City of Aylmar

When first we started working on what would become Shadow Heroes we had our concept artists create a number of characters that would both become our units and set the idea of what our world would be like. Concepts varied a lot, from the gun-toting Hunter to the divine Archangel. We knew this world would need to mix technology and magic in some way, which lead us to the initial dichotomy of Republic of Three Towers vs. Hawk’s Fall.RainaUlstead

But was there a way to go further? To mix and match technology and magic in a way that it was opposite both the Republic and Hawk’s Fall?

What if we had people trying to see magic in a different way? What if we were not talking about mages, but engineers? Remove the mysticism of magic, replace it with physical sciences and, bingo.

Aylmar Reborn was created as a neutral entity at the heart of Hendrika. This nation grew out of the land surrounding the kingdom’s former capital and embraced the theme of dungeon exploration. There, scholars (and most often then not tomb raiders, adventurers and hired mercenaries) delved into the ruined streets and buildings of the fallen capital in search of ancient tomes, magical artifacts and anything that might shed a light into how magic worked.

Would it make sense that such a scholarly nation would appear in the heart of Hendrika, meddling with the ruins of the most magical of all places in the Known World where the Sorcerer-kings were supposedly buried? Didn’t people learn from their experience with Scourge of Clouds?

We needed a reason, and that reason came with the Treaty of Aylmar, an event arranged by a group of scholars with great influence across all of Hendrika, to discuss how to deal with magic, artifacts and the ändras. Fear of a new Scourge of Clouds lead the leaders of the fledgeling nations to sit and discuss. It was during this event that these scholars proposed the creation of a buffer zone around Aylmar where scholars would handle the exploration of the ancient ruins and the delivery of magic-related items to isolated monasteries. They would also be responsible for understanding the nature of magic in order to prevent a new Great Rift or the resurgence of creatures like Scourge of Clouds.

Now we had a motivation. We needed something different that would make Aylmar Reborn stand out. The concept of “spellpunk”, a term that as far as I know doesn’t exist, came to my mind. Imagine the idea of steampunk and replace “steam” for raw, brute mana. Mana was a natural force that could be manipulated with the appropriate machines. In raw form, it could be designed as fuel for new contraptions, machines built to make life easier, not always with the best of results. Aylmar scholars, after all, didn’t mind field testing new concepts, no matter if they were useless or dangerous.

What other concepts would make sense in this nation?

  • > The scholar-oriented buffer nation wouldn’t have a standing army. What if it was Hendrika’s foremost employer of mercenary units?
  • Make of Aylmar Reborn a vast land mostly unchecked by their leaders right in the middle of warring nations. Perfect for raids, border skirmishes and land-grabbing!
  • Ruins! Lost secrets! Forgotten magic! Dangerous machines! Mad scientists!

And, since we’re talking about Aylmar Reborn, next week: Magic! What is its nature? How does it work? Stay tuned!

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