On October 7th of this year, a game comes to Kickstarter that will take a good shot at being the biggest board game crowdfunding project of the year. It’s Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood from Shadowborne Games.
You may not have heard of Shadowborne Games before and that is because Oathsworn is their first project. The team, though, are a large group of veterans. There are 15 people on the about us page already and they’re not selling any boxes yet. The team includes Jamie Jolly, a co-founder, who has a degree in game design and professional experience. The other co-founder is Toby O’Hara, a digital sculptor who has worked on board games. There’s Dongjun and Dongiao Lu, twin Weta concept artists, the cartographer Francesca Baerald and Aaron Dembski-Bowden as the lead writer who is a New York Times best-selling author and who has written for Games Workshop.
The game will have an app. James Cosmo, born not terribly far from Geek Native HQ, aka Night Watch commander Jeor Mormont from Game of Thrones and who will be Farder Coram in the forthcoming His Dark Materials, will narrate it.
Sound interesting? There’s a newsletter sign-up page on the site. It’ll be the best way to stay in the loop.
Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood campaign world
Oathsworn takes up to four players, and you can solo it. I think the solo player aspect of the game adds a lot of value. It’s fully cooperative; you’re in this together.
In the game, the Deepwood has consumed much of the world, and it is full of horrible monsters. Dealing with these monsters becomes a job for hire, and free companies of mercenaries form to do that. You play the game as one of these mercs.
It’s a campaign game composed from mulptile chapters. Many people who’ve seen teasers of it and played a bit at the demo at the UK Games Expo are reminded of Gloomhaven. There are rumours of even more legacy game like elements too, but Shadowborne is keeping those relatively quiet for now.
Each of the chapters has two sections. The first phase is an interactive storybook. You can read through this in hardback or listen to it on that James Cosmo voiced app. Shadowborne’s Twisting Tales game mechanic for this section makes use of wonderfully illustrated maps and the choices you make here have a profound impact when you get to the battles in the Deepwood.
It’s this story half of the game that brings the grimdark world to life. Clues and hints on how to deal with the terrors of the Deepwood are unearthed by making wise, sometimes bold, decisions in the interactive story too. It is an essential part of the game.
Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood mechanics
I played a little of the demo and that vouch for the coloured dice. Different colours represent different strengths, and you can boost these with white dice. As many as you want. The risk? Any two blanks and your action fails.
There are cards in addition to dice, and you can decide which you want to use. If you’re feeling lucky, go for the dice and their exploding critical mechanic. If you’re good at keeping track of what might still be in the deck, go with cards.
Each character has their own abilities and therefore a set of cards unique to them.
I found the cooldown mechanic to be an interesting one. It stops you throwing everything you have at a monster if you also want to defend yourself later on. Of course, if you wanted to, you could still go all on the attack and not worry about protecting yourself.
The boss fights will be multi-phase too. A nickname for the Oathsworn is “60-seconders” because 60s seconds is the average survival time of Free Company fighters once combat in the Deepwood starts.
Oathsworn characters and minis
The character models in the game will be 50mm while the powerful monsters are 100mm.
Six playable characters have been announced although stretch goals from the Kickstarter may unlock more. Your choice of character may also influence events in the story. For example, the Witch faces intolerance in the town of Bastone.
Here’s a fuzzy closeup of the prototype Ranger character card. Her special ability is tree running.
If you [are] adjacent to a tree you may spend [3 yellow] to [move] up to [six paces] to another [space] that is adjacent to [a] tree. Terrain does not block this movement and you do not count as moving through intervening hexes.
The Warden and Witch
We don’t have visuals for these characters yet, but you can spy the Warden on the cover art. The Warden and Witch are designed so that they complement one another in combat. If you’re playing one, then you’ll want someone else to play the other.
A wildman barbarian character.
The Brood Mother
She spawns smaller but still dangerous rats.
The newsletter for Oathsworn is the best way to stay up to date as October, and the Kickstarter for the game draws near.