Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mistfall: The Seeker

Today we present another Hero of Mistfall: a master of subterfuge and cunning, a character for those who value a quick dagger and a sharp wit over any other power in the world – the Seeker.

Seekers in the Valskyrr

Seekers are rarely found in the Valskyrr for one very simple reason: a Seeker is a nice name for a thief, a cutpurse or a scoundrel – an individual who usually excels at shady activities that are best exercised in crowded cities or dark alleys. And what should come as no surprise is that not only are those skills less useful out of their native environment, but the simple-minded folk of the Valskyrr might show little appreciation for them.
Art by Enggar Adirasa

That being said, not everyone who starts their life as a street urchin that naturally progresses to a sword for hire or a common thief never turns their life around or finds a new application for what the harsh streets of their home has taught them. Some of the men and women with such an upbringing decide to leave a completely different mark on the world, sometimes joining the fight against the shadows and the Mist.

To say that Seekers are welcomed with cold distrust is a vast understatement. The shifty-eyed ex-dwellers of southern cities are openly shunned by the people of the Valskyrr. However, those who prove their qualities as warriors and companions, often lending their wits to those, who are more at home with a straight blade in hand, become no less valued and respected than warrior priests or even the Shieldbearers themselves.

Crow the Seeker

When asked directly, Crow (whose real name most certainly is a completely different one) tells the story of how he was raised on the streets of Northgarden, a port city on the southern edge of the Valskyrr. Reputedly it is there that he learned how to go by without an honest job to carry him through life, living among sailors, thieves and other shady characters inhabiting parts of the port district. But a short time in his company suggests that it might be a convenient misdirection, devised to keep his true identity a secret.

Extremely resourceful and street smart, the general knowledge Crow seems to possess suggests that he must have been properly schooled, as noted more than once by Celenthia. Also, his proficiency with the dagger betrays proper training, although well covered by all the dirty tricks and moves learned in the company of those knife fighters, who fight only to deal the swiftest of deaths.

After coming a few years before to Frostvalley Keep, Crow has proven to be a valuable asset in the struggle against the Mists. Able to use his specific skill set with incredible creativity and effectiveness in the new environment, he carved his place among those considered defenders and heroes of the stronghold. Headstrong, dauntless, able to find a way out of the most dire of situations, he is not only trusted by his companions – he also has their gratitude for finding a way out of more than a few seemingly hopeless perils.

Crow as Player Character

Crow is a great choice for those players, who like a combination of versatility and precision. Able to eliminate key enemies or avoid confrontation altogether, the Seeker is a Hero fully equipped to deal with anything the Mists can throw at him on his own. His knack for misdirection that allows to cleverly change the setting of a battle also makes him an asset some parties might find indispensible and outright unwilling to brave the Mists without.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An ongoing Kickstarter adventure

Exodus: Edge of Extinction and Exodus: Proxima Centauri have been seeking funding on Kickstarter for the past two weeks and things are looking good, even a little bit better than we expected.

Funded in less than 3 days, our project has dug deep into the stretch goals pool and this is what we have achieved so far...

  • A lot of plastic space ships - on top of the 24 miniatures in the expansion box we managed to add another 6 Dark Raiders and two more packs of 6 War Cruisers and 6 Fighters are waiting to be unlocked

  • 30 dice to make the combat quicker and more fun. Now the Edge of Extinction expansion combined with the base game Exodus: Proxima Centauri offer a total 0f 60 combat dice - 10 per player - making space battles an amazing experience

  • 10 unique Centaurian Resistance cards to add even more diversity to the game and give a true 4x feeling

  • single player expansion - now you will be able to enjoy Exodus even if you group of friends is not around, with a rules and scenario book

We would like to thank all of you who supported our project and, with 9 days to go, we are hoping to add even more awesome stretch goals to the Exodus universe.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mistfall: The Dawnbreaker Cleric

Today we present yet another Hero of Mistfall. For those who find strength in their connection to the divine and those who are ready to stand fast against their enemies with a mace or hammer in hand, the Dawnbreaker Cleric is the way to go.

Dawnbreaker Clerics in the Valskyrr

The Dawnbreakers are a warrior cult of the Dawnmother, always ready to face off against the malevolent servants of Dusk – and since the Mistfall – even more than eager to stand against the twisting powers of the Mists. More warrior-like than the less militant orders, the clerics of the Breaking Dawn are a common site everywhere the tendrils of corruption managed to reach.

Although not an entirely uncommon sight in the Valskyrr, one cannot say that there are many Dawnbreakers in the cold north. The reason is simple: the order has suffered many casualties during the last few years, and that means its ranks are by far not numerous, and all around the known world it is more and more difficult to see them in battle.  And what a site they are – dealing crippling blows to the undead or seemingly raising their allies from the dead, they are always welcomed by any people who struggle against the darkness or the corrupting influence of the Mists.

Art by Enggar Adirasa
Arani of Svelkar

Arani was brought up in an orphanage under the auspices of the Sisters of Dawn, a primarily female order of scholars and healers, devoted to bringing relief to the suffering. Like many orphaned children, after witnessing her home town burned to the ground by a band of Mist-crazed beastmen, she was brought further south and initiated into the order to be taught the arts of healing and restoration.

Her life path was once again altered drastically, when the small temple she was assigned to was attacked by a stray raiding party of Borderlander marauders, who managed to infiltrate the defences the Frostvalley Keep. While trying to hide from a pursuit party of Misthunters and Shieldbearers, the warband decided to take the temple by storm, hold some of the priestesses hostage and make the rest help them elude their pursuers. But the plan failed: the strong Valskyrrian blood took over, and Arani managed to call the Light of Dawn upon her enemies in a key moment, staggering the Borderlanders and alerting the Frostvalley party of their presence.

Her courage and skill did not go unnoticed and she was offered a new life in a Dawnbreaker cloister, later to return after a full initiation to her homeland to stay as a permament resident of Frostvalley Keep. There she learned the punishing aspect of Light’s power and trained with both the clerics and some of the fighters of the keep – including one called Fengray, who she first met when the Forstvalley pursuit party came to her and her sisters’ aid. Shortly after her arrival she also met Celenthia – a young mage, who Arani now perceives as both a formidable companion, and a good friend.

Arani as Player Character

Arani is a very good choice for a player who wants to face off against the Mists singlehandedly. Able to deal out massive punishment to the undead and the most dangerous creatures of the Mists, she can stand on her own in almost any martial encounter. Her healing abilities also make it easier for her to stay alive on her own – or become an invaluable addition to any party setting off into the frozen and unforgiving lands belonging to the beastmen, the crazed brigands or the horrifying undead.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kickstarting an expansion does miracles and what's more happening in NSKN

Last week is one to be remembered for NSKN Games. On Thursday we went live with our second Kickstarter project to seek support for Exodus: Edge of Extinction and 3 days later the project reached its funding goal of $28000 and even more, the first stretch goal is now unlocked and we are dangerously getting close to the second one. That is awesome!

If you have not had a chance to see what Edge of Extinction is all about, you can see below a video preview of the expansion.

But that's not all. Versailles got its share of attention with a review from Joel Eddy of Drive Through Reviews and Progress: Evolution of Technology was analyzed by NVS Gameplays:

Last but not least, Versailles and Progress will be released in North America by our partners Passport Game StudiosAnd if you are in the Pacific Northwest/Seattle area, enjoy the Launching Party in Renton on January 23rd! Do not forget to RSVP and to have fun. :)

You can also read an interesting story about how these games came to life in an interview with the NSKN on the Passport website. A short excerpt is below:

How did the ideas for Progress and Versailles come about?
Agnieszka: The idea for Progress: Evolution of Technology came while designing the first edition of Exodus: Proxima Centauri, specifically its technology tree. 

We - both the designers of Exodus and Progress - are big fans of civilization games and the part we love the most is the technological development. Thus came to us this seemingly crazy idea to make a game which is just about building a tech tree, stripping it of all the other parts.
Andrei: Surprisingly, Versailles found its roots also in the Exodus universe. Originally themed as Exodus 2, a sequel to Exodus: Proxima Centauri, the game has become Versailles after extensive feedback from Daniele Tascini (the co-designer of Tzolk'in) and a few other great minds in the industry. What we call today Versailles was built around the idea of a worker movement game - a special type of worker placement in which all the workers are already set up on the game board and player get to move them in a rondel-like system following given paths.
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Live on Kickstarter

A few moments ago, the most ambitious project of NSKN Games has gone live on Kickstarter!

With your help, we would like to reprint Exodus: Proxima Centauri and to bring to life its long awaited big expansion Exodus: Edge of Extinction

Let me tell you why we believe so much in this project... so follow me through a short journey through time.

Like every other small child, ever since I can remember I was fascinated of what could lie far away between the starts. I was fascinated with Star Trek (and I am still a big fan) and I dreamed of one day flying out there, somewhere. Obviously that did not happen... so I had to use my imagination to be a space traveler. Fast forward.

When I started thinking about game design back in 2008 I wasn't even familiar with the concept of empire building games, even though I had played a few. Twilight Imperium 3rd edition quickly became one of my all time favorite games, even though its length makes it hard to put on the table. However, I had my own vision of a space empire. one built by mankind and helping humanity finally find its place in the history of the universe. Fast forward.

In 2011, right after NSKN's first Essen, I showed my coworkers the first prototype of Exodus: Proxima Centauri. The game implements most of the design paradigms I try to follow and some of my core beliefs: it's realistic as much as a sci-fi game can be, it has as little down time as possible through simultaneous decisions, it paints a slightly dystopian although pragmatic portrait of humanity and it is challenging and fun. For the first time I felt that I put part of myself in a board game and I felt proud of it. Fast forward.

First edition vs. Revised edition

After a first edition which brought us from agony (production quality problems) to ecstasy (good reviews) and back a few times, in 2013 NSKN Games published the Revised edition of Exodus: Proxima Centauri. The quality was great, the artwork massively improved - no more of those rookie mistakes caused by our previous lack of experience. I had finally become the co-designer of a board game which looks well, feels well and sells well. 

The game's fans had noticed the same thing as we, the designers, did.  There was one missing part of the Exodus puzzle, the natural diversity of the factions. We, people as well as peoples, are inherently different in our ways of thinking and approaching life and leadership. Exodus should also reflect the diversity of mankind. So, we starter working on an expansion. Fast forward.

Exodus: Edge of Extinction game components

15th of January 2015. Edge of Extinction brings asymmetry to the game play through six very different, not-so-historically-accurate factions. The universe of Exodus extends far beyond the game play, it is my interpretation of one of the possible many-worlds.

So, today, if you share this vision and you want to build your own space empire, we invite you to pledge for Exodus: Edge of Extinction.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mistfall: The Arcane Mage

Today we present the second playable character from Mistfall. For those who believe that the true power lies in the ancient art of magic, who have their mind set on wielding potent spells and dispatching enemies with fire and lightning, let us introduce the Mage.

Mages in the Valskyrr

Traditionally, the people of the Valskyrr either shun magic, or conform to the types of the arcane craft that are most traditional in their homeland: either those of fire (associated with the warmth of the longhouses and the power of a well-lit forge) or of ice (associated mainly with the enemy, but not unknown among the Valskyrrians, especially those who walk the path of Dusk). True Arcane Mages of the Loreforge in Dathnafar are rarely seen in the cold north.
Art by Enggar Adirasa

The power of Arcane Mages is not unknown in the Valskyrr, although most of them used to combat the armies of the Mists in different regions of the world. Some even claim that close proximity to the Mists themselves is able to subtly influence some of the magic users, slowly corrupting their minds and turning them into unwitting servants of the power they wish to stand against. This is probably why only the most disciplined and headstrong remain for extended periods of time in regions most exposed to the power of the Mists.

Celenthia of Dathnafar

Born on the southern border of Straatgard and raised in the home city to the elite mage school known as the Loreforge, Celenthia is a young Arcane Mage more than eager to prove herself by helping in the struggle against the Mists wherever she can. Still remembering the day when her brother was taken by a raiding band of slavers, her resolve remains unwavering and her mind sharpened to serve one purpose: find him and help those, who suffered from a similar calamity. And as she is not a healer, she uses her skills to strike at the enemies and protect those she considers friends and allies.

Celenthia arrived in Frostvalley Keep relatively recently, but she has already proven her skill and knowledge, aiding the efforts of the defenders and accompanying Misthunters and Shieldbearers on numerous missions. She also quickly became close friends with a young female cleric by the name of Arani, who she shares not only the pain of a past loss, but also the inner strength to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future. Although seemingly more physically brittle than the Valskyrrians, she has proven time and time again, that her enemies should fear the power she is able to command.

Celenthia as Player Character

With sheer power and an assortment of arcane tricks at her disposal, Celenthia is a great choice for people who would wish to play a character of a classic magic user. Although not as physically tough as other characters, she can deal massive damage to her enemies which – either alone or when accompanied by other Heroes – can often be the first and last strike against a group of wandering monsters.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

A sad day for all of us

Today we will not talk about board games. We usually try to stay away from topics unrelated to board gaming, but the events which took place yesterday in France are too important to be overlooked. It was a sad day for all of us who saw, heard or read the news about the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

There is no excuse for such an attack, no justification. Only compassion.

This blog, just like any other blog, magazine, radio or TV station, podcast, videocast, etc is a living proof of  the freedom of expression, a fundamental right which many of us sometimes take for granted. 

Very few of you reading these lines were born in a country where the freedom of speech is something you have to fight for, but a small minority, including myself were born in a place where this basic right did not exist. I was too young to remember much about the Romanian revolution of 1989, but what I do remember that one thing changed over night - our right to state our opinions out loud without the fear of the political police or any other kind of police. The price of this freedom was paid in blood.

Embedded image permalink
source: Twitter @jean_julien
Yesterday, people from Charlie Hedbo magazine, from writers to policemen, lost their lives in a mindless attack against themselves and their core beliefs - the liberty of expression. Besides mourning for them, there is one thing that any of us can do - no matter how far away we are -  to prevent this from ever happening again. Whether in a public gathering, talking to our friends or on our social networks, we can use our words to defend our freedom of speech - not only ours alone but also of those who are the public message carriers, who put themselves in the spot light so that we can speak freely whenever and wherever we want.

We should all be aware that someone, somewhere is fighting not for a cause, but against all of us who choose to live in a free world. Yesterday's events have nothing to do with religion or politics. We should not condemn a belief system, a nation or an ethnicity for the horror which took place in Paris, Fighting back with the same weapons, stigmatizing an entire group of people for the madness of few would not make us any better than them. 

Our weapons are much more sophisticated and a lot less deadly. We can remember those who fought with their pen and paper for their (and inherently our) freedom of speech and defend this basic right which will always make our countries part of the free world. We can speak against racism, religious and political intolerance and fight with words for our freedom. 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

An expansion for Exodus - X. Blackwater

Happy New Year everyone! 

After well-deserved holidays we have returned to work and gaming with renewed strength preparing the last details of our upcoming Kickstarter project for Exodus: Edge of Extinction

With that in mind we are presenting today the sixth and final faction of the expansion, the warmongers of Blackwater.

Blackwater faction sketch by Odysseas Stamoglou

Blackwater is the most conflicted oriented faction in Edge of Extinction. Their whole existence revolves around a single goal - their total domination over mankind. To implement this philosophy, they have developed powerful weapons, such as EMP Cannons, investing massively in offensive space combat technologies. The leaders of Blackwater are not naive and they acknowledge the threats posed by other warring factions, thus they did not neglect the development of defensive research, leaving almost no aspect of space conflict uncovered. 

Precision and reliability – these are the concepts that made us into what we are today. But make no mistake, although we draw from the past, we are the future of mankind, whatever others might want you to believe. In the old days we were able to adapt, displaying power in all kinds of conflicts and proving that we will always exist and remain in a prestigious position of power and influence. Now comes the time when we take the gloves off, and swap our obscure influences for open and total domination.

Blackwater is more of a corporation than a faction, changing and adapting with time, but still holding on to what made it economically strong before leaving Old Earth. Although much had to change in the faction’s structure, the basic ideas remained immutable, serving as obvious proof that some of humanity’s flaws prove to be an infinite resource to be properly exploited.

Built around a vast economical power, Blackwater believes itself to be the true heir of humanity: a faction stemming from an organization that had existed on the top of the world’s food chain for decades before the Exodus. Now, through intensive development of space weapons, Blackwater is gathering strength to strike at its enemies with the cold precision and the dauntlessness that had forged its name in the old days.

Blackwater is a goal oriented faction – perhaps even the single most objective-focused one in this new world – and the goal is to make the final transition from an almost all powerful organization to a truly omnipotent one. After all, the laws and regulations that had curbed the corporation time and time again back on Earth no longer apply, with almost no obstacles standing in the way of total domination.

Now everything Blackwater does is means to an end, with no humanitarian laws putting a damper on what the faction’s specialists are able to achieve. And soon, very soon in fact, all those who want to win will find out they are playing a game not only invented but also arbitrated by one of the opponents. The one that is invading their borders, destroying their fleets and holding their assets, before their own aggression can finally be stopped.

If you're curious about the other factions in Exodus: Edge of Extinction, check them out:
Sirius Theocracy 
Arctic Dominion
Han-Xia Dynasty
Titan Diarchy
Confederation of Sol

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