It’s eight in the morning, and by that time I am awake, into my second coffee, and at my desk. Good. Not too early and not too late [Tip: Writing is like the Goldilocks Zone, apart from when it’s like your final boss fight with the Kurgan].
Booting up the trusty ‘ol laptop to see what’s occurred in the world while I’ve been in another period of cat-related-fatigue (aka, sleep) and I realize two things: 1). That Epson spams me almost every single go’dangit day about ink cartridges I am never going to buy, and 2). That PLANS have been happening since I last logged in. I trawl through a brace of updates, campaign alerts, newsletters, and the blog posts that I’ve somehow managed to get myself signed up to – and there, at the bottom is an email from my boss, Mr. Frank. Super-Good. Just yesterday I fired off my latest batch of words for his perusal, and while I have been elsewhere he has managed to inspect, edit, tweak, and even play test!
Yikes, that man has drive.
Sitting on my desk is the Deluxe City of Kings set (which I dip into every few hours it seems, and only *partly* to pretend-fight Calamis Earthshaker with a bunch of pointy-helmetted High Elves) which I now crack open to get the little grey cells clicking.
Fresh coffee nearby? Check.
Notebook and pen? [Tip: think in analogue, draft in digital] Check.
Cat set to the sleeping position? Check – but she looks as though she might do a little light killing in a bit. Must remember to protect Calamis.
I am ready to start another day’s work at The City of Games. It’s fun. It’s collaborative. It’s hard work. It’s still fun.
In honour of these devilishly handsome murderbunnies reaching my desk, I thought I would introduce you to one of the characters from the City.
Character concept and game design by Mr. Frank West
Other Names: The First, the Earthshaker.
Weight: No one dares ask, but we can assume somewhere between 3-4 tonnes.
Probable Bench press: like, a Humvee in each hand or something.
Likes: Smiting Vesh. A soft spot for the people of the world (unlike the other Risen, who prefer the uncomplicated stones and silence). Sesharra, the refugee of the Sakura people that he rescued.
Special Abilities: Warming, Last Stand, Instil fear, Cure Poison, Earth Prison, Restore, Haggle, Smash, Panic, Revive, Stoneskin, Hammer Fist.
Calamis Earthshaker is the first of the golem- elemental- like creatures known as the Risen, creatures raised from the rocks, roots, plants and minerals of the world by the strange gods called the Fallen. Hardly anything is known of these mysterious beings other than they made the City of Kings, and that they died. When a drop of their blood – or whatever ichor it was that powered them fell to earth – it brought the Risen into being, with Calamis as the first. It is rumored that Calamis even heard that last words of that dying god – although over the many ages it has not revealed what they were.
For millenia Calamis has walked the quiet halls of the City with its fellow guardians of the City, uncovering many secrets – but there are still more for even Calamis to find. The Earthshaker and the other Risen have turned back tides of hopeful heroes, would-be kings, and tyrants from the gates – all who believe that if they could control the most ancient stronghold in the world, then they could control everything.
That was until Vesh, however.
When Vesh Darkhand [the Big Bad] was still just a human sorcerer, he captured and tortured the Earthshaker for its essence, to be used in his foul experiments. To this day, Calamis still wears the chains that the Darkhand used. It is assumed that Vesh injected some of that prime power (and thus that of the Fallen) straight into his own body, making him what he is today. Since that day Calamis Earthshaker has never been the same; weakened and often making questionable decisions.
As Vesh grew more powerful, it was Calamis Earthshaker who chose to open the city gates to the outsiders, as a final place to stand against the endless armies that threaten the world. The other Risen have been unhappy with Earthshaker’s decision, but they stand by their leader all the same, realising that these refugees will be the final defence before the monsters of Vesh flood through the city gates, and overwhelm them all.
# # #
One of the things I love about Calamis is that it is one of those big, troll-like behemoth heroes like the Hulk – physically impressive, devastatingly powerful – but unlike others it is also a learned, ancient soul. In my chats with the game’s designer Frank, I started to see this different side of Calamis. The Earthshaker has a library, going back millenia. Unlike the other Risen, Calamis actually likes humans (even if Calamis complains they are too easily distracted). I liked the idea of this almost mythic character re-entering the world; one that every other nation and people have stories about, but might never have expected to see. And then, of course, there is Miguel’s fantastic artwork – creating a creature that was honestly something I hadn’t seen before, and kept that sense of ancient power and determination.
In addition to the concept and art there is the intriguing story: this Earthshaker who was also deeply wounded by Vesh’s experiments – both physically and psychically. Vesh had managed to do what countless years and would-be invaders couldn’t: the Earthshaker has become erratic, furious at times, confused at others.
All of the hero characters of the City of Kings can be said in some way to embody the hopes of their people – High Prince Brutius the Broken is desperately trying to keep the bickering human houses together, Vyliria the Grey Queen is literally dying as she struggles to keep alive the elves’ Sacred Groves. For all Sesharra knows – she might actually be the last of her people! One of the things that struck me about Calamis is that they not only reflect the hopes of the other Risen and ancient creatures, but in some way acts as a guardian of the entire legacy of the Fallen and the world. Calamis is the only solid link to that past, and they have stood on the battlements of the ancient City, waiting for someone worthy enough to inherit it.