To Reign In Hell: Solium Infernum Unveiled

By Kieron Gillen on June 2nd, 2008 at 11:53 pm.

'I can see my house from here!' 'Looks nice' 'Yeah, we've put a lot of work into it'

We may have mentioned Cryptic Comet’s Armageddon Empires a few times. Just a few, you understand. So we’re excited that Chief-Cryptic Vic Davis has got less-Cryptic and revealed what Codename Brimstone is. It’s Solium Infernum and it’s a simultaneous-turn wargame which charts the battles between the Dukes of Hell for Satan’s empty throne, complete with six-person multiplayer. The nobles of the cities of sin duking it out? Pardon the pun: Hell, yes.

And since Vince gave us an early heads up, we’ve got more information and art beneath the cut.

The basic set-up is explained on its basic web-page. Satan’s sodded off, leaving the throne empty and a pit full of fiends eyeing it hungrily. You play an archfiend trying to secure it against up to five others (with the little devils inside your PC able to play any character if you don’t have enough friends). There are both openly militaristic and diplomatic approaches to the problem, trying to gain sufficient prestige to claim the position of the absent adversary. The diplomatic element is hinted to be particularly strong, with arcane rules of the demons possible to manipulate to increase your standing. For example, declaring a vendetta and then wagering some of that precious prestige on how much you make that hellspawned bastard pay. Alternatively, framing opponents and so on. It seems deliciously wicked. And it should be, after all. It’s Hell. It’s not going to be a group hugs.

Oh – integrated play-by-email and hotseat options too. And randomised maps for unique hells, with places of power to be fought over and so on.

He rode a pale horse. That's a reference, you see. I'm well clever.

Bar what’s on the website, there’s some details Vic mentioned to us. For example, your archfiend can be customised right from the start – your attributes, infernal rank, public objective and perks can be tweaked. You’re also able to improve your demon in “spheres of evil” as you progress – Deception, Prophecy, Destruction, Diabloism, and the old-favourite Wrath.

There’s also some notes about the forces. Specifically fifty legions – which you bid for, seemingly – which gain experience and can be pepped up with Praetors (i.e. Heroes) and various artifacts. There’s over thirty of these, gathered from your Ritual Chamber. And this ties together in some card system a la Armageddon Empires, as evidenced by these Demon Cards.

EDIT: Actually, we evidenced wrong. As Vic says in the comments thread: “The gameplay is a bit different than AE. The only “cards” that you get to play with are part of the resource system… and it’s a twist on the Ticket To Ride boardgame system. Your minions can present you with “Tribute” each turn in the form of resource cards. Depending on how you level up your Diabolism (Charisma) power you get offered better tribute and you can keep more of it. These resource cards are then used to bid on things in the Infernal Bazaar, fuel your rituals, and other good (bad?) things too.”

Bell-endial, more like

Oh – and the map, minus places of power, will look something like this. Three sizes, randomly generating, and looping – because if hell has an end, it’s not really a hell worthy of the name. After all, where would you fit all the sinners?

So – er – asteroids as a strategy game. In Hell. I just like writing “In Hell”, I’m afraid.

Putting the hex in hex-based wargames

Oh – worth stressing: Everything’s in progress. Especially the map, though if you were expecting it to go head to head with World In Crysis, you probably clicked on this thinking “Solium Infernum” may have been the Deus Ex sequel or something. And you played Deus Ex for the shotgun and clicked through the dialogue.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. RPS loves all its readers. Please love us too.

Fallen Angels don't wash as much

A Demon, yesterday

The game’ll be out in Winter 2009. Hopefully we’ll have more before then. But – y’know – Vic had our undivided attention when he said, “Multiplayer game from the maker of Armageddon Empires about warring demons in hell”, y’know? We also strongly suspect there’s much room for bad puns, which is always another major plus for us.

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45 Comments »

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  1. Al3xand3r says:

    I love this art, it makes me weep they don’t invest in having some single player campaign type of thing… Take all that time to make the great theme and have it wasted because atmosphere simply can’t be maintained in multi player matches (or bot-match type skirmishes).

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    I dunno. Armageddon Empire managed to do it against computer AI. I didn’t mention the game is 25-50 turns long, which is similar to a shortish AA game.

    KG

  3. Gloinn says:

    I was hoping for some more Armageddon Empires content. Oh well….based on that game this will be an instant buy for me. I don’t really like either setting but the card mechanic is just something I really love. AE reminded me somewhat of the “Legend of the 5 rings” Collectible Card Game. CCG’s in essence suck because of their expensiveness, but the games are usually awesome which makes AE great because there’s no stupid expensive booster pack system.

  4. Biggles says:

    Now that’s a bloody good game concept. Of course it would be better if it was more like deus ex without all the talking and a bigger shotgun.

    There should also definitely be more games about being evil.

  5. Al3xand3r says:

    Try Astral Masters Gloinn, it’s pretty much a norma TCG done in video game form. Very nice art and a good set of rules that is instantly easy to understand and fun to play.
    http://www.astralmasters.com/

    The starter decks won’t give you any trouble, after a couple of matches you’ll know how to best use your available cards, though the opponents (tournament style duel leages is all the game offers, as well as single matches and multi player) have fiendish AI.

    What takes a lot of time is to figure out ALL the cards it includes in order to build custom decks of your own. I couldn’t handle that which is why I haven’t played it much, But I’m sure I’ll get back to it when I have more time. Very pleasant game.

    That’s all my mere opinion of course… You can buy it via the developers or Stardock :)

  6. Therlun says:

    “I was hoping for some more Armageddon Empires content. ”

    There was another free mini expansion announced for AE too.
    “Tip of the Spear”
    http://www.crypticcomet.com/blog/?p=279
    http://www.crypticcomet.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=247

    Based mostly on shamelessly stolen ideas from this post of mine: http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?p=1207899#post1207899

    ;)

  7. Janek says:

    Hell yes, indeed.

    (Probably worth mentioning that “winter” doesn’t actually seem to refer to this year, unless Vic did a typo on his site. Twice.)

  8. Seniath says:

    I will admit; Armageddon Empires passed me by, but this sounds very interesting indeed…

  9. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    At first I thought “Murmur” was the owlbear. Then I realized the owlbear wasn’t an owlbear, because it had wings. But for an all-too brief moment, one peculiar thought shone through.

    “Murmur’s a funny name for an owlbear.”

  10. Frymaster says:

    until I read that comment I thought murmur _was_ the owlbear :/

  11. PleasingFungus says:

    It looks more griffon-y to me.

    Also, that is a dang nifty concept.

  12. Albides says:

    Murmur should be a soldier riding a griffin. You can see the rider in the background. To quote the Goetia:

    Murmur is a great duke and an earle, appearing in the shape of a souldier, riding on a griphen, with a dukes crowne on his head; there go before him two of his ministers, with great trumpets, he teacheth philosophie absolutelie, he constraineth soules to come before the exorcist, to answer what he shall aske them, he was of the order partlie of thrones, and partlie of angels, and ruleth thirtie legions.

    This game sounds and looks great. I’ve never been one for strategic wargames or even card games, but I always like to pause and admire a nicely designed set of cards if I see one.

  13. nihohit says:

    Yes, but will the game feature owlbears?

  14. Zonderic says:

    Murmur brings back bad memories of lacking potions in Gauntlet and wanting long flowing hooded capes.

  15. Dinger says:

    Awesome! I was wondering how “being out in Winter” could square with multiplayer and all the features he publishes. The website’s “Winter 2009″ seems more reasonable, but still might be tricky to pull off. MP is a bug force multiplier.
    Heavy Metal? Maybe. But for a soundtrack that establishes the true atmosphere of hell in turmoil, nothing beats Diamanda Galás.

    In any case, it should be noted that Ms. Galás would be slighted if she were not included in the deck. And I believe she has friends in low places.

  16. Ian says:

    Looking forward to this. If it’s as much fun as AE (which frankly, has better single-player longevity than a few “top” strategy games) I’ll be picking this up.

  17. Kieron Gillen says:

    Yes – forgot the 2009.

    KG

  18. Jujo says:

    http://www.crypticcomet.com/Images/SI/deception_web.jpg

    Is it me, or does the middle skull say ‘towel’?

  19. Sam says:

    Art work has a kind of Age of Wonders feel to it.
    mmmm Age of Wonders.

  20. Vic Davis says:

    Diamanda Galas? I had never heard of her before … that is very “interesting.”

    The gameplay is a bit different than AE. The only “cards” that you get to play with are part of the resource system… and it’s a twist on the Ticket To Ride boardgame system. Your minions can present you with “Tribute” each turn in the form of resource cards. Depending on how you level up your Diabolism (Charisma) power you get offered better tribute and you can keep more of it. These resource cards are then used to bid on things in the Infernal Bazaar, fuel your rituals, and other good (bad?) things too.

    Oh, the skull says power. The 280 by 250 version in the game will be clearer hopefully… or maybe it should just mean “Throw in the Towel” :)

  21. Kieron Gillen says:

    Vic: I wrote a comic about Galas a couple of weeks ago, oddly enough.

    KG

  22. Log1c says:

    So I take it this game is turn based and not real time?

  23. Paul Montesanti says:

    Winter 2009: painful words.

    Also, I’m not a huge fan of the card-based mechanics in AE, but this setting is so cool and the play-by-email so useful that I can’t stop the vigorous salivation.

  24. Hypocee says:

    I keep meaning to ask, and I may as well here. Is there some clever/Internet/British reason for people abbreviating Armageddon Empires as ‘AA’?

  25. Ian says:

    I’d just guessed that was a typo in Kieron’s earlier post…

  26. fluffy bunny says:

    Looking forward to this! Especially like the sound of the hotseat option.

  27. Kieron Gillen says:

    Ian: Is correct.

    KG

  28. Dinger says:

    Isn’t the solium infernum itself the hottest of all hotseats?

    I find the notion of Diamanda Galàs comics very odd indeed. Personally, I’m hoping it was inked in the style of Family Circus

  29. Kieron Gillen says:

    It’s for Phonogram, my horrible little baby. Nothing about Phonogram is un-odd.

    KG

  30. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    British reason lewl. Still haven’t tried… *posh or cockney accent, whichever you prefer* “AA”, but I very much intend to once my exams are over and I have a lot of spare time hanging around. I love the demo.

  31. Hypocee says:

    I see, thanks Ian/KG. I had initally assumed it was just a weird typo, but looked back at the AE-tagged articles and found KG had done the same thing before in a comment on King of the Wasteland along with two other commenters. The only person to abbreviate it in those articles was I_still_love_okami, so I thought there might be a joke I wasn’t getting. I guess Kieron’s fingers have a highly specific deformity and Garth and Dubble were just trying to fit in.

  32. Kieron Gillen says:

    I suspect it’s my brain which has a deformity rather than my fingers. Many, in fact.

    KG

  33. Jochen Scheisse says:

    I think Machinae Supremacy, that Metal Chiptune band that also did the soundtrack for Jets n’Guns, should make the music here.

  34. Derek K. says:

    Vic: The fact that you referenced a board game in the discussion is just awesome. I guess it’s pretty obvious that you guys are board game fans, but that clinched it.

    Can I preorder? Like, today?

  35. Erlam says:

    “AE reminded me somewhat of the “Legend of the 5 rings” Collectible Card Game. ”

    Holy crap, another (?former) L5R player! It’s been a long time, but I always loved the card mechanics of that game.

    I will be getting this game. I still play AE from time to time – never could get those damn aliens to build anything though.

  36. Zeus says:

    That’s it. I’m installing the AA demo! More free content? This guy’s nicer than anyone since Cliff Blez… Bliz…. Cliffy B, who used to hand out huge Unreal Tournament bonus packs for free.

    The game looks awesome, btw. I can’t wait. Handrawn art is phenomenal. It really sets the mood. Map graphics have me a bit worried — shouldn’t hell look more.. hellish? — but this is early in development and I’m sure things’ll be smoking in time for release.

    Huzzah! <-Huzzah of joy.

  37. Bruce says:

    I completely disagree that “atmosphere simply can’t be maintained in multi player matches (or bot-match type skirmishes).” If a game requires a scripted campaign to maintain its “atmosphere,” it has failed for me, atmosphere-wise. The atmosphere in AE works feels great and all it has is solo one-off games.

  38. Giaddon says:

    Defcon, the Introversion strategy game, also managed to convey great atmosphere during its multiplayer matches.

  39. Zeus says:

    Edit: I meant *AE* demo. AE. AA is what people tell me I need to join after I typo a two character acronym.

    I’m sober. Really.

  40. KingMob says:

    Please tell me you aren’t making this one in Director again, Vic… Vic?
    Anyway, I’ll buy it either way but I thought it might be a little more flexible in a newer engine.
    Looking forward to this in great anticipation, hopefully we can get some RPS PBeM or MP games going.

  41. Okami says:

    @Zeus: They teach you how to type in America’s Army?

  42. Al3xand3r says:

    Eh yeah Bruce, I guess The Witcher (or any other RPG that’s more than a dungeon crawler) sucks then. Not. Blame me for being so definite about my opinion then going to say something like that yourself? Not good. Also, wanting campaigns doesn’t mean they’d have to be 100% scripted and not allow for the same freeform gameplay either. Look @ how Galactic Civilizations II does it.

    Giaddon, DEFCON is not a card based game… I agree it has great atmosphere but I was talking about games like AE, if that wasn’t expressed properly.

    When the mechanics and visuals are so abstract (units represented as CARDS, not something which could be “real” like DEFCON’s radar-esque screen) I tend to get over the mere theme fast and just look at it as mechanics with some nice art which could easily be switched around to different themes and have the same game.

    So, no real atmosphere TO ME. Sort of like Slay, a great little strategy game everyone should at least try, though the most pleasant theme is the medieval one it shows what I’m talking about I guess.
    http://www.windowsgames.co.uk/slay.html

  43. Vic Davis says:

    Please tell me you aren’t making this one in Director again, Vic… Vic?

    Ok, I won’t dissappoint you…. yes Director it is. But you have to feel sorry for me. It’s the only thing I’ve programmed with for the last 9 years…. it really is the only trick I know at this point. I’m 43 years old in a couple of days and now I know what all those steel mill workers felt like …. old dogs and new tricks and all that :)

  44. Darkrune says:

    Hello Al3xand3r, you suggested a collectible card game.
    I was disappointed that most of the time, you have to pay for new cards. True in astral masters, you have to pay only once, but you still have to pay. So I made one, thats entirely free. It a hobby of mine (therefore non-commercial) and I am still looking for players. Perhaps you will give it a try. Its also in realtime and completly browser-based, so you dont need to download and install a client: .

  45. Darkrune says:

    Hmm the url didnt display. I try it again: Fantasy Cards RT