What is Cursed Empire?
Cursed Empire is a table-top roleplaying game (ttrpg) set in the fantasy world of Thargos.
The history of the realm is steeped in blood and conquest. The Thargian overlords of old, Saurians that enslaved all other races, have been overthrown and consigned to the deepest deserts.
The Thargians were masters of magic and genetic manipulation. They leave behind them a sundered realm of warring peoples and frightening monsters. Those in their wake are trying to forge their own kingdoms, struggling to build upon the best of the old ways.
Cursed Empire is a game-world of warring factions, dark magics and fractured cultures hoping to rebuild from a cataclysm that destroyed most of the known world. The Empire is crumbling and trying to fortify itself against attacks from its chaotic neighbour, Karnarcos.
The Old Gods are dead: sundered from their believers by the Cataclysm. Elemental Temples rule the life of most in the realm, granting power and favour to their followers.
Noble Houses, Guilds and factions from all the ruling clans and families form fragile alliances to help them stave off the encroaching chaos from Karnarcos.
Magic is powerful but has a high cost: it is difficult to master and exhausting to use. The old Magic Schools are trying to re-establish themselves as the watchers and keepers of mystic knowledge, but with so much magic loose in the realm, that is a battle that may never be won.
Thargos is built on legend and renown. The deeds of those heroes that have gone before, inspire the fight to bring order to a world on the brink of darkness and anarchy.
Players take on the role of characters in this world. They will be seeking to establish their own renown while serving their masters, whoever they may be. Characters may be seeking honour and glory for their Order, Guild, Household, Cult, Faction, or Temple: they may be an emissary in a world desperately in need of values to cling to.
The game is about the struggles of mortals abandoned by their Gods, of Priests striving to revive the faith of the faithless. Of Mages seeking the ultimate truths through magic, even though these truths are what brought about the great fall of civilisation in the first place. And of course, of Warriors fighting enemies of all kinds - some more human than others.
Cursed Empire is a game that takes place in the midst of a world going through a rebirth.
It is a game about rising from the ashes. A game of exploration, of discovery, of facing fears, of forging relationships.
Cursed Empire is a game where would-be-heroes will have every chance to prove themselves or die trying.
The value of self-sacrifice, heroic deeds and devotion and varying levels of loyalty are some of the core themes of any Cursed Empire game. Characters face real dilemmas in the choices they make in the adventures they experience, and this is a key part of the setting.
Why reboot, what was ‘wrong’ with 2nd edition?
It’s not a matter of right and wrong. Many people play Cursed Empire 2nd Ed and get a great experience from it. So in any sense that matters, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with it.
What we did notice was that a lot of people shied away from Cursed Empire because they felt it was too complex. We got feedback from those who tried to read it with a view to running it, that they couldn’t get the hang of the rules: they got the feeling there was a great game-world in there, they just couldn’t get to it.
Art and the way a game-book looks is also important – we can pretend it’s not, but it is. People can be turned away or brought in by the art and layout. The art for 3rd Edition brings the feel and flavour of Thargos much more vividly to life: it still has a dark, somewhat gritty feel, but now the full-colour art makes it more of an accessible world.
With that in mind, and the fact that roleplaying game-play has changed a lot over the years since 2nd Ed was out, it was felt a reboot was in order. The aim: retain the game-world, build on the background and story that people loved and simplify the game-play.
If I’ve got 2nd Ed can I use the characters and stuff I’ve generated for 3rd Ed?
Part of the core mechanic in 3rd Edition is d100 based, so you’ll need to convert some stats and stuff, but yes, you can transpose characters from 2nd Ed to 3rd Ed. All background and game-world based material remains as it was in 2nd Edition, so anything you’ve developed based on Thargos will be a straight fit.
Once you’ve read through 3rd Edition, we’re hoping you’ll see how easy it is to generate characters that bring your vision to life, so you’ll be able to quickly regenerate the characters you have.
All currently published material is valid for background and world detail, but the mechanics will need to be changed.
What’s new / different in 3rd edition in terms of mechanics and game-play?
First and most obvious is the change to having only 3 stats for the characters. Yep - 3. Core stats are Might, Mind and Mysticism. They are ranked 1-20.
Main game system is still d100 based. We’ve changed the crit system to add a d20 Crit Die that can modify both a miss and a hit with skills / combat. It creates a way to produce both crits and fumbles for combat and skills use.
Magic is still powerful and dangerous, tiring to use and hard to learn. It is not based solely on the runes but include spell-lists based on which school of magic you follow. There are rules for using the runes and you can still play a rune-based game for magic.
Character gen now follows a ‘life path’ system where you choose a life path for each stage of your life prior to entering play. Each offers access to different skills and the possibility to generate fears and phobias, friends and enemies.
Combat is split in to two compatible systems so you can mix and match: one is single blow, fast and simple, the other is more complex and involves multiple actions per combat round. Combat is still pretty deadly.
We’ve added a ‘Tension Dice’ mechanic to ramp things up in scenes to encourage role-playing.
The rules have been streamlined to allow the Master of Tales (MT) to focus on telling the story in the games, and the players to focus on their character – who they are and what they want to do.
The whole core book has been laid out for ease of use and easy access to the info you need – with less rules, everything is easier to get at.
If I didn’t like 2nd Ed why will I like 3rd Ed?
That depends what you didn’t like about 2nd Ed! 3rd Ed is more streamlined and easier to get in to as far as the rules go. Cursed Empire has been made generally more ‘user friendly.’
The background is still as deep and complex, and will be added to as we go: It’s all there for the MT to get what they need to run games.
The focus is very much on telling stories through running games, and role-playing characters that want to build renown in a very dangerous world. You’ll still either like that or dislike that about Cursed Empire.
Is it just another generic fantasy ttrpg, and if not, why not?
This is a tough one to answer without sounding like a salesperson. Cursed Empire has a detailed background and some races / cultures that you won’t find in any other game, but is also has some familiar fantasy concepts. Any ‘fantasy ttrpg’ has to have some things in common: it’s the genre.
Cursed Empire, like all rpgs, is simply a tool to tell stories and run games. It will be up to those using the game to give it their own personal feel and flavour. The history of Thargos, the people, the culture and the religion, all have a feel that is unique to the realm.
There are magic users, warriors, priests, rogues, assassins, merchants and many different Households, Temples and factions. These are not unique as a concept, but how they are realised in any game is what gives it a feel all its own. Yes, it’s another fantasy ttrpg. And yes, there are things unique to the game in both background and games-mechanics, that make it its own beast.
What other ttrpgs is it like? What is the, ‘If I like ‘x’ I will probably like CE 3rd Ed?’
Gamers are usually a well-read group, aware of other games out there, and most are on the look-out for things that they can get in to. An easy way to do this is to look for things that are like things they already play or run, so we get asked a lot, ‘what is Cursed Empire like?’ And we know what people mean and why they ask it.
Cursed Empire has a d100 core game mechanic, but the rules are light and not intrusive.
If you like RQ, WHFRP, BRP, Cypher, you’ll find it easy to grasp the mechanics in Cursed Empire. As it’s a rules-light system, it will also appeal to more ‘indie’ gamers that like games with some wiggle-room in interpretation and application of rules, so if you’re used to SW, Esteren, Gurps and the like, you’ll find it very easy to grasp.
With the in-depth combat system it’s possible to go blow by blow in to great detail, but that’s optional. The rules try to encourage roleplaying rather than roll-playing. There is enough crunch to engage those that like it, but little enough to allow those that don’t to easily strip it down.
What support material is available / will be available for Cursed Empire the ttrpg?
The MRB will contain three scenarios to get you started and some story seeds to allow MTs to flesh out their own sessions.
In development is a campaign book that will contain five extra adventures that can be run as stand-alone games, plus a campaign of inter-linked adventures.
After that will be expansion books that focus on areas such as race / occupation / region / temple / magic and the Gods.
And after that it will be up to the response we get from the launch on Cursed Empire 3rd edition. We will be responsive to feedback and the requests of the gaming community.
What is the elevator pitch and strap-line for Cursed Empire 3rd Edition?
Cursed Empire is dark, gritty fantasy rpg set in the world of Thargos. Thargos is a world torn by a great cataclysm that has thrown down the old masters and magics and freed the people subjugated by them. The world is going through a rebirth, a rebuilding of Empire and a fight for control of the continent. The Old Gods are gone, replaced by Elemental Temples. Magic comes from the Runes but has spread to Magic Schools and spell-books. Players take on the roles of characters seeking to carve out renown in this war-torn world. The game system is d100 / d20 based. It is rules-light with options to step up the crunch.
Cursed Empire - Fantasy roleplaying in a war-torn world desperately in need of heroes.