TIE-IN WRITER & STORYWORLD DEVELOPMENT
PRAISE FOR GOLEM ARCANA
"Above and beyond the cool combination of video gaming and tabletop gaming, Golem Arcana also stands out because of its gorgeous visual aesthetic and intriguing fiction. The world of Golem Arcana is a rich fantasy setting of warring factions."
"(Golem Arcana's) fiction is well thought out, and serves to ground the game in a fully realized world."
—Crit to Hit
"It should immediately appeal to fantasy fans reared on everything from Game of Thrones to Warhammer."
In early 2013, game company Harebrained Schemes, led by veteran game designer Jordan Weisman, invited J.C. to write a short story set in the universe of its acclaimed video game Shadowrun Returns. Days after SRR's successful launch, the team reached out again — this time, asking J.C. to help craft short stories set in the world of its brand-new miniatures tabletop game, Golem Arcana.
Working closely with longtime collaborator (and Golem Arcana creator) Weisman and other lead designers, J.C. wrote six stories that captured the brutal, strategic spirit of the fantasy game, while also revealing its history and mythology. These stories were published during Golem Arcana's successful Kickstarter campaign as a way to intrigue prospective backers and emotionally invest them in this original IP.
The world of Golem Arcana is a violent place populated by power-hungry faction leaders and their golem armies — dangerous beasts made from natural resources, piloted by powerful Golem Knights. Each faction possesses one or two magical Codices, which imbue their golems with life and unique abilities.
Below, you'll find the six stories J.C. wrote during Golem Arcana's successful Kickstarter campaign. Most were crafted to educate readers on the warring factions, and their merciless leaders. More recently, J.C. wrote three stories set in Golem Arcana's post-launch universe: A Legacy of Blood, Crow's Flight and Ascendant.
ABOUT THE SETTING
The game Golem Arcana is set in the world of Eretsu, months after the recent death of Janhu Khan, leader of the bloodthirsty Uruk Dominion. The great Khan's empire has plummeted into civil war as his many heirs fight for supremacy. Seizing upon this growing instability, neighboring factions such as the aged Hamazi Empire and savage Samula and Sunu clans now mobilize to settle old scores and reclaim lost lands.
THE GATES OF SUPAKVA
From The Journal Of Hataroha, Rathitama (Captain) Of His Supreme Emperor's Calvary, 29th Battalion, Division Of The Western Wind, Hamazi Empire:
We are told not to name them.
We're taught this as children. We do not name things that have no souls, the towers' Robed Teachers say. Indeed, golems may seem to breathe and think, but they hail from human hands — creations of our minds and the Ancient Ones' magic. They are tools. They are no more alive than the desks in which you sit.
But I can't think of a single woman or man in my division who doesn't call their golem something — be it a brusque lamentation of their creature's sleepy-eyed intelligence, or something far more noble ... something worthy of the warrior-life the beasts often assume. Most of my soldiers had no role in naming their golems at all. Like my golem Vigilance, their golems were created and named by ancestors, generations ago.
It is the Hamazi way, to bequeath long-lived golems to our offspring. During our custody, we adorn the creatures with as many precious jewels and metals as we can afford, adding our contributions to their already-glittering armor, ensuring the beasts become increasingly powerful as the generations unfold. The glittering armor pleases The Durani, our distant ancestors who have ascended, the Ancient Ones whose blessings we count on for our inevitable victory in battle … or so we believed.
Our golems are old, passed down from generation to generation, because for as long as anyone could remember, none had been lost in battle. There was nothing left strong enough to kill them. For the last 600 years, any tribe or clan that attempted to revolt or resist us was easily charred by divine Durani lightning, or crushed under our Colossi's heels. There was little need to make new golems.
There is now.
ROOTS GROW DEEP
From The Journal Of Utsuka, First Ragkala (Thorn) Of The Great Weald's Mighty Fist:
My master warned us there'd be moments like this ... and in the past three months, as we'd made incognito excursions like this one, he'd been right. The outcomes were always the same, too: blessedly brief and bloodless.
But not tonight. After hours of wine and women and contented anonymity in this smoke-choked tavern, a hoarse voice rose above the din — a raucous, wily bellow belonging to an equally raucous, wily man.
“Ziroruja!” he howled, practically running to our dingy corner of the pub. “Ziro, Ziiiro, Ziroruja!”
I was out of my seat, fingers wrapped 'round the hilt of my blade, striding toward the grinning, boisterous fellow now — a scoundrel, I now understood: ragged pink scars on his face, milky-blind left eye, three gold teeth, the barbed sigil of a Marut Guild tattoo on his neck.
"Stand down, Utsuka," my master called, from his seat behind me. I paused at the order. The master never uttered the names of his Five Thorns unless it was a matter of import. But this … his leering wreck before me wasn’t important at all. Was he?
"This one's a friend from a long time ago," my master continued. "From Before, you understand. Let him pass."
The scoundrel was now practically nose-to-nose with me now. His expression was more confused than confrontational; in fact, I suspected he was just now understanding that he'd been intercepted, and would've been cradling his bloody exposed guts, had my master given the word. I sheathed my blade.
THE VIPER PRINCESS
From The Streetside Confessions Of Nirvega, Former Master Sergeant Of The Anikastha-Vadhasnu (Elite Guard) Of Her Paramount Majesty Raga Dasra, Ruler Of The Hamazi Upper Empire:
Ah! Dearest daughter! I knew it was you before you touched hello. I’m so very glad you’ve returned. I hope someone tossed a coin or two? Or a crust of bread, perhaps?
What’s that? How’d I know it was you? Your little feet play the sweetest song upon the cobblestones, my child. I’m learning that every man and child has a unique stride, and I can hear yours as you come near. I swear, even on the noisiest of days on these dust-choked streets, I’d hear it. It’s like a delicate drum tap-a-tap-tap. It’s beautiful, just like you.
Oh, I don’t need eyes to know you’re beautiful! I haven’t been without them for that long! I’m only sorry that you can’t hear the pretty music your feet make. It is the sound of angels.
Goodness, just look at us. A beggar family for the ages, if there ever was one. You’re our eyes ... I’m our ears ... and nary a word can be spoken between us! Few urchins are worse off, eh? Minstrels will someday sing of the father and child who once lived by the palace ... and then the terrible men came, and took the father’s sight and speech, and now they scrounge for street scraps.
I know I defy her majesty’s wishes in saying so, but it is not just.
Then again, her majesty permitted me to keep my life — a small gift in recognition of my lifelong loyalty to the empire. More importantly, she permitted me to keep you. So not all is rotten in our little world, eh? The gods, they provide in unexpected ways.
WEBS OF THE SPIDER
Recovered From The Diary Of Dhatri The Treacherous, Anointed Wet Nurse To The Heirs Of Jahnu Khan, Sovereign Overking Of The Uruk Dominion (He Who Is Dead, But Forever Lives In Our Heartminds)
Book 2, Entry #988
I have lived on Eretsu’s blessed soil for more than a century. My eyes — while not as sharp as they once were, gods no — have seen so many things, my memories’ memories can’t remember them. And my ears! Oh, all the secrets they’ve heard! All the sweet, babbling first words ... and the desperate, screaming last words ... and all the sounds in between. I’ve drank deeply of the sights and sounds of Kutastha, our Dominion’s great and glorious capital city, most of all.
And I have seen and heard golems! These days, it is a rare capital resident who hasn’t. Our mighty Gudanna safely stomp and slither throughout Kutastha using the Mahat Rantu — the elaborate network of massive roads and twisting skywalks built just for them. And they soar above, too.
I counted myself savvy to the creatures. I spent many a morning watching my wards, the heirs of the great Jahnu Khan, learn to ride the beasts during visits to the royal stables. The golems there were old things — they prodigiously shed their splintered teracotta scales the way horses dropped shit — but the monsters were retired battlefield conquerers, well worthy of their new roles as royal training mounts.
But only now, as an old woman, do I understand that I’d never seen or heard golems — not truly — until tonight.
Tonight, under the fat, full moon, I bore terrible witness to golems at war.
From The Field Journal Of Anuja, Na-Senani (Honorary Brigadier General) And Chief Advisor To Raja Sudhamra, Beloved Prince Of The Lower Empire, Commander Of His Supreme Emperor’s Calvary, Division Of The Western Wind:
I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve met who actually hail from the imperial capital of Karana-Naga. The magnificent, legendary city is home to the most powerful and privileged clans of the Hamazi Empire. They rule the rest of us from on high, above the clouds, deigning to visit only on the rarest of occasions. Even the lowest castes there have more zravas — that strange, ill-defined, and ever-shifting breed of prestige that only Hamazi aristocracy understand — than the most esteemed Lower Empire families.
Which is why I took no small amount of pleasure in watching the Karana-Nagan woman here, riding toward me in the company of at least forty dirt-covered, dogged soldiers and golems, puking her lunch ... and then her breakfast ... and then, good gods, probably her dinner from the night before ... into a bucket.
The woman’s pretty face was desperately pale, her eyes teary and bleary. She now delivered another mouthful into the pail with such gusto, her white jeweled headdress tumbled off, bounced twice off the gnarled hide of the Bramble Horn she was riding, and landed in the soggy earth. She swore.
I tried not to smile. I probably failed.
It Is Our Way
A Chapter From The Holy Tome “Parasu-Varnaka,” Personal Journal Of Izvari, Mother Wing Of The Great Wake, She Of The Great Marrow Tribe Sunu:
To the brave Sunu who reads these words, know this: These verses are sacred Memory. This chapter is a memory built upon a memory built upon a memory. The words slip between eras and locales, just as my mind had as I experienced them, there in the center of the Sky Temple, all those months ago. There, during my ritual of the Now-Becoming.
Back then on that divine night, my body lay in the temple, on the hallowed ironwood altar. My skin seemed to glow in the light of the full moon. Men and women surrounded me. They murmured prayers as they administered the Inks of Ebon. Everything about this was unpleasant. Everything about this was painful.
My body throbbed from the relentless agony, and my mind throbbed right along with it, hungry to escape the torment. As the needles slipped in and out, fast as snake-strikes, and as my flesh blazed with pain, my soul sought an anchor in the tempest.
Desperate, my heartmind reached below and found a memory — a memory from two days before the Now-Becoming, the memory of that horrifying awakening in the Khan’s palace.
It was a vision. It was meaningful. Its sights and sounds and fear ... gods yes, the fear most of all ... were slick with the feeling of Real.
And so, for my desperate, reeling mind, it did become real. And because of that, it became Now.