A Bit More About The Lore

In all my excitement creating this site I sort of rushed through that introduction, and didn't spend much time talking about the theme. Game mechanics are of course important, but theme can make or break those mechanics. In addition to theme being king for world building, in this particular case it's so rich for pulling from and bringing some of that world into game mechanics. Here's the deal.

In Kistka the players will be Hutsuls, Ukrainians that hail from the Carpathian Mountains. This specifically is the ethnic group who believes the fate of the world is dependent upon pysanky.

As long as the egg decorating custom continues, the world will exist. If, for any reason, this custom is abandoned, evil––in the shape of a horrible serpent who is forever chained to a cliff–– will overrun the world. Each year the serpent sends out his minions to see how many pysanky have been created. If the number is low the serpent’s chains are loosened and he is free to wander the earth causing havoc and destruction. If, on the other hand, the number of pysanky has increased, the chains are tightened and good triumphs over evil for yet another year.

This serpent chained to a cliff makes for a great timer for a tabletop game. History has done a fine job of future-proofing itself into tabletop gaming source material!

There are also witches. Pysanky were believed to hold powerful magic. If a witch got a hold of an improperly disposed of egg she could dry up a cow's milk or use a shard of broken shell to poke people and sicken them. Terrifying, really.

Then there's the symbolism of the pysanky themselves. Red represents the sun and life blood, yellow for harvests, white for purification, green the resurrection of nature. Curl and spiral designs can draw in evil spirits and trap them in the egg, ribbons represent water and everlasting life, a deer shows wealth and prosperity. The list is huge, but we only need to pull some of those out for use in Kistka.

In the game, a yellow (harvest) egg with a spiral (protection) and a deer (wealth) could be used by a player to protect a farm area from a serpent's minion with an added bonus of extra money from the win, thanks to the deer. A blue (air, sky, good health) egg with a tree (strength) on it could be used for a movement bonus if the player wants to travel further across the map.

My only worry is confusion. I don't want players to have to keep referencing a huge list of symbols and colors and combinations. Colors could be simplified by linking them directly with areas on the map; water, open field, forests, etc. Symbols could also be directly referenced on the map, or on minions as they're placed on the map. Having a player sheet where players build their eggs also means information about symbols and colors can be put there for quick reference.

Finally, just look at this Hutsul gentleman. He's wonderful.