What is this?
Salt Mystic is a powerful storytelling framework: a character, location, technology and concept setting designed for science fiction & fantasy dreamers to tell stories and to live them. It is an honest and heartfelt effort to bring something new and exciting into the world. What that looks like now is a terrain-based trading card wargame with storyline advanced in digital art, novels, and short fiction. And shirts and mugs, because that’s awesome too.
“…the most mind-blowing part of this volume is the rich, robust worldbuilding lore and background. With hundreds of illustrations and art pieces and immersive and detailed entries, the distinctive machinery, people, places and history of the Salt Mystic world come gloriously alive! The publishers call this volume an Immersive Storytelling Engine, and they mean it!” -SpikeyBits gaming site on the Sourcebook And Core Rules
But what’s it about?
Two thousand years ago, the Salt Mystic declared her vision of the forces of history, and how to harness them to shape human events. Naraia was the name they gave to the wondrous, sprawling republic that arose from her teachings, encompassing countless thriving civilizations on land, floating on the seas and tethered to the sea floor, and tucked into artificial pockets of space called ‘oriels’.
All of it shattered into a thousand pieces a generation ago in a terrifying and almost supernatural conflict called The War Of The Rupture. Now, roving bands of Naraia’s remnant fleets and gunslingers clash in monstrous battles of shrieking guided tornadoes, tanks the size of cities, vehicles that climb up vertical walls and men made of poisonous fog.
But there’s more power here than guns and fire.
The Salt Mystic injected cunningly engineered stories into the folklore and myths people pass down, ones capable of possessing a person’s soul. Foreseeing the wars and injustice that could emerge from Naraia, she hid tripwires in these myths that inspire world-shaking Guardians when they’re needed the most. A Guardian arises maybe once in a generation. It changes everything.
And it can arise in anyone at all.
At the height of The Infinite Republic, inflation engineers generated artificial pockets of space they furnished with impossibly huge simulations: glorified terrariums, complete with skies, lakes and cities, farms or warehouses. Those artificial pockets are called ‘oriels’, and no one at all knows how many there are still out there now that the Republic is long gone.
Many contain thriving civilizations such as this harbor town, peacefully unaware that their world isn’t all there is.
Dirigibles are a popular mode of transport in the world of the Salt Mystic, and many landing platforms buzz with commerce and activity on a clear day. Lore agitators can usually be found mixing in the crowds, mixing propaganda and persuasion and hatching plots to try and raise this generation’s Guardian before its time.
Something like that could rip the world apart like the War Of The Rupture, or it could bring about a beautiful new order. Either way, it will be a boneshaking day for us all!
Wait, it’s a game?
There is a game, yes. While it’s not necessary to play it to experience the advancing storyline or to enjoy the immersive artwork, it’s a big part of what we’re doing. Why not give it a shot?
The Salt Mystic game is primal and intimate war in a bottle…easy to learn, with a small set of core rules. We wanted to avoid tedious assembly and painting of miniatures, confusing and burdensome fluff and lore, complicated rulebooks that drag on for hundreds of pages, and streams of nameless soldiers impossible to relate to. At heart, we wanted to tell a story.
In fact, our original manifesto for the game was:
- A tabletop wargame based on trading cards that are placed on terrain like miniatures would be, with consequences for the orientation and placement of each
- Unique characters coming alive on cards with gorgeous artwork and card mechanics that affect gameplay in a way meaningful to the overall story
- An over-arching narrative that makes sense of the series of battles, who’s fighting and why, and what the consequences might be either way
- Every single character, weapon, and vehicle has a backstory. Nothing is given as plain vanilla fluff. Even the scratches on a cannon barrel came from somewhere.
- Adaptable narrative and game mechanics that allow for a continuing storyline that is easy to relate to and understand
In Volume One, available now, you’ll meet nutty people like wily War Marshal Segmond: The Loreblade here and his misfits:
And War Marshal Karak: Hammer Of The Red Witch, and his spooky bunch:
How can I get started?
Download the free Basic Rules to take a look inside this richly developed and expansive world, in what’s been called a “science fiction theme with a cowboy flair”. Inside, you’ll find the basic rules to play both the classic 2-player game as well as the terrifying solo ruleset called “Wolfpack Mode”. A game of Salt Mystic requires two 30-card selections from War Marshal card decks, which are also available on DrivethruRPG. Starter decks are available as cut & folds inside the main rulebook to get you rolling.
The Salt Mystic Sourcebook And Core Rules deluxe volume available here.
Sounds interesting…what all is in the Sourcebook And Core Rules?
- Hundreds of illustrations and art pieces either set in the Salt Mystic universe or clearly explaining the game rules
- A rich lore and background section explaining the history, people, machines, and places of the Salt Mystic universe
- History: The Age Of Fables, The Brewing, The Merchant Wars, Philosophers’ Parade, Naraia: The Infinite Republic, War Of The Rupture, and The Guardian Age
- People: The Augur, Blinkstrikers, Codeswarm Officers, Fog Men, Golems, Interrogators, The Malthus, Questforged, Rauchka, Recorders, The Red Witch, Tomb Trappers, and Watchmen
- Machines: Arsenal Ship, Ball Lightning Carbines, Black Fire, Cablesword, Computronium, The Datastream, Gas Lance, Inflation Engines, Mogs, Morphium, Ramships, Tornado Launchers, Wraith Technology
- Places: Alson: The Mountain City, The Augur Temple, Candesca & The Fallen Giant, The Fountain City, Oriels, The Rauchka Sniper’s Cave, The Red Witch Annex, The Salt Flats, The Stonewisp Wastelands, and The Tethered Cities
- Clear, intuitive instructions on gameplay for the Salt Mystic tabletop wargame in 10 easy pages with examples
- Bonus ruleset for the solo dungeon crawler, Salt Mystic: Protector played with the same game cards as the core game:
- Game table illustrations and six encounter tables
- Gorgeous game map with multiple encounter locations
- Three potential final battle challenges and advanced variations rules for enhanced replayability
- Eight papercraft terrain options that you can tear out and place on the table:
- Rocky ground, wetlands, 3D grassy hill
- Malthus Tower, Oriel Terminus, temple building, masonry wall
- Detailed graphical listing of all Volume One game cards and actual cut & play gaming elements:
- 30-card starter deck for Karak: Hammer Of The Red Witch, War Marshal of the Mountains
- 30-card starter deck for Segmond: The Loreblade, War Marshal of the Salt Flats
- Six dice cards to use in place of dice (if desired)
- A scaled ruler for table placement and movements
The visuals look unique. Can I see some more artwork?
Thanks for asking! The artwork isn’t just something we’re piling on, but rather a key mechanism whereby this incredible new world is explored! Sometimes what began as only a vague idea or intentionally cryptic reference in a story, book, or game card transforms and opens like a flower once we sit down to craft an image. It’s an incredible process, and we hope you enjoy experiencing it with us!
The fusion of art and storytelling happens on what we call the Salt Mystic Lore Cards, and they’re free! Tour the full deck available now by entering The Story Arcade:
Shirts and mugs, you say? Where can I get some Salt Mystic merchandise?
You said the story advances in novels and short fiction. Where can I find that?
Read the first book in the Salt Mystic series, TEARING DOWN THE STATUES. It’s the electrifying story of this generation’s true Guardian. Maybe. Anyway, it’s funny and scary and has great dialogue with characters that pop. And cool machines. What else do you want?
Occasionally, we share short fiction and art pieces set in the Salt Mystic world here on this site and on the Grailrunner Facebook page, as well as in the Lore Cards . You don’t have to catch all them to know what’s going on, but it enriches the experience big time!
Got anything exciting coming out next?
Right now, we’re working on a standalone novel introducing a new War Marshal and a deluxe art book. We’re also collecting feedback on hacks people are making in the game, and will incorporate some of that into Volume Two set to come out in 2023. There is also a terrain deck in the works, which will (hopefully) come out before the end of 2022.
Keep coming back here (or subscribe for updates) to find out about new Lore Cards, as they’re a recurring part of the experience!
What about submissions – can I submit fiction or art for publication?
We do periodically accept short fiction and art pieces set in the Salt Mystic world on the Grailrunner website and on our social media, as well as on the Lore Cards. If you’re interested in participating, pick up a copy of the Salt Mystic Core Rules And Sourcebook for inspiration and contact us here: brian (at) grailrunner.com. (Anything you submit should tie to something in the Sourcebook.)
Art: Generally, we don’t pay royalties or purchase art pieces unless specially commissioned, but feel free to contact us for consideration. By submitted your work to us, you’re granting electronic-display rights on the Grailrunner website and its associated social media pages (Twitter and Facebook).
Short fiction: Short works of fiction must include at least one element from the Sourcebook, be original work with rights owned by the submitter, and must not include anything resembling pornography or hate speech. No overtly political works will be considered. This is escapism and science fantasy. Lengths welcomed as high as 500 words, but not much longer. Contact at email above for more details. Even if we don’t purchase your work, you may still wish to have it posted on the sites.
(c)2022 All rights reserved. Salt Mystic and all likenesses contained within are the property of Grailrunner Publishing.