Friday, July 28, 2017

Noxalas! Notes towards a Pyre Tabletop

The Nightwing Triumvirate: Jodariel, Hedwyn, Rukey Greentail

I’ve been playing Supergiant Games’ Pyre this week, and it is fantastic. Wonderful. Stupendous. Superlative. Very, very solid. A guilt-free Day 1 purchase, soundtrack included.

You might have guessed that I speak from a position of incredible bias. You are absolutely correct. And like both Bastion and Transistor, Pyre brings to mind that most common of idle DM thoughts:

“Can this be made into a tabletop?”

After playing a good amount of it this week, I say “yes, easily”. I wish there was a proper lore/art book (I would buy it in a heartbeat), but the notepad I have been keeping ready will serve enough for this little project. Right now I just want to get ideas down and in a place where other eyes might give them a look over.

Since Pyre has RPG elements already, and those elements are not particularly crunch-heavy, translation should be pretty easy. There’s a solid amount of support for both the tactical end (the Rites) and the story-based parts (the rest of it), and even exploration / wilderness survival (making the trek between ritual sites). The premise itself fits into a campaign mold easily (you have all been exiled from your home, and have to form a group of pilgrims to compete in the Rites against other groups to earn your return home).

There are four attributes in Pyre (Glory, Quickness, Presence, Hope), and three primary abilities in the “combat” section of the game (Aura, Jump, Sprint – all with variants). Each character has a short bio, providing information of a character’s, race, background, astrological sign, crime, motive for the crime, and how many years they have been exiled.

System-wise, I find myself leaning towards an adaptation of the West End Games D6 System.  Templates could cover the eight different races, and some additional skills can be thrown in to provide some out-of-Rite usability. I’ve found myself fond of “background / identity as a skill” as found in the third edition of *Unknown Armies*, so some of the background bits might be turned into attributes (“of course I can give someone the evil eye! I’m a bog hag!”)

The “combat” system (Air quotes used because it’s not really fighting, and more like magical basketball. It’s said in-game that the laws of the Rites forbid harm towards the opposing team) is the main thing that will require some elbow grease, as in the game proper it is real-time, controlling one character at a time. I have some reservations about switching over to a more turn-based method, but it’s certainly possible.

The XP system can be kept as-is, and abilities / items will just need whatever tweaks are needed for WEGd6 (many of them won’t need it).

I’ve got outlines of all the material I’d need in the future, so I expect a preliminary version of the rules won’t be too far off.

Regardless of all this blather on my part, it’s a great game. Art, music, gameplay, story, it's all great- and it's all new. Supergiant consistently makes some of the best and brightest fantasy worlds out there, and for that I am ever thankful.



  1. "Excelas!" is my favorite made-up word of the hour.

    1. I have been informed that the word is in fact "Noxalas", and will be turning in my mad-up language fan badge post haste.