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  Click here to go to the first staff post in this thread.   Thread: What is Told

  1.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #1
    Creative Director Alex's Avatar
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    Apr 2012

    Post What is Told

    Hello and welcome! Over the next few weeks we're going to be releasing a multiple part story set in the world of The Banner Saga. It'll be the first time we've really talked about the setting, the history and key concepts of the world. We'll be releasing a new part every week, so make sure to check out the latest updates! Without further ado, the first part:

    A lot of things were on Hafr’s mind.

    Foremost was the ache that had found its way into his feet, unaccustomed as they were to shuffling across hard rock in thin leather shoes. The intricately carved walking stick in his hand had become more of an anchor than an aid. Aside from that, there was the complex pattern he had been failing to memorize for a week, the cumbersome bundle of books and scrolls boring into his shoulders and the irksome memory of a disappointing conclusion to an awkward conversation he had left on the lips of a girl. It chafed, looping over and over in his head with nothing but backcountry paths to distract him from it, and no recourse to be taken. At least, not until he was done with this, another pointless errand.

    This was probably why when the bag slipped over his face, and an immeasurable force throttled him by the neck, dashing his head against hard earth, Hafr had no idea it was coming. He wasn’t certain whether he was blacking out or the covering obstructed the light, but his fight or flight instincts had clearly chosen a third option: embrace death. Briefly he considered that the decision may already be beyond him. Muffled voices made casual agreements to take something or go somewhere. Laughter. Then there was the sort of weightlessness that accompanied being hoisted by one’s mid-section, the irregular bounce of a long gait, and finally, there was no mistaking it; a quick descent into unconsciousness.

    Hafr awoke to fading sunlight and an intense throbbing behind the eyes, uncertain of whether his head or self-worth had been crushed more, so quickly had he accepted his fate. He sat propped up in a thicket that had been nowhere in sight when last he held dominion over his senses.

    Across from him sat a giant. Assuredly not a large man but something else altogether, sporting thick charcoal horns from his head, curved like a yox, an abundant mane and beard equal parts braid and knot, and cumbrous arms extending far beyond the reach of any man. He used them now to hold one of Hafr’s books at an uncomfortable reading distance, thumbing through the pages like the concept itself were foreign. Hafr realized he was alone with a varl, and it did nothing to ease his mind. He knew of varl, but even though they were fairly common sight he had never been in the company of one, relatively sheltered as he had been by the walls of the Guild. Eventually the giant glanced in his direction, noticing that his captive had begun to stir.

    “I wasn’t looking for pictures, if you’re wondering,” said the varl with the sort of growling inflection you’d expect to hear coming from a horned giant. He pushed off one knee to hoist himself up to a full height of what must have been at least twelve feet. “You know what I was looking for?”

    Hafr remained silent, not only because he was terrified, but because he had no idea.

    “I was looking for something of value!” The varl guffawed, gesturing to the contents of Hafr’s pack, splayed across the dirt around them. “Instead, I got books filled with a bunch of things I already knew. So I was worried that we might have wasted your time, my friend.” He frowned. “I’m sorry, what’s your name?”

    Hafr took a moment to weigh his options, and erred on the side of metered compliance. He had no idea who this assailant was or how much he knew, and more importantly, what might happen if he was caught in a lie. “Hafr,” he finally mumbled.

    “Hafr?” replied the varl. “Boy, your father named you “Goat”? Maybe he was hoping for a daughter? Hah! Goat it is. Mine’s Bersi.” He tossed the book in the pile beside him and leaned forward on his knees. “Anyway, as I was saying, my companion and I were almost brought to tears thinking that we had throttled you for no good reason, but then we got to looking at that walking stick.”

    Hafr did his best to show no reaction.

    “Against all odds,” continued Bersi, “You’re the most valuable thing in the bunch! It’s not every day that we have a Mender tied to a tree, so he’s gone off to show your wet nurses that stick of yours and see if they’d like to have the owner back. In the meantime we’ll be spending some time together, what do you say?”

    “The Guild’s more likely to drop him off a cliff than pay him,” Hafr managed to squeek.

    “Listen, Goat, it’s touching that you’re worried on our behalf, but let us fret about the details. Just relax and we’ll all go on our way if I don’t yawn myself to an early grave first. Agreed?”

    Oddly enough, Hafr did relax a bit with the knowledge that the circle would be involved. However they chose to deal with this, things would probably end poorly for these brigands.

    “Goats stay out in the yard,” announced Bersi, who was disappearing off into the bracken. “We’ll speak again tomorrow.”

    The rope around Hafr’s neck dug into his skin as he shifted his weight against the tree, his bound hands and feet making it more difficult than it should have been. Aside from his pack and books, the small clearing was featureless. So Hafr sat and fretted. The night descended like a bag over his face.

    Read: Part II
    Last edited by Sean; 05-21-2012 at 01:42 PM. Reason: Added link to Part II

  2. #2
    Man, some people just can't catch a break.

  3. #3
    Super excited to hear more of this.

  4. #4
    Backer Eberict's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Asian Pacific
    Funny thing: I absolutely adore goats. They are my favourite animal and I love their horns. One of my online handles even involves goats, haha... Guess who I'm rooting for (and hoping is in the game!)
    Last edited by Eberict; 05-16-2012 at 06:39 AM.

  5. #5
    Nice to get little snippets like this.

  6. #6
    That last sentence was a nice touch.

  7. #7
    Finally, a hit of back story to sooth my craving for game lore. Although now I rue that this will become a thing where each day during a free moment I eagerly click on my bookmarked link, knowing it's not up yet, and am still inexplicably disappointed at the lack of an update. Damn you Stoic

  8. #8
    Superbacker Troll's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Great news that we get to know better the setting already. Thanks for the new paper by the way.
    Last edited by Troll; 05-16-2012 at 11:52 AM. Reason: awesome typo mistakes

  9. #9
    Sounds great so far! Jeez though, poor guy.

  10. #10
    Backer GorillaGrod's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Houston, TX
    Awesome! Thanks guys. Very excited to get to learn more about the beautiful world you are creating for us.

  11.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #11
    Creative Director Alex's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by McFly View Post
    Finally, a hit of back story to sooth my craving for game lore. Although now I rue that this will become a thing where each day during a free moment I eagerly click on my bookmarked link, knowing it's not up yet, and am still inexplicably disappointed at the lack of an update. Damn you Stoic
    If it helps to know, we'll be putting up a new update every Monday.

    Thanks for the great feedback, everybody!

  12. #12
    Junior Member Tsuga C's Avatar
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    May 2012
    Raiders and traders, often in that order. Very Norse-like. Say on, oh loremaster!
    Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

  13. #13
    Backer kincajou's Avatar
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    May 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by chutril View Post
    That last sentence was a nice touch.
    So true.
    But the best image i've ever read was from "do android dream of electric sheep.
    Philip k. Dick takes one paragraph to say "the silence was oppressing"

    Silence. It flashed from the woodwork and the walls; it smote him with an awful, total power, as if generated by a vast mill. It rose from the floor, up out of the tattered grey wall-to-wall carpeting. It unleashed itself from the broken and semi-broken appliances in the kitchen, the dead machines which hadn't worked in all the time Isidore had lived here. From the useless pole lamp in the living room it oozed out, meshing with the empty and wordless descent of itself from the fly-specked ceiling. It managed in fact to emerge from every object within his range of vision, as if it – the silence – meant to supplant all things tangible. Hence it assailed not only his ears but his eyes; as he stood by the inert TV set he experienced the silence as visible and, in its own way, alive. Alive! He had often felt its austere approach before; when it came it burst in without subtlety, evidently unable to wait.The silence of the world could not rein back its greed. Not any longer. Not when it had virtually won.

    i have never actually read such a long description for something this simple before, but it just fits incredibly well.
    "...And upon that banner you write down your deeds so that you cannot forget."

  14. #14
    Very nice! I am looking forward to more stories. I too like the last line of the story:nice touch.

  15. #15
    Backer SpaceyJess's Avatar
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    May 2012
    Seattle, WA
    Can't wait for more of the story! Thanks Stoic!!
    Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien

  16. #16
    It's nice to finally put a character to some of the artwork! It's strange that we know so little about the game- yet the revelation that we're looking at a Varl still comes wih the feeling of an exciting cameo.

  17.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #17
    Creative Director Alex's Avatar
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    When Hafr finally did sleep it was poor and fitful, a combination of discomfort and disturbed dreams, so that when the sun arose the next morning he was more exhausted than before he had fallen asleep.

    Again, Bersi sat across from him quietly, leafing through one of Hafr’s books. Hafr groggily recognized the cover as “Antiquity of Man”, a dry chronicle of history he had been made to memorize several times over.

    “This is some dire stuff, Goat,” moaned Bersi. “Is this what they have you do all day? I’d rather stab myself in the sack.”

    “I’ve read worse,” choked Hafr, betraying no minor discomfort.

    “Have you?” contemplated Bersi. “You know this is all I’ve had to distract myself with for half a day?” It was true; through the leaves above his head Hafr could see that the sun was already high in the sky. Despite his discomfort he had been in and out of consciousness for half a day. “Must be thirsty?” grinned Bersi, suddenly mischievous.

    Hafr nodded, uncertain where this would go. Bersi instead cracked the book to a page he had previously dog-eared.

    “Then how was the Second War with the dredge started?” he grinned.

    “You can’t be serious... just give me...” started Hafr, unable to finish the sentence before he launched into a coughing fit.

    “I will, Goat!” taunted Bersi. “All you have to do is answer the question. You’ve read worse, yeah?”

    “You’re sick,” shot back Hafr, throwing his head back against the tree in frustration. He knew exactly where the varl was taking this.

    “I’m bored out of my mind, kid, not asking for your hand in marriage. So remind me again how the Second War was started.”

    Hafr sighed, well aware that he was walking into a trap. He began in a scholarly, metered tone; “After the dredge were defeated by the human and varl alliance in the first era, they were pushed into the northlands where the varl were appointed as their wardens. Over time, the varl grew complacent and overconfident, often venturing into dredge territory to slaughter whole villages without justification. It was following a particularly brutal sweep across their undefended camps that the dredge organized and retaliated, puncturing the borders and leading to a conflict that would not be resolved for nearly a decade.”

    Bersi let out a sharp howl, digging his finger into the open page; “Hahaaa! Goat! Are you kidding me? You quoted this page almost word for word! You must be quite the lady-killer back at the Guild, makes me sad you’re completely wrong.”

    “What?” recoiled Hafr.

    “You really believe this trash?” continued Bersi. “Think the entire varl population just sat around betting each other they could knock the head off another dredge child ‘cause they had nothing better going on? You sure it didn’t have anything to do with a certain fatherless human prince with a grudge as bottomless as his mead horn?”

    “What are you talking about?” scoffed Hafr.

    “What I’m saying is that the only thing the varl should get credit for is cleaning up your whelp king’s mess when the dredge grew tired of his endless revenge orgies!”

    “Self-important idiot! You don’t even have that right!” shouted Hafr, forgetting his fear of retaliation. “The Menders had to finally intervene to drive the dredge to extinction!”

    “According to books written by Menders!” spat Bersi. “Look at you, softer than a king’s ass-pillow! Couldn’t hold a spear upright if you even had one! You expect me to believe that your limp breed drove back endless waves of black-plated colossus?”

    The two sat in silence for a moment eyeing each other contemptuously. “Still,” spoke Bersi, after a time, “Can’t blame you for being wrong, all things considered. You think, just maybe, you don’t have the whole story?”

    “Maybe,” stammered Hafr, who wasn’t sure if he thought the varl had a point or his thirst outweighed his pride.

    Bersi tossed a waterskin to Hafr’s feet, who eventually managed to scoot the thing to his hands and into his mouth.

    “What’s your preference; hare or fish?” asked Bersi, casually.

    “Hare,” replied Hafr, once he had drained the waterskin dry.

    “Just curious,” shrugged Bersi. “Most goats eat grass. Hah! See you tomorrow.”

  18. #18
    If only we could see him tomorrow too! This whole intro is painting the Varl completely differently to how I'd imagined- eagerly looking forward to part 3.

  19. #19
    Backer CottonWolf's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Yeah, I'm looking forward to finding out what those dredge were. Titbits to speculate over.

  20. #20
    I actually agree. At first I thought the varl were stupid grunts, as giants are pictured in so many fantasy stories and tales, but now they seem civilised using sarcasm and irony i.e a race I can enjoy reading about. Needless to say if the overall storytelling used in the game is anywhere near this interesting I'm happy I paid 60$ during the Kickstarter campaign.

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