Prisoners of the Illusion

Illusionensfångarlogotyp

While digging into the history of KULT: Divinity Lost I have found something very interesting. An old development blog called Illusionens Fångar (Prisoners of the Illusion). This blog was started in 2012 and lived on until 2015 and was created and written by Robin Liljenberg, the rule designer and writer of Book I, II of KULT: Divinity Lost.

This blog was written when KULT was just a hack/mod to Apocalypse World. It was abandoned when KULT: Divinity Lost was announced. The blog is in swedish and can be found here: Illusionens Fångar

Geburah copy

What do you find out by reading it?

So, if you don’t know Swedish. Don’t care to google translate or just want a quick summary I will give you my main takeaways of what you will find on the blog.

 

Long time in development

If the blog started in 2012 as a fan project it means that the creation that became KULT: Divinity Lost has been in production for at least 7 years.

Lost Downloadable Material

There are several Dropbox links that are dead. These are said to lead to early playbooks (the archetypes) and magic. If you have them! Tell me I would love to read them.

A slow move away from Apocalypse World

When following the blog you can see how a game that is very similar to Apocalypse World is turned into it’s own thing through play tests and a long development cycle. In the beginning the rules had a classic Apocalypse World rule-set with things like:

  • You roll 2D6 instead of 2D10.
  • Each Archetype has a Sex Move.
  • The Attributes are only 5 and the same as in Apocalypse World.
  • The move seize by force was still there.
  • Hx was a thing but renamed History.

Some things looks like they have been there from the start, such as the Dark Secrets, Advantages and Disadvantages.

Completely Different Art Style

Yes, the hack had art! The Art Style was different (and really cool) and made by Petter Nallo. He is the Creative Director of KULT: Divinity Lost and also the writer of Book III – the Truth. The nice things is that you can see how several of these artworks still exist in the game now and have been used as inspiration for the artists. Below are art I found on the blog (click them, they have quite a lot of detail):

The swedish text on the posters are all parts of the machinery that upholds the illusion, and I really love that you can see the sephiroth in the background. Wish they kept the brick wall with posters and notes as a concept for KULT: Divinity Lost. It explains so much of the illusion in one image. 

The game was test played a lot

Robin mentions on several occasions on the blog how he has test played the game and after that iterated on it. How new archetypes have been developed, rules have changed and it has been experiments with shorter and longer scenarios and bigger and smaller groups. You can find early Endure Injury rules, a completely different stability system. It is a fascinating read and I compare it with the rules in the core book.

Layout that was similar to the style of KULT 2nd Edition (swedish)

The hack was made to look like a real publication. It does not look anything like KULT: Divinity Lost but more like the second edition of KULT that was released in Sweden. Still, it is nice to see how the game could have looked. Here are some examples from the site:

It was a collaborative process

The material that was written was shared with everyone that wished to download it and it was feedback from other groups that tried the game and gave their feedback. Everything feel like this was a truly ambitious hack that was meant to be shared for free with everyone that wished to play it. Since it was only made in Swedish I guess that there were no plans of an official release. But somewhere along the process I guess that Robin Liljenberg decided to make a real game out of it or that they got an offer of those that owned the license.

3 thoughts on “Prisoners of the Illusion

  1. Nice review!

    I stumbled across this blog myself a while back, shortly before the Kickstarter was announced iirc. Never got to look at the downloads and google docs there, however, as those were already pulled by that time. So if anyone has them and would be willing to share, I’d be interested too!

    Mostly just for academical purposes, really, but also the art in these is indeed pretty rad!

    Speaking of the art – those nepharites are pretty awesome, and that brick wall too. I actually remember finding that pic back then as well, and trying to google translate some of its contents. But I vaguely remember that being kinda difficult, and hard (for me) to make sense of…

    but if anyone could translate the contents, I’d actually love to power up the old Gimp and throw together an english version of this pic! It does look very good for conveying the nature of the Illusion, just as you say!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The art is indeed nice! And I like that you can sort of see how it translated into the finished version. And the Nepharites has some of that regal and strange dignity as they have in KULT: Divninity Lost.

      I can translate some of it (reminds me of John Carpenters they live actually – like we see the hidden meaning).

      1. Beneath Binah: BUY, OBEY, Consume, Consume, Consume
      2. Right of nr 1. Kick out the scum. TOTAL FRONT. Hatred, Wrath, Anger, Abuse, Death.
      3. Right of nr 2. And this is a bit of an injoke. BAN ROLE PLAYING GAMES, They’ll turn your children into Murderers, Psychopaths and Homosexuals. GUARDIANS OF MORALITY.
      4. The one to the right and slight below nr 3 (with the train): YOU ARE A FAILURE!!!!!!, Fat, disgusting, whore, mommys boy, Greedy-guts, Pedophile, Gay, Swine, Childfucker, Stupid, Clumsy, Disgusting.
      5. And farthest to the right in the top (almost sounds like Thaumiel). THE LIE, Think about yourself, Kick on those below, You have no friends, Abuse others, Feel no Guilt, Kill for Power.
      6. In the middle below nr 3. Allah is the Truth. Men (as in male) of Islam.
      7. The one with a person getting shot in the head: VILE, DISGUSTING, CUNT
      8. Beneath Geburah (the one with the face): Become Beautiful and Loved. Panorama Plastic Surgery.
      9. To the right of 8. Missing peoples poster: Have you seen Fabian. Disappeared Thursday September 7th close to Elm-alley, Wore a blue jacket and black jeans. 180 cm and blond hair.
      10. To the right of 9: EVENING NEWS, Become Happy, You need more things!, You are not important. You are a failure. There is help. Buy more things. Choose correct. Cheapest, Quickest, Evening Special, Dead in starvation. See the images.
      11. The one with Lenin. ANARCHY!
      12. Right of Hod, printed on lined paper and with the jewish star: They Rule the World.
      13. Right below Hod – the small note: You are worthless.
      14. The one with the Eye and Tarot sign: TAROT, We will give you the answers. Truth.
      15. The one with the naked woman: Slut Heaven, Fuck cheep whores.
      16. The one with the cross. In the back: … Lives. Salvation can be yours. …to the doomseday church, sell your soul to the one true God, Forget all sorrows. Give us your soul and we help you with everything. Be our apostle and obey us.
      17. And finally: Borrow Money. It will make you Happy.

      Wow. A lot of text. Even if you don’t do a picture I hope it helps!

      Like

      1. Whoa, nice!!!
        I’ll be sure to get to it, sooner or later! Now with all the texts I have no excuse not to do this at some point 😀
        Thanks for the effort!

        Like

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