Spirit Island: Jagged Earth

Created by GreaterThanGames

A major expansion to the award-winning cooperative settler-destruction strategy game!

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Editing update, Spirit Spotlight and more!
12 days ago – Tue, Nov 05, 2019 at 08:59:26 PM

Hey folks! Maggie here with your November update! In this update we are going to update you on the review and editing process, show off another Spirit Spotlight and share some info about the Spirit Island Digital IndieGoGo happening right now! 

Review and Editing Process

Last week we shared the third set of files with our playtesters, the Jagged Earth rulebook, and we are already receiving excellent feedback! We will be sharing the fourth, and final, set of files in about a week and playtesters will have the same two week period to provide feedback. Once that is completed we will do some internal passes over the edited content and then be ready to send it off to the factory! 

 Spirit Spotlight: Vital Strength of the Earth

Chris Burton, GTG's Game Development Manager, explains Vital Strength of the Earth's tie to the land of Spirit Island, as well as their unique Spirit growth and more! Click the link below to check it out! 

Spirit Island Digital

The Spirit Island Digital IndieGoGo campaign is in its last 4 days! Don't miss out on your chance to be apart of this exciting new Spirit Island adventure that will allow you to experience the Island in a new way! 

BONUS: Spirit Island Digital Dev Stream featuring designer R. Eric Reuss!

Handelabra Games, the geniuses behind Spirit Island Digital and Sentinels of the Multiverse Digital, sat down with R. Eric Reuss to discuss Spirit Island's new digital side! Check it out below!

See ya'll next month!

-Maggie 

Spirit Island is officially going digital!
about 1 month ago – Sat, Oct 12, 2019 at 12:49:30 AM

Hey folks! Maggie here with a brief update about Spirit Island and our digital partners over at Handelabra Games!

Over the past few years, we have received several requests, inquiries, and suggestions for making a digital version of Spirit Island, and the day has finally come! Handelabra Games launched the IndieGoGo campaign for Spirit Island - Digital Tabletop Game yesterday!

Check out the video below to see what you can expect from  Spirit Island - Digital Tabletop Game and click here to go directly to the campaign!

See you next month!

-Maggie

Review and editing process kicking off!
about 2 months ago – Wed, Oct 02, 2019 at 03:07:34 AM

Hey folks! Maggie here and a happy first day of October to all of you! This update will cover where we are in the editing and review process, where we are with art, something new and exciting from our digital partners at Handelabra Games and a look into the past with our first Spirit Spotlight! 

Review Process

This week our playtesters will receive the first of four sets of items to review. We will give them two weeks to review each set so it will take around 2 months for our playtesters to review everything because this is a HUGE expansion! :) 

Art

As of yesterday morning, 87% of the art had been commissioned. Since this expansion is enormous that is well over 100 pieces of art so far! 

The art commissioning process is tricky, but Eric provides very detailed descriptions of what idea he is trying to bring to life and then our graphic design team finds the artists capable of doing that! We have had the privilege of working with very talented artists!

Handelabra Games

Spirit Island the video game is finally coming to life! Handelabra Games has worked with us previously to create the digital format of Sentinels of the Multiverse, allowing us to share our games with thousands of fans all over the world, and now they are about to do the same thing with Spirit Island! 

Click here to sign-up for more information on their crowdfunding campaign!

Spirit Spotlight

Below is our first Spirit Spotlight where we take an in-depth look at how a spirit functions! And, in honor of October, we are kicking it off with Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares! Click below to check out the video!

Click the image above to check out the video!

See you next month!

-Maggie

A glimpse into the future...
3 months ago – Tue, Sep 03, 2019 at 11:38:14 PM

Hey folks! Maggie here with your September update! Now that we have wrapped up all of our Spirit updates, it's time to tell you all about where we are in the process of actually making Jagged Earth!

First Round of Edits

Two weeks ago we started out initial rounds of edits! Our process takes a super long time, but it's to ensure that we have time to look over every single part of the game internally and with our playtesters. Our editing process involves five internal editors at the Greater Than Games office, three "external" editors from Eric's team, including Eric himself, and all of our playtesters! 

Currently, we are working on the first internal editing pass at the rule book, and we are expecting to provide playtesters with files to review next month! 

Sneak Peek of Finalized Art

We are still in the process of finalizing a portion of the art for Jagged Earth because there is a ton! Here is a sneak peek at some of the upcoming art for Spirit Island: Jagged Earth!

Exaltation of Molten Stone by Moro Rogers
Forest of Living Obsidian by Lucas Durham
Overenthusiastic Arson by Joshua Wright

See you next month!

-Maggie

Our final Spirit update, Shroud of Silent Mist!
3 months ago – Wed, Aug 07, 2019 at 12:34:24 AM

Hey folks! Maggie here with your monthly update! Below is the Spirit summary for Shroud of Silent Mist, but first a brief Gen Con update! 


Gen Con Update

We did it! We had another awesome Gen Con, and our 2nd annual Spirit Island tournament. Thank you to everyone who participated, players and referees! For those of you who could not participate we will have more information about it in our next monthly update. We will also have information on how our Jagged Earth Preview events went! 


Shroud of Silent Mist

Shroud of Silent Mist Panel: Reverse
Shroud of Silent Mist Panel: Reverse

Introduction

With wetlands, mountains and high-humidity jungles during the rainy season, Spirit Island has plenty of Spirits of mist and fog. Among them are Morning-Glow, a smallish Spirit that lives near a few Dahan villages and manifests as striking patterns of light in the dawn's first rays, then sleeps for most of the day and night; Tide of the Forest's Breath, a dense fog that rolls down from certain mountain peaks; a Spirit called different names on different parts of the island that rises where the sun beats down on wet sand (often near the ocean); and Shroud of Silent Mist, the mist which silently flows in, bringing quiet and slow dissolution in its wake.

(The Spirit's name is an inexact translation; the Dahan don't generally use burial-shrouds. One word being translated refers to the mist-like clouding of the eyes with age and/or death, and another word brings in association of muffling or enfolding cloth. But attempts at literal translation such as "Attenuating Death-Cataract Enfolding-Blanket" mangle the poetry of the original, and completely miss the allusions to mists and cold, so "Shroud of Silent Mist" is, all in all, a better representation.)

Shroud of Silent Mist is one of those Spirits where knowledge of its nature helps greatly in dealing with it. It doesn't (usually) kill humans quickly at all; while there are stories of those-who-travel dying overnight in a mist-shrouded dell, the reality is that the danger it brings is on the scale of months to years: the mists seep in (perhaps just at night, at first), and everyone feels a little lethargic, a little cold, a little not-quite-there, with a slightly harder time seeing or hearing or breathing as the world turns a pale silver-white. Then the mists stay - perhaps retreating for a day or two here and there, but always returning - and everyone keeps feeling a little worse, and a little worse, and a little worse, but it gets harder and harder to muster the motivation to do anything about it. 

Those that manage to leave the area of the mists recover fully, given a bit of time. This may be easier said than done: if it's just manifesting in a small hollow or river-basin, you might win free easily, but more often the fog stretches all around for a much greater distance, and it's very easy to get lost in the pall. Overall, though, the Dahan consider Shroud of Silent Mist to be a very dangerous Spirit, but not always an imminent threat, between the slow pace of its enervation and the fact that it doesn't seem to bear the Dahan any specific ill-will. It might enfold a Dahan village for a few days then depart, leaving a few dead herd animals and a scattering of smaller wildlife. (Or it might stay for months and leave only the bones of those who lived there among the trees. If it shows up and you decide to stick around, you're taking your chances.)

There are stories that it once was a Dahan, and was somehow changed into a Spirit, cursed to wander silently bringing death. Most don't give this much credence, but it does make for a good tale.

Design

Shroud of Silent Mist was one of two Spirits from the initial development of Spirit Island / Branch & Claw; the other was Grinning Trickster Stirs Up Trouble. The names of both have changed, but the core thematic concepts have remained the same... well, mostly.

The original Mist spirit also had Disease in its bailiwick, but it just didn't quite fit in two different ways. One was mechanical: the Spirit was trying to do so many different things that it wasn't really doing any of them very well, and it couldn't be very good at any of them or it would be too powerful. The other was elemental: Shroud of Silent Mist has always been Air-Water plus Moon, and the only Disease power good for that is Infested Aquifiers, so players of Mists always had to choose whether to go Disease-heavy and abandon their innates, or focus on innates but not do much with Disease. That sort of trade-off isn't necessarily a problem, but for a Spirit that was  supposed to be sort of a Disease showcase Spirit, it wasn't so great.

So it became two Spirits: the Disease portion split off and eventually became Vengeance as a Burning Plague, leaving Shroud of Silent Mist to focus on what it did best.

The core of the design came together pretty quickly, and for a while it looked like it just needed some minor tweaking and it'd be good to go. But it always seemed like there was one rough edge after another, and the tweaks revealed a few underlying problems.

One of the rough edges (that's useful to know about for context) was that it did damage in too many different ways. They were all designed to evoke the feeling of surrounding and pervasive slow dissolving over time, but there were just too many mechanical differences to keep straight. This was pretty easy to solve; I standardized so that both unusual Damage calculations were the same: 1 Damage to a different Invader per adjacent land with your Presence. (So the more adjacent lands it's in, the more different Invaders it can ping for 1 Damage.) This had tested out as one of the most thematically evocative for "surrounding mists", was a good power-level (strictly no better than "1 Damage to each Invader"), and played into Mists' positional game quite nicely.

The first subtle dynamics problem was that its Unique Power Cards were too good. Not in an absolute sense - they were fairly costed - but all of them did exactly what the Spirit wanted, playing directly into its synergies and strengths. This isn't the norm; most Spirits have one or more Power Cards which are thematically apropos for their nature, but which don't play directly into their primary strengths (outside of elements, which are usually at least decent if not good). While not necessarily a problem, in combination with its Growth at the time, it meant players would focus on Reclaiming over gaining new Power Cards, which meant play tended to be more same-y than with other Spirits. This was mostly solved by making Power Card gain easier and a little more appealing (for reasons you'll see below). The Unique Powers did also get very slightly worse, but not by much - at one point I realized the Spirit's relationship with the Dahan wasn't really being captured by its Powers, so added in interactions on a couple of its Unique Powers, which served to make them a touch less convenient.

The second dynamics problem was that Presence loss - in particular, early flips of "lose a Presence every Invader Phase" Blight Cards - hit it disproportionately hard, due to the aforementioned Damage-reliant-on-surrounding and some other factors. This was half-solved by giving it an additional starting Presence so it was stretched less thin in early-game, and half-solved by giving it a Unique Power that could let it avoid predictable Presence destruction.

The third problem will make more sense once we've looked at the Spirit panel:

Spirit Panel sneak peek


Shroud of Silent Mist Panel: Front (Spirits are no longer in testing, but have not yet been proofed, so may change before final printing.)
Shroud of Silent Mist Panel: Front (Spirits are no longer in testing, but have not yet been proofed, so may change before final printing.)

Growth is a fairly standard "Reclaim-option / 2-Presence option / 1-Presence option" trio, though its Special Rules interact with its Growth, which is part of why the 2-Presence option is both at Range 0. For much of testing, it had a fourth option that gave it a discount on Power Cards with Air and/or Water, but that was eventually dropped.

(The reason it had that discount option was because Shroud of Silent Mist is such a limited-Energy Spirit. It starts with very low Energy income, never gets especially high, and has no +Energy Growth choice to grab a bunch of Energy in a hurry. This is mostly for thematic reasons: Mists are insubstantial, airy, and attenuated by nature. They flow and obfuscate and terrify and dissolve, but they are not powerful the same way that many other natural phenomena are - they don't knock you over the way a rushing river or mighty wind could. However, I did want Shroud of Silent Mist to be able to stretch up to Major Powers if played in that direction. The discount Growth fulfilled that need, but became unnecessary once the Spirit acquired other paths to be able to stockpile enough energy to use mid-cost Majors on occasion.)

Its Special Rules are the heart of the Spirit, and reading downwards they get progressively more game-changing.

Gather Power from the Cool and Dark rewards Shroud of Silent Mist for taking powers that are more in line with its nature. That facet of Spirit design is usually handled via innates, but innate powers aren't great at making cards with a specific element *less* appealing. (And they way it's done here - as a one-time no-bonus - means that once you've actually taken a Power that has Fire, it works just as well for you as any other card. This is both thematically apropos and good for feel.) The rule also serves two mechanical purposes: it makes acquiring new Power Cards more attractive, and it gives the Spirit a bit of extra energy that averages less than 1 per turn, which is what testing had revealed it wanted. (1, 2, 3 was a bit too high; 0, 1, 2 was a bit too low.)

Mists Shift and Flow allows moving 1 Presence any time the Spirit uses a land-targeting Power, representing mists constantly shifting and flowing around wherever it's active. This Presence movement can be used to fulfill targeting/range requirements, which effectively gives it +1 Range with any Power that doesn't require targeting from a Sacred Site or a particular terrain. It can surround the Invaders (dealing more widespread Damage with some of its Powers), or flow out of the way of an incoming Ravage and then back in again after the danger is past.

Flowing mists are also useful for Slow and Silent Death, its last Special Rule.

"Invaders and Dahan in your lands don't heal Damage" - straightforward enough. It makes incidental Damage a lot more useful, because the Invaders won't heal. But then:

"[Each turn,] 1 Fear per land of yours with damaged Invaders" - Mists  generates Fear passively, just by leaving half-dead Invaders hanging on in its lands. This comes with some downside - Invaders will explore from damaged Towns/Cities, so carving out a safe-zone becomes harder. And if you leave Invaders alive in too many lands, Ravages can become painful. But the benefit of getting 3-5 Fear turn after turn can be immense.

"Gain 1 Energy per 3 lands of yours with damaged Invaders" - this ties into the third dynamics problem mentioned above. For a while, playtesters kept coming back and saying that Shroud of Silent Mist felt a little weak. I gave it a series of small boosts, and eventually reports were that it was balanced... and then one other tester and I each tried it and found it massively OP.

What had happened was that most playtesters saw "1 Fear per land with Damaged Invaders" as dangerous - after all, who wants to leave Invaders alive? - and decided to use it very sparingly, often generating only 0-1 Fear per turn. But the rule is actually quite powerful, and by mostly ignoring it they were handicapping themselves.

Now, there's nothing wrong with a Spirit which can be played badly, but I wanted to signpost "hey, you should pay attention to this rule": many players underestimate the value of Fear, and that crossed with the risk generated by leaving Invaders alive meant that a tentative reaction was apt to be common. The bonus Energy provides a much more tangible/immediately-usable benefit, creates an incentive to stretch a little further if you already have 1-2 lands with damaged Invaders, and signposts that yes, 3 lands with damaged Invaders is a totally reasonable thing to shoot for.

The other nice thing this does is provide a source of Energy that tends to scale up over the game, but not always, and only if you take on additional risk. This was the final change that allowed the 4th Growth option (which was always a little niche) to be cut: players who use Slow and Silent Death well and have pushed the top Presence track tend to readily accumulate enough Energy for a Major Power.

The rest of the Spirit Panel is pretty straightforward. Its Energy track improves decently swiftly for a Spirit that gets 2 Presence/turn, but doesn't boost its more-powerful first innate until the very end. Its Plays track has a long gap between 2 and 3 Plays, but then gets better quite quickly from there... if it has the energy to use all those plays.

Its first innate deals damage, and is entirely the more powerful of the two. The other can get Explorers and Dahan lost and wandering. Between its ability to deal 1 Damage and move Explorers, it can play a pretty good Explorer-control midgame if it wants to, but when it does it's not damaging Towns and Cities to generate Fear + Energy and soften them up for eventual destruction, so it may find itself gaining ground in some ways by losing it in others.

And that's the final Spirit preview! I hope you're looking forward to Jagged Earth, because I sure am. When I went to Origins in June, the number of people who expressed anticipation was wonderful, and only amped up my own!

- R. Eric Reuss