Salt Mystic is what we at Grailrunner call an Immersive Storytelling Engine. The idea is to provide a storytelling framework for the most innovative and interactive mechanisms possible. We’re trying to forge new ways of engaging with fiction. This science fiction world is the pool you dip into. Cool?
Currently, Salt Mystic is a tabletop war game and ongoing science fiction book series as well as on-line art gallery. Plans include interactive on-line stories, an art book, and a solo dungeon crawler.
The Salt Mystic game is primal and intimate war in a bottle…easy to learn, with a small set of core rules. We wanted to avoid tedious assembly and painting of miniatures, confusing and burdensome fluff and lore, complicated rulebooks that drag on for hundreds of pages, and streams of nameless soldiers impossible to relate to. At heart, we wanted to tell a story.
In fact, our original manifesto for the game was:
- A tabletop wargame based on trading cards that are placed on terrain like miniatures would be, with consequences for the orientation and placement of each
- Unique characters coming alive on cards with gorgeous artwork and card mechanics that affect gameplay in a way meaningful to the overall story
- An over-arching narrative that makes sense of the series of battles, who’s fighting and why, and what the consequences might be either way
- Every single character, weapon, and vehicle has a backstory. Nothing is given as plain vanilla fluff. Even the scratches on a cannon barrel came from somewhere.
- Adaptable narrative and game mechanics that allow for a continuing storyline that is easy to relate to and understand
Those were the words we started with, that guided the work.
Two thousand years ago, a withered old woman stumbled out of the salt flats declaring her vision of the forces of history, and how to harness them to shape human events.
Naraia was the name they gave to the world-spanning democracy that arose from her teachings, encompassing countless thriving civilizations on land, floating on the seas and tethered to the sea floor, and tucked into pockets of artificial space called oriels. All of it shattered into a thousand pieces a generation ago in a terrifying and almost supernatural conflict called The War Of The Rupture.
Now, roving bands of Naraia’s remnant fleets and soldiers and its marvelous machines, scatter like maple seeds for anyone with a vision to seize them. That’s where you come in.
But there’s more power here than guns and fire. The Salt Mystic injected cunningly engineered stories into the folklore and myths the people pass down, ones capable of possessing a person’s soul. Foreseeing the wars and injustice that could emerge from Naraia, she hid tripwires in these myths that inspire world-shaking guardians when they’re needed the most.
A guardian arises maybe once in a generation. It changes everything.
And it can be arise in anyone at all.
Download the core rules booklet:
The Red Witch are a race of incredibly violent people, whose very language pictures the world and everything in it in terms of the pain or destruction those things can cause. Perhaps no nightmare is more frightful than falling into the hands of a Red Witch harvester, lost in a lunatic trance as what feels like centuries of torture pass in mere moments. Karak is a War Marshal for the mountain city of Alson, but has a long and complicated history with the fearsome Red Witch people.
His greatest strength lies in the shadowy pact he made with them years ago. None among the Red Witch will attack him personally; and in the fiercest of battle when he needs them, Karak may call dark fiends from the shadows to snatch away enemies who’ve strayed too far from the action.
Recommended starting battle deck for the Mountains Faction:
Although any 26-card combination of the Karak’s Mountains Faction card set is allowed in your battle deck to supplement the required War Marshal and Guardian Arises cards, this design is a great way to ease into the game. It emphasizes placing fighters in play, supported by a series of potential cross-fire zones formed with ramships, ephemeral torpedo, sniper, and tornado launcher. If you can drive your opponent’s forces towards the outer perimeter of the battlefield, activate Karak’s once-per-game ability and call in Red Witch snatchers!
Segmond is one of the last living veterans of the world-spanning War Of The Rupture. He understands the power of stories, and collects myth and folklore to dissect for the almost supernatural enchantments the Salt Mystic buried in them. Because of this, he steers mighty armies like sailing ships and can switch enemy loyalties with just idle conversation.
It is incredibly dangerous to allow your fighters to get close enough to Segmond for him to speak to them. His strategy usually hinges around bold, aggressive, and fast attacks with a reliance on turning enemy troops against their War Marshal.
Supplement your War Marshal and required Guardian Arises cards with any 26-card combination from Segmond’s Salt Flats Faction card set. However, this design is a powerful and flexible way to ease into the game. It relies on speed, boldness, and disruption. What this deck sacrifices in having less fighters on the field, it gains through surprise and turning loyalties.
The Salt Mystic game is terrain-based, meaning the physical placement and orientation of the trading cards dramatically affect game play. Anything will do to represent the terrain options as long as both players agree up front. Some papercraft options are available below.
Rough terrain (such as rubble or wetlands) slows movement of all characters and vehicles as they advance through it.
2. Buildings and obstructions block line of sight for attacks and provide concealment opportunities on the battlefield.
3. Elevations such as hills (towers too, actually!) can provide important advantages for the attacker with height advantage.
The use of more complex terrain can bring an exciting immersion into the game.
That’s everything you need to know to get started. Draw well.
And stay sane.
Read about the wily Tomb Trappers and their doomed labyrinth school.
Learn more about the philosophy behind the enigmatic Salt Mystic’s visions.
Meet the terrible Blinkstriker assassins, who stalk in broad daylight and manipulate crowds sometimes weeks in advance to hide their trail.
Learn more about the long history of the Salt Mystic universe.
It isn’t just the miracle machines or half-crazy grinning nightmare warriors that are waiting for you out there. The Salt Mystic herself saw all this coming; and if it frightened her enough to bury weapons made of stories, what hope can any of us have?
Tour artwork inspired by the Salt Mystic series at https://www.artstation.com/brianbennudriti
Read the first book in the Salt Mystic series, TEARING DOWN THE STATUES
(c) All rights reserved. Salt Mystic and all likenesses contained within are the property of Grailrunner Publishing.