This is a summary of the recent RPS game of Solium Infernum that took place between the end of November and the start of January. Quinns and KG are doing an admirable job of writing the thing up on RPS itself, but there seems to be some demand for different perspectives on the game and I’d quite like to narrate things as I saw them anyway, so here we go.
This is my avatar, a lovely fellow I’ve called Scrofula.
The game gives you thirty points to blow on your avatar as you see fit, but with five stats, an infernal rank and a hell of a lot of perks to consider they disappear really fast. Nine points go to making Scrofula a Duke of Hell; this is the second-highest infernal rank and should hopefully give me an edge in diplomatic actions. My one playthrough of the singleplayer side of the game has left me with the charmingly naive impression that resource generation is everything, so the rest of the points go into the stat linked to resource generation – Charisma – along with the Infernal Cardinal perk, which gives me bonuses on my tribute rolls. I have a couple of points left over after this, which are spent on raising my Martial attribute by a single point.
Building my avatar like this was my first mistake. My first of many.
Let’s meet the competition. I’ve been dropped on a plateau surrounded by chasms, and I immediately panic as I spot that the only exits from this plateau are – or at least, will very soon be – blocked by other players. KG (under the name Ada Lovelace) has spawned directly in the western exit, so he’s already blocking it. Zah’hak can easily cut off the east. The south is blocked by a bloody great volcano along with Pandemonium, home of the Infernal Conclave, who are the arbiters of this contest to become next ruler of hell. While I could theoretically take Pandemonium by force at some point during the game, it would have much the same effect on my chances of winning as killing the referee in a football match. In other words, it is not a very good idea. That makes the southern exit a no-go.
Which leaves only one point on the compass remaining. The northern exit is much wider than the other three, and while Quinns has spawned in half of it I don’t think he’s going to waste his time cutting me off; two Places of Power (PoPs) have spawned right next to him and if he goes after them they’ll take his legion in the other direction. Sponge (Amplexeris Bestias) is also fairly close to this exit and he’s probably going to be moving that way because of a nearby PoP, the Gates of Hell, but there’s a mountain range in the way. I could conceivably beat him to it.
The sole saving grace of my starting position is the close proximity of this PoP. This is the Temple of Lust. When you make an avatar in Solium Infernum you need to give that avatar a public objective to fulfil during the game, each of which is based around one of the seven deadly sins. For example, Gluttony requires you to hoard and consume a vast number of souls, while satisfying the conditions of Envy means stealing anything and everything that isn’t nailed down. I picked Lust, and the objective of Lust is much simpler: hold the Temple of Lust at the end of the game. As a bonus it’s north of my stronghold and I’m going that way anyway; the Temple is a little too strong for my starting legion – the Slaves of Scrofula – to take on right now but I can at least stake out a claim around it to prevent any other bugger from doing so. The Slaves set off northwards.
Somebody decides that since we’ve played all of one turn into the game it’s an excellent time to play the Infernal Crusade event. Everybody has to contribute a legion to a crusade against the walls of Heaven. If they don’t, they lose prestige. If they do, then that legion is unavailable for several turns and has a chance of being totally destroyed depending on how many other players contributed legions. Since we’re only one turn in everybody’s still stuck with their starting legion, and it would be extremely risky to send that on the crusade because a) almost nobody else will, increasing the chances of it being killed outright, and b) it’ll leave me totally legionless, which isn’t exactly what I want when I’m desperately trying to break out of this little oubliette.
I’ve got one chance: the event does make allowances for people who might not have any legions at all, and so it gives you a turn’s grace to grab one from the Infernal Bazaar and shove it into the ranks of the crusade. I find the cheapest legion in the Bazaar and bid on it.
Unfortunately Quinns has exactly the same idea. It later transpires that he and I both bid the exact same amount of resources, overbidding by a soul each. However, Quinns is a Prince of Hell, the highest Infernal Rank, whereas I’m merely a Duke. This is a tiebreaker in Bazaar bidding so the Plague Bearers go to him and I’m out of luck. Since I’m not about to send the Slaves off to the wars I’m going to have to send nothing at all. This knocks my prestige down from its starting value of ten down to zero. The only positive side to this is that Quinns and Sponge were the only ones who did bother to send legions, so KG, Zah’hak and Speedo Demon have all taken a similar prestige hit.
I at least get the resources from the failed bid on the Plague Bearers back, so the next turn I make a bid on a Praetor, Zuul. Praetors are the generals and champions of Hell; they can be attached to your armies, giving them a stat bonus, and they also fight on your behalf in single combat in the Grand Arena of Pandemonium. Zuul has some fairly good legion bonuses and she’s also pretty good in a scrap, so she gets attached to the Slaves of Scrofula.
Who are making good time on their march through the northern gap; by turn 5 they’ve reached the Gates of Hell. With the boost to their fighting strength provided by Zuul’s leadership they might even have a chance of taking it.
Hooray! Not only do I get a lump sum of prestige for winning the battle, but holding the Gates gives me a prestige income every turn. Since prestige is needed to initiate diplomatic actions getting myself out of prestige-bankruptcy is a pretty big deal.
Turn 7: Good things happen for everyone who isn’t me. The Black Ring in particular boosts Quinns’ starting legion, which was already overpowered, to absolutely sickening levels of badassery. He’s going to need watching. Also Zah’hak attempts to engage in a spot of blackmail by threatening to cut off Hell’s resource supply, much like a fairly inept Putin. I tell him where to shove it.
He carries out his threat next turn, and all hell immediately breaks loose. Or rather, looser. Since it’s no longer possible to get resources through the conventional “Demand Tribute” action the only way to obtain them is through threatening other players with diplomatic demands. Failure to concede to the demand of another archfiend gives them a casus belli, so if Quinns makes a demand of me at this point it’s probably not a very good idea to say no. I at least amuse myself by extorting some cards out of Zah’hak, the architect of our misfortune.
We eventually stagger on to turn 10. While Quinns’ legion was destroyed during the Infernal Crusade, Sponge’s bodyguard survived very much against the odds and came back with the Infernal Crusade promotion, which – similarly to the Order of the Black Ring – makes them uncomfortably tough. That’s two burgeoning military powers I have on my northern doorstep now.
Thankfully Quinns’ super-legion is a very long way away from me. He and KG have each grabbed two PoPs apiece – although KG’s are worse – and are now facing off over the Tree of Woe on the other side of the map, so I don’t need to worry about either of them for now. Zah’hak is laughably weak at the moment, and I don’t even share a border with Speedo Demon.
This just leaves Sponge. I’ve moved the Slaves back down south into my main territory so that they could take the Temple of Lust, but what’s that next to the Gates of Hell in the north? It’s one of Sponge’s legions. Luckily it’s not the one from the Crusade. I take a gander at its stats, and it’s nowhere near powerful enough to take the Gates of Hell from me on its own, but nevertheless…
Sponge insists on making a demand as a pretext to starting a vendetta. Tune in next time to find out what happens when I tell him to sod off.