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Iron Druid Chronicles, by Kevin Hearne
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Scott Wachter
SAVING THROW/DREAD COLUMNIST



"Yer a good lad, Atticus, mowin' me lawn and killin' what Brits come around."

— The Widow MacDonagh, Hounded

Atticus O'Sullivan makes his living as an herbalist and proprietor of an occult bookshop-cum-teahouse in Tempe, Arizona. He is relatively simple man taking joy from a cold pint at the end of the day, long walks with dog, and trolling the occasional stoner that wanders into his shop, at least on the surface. Beyond the obvious, Atticus is a twenty-one-century old druid on the run from the Tuatha Dé Danann. Owner of an extremely powerful magical sword, he traffics with witches, has a viking vampire for a lawyer, goes toe-to-toe with gods and demons, is drinking buddies with Coyote and Jesus, and is generally unstoppable when sufficiently motivated — in other words, the exact sort of fellow you'd want to star in an RPG.

As one might imagine, Atticus is pretty darned powerful. He's spent centuries crafting charms to protect himself from any form of magic, heals rapidly when he's in contact with natural terrain and has even made a deal with the Morrigan (Celtic Goddess of Death) so to play him as he is in the present day is to play in god-mode, pretty much. However, that two millennia span gives gamers plenty of time to explore adventures that are alluded to in the books but never elaborated upon. The story could be episodic adventures starting with his early days in ancient Ireland fighting rival Celts and running afoul of the Aengus Og and living on the run from the fae only to transition to his days under Roman rule, his rides with Genghis Khan, smuggling refugees out of occupied Poland during WWII and who knows what else. There's a lot of fun to mined out of this lifetime while still providing a good power curve to the player. Plus if we opt for an episodic plot we can make the publisher-friendly move of having a few adventures of Atticus' viking lawyer (pre- and post-transformation) interspersed into the mix, then gate them off for ten dollars for all those evil people who don't buy the game new.

I imagine this game as an action RPG with gameplay influences from Kingdoms of Amalur. Talent trees would be based around swordplay, magic, shapeshifting, and summoning elementals. Swordplay would not have to be anything special, just a good selection of special attacks and combos. Magic might be trickier, as druidic magic is very different from the RPG norms. Rather than the usual fireworks of most magic systems, druidic magic (at least as presented by Hearne) is more about buffs and binding. Buffs are easy to design, regenerating health and boosting stats all with varying degrees of power and awesomeness. Binding is a tad trickier to approach. Simply fusing enemy armor together and stabbing while they can't move could get a little boring, but the game could introduce some tricky enemies that try to disarm the player, or force the player to defend objects from attackers. Shapeshifting comes in four flavours for Mr. O'Sullivan; owl, otter, wolfhound and stag, I foresee these being used for exploration and puzzle solving more than anything else, though there shouldn't be any reason a bad guy or three couldn't get gored. Summoning is where things get really interesting. Elementals and nature spirits only represent a specific area (one river, one dessert, one mountain etc.) and have personalities and quirks of their own and they help druids mostly because druids are in the habit of helping out the local environment. This could lead to MegaTen style mechanic where you earn a spirit's favour to access its full abilities.

One other element that would make the final episode of the game is Oberon, Atticus' telepathic dog who provides comic relief and turns nearly all discussion to the subject of sausages and French poodles. He's pretty much the coolest character in the books and needs to appear in as many forms of media as possible.

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