the chariot, pulled east and west, manifests no destiny. only by turning one wheel, all together, do we drive our fortune forward.

magic is a chimeric force, drawing the disparate into one. this is the essence of creation, binding of opposites into a gestalt, every problem containing its own solution. together, we are greater. 

the children of the chariot descend from sphinx, and those wise enough to seek answers to life’s riddles within the riddle of life itself. to speak with nature, to give in to instinct, is to be true to the world. we are all half of two things. 

not always accepted, even while human in daylight, straywalkers keep to the shadows and the alleys. they know the secret passages of the land like the back of their paw.

their solo campaign turns inward, as straywalkers share a dreamscape with many inner selves, exploring: duality; identity; mental health; social sciences; non-human consciousness and intelligence. 

straywalkers are unique, possessing both a human form and, at nightfall, a cat form, their aspect of the dream. these dual-selves see and smell the world differently but are cunning and can learn to work together.

players who believe in the conscious macrocosm of all life are likely already straywalkers at heart. guided to mastery, they will bring balance to the scales of justice.

some of us are suns, giving warmth, while others, moons, reflect beauty. but the stars? they burn and burn out, so to be dreamed of forever.

we learn to sing before we talk, dance before we learn to walk. there are strings guiding our movements, waiting to be strummed by musical magicians, or magical muses. and when the melody is true, it can never be unheard.

a star of stage and screen knows their line, their cue, their moves, and their audience. they throw their voice as well as their inner light, and tend to be the center of attention. now, thanks to magic, they always are.

no matter the venue at which they perform, they give their art over to love. but remember, players only love you when they’re playing.

their character arc looks at many taboo subjects through the lens of bodily autonomy, but this is a dark world: sex work; pornography; recreational substances; altered states; overdoses; music; fame and infamy. art is eternal, but human.

players channel limitless charm into props and guises, bending reality in line with their imaginations. cloaked in the aspect of the passion, they can convince anyone of anything. 

those who understand that all art is sex will likely find an alignment with the stars. as they ascend to mastery, they will speak words of truth and power to the people, to the world, and to the cosmos.

they who hold the card with no name play against a stacked deck: ace of spades up their sleeve; their other hand, in hand with death.  

of the many incarnations of magic, none frighten more than the embodiment of death. she sees through the eyes of her vassals, speaks with their tongues, cuts threads with her many hands. they are everywhere; so too is she.

they who hold the card with no name are those who have crossed paths with death and walked away. though they may have felt this was a gift, life is never that simple. this encounter still claws away at them.

whether by accident, malediction, or choice, these oracles now move through the world with one hand in the grave.

this archetype’s story explores many dark themes: death, naturally; murder; suicide; trauma; loss; grief; and also, acceptance. only death is immortal, and through her, oracles live on.

they possess many strange talents, including countenance of truth, witch’s eye, and grave touch, while their aspect of the veil pulls back the curtain to the void.

players fascinated by the occult and morbid folklore may enjoy this force of inevitability, who at mastery can see beyond time, walk beyond shadows, and talk to death herself.

these post features some format details which are no longer representative of what is on kickstarter, primarily that the prologue is SUMMIT AVENUE (which is now a separate full chapter)

an urban fantasy, THE VIOLET SANCTION takes place in an alternate version of capitol hill, seattle, present day.

a magical reservoir has burst, disrupting the city. a curtain of light, the titular violet sanction, enshrouds the neighborhood like a dam, but the blossoming of magic burns all it touches. it is an ancient force, with rules long forgotten.

but there are plenty who forget nothing: broken promises, uncollected debts, power awakening in old blood. everything changes.

the prologue, SUMMIT AVENUE, initiates character creation, provides residential features that will be frequented between adventures, including a cafe, bar, dispensary, pawn shop, and tattoo studio, and contains the solo campaign through which characters develop their potential.

every episode introduces a new location, and characters will move freely between them as they discover secrets and unravel the many mysteries of the story.

players from or knowledgeable of seattle will be familiar with many places in the game, including VOLUNTEER PARK, where bruce lee is buried, the PIKE/PINE CORRIDOR, iconic thoroughfare to downtown, ST. MARK’S CATHEDRAL, home of one of seattle’s largest pipe organs, and other exciting historical sites painted with dark, fantastic elements.

pay attention, connect the dots: there are no coincidences.

THE VIOLET SANCTION approaches characters asymmetrically, with a focus on shaping each archetype’s mechanics around a narrative. the game trades dice for a personal deck of cards which are altered as choices are made. each player traverses the episodic campaign with their own motives, their own choices, and their own consequences, cooperating with other players in a wide variety of ways.

in place of traditional experience points and levels, each character embarks on a solo adventure parallel to the game’s central campaign. this narrative begins immediately with character creation: these first choices determine ability, specialty, and circumstance

characters record this journey on a tri-fold folio, which opens and closes to reveal an aspect unique to each archetype. further exploration of the solo adventure unlocks potential, which when realized in the central campaign becomes mastery.

these game mechanics shape the journey through the story. the combination of talents brought to the table by all of the players will open new doors as characters develop their skills and relationships (with one another and with those beings encountered in the world). 

there is no wrong path. from all choices may be gleaned wisdom.

a little bit about me: my name is cody and i’ve been playing games forever. i think this is true for a lot of my generation, with one or more parents having been inspired by the new gaming technologies of the 70s and 80s. my dad happened to be into computer games. just before i can quite remember, he owned a small computer repair store, so i was using and programming computers before school.

i can remember him working his way through POOLS OF RADIANCE and the entire GOLD BOX line. i wasn’t quite old enough to be able to play, but i remember watching and listening. a bit older, i played EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. i loved to make characters, endlessly playing with combinations of dice rolls for stats, character portraits, and anything having to do with magic. i’ve loved magic since when.

but, as soon as i started the game up, i’d watch the intro, get thrown into the dungeon, and watch the landslide of rocks seal me in. it’s a pretty vivid memory. i played it a lot, probably because i would frequently die at the first battle or be too scared to venture any further.

my dexterity was also terrible, and anyone who remembers the combat waltz in dungeon crawl/blobbers knows how essential it was to survive. i had -3 to all dexterity checks (still true now!). i loved the stories and the magic and the excitement, but i just wasn’t any good at it.

(when i got a little older i didn’t jump at digital monsters any more – well, at least until DOOM came out. and some parts of MYST. and all of 7TH GUEST…)

enter adventure games. well, no, scratch that. enter a lot of adventure games that i was also terrible at, and then enter MONKEY ISLAND. unlike SPACE QUEST, which I did love, now i could no longer die. i wasn’t racing against a clock. i wasn’t certain that any wrong choice could ruin my ability to win the game eight hours from now with no indication and require me to restart. with MONKEY ISLAND i could take my time, enjoy the characters and story, and work out the puzzles as i went. music and well executed cut scenes created plenty of suspense. no need to actually punish the player. the game taught you how to play through its narrative. it all connected back together eventually. 

adventure games are still my absolute favorite genre. of the hundreds and hundreds of games i own, i probably complete about five percent. but of the adventure games i own? almost all of them.

of course, a love of roleplaying games evolved naturally. D&D (especially advanced, first edition) provided a great foundation, and my love of writing translated to dm-ing, but my propensity for deviating from the rules moved me on to other more free-form systems.

i read MAZES AND MONSTERS and found it incredibly fun to make my own game systems. making games became a huge part of playing them. i can’t play anything without a critical eye for the way the pieces come together.

anyway, by high school, i ran a more esoteric gaming group using the DRAGONLANCE SAGA system. for anyone who isn’t familiar, it was based on the popular book series and D&D campaign, but deviated so completely as to replace dice…with cards, and a roleplaying ruleset revolving around that. the card mechanics were so liberating compared to what dice had to offer, completely changing the way the players could move their characters. you could choose to keep an ace up your sleeve, use your best cards at just the right moment, or have narrative control over a failure. playing SAGA meant telling a story, with the rules adding structure. 

i personally associate that difference with the cards, which is why scaryridge has a moratorium on dice.  i know that’s largely my own reference point, but it is also an informed one. choosing not to use dice makes a statement: these games do things differently. you know it going it.

so, a bit about THE VIOLET SANCTION, scaryridge’s first project.

instead of a set of dice, you’ll bring your own deck of cards, which becomes part of your character sheet. as you interact with people, as choices are made, as the story unfolds, consequences will begin to alter your deck. you will take notes on them, mark out pips, even remove cards entirely.

the game reacts according to these alterations. say there’s a bar brawl, the bartender gets hit, loses an eye: cross out the spade on the ace of spades. future scenes with the bartender show the ace of spades, depicting the missing eye, and the narrative takes you down that appropriate path. perhaps different choices result in the bartender dying instead: remove the ace of spades from the deck. later, the bar is closed, until they’ve hired a new bartender.

the totality of these choices and consequences, over a longform episodic campaign, replace the dm role with adventure modules and dynamic card-based physical save states. 

i’m really excited to share more about the game with everyone. look forward to glimpses at the character classes available, next.