The Silver-Dancer (Part 1)

Greetings RPG-fans! Winter is here and where I live, we’ve seen the sun for the last time in two months. As the wind begins to howl and wolves stalk at the edge of the campfire’s light, nothing warms my bones like a good story.

Those of you who follow the devlog know I enjoy writing short fiction for the Skald universe. It’s a great way for me to flex some creative muscles and it also helps me take a break from coding and just immerse myself in world-building.

I consider my writing Skald canon BUT with the caveat that the canon is still flexible since we’re still early in the process. However, though details may change, more importantly I hope the stories manage to convey the feel and mood of the setting.

“The Silver-Dancer” will be dropping in three parts over the next three weeks so stay posted! Dig in, and if you like it, be sure to check out the “Skald: Against the Black Priory” prologue on Steam!

 


The Silver-Dancer

Part 1

Ozone. Metal. Incense – The air was heavy with it. 

With the unassuming gait that only much training can confer on those who are nothing but unassuming, the HISTORIAN crossed the threshold into the half-darkness of the strange chamber. The walls had an odd metallic sheen and rose to a domed roof somewhere high in the darkness above. There were odd curves where the floor gave way to walls and the rounded angles of the corners gave the chamber an odd, dizzying quality. It was difficult to guess at it’s true size: It felt cramped yet massive at the same time. 

In the center of the chamber stood a raised dais and atop it, a massive, lidless sarcophagus. The HISTORIAN squinted in the half-darkness as he examined it: Tens of thousands of minute runes decorated its surface. Each carved with such precision that he doubted it was work of human hands. He shuddered internally. 

The HISTORIAN

At the base of the dais stood his host: A frail-looking hunched figure clad in rich silken robes. The HISTORIAN detested the Court of Auspices. A magus of Auspice would always provide an answer, he mused, even when it had to be ‘conjured’ into existence. A detestable praxis. 

They were decadent mystics. At best. 

That was not to say they were without their use. One simply needed to sift through the pomp and ritual and he did need the intelligence. It was, in fact, vital. Not to mention, he was also curious: Very few were allowed to observe the Magi of Auspice perform their rituals. He had been required to remind the magus of his office and even then, the wretch had been reluctant. But who was he to deny him? Who was anyone to deny him? 

A gong rang in the darkness.

Mute, white-clad servants filed past the HISTORIAN carrying flasks and amphorae. Ascending to the sarcophagus, one of them began stirring its oily content as the others gently emptied their vessels. Scented fumes of strange and exotic concoctions filled the chamber and the HISTORIAN suppressed an urge to cover his nose with his robe. Or was it perhaps against the obvious mysticism of the ritual?

Suddenly, and as one, the servants ceased their milling alchemical rite and withdrew from the edge of the fluid-filled sarcophagus. The ancient magus began his slow ascent up the dais on trembling legs. As he stood before the sarcophagus, he stopped and let the silk robes fall from his body. A silent servant was there to catch the garment whilst another placed an eyeless mask of black satin on the magus’ forehead. It all looked like some well-choreographed dance. 

The HISTORIAN winced imperceptibly: The naked form of the man that stood before the sarcophagus was broken in a way he had rarely, if ever, seen before. It shook him.   

All magi paid a terrible price for their power and though they took great care to hide the ways in which it marred them, it could not be stopped. How long, he wondered, would he be able to stave off its corruption?

Two more servants silently came to the aid of the broken man, gaze averted, as he mounted the rim of the sarcophagus and then slowly lay down in the thick, viscous fluid. For the second time, the gong sounded. The HISTORIAN started ever so slightly and for a man who had spent so much of his life trying to perfect the art of appearing unfathomable this was no small feat. Slipping into a very light combat-meditation, he perceived a very slight raising of his heart-beat and an unmistakable rush of blood in his ears. Why? Was there danger? And why did it feel like the magos was stalling for time?

Corrupted Mystics

The heavy doors swung silently open and a new group of servants filed into the room: Six men and women, dressed in dark, ragged robes with shaved skulls and disturbing all-white eyes. Their faces were dull and their gait shuffling. Yet there was something about them: The markings! These were magi! Or rather, the HISTORIAN realized, these HAD been magi. There were rumors. Rumors that not all candidates who joined the Court of Auspice survived their initiation with their minds intact. 

The grim troupe shuffled blindly up the stairs, groping before themselves until they found the sarcophagus. Moaning wordlessly, they turned around and sank heavily to the floor until all six were seated on the cold stone dais, backs facing the metallic sarcophagus. Their heads tilted back towards the rune-covered surface and thus they sat absolutely motionless. 

The HISTORIAN stood transfixed as all was utter silence in the darkened chamber. When the gong sounded for the third time, he instinctively began the internal chanting that induced the deeper combat meditation. The “dance” was about to begin and he had asked much of the old magos. Perhaps too much? 

To be continued…


That’s all for now. Check in next week for part two.

For everything else, follow us on Twitter and join our Discord!

Stay warm!

Cheers,

AL

New Party Members

Greetings fellow RPG fans!

As you all know, it’s more fun to adventure with a party than going alone! That’s what I’ve been doing since I went full time as a developer: I’ve encountered a new party-member (of the “publisher” class)! They’re very passionate about the quest we’re on (making Skald) and bring a ton of new feats (QA/testing) and magic items (a marketing budget) to the fight! Even better: They have high-level henchmen/henchwomen (awesome experts in fields ranging from brand management to development, marketing and testing).

Who is this overpowered new character you ask? Well, I’m going to keep you guessing a little bit longer but some of you will have heard of them and you’ve certainly played some of the games they’ve published. They’re also chaotic good and can rage 2 / day.

Here’s some early stage concept art for different monsters of the more bizarre persuasion by the awesome Gustav Samuleson (@MechaBarbarian)

 

While I’m finishing my due notice from my (soon to be old) day-job, we’re taking the time to put together some promotional material, planning the development and release schedule and making our two organizations work together like a well-drilled adventuring party!

We’ll be announcing our cooperation and revealing our newest party-member December 15th so stay posted!

 

Early Access

One of the subjects we’ve been working on a bit internally, is the original plan of going to early access (EA) with Skald.

More concept art! Are those eyes following me?

This was originally predicated on the fact that as a solo-developer with no support, it would not be possible for me to make Skald as polished as I would like in time for a full launch. EA would provide proper testing and polish.

EA is great for this but there are also downsides:

  1. The Steam community in general have begun expecting more polish from EA games than before. There is a tendency for EA games to get quite a lot of negative reviews for being “unfinished” which is ironic and sad.
  2. Once you launch on EA, that’s it: You’ve had your launch. You don’t get a second launch day once you leave EA.

Though I’m sure the Skald community would have handled EA great, there is some risk involved and there is no doubt in my mind: Given the support and resources I now have access to (especially in terms of testing), I would much rather deliver a game that is polished and finished.

This means we’re aiming to launch the full game properly in 2022!

The Road Ahead

There will be a lot more info coming out just over the new year but here’s a rough outline:

THE PROLOGUE / DEMO

I’ve always strived to have development be transparent and inclusive. The prologue has been a hugely important tool towards achieving this and it will continue to be so. We’ll be “chonking” up the demo in 2022 as a kind of miniature Early Access to show off, and widely test, the game in its final form.

Make it stop!!!

TESTING

Testing for backers will continue as before and backers will be getting beta builds as they roll out. We will be looking into updating the testing infrastructure a bit and at some point we’ll also consider opening up beta-testing to a larger audience.

SCOPE

We’re not increasing the game’s scope or adding more features. What I am doing is spending more time polishing the tools for data-entry. Not only is this making the game (and any sequels) easier to build in the long term, it also means you’ll get better modding-tools (we’re releasing all our tools post launch).

CROWDFUNDING REWARDS

Needless to say, our new partnership does not change anything in regards to the rewards we’ll be producing. All I can say is that there are exciting discussions being had about how we can make the most of the physical products we’re going to make. Stay posted!

As for those backers who get to contribute with portraits and game-content, it’s not too late at all. We’ll be sorting this as we go and the train will not leave without you.

IÄ IÄ!

In Closing…

There is a limit to how much I can say at this point but more info is coming. Just remember: Save December 15th for the reveal of our new party member and there may even be some Christmas shenanigans coming up!

For everything else, follow us on Twitter and join our Discord!

Cheers,

AL