I decided to make the inaugural post on my blog about the game I’m most excited about. I’ve just started playtesting my new game with three people who I really love. TL;DR, it’s about a bunch of nonhumans living on the side of a mountain, inside of which is a city constructed by now-dead dragons. Humans rule this city now, and in our first tale, they decided to fuck with the demihumans’ water source because someone wants to start selling it to them.
The game is Demihumans, my hack of Apocalypse World, where the apocalypse is the death of everything and everyone magical in a thriving human fantasy empire. You play dwarves, elves, trolls, and so on, trying to keep their enclave—a community of demihumans within a human city—alive and thriving.
The human city our enclave is a part of is as yet unnamed, but it was built by Those Who Came Before. In Demihumans, Those Before are the beings that ruled the Golden Age. In our game, they were dragons. Anarcaima, “Sun’s Bed” in Elvish, is the sunning shelf that the dragons made to relax on in the evening. It was made for hundreds of dragons to rest on in piles, which is enough space for a few hundred people to eke out a living.
The protagonists of this game are called the Company, and I couldn’t be more delighted about mine. Here they are:
- Bloor the Troll by Becca – A sapient and ambulatory black mold that assembles a body out of the parts of corpses it’s eating. So far, very enigmatic. Hasn’t spoken much, but seems interested in protecting the enclave. It (the pronouns vary, but this tends to the one we settle on) has a corvid that roosts in one of its eyesockets; the bird is very strange and weird from consuming psychotropic and magical substances that Bloor’s body secrets.
- Shiriff Nob the Halfling by Judd Karlman – Nob’s a guy just trying to do right. His family makes its money by acting as police in the enclave, but they’re also crooked and make lots of money in illegal enterprises. So far, Nob has seemed to me to be a reasonable guy that tries not to go too far, but is willing to savvily maneuver people in order to keep his people and his home safe.
- Shalan Bluestar the Elf by Tom – Shalan protects the enclave by patrolling the mountainside that the shelf of Anarcaima is perched upon. He has a baby wyvern, Calloamil, who’s always trying to hunt Bloor’s corvid. (The corvid thinks they’re playing.) Shalan is a fierce defender, very ready and willing to take out whoever threatens the enclave.
A brief summary of events
I want to get deeper into this later, but in brief, here’s what happened:
Things were going well in the enclave, but Shalan is out patrolling and finds an Imperial guard unit at the spring that provides Anarcaima its water. Commander Jin is leading her polycule-unit (Imperial guard units are also lovers with one another) in bricking up the supply because, Shalan overhears, a human merchant named Ade has paid them to do so; he means to start selling water to the enclave. Shalan creeps off to warn the enclave, but is followed, unbeknownst to him.
Back at the enclave, Shalan is talking over breakfast with Nob and his daughter Lily—a very English affair of meats and breads for the halflings and a salad of insects and flowers for the elf—when the guard show up. Nob lets them in and ingratiates himself to them to get information and slow them down while Lily gets Shalan out the back.
Shalan and Lily are stopped by guardsman Severn in the back alley, who manages to bring them up short until Bloor forms itself out of the alley sludge and terrifies him into letting the demihumans pass.
Nob denies the guard the right to search his house for Shalan, demanding a writ. Jin and her second, Yvgeny, head out angrily and the Company make their way to the spring to free it.
They’re doing so when the guard come and attack. During the fight, Severn and Yvgeny are killed and a furious Jin starts using magic to try to close up the spring in a more-permanent way. Bloor shoves its body into the hole and forces it back open, terrifying the guard who, also mourning the loss of their lovers, flee.
Shalan hunts them through the forest and tries to figure out how to cut them off. He inadvertently tips them how to get away. However, the Company calls off the search to quickly get to the enclave. Through his neighborhood connections, Nob obtains proof of what Ade was trying to do, and has it delivered to the merchant with a warning that the proof will come out if he tries it again.
Oooh, wasn’t that fun?
More to come. I’m going to do a post with more details on the Company, a breakdown of the action from the perspective of the moves, a post with the basic playkit, and so much more.
Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in playtesting Demihumans, drop me a line here or reach out to me elsewise.
Image source: bit.ly/2FJpgrB
7 thoughts on “Demihumans: an introduction to Anarcaima”
Oh this seems pretty exciting. I’m mildly curious about where the “fuck with the water supply” inciting incident came from. Is it all from your brain or is it some sort of menu of Bad Things the game presents
Hey Aaron, it came from the players being really interested in the fact that they’d chosen an unstable water supply. They rolled 10+ on commonweal, so the game didn’t give me signals. However, like in Apocalypse World, when the action is stalled, you can make a Reaction (MC move in AWlanguage). They had talked quite a bit about the water supply, so I had the Imperial guard go after it.
I’m going to put explicit advice in on what to do if commonweal goes 10+.
I plan on doing a later post as a companion to this one where I go move to move.
Actually, I might be able to throw together a short playtest starting this weekend.
Terrific, Adam. Email coming.
I’m so crazy excited about this game! That sounds like a brilliant crew of players (and characters). I’m looking forward to more posts!