Attention: Spoilers! This article contains detailed descriptions of the game’s mechanics and story elements. If you want to keep your impressions pure, if you value suspense and dramatic plot moves, it’s better to read the article after you’ve played the game.
Today we’ll talk about the insides of the game’s mechanics, or rather about its apices.
I am the the world.
Our hero, Theodor Grim, the novice Royal executioner, is inclined to solipsism. Solipsism is a picture of reality, a paradigm, in which a person is convinced that only her consciousness, attitude, and perception really exist and that they determine reality.
Because of hero’s philosophical views as well as socially isolated upbringing his worldview is quite narrow and also unique — this is a picture only he can see. Given his synaesthesia (which means a mixture of perception channels), this picture is a completely incomprehensible phenomenon for ordinary people. They exist in this picture, but on the periphery. Theodor himself is the center.
And here’s the real kicker: it’s actually true. Theodor Grim’s solipsism has a very real footing (through we won’t explain what it is just yet).
How does it work?
“The Executioner” has seven global variables, six of them are paired:
Rational vs. Mystical,
Monarchy vs. Revolution,
and Humanity vs. Sociopathy.
The seventh is the all-encompassing Chaos (an embodiment of imbalance and unrest intrinsic to the world).
In the beginning those variables look like properties of the protagonist, his own characteristics. Grim raises the level of Humanity by committing humane actions, he grows the level of Sociopathy by refusing to interact with people. The Monarchy gets stronger when he obeys to the King, helping enemies of the Crown fuels the flame of the Revolution and so on.
It looks like all these variables relate to the hero’s psychology and lead him through certain milestones to a specific vision of the universe. That’s the truth. But it’s not the whole truth.
First, the variables really determine the hero’s character. Some doors will open for him, others will close. For instance, an extremely revolutionary-inclined Executioner will likely be mistrusted by the King. A humanistic one will not dismember his enemies to bloody pieces in the middle of a street. This is quite traditional game mechanics.
Second, Theodor Grim’s path of evolution is bound directly by these variables. You can’t become a skilled executioner who performs the most cruel acts of torture without a high level of Sociopathy. You can’t learn to be persuasive with a low Humanity level. You can’t use the resources of the Crown if all the guards know that you are a rebel and have strong connections with conspirators.
The child is growing
However, together with Theodore Grim the whole world is learning, changing and growing. How does this happen? Often through questions and contradictions:
– Is it true that the kingdom is rotten? Is it true that people need to be ruled with an iron fist? Is the opinion of the plebs irrelevant?
– Is it possible to survive with a sociopathic mind? Is there God in Heaven, and does religion have meaning? Who are the angels? Does a person have a soul?
– Can science be actually useful? Or religious bans on the study of the human body have a point?
Every character you meet in the game has his or her own answers to these questions. Which will your hero accept? Whatever choice he makes — that will be the truth.
Not literally, of course. If Grim is asked whether God exists or not, and he answers ‘yes’, it doesn’t automatically become true. It’s a little more complicated than that.
During the game global variables change their values. Each change makes a certain movement in the internal matter of the world: the existence of God, the presence of magic, the value of science. Theodor Grim can change his mind, of course. In the first part of the game at least you may commit to contradictory points of view…
And then the timer clicks inside the game, and the change stops. An event occurs, probably left completely unnoticed by the players. But this event will firmly fix the global variables and will form the final picture of the world. This moment is the point of no return. After that the world will be what Theodor Grim thought of it at that moment.
Of course, the hero can change his point of view even after this. It will be … interesting, although we do not advise this. It’ll be a lot easier to match your hero’s worldview with an already established reality.
During play through Theodor Grim you will form your own world, the truths and the lies, motives for other characters’ behavior, their plans and intrigues. And then you deal with their consequences. And survive in a world of your own making.
And put some salt to taste
The last thing that needs to be addressed is Chaos. It is the game’s accelerator, the fire under a boiler of the universe where the hero is thrown. The higher the level of Chaos, the faster, more powerful, more aggressive the events will take place. There will be more violencуб blood will flow, and you’ll have more opportunities to use the resources that other variables require.
For example, the Revolution will choke if the level of Chaos is too low. People will not fight to death on the barricades. In contrast, the Monarchy will crumble with a high Chaos level. Many gods feed on Chaos (hmm, why did we say gods, plural?) and it’s easy to lose a rational picture of the world when it’s in the throes of Chaos, to be infected with a common madness of religions… And so on.
Chaos can be both harmful and useful at different moments of the game until our executioner-solipsist ideology is formed, and the world will find its flesh, spirit and destiny.
You can play a completely different game, win or lose, survive and die. You will make choices, and we will tell you the story of the hero in the world that you’ve created.