WORMWOOD is a gripping sci-fi experience for 2-4 players, with cunning diplomacy, exciting combat, and over 300 beautifully illustrated cards. You will lead an empire at the brink of war, managing civilians and military units unique to your chosen Faction. Build, bluff, or conquer — the future of humanity is up to you.
Each faction holds a unique history, unique cards, and a unique strategy. Click on a faction leader to explore further.
The Ark Apsynthos, known to most peoples of this world as ‘Wormwood’, was one of many titanic seedships sent by Old Terra to colonize the stars. Each tribe can trace their origins back to the sleepers in the Ark, though the reasons for their exodus remain a mystery. Pieces of the Apsynthos, called Echoes, are the foundation of wealth and power here.
Apsyntion is an unforgiving planet. There is very little oxygen, extreme temperatures, and dangerous xenofauna. This ranges from photosynthetic fungal networks, to massive predators like the Behemoth, which makes humans an invasive species.
The Utopians are a very old society — humans who found a way to inhabit the very small successfully terraformed area of the planet. As such, the Utopian Remnant is the only civilization that can breathe the air and drink the water of their homeland. But there is a price to their paradise — the Remnant is a miniature eden, and can only exist inside the protection of energy shields under constant maintenance. Childbirth is strictly controlled, and anyone who violates the strict laws of the Remnant are exiled to the wastes.
Utopians are known to live a long time, and devote themselves to scholarship. They are the origin of the Chimera — humans spliced with cybernetic technology that gives them access to the nanite cloud that permeates everything on the planet. Other civilizations see these genetic inventions as witches and heresy, but the Remnant does not accept religion within the shield.
Maintaining the corrupted Datalinks recovered from the Apsynthos, they have pieced together many of the mysteries of the ancients, and rebuilt the old technologies of Earth.
The Dominion is a warmongering horde of nomadic marauders, whose territory stretches from the Fungal Waste to the Southern Glacier Boundary. They are known for brutality and rigid hierarchy, and in the past, waged a horrific war against all the peoples of Apsyntion.
Despite this, the Myrmidons are remarkably fair in meritocracy compared to the other civilizations. There is equality among their soldiers, and anyone who demonstrates merit can rise to a position of leadership. While they are known to enslave conquered cities, anyone who proves their strength can become Myrmidon.
Mechs and combat exosuits are common technologies employed by the Dominion, but they have an absolute distrust of synths and machine minds. In combat, Myrmidon footsoldiers are driven into a battle frenzy through “battle hymns”, a sort of audio drug piped through towering minarets they construct through their warzones.
Machina Sapien is the designation of the many sapient and non-sapient machines living on Apsyntion. It is the most mysterious and unknowable faction, having evolved from the enormous mass of nanites originally used by the Ark in an attempt to terraform the planet.
Synths are known for their confusing behavior, mimicking human and lilin behaviors, which extends to architecture and warfare. They range from totally autonomous insect-like machines, to superintelligent nanite hives. It is thought that they worship Wormwood as their creator, but this is speculative, as their behavior might well be mimicking our own religions.
What is known, is that the synths can communicate directly with the nanite cloud that permeates the planetary atmosphere — they are effectively able to see everything and everyone on the planet, and it is easy to consider how they might be able to think as a single massive entity.
The ancestors of the Windwalker Clans were the first people to leave the wreck of the ark, and as such, have formed a strong cultural connection between themselves and the planet — they are one of the few civilizations that do not see Earth as ‘home’. Windwalkers territories are nebulous and ever shifting, but are always close to the Lilin hives that dot the Fungal Steppe.
Because of their proximity to the natives, Windwalkers have centuries of learned experience growing food and oxygen using the fungal mat — and they have an oral tradition of passing down the location of the Ark over generations in order to keep its grave a secret.
Most Windwalker Clans are semi-nomadic, and live in large yurt like structures covered in colorful flags and pennants to catch the endless wind of the Steppe. Some clans live in permanent city states carved out of the cliffsides that rise from the plains, and the most well known of these structures are the massive Wind Cathedrals — stone edifices that mimic the towering Lilin hives, and sound a haunting melody at dawn and dusk that carries for miles.
The pirates and rogues who live on the cloudbases of the acid wastes are known colloquially as the “Scarlet Hegemony” — a loose collection of slavers and criminals who have escaped justice in the other states of the world. The name refers to the scarlet flags traditionally flown by antigrav pirates preying on transports for years.
Pillagers attack from nowhere, and are a common problem in the tradelanes. Their ships are cobbled together from warscrap, but because they are unhindered by city allegiances, they use any and all forbidden technologies; synths, mechs, aliens, anything is fair game.
There is no commonality among these anarchist privateers but an ethos of survival. Their leadership shifts endlessly, but the strongest rise to be feared by the rest.
The Church is the oldest religion unique to Apsyntion, a relic of Old Terran religions and new superstitions. The Church believes in the supremacy of human beings, and their primary focus is a fanatical adherence to a doctrine of Xenophobia. Mankind will only be whole again when we are free of the yoke of the alien and the machine alike.
There is no central city for the Neogenesis Church, but members swear allegiance to the Maestra, a hereditary matriarch who leads both the religion and military. A widespread, non centralized army is called The Choir, while Church Inquisitors act as a suppression of heresy in regions where their dogma has taken hold.
Most major cities on Apsyntion has at least one Neogenesis Chapel, and the Maestra’s call to crusade can result in absolute social upheaval in a matter of days. The Church believes that Wormwood is key to paradise, finally returning humanity to its home in the garden of Old Terra.
Once, the great city of Coriolis was the most prosperous city on Apsyntion. But it grew fat and wealthy, its bloated aristocracy hungry for riches outside its borders. The war between the three houses — Utopia, Myrmidon, and Coriolis, utterly devastated the great city.
Its riches were looted, its people desperate and aimless with their war machine annihilated. These exiles have been forced to find a new way of life, melting down golden thrones to make bullets. Merchant caravans of exiles roam the steppe, trading between the cities that are warier of each other than of the former nobles with nothing to their name.
The Coriolans retain large herds of Ceph, a genetically modified native lifeform that grants them a kind of rural wealth. The core government that remains still rules from the ruins of old Coriolis, but the city must be rebuilt slowly over the corpse of the old dynasty.
The Cult is a group who have taken to living in the areas of the Fungal Wastes that Windwalkers fear to tread, due to the presence of toxic psychoactive xenofungus that can easily infect humans. Cult communes are often built inside abandoned Lilin biostructures, but members of the Cult can be found at the boundaries of most human settlements near the fungal mat.
The cryptic laws of the Cult are designed to meet the demands of the semi-conscious fungus, which affects human minds and causes changes in both behavior and biology. Members slowly splice fungal growths into their bodies over their lifetimes, until their nervous systems are completely taken over, and they are willing slaves to their mycotic masters.
Cult members willingly spread fungal spores to other civilizations in an attempt to hurry the holy end of humanity, and most traders steer clear of them for this reason. The fungus does grant them boons — older members lose their humanity, but gain inhuman strength, and a limited form of “telepathy” due to their cellular communication with the mycelium that lies under the planet’s crust.
The Undercity is the largest human society on Apsyntion, with millions of inhabitants living deep within the bowels of the planet. The Undercity is old, and dark, and uses a caste based society even more stratified than the Talents and Drones brought from Old Terra.
In the City, Talents literally look down upon the unwashed masses, who might never see the sun in their lives. Lower caste Drones are genetically and physically modified to be better workers, and are used essentially as domesticated labor. Constant autocratic propaganda, hypnotic drugs, and the effects of cloning have made the Talents and Drones of the Undercity separate species.
The Undercity aristocracy sees the Echoes of Wormwood as a means to profit and continue their hedonistic existence, and hold no real reverence for the stars. The Drones a mile below the pleasure domes see Wormwood as a potential means of escape.
The Dronestate is an independent enclave of Drones who have escaped from the stratified societies of Apsyntion, most often fleeing the Undercity. They are highly militant and extremely distrustful, but rely on trade to fuel their fledgling sovereignty. Most of their technology is old and outdated, broken relics from the old wars between the Myrmidons, the Remnant, and the ruins of Coriolis.
Drones here speak of freedom, and revolution. They wage a hidden war to liberate their brethren, using datahacks, subterfuge, assassination, and sacrifice to achieve their goals. In a society where all are equal and many have been literally bred for work, the Dronestate is an extremely efficient production machine. While they invent very little, they can copy and build technologies in the field, or easily restructure their societies without upheaval.
The architecture of the Dronestate is a ramshackle maelstrom of habitations and workplaces, and has to accommodate a wide variety of body shapes and abilities. They welcome all who throw off the chains of oppression, and would use Wormwood to cut those chains en masse.
Though Wormwood has not yet been published, there are many ways to play!
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Are you local to the Los Angeles area and interested in playing a game of Wormwood? We would love to see you! Several Saturdays a month we do playtesting at Geeky Teas in Burbank, or Gameology in Pasadena. Contact us via email or our discord if you are interested.
We had a wonderful time showing Wormwood in the First Exposure playtest hall. We also had the pleasure of meeting so many other indie designers, getting their first games out in front of an audience!
Many thanks to the UnPub folks and all of the gamers who showed up to try Wormwood. We were also incredibly excited to reconnects with some players we had met at previous events- there's no greater flattery than when you come by to say hi to us or play the game again!
We showed Wormwood in the UnPub hall at PAX Unplugged and met so many wonderful gamers! Thank you to everyone who sat down and played a game with us.
Dozens of gamers played Wormwood at the SHUX convention in Vancouver. We had such a fantastic time meeting gamers and other indie designers. The Shut Up and Sit Down team was kind enough to make us a preview video of Wormwood for the convention, which can be viewed here:Watch Preview