“The Candidate” is the only sword and sorcery fantasy I’ve written so far. It is also the only story that is set in the world I did not imagine on my own. Instead I was working with the background created by Justin Gary and other fine folks over at Gary Games for their excellent board game “Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer.”
I was given a set of mythology/events they developed for the game, plus whatever hints I could pick up from artwork and flavor text printed on the game’s cards. However, I also had plenty of creative freedom. Kaer and his people were entirely my addition (though Ahrans already existed in the world of Ascension). All individual non-deity characters in the story I got to make up on my own. Justin and Co. even took some of my advice in changing parts of the fundamental mythology of Ascension in the process.
In writing this story, my goal was to introduce Ascension fans to the fundamentals of the imaginary world in which they are playing. For those who haven’t played it yet (and you should!), Ascension is a deck building game in which players race to collect the most powerful assortment of weapons and spells while defeating monsters on the board. Players are never in direct conflict with each other as they would be in a game like Risk. They are all working toward the common goal – defeating an evil god. However, there can be only one winner, so the game mechanics allow players to occasionally make moves that temporarily set back their opponents (much like moving a Robber in Settlers of Catan, or placing a tile to mess up a competitor’s city in Carcassonne).
In the end, there can be only one Godslayer – but there are many Candidates (players) in the game. What motivates them? Some are obviously in it for the Big Prize (this will be covered in the story, but the game’s title in itself is a pretty big hint). Others… not so much.
The end result was a rather long (5000+ words) story which will be published in four installments on the Gary Games web site. Today you can read the first part here. Stay tuned to the official Ascension web site, or to this blog, for the next chapter.