Earthbound cultists who worship The Great Nameless. Though they live in Aurae, they are unwitting cogs in Lilith's grand design. Believing Jehovah is a scourge on the rest of existence, they are willing to sacrifice themselves for what they see as the greater good - they intend to open the door to let in The Great Nameless, who will destroy Jehovah and all of Aurae, allowing the other Realms to flourish.
We wanted to start slowly rolling out some sneak peeks of some of the cards present in Arkhangel: The Great Nameless. This way we can show you not only a bit more of the look and feel, but you can get a little taste of the flavor text. We'll soon have a Rules document to post, so the two in conjunction will give you an idea how the cards function mechanically as well!
With Gen Con now in the rearview (and *almost* being caught up on sleep), I thought now would be a great time to put my thoughts down. Firstly, it was a great trip. After the initial headache of dealing with the process of signing up, queuing for hotels, sorting out badges, canceling things, reserving new things, etc. etc. etc., I had a great time. Putting the stress behind me and concentrating on the fun I was actually having was fantastic. Secondly, the playtesting experience was very positive. While I wish I had longer time slots, so my players could see all facets of gameplay emerge, we did have enough for them to get the general gist of the game. Overwhelmingly, the feedback received from players was glowing. Lots of people stopped and looked at the game laid out on the table, with several compliments. We even had a few stop and snap some pictures. There was even a rumor that one of my players worked in the industry and was impressed with the game!
I was able to see a few patterns emerge, and we have our sights set on a couple of tweaks to address them. Clarifications, slight shifts in rules to make them more intuitive and things of that nature. But overall, I'm very encouraged we have a solid design and are moving down the right path.
In fact, we've come to the decision that the next logical step for testing The Great Nameless is an open playtest. We'll make sure we make the announcement when it happens, but look for it within a week or so. We're going to upload some PDFs, and we hope to get plenty of you enterprising playtesters to download, cut and assemble your own copies of the game, read the rules, and run a bunch of playtests with your friends!
Exciting times, friends! :)
The Umbra is a Realm made of the lingering dreams of a dead god. The last of the Excubiae born from Z'zhuul's initial storm of creation, Puer Hostiæ came much later than the others. He was seen as a neonate, and never developed the higher processes his siblings possessed - or was possibly just created without that capacity, as the other Excubiae never had to mature to reach Their full facility. In fact, when Jehovah and Lilith created the human race, though They did so in Their own image, They designed the human infant to resemble Puer Hostiæ as well, in tribute to their youngest brother.
From the time He was conceived, His presence caused a calming effect and near-overwhelming feelings of love to all in His presence - including most of the other Excubiae. It's believed the creation of the Umbra was an accident, or an errant thought. Further, it's believed that everything He created after that moment was an accident as well - He never seemed quite able to focus or control his creative ability, and had no interest in controlling His manifestations after they were brought into being. As a result, his Realm came to be known as "The Playground" - it was a representation of pure creation, devoid of any planned destruction. This caused anarchy, due to the many varied creations living side by side in dissimilar, even contradictory environments. But the chaos was left for the environs to work out, without the intercession of their creator.
His crowning achievement was the creation of the chimera - an autonomous changeling that impressed His siblings, with the exclusion of Carnifice, who had always been immune to Puer Hostiæ's euphoric effect on the others. Enraged that his childish brother had bested his own crowning achievement, the event culminated in the infant god's death. Carnifice remorselessly slew His baby brother, in front of all the other Excubiae, who had no idea it was even possible for one of Them to die. Then, Carnifice shut Himself off from the others and left Them to Their grief.
Now the Umbra has come to be a shadowy reflection of itself. The dreamy environment have taken a much darker tone than when He was alive. The Umbra has become darker and corrupt in nature. Some areas of the Realm are pleasant, reminiscent of paradise. Some are horrible and nightmarish. But there is an undercurrent of malevolence within it all. The most beautiful faces are scarred, the most impressive structures are flawed, the most altruistic-seeming acts are secretly self-serving in nature. Every being and every situation presented within this Realm are infused with a form of manipulation. The other Excubiae leave the Umbra alone. Some see its continued existence as a fitting memorial to the deceased child. Some see it as merely unworthy of consideration. Indeed, even the followers of the Great Nameless seem to cut the Umbra a wide berth, but none truly know if it's because there is something about it that gives them pause, or if it's because they consider it beneath their attention.
But something stirs in the Umbra now. Something different. Something... angry.
The Infinite Sea. It closely resembles outer space in Aurae, but is, at times, awash with color. There are ribbons of light that move throughout the void, and occasional bobbing globes of light, rather than stars. The truly mystifying aspect of this realm is that the spectrum of light and color does not correlate with any known spectrum in any other Realm. The array of colors is entirely different, and tends to be overwhelmingly confusing to the uninitiated mortal.
Locomotion, perception, survival, and life itself is purely derived from psychic energy in this Realm. What can be willed into existence is what will be manifested. Appearance here can vary radically from visit to visit, and encounter to encounter. Sometimes a Native will have created a mini-realm, only to eradicate it decades (or mere moments) later. In fact, it is normal to never encounter a Native or traveller, or any structure or construct of any kind whatsoever. This is due to the infinite nature of the realm coupled with the very low population. However, since the realm is so delicately attuned to psychic energy, it is possible to "sense" other beings from any distance, if psychically enlightened.
It is debated that this realm is somehow closer to Primo Regni than the others, and the denizens have a heightened capacity for creation and destruction. Unfortunately, most non-Natives lack this understanding, or the imagination to harness anything from it, and perish almost immediately upon entry.
Though various Excubiae have different perspectives on the birth order, they may all be correct. Time is a fluid concept, especially with regards to what comes from Primo Regni. For Advena's part, It had always been here. It's rumored that since the moment after Z'zhuul's self-inception, there has been Advena, and that was when time began. Where Z'zhuul is the embodiment of chaos - pure construction, pure destruction - Advena is Its counterpoint. Measured discipline and minimalism are Its hallmarks.
Next came the Two, Jehovah and Lilith. Advena perceived Their birth to be simultaneous, and thinks of Them as twins. It hovered over Them as They created their Realms, faintly satisfied with having "siblings", but found Them impetuous and emotional. Resolving to leave Them to make their own way, free of Its intercession, Advena returned to tending to Its Realm. It was progressively less attuned to each successive Excubiae: It found Uthrasa much the same as the Two; Puer Hostiæ was an innocent, but ultimately unengaging babe and the birth of Carnifice was forgotten almost as soon as it registered.
Resembling a titanic, translucent and ever-changing jellyfish, Advena possesses many strange, alien appendages and sensory organs. It's never addressed itself with a name, but Its siblings took to calling it "Advena" early on. For unknown reasons, long ago, Advena split off forty different versions of Itself, all smaller, but identical in appearance. All with the same limitless shape-changing ability to take any form they choose. It is unknown if any of these versions have ever had occasion to re-mesh with one another, or if Advena plans to absorb them back into Itself. Uthrasa has hypothesized this event as being an attempt to experience more input at any given time, but even She admits She knows not why there were only forty changelings birthed, or why a near-omniscient being would need multiple perspectives.
Though no real communication with Advena has ever taken place, the Excubiae are able to read each other to a certain degree, even one as alien as this. The general disposition that has been gathered on the few occasions It was encountered was a detached benevolence. The subject of infighting, machinations and intrigue between the various Excubiae elicits a more contemptuous reaction, however. Mostly, Advena doesn't interfere and exists within the boundaries of Its Realm. One notable exception to this was the death of Puer Hostiæ: Advena appeared at the gathering of the Excubiae, floating at the periphery, saying nothing. For the first time, the waves of emotion coming from It were an overwhelming sadness and disappointment; Advena does not often encounter death. Then, after a few moments, Its respects paid, Advena simply faded from view, and has never been seen since.