This post is the first in my series on Tyranny, where I’ll cover in broad strokes its world: from the inhabitants and geography to the factions that populate it and their fearsome leaders. All of this is subject to being expanded, given the game’s unreleased nature, and I’ll keep the posts updated as required.
Tyranny is the cRPG being developed by Obisidan (Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth), the developers of kickstarter record-breaker Pillars of Eternity [Review] in partnership with Paradox Interactive. It uses the same engine as their 2015 game to paint a world of strife and destruction, where you’re not tasked with stopping evil – it having won already and all that. Given that being evil in role-playing games often devolves to caricaturesque actions such as gut-punching a reporter, the little devil on my shoulder gleefully claps at the opportunity of playing a game where evil is given more than one dimension. In any case, the developers have steadily released development logs where they detail the world, its lore and inhabitants – here’s the lowdown on who you’ll play as and some of the shown companions.
The first thing to understand before moving forward is that, as I said before, Tyranny is set in a world where what we would call Evil has already won. As a special agent for the aforementioned Evil-Empire-that-won, you can expect to inhabit a much more dubious section of the moral compass than is usual in these games – this extending, of course, to your allies. That doesn’t mean you can’t be the good guy, and it’s your choice whether your Fatebinder will set himself out as a hero in these troubled days or act like someone would expect from one of Kyros’ elite agents.
The Fatebinder (a.k.a. You): like any great Kingdom or Empire, a ruler that wishes to rule well vast tracts of lands must delegate: if we’ve had Viceroys, Dukes and Counts to carry out such tasks, Kyros – the Overlord – has Archons. And, as you should know if you didn’t skip your history class when your teacher was covering ye olden medieval days, strife in an Empire can be both external and internal – Kyros’ Empire being no exception, Archons would often clash with other Archons.
With this in mind, Tunon the Adjudicator, Archon of Justice, created the Fatebinders – an organization that is responsible for upholding the law of Kyros, mediating disputes and doling out punishment when required. Since I’ve already decided to establish parallels with the real world, the Fatebinders seem very much akin to the Inquisitors of the Roman Catholic Church. They’re not necessarily bound to mediating just the conflicts between Archons, but given that a Fatbinder’s judgement is final – his word is, literally, the law – you might not want to ask for his trial if all you’ve got is circumstantial.
Barik of the Stone Shields (a.k.a. The Quintessential Disfavored Soldier): Barik will be one of the companions you can get in Tyranny, and his role will be that of a front-line tank. Described as the Quintessential Disfavored Soldier due to his unwavering grit, respectfulness of authority and overall loyalty to his superiors, Barik was quick to ascend the ranks of the Disfavored, soon joining the Iron Guard – a select group of advisors and lieutenants to Archon Graven Ashe.
A survivor of Kyros’ Edict – a powerful spell set out by the Overlord – upon the Realm of Stalwart, Barik must now bear the shame of failing his rescue mission, bound to an armor of fused iron and bronze as a consequence of Kyros’ Edict of Storms.
“Barik felt a hard shudder as the sword impacted his tower shield. He set his stance the way his brothers had taught him, letting his feet cushion the blow. He wouldn’t be any use to the phalanx if he lowered his defenses, even for a moment. Enemy forces thickened ahead of him, growing in strength, forming into a relentless mob. His armor, his body, his life – he was the shield between the Southern barbarians and the civilized North, and he would give up all three to defend her. Kyros and the Empire depended upon him.
He pulled his thoughts back to the moment. There was no phalanx, and the mountain hamlet of Battle’s Rest was a long march from the front lines of any war. Barik’s shield was oak treated with tar – hardly the elite iron that the Disfavored carried into battle. His opponent wore a glorified bucket of a helm, and they fought to the cheers of their countrymen.” – Trial by Iron
In terms of gameplay, Barik seems to be designed with the previously cited “front-line tank” role in mind: he’s capable of engaging enemies (as in Pillars of Eternity, engaging an enemy makes them tethered to you: if they try to leave, they provoke attacks of opportunity and other nasty things), with separate trees focusing on different things: his ‘Sentinel’ tree focuses on allowing him to maintain control on the battlefield while increasing the amount of damage he can absorb. His ‘Punisher’ tree transforms him into a warrior of retribution, excelling at slaying foes that dare to stand against him.
Verse (a.k.a. The Bravado of the Scarlet Chorus): With a free spirit and a penchant for sarcasm, Verse enjoys proving herself by provoking others and prodding them for weaknesses. Originally a farm hand from the southern continent of the Tiers, Verse always enjoyed playing with knives – taking them to barn animals during the night – such that when armies of Kyros arrived and started conscripting from the locals, she was one of the few to actually volunteer for said forces.
Having led multiple gangs in the war, Verse’s ambition saw her quickly rise the ranks of Kyros’ army, her name a personal compliment from the Voices of Nerat.
” “Someone ought to kill that bastard.”
The declaration came as a whisper, but it went off like a gong in the circle of killers. Crow Trap glanced up at the others around the fire. Their makeshift weapons of tarnished bronze and chipped wood all lay close at hand, and each wore the tattered red of the Scarlet Chorus. Seven in total, they represented the full contingent of their gang, minus the absent leader who had stepped into the overgrowth to empty his bowels on a stump, as he so proudly declared was his intent.
The gang made camp on the slope of a mountain pass – one of many that separated the Northern Empire from the Tiers. The exhausting march into the wilderness permitted them to light a fire without any concern of attracting enemy patrols. Their boots were gray with the ashes of a village they had set to the torch, and their nerves were aflame with the many joys of the raid. A good day’s work.” – Under New Management
In terms of gameplay, Verse is designed to switch between melee and ranged combat seamlessly. Her talent trees revolve around building her as a character capable of acting as a melee assassin or ranged archer according to the situation. Both her trees are built around emphasizing a hybrid type of play early on, later on focusing each on a specific style. Verse’s Duelist tree features a twin blade strategy geared around rushing through the fray and unleashing flurries of deadly melee strikes on weaker targets. Her Skirmisher tree is built around escape tactics and long range devastation via bow and burning arrow.
Lantry (a.k.a. The Sage of Ink and Quill): If Barik and Verse are different facets to the brawn side of a party, Lantry is its brains. A sage of the Vellum Citadel, Lantry is a man of numbers and letters, history and its unfoldings, and everything in between. The work of his life has been contributing toward the Chronicle, using his arcane capacities to observe history – wherever and whenever it is happening.
Once a part of the School of the Ink and Quill, when Kyros came to the Tiers Lantry argued for their surrender to the overlord – a matter of not only recognizing the impossibility of defeating the evil ruler, but his personal curiosity toward Kyros, someone he saw as in the unique position of being able to alter the unfolding of the world’s events – failing that, he fled and left his sagely colleagues to burn away in Kyros’ Edict of Fire.
In terms of gameplay, Lantry will take the background role of both support and “jack-of-all-trades” – due to his knowledge and travels he even has three talent trees, as opposed to the regular two, forfeiting specialization for the sake of generalization. In combat, Lantry will carry out a role of both healer, buffer and debuffer, with the possibility of aiding in damage by use of thrown weapons. Lantry’s Preservation tree focuses on supporting the party from the back line by buffing allies with renewing magic, healing them, and even bringing them back from the brink of unconsciousness. His Sage tree excels at emphasizing the use of spells and abilities that debilitate foes to aid the party. Finally, Lantry’s Quill tree shifts him into a deadly offensive thrown weapon specialist.
You can read more on Tyranny and its world, characters, lore and gameplay at Obsidian’s blog, where they post story snippets and dev logs about the upcoming cRPG. It is currently slated for a 2016 release date, and already has plenty of screenshots and trailers for you to peruse.