Moments from now, the darkened skies will clear, and relief will come to the Northern Alliance town of Tooth.
One moment ago, Tadan Flok fell.
Now, the front gates are swinging shut behind the Knights, Archers, Clerics, Footman and Farmer returning weary, starving, and wounded.
They are back from yesterday’s offensive march towards the glowing eyes on the horizon. They closed Corruption portals in a near-final blow to the Titan besieging the land. A Footman rushed in first and is now unconscious in the arms of a potion-fortified Farmer. Overhead, turrets provide cover from the terrors chasing them home.
Tadan Flok is not among those returning. He died near his favorite object, the statue he brought with him from Flock, his Ascendancy hometown.
Many moments ago, miles south, at his going-away party, Tadan anticipated the thrills before him in a harsher climate, the stormy skies and battles to win. Some whispered they were glad to see the warlike statue go, along with his unappealing creations, his disliked crafting table, and the resentment of their peaceful ways they read into his desire to leave. He removed the statue and bounded northwards.
Tadan had been eager to re-embark somewhere in need of the strong defenses he wanted to build, and to join the Knights he idolized in stone. He set his statue behind the front gates to stare down anyone who tried to breech them. He tried archery on the path to knighthood, but shamefully froze in (glitchy pathfinding) fear and limped home in poor health. Having found his thrill-seeking limit at the end of an ogre’s club, he forsook the front lines and made do on tales of battle shared around the fire, thunderstorms, and the blows that could be struck from behind walls. Above his favorite statue, the town built an archway. Tadan installed turrets between the parapets.
One moment ago, as Tadan Flok ran to repair the turrets protecting the home-bound troops, a tendril erupted from the ground behind his statue. He had seen the same happen to Katya in the hallway between the sleeping quarters and the dining hall. He watched evil take the woman whose anvil rang beside his workstation, who tempered the metal he crafted into gears. He felt it take him, too.
I could just undo their tragic sacrifice, and load a previous save. Maybe in any other game I would have, to level up the same characters forever. But I guess I’m too hooked by the storytelling aspect of Stonehearth, that Lego-meets-D&D, your-story-here potential mentioned in the KS video, to let the story be the game. I’ll have other Engineers with different trajectories, but I won’t have another Tadan Flok. Won’t rewrite his story, either, though it’s admittedly less triumphant than I hoped for him.
I was planning on re-embarking again with three different hearthlings anyway, but Tadan was going to stay behind, the proud founder of the town that had conquered wave after wave of the danger he had romanticized before he lived it. But as evil sometimes does, it overwhelmed him in the end.
This ending’s fine. He’s still the honored founder. Better for him to have chased his dream, braved danger and risked everything, win or lose. He built it well, the town’s not lost without him, they’ll pull through.
I could linger in this pause longer, the skull-poof of smoke not yet cleared from the slain tendril that ended Tadan’s story, wondering what hit it first, if the turrets avenged their creator, or the Knights he idolized rushed to his aid. But it wouldn’t have mattered to him either way, he needed them both.
Tadan’s turrets stopped the Titan.
I was going to send someone to hack at the thorn-ball in the mines, but soon after I unpaused from my life-before-his-eyes flashback montage super-pause, a turret sniped a Corruption, and that was it.
And here I thought his death one day from retirement was eulogy-worthy already, but nope, one moment more.
Enemies at the gate, most of the town behind locked doors (doors I locked so they stop trying to grab jerky near enemies, but shh, story time, they locked the doors themselves, they’re cowering in fear), the mine about to bristle with subterranean vines, the fighters in exhausted retreat.
My first Engineer posthumously rescued his town.Town Founder and Savior.