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Game News Sovereign Syndicate is an upcoming Victorian steampunk RPG inspired by Shadowrun

Infinitron

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Tags: Crimson Herring Studios; Sovereign Syndicate

As readers of this website will know, the past several years have seen a flood of new isometric RPGs, with the most successful ones inspiring imitators as part of the ongoing renaissance of the genre. The latest such game to come to our attention is Sovereign Syndicate, a Victorian steampunk/fantasy RPG inspired by Harebrained Schemes' Shadowrun games as well as Disco Elysium and other isometric roleplaying titles. Its creator is one Isaac Otway, a former HR administrator/project manager from Edmonton who decided to start a new career in game development and founded a studio called Crimson Herring Studios to fulfill that dream. The game is set in a seedy open world London inhabited by minotaurs, automatons and other creatures. It features an improve-by-use skill system and a tarot card-based skill check mechanic. Sovereign Syndicate has been in development since last April, but as is often the case we found out about it when LESS T_T spotted its Steam page yesterday. Here's its teaser trailer and description:



Explore an open world in this Victorian steampunk cRPG. Choose from three playable characters with branching stories that intertwine. Investigate, interact, and take action to leave your mark on the world and its inhabitants. No random stat points here, use your skills to level them up, and trust your fate to our tarot card chance system.

So, how will you solve your problems? Combat, persuasion, magic, explosives? The choice is yours and all your cards are on the table; but be careful, the docklands aren’t for the faint of heart.

Tarot Card Chance System – Leave your dice at home as you interact with a variety of characters. NPC’s react to your gender, race, appearance, and choice of dialogue, so you’d better look and act the part if you want the “right” results. But not everything is certain, luck plays a role and it’s all in the cards with our tarot card chance system.

Skill and Etiquette System - The skills you use will improve your ability, while ignoring others will cause them to stagnate. Master the skills you choose and learn more about the world and its inhabitants to unlock special dialogue and skill-check options.

So go, see, do! And don’t be afraid to try the unconventional. Drown yourself in gin? Sure, provided you’ve got the constitution for it. Smoke that opium? Certainly, but be careful not to doze off— it might not be safe here. Put it all on black? You only live once, as they say. Even in failure you learn something…

A Rich Open World to Explore - A steampunk fantasy-inspired Victorian London awaits; filled with interesting characters and locations. Explore the back alleys, opium dens, brothels, and more at your peril, or relax and enjoy their simple pleasures. Investigate, interact, and take action to forge your own path.

Three Characters, Three Different Stories – Play as one of three characters with stories that intertwine through the city’s docklands and unfold based on your choices.
  • Atticus Daley, an orphaned minotaur magician crawling out of the bottom of a bottle to find a sense of belonging, and his next fix.
  • Clara Reed, a corsair with a checkered past, and a cunning woman with a rebellious streak. Follow her on a search for vengeance, and the courtesan killer.
  • Otto, the trusty automaton and companion of engineer Theodore Redgrave. More than just the sum of his parts, Otto wants more to life than servitude and utility.
Each character has their own mix of skills, equipment, and expertise, and they might just have to work together to succeed. Will you trust your companions, and should they trust you? Not everyone is a hero after all.

Additional details about Sovereign Syndicate are available on its official website, including two interesting devlogs from earlier this year in which Isaac reveals that he actually initially wanted to license the Shadowrun engine and intellectual property from Harebrained Schemes. His story is rather inspiring, so let's hope it works out.
 
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Strap Yourselves In
Nah... just because they reference Disco in the trailer doesnt mean there wont be combat (they reference like five other RPGs that had plenty of combat-faggery after all). I guess combat will be the more simplistic part of the game (like lets say the Shadowrun games) while the Disco reference might mean that dialogues will have plenty of skill checks and will actually matter, rather than being there merely to get quests and quest rewards.

I generaly like what I saw so far, definitely will keep an eye on this. What I see as a bit of a bummer is that there is apparently no char creation though - the Steam page mentions that there are "three playable characters" you can choose from.


 
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Straight from the Steam post by a dev regarding combat:

We're still working on that but right now leaning towards combat as dialogue like Disco but definitely want to lean in to it a bit more than they did, have some stealth sequences as well. But it's definitely combat de-emphasized and won't have as much combat as Shadowrun, we like non-combat options in most situations too.

So yeah, it will be Disco-style combat after all.
 

Rean

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Strap Yourselves In
Cool screenshots. Looks more RPG than BG3, Cyberpuke and TW3 put together.

1.jpg

ss-4ddbdee80e4abc6beecbb3fb1802736c1c36f457-1920x1080.jpg
 

Lord of Riva

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It looks interesting, i will put it on the wishlist. I like the concept and the art, now it has to be a decent game as well.
 

Major_Blackhart

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This looks interesting to me. I'll wait and see what kind of updates we can expect going forward.
 

Falksi

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Looks good, but please give us combat and digestible amounts of text in the realms of Dragonfall please you motherfuckers.
 

undecaf

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Looks somewhat interesting, but I am a bit wary on... "tarot card based skillchecks"... :?
 

SerratedBiz

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Looks somewhat interesting, but I am a bit wary on... "tarot card based skillchecks"... :?

Thea: The Awakening had a card-based system to resolve not just combat, but also challenges out on the world map. It was able to integrate your character's skill level and the difficulty of the challenge by stacking the cards for/against you.

It wasn't a perfect system (and there was a lot of auto-resolving), but I'd gladly see more of this as opposed to naked dice rolls for skill checks which don't really add too much to the gameplay (and more often that not come down to save-scumming to pass).
 

mediocrepoet

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Codex 2012 MCA Project: Eternity Divinity: Original Sin 2
As some of the users here cannot read, I have included a pictorial representation of my reactions in real time to this announcement.

Explore an open world in this Victorian steampunk cRPG.


:bounce::bounce::bounce::bounce::bounce:



Choose from three playable characters

:neveraskedforthis:


So, how will you solve your problems? Combat, persuasion, magic, explosives?

:bounce::bounce:

Leave your dice at home

:x

combat as dialogue

:deadtroll:


Conclusion: :majordecline:
 

Isaac (Crimson Herring)

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Hi Everyone, Isaac here the founder of Crimson Herring Studios; appreciate the coverage of our game and all of your questions and feedback! I'll try to address some of that here but happy to answer any other questions or just talk about the project more in general. Also available for an interview or something like that if desired.

Yes, the elephant in the room here is we won't be combat heavy with real-time with pause or Xcom style turn based combat like a lot of our peers. I know that's divisive and it means our game won't be for everyone; but we're trying to be as clear and transparent as we can be this early in development so people can decide for themselves. I tend to prefer games that are "combat-light" and have non-combat options to solve problems, and given our budget and resource limitations we thought the "dialogue as combat" option was the best way to do that so we wouldn't have to develop a lot of additional systems. But I will say we'll lean in to the combat more than Disco Elysium did, we want it to feel turn based but using the dialogue panel and making choices about how your character reacts and what happens next. Also planning some stealth elements and light puzzle mechanics across the three character campaigns.

We still think there's a tactical element here (what equipment to bring with you, how to dress, what character to use in a given situation, what dialogue choices to make, etc.)

The other divisive issue most people mention is the lack of character creation. We wanted to focus more on tailored storylines and we want NPC's to react to race, gender, appearance, and choice of dialogue. While we know games like Arcanum and DoS2 did that well with pretty robust character creation we decided the cost of art assets and additional dialogue and QA that would be needed to do a custom character creator justice was outside our means and not true to the stories we wanted to tell. Again we think we've provided for a lot of interesting story lines and mechanics with the three characters we've chosen, and you can help guide their development through the choice of the skills you choose to develop, but no you can't create your own character with your own custom back story.

Falksi, Yes we're definitely aiming for digestible amounts of dialogue, keeping it fairly short and snappy. I was really happy with the balance in Dragonfall (and unhappy with HK by comparison which was too narrative heavy for my tastes.) We intentionally designed the dialogue UI with the film strip effect and the individual frames to force ourselves to limit the amount of dialogue in each cell and not get long-winded. I'm pretty ruthless at cutting frivolous exposition and want to be respectful of the players time (fast-travel for example).

The tarot cards are really just a replacement for dice rolls in skill checks and combat, we use them as an RNG mechanic instead and don't want people to think we're a deck-builder or anything like that. Just thought the tarot cards were a more interesting aesthetic than dice were but they function basically the same way in a skill-check as the dice did in DE.

Thanks again everyone for your time and comments, happy to answer any other questions if you have them.
 

lukaszek

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The tarot cards are really just a replacement for dice rolls in skill checks and combat, we use them as an RNG mechanic instead and don't want people to think we're a deck-builder or anything like that. Just thought the tarot cards were a more interesting aesthetic than dice were but they function basically the same way in a skill-check as the dice did in DE.
wild west brought cards in and made whole thing deterministic, just sayin
 

Grunker

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Hi Everyone, Isaac here the founder of Crimson Herring Studios; appreciate the coverage of our game and all of your questions and feedback! I'll try to address some of that here but happy to answer any other questions or just talk about the project more in general. Also available for an interview or something like that if desired.

Yes, the elephant in the room here is we won't be combat heavy with real-time with pause or Xcom style turn based combat like a lot of our peers. I know that's divisive and it means our game won't be for everyone; but we're trying to be as clear and transparent as we can be this early in development so people can decide for themselves. I tend to prefer games that are "combat-light" and have non-combat options to solve problems, and given our budget and resource limitations we thought the "dialogue as combat" option was the best way to do that so we wouldn't have to develop a lot of additional systems. But I will say we'll lean in to the combat more than Disco Elysium did, we want it to feel turn based but using the dialogue panel and making choices about how your character reacts and what happens next. Also planning some stealth elements and light puzzle mechanics across the three character campaigns.

We still think there's a tactical element here (what equipment to bring with you, how to dress, what character to use in a given situation, what dialogue choices to make, etc.)

The other divisive issue most people mention is the lack of character creation. We wanted to focus more on tailored storylines and we want NPC's to react to race, gender, appearance, and choice of dialogue. While we know games like Arcanum and DoS2 did that well with pretty robust character creation we decided the cost of art assets and additional dialogue and QA that would be needed to do a custom character creator justice was outside our means and not true to the stories we wanted to tell. Again we think we've provided for a lot of interesting story lines and mechanics with the three characters we've chosen, and you can help guide their development through the choice of the skills you choose to develop, but no you can't create your own character with your own custom back story.

Falksi, Yes we're definitely aiming for digestible amounts of dialogue, keeping it fairly short and snappy. I was really happy with the balance in Dragonfall (and unhappy with HK by comparison which was too narrative heavy for my tastes.) We intentionally designed the dialogue UI with the film strip effect and the individual frames to force ourselves to limit the amount of dialogue in each cell and not get long-winded. I'm pretty ruthless at cutting frivolous exposition and want to be respectful of the players time (fast-travel for example).

The tarot cards are really just a replacement for dice rolls in skill checks and combat, we use them as an RNG mechanic instead and don't want people to think we're a deck-builder or anything like that. Just thought the tarot cards were a more interesting aesthetic than dice were but they function basically the same way in a skill-check as the dice did in DE.

Thanks again everyone for your time and comments, happy to answer any other questions if you have them.

gave you a brofist for showing up and responding in earnest, but honestly if you're non-combat or even combat-light i think "tactical RPG" is borderline misleading
 

mediocrepoet

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Codex 2012 MCA Project: Eternity Divinity: Original Sin 2
as far as the choice to exclude combat i can't say it bothers me - Dragonfall was p. great but god knows the mediocre combat had nothing to do with that

Generally speaking, I start to classify non-combat/low-combat games in the point and click adventure category. I'd put PST solidly in that category. It's all semantic of course but it means something to me.
 
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