Last month Geek Native listed the Acheron beta as a free to download RPG. I’m now told Dark World Studios has the 1st of October as the scheduled date for the mature game’s Kickstarter launch.
They say whoever controls the flow of history, can write the future. For centuries, The Council has curated the past. But now they are silent, the Reclamation Act ratified, and history once again open to study. The future has yet to be written and the pen is in your hands.”
Inspired by the likes of Call of Cthulhu, Dishonored, the Word of Darkness and even The Witcher 3, Acheron is a game about sacrificing your humanity to fight the horrors in the world.
The setting is a world entirely surrounded by a massive Wall. An impenetrable wall. Impenetrable that is, until the Breach that erased centuries of progress and let loose untold horrors.
Since the Breach, history has been covered up, and most people do not even believe in magic or monsters. It’s only now that the study of history has been made legal again with The Reclamation Act. It’s due to this act that a new societal renaissance has kindled and a new age of adventure begun.
Acheron is a 1930s era setting. The Government is in control, and mighty Factions fight for resources.
The Government: The Government is run in name by the National Republic House, which consists of five representatives from each District (Anarchist or otherwise). In reality, it is ruled by the Council of Thirteen, never seen but always felt. The Council influences everything though Cerberus, the heads of the Agents, National Police, and Paranormal Research division. On the whole, people trust the Government in the Central Districts, however Anarchy brews everywhere, and allegiances to the Government are weak in Districts dominated by other factions. The Government would never admit that many place their loyalty elsewhere and does what they can to curb dissenters at every level. The Government fights against disorder, watches the Mages, chains the Mancers, and makes sure the nightmares of the world remain at its fringes.
Church of the Twin Gods: When the Martyrs gave their lives for Unity, no one thought the Church of the Twin Gods would be the result. However, hundreds of years later the followers of Nyx, Goddess of Chaos, and Darium, God of Order, find themselves sharing the same roofs and working side by side to spread the teachings of the Twin Gods. These teachings are canonized in the Central Districts, but more fringe Darium and Nyxian cults can be found in many townships and cities preaching radical beliefs. On the whole, the Church values balance of person, where both God and Goddess have equal influence. Therefore, many within The Church try to make themselves more androgynous and hermaphrodites are praised and groomed with care by clergy.
Greys: A lineage born out of pragmatism, the Greys are a family who have become the leaders in industry, science, medicine, philosophy, art, and more. It is through marriages to the most brilliant and dedicated people, generation after generation, that this dominance has occurred. Grey’s attempt to breed with whoever is a protege in their field, no matter what that field is. For this reason, the Grey family is highly mixed in race and social origin. Even Darkleechers and Exalted have made their way into the Grey family. Pragmatic, brilliant, odd, eccentric, dedicated. All these words can be used to describe the Greys. Brutal, absentminded, and unethical are also words that describe many in the family.
Ellsons: An old family, so ancient in origin their history has been lost even to themselves. Ellsons own the majority of banks in all Districts. This gives them the finances to stay in power, even in places where they are unwanted. Generationally minded, they’ve invested in mining precious stones and metals, acquiring art and artifacts, and most recently historical research. Many branches spread out from the Ellson tree, but they all share the same trait of cold calculation that has kept them on top for centuries. They enact their power through their banks, schools of Mathematics, and Tax Collectors – persons trained since childhood to calculate risk and reward on a deadly level and see that debts are paid in gold or blood.
Freemen: The Freemen fought long and hard for their place in the world. Darkleechers who unified after several bloody wars with humanity, the Freemen hold the major crop-producing Districts in Acheron. With permission from the Government of course. They value their space, preferring to live a more rural lifestyle. Art, history, and a varied culture are important to the Freemen who feel they have been suppressed for generations. Segregationists mostly, the Freemen live their lives outside the Central Districts farming, fishing, shipping, and more. This, and their innate connection to the magical planes, makes them more likely to partake in magical rituals, spirit healing, and other customs many Humans generally don’t believe in.
Historians of Galilee: An ancient cult of Historians and Researchers. They are perhaps the only group as Dogmatic about studying ancient artifacts and technology as the Greys. While the study of history was banned for generations, the Historians of Galilee disobeyed, researched, discovered, and were executed for it. Now that the Reclamation Act has passed and History is open to study once more, many have joined the ranks of the Historians. Universities of all types employ their ranks as professors and researchers, many of which had never been a part of the group, at least officially, until recent years. Their dogmatism is feared by many who think history should be laid to rest, and the Church of the Twin Gods see them as a religious cult. On an individual level however, the Historians seem to want one thing above all else, truth.
Hunters Guild: Many in the world think monsters are just bedtime stories, things that people made up because of too many nights spent in the dark. But Hunters know beasts roam the world and do everything they can to fight against them. Those from all walks of life become Hunters. Many Greys, Ellsons, Servants, and Farmers have walked the same halls, hunted the same game, all without care for their previous station. Hunters keep the world safe in a way the Government attempts to, but too often fails at. Many powerful people fund the Guild or are a part of it. They operate within the law, mostly, but don’t let anyone stand in their way if a Beast needs to be slain.
Wexler Investigation Agency: A relatively new faction on the playing field. The Wexler Investigation Agency gives smaller factions the strong-arm big players have always enjoyed, for a price of course. Their ranks are ex-cops, private investigators, magicians, Mancers, and even Exalted. The pay is good and morals loose. While they would never admit it, the Wexlers deal in death just as much as security and investigation. However, many of their rank still have clean hands and those who don’t get lost in the crowd, buried in bureaucratic anonymity and red tape only Government Agents can cut through with ease.
A mature RPG
Dark World Studios use “simplified realism” to inform all parts of the Acheron RPG, and one result is a deadly and grim combat system. Another is the tense world of cultures.
Characters start with around 6 health, for example, and a simple 9mm pistol deals 1d10 damage. It’s important to take cover and, if you can, wear armour.
To keep characters alive, the Die Hard system allows players to give their character a permanent flaw rather than suffer character death. Roleplaying and combat as both important in Acheron.
The game also has a Sanity system, and Dark World wisely highlights that this could be unsettling, triggering, for some players, but they want the game to allow people to explore these themes.
Sanity in Acheron has three significant categories of trauma: Mortal, Violent and Supernatural. Characters can also recover, regaining sanity, through comradery with friends or treatment.
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