Nightmare kingdom builder Norland has natural disasters, but don’t worry, it also has prophets of disaster

Better stay friendly with the prophets, then

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Image credit: Hooded Horse

“Nosophobia” is the fear of disease, “bathophobia” is the fear of depths, and “devlogphobia” is a mixture of nosophobia and bathophobia produced by reading Steam posts about Norland, a systems-rich and plague-ridden medieval colony sim from developers Long Jaunt and Hooded Horse, publisher of Manor Lords. Norland is sort of The Sims meets Dwarf Fortress meets RimWorld. It gives you charge of several new kingdoms that have sprouted from the corpse of a fallen Empire and are now feuding for supremacy.

Expect “class conflict, religious struggle, and political treachery”. Also expect vagabond speculators, nobles getting upset when made to drink booze they consider unworthy of their station, soil erosion when you chop down too many trees, and the loss of key technologies because some asshole knifed the only lord who understands alchemy. Yes, that’s right, knowledge in Norlands depends on the continuing existence of a knower, who must pass on their wisdom to a younger soul before they fall into senility and perish, assuming they aren’t beheaded first.

Reading Long Jaunt’s latest, lengthy Steam update has sort of been an exercise in hurling my brain into a chasm in hopes that it’ll latch onto some prominent detail rather than splattering itself against the bottom. In this case, my brain has snagged on a note about natural disasters, which I hope is indicative of the mood and intricacy of the whole.

“Starting from mid-game, disasters may strike your province,” the post explains. “This could be a crop failure due to an infestation of weevils, a migration of nectar-obsessed fanatics, an epidemic, a large group of aggressive fleshwolves, and so on. Some of these can be profitable – for instance, a drop in rutabaga yield also causes a rise in its price, and if you stock up in advance, you can make a decent sum.”

The developers have designed nine disasters in total. They all sound like they could end your run, if handled poorly, but fear not – there is a holy prophet, the Matriarch, who will generally warn you of approaching calamity.

Thing is, the Matriarch isn’t just some medievalpunk Microsoft Calendar notification – she’s a character in the world, and as such, a potential foe. “If your relations with Her Holiness are not good, there will be no prophecy,” the Steam page notes. A question I have is: can I turn the Matriarch against other kingdoms so as to deny them advance warning of impending doom, and also, if I’ve offended the Matriarch, can I monitor the movements of other rulers for indications that a disaster is in the offing? It sounds like a game that would support that level of shenanigans.

Norland goes into early access on July 18th, having been pushed back from 16th May. It was one of the games shown off at last month’s Triple-I Initiative event – find the rest of the announcements here.

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