GTM #209 - Folklore: The Affliction
by Julie Ahern

When we first started working with Twin Fire Productions, we were unaware of the rabbit hole we had tumbled down, or the glorious winding journey it would take. Along the way, we met many strange characters, and some of them were found in the game itself. This has been the most challenging game we’ve worked on to date. But, it’s also been such a rewarding one, to watch this wonderful world — deep, rich, and fully realized — come to life. As a developer of Folklore: The Affliction, this was my experience.

Game Overview

In Folklore: The Affliction, you take on the role of a character in an alternate European Dark Age. Your quest is to rid the land of the evil creatures that plague it. Like any roleplaying game, there are many elements of questing and fighting monsters. However, the card decks and story books take on the role of the GM. You begin on the world map wherever the story starts for each character.

From each location, you are given choices in the form of story moments. Some of the choices cause your party to travel the world map, rotating through each player as the leader, fulfilling challenges and tasks. These story moments come from road cards, alternating day or night, or off-road cards, which have higher risk, but offer greater reward. Once you arrive at the next destination in the story, you move forward with your main campaign.

 Sometimes you’ll engage in a skirmish with one or two creatures, using the stats on the skirmish side of each creature’s card. Other times you’ll have a full-blown encounter, which uses a tile map with environment conditions and miniatures for your characters and the antagonists. Each of these moments in the game grant opportunities to gain lore, coin, and artifacts, but there’s also the danger of losing vita. Each of these can be exchanged in the towns on the world map for gear your adventurer needs, and allows them to level up.

 However, as the characters become more powerful, so too does the game. The difficulty of each skirmish and encounter grows with the number of players and setting of the story. So, as the players level up in their abilities, the dark creatures of the night evolve, as well. Like a campaign, the game ends after defeating the abomination. Character and campaign record sheets are used to keep track of your adventure until the next session if you wish to carry on the tale. Or, you can start fresh and begin the game with different choices from the first time ‘round.

The World

The land of Kremel has been plagued with mysterious deaths, frightened villagers, and a sickness that creeps insidiously across the land. In the core stories, you come across some of the most powerful and ancient of these evil spawns. The world is a dark and wild place, reminiscent of the Black Forest. True to the gothic genre, the creatures you encounter include werewolves and vampires. You may even cross paths with an evil spirit — but bear in mind, if you die, you may also become a ghost, until you can be restored to your corporeal body to continue your quest.

The Characters

Each of the six core characters are an archetype of the adventuring genre. The Arcanist, the avenging Madman, the Exorcist…each one has special abilities that can level up. However, their personal tale is told in broad strokes to allow the player to fill in their own details.

Why Folklore?

All the components add up to one amazing adventure. There isn’t a single, isolated thing that doesn’t serve to make the game better as a whole. I started playing D&D (Second Edition) in middle school and never looked back. During a weekend when I had the opportunity to play all six stories with the Folklore: The Affliction designers, there was a moment when we were attacking the vampire queen, and all our hopes rode on the bite accuracy of someone's snake companion. I simply started laughing. When else would we ever be able to counter-attack, bite-for-bite? This is exactly why I play games — for the adventure and magic of imagination.

Julie Ahern is the Lead Creative Writer and Director at Greenbrier Games. Working with the great talents at Twin Fire Productions, she assisted in writing the expansion stories and creating the rulebook for Folklore: The Affliction.