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Meromorph Games is a game company, and the creator of the card game Norsaga.

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Art and gameplay design diary as well as current news and updates.

Dev Diary: Shipwreck Lore (3 of 3)

Meromorph Games

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

The Shipwreck Arcana is a real game about a fictional deck of cards. The deck exists in a world which is described only as "sunken" or "drowned." The world's history is unknown -- but it is hinted at by the fictional illustrator of the tarot deck, providing a glimpse of the history that surrounds it.

There are two discernible plots which influence the card illustrations within the main deck. However, the collected promo cards supplement that with a third tale, one that already underpins the deck and the fictional world it exists in: the tale of The Hours.

It begins at Dawn, this tale. When the light ascends and the land is laid bare, it begins. The sun shines down upon land and sea, separated by the cold smooth sand. You might think its light falls equally upon both realms, but this was never so.

Though the waves feel the light, the depths do not. In that abyss sleep the drowned, the dead, the darkened. Most dream, of a sun long lost. But some do more than dream.

So it was that a nameless ghost -- nameless in these depths, name stripped away, name floating somewhere far above and long ago -- woke in her silted cradle and remembered light. She trekked far across The Deep, following a glimmer or a lie, but it does not matter. She found light: The Lantern of the sun, its candle burning without air. It reminded her of what she'd lost.

She snuffed it out.

The darkness held. She could not see the ripples, the waves she'd begun, but in the sky above it could be seen. It could be seen at Dawn -- for Dawn did not come. The sun and moon had been split Asunder, and the sky was cracked.

Midnight came, holding a bone-white moon over the world. She held it low, searching for Dawn her brother, but all the moon saw was night-drenched sand. Her hours passed one by one, but Midnight remained. There was no one to take her place in the sky.

The seas swelled in pity, reaching to comfort the moon. They broke their sandy shackles and overwhelmed The Shore, drowning a hundred kingdoms in their sorrow. One mattered more than most: for on its shore stood The Belltower, which separates the living air from the drowned depths. It was washed away.

In The Deep, the dreamers woke.

Mortals whisper of a devil that floats through the black abyss: Leviathan, who swallows islands as easily as ships. The creature is a continent of bone and coils, bringing both doom and sustenance to those who dwell below. Upon its severed fringes the drowned will teem, engaging in The Feast which never satisfies.

In the sun's absence, this hunger only burned brighter. It lead the drowned like a torch, guiding them through The Passage which had been unlocked by The Belltower's fall. It lead them through twisting corridors rotting with gold, past frenzied eyes that flocked like stars overhead. It lead them onto The Shore.

You may recognize them. In The Deep they were fleshless bone, but now clothed by air and moonlight, they don familiar faces of long ago. Most want only to breathe deep, to taste food again. A few have darker urges, and it is small thanks that no sun remains to illuminate their wake.

Did all escape The Deep? No. Some of the drowned remain, and new mortals continue to be ferried into its halls by The Pallbearers, whose work is unhindered by Midnight. Iron masks hide their faces -- if they ever wore faces. Their path is quicker than it once was; busier, too. But they are the ones who made The Passage. It was meant for them, and those they carry.

Our tale might end here -- the world in fathoms, Dawn shattered, dead souls unfettered and ill at ease. But in these darkened times, even the faintest candle will catch our notice. It is yet a ways off, but it flickers in the distance.

It begins as a sinking ship.

The Hours slip away one by one as wood sinks beneath waves. Can a ship die? Has it died already? Or does it breathe as its captain does, taking one final bite of the salted air before the black waves wrap it tight?

The ship dies, but The Captain does not. She watches her vessel and her crew descend. It is many years before she stands on dry land again, but the image never fades. She will not forget The Hours and what they took from her. She stands upon The Shore, staring down the black corridors that lead below. The Passage leads to her ship, her crew. Where else does it lead? Who but The Pallbearers can navigate its depths?

The Hours may have robbed The Captain, but she has made good use of the years. The Wish is what she's gained: a gift from an indebted spirit, to be granted at her request. She can ask for anything she wants, but she knows what she needs.

She needs a guide.

She leaves behind only footprints and a black feather at the mouth of The Passage. Somewhere in the maze, beneath seas, beyond death, she searches: for her ship, her crew. When she finds them, she does not turn back. The Passage is not the only way out of the afterlife. Why return to a drowned world, when there are others to explore?

She does not know it yet, but her search for other worlds may save her own. The trail she blazes through The Passage to other lands, strangers will pass through on their own journeys to this one.

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He is one such stranger. He may have come through The Passage for gold, or lore, or to escape. He may not even mean to find this world. But he is fated to -- it is his Fortune. What will he do with it?

He will not leave it to chance. The deck is in his hands. He reads the cards to find out.

In the cards he sees The Mirror, cracked. He sees the moon, unreflected. The Mirror desires balance. It calls out for a new sun.

We have spoken of The Deep, but there is another darkness, a different darkness. It is not crushing but empty, so empty, so completely and nearly empty.

Nearly empty.

And yet filled beyond measure with stars.

One star hears The Mirror's call, and bends its voyage towards this world. Its heart is Iron. It will be here soon, ready to be forged into something new.