The conflict chief is useless. Aminai, our wisest herder, took her place however was struck with a lethal sickness. Crop after crop failed because the world turned darker and colder. Our herds are pitiful, barely half of our individuals have a horse. Our neighbours, as soon as toasting our clan, raid us with out mercy, burning defences and stealing treasured cattle. Storm worshippers from the south sense weak spot and assault, crowing that their gods are ascendant. Our magic dwindles, our rituals and choices fail. The gods are at conflict, say the spinners. It didn’t totally daybreak on me how transformative this could be for the entire valley till a useless god fell from the sky.
It was all going so effectively. My clan, the Purple Bees, had been famed for our clever leaders, our busy diplomats, and our treasured beer. We had been fashionable and affluent, and our suggestion that we type a kingdom with the opposite clans was beginning to achieve traction. But issues change. That’s one thing core to Rider tradition, and doubtless key to why issues obtained so dangerous.
So what’s a Rider? Unlike the Rams, and the Wheels with their chariots, we’re the individuals who can trip horses. That’s our factor. Six Ages (which sadly, and owing to what I’m assured is an advanced story, at the moment solely runs on Windows 10), you see, is ready in a fantasy world the place people are roughly in what we’d name a bronze age. Their cultures are complicated, nuanced, and closely intertwined with their varied mythologies and interpretations of the bizarre and harmful world they stay in. They all have their very own concepts about who the precise gods are, how issues ought to be executed, and who the enemy is. Like King Of Dragon Pass earlier than it, you’re chargeable for main a newly based village to prosperity and status inside the area. You select seven nobles from amongst your few hundred individuals, together with a chief, to type the clan ring, which can resolve on all essential issues.
Like its predecessor, it’s all concerning the selections, massive and small. Your neighbours taunt you – do you raid them, ignore them, or taunt them again? A brand new type of worship arises. Do you endorse it? Elders are complaining concerning the noise from a warrior who’s entertaining the clan’s kids by snowboarding. You would possibly endure a monster assault sooner or later, and be judging a cooking contest the subsequent, and generally the very best factor is to not get entangled in any respect. You don’t actually exist on the planet, however are extra of an unacknowledged guiding spirit who represents regardless of the ring decides to do. You don’t must roleplay it. You completely ought to, although.
Why? Because characters are greater than numbers. Clicking on a noble brings up their recommendation or opinion on a present state of affairs, or typically merely some rambling anecdote or snarky comment about one other clan or tradition. They’re fallible, nuanced, situational, and generally bizarre. The conflict chief I discussed earlier, Derenei, was a gifted fighter and chief, however she received my coronary heart when a priestess visited from a distant, unfamiliar clan, providing to bless our horses as a prophetic dream had instructed her to. The query earlier than my ring of nobles was how to reply to this. Derenei’s response, phrase for phrase, was “Ooh! Ooh! Let me sing her a song!”.
The priestess was delighted, and shyly remarked that she couldn’t sing, so she “and her mount” loved the track very a lot. In gratitude, she entertained us with tales of her homeland, cheering the entire clan up. Sometimes it’s genuinely heartwarming. At different instances it’s hilarious. And any time a possibility for singing got here up, Derenei was there. And after all I indulged her each time.
A gaggle of disgruntled individuals as soon as complained to my ring that one among our quantity, Tolya, was hassling them with numerous frivolous lawsuits. The ring convened with out her to type a response. Some of them wished to alter the legislation permitting this, however one other insisted that proscribing the individuals’s rights due to one individual abusing them would upset them. Derenei’s recommendation? Resolve this disaster by publicly roasting Tolva in track.
I misplaced it. Imagine displaying up at work to dispense knowledge from on excessive, after which your boss goes full Rebecca Bunch on you. And then just a few seasons later, Derenei bit off an excessive amount of in a combat and a few absolute bastards gouged out her eyes.
That’s why Six Ages is particular. The similar individuals cleaving individuals in twain are additionally those who love foraging, or who obsessively blame the Wheel individuals for every part, or simply actually love goats. Both people and cultures are brimming with character, and also you get to direct and really feel like an lively a part of it. It’s brutally violent, it’s tragic, clever, and peculiar. Sure you’ve got your fantasy monsters (though even these are way more fascinating and fewer anthropocentric than simply about another fantasy setting – elves, for one, are freakish strolling crops as a substitute of pretentious Aryan dickheads), however a lot of the weirdness is cultural – the individuals on this land are as odd and self-contradictory as all human cultures.
One occasion has three households arguing over who ought to undertake a magical child they present in a river. One of the choices is “Put the baby back in the river”. It’s absurd, but it surely makes a kind of sense on this society. All this makes relations with neighbours extra complicated too – Riders should not the one settlers within the valley.
Much as I cherished King Of Dragon Pass, it was too opaque for its personal good at instances, and its successor has made enormous enhancements. In explicit, the consequences of your actions on clan temper and relations are proven as they occur, and diplomacy particularly is each a lot better introduced, and extra fascinating. Of all issues, Alpha Centauri got here to thoughts, as alliances and friendship are way more lively and helpful – neighbouring clans can such as you however nonetheless have little respect for you, or hate but in addition concern you. Both will have an effect on their behaviour – a clan could not such as you, however would possibly ship one thing you ask for as a result of they’re afraid of you. A pleasant clan would possibly gladly commerce, however refuse to ally or take you significantly in battle… till somebody holds a using contest and your warriors trounce the entire valley, or your explorers discover a highly effective secret of a god you each worship, or a 3rd clan takes your opinion significantly sufficient to exchange their chieftain.
Diplomacy normally is a large spotlight. I used to be very conscious of who was who, and invested in particular relationships, to the purpose the place my clan turned famous for sending out many diplomats. Battle is extra concerned, with a number of phases and ways, and extra suggestions on how a combat goes. There are even choices to parley, and speak or purchase off attackers, and several other instances I used to be engaged in a combat just for a 3rd clan to point out up and take part.
Managing meals and inhabitants is less complicated too – raiding rivals throughout planting or harvesting season is nigh unimaginable as a result of your farmers will refuse to danger the meals provide, however there’s no have to handle labour or crop ratios. There is, nonetheless, soil erosion, which is countereacted by clan-wide “ventures” taking a few 12 months every, within the background, which will also be used to forage, hunt, craft luxuries, or lay groundwork for future plans. This ties in with the primary plot, which I’m hesitant to spoil particulars of. Your ancestors fled encroaching ice that crushed their metropolis, and over time it turns into clear that this space too will not be secure. The gods are warring, chopping you off from a lot of their magic, and the soil is producing much less and fewer meals. It’s a way more fascinating state of affairs than it seems like, and RPS contributor Edwin Evans-Thirlwell went into some detail about how effectively it’s built-in into the setting.
It’s additionally key to why the Purple Bees fell from glory. As the world modified, neighbours who admired us turned targets for our last-resort raids. Trade caravans turned extra determined. More foragers and hunters had been despatched, and sometimes died, costing us gifted nobles. As magic dwindled, our forays into the gods’ realm to hunt their assist turned extra harmful. Cattle had been slaughtered for meals, making us poorer and much more reliant on raiding, which in flip made us a better goal by accidents and malnutrition. The failure spiral is tough, however we began to show it round. We struggled on for just a few extra years, however I made one too many poor selections. It was throughout, and my individuals had been misplaced to historical past.
I cherished each minute of it.