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
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.