Kinfire Chronicles board game that shares a writer with The Witcher 3

It took a global pandemic to stop Jane Hoffacker. The former video game developer began her career with a three-year stint at Activision, where she worked on Guitar Hero. and Skylanders. She eventually moved on to a new company called Riot Games where, nine years later, she found herself serving as an executive producer on ArcaneNetflix’s critically acclaimed animated series based on League of Legends. Despite his extensive gaming experience and knowledge, it somehow wasn’t until the COVID-19 shutdown that he first played Dungeons & Dragons, and that’s when he got hooked on tabletop gaming.

“I am embarrassed to admit that it took me so long,” he said. “But I fell in love with that experience, that kind of shared ride and shared adventure that you go on with friends. I remember thinking Why did it take me so long?

The answer, he decided, was that the barrier to entry in today’s table games is simply too high. Modern RPGs like D&D, for example, require a lot of preparation and a skilled player, the Dungeon Master, to lead the experience. Meanwhile, campaign-focused board games like Gloom Haven Y Descent: Legends of the Dark they have elaborate rule sets and take a long time to set up. What if there was a middle ground, something that could get people away from their screens and monitors to spend time together around the table, as well as something more agile and easy to learn?

The player characters of Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall sitting around a campfire.

Image: Incredible Dreams

From that idea, the concept of Kinfire Chronicles: Nightfall was born. The crowdfunding campaign for the project will launch on Tuesday, and Polygon has important details on what to expect in the final product. It’s a campaign in a box, and like many high-concept board games being produced today, it also comes with a premium price: $149.99 retail. But for that price, Hoffacker says, his company, Incredible Dream Studios, will introduce players to a whole new level of tabletop gaming, an experience that’s designed to feel more like unboxing and setting up a new Apple product and less like build plans. -pack furniture

The team

After more than a decade developing video games and related projects, Hoffacker knows that great games are built on great stories. That’s why he hired two of the best writers in the business, Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz and Jakub Szamalek, to create the world of Atios. During their time with CD Projekt Red, the pair worked on both The Witcher series and Cyberpunk 2077. Tomaszkiewicz in particular is best known for the famous Bloody Baron quest series in The Witcher 3: Wild Huntwidely considered one of the best stories in RPG history.

Hoffacker did not stop there. While touring the Polish game development industry, he called up Katarzyna “Kate” Redesiuk, a former art director at cyberpunk 2077. His unique set of skills contributes to Kinfire Chronicles‘ Distinctive Look: A combination of dark and fantasy that the team calls “somber.” He then rounded out the team with Kevin Wilson, a 20-year tabletop industry veteran whose credits include such legendary titles as arkham horror Y Descent: Journeys in the Dark.

For Wilson, who spent decades self-employed, the transition to full-time employment was life changing. But it was the world-class team he suddenly had at his disposal that got him excited.

Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall artwork of Din'Lux City before Night's Fall, with a landscape of colorful plants and creatures rolling in the distance.

artwork of Kinfire Chronicles: Nightfall shows Din’Lux City before Night’s Fall…
Image: Amazing Dream

“I don’t know what your home PC setup is like,” Wilson said during a recent interview with Polygon, “but it’s like all of a sudden you have the best video equipment you could ask for, the best audio equipment and all the software you can ask for. that I could wish for. And they’re like, Well, what do you want to do? Because you are the expert in this field. So how do you think we want to go?

“We’ve gone in all sorts of directions since then,” he continued. “It’s been almost like a two-year project, getting it done. […] We want it to be amazing. We want it to surprise people.”

The history

Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall artwork of that same landscape around Din'lux after nightfall.  The landscape is withered and full of new menacing images, like a skull and a spider.

… and then.
Image: Amazing Dream

Kinfire Chronicles offers a high fantasy setting, with humans and fantastic creatures. According to Wilson, the story begins during the siege of the elven city known as Din’Lux by an army of dwarves. During the battle, the stars go out and a magical darkness descends on the world. But the elves have prepared for this with a magical beacon that they have tended for generations.

“The city advocates decide they’re going to open the gates,” Wilson said. “Leave [the invaders] inside, they were disarmed, and darkness fell on the rest of the world. Only this small town was protected.” Beyond the light of Din’Lux, magical monsters and horrors rule the land.

The game takes place at a point where many years have passed since the beginning of the Starless Night, with players taking on the roles of members of the Seeker’s Guild. His first mission is to take an ember from Din’Lux to try and establish a new city somewhere in the desert. Along the way, the group will face serious danger and may even fail in their mission. The game will progress independently, with a combination of a complex branching narrative, tactical turn-based battles, and a strong system for exploration and discovery.

What Wilson is most proud of, he said, is the way the game smoothly incorporates new players. Kinfire Chronicles it begins with its exciting story, and only when the conflict arises does the game mechanics develop.

“You have a small deck of 18 cards,” Wilson said, “and you’re playing your cards. […] By staying on character, you gain experience points that allow you to modify your character’s deck. when you leave [to] sleeping in the town inn, you can shuffle some cards: put some cards in and draw some cards, or get more powerful cards to change the way your character plays.”

The idea is that the players learn the system together, in real time, while opening the game.

The product

While other publishers might spend all of their time and treasure during the game development process creating elaborate miniatures or complex cardboard terrains, Hoffacker and his team have focused instead on packaging. How do you take and bring a modern board game to the table in the shortest amount of time?

A game of Kinfire set out to play.

Photo: Amazing Dream

The solution they came up with is based on the music industry, specifically vinyl records. Each one of Kinfire Chronicles‘ 15 missions will be packaged as an LP. On the outside of the pack, there’s a themed album cover to get players excited, and inside, they’ll get just the stuff they need to play for the next hour. There’s no pulling out cardboard components or sorting decks of cards to find the right ones. It’s just grab and go.

“It would have been a lot cheaper for us if we just stacked up a bunch of pegboards and then had everything mesh together,” Hoffacker said, “basically trusting the player to assemble more themselves. I feel like sometimes you buy these sets and feel like you’re about to put together Ikea furniture, because you literally are. We’re taking advantage of the packaging, which makes it a little more expensive, because now you have to pay people to actually fill each little box, but we want to make it as simple as possible for you to sit down and play. Let’s maximize their playing time.”

With the packaging design figured out, the remaining challenge for the team will be engaging fans with the lore and keeping them there with the ease of the game. To that end, Incredible Dream borrows modern tabletop RPGs by sponsoring a series of actual games on YouTube. The first episode is live, with Chrissy Costanza (Twitch streamer and lead singer of Against the Current), Brian David Gilbert (formerly of Polygon), Krystina Arielle (Star Wars: The High Republic and Dimension 20), and Ryan Verniere (blackbirds Tabletop RPG and Riot Games).

Kinfire Chronicles: Nightfall It will launch on Kickstarter on Tuesday, with the base game available for pre-order for just $99. A deluxe version is also available for $175.

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