Occult Chronicles by Vic Davis (Cryptic Comet)

New official Web page was put up for Occult Chronicles yesterday.


Also in Vic's blog post, he mentions that both Armageddon Empires and Solium Infernum will be going on sale!

I’ve also lowered the prices on AE and SI to $14.99 each or $25 for both. It’s a bit of an experiment to see if the conventional wisdom is correct. I’m hoping that it brings up volume and revenues. I’d still like to get them both on steam someday. Gabe, Valve, Steam call me.

The price for The Occult Chronicles will be $19.99. I’ll probably set up a Greenlight page once I can get a video finished. I’ll post the link here if that happens.

BAAAAH! Spelk, dude, put Vic's name in the topic as that would've drawn me in long ago. Just saw Bill Harris' post about the game and I'm downloading it as we speak.

Sounds interesting... downloading now!

garion333 wrote:

BAAAAH! Spelk, dude, put Vic's name in the topic as that would've drawn me in long ago.

@garion333, Fixed!

You can buy into the Open Beta now!!!

I'm looking forward to digging into this! Armageddon Empires is one of the most interesting turn-based strategy games I've ever played. (Also, hi spelk! Small world...)

Oh dear, this promises to be rather addictive...

...best Final Score so far: 61 - eventually killed by being beaten down by several aborted attempts at defeating a brain-bot and then finished off by failing to disarm an electrified lock!

*Mentalist seems to be the easiest class I've found to start with so far I think. At least in the first scenario.

* * *

...correction, best Final score 144 before being eaten by a man eating plant. Stupid man eating plant

I think I know where most of my weekend is going

PeterS wrote:

I'm looking forward to digging into this! Armageddon Empires is one of the most interesting turn-based strategy games I've ever played. (Also, hi spelk! Small world...)

*waves* to PeterS!! Keep those matchsticks to hand, Peter!

It's amazing just how many people you bump into on forums, that you've met on other forums... it's almost like we spend our entire life communicating with different collections of strangers pretending to be mature, considerate anonymous friends

I've dabbled a little bit with TOC, and I like the presentation so far, but I'm not sure the trick taking card game to resolve encounters is setting my heart on fire. It seems a bit too simplistic at first. But I've read on Vic's forums that the early game is a bit like that, because you haven't amassed a lot of skills or special modifiers, that make altering the odds on the trick taking game in your favour. I'll stick with it though.

I'm going to cut and paste a response Vic posted over at Qt3 (I hope that's ok?), because it gives a further insight into the design, and why the initial part of the game is a bit more pedestrian.

Originally Posted by Boojum
Yep, that's one of my biggest marks against the game after 10+ hours. The strategy involved is trivial unless you have spells or abilities to use, and far too often it takes 17 clicks to arrive at a result that was inevitable as soon as the cards were dealt.
I had an idea that this might be how the card game was going to be perceived by some players and I can honestly understand the frustration since my previous games have been traditional turn based strategy games...well not Six Gun Saga but that's another story. Anyway, you could replace the card game with a dice roll based on your attributes and resolve any decision point just like that. That's what Betrayal: House on Haunted Hill does. So it's true that when the two sets of cards are dealt, the die have in effect been rolled...almost

But using the trick taking game let me create a whole universe of game mechanics that can change a loss into a win...bump cards up or down, add cards to the table or your hand, cash in cards for points, etc. So where is the strategy in the game? My intent was that it would be in two places. First, on the board you needed to decide how you wanted to explore the mansion and as you will see I hope, you need to have a plan for finishing quests and searching for clues. As the story clock ticks you are supposed to have to make decisions on what quests to cash in and which unexplored areas are worth scouting out. If you max out seeing the sights and collecting the swag upstairs then running the gauntlet of the basement/dungeon and actually finding the final mission encounter should be more difficult as a tradeoff.

The second area was the decision space for leveling up your character. It's true that you have to be competent in all 4 attributes. A very low score in one attribute will probably be tough to survive. Like Boojum said if you don't have a decent cups attribute the traps will tend to hurt you and there are encounter types that work the same way for the other attributes as well. But this doesn't mean that you have to make all 4 attributes equally high or raise them all together. I came up with the skill cards as the prime leveling mechanism so that players were forced to make choices. You can only pick two cards and each card generally only lets you raise 1 primary attribute and sometimes a secondary one marginally.

The third area was of course the card game. It's meant to be semi-deterministic. The order in which you flip the trick cards can matter at the margins...and the scrying ability that lets you see some face down cards amplifies this even more. That's why suit matching is important. But the big design idea was that I intended for players to have to decide when they wanted to expend their resources to change the results and then figure out what the best way to do it was. Most items have special abilities but they either have a consumable (ammo, charge or courage) or some downside to their use....so that was intended to be another decision.

But it is true that most card games will be simplistic in their resolution. That was my intent. Most of the time you can just match the cards and keep going. If you have seen one class I full roaming vapor, then you have seen them all and you know that isn't an encounter that you need to open the special can for.

So that's what I was thinking from a design standpoint when I settled on a trick taking game and the structure of the tarot suits representing types of encounters. But while I wanted some cerebral decision making, I'll admit that my primary goal was to just let players explore a spooky old haunted house like they were a B.P.R.D. agent and marvel at the occult wonders. I imagined players taking their time and reading the text. Something like auto explore has been suggested by several of the testers and I realized then to my own horror that I'd made a mistake calling this game a rogue like.

I also have to say that the genesis of this idea came while I was playing puzzle quest on my PC many years ago. I thought the trick taking game was an improvement on the match 3 games which for me at least became more of a zen meditation state than a resolution mechanic....and they took longer with more clicks as well...but at least people can't claim that my cards are cheating

Anyway, as with all my games, they are what they are and I'm going to be gathering as much feedback as I can to work on balancing the core of what is there and also try and improve the UI as much as possible. I was surprised with the wide range of save games that I got during testing..well not really, it's always like this now that I think about it. I lost a few testers because they got frustrated and thought the game was impossible and I had a few who had maxed out their attributes and had occult arsenals of doom in their inventories. But I knew this wouldn't be easy going into it.



oh my god they've made the game that was lurking in my heart

Interesting... very interesting.

Booooo! Damn you Death and your insta-kill card!

best score yet though :

RIP Judith Merry, Professor of kicking cultist butt (PhD)

*(added the character photo "in post")

This game is GREAT!

* A very minor point but it would be great if you could add your own character portraits into the game. Maybe something for a later build I hope.

New personal best : Final score 337.

Professor Mulholland White was doing so well, finally progressing to the second floor of the house when a bad encounter with a crossbow bolt trap broke her collar bone, giving here a serious disadvantage in combat. The next encounter with a pack of common ghouls ended poorly (to say the least) and left her seriously wounded - forcing her to flee to the third floor of the manor, whereupon she was beset by a ...familiar...looking creature with some manner of triangular hat for a head and promptly squished.



Who would have thought sending an Accountant in to a mansion full of monsters would be so productive. RIP Deirdre Dale, You made it deepest into the house so far. Your fatal mistake was getting over-confident and going into the basement too early - then being devoured by an Abomination of Agklagugtiyn.

Most tragic of all, the O.D.D now need to find a new number cruncher...
Final Score 442

I think my biggest gripe about this so far has to be the instant-death cards you can pick up from failing some special encounters. It's rather annoying to be making good process only to be instantly killed by sheer bad luck. It's fine once you know which encounters to avoid (there's at least 2 I know of on the ground floor) but still a bit of a pain.

I love the character portraits.

Strangeblades wrote:

I love the character portraits.

Those are not in the game btw, I just added them afterwards for effect
Sadly the in-game selection is extremely limited at the moment.

I'm not sure I get the strategy yet, but the game is surprisingly addictive. Very much feels like a cross between Arkham Horror and Betrayal at House on the Hill.

It's pretty hard to get a viable character going, however. Do you guys specialize, or spread your points out evenly, or what?

This game is freaking amazing. I'd also be interested in tips for getting a viable character going - so far my best results have been with a soldier and using a shotgun to solve everything.

I'm also slightly confused by the spell system - how do you regain energy charges, and when it says "requires three pentacles" is that three pentacle cards played?

I've had most success so far with an Accountant or Professor focusing mostly on Psychic skills - although that's come back to bite me on the backside when you go up or down a level and encounter some tough to kill horror...

I also think it's probably not worth putting too many points in health/sanity when you start a new character, as you can very quickly bolster that up through the various encounters. Probably better to put more points in the four skill stats instead.

Ammo, Energy and skill charges are rewards from the random cards you get after winning an encounter, depending on the type of encounter. Pretty rare from what I've found so far, so maybe the balance is not quite right yet...

The rest I'm still trying to figure out myself as well

New update to the game today:


Sonicator wrote:

when it says "requires three pentacles" is that three pentacle cards played?

I believe that refers to the skill level of that particular stat on your character sheet.

spelk wrote:

New update to the game today:


Nice. That mandadory quest reward is sorely needed I think. Too many times I've ended up with nothing.

stevenmack wrote:

Ammo, Energy and skill charges are rewards from the random cards you get after winning an encounter, depending on the type of encounter. Pretty rare from what I've found so far, so maybe the balance is not quite right yet...

Ahhh.... that makes sense. It feels like the only times I got ammo drops were after fights where I won by a really big margin, but maybe that's just because those are the ones where you get the most reward cards.

So maybe two main suits, and two lesser, in terms of skill buildouts?

I think so. I've certainly survived the longest when focused on just two (Cups and Wands).

I find it appropriately Lovecratian that the character I've had survive the longest so far has been an Accountant

Also, make sure not to take two of the same type of Bones/Dice when picking your perks on the right - apparently there is currently no benefit so taking multiple dice of the same type.

During the beta I had great success with Boxers. 3 Swords, 3 Cups and the rest Wands to try to mitigate horror challenges. I upgraded Cups and Swords and took edges and later skill cards to try to immunize myself against horror. Once you get a few Sword/Cup level ups, things start coasting. Swords/Cups are also very powerful in the lead up to the endgame. I never managed to really get a spellcaster off the ground. I'm going to try some more now that I have time to play again.

Dammit! Had my Best game yet but I was scuppered by another instant death card (well, instant insanity this time around). Those cards are kind of a pain.

Anyway - Final Score 583, Driven mad while looking into a crystal ball.

My best score so far is 129. I guess I suck.

Slowly making more and more progress...
Final Score : 749 this time round - Cleared most of the ground and first floor then thought I might be tough enough to take on the first basement level. This was not the case. That is one right bugger of a map - Lots of tough critters and deathtraps.

Actually managed to finish a case (The Key and the Gate)! Final score 1097, 1115 turns taken, 225 challenges won and 89 failed, 16 quests finished and 5 clues found.

Basic build (spoilered just in case anybody is trying to avoid strategies)


started off as a thief with swords bone and mental fortress edge (for all those early horror challenges) and got the cheap stats bonuses ASAP; then grabbed a card that provided wands and got the cheap stat bonuses from that; then got a card that provided pentacles and got the cheap stat bonuses from that, then went back and got edges, bones and 5-token stat bonuses. Wound up being a bit lighter in combat than was ideal, but still got through the end by spending the trump cards when I was really struggling. I think it might be a bit better to go thief with pentacles bone -> wands card -> swords card or possibly soldier + pentacles -> wands card -> cups card, but that's only because the spells don't seem to get energy very often. Key thing I think is to have a reasonable balance, overspecialising just leaves you vulnerable. Using level up tokens to increase stats definitely seems more cost-effective than most of the edges etc.

Interesting tradeoff the way more combat focused characters have an easier time with challenges, but you get more options with a magic/psychic focus. Didn't realise how many potential quests I'd been missing with my shotgun-based approach to problem solving.

I've put a moratorium on game buying for now but I'll be damned and driven insane if this game doesn't look like a ton of fun.

This is developing into a very thoughtful game. I suspect there's more balance tweaking to come, but I'm enjoying it.

I love the fact that Vic makes board games for he PC so we don't have to deal with the fiddly bits and can get straight to the fun.