base-dice (compared to, say, a D20) since it has a bell-shaped probability distribution. You are much more likely to get a result close to the average roll (7) versus very high or low rolls:
This makes play feel a bit more predictable. Superior skill will win the day more often and unexpected results are, well, more unexpected. This will make it easier to play around you character’s strengths and weaknesses whilst still retaining a potent element of chance and chaos.
We’ll see how it does. Nothing is written in stone.
Phew, that got real nerdy real fast. I hope it made sense! As always, I love interacting with the Skald community and please reach out to me on one of the sites below if you have questions or comments!
Time for a summer update! Hope you’re all well and enjoying your summer. Here is a GIF of a procedural fountain effect to cool you off in the summer heat:
As you know, we’re working on an updated demo for testing and promotional purposes. We were originally planning to enter it in an event in late June. However we elected to go for a different venue and now we’re aiming for late September. HOWEVER, the community will be getting builds in late August for testing so stay posted for more info!
Your Steam Account Requires Action
Maybe. As you know we have two Steam pages: One for the main application and one for the prologue. As we move towards the new demo and eventually launch, the prologue page will have outlived its purpose. But the thing is, a lot of you guys have subscribed to, or even wishlisted (!) the prologue!
If this is you, I’d love to see you subscribe to, and wishlist the main application instead.
Some Cool Video Content
I just did a roundtable with a bunch of fellow indie RPG developers! I’m sure you can recognize some faces and names below. We had a great talk about the art and craft of making indie RPGs and I can’t wait to bring you the vid! We’re going to edit it a bit and then I’ll be sure to let you know the moment it goes live.
Currently development is all about making content, evaluating the workflow and then updating the tools and engine to become faster and safer. This is the only way we can keep the code and data manageable as the project grows.
Props are the most important piece of the puzzle right now. They represent all interactable objects in the world that are not characters or inventory items. A huge priority has been to make the game world a lot more interactive by adding lots of interesting objects for the player to interact with (hidden secrets, loot, workbenches, lore-heavy decorations etc),
Now your character is constantly using their perception skill to try and spot hidden doors etc but also containers that may contain minor loot and fun secrets. I loved how “Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous” had a lot of hidden loot laying around, really incentivising you to put points in the “perception” skill and explore the environs:
Doors and chests can now be locked and you have to decide between looking for a key or picking or forcing the lock. Be careful however, props can be trapped:
All of the above might sound like stuff that has always been in the game though? Yes and no. The change is that this stuff was always possible (more or less) but it needed to be scripted on a case by case basis. Now it’s all been streamlined and standardized so that creating a trapped chest is as easy as two clicks on a dropdown menu.
On the same note as above, a lot has also happened on the editor side. I’m putting a lot of effort into limiting manual data entry and instead focusing on creating objects for all kinds of data that is then linked together. This makes the data a LOT more error proof and also a lot faster to work with as so much data can now be reused.
A good example of this are “loadOut” and “appearancePack” objects. It used to be that I had to manually enter each item that I wanted to add to a character or a container. This a surprising amount of work if you want to carefully place items by hand as there are thousands and thousands of items in a game like Skald (and a big reason why the old demo had so much randomized container content). Same goes for character appearances: I had to manually pick primary, secondary, hair and skin color as well as hair styles and animations for each character and the work adds up quickly.
Now I instead create loadOuts and appearancePacks which are collections of data that can be referenced by several other types of objects. I can create a “Fighter loadout” and add in, say, a leather armor, a long sword and a shield. I can then assign it to the fighter class meaning that the items will be given to all characters with that class. I can also add that loadout to a container if I want to let players find that collection of items somewhere or even set it as a reward for a quest.
The same goes for appearances! I can assign appearancePacks to characters directly but also add them to objects like factions. That way, each character from the same faction can have the same colored livery etc. The cool part is that appearance packs can also be assigned to props so that props in certain areas can dynamically change color to reflect factions and so forth.
This will go a long way towards letting me customize the look of areas without having to create separate art assets to reflect different color schemes. And again: Doing so, is as easy as selection an appearancePack from a drop-down menu.
I’ve also done a HUGE job of creating meta data for all the game data. This means the editor now knows stuff like allowed ranges for numeric data, what objects can be linked to which, it can add tooltips and even to some auto-completing. This was a pretty huge job (I had to write a separate program to automate a bunch of the coding to get it done) but once again: It will make the game data sooooo much easier to work with and debug.
There is a lot more that has happened but I’m already running long so I think I’ll round it off there! I’m actually taking more or less a week off starting tomorrow so huzzah I guess. I’m also a little less active on social media in the summer since I try to limit non-essential screen time so expect me to be a bit slower in responding to messages etc.
Have a wonderful summer and try to spend some time outside!
I’m taking a short break from coding to say hi and bring glad tidings! I’ll be back with more development updates soon, but for now, here is some media for you:
We Have a New Teaser!!!!
The “Eyes of the Dragon” are upon us as a new Skald teaser drops!
We promoted Skald at the Guerilla Collective stream this week and took the chance to showcase our newest teaser. Check it out above!
I Went to Stockholm!
Raw Fury and I finally found a window to meet up in Stockholm! I spent almost a week with Raw Fury and my team and we had the very best of times.
I got an amazing welcome and the week passed in a flurry of pre-lunch beer, barbeque, amazing Stockholmian restaurants and literally the most fantastic people in the industry!
There is something to be said for having worked remotely on a daily basis with a group of people and then finally being able to be in the same room together. That’s how magic happens.
Beyond meeting my team, through some true calendar-voodoo, legendary Raw Fury founder / CEO, Jonas Antonsson, and I also managed to finally spend some quality time together. We even recorded some of our high-flying musings on RPGs and all things nerdy that we’ll be posting in the months to come. We go deep so be sure to stay posted.
The plan was to take lots of cool pictures but we had such a full program that to my dismay, when I got home, the above images were pretty much all I had. I will say though, they are more or less representative.
And just to be clear: I didn’t just go to Stockholm to bro out. We also had some incredibly cool and exciting business discussions. There is nothing I can talk about yet but let me just reiterate how incredibly excited I am to have signed with such an amazing partner!
Learn how to Pitch a Game
Did I tell you we spoke to Raw Fury scout Johan Toresson? We did and we went deep on how you should go about pitching your game to a publisher. Johan is THE man for finding cool new games so be sure to get his insights!
Nerd out on Reddit
This one is very technical, but I had a question about how the “crawling” fog of war system works in Skald.
I wrote up a very high level concept of it and posted it on our Skald sub-reddit. Check it out and keep in mind that the sub-reddit exists and is a very good platform for asking about stuff like this. I do monitor it and I would love to see more activity there.
Have a Spectacular week!
There is so much cool stuff going on I just had to dump some of it out so there you go! There’s lots more coming so just be sure to keep checking out my Twitter and Discord and by the Golden Dead, wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already!
The teaser is a wrap! You’ll have to wait a bit more for it as we’re saving it for a festival this summer!
It’s a bit of a challenge to find a format that does justice to the crisp pixel-art of Skald and I think we’re getting very close to cracking the code in this teaser. I can’t wait to show it off and hope you like it. A big thanks to Sarah Gonidec and Roland Smedberg for all their hard work and endless patience!
The new demo will be out in mid June if all goes according to plan! The aim is to polish the game-systems as much as possible so that the demo represents the final game as much as possible in as many areas as possible.
In particular, we’ll be digging deep on combat and the general UI.
I’m adding in a lot more animation frames in general. Both for creatures and specific weapon attacks.
There is still some work on the timing aspect as some animations are a bit too fast or “off” but I can see this will go a long way towards making the game look a lot more varied.
Adding more detailed monster models also makes everything look a lot cooler. I really hope we’ll have the multi-tile monsters fully up and working by the time the demo launches as they have quite a battlefield presence.
Also note how the fire above has a new look! All the flames in the game will now be made by procedural effects. This includes props like camp-fires and torches as well as spell effects. Stay posted as we show off some of the flashy and arcane magics that will be at your disposal!
As the demo comes out, just keep in mind that it will be shorter in content then the current demo – at least in the beginning. It’s very important that what we put out is polished and making it short and sweet is the priority to begin with. Stay assured though: We’ll be padding it with more content as we go!
In case you missed it, Fiona and I recently did a stream with my producer at Raw Fury: Daniel Jonsson. We had a little round-table about what the day-to-day collaboration between developers and publishers looks like and I warmly recommend giving it a watch.
Coming up, on May 12th at 4PM CET at Raw Fury’s Twitch channel, we’re having a talk with Raw Fury’s rock-star scout Johan Toresson!
We’ll be talking about how scouts work for publishers and how and why you should pitch to them! This is a must for fellow game developers or anyone who is just interested in how the industry works!
If you love indie-punk, ramen with an attitude and new curse-words, Johan is your man!
It’s time for another devlog update for “Skald: Against the Black Priory”!
These are busy and very exciting days. A lot of very important development is being done on the game and tools and we’re having a lot of very interesting talks regarding the long term perspective of the Skald brand both internally and with external partners. I can’t really say much yet but hopefully it will be worth the wait.
In terms of the game itself, the current priority has been on tool-development (the level editor), preparing content for the upcoming teaser and working on the redux version of the prologue (to be released this summer).
New Media Content
We’ve also been looking into more ways of communicating with the community and I’ve made a vlog update as well as a stream with Fiona Martin of Raw Fury. I’m still finding my footing on the technical side and I’ll be working on improving audio so sorry if the quality is a bit low for these two.
We’ll be doing more video content as we go and streams in particular are something we’ll be digging deeper on as they are easy to make and provide a way for you to communicate with us directly.
For upcoming streams we’ll be talking to some of the awesome people at my publisher, Raw Fury, to learn more about what they do and how the collaboration between developers and publishers look. I can guarantee you it’ll be worthwhile if you’re interested in the indiegame industry.
If you have suggestions for topics for either the stream or the video-blog, be sure to leave them in the Youtube comments of the vids above. I read everything.
The short of it, is that it’s turning out better than I hoped and I’m now super pumped to be able to offer it to the community so you can make content for Skald yourself.
And let me be clear here: The editor I’ll be releasing will be the exact same tools I’ve been using myself to make this game. You’ll be able to create (or edit) any asset in the game from maps to objects (items, characters and props), factions, quests, difficulty settings and on and on. EVERY aspect of the game.
Personally I think the true power of this isn’t creating more Skald content; it’s making your own awesome fan-projects. Ultima 5.5 fan-project anyone?
A Editor Road-Map
Our tentative plan for the editor, is to get it out there soon (meaning before the main game launches). I also don’t want the commitment of having to maintain another piece of commercial software so likely what we’ll do is release is as a free beta for the community to play around with.
Ideally this will allow for a community to grow up around it that could sustain itself while I’ll provide tech support, beginning tutorials and take feedback for updates.
It certainly wouldn’t hurt if, by the launch of the main game, we could point to a vital modding community that already had a stack of awesome fan-made content ready for consumption.
I try to keep my game and community a safe-space and politics free. Sometimes however, evil finds you no matter what.
Putin has ordered his forces to commence a war of aggression and full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This hits close to home for the Skald community:
Skald composer and vital community member Surt_R is Ukrainian and lives in a Ukrainian city currently under attack by Russian forces. I spoke to him this morning. Surt_R is a positive guy but needless to say the situation is chaotic and it’s hard to know how the next days will play out.
Surt_R has been with me since the start. He’s an amazing creative and a fantastic guy so I’m asking you all, as the head of our community: come together and support Surt_R.
Thankfully, supporting him is easy. Surt_R has a large Steam cataloge of his wonderfully quirky games and amazing music!
Disclaimer: Surt_R also made the Skald Demo soundtrack which is available for sale on Steam. Though it is on sale at the Skald site, Surt_R receives 100% of the revenue for that product.
Again: I’m NOT receiving any money for this soundtrack – it ALL GOES TO SURT_R!
I’ll try to stay in touch with him and if there is anything the Skald community can do for him, we’ll do it!