Sovereign Syndicate GameBanshee PAX East Interview

Having attended this year's PAX East, our recently-expanded team had a chance to chat with Crimson Herring Studios' founder and producer Isaac Otway about his studio's upcoming narrative steampunk RPG Sovereign Syndicate.

Check it out:

To summarize the interview somewhat, it tells us why the developers decided to go with a trio of premade characters (a minotaur magician, a corsair courtesan, a dwarf and his automaton) and the unique perspectives they bring to the table. The dwarf in particular will be drawing certain parallels between the modern-day advent of AI and a Victorian take on it with sentient steam-powered robots.

We're also told that the game is structured in such a way that we'll be switching between our three characters at predefined points and then have to deal with the consequences of our earlier actions, and occasionally can even meet our previous avatars.

Then, we get a chance to learn more about Sovereign Syndicate's influences. With Crimson Herring Studios being a Canadian company, BioWare is of course a big inspiration for them. But games like Shadowrun, Disco Elysium and Arcanum also get mentioned.

Going a bit deeper, some of Sovereign Syndicate's aspects can be traced back to various Greek myths and practices. In particular, the game's setting prominently features minotaur and centaur characters as a twist on a more traditional fantasy world. The humoral theory is also a major influence on the game's systems.

And beyond even that, the game strives to feel and sound authentic, and as such, its texts are directly inspired by the works of Jules Verne and other similar writers, but also, going even deeper, assorted historical references and documents.

When it comes to systems, Sovereign Syndicate will use Tarot cards instead of dice for its assorted skill checks. Not only does this way of doing things synergizes with the game's setting, it also introduces some extra complexity by letting you count cards and decide when to tackle which checks and how to fudge things to have a better chance of getting a good result. And apparently, failing skill checks will also grant you experience as a play on learning from failure.

Expanding on its alternate history Victorian setting, Sovereign Syndicate will be using various regions of the brain as envisioned by phrenology for its skills, while the personality aspects distilled from the humoral theory will allow you to develop your characters over time by favoring certain kinds of decisions.

Finally, we're told a thing or two about the game's development and how it started as a passion project during the COVID lockdown, but ultimately evolved into a narrative behemoth totaling roughly 500,000 words of text. We're also told that right now, the game is roughly a year away from release.

And with how intriguing everything looks here, we'll definitely be keeping an eye on this project.