The Speculation Thread

This is a thread for rampant, wild unceasing speculation about Band of Blades’ core mysteries!

Forged in the Dark games are designed with a certain amount of narrative flexibility which allows every table to reach their own conclusions about the lore, the world and the characters. The Lampblacks may be misunderstood working men in one game or a monstrous group of violent gangsters in another, but both campaigns share the same sparse lore.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the lore of Band of Blades! I’m starting my Band of Blades campaign this week and I expect that it will be extremely lore heavy: I’m using the Horned One and I’ve decided that her grand strategy is going to be learning as much as possible about the Cinder King and the Broken. I have no idea how I’m going to answer those questions which (might) include:

Ultimate Questions!

  • Who is the Cinder King?
  • Why did the Empire fall?
  • What was the Godswar all about?
  • How are Chosen Broken?

Specific Questions!

  • What’s the deal with the Cinder King’s 9 pointed crown and Zora’s very similar crown of fire?
  • What’s True Flame anyways?
  • What happened in Dar?
  • Which of the Twins fell to the Cinder King? What has the other Twin Chosen been up to?
  • Did the Empire have Chosen?
  • What was living in the Old Empire like?
  • What was the Old Imperial religion?
  • What were the sides in the Godswar?

So…The game here is going to be providing wildly speculative, contradictory answers to these questions for the fun of it. I’m going to post a list of things we know about the lore, and then I’m going to post some wild, contradictory speculative answers.


How many Broken are there?

  • The First Broken, created by the Cinder King in 840, name unknown.
  • The second Broken is one of the two Aldermani Twins in 843, either a Chosen of Mattiar or Gerholtz.
  • Five more Broken in the Great Breaking. Which include:
  1. The Chosen of Nyx. 171, 355 Shadowbinder or Binder according to Stras downthread. :slight_smile:
  2. Blighter. 187
  3. Breaker. 195
  4. Render. 203
  5. One Unknown.

How many Chosen are there?

  • The Aldermani Twin who wasn’t broken, either Gerholtz or Mattiar.
  • The 4 survivors of the Great Breaking which includes:
  1. Shreya. 165
  2. Unknown Chosen #1. 354
  3. Unknown Chosen #2. 354
  4. Unknown Chosen #3. 354

Other Chosen

  • The Horned One’s Chosen. The Horned One only Chooses after Nyx is Broken. 171
  • Zora. She emerges after the Shining One is Broken. 174.

What do we know about the Cinder King?

  • He has a 9 pointed crown of fire. 182
  • There was a 10 pointed crown of fire on a basalt throne in Dar. 364
  • Zora “broke” Dar. 174
  • The Cinder King has punished Breaker for researching Dar Shadows. 201
  • Zora has a crown of fire. 201
  • He can grant others great power through cinderblood. 203
  • Others can gain his power of True Fire. 393
  • He discourages his worship as a god. 413
  • Undead have been associated with Chosen, but never in the numbers created by the Cinder King. 182
  • The Cinder King may have sailed south. 395 Or the Cinder King has sailed east to cross the sea to reach Panya with some Broken and their armies. 405
  • The Cinder King may need to renew his control over the Broken periodically. 183
  • The Cinder King’s touch brings corruption. 36

What do we know about the Old Empire?

  • The Empire had access to magic and/or technology that is far superior to what is available today, like warding stones and the Old Imperial Roads. 385
  • The Old Empire discovered alchemy and codified writing. 352
  • The Legion was founded to fight existential supernatural threats by the seventh emperor.
  • The Last Emperor was murdered by multiple Chosen.
  • Bartans predate the Old Empire. 356
  • The Old Empire is therefore related to the Orites? (On account of them discovering alchemy?)
  • The First Emperor traveled personally to Panya to seek the services of an architect. 361
  • Aldermark was an Imperial province ruled from Karlsburg. 370
  • A Tantari Banner was granted to the Legion by the “first Emperor”. This may be a typo as they were founded by the seventh emperor. Stras confirms it is a typo downthread. 381
  • An Imperial “sending stone” is spreading corruption near the Duresh Forest. 401
  • Powerful blood oaths made to emperors can create undead. 182
  • Zora and her fellow chosen Osyngria fought the Last Emperor. 389
  • The Last Emperor practiced human sacrifice and blood drinking to gain great power. 409
  • They had a religion, but nobody knows much about it. May have been associated with True Fire. 393

What do we know about the Godswar?

  • Powerful weapons were developed during the Godswar to fight the gods such as Crimson Shot and the Bell of Keening. 97 421
  • Zora ended the Godswar by “striking the god within a Chosen”. 177
  • A Dar warrior developed a martial arts style capable of fighting chosen. 441

Who is the Cinder King?

The Cinder King is the Living God of the Zemyati people, betrayed by his own Chosen at Dar and bound with a terrible curse to the land itself. The ten points of his crown represent the power of his Nine Chosen, the tenth point representing his power over them all. Zora stole his point when she broke Dar and bound him to the land. The Living God had grown mad and cruel in his old age when Zora struck him down, and has only gotten worse in death.

The Cinder King is the Last Emperor of the Old Empire who tried to take the power of the gods for his own and was murdered by multiple Chosen for his troubles. Too powerful even in death, he instigated the Godswar and the was only defeated at the Breaking of Dar. Now, centuries later, he has finally recovered from his god-given injuries and is plotting his revenge again.

The Cinder King is a Chosen of Dar whom the combined armies of the Chosen attempted to kill and erase any mention of in the Godswar. A god of death, his power has only grown since the Breaking of Dar and given him the inspiration to Break the Chosen.

The Cinder King is a fundamental supernatural force in the universe, the embodiment of the apocalypse. The Chosen fall before him because the end of the world cannot be resisted and he turns all supernatural forces to his will.

The Cinder King is a foolish alchemist who accidentally stumbled across the forumula/spell for True Fire and created it before understanding what it actually was: a malevolent energy-based intelligence capable of animating the dead and challenging the gods. He is merely a puppet for an extradimensional spiritual entity composed of True Fire.


Wow ! An excellent summation.

I would say that we know a bit more than “The Cinder King may have sailed south.” Apparently he not sailed South, but sailed east to cross the Sea to reach Panya with some Broken and their armies (see p 405). In effect it bypassed Aldermark which is a kind of secondary battlefield.

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Some possbily-unrelated observations:

  • Powerful blood oaths to Emperors may create undead
  • The Zemyati have a culture of blood oaths
  • It’s been implied (I can’t remember if in the book or by Stras on Google+) that Zora was one of the Chosen who took down the Last Emperor
  • The seat of the Empire was shattered at the fall of the Empire
  • Zora is stated to have shattered Dar
  • Vlaisim and Zora, both Chosen of the Living God of the Zemyati, both stated that their mission was to kill the Cinder King
  • The Cinder King appears to have some animus against the Chosen in addition to his power over them
  • Once the Legion finds a shard of True Fire (in a temple inside the head of a massive statue), the Legionnaire branded with it can take corruption to see the Cinder King, no matter the distance between them

Wild, unfounded conclusions:

The Cinder King is in fact the last Emperor, out for revenge against the Chosen. That crown of True Fire was the Imperial Crown, and Dar stands where the Empire’s heartland was. The Cinder King’s armies are a massive expansion of the Undead that previously existed, and the Living God’s Chosen are going after the Cinder King in order to finish the job they started.


The Cinder King is a lie! As the tenth point broke, it lodged itself into Zora’s hearth and started spreading the corruption it kept contained for so long… The Cinder King is the manifestation of the corruption in Zora when it breaks free. When the Cinder King meets his Broken, it is not to renew control over them, but to drink of their corruption and grab more power over Zora.


Why did the Empire collapse?
The Last Emperor had found a way to force the gods mortal Chosen to kneel in the face of his empowered Imperial Cult. While the Emperor could not command the gods, he could command their mortal shells, the Chosen. The gods destroyed the Last Emperor before he could bind them.

What was the Godswar all about?
One of the Chosen who had murdered the Emperor betrayed the conspiracy and decided to use the research of the Imperial Cult to bind all the gods to their will. They were assassinated by Zora.

How are Chosen Broken?
The Chosen are broken through the Imperial Oath. Long ago the peoples of the world swore oaths to the Old Empire, and the magic that enforces them still holds. The Chosen are Broken because they are still subject to the old oaths.

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@Udachnik I don’t know how many of these you want me to confirm/deny ^_~ So I’ll stick to some facts.

  1. Awesome summary. That’s really good note-taking there.
  2. The 7th Emperor was Tantarus (hence Tantari… in the Tantari banner—has to do with Old Empire language conjugation). I checked the book - yeah it should say 7th not ‘first’. Our bad! You can fix that on the list if you like.
  3. Your list of Chosen is just a touch off. Zora did not march with the offensive. She appears AFTER the battle to save the legion. The Zemyati fielded “Vlaisim the Shining One” who became the Broken Render. There is one more out there. :slight_smile:

What I will say is there are some CORRECT guesses on this list about who the Cinder King is which is amazing because I didn’t expect it. Good job sleuthing folks!

In case you want a non-book-listed truth, the Broken of Nyx is called Shadowbinder or “Binder” for short.


It won’t be a thread of wild speculation if you confirm or deny! And confirmation is for when books go to the printers… So when’s that second Band of Blades campaign coming out Stras? :stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue::stuck_out_tongue:

  1. Thanks!
  2. I’ll make an edit when I get a chance.
  3. I wondered about Zora… I’ll move her on the list.

Thanks so much for responding! I’m starting my campaign tomorrow and I am EXCITED.

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I’m wrapping up BoB stuff and working on 2 small games till October. I know that the next big project we have in queue is Throne of the Void. But I’m guessing we might see the beta for “Band of Blades: Legacy of the Old Empire” sometime next year. That should include campaign two (which includes the Siege of Skydagger Keep).


Wait! There are plans for BoB 2?

Is it planned to be a stand alone book? I presume there will be significant changes there to keep it fresh? Or maybe a collection of campaigns including and following the siege?

Also, I for one am all for spoilers on what your ideas were for stuff, including who CK really is.

Hi Stras

What I would love to know in advance, is if there will be in BoB2 rules for larger-size combat. You know, something more manipular/cohort/legion-size, to reflect things like Ettenmark Fields or Skydagger Deep-siege.

Because if you say there will be, I’m ready to wait, I know they will be better than what I could house-rule on my own. If you say it’s not intended, I would try anyway…

I am just really curious what ‘broke Dar’ actually means… It’s written in the ‘Lore’ and I am sure players will ask what ‘Breaking Dar’ means. I dont mind saying to players “Noone knows”, but since its ‘general information’, people must be able to explain what it means (not how or why, but what it actually is) or would have used different wording. [Like razed Dar or destroyed Dar or killed everyone in Dar].

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I mean we can make some basic deductions. The whole land of Dar is a blasted wasteland inhabited by evil shades. There’s a huge blasted canal called the Gap to the north of it. Everyone born there is bound to the land by a powerful curse. Maybe not all of those things happened in the Breaking, but I’m betting the majority of them did.

It’s entirely probable that most people don’t know exactly what happened - it’s not like Zora’s gonna tell anyone the precise mechanics of what she did. Sounds like the kind of thing a Research long-term project might reveal with the help of the Legion’s Annals.

I might be nitpicking, but why would people say ‘Zora broke Dar’ instead of ‘Zora conquered Dar’? The fact that people say ‘Broke’ must mean something. Breaking a Chosen means the Chosen swaps sides [even if we dont know the exact reason/method]. So ‘breaking’ infers something, just like ‘killing’ infers someone aint alive anymore (even if you dont know the killing happened). So rephrase the question: Why do people say “Zora broke Dar”? Does it mean ‘turned into a cursed wasteland’?

“Zora broke Dar” is easier to say than “Zora reduced Dar to a smoking ruin populated by evil ghosts and cursed every last living person living in its borders”?

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Given the strong meaning ‘Breaking’ has in this game, I was just curious… After all we dont tend to say ‘The Holy Roman Empire was broken during the Thirty Year War by the enemy’. As in our world that tends to mean ‘economically broken’ not ‘turned into wasteland’…
Given the special meaning ‘Broken’ has in BoB [namely a former Chosen who was turned to the ‘Cider King’ side], you could also say that ‘broken Dar’ means that Dar ‘swapped sides’ in the war?
Just wondering…

I hate to make this an AMA thread but I’ll put a few things out there.

@Udachnik is right. Also Break doesn’t mean “switch sides” it means “do something horrific and unexplained that twists the fundamental nature of a thing.” I believe “shatter a land, cover it in blood-hungry shades, curse everyone in it” qualifies.

The how and the details aren’t covered and Zora is unlikely to tell anyone the precise mechanics of what she did (correct @StoryWonker).

@JobotBobica Let me be clear about a thing. The next book isn’t BoB2 (like DnD vs DnD 5th) it’s just further campaigns and additional rules. If you’re gonna call it a thing LotOE (Legacy of the Old Empire) is probably right ^_~ It’s not standalone because it’s an expansion for BoB (so we won’t reprint core mechanics and the like).

@A_B Nope. If it would appear somewhere it would be after the siege. But I also don’t particularly care for large scale simulations? It’s much more likely to have front-scale resolutions with your units dealing with key assignments.

Looking at war from 10k miles in the air is about pieces. RPGs (to me at least) are about people. I prefer to zoom in.


Sure. I was not thinking wargame-style simulation, or I would buy a wargame. I was thinking more about battles built around several tactical phases, each one solved by an engagement-roll type of roll, with dice-pools like the engagement roll or the final at Skydagger Keep. And of course the individual actions of the PCs would add to the dice pools in some cases, if fictionally warranted. The result of each phase would provide changes in position/effect for the following phases. No hex-grid needed, no little squares of cardboard.

But I understand this would change the nature of your game which is very focused. Anyway I still have a full campaign to run, so Skydagger Keep is still far away !

God, how I wish I could be a player in this campaign instead of the GM! But this is my curse!

I’m glad to here there is a BoB 2 in the works. I’m hoping to start a campaign in October for my birthday, that will probably last til early 2020, and would love to purchase more content after that.

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