Choice of Rebels: Stormwright (XoR2 WIP)

Not to make a habit of asking very fan-service questions that won’t even remotely come into play until many books down the line, but how much pushback do you think a nation like this would receive from the Erezzianos? I’ve read somewhere that they would be very against more crackups and splitting up of Erezza in comparison to the other states of the Hegemony due to very strong nationalism, but looking at the state as a whole, you could argue it’s really not that much territory being taken. Especially since my MC would do all that he could to aid Erezza to fend off a Halassur campaign looking to take back all the land east of Cocenza.

For the second (very high quality, I know) image, I was wondering exactly how much a difference in expanding a section of my western territory all the way to Sojourn would make in the stability of the country. If that makes it too large to efficiently enact policies nationwide and ensure order in all parts, I’d happily be content with keeping it to the first image instead. I just thought it would be nice to have direct access to the Xaos-Landers and Abhumans for trading and potential immigration, instead of their peoples having to pass through other territories to get to my country. (Also, the inclusion of Scarthe Isle in the second one was purely on a whim, simply because it seems a waste not to when nobody else is bordering it. I don’t think a small island like that makes a difference to any of this.)

As always, thank you for this wonderful game and no need to respond if you’re too busy.


To what extent is economic liberalization and development possible? (For example, is it possible to enact things like copyright or patent laws or to disband guilds?)

Is it possible to reuse and reorganize the feudal system? (For example, securing tax collection contractors and teachers)

We’ve talked about newspapers not existing before, but how far can players advance print and journalism?


Rather than ask about the story, I figured I’d ask a question about gameplay (since that seems to be my metier anyways, hehe).

Will it be viable, or perhaps sometimes even optimal, to do “Hybrid” stat builds? Specifically, my 2COM/1CHA “Noble Knight” is an Inner Voice build, and I was thinking of a variant run in which he becomes more of a hybrid warlord/prophet figure (putting further points into Charisma).

Also possible is the 2CHA/1INT “Radical Visionary” (arrogant aristocrat) build putting points into Combat, and getting a blend of all 3 stats (I’d keep her at 1INT though, as making her a Theurge would ruin the roleplay aspect of the build).

My Helots will max out one particular stat, though.


I wonder how strong an MC will be with each stat maximized?
Like 5INT: there’s a description as to how much knowledge and arcane power we have, but since idk how strong an Archmage is, I don’t really have a good mental image of what would that look like.(With 2INT we can burn a bush, maybe with 5INT burn a whole forest down?)
5CHA: Dunno how this would look like also. I imagine this is the most vague out of all of the skills. I mean it could range between talking no jutsu an enemy into giving up or straight up saying to the Hegemony " No. Bad." And they’ll stop lol
5COM: The only thing I wonder is if the mastering of the sword could also verge on the supernatural, tho i assume it can if you use blood magic to alter your own body.


There are descriptions of each stats when reached level 5.

CHA: People respond to you as if you speak with the Angels’ own voice. (5)

COM: You are one of the greatest generals and warriors in the Hegemony’s history. (5)

INT: Your knowledge and arcane power rival any of the Thaumatarch’s Nine archmages. (5)



It’s a bit wonky cause he made this with the 2 1 0 combo in mind but you can make it work mostly


Does anyone know if teaching them tactics with COM2 helps actually do anything? I know int makes them more literate but I’m not sure about the others


Helps with the fights as a simple anwser.


Increases helot rep by 7 and decreases aristo rep by 10. Pretty bad if you aim to ally with nobility but sounds cool I guess.


to what extent would the merchant and yeoman classes support aristocratic estates being given over in their collective to helots if they in turn were freed from the taxes and restrictions of the aristocracy


In the last three days of October, I churned out a short, direly unbalanced, but kind of fun little grim yarn for the Halloween jam. I’ve been reading and enjoying the other ones too – and I’d encourage y’all to head over and vote (for minimum 5 of the short games) before next Tuesday or share feedback to encourage the authors and organizer.

In our world, projectile throwers powered by small hand-pumped reservoirs were a thing for a couple of centuries before air compressors and (a century later) pneumatic actuators were invented. And those were centuries where a parallel tech track involving steam was also taking off, which it isn’t in the gameworld. I’m pretty comfortable saying that in the Hegemony, even more centuries could pass than in our world between the invention of air rifles and the invention of pneumatic engines.

My idea of Karagond factory techne is that it generally involves making the most of a junior Theurge’s study time; they get a big flywheel going, and pause every few minutes in their intensive reading to juice the wheel. The rotary motion is turned into linear motion to drive a machine, as lots of early industry was in our world. That Theurgic approach has so far worked well enough (not just in terms of output, but in terms of efficient use of Theurges’ time) that the idea “we could power this with a huge tank of Theurgy-compressed air instead,” or that we could swap over from Theurgy to steam power, hasn’t occurred to many people or spawned a new wave of tech inventiveness.

Siege weaponry would not (I think) work better with pneumatics. Non-Theurgic air compression can’t launch a large projectile effectively, and if you’ve got a Theurge around, they can do that (and a lot more) directly. The tactical importance of the air rifle is that, with its hand-pumped reservoir, it can be used by non-Theurges from cover to get bullets into enemy Theurges. I don’t think there’s an equivalent that would allow non-Theurgy powered artillery to become tactically viable.

With explosives, I’m open to the idea that pneumatics could play a role… but I think it would likewise need to involve a tech approach and tactical use case that didn’t require a Theurge to be close at hand to set them off (since, again, if you’ve got a Theurge in the squad close enough to detonate a pneumatic bomb, they’ll be close enough to directly deliver the explosive, caustic agent etc. with a lot more versatility and reliability).

I don’t see how pneumatic grenades could work, for example. Any handheld pneumatic explosive would need a non-gunpowder detonator mechanism (to prevent an enemy Theurge from sensing the powder and triggering all your grenades from a distance), and I don’t see how you could manage that without an unacceptably high failure rate. Maybe this is my ignorance talking, but I can’t envision a workable pneumatic “pin” mechanism; and a grenade that would reliably explode from the impact of being thrown by hand is going to have a high rate of going off on your own soldiers.

Explosive traps would I think also run into detonator problems. If as I suspect the only reliable non-Theurgic detonator for a pneumatic landmine or pressure cooker bomb would be some sort of explosive agent like miner’s powder, then your tactical use case is “where we’re pretty sure the enemy will be moving through the area without Theurges”… and you’d be better off just using relatively simple black powder mines rather than Theurgically expensive compressed air ones.

On the other hand, Theurgically forged compressed-air shells dropped into a siege zone from long distance by catapult or Theurgic launch could I think work, with the force of impact providing a sufficient detonation mechanism. The bang wouldn’t do much to degrade non-flammable fortifications, but the shells could produce a lot of shrapnel, a terrifyingly loud noise, and a burst of whatever harmful stuff you’ve got inside. And they could be tactically useful in striking from outside of Theurge-vision range, getting explosions into the enemy ranks without sending your Theurge corps into danger.

You couldn’t get shells like that across a Ward, of course, so as long as the Hegemony remains the only power controlling Wardgates, pneumatic shell-bombs would be a weapon used by the Hegemony against Halassur rather than vice versa. (Except in the very rare cases where Halassurq infiltrators manage to get their hands on a stash on the Erezza side and wield them there.)

Thoughts on any/all of the above?

The MC has the chance to say that in a G1 conversation with Horion: “Spend enough blood, milord ${delelle}, and you can change anything.” That metaphor is indeed a core theme of the game. But so are the limitations of that metaphor. The Hegemony was built on the principle that there’s no problem you can’t solve by sacrificing enough people – and it’s falling apart. There are practical as well as moral limitations to the “drown it in blood” approach to problem-solving.

I love that you’re saying this about aspirations to efficiently tax the whole population, by contrast with the existing system of ritual mass sacrifice with a priest and God-mage presiding at the front. :slight_smile: Totally get your meaning, but it’s still funny.

I can see how this would be a point where the metaphor of “blood = human suffering” lends itself to an uninspiring conclusion – “the best achievable system still directly fuels itself on human suffering, just within a more tolerable institutional framework.” That reading could feel quite dissonant with the ethics of the literal in-game change; after all, moving from a lethal to a nonlethal way of fuelling your world system is I think a pretty huge moral shift, not just a “more sparing” evil.

I hope I’ll be able to write the blood tax path with a less dissonant, more coherent pairing of literal and metaphorical significance: that it points to the prospect of addressing the big problems through shared cost, shared suffering, rather than trying to solve them in a way that pushes all the cost and suffering onto an exploited subgroup of society.

In your volcano metaphor (which reminded me of one of my all time favorite nonfiction books, which has also left its mark on XoR’s ideas of nature)…it would be like your community refusing the idea that you face a dichotomous choice between relocation or tyranny, and instead self-organizing in new ways to face the crisis. You’d look for an institutional framework that lets you build walls quickly (so probably less consensual and more directive than whatever you had before) but equitably shares the risk of death rather than imposing it on a few, and doesn’t lock in institutions like slavery or dictatorship that will leave your community lastingly awful post-eruption.

For all the flaws of Graeber and Wengrow’s work, I think they’re right to emphasize that institutional experimentation and innovation – self-organizing in new ways toward different ends – is one of our species’s key superpowers. I’d like XoR to nod toward that.

Committing to deal with all problems the hard and maximally moral way has always been one of the options on the table. But as in the real world, the hard way involves accepting a lot of suffering that’s avoidable on easier ways, and accordingly you’ll find it hard to bring all your neighbors along with you down that path.

In general, I think, it’s easier for small countries to act ethically than it is for big empires (even when, as with the EU, it’s a law-governed empire of consent rather than conquest), and a small state can take a purist, exemplary approach that larger political entities would struggle to sustain.

Hopefully the game will provide a rich reading experience for non-optimists and optimists alike.

I think that’s true of the gameworld as well. If Hera had exterminated all the helot-designated populations during her conquest, she’d have had enough blood to fuel her empire for a few decades at most, and she’d still have needed to find an agricultural workforce somewhere. Her short-sightedness would at best have produced a Napoleon- or Alexander-style flash-in-the-pan empire, not a centuries-long one. Even if Karagon had had a bigger population than it did – ready to facilitate a continent-scale genocide and resettle the emptied lands in the wake of the Harrowed populations – the blood would one day have run out and the empire would have had to develop more sustainable institutions to supply its magi.

A subjugated population – and ideally a growing one, allowing you to extract more blood to meet your expanding needs – is still the indispensable foundation for empire in the gameworld. There are other possible equilibria, sure… like a predator kingdom that creates a huge empty wasteland around it by sending out its magi to indiscriminately harvest every human they find outside their borders. But there’s a lot of risk in that model, where the people you’re exploiting to death will pretty consistently fight you back and/or flee, compared to successful subjugation, where they often won’t/can’t. The real-world considerations of risk, cost, and effort that encouraged bandit warlords to turn themselves into “stationary bandits” and eventually petty kings would I think apply here too. Especially in a world where there are rival powers out there that also have magic, so your harvesting parties would be contending with enemy magi, not just desperate hunter-gatherers.

Depends on which Erezzianos you asked. There’s a unity faction, based in Soretto but present throughout the isthmus, that would mostly reject it. They would fear that once the unity principle was abandoned, there would be little to prevent an Erezza divided into thirds (i.e. Soretto, Halassur, and you) from collapsing further into at least twelve states.

Then there are others who would take your proposed deal in a heartbeat – the folk of Cocenza and points west, Avezchenes with close ties to Shayard, rebel helot-run city states whose main concern is preventing the Theurge/aristo-led neighboring states from overrunning them.

I’m not going to comment on governability of specific maps, since there will be a lot of factors involved, not just a matter of square mile land area. But I will note that Scarthe is going to be far from irrelevant. In a Shayard hypothetically divided between multiple factions, where different groups held the Southriding, Westriding, and Coast, whichever one held Scarthe would have a much greater ability to supply their fleets and control the seas. A Coast-plus-Scarthe faction, in particular, would be well-placed to become navally dominant and interdict most sea trade by any rivals whose access to the Olossar Ocean depended on Shayard City or Corlune. (And those rivals might include not just Shayardene factions but a number of possible Rump Hegemony configurations).

A pretty limited extent. Not to sound like a broken record, but following the violent disintegration of a continent-wide authoritarian empire, most of your struggles are going to involve instituting basic rule of law and restoring/protecting enough economic function to stave off a total economic collapse. If you limit your territorial ambitions to a relatively small state, Game 5 will have more opportunities for institutional innovation, but you’ll also have to spend a lot of time dealing with threats posed by neighboring states/zones of anarchy.

There would be an interesting game to be written that focused entirely on the choice of new national institutions following a less anarchic collapse – Choice of Yegor Gaidar, or Shigeru Yoshida – where there would be much more scope for intentional system design at a high level of detail. I don’t think XoR is ever going to have quite as much of that as you’d like, because of the gameworld’s overall social tech level as well as the violence of its collapse.

It is possible to try to take over rather than destroy the Hegemony’s taxation system. As for teachers, that’s the priesthood, and it’s certainly possible to take that over too.

Given low literacy rates, not very far at all. By the very end of the epilogue, a literacy-maxing player might be able to see mass print journalism on the distant future horizon?

It should be. I’m writing a number of stat checks that are for (CHA+INT) or (CHA+COM), where either a maxed or hybrid player could succeed, and there will continue to be plenty of stat = 1 or stat = 2 checks, not just stat = 3.

And I’ll continue to do so. For example, right now the most typing-efficient way for me to check “if CHA+INT = 4” is “if COM = 0,” so I’m going to do that even if it makes the game wonky for modders and stat-tamperers.

If the merchants and yeomen believed that your redistribution was going to stop at the aristos, they could be won over to it, especially if tax breaks were part of the deal. (But a player handing out too many tax breaks may struggle to keep an army in the field, get food to starving regions, etc.)


Is there a theurgic mechanism that makes highly compressed air more difficult to excite than gunpowder? If not I would think you were more on the right track with already stable hazardous materials like poison gas, non-volatile acids, or chemicals that react strongly only when mixed like ammonia and bleach.

Because of theurgy emphasis on chemistry I’d expect them to be a bit more advanced in that area for the age than irl equivalent science.


Sorry, mon frere – the right track when talking about which part(s) of the above?


In the viable anti-theurgy/complementary to theurgy weapons tech as an alternative to gunpowder part. Things like field fortifications would take a similar path since theurges are fighter bomber equivalent. Perhaps less emphasis on linear trenches and more on strongpoints like forts. Needing to get underground and overhead cover would complement theurgy nicely since their fire-throwing would serve as suppression and a sinking poison gas would do the killing.

I don’t understand why a compressed air shell is less susceptible to theurgy than a gunpowder shell I guess is my main thought from your post on compressed air weapons.


on the subject of engineering the abhumans are all able to make changes to their pysique using magic and their wn blood is it reasonable to assume that it would therefore be possible for a theurage using their own blood to magically forge better weapons


Hopefully more non magic methods will take off once the Hegemony’s “high theurgy” becomes scarce. The big focus on education will likely eventually pay off there. Particularly important in the western variant, since a two ocean power in the west cannot solve its connection problems with just a canal it would need a second industrial revolution and actual railways to grow into its full potential the way I see it.
Pony express and stagecoaches are simply too expensive and too low volume to really juice economic growth and efficient resource exploitation and distribution. Although they would help with establishing a first primitive mail system, which is important too especially when going the controlled “democracy” route. Even if personal travel across (and beyond) the country would still be expensive and limited to a relatively privileged few it would at least be freer and slightly more available than it is right now under the Hegemony. :thinking:

Those new Hegemony bombs do sound like a particular industrial horror to inflict that would make Halassur particularly and understandably anxious. Also makes the case for sharing ward-tech for a reset of relations and getting them to agree to never reinstate slavery. Reset “normalize and formalize” possibly with diplomatic representation and all still only meaningfully works for the western option for me since in that case mc’s state would not share a direct border with Halassur and if a western state contains a significant chunk of Nyral, thus making it possible to potentially trade with Halassur over the northern ocean could stand to benefit quite nicely from a reset of relations and some actual trade with them to help develop the northern ports before a future era of railroads.

That is true, my mc would still prefer a larger state that is, even before a possible second industrial revolution, still at least a regional power and has enough teeth to flat out refuse to cooperate with any fugitive slave laws its more backward neighbors may have and can even outright refuse to treat with slavers. I already said that, particularly in the western option, my mc would be willing to make concessions to some forms of federalism and capitalism to achieve that as long as the castes and slavery are abolished to get that larger state with more potential at the cost of it, sadly, being less pure(ified) ideologically.

Yes, that island is important, even and perhaps particularly in the western option to remain a two ocean power.

Co-ops might still be able to become a thing, if farming and land becomes yeoman plus a few former helots dominated and the state and its governors have a vested interest in preventing land-owners from becoming too big to handle.

Trouble is the caste system and thus the nobility and the priesthood need to be completely and utterly broken for meaningful reform options to even become available or you will, at best, end up with a case like India where we are seeing a re-entrenchment of the old caste system, even if it is still informal and often technically “illegal” for now at least. Part of me wonders if Modi, if given another decade or so in power, will make it formal and legal once again.


a tech that would be interesting and well fitting with the MC’s background in an argricultural estate would be better soil management. With artificial nitrates from a haber like process or even just a better understanding of crop rotation there could be a repletion of the soil and that would save oceans of blood


First: you’re absolutely right that an explosive shell chucked in by catapult or Theurge is going to be an effective weapon, no matter what’s making it explode. It’ll be coming in way too fast for any but the most advanced Theurges to make it blow up in midair.

As I’ve been imagining it, the biggest difference between black powder and compressed air is the conspicuousness of their respective teloi. The chemical telos of an explosive like black powder is strong and highly distinctive in Theurge-vision – it would jump out at an observer with even minimal experience. Air has an ordinary telos of rising and expanding to fill the space it’s in; when you compress it, you’re not fundamentally transforming that telos, you’re just putting all the air into circumstances where in order to fulfil its ordinary telos, it has to explode. That absoutely does make a difference that can be perceived in telos-vision, but the contrast between highly compressed air and regular air is much, much less stark than the one between chemically volatile and inert substances.

The upshot of all that theory is that a flying mage-scout might spot a stash of alchemical explosives from the air, even against a background of diverse teloi, but would be unlikely to spot a compressed-air weapon. And a Theurge on the ground might miss a pneumatic explosive trap, but would be unlikely to overlook a trap with an alchemical detonator.

With that in mind, the only reason a Theurge-led strike force might prefer to move with pneumatic shells rather than gunpowder ones is the diminished odds of being spotted. If you can get your gunpowder shells to the launch radius of your target, you’d be able to actually do damage to stone fortifications when you start using Theurgy to chuck the shells in long-range (and much more damage to defenders, too), so that would be a huge plus. But you’d have risked losing all your shells, with substantial casualties to your own force, if you’d been spotted en route. By contrast, pneumatic shells can be transported without any compressed air in them, no more visible than any other weapon, if the Theurge leading the force has been trained to Theurgically fill and seal them at the launch site. The damage inflicted would be less, but the odds of reaching the target are better.

So yeah, those are my (evolving) thoughts. Grateful as always for your input. :slight_smile:

Incidentally, even without widespread use of gunpowder weaponry, I think fortifications in the gameworld would have evolved away from high curtain walls toward a flatter bastion-and-earthworks style, since Theurgy can be at least as devastating to tall, top-heavy stone structures as any cannon.


I merely meant the usage of pneumatics to improve the siege weapons’ efficiency, not to replace primary power. Faster trebuchet reloads and stuff. You’d probably need actuators for that though. We never had that because we had canons before we had any serious pneumatics, but I’ve seen people using spring mechanisms to vastly improve trebuchet efficiency. Though I think the performance increase was more due to materials stronger than the historical wood… Which coincidentally theurgy could provide.

“Hand-pumped”? Last time you said theurgy air-pressurised container. Like modern air-bottle airguns, you make your 100-200 shots then get a new container from your local st… Theurge. Your local theurge.

A pin would be a simple spring mechanism. I saw such made with medieval tech to release a bundle of plumbata mid-air. But you are right, for such a pin to work, the “grenade” would have to already be pretty fragile. With high risk of going off from mere bumps in the road. Your shell-bomb idea is waaay better. The only question is what sort of chemical agents can theurgy cook up. Something that ignites on contact with air?

Oh. :slightly_smiling_face:

cascat makes a good point about poisons and chemical agents though. But an airgun could be a decent poison delivery method. Cover the projectile in kurrara (I butchered that spelling probably) see how them theurges like it.


How dare you do something so reasonable
But fair :sob:no more anime protagonist for me I guess