Cultist Program

SBE PLAYTESTER AND DESIGNER SEARCH!

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Are you passionate about games?  Do you want to see and give feedback on Stone Blade Entertainment’s newest games before the public sees them?  Interested in a free trip to San Diego to play games with me and the rest of the Stone Blade team? Then the SBE Cultist Team is for you.

Our Team is looking for dedicated, passionate players and designers to work with us and help design and develop new games.  We are looking for people with great work ethics, communication skills, initiative, and passion. Selected candidates will be expected to run local playtest groups in their home town and send regular feedback to the SBE team.  In addition, SBE will host bi-weekly calls teaching principles of game design and openly discussing our *top secret* new games and projects. After the initial 3 month period, top performing candidates will be flown out all-expenses paid to sunny San Diego for a weekend of fun, designing, gaming and connecting with the SBE crew!  Sound fun? In order to apply, you’ll need to fill out the application form here.

This is an exciting opportunity to see inside the process of how games are made and to influence the design of games you love.  If you think this is for you, fill out the form by June 20th, 2018. We will notify candidates who are accepted by July 3rd.

We are all excited to see your submissions and to meet many of you in the fall for our San Diego Summit!

-Justin Gary

 

Ascension: Lore – “Shattered”

Zora Tonné woke up screaming. She thrashed around, tangled in blankets. It felt like someone had split her head with an ax, mind broken open, visions pouring out into the room: sadistic giants, wailing spirits, and blood-hungry demons. She’d been slipping into the timestream for years, but over the past few months, what were once exhausting visions, had become destructive episodes.

Muscles twitched, and tendons strained as Zora began to convulse. She reached out for the bed frame. The uneven legs pounded into the floorboards. “Enough,” she moaned and dug her nails deep into the wood.

“Enough. That’s enough!” The whole room was shaking. The window rattled, and she watched with one open eye as the latch that held it from swinging open loosened. “No,” Zora shouted, but the window slid free, and she closed eyes tight, waiting for the sound of broken glass.

But the sound never came, and in an instant, the vision was over. Just the sharp creak of a rusty hinge and Zora’s own heavy breaths.

For a while, Zora laid there in bed, throat dried out and nauseous from dehydration. She stared at the window and breathed a sigh of relief that she wouldn’t have to replace it again. Hopefully, not tonight, at least.

Thirsty, she reached out toward a small table where a water jug sat; finely decorated and out of place in her little home. A gift from her son, the great war hero. The black clay jug was inlaid with gold and depicted the four factions of Vigil underneath a rain of crystals; fragments of a long forgotten god’s prison.

The day the shards came down was the day Zora had her first vision: she watched her son dragged to his death on Azerax’s Hook, killed for a handful of those awful black shards. Ever the skeptic, she failed to warn him, and the jug remained a harsh reminder of the reality of her divinations.

Zora put the spout to her lips and drank in huge gulps, water trickling down her cheek. Stopped to breathe, and swallowed again. The thirst was gone, but her head still ached. She placed the jug on the floor, closed her eyes and pressed her hands to her temples, a futile attempt to squeeze the pain out.

A sudden flash of light and she fell forward, hit the ground hard, and tumbled into the wall. The window swung open, she reached up, almost instinctively, and caught it before it smashed against the frame.

The jug was tipped over, water pooling up by the rim, and dripping down between floorboards. Zora stared into the pooling water. Bubbles started to form in the liquid, and a moment later it was boiling, evaporating into steam, filling the room.

Visions appeared all around her in the mist, this time much more clearly than before. Not a blurred hallucination or a murky scene in a puddle of water, this was something more precise, more vivid. She felt as though she was somewhere else, not seeing the future, but experiencing the present from a timeless place.

A dark-skinned monk in a red robe hovered in the center of a barren marble room. Golden ribbons of cloth spiraled around him like the rings of a planet. His eyes were closed, and he seemed to be meditating.

“Who are you?” Zora asked.

“I am…” the monk whispered. “I am…” He paused, and He furrowed his brow. Contemplating the question, not quite able to find the answer.

“Why am I here?”

“I brought you-” He stopped, the room fell silent. The monk twisted his head, cracked the bones in his neck, and started again: “I wanted-”

His eyes burst open. White fire burned from underneath his eyelids. “ I…am.” The monk bit off the words.

Zora screamed, turned to run, but behind here there was only empty space. Nowhere to run.

There was a crack of thunder, and the monk’s head began to split open along the crown of his skull, blinding white light beamed out. He pressed his hand on the crack as if to hold in the energy.

The monk was repeating his words, “I-am-I-am-I-am-I-am-,” mumbling like a madman. All the energies of the universe spiraled around him, and Zora could feel an unfathomable power reaching out. The monk was something more, not a man, but a god.

“No more,” she cried.

In an instant, they were face to face. He was gripping Zora’s shoulders. She could feel the fire from his eyes, burning her skin. “You must…,” he hissed.

“Let me go, it burns, let me go.” She was sobbing now, trying to rip his hands off her shoulders, but they were heavy as the mountains.

“You must…get help.” Void energy, thick as blood, poured out of his mouth, dripped onto the ground.

“Please,” she begged. “Let me go.”

A thousand voices filled the room, “We will all die!” A chorus of madness. “You will see.”

Visions appeared all around her: clockwork forests billowing smoke, liquid energy from the void pulsing through human veins, organic metals growing from the ground and cultivated by mechanized druids. The realms unraveling and then blending together, technologies merging, Vigil turned upside down and shaken like some mad alchemists brew.

The monk lifted her off the ground, “I will unmake us all,” he hissed. Then hurled her into her room. Zora skidded across the floor, hit her head hard on the corner of the bed. The last thing she saw before she passed out was the moon’s shining light through the unbroken window.

Zora woke up to the sound of rain. She dragged herself to her feet and looked out into the distance, droplets of rain rattled against the window. The world had a new glow to it, the forest outside her home seemed distorted, the birds slightly misshapen. A result of hitting her head or was the world truly different?

She inhaled deeply, and in the back of her head: a voice. Her lips parted, and she said a word. A name. His name.

“Adayu.”

And the window shattered.

Ascension World Championship at Gen Con!

OriginsLogoUltra PRO Entertainment and Stone Blade Entertainment are excited to announce that Gen Con will host the 2017 Ascension World Championship on Saturday, August 19 starting at 10AM. This Swiss tournament is open to 64+ competitors, as participants battle it out in 2-player matches with our latest set, Valley of the Ancients. The tournament will also feature a number of limited edition Ascension products:

  • All participants receive a 10 Prize Tix which can be used to purchase Ascension merchandise
  • The Top 32 will receive a Gen Con exclusive playmat.
  • The Top 17-32 will receive 50 Prize Tix.
  • The Top 9-16 will receive 100 Prize Tix.
  • The final 8 competitors receive an Ascension backpack, an Ascension watch, and 200 Prize Tix.
  • The World Championship runner-up will receive $500 in addition to the Top 8 prizes!
  • The World Champion will receive all of the above, be immortalized in a future Ascension set, and take home $2,500!

 

If you’re in Indianapolis, IN and attending Gen Con, you can register for this event (ID CGM17121937) here. We’re expecting a large turnout, so make sure you register soon. And good luck to everyone that participates — we’ll see you on August 19 at Gen Con!

Ascension: Valley of the Ancients preview!

Hello Ascension fans!

It’s Ben Lundquist again and the last time we spoke, I introduced you to Ascension: Alliances. If you haven’t played this fun, team-play set, I highly recommend you do so!

After you’re done checking out Alliances, I’d like to share details about our newest set, Ascension: Valley of the Ancients! This set marks the twelfth full Ascension expansion and the first one I had the opportunity to lead design.

As a baseline, I like to keep things simple. I don’t mind branching out and trying more complicated ideas, but there’s something about simplicity and elegance that always draws me in. When working on a game that has already released ELEVEN expansions, not only has the majority of simple space already been taken, but the target audience is going to be the more sophisticated Ascension gamer.

These caveats posed an interesting question: “How do we come up with something simple, but also appealing to long time fans?”

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As we identified different ways to answer this question, one thing remained constant: I wanted a new way of interacting with my opponents. This desire revealed a new, simple design space, while also doing something that would appeal to the core portion of our audience.

This gave birth to a new Ascension concept: Temples.

In Ascension: Valley of the Ancients, acquiring and controlling Temples is one of the most important parts of the game. Temples begin the game uncontrolled near the center row and never go into a player’s deck. Once acquired, a Temple goes into play immediately and behaves much like a Construct, with one important exception:

Your opponent can steal it.

Adding the ability to steal a Construct from your opponent opened up a new design space for the game. Players can now actively interact on any number of turns during a game, increasing the overall tension as you race your opponents to the finish line.

To make the Temples tug-of-war feel balanced, we needed to find a clear, familiar method to ensure players had fun with this new mechanic. This paved the way to a new resource in the game: Keystones.

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Keystones are the…ahem…key to acquiring a Temple. There are many ways to gain Keystones: from Monsters to Constructs to Heroes. When you gain a Life or Death Keystone on your turn, you also gain access to the corresponding Temple. In other words, if a Temple is located in its designated space near the Center Row, you acquire it. However, if your opponent has a Temple, you steal it!

Clearly, Keystones play an important role. However, during this set’s design, I also wanted to introduce a pair of new, faction-specific keywords to game. Lifebound has always been associated with “Unite” and I felt it was time Enlightened and Void received similar treatment. This gave way to Enlightened’s “Serenity” keyword and Void’s “Echo” keyword.

Serenity is a new keyword that will appear on a select number of Enlightened cards. Since Enlightened is the faction with the most card draw and causes you to frequently shuffle your deck, I thought “serenity” would be a good keyword for the faction. It really hits the flavor mark, since being peaceful and having a clean mind fits the faction very well.

In addition to Serenity, we have “Echo” as a new keyword for Void players. This type of effect was introduced in previous sets and we really enjoyed what it brought to a dedicated Void deck. So much so that we have decided to make it into a keyword that will show up more frequently.

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A special thanks to the rest of the design team. This project looks a lot different than it did when we started and that is due to an amazing team collaborating with one another. Without them, this finished product would not exist in its current form. Thank you Justin Gary for pushing me to try new things. Thank you Gary Arant, not only for sharing your feedback, but for also asking the right questions and helping me understand my own. Jason Zila, thanks for quickly identifying the less fun play patterns and suggesting good ideas to compliment the better ones. Ryan O’Connor, thanks for conceiving and creating such an awesome world and direction for the themes our audience gets to explore. Lastly, thanks to all of you for being loyal fans and making all of this possible.

I had a great time designing it and I appreciate this opportunity to share my ideas with you!