Author: Flosha Status: wip


  1. Preface
  2. Evolution of the Setting
    1. Orpheus Concept (1995-1997)
      1. History
      2. Maps & Locations
      3. The Sleeper
      4. The Four Crystals of Trazere
    2. Phoenix Concept (1998-2000)
      1. War against the Orcs
      2. The Mages
      3. The Kings
      4. The Four Realms
      5. Island or Mainland
      6. Size of the Barrier
  3. Decline of the Setting
    1. The Revolt
    2. Realms & Kings
    3. Halforcs & Orcs
    4. Camps & Factions
    5. Summary


In this analysis, we will only consider the “setting” in the sense of the world with its factions and the background story of how the situation comes about that the player is confronted with at the beginning of the game; what we will not deal with here are the plot as it unfolds in the actual game, nor with the lore in the sense of ancient history that the player discovers late in the game, tradition, mythology, prophecies and the like, nor with the changes of the world as far as the position of camps, rivers, mines, architecture and so on are concerned; all of these have their own sections in the docs.

There is no dedicated “Phoenix Setting” document, since the setting will basically be what we will outline here; every aspect that we have developed further or where we connected loose threads or harmonised conflicting aspects, are all relevant bits of story to be discovered in the game; they will be documented in the relevant story sections. Although you may be able to take conclusions about what we will do from our critique in Decline of the Setting. And of course there is the setting of our second act, which contains our background story of the City and what happened in the six months between Act I (Gothic) and Act 2 (the Sequel), which we cannot discuss here either.

In “Decline of the Setting” we will deal with how many of the described aspects of the setting could not find much expression in the game. Here we will discuss how the setting declined in so far in that many interesting aspects with a lot of narrative potential where never really used in the narration and were therefore lost.

Evolution of the Setting

According to Mike Hoge himself, as he told me, the initial idea for Gothic was the combination of two elements: ideas of the film Escape from New York combined with dark fantasy, more precisely: “gothic fantasy”. Many people used to think that the film was just one of many inspirations, but in fact it was the most important inspiration. Its role in the development of the setting cannot be underestimated.

Escape From New York - Japanese Poster 1981

Mike says, a great idea is when you combine two or more things, which may exist in isolation, but were never combined before. Gothic was born through the combination of the film with gothic fantasy. Orpheus was its first working title.

Orpheus Concept (1995-1997)

In the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997 the Orpheus setting was roughly outlined in the “Orpheus - History” document as well as in “Orpheus Guilds” V1 and V2 which we released in 2020. Here we can already find almost all the important aspects of the background story. But in order to understand these early ideas and their development we also have to take the world design into account and how the different camps and guilds evolved in this earliest conception phase.


According to all the notes available to us, this is the first concept of the setting:

  • The prison colony is established from the outside world as a labour camp. This was the basic differentiation they started with: Prison World and Outside World. The king, the war, the realms of the kingdom and all these details were not yet conceptualised. At this point the game world was supposed to be an island to have a limitation of the game world. The barrier was not yet invented.
  • The convicts dig for ore below-ground and discover an old natural cave system.
  • There are monsters (referring to Orcs), called by an Entity, dwelling in caves and attacking the miners; while the wardens are sitting in safety in their fortress and let them dig regardless.
  • Motivated by the threat of the monsters, a revolt is initiated. The wardens are killed, but an escape fails at the so-called cliff, that is protected by forces from the outside world. It is here where the convicts are thrown into and it is here where the revolt is struck down. It is very likely that the idea of the barrier did not exist at this time, as it is not mentioned in the earliest summary and within the Orpheus Guild System V1 there is described an escape plan for the Mafia’s thugs, which are dreaming of “taking the cliff by storm at night” someday. It is most likely in this context that a counter strike is mentioned with a question mark, as something that may have potentially being initiated.
  • The creation of a barrier (initially perhaps imagined as limited to the northern border of the colony, preventing the convicts to overcome “the cliff”, as is seen on the first map sketch below) could have happened as a reaction to the revolt, trying to gain back the control over the prison, but without success. Thus, the revolt would have taken place before the creation of the barrier, not in course of it as it was explained in the release version. In any way, the prison is now under control of the convicts, but they cannot escape; the cliff was the only way out of the prison and soon, due to a psychic barrier (it was supposed to have psi effects and make you mad), there would be none.
  • The outside world offers the convicts to work in the mines in exchange for benefits.
  • In course of the revolt a new order is established by a group of the strongest; they form a Mafia who force the weak to continue to dig for ore; the “slave diggers”, living in their own district in the city (which would later be called “Old Camp”) and in the old “diggers fort” (which would later become the “Old Fort”), they dig ore for the Mafia, exchange it with the outside world and pay their protection money from their miserly share to the thugs of the Mafia who protect them in the city and from the monsters in the mine. The new order that promised freedom turned into just another kind of slavery, where the people living in the city couldn’t trust anyone, since everyone could be a potential spy working for the Mafia; a system inspired by the Stasi of the former German Democratic Republic (DDR).
  • Other diggers decided to work independently, in free cooperation with the Outside World in a mine of their own. They try to get the better of the monsters with ranged weapons and traps. They also deliver ore to the Outside World and receive goods in exchange, such as food, drugs, tools, animals and so on. They were called the “free diggers” living in a newer “diggers fort”.
  • But “Bonzo” (which may have been a placeholder name that would later be described as “the Lord” and finally become “General Lee”) is sick of it; he wants to confront the Outside World united, but the “weak” Diggers (who do not stand up against the Mafia) and the so described “Don’t-Care-Guys” from Midcity (who prefer to maintain the Status Quo) are too big of a faction and cannot be convinced.
  • Thus Bonzo is splitting up with his guys, which are gladiators and “Outside world haters” first and foremost; as he doesn’t want to (1) have any contact with the Outside world anymore and (2) hasn’t enough influence in Midcity, thus founding what was originally called the gladiators camp. Later it would be called the “New camp” and the free diggers would evolve into the Free Miners, but at this point they were an independent “Free Camp”, - founded before the New Camp - with their own interests.
  • Then the sect is founded, people are beginning to preach from a liberator, recruiting followers; visions start to occur and people struggle with their sleep; a fort is built for the sect to have them out of the way and they errect a temple.

This is the situation with which the player would be confronted and which Mike summarised as “History”. Mike wanted to show these things in the intro, that was supposed to introduce the setting, beginning with the prison colony itself over the revolt to the founding of the three camps. The escape plans did exist already, but they were not supposed to be shown as the player should find out about them ingame.

Maps & Locations

The world corresponding to this earliest description of the setting can be roughly outlined as follows, all based on Mikes notes and sketches:

  1. Outside World
  2. Midcity Core (original Castle of the Wardens)
    1. Old Warden’s house (relatively pretentious)
  3. Midcity Outskirts (Fort)
  4. Old Diggers Fort
    1. Underground Diggers HQ
  5. Free Diggers Fort
  6. Gladiators Camp
  7. Psi Temple (Fort)
  8. Mages Camp
  9. Half Orcs in the forest
  10. Old Mines (x3)
  11. Natural Caves below the mines
  12. Orccave(s) below the natural caves
  13. Ancient Temple

Below is the earliest map sketch, corresponding to this concept of the world, with the barrier drawn as a line at the northern border of the colony:

First Map Sketch by Mike

In the middle of the colony was supposed to be “Midstadt” (Midcity), the “liberal camp”, as it was called because it was here that the convicts liberated themselves and initiated the revolt; establishing a new rule in the former prison castle and building the “outskirts” (the later outer ring of the camp). A short-lived difference was the mages being situated outside of the camp at a location of their own (the stonehenge and the mages meeting place in the forest may be what was left of it in later versions). But very soon they were put inside of the camp. The battle mages were placed inside the Midcity Core, the healing mages inside the New Camp (Gladiators Camp) and the Halforcs were transferred from the forest to the Free Camp, where they apparently were supposed to live in peace with the free diggers.

Midcity Core Sketch

The simple differentiation was that there was one side in cooperation with the outside world, namely Midcity consisting of the Mafia, their Mercenaries (Thugs) and Spies, the Battlemages and the “slave diggers” on one hand - the Free Camp with their free diggers on the other hand. And one “Anti-Outside-World-Faction”, which was the New Camp with the Healing Mages and their Mercenaries (the Gladiators). The Free Camp at this point was thought to be in alliance with the Sect, in that the templars of the sect helped to protect the free diggers against monsters, while the free diggers would exchange their ore for drugs or drug related ingrediences from the outside world as supplies for the Sect. Only after that, due to the link of the Gladiators with the Healing mages and their escape plan, the idea was formed that the Free diggers could eventually also cooperate with them. At this point, the free camp was thought to be in cooperation with both the New Camp and the Sect. It was a complex relationship. For instance, the Old Camp would extort road tolls from the free diggers in order to use the exchange place; and the “Ore thieves” (later Organisators) from the New Camp would steal ore not only from the old digger’s fort, but occasionally from the free diggers too (even if against the mages orders due to the alliance).

Early Faction Relations

But at some point the free camp was no longer presented as a camp on their own (and later even the cooperation with the Sect was no longer displayed), partially due to a demand for simplification by Alex Brüggemann. In order for the different relationships between the factions to not be too complex, he suggested that it has to be quite simple: One faction wants to get the ore out and one faction wants to keep the ore in; since the Anti-Outsideworld-Faction were the ones who didn’t want to make business with the outside world at any cost and since they needed ore for their escape plan, the free diggers were closely linked to them. The former idea that they also traded at least some of their ore with the outside world - and have interests on their own - was discarded for purposes of simplification.

Another part of this simplification was the renaming of the Camps based on the simple idea that one camp was old and the other one was new; so from now on the Liberal Camp was called the Old Camp and the Gladiators Camp was called the New Camp. As a matter of fact, the so-called Old Diggers Fort of the original concept equals the later Old Fort (“Altes Kastell”) in the south of the Old Camp, as I found out very late, just when I started to analyse the evolution of the setting in this form; apparently it never occured to anyone. The original positioning of the Old Mine was in the very south of the colony. It was this mine in which the slave diggers from the Old Camp were supposed to work and in the early notes it was made clear that only those diggers stayed inside of the Camp who were in a time-off (the diggers in the Old Camp switch between working and leisure on a weekly or two-weekly basis); the others stayed in the Old Diggers Fort which was situated close to the Old Mine.

Map 2 by Mike

The barrier, now imagined as a closed sphere around the prison, was described as being created by battle mages; battle mages created the barrier and healing mages wanted to take it down. And at this point Mike had the idea that the battlemages also had some escape plan like creating a magical portal in the barrier, but would follow their plan only sporadically, as they were having a good life in the centre of the Old Camp.

From here on the setting just evolved in minor ways. All the camps, all the guilds and all the essential parts of the background story were defined here, during the Orpheus Conception phase, perhaps with the exception of the war with the “northern hordes”.

Map 3 by Mike

The Sleeper

The Sleeper and his maddening influence was also a part of the setting from the very beginning. And when the barrier came into the picture, it was clear that it had to have a psychic effect. This effect may not have been intended by the mages, but it has it due to the Sleeper who changed the barrier’s properties when he was touched by it and increased it in course of the ritual.

The Sleeper was sleeping. The barrier was round. The diameter was defined as 1km. The setting was set.

The Four Crystals of Trazere

Before continuing our analysis of the development of the setting, we have to point out some extreme similarities to a video game from 1992, called “Legend” or “The Four Crystals of Trazere”, found by Avallach. Quoting from its handbook:

An unknown epoch during the Middle Ages, when barbarians invaded at will, cruel despots rose and fell, blood spilled across the land, and magic and mystery wove their spell. It is a Time of Dread and Woe.

To summarise. Here was a game which introduced its setting like this:

Trazere Intro 1

With a mask that reminds a lot of the mask of the Sleeper, while it is about an evil being that sleeps and which dreams are influencing reality - this is the background story of Gothic, just expressed in a more poetical language. To quote the handbook again:

An evil stench has arisen in The land of Trazere, and the world is in chaos. A strange, powerful and ghastly entity as old as time itself has risen from its sleep, and has cast a pall over all humanity. Some unknown malevolent power has mutated the peoples of the Ancient Realm into hideous beasts. These beasts are roaming the land, slaying and despoiling all in their path, and nothing seems capable of stopping their wanton destruction.

Trazere Intro 2

These are the “beasts”, which remind of orcs and have green skin.

As the chaos deity stirred in its sleep and dreamed its dreams of power, residual energies leaked into the material world and caused widespread mutations. These mutations took a wide variety of forms, from the great demonic shape of a Lord of Chaos, to creatures that seem at first glance to be entirely human. Only the pallid color of their skin or wild eyes betray them as to their hellish nature.

Again, demonic mutations, red eyes? This is Gothic, right? They also make war against the kingdom of men:

Trazere Intro 3

The people cry out in fear and pain: “Why has our King forsaken us? Why does he not send the legions to scour the land of this foul pestilence? Where is our deliverance from this nefarious calamity? Who among men can save us?” Only the stalwart men of the four keeps can save the Kingdom from evil, but surely even their great walls cannot hold forever!

A king that is loosing a war. And there are “four keeps” in the kingdom, four realms? But of course there is a hero - you!

The fate of the land of Trazere is now in your hands. It will take the outer limits of your creativity, imagination and concentration to succeed in this noble quest. As the gods would have it, you have four loyal companions to help you, along with a host of magic spells. Success will bring great reward, my friend. You will, in effect, join those select few who become a legend in their own lifetime.

You have four loyal companions. A berzerk, a wizard, an assassin and a psionic Troubadour, presented in a cool artwork like this:

Trazere Companions

Mike does not know this game, he told us. but others in the team may have played it. In fact, often very similar ideas evolve independently from each other. And in other cases one is unconsciously inspired by things he has seen before but does not remember.

Even if these aspects of the background story of Gothic would be copied from this game, it would not make Gothic less unique and original, because the main parts of the setting are what we described above in the history section - the parts that are inspired by Escape from New York mixed with fantasy. Nonetheless, you have to admit, that these aspects of the background story that are as well to be found in this game from 1992, cannot (anymore) be considered as something that is particularly unique to Gothic.

Phoenix Concept (1998-2000)

You are thrown in the prison The kingdom of Martiana is at war with the northern hordes. In these times, criminals are thrown in the prison mine colony to provide the royal army with its most urgent need: iron ore. There are no guards in the prison. The convicts run the mines by themselves. The precious ore is delivered to the outside world in exchange for food, medicine and some small luxuries. But only the mightiest among the prisoners have the privilege to distirbute these goods among the others, while the weak ones are driven in the mines to get their little share. The guards were no longer needed - no sane being can escape the prison, because the King’s master mages put a psychic barrier around the prison colony to prevent every sane being from escape. […] (Early promotional draft)

While most of the story of Gothic was developed during the Phoenix Concept phase, almost nothing about the setting changed after the Orpheus Concept. It was more or less supposed to remain like we have outlined above (even if many aspects of the setting were lost in the execution, they were still part of the setting), serving as the foundation of the story that would be developed in detail in the Phoenix Concept.

But what was most likely introduced here is the background story of the war against the Orcs, the kings and the realms.

War Against the Orcs

The monsters (at first Mike wanted to avoid the term “Orcs” in the same way he didn’t want any other typical fantasy monster names in the game and the Alien-inspired “Minecrawlers” specifically were not invented yet either) were part of the setting from the very beginning, but at first it was just about them living in their caves below the surface and below the mines. Now a broader background story was developed, providing reason for why the ore is needed by the Outside World so urgently.

A very cool background story, that most players of the game do not even know about: In ancient times the Orcs and Humans were living alongside each other on the surface of the earth. After a long time of war, slavery and oppression, the orcs, as it was written on the official Gothic website “fled from the racism of the humans into underground caves”. One of these underground caves (natural caves, into which they have built their villages and cities) is under the colony of Khorinis and it was this clan who summoned the Sleeper a thousand years before the game takes place and who is since then living in fear of his awakening, bringing him sacrifices (human sacrifices, but their own blood as well) to calm him down.

This was most likely the background of what later in the Sequel would be described as the “Bloodearth Clan”.

The Mages

While originally the battlemages were described as the creators of the barrier and the healing mages where opposed to it from the very beginning and wanted to take it down, now the two circles - renamed into Circle of Fire and Circle of Water - were explained to have created it together. They kept working together for a short time inside of the barrier, but after the failed ritual that imprisoned them too, they disagreed about how to handle it and the two circles parted ways.

This background story was later misunderstood by some story authors to mean that the split of the two circles (water and fire) as such occured only after the creation of the barrier in course of their conflict about how to deal with it. While actually it occured probably many centuries ago, as Mike confirmed and as we are also informed about by an ingame book.

The Kings

King Rhobar II was introduced later, but can still be considered as part of the Alpha setting. He is mentioned both in the Comic and in version 0.94k by the judge during the conviction and described as the uniter of the four realms at the myrtanian sea. Rhobar I on the other hand was never mentioned in any pre-release documents available to us nor in the game; he was introduced in the Gothic Manual which was not written nor blessed by Mike Hoge. For Mike he is part of the setting, but he imagined that there were kings inbetween Rhobar I and Rhobar II, in opposition to the story in the Gothic Manual, where Rhobar II is the son and direct heir of the throne of Rhobar I.

According to the Gothic Manual it was Rhobar I who united Nordmar, Myrtana and Varant (he died after the war with Varant), while Rhobar II was only responsible for the union with the “fourth realm”. The ingame book “Battle of Varant” does only mention “Feldherr Rhobar”, “König Rhobar” and does not define whether it is about Rhobar I or Rhobar II.

The Four Realms

Myrtana was called Martiana in the earlier draft quoted above, thus marking it as the “Land of War” (Mars = Roman God of War). Varant and Nordmar are early ideas too and were mentioned in the game. At the time of the original Gothic it is never specifically mentioned that they are two of the realms that Rhobar united, but it is likely so and was confirmed by Mike. The fourth realm was never clearly defined as far as we can say at this moment, but for Mike, who could not remember defining it himself, it may have been Khorinis. For other authors it was most likely Tymoris (a term that Mike has either forgotten about or was not involved in its conception), while Khorinis was seen just as the city from the Comic or a principiality within the tymorian kingdom.

Of course, in the official “successors” these parts of the lore were forgotten and retconned. The “southern islands” or the “eastern archipelago” are all later additions from the official successors and were not part of the original idea of the four realms. This is all irrelevant for our purposes here.

Island or Mainland

Mike: […] We needed to limit the size of the world, therefore we planned to place the prison on an island, but then we decided in favor of the magic barrier, because it emphasizes the feeling of being imprisoned., 14.11.1998

When the idea of a magical barrier came into play the world had no longer to be conceptualised as an island; Mike himself formulated it this way in 1998 and other story authors and the Sequel team supposed that the island idea was obsolete and that the prison is situated on the main land, as it was only thought of as an island originally as a solution for the necessary limitation of the game world; as this limitation was solved differently the island idea was discarded. But as it was this idea that Mike had began with and that stayed in his imagination, after the barrier was gone and the world had still to be limited, the once discarded island idea was reused in the official successors.

Size of the Barrier

On Mikes Orpheus Map the size of the barrier was defined as just 1km in diameter. On the earliest map shown above you already see his underlined note “nicht zu groß” (“not too big”); the idea of a small gameworld was there from the very start. It was never supposed to be very big. Later, on the Piranha Bytes website, the world was described as being 2km in diameter.

In Alex Wittmann’s story “Sleeper’s Ban” a guard describes it as being “10 miles in diameter”, which means about 16km. We may argue that the game world with the official sizes (1km/2km in diameter) is like a smaller “stage” and representation of what the fantasy suggests you to imagine and that Alex describes, where you would travel one or two days between one camp and another. Or we may argue that the guard was a twaddler.

In any way, the actual size of the barrier inside of the game, when measured in Blender, roughly equals the original 1km in diameter that Mike envisioned the world to be.

Decline of the Setting

Many aspects of the setting outlined above were not very visible in the final version of the game or even forgotten - just as the story itself ended being redone completely in the last few months of development, where under the pressure of money and time it was reduced to a mere fragment of what it was once supposed to be, leaving the former story authors really wondering what happened to the story when playing the final game.

The Revolt

With the initial revolt, as it was conceived during the Orpheus concept, driven by the extreme working conditions in the colony, the creation of the barrier had a clear and urgent reasoning. It is because of the revolt and the ongoing struggle at the northern borders of the colony, that the king sends his “master mages” to create the magical/psychic barrier to gain back the control.

This simple, clear and reasonable order of events changed into something much more vague when the revolt was explained to take place shortly after the creation of the barrier. Now the only reasoning were former unsuccessful “escape attempts”, while according to the initial idea the colony was already under the control of the convicts. It was impossible to gain back control from inside with them having taken the prison castle and thus they came up with their magical strategy.

Thereby one could also explain the old pass being blocked. According to the initial idea the escape was stopped at the cliff, another pass was not yet conceived (although the early maps suggest one) or at least not yet mentioned. A simple explanation would be that the convicts could not take the pass that was regularly used before, because as a reaction to the revolt the royal forces from the Outside World destroyed the pass (by letting it collapse), leaving the convicts with the cliff as the only way out (apart from the sea), which was easier to protect.

Realms & Kings

We like to interpret the reason for why Myrtana was once called Martiana, the land of war, not only in the fact that war was spread from here to conquer the surrounding realms, but because it is the land that was always plagued by war, the land where cultures, tribes and religions collide and in which the conquests of Rhobar I and II form only a very recent part of its long history of war throughout the centuries. But very little was told to us about the world outside.

The background story of the Kings is a complete mess throughout the franchise, but there is no conflict when only Gothic and its handbook are taken into account, from which we can clearly deduce that Rhobar I united Nordmar and Myrtana, then led the war with Varant, thereby taking the third realm, while Rhobar II was only responsible for the union with the fourth realm. And the story in the handbook, called the “History of Past Days”, makes it clear that Rhobar II was the son of Rhobar I and that his rule immediately followed after the rule of his father.

But then there is Mike, who told us during my last visit that he imagined a longer period of time between Rhobar I and Rhobar II, with other kings inbetween, which makes it unlikely (although not impossible) for Rhobar II to be the son of Rhobar I, but clearly impossible for Rhobar II to be the direct successor of Rhobar I.

Thus, if we take this imagination of Mike into account in an attempt to harmonise these different ideas of the early setting, Rhobar II might or might not be the son of Rhobar I, but he cannot follow him immediately after the war of Varant, inspite of the historical writing claiming so, two additional aspects that could have been dealt with in the game in more (at least rudimentary) detail and by less detrimental reports; since it was obvious that he would become important in a Sequel.

Many other things were mentioned and introduced in the game (land of Tymoris, the Archolos mountain (it is a mountain, not an island), Bergmar) but never dealt with ever again instead of connecting to such loose threads in a successor.

Halforcs & Orcs

In our opinion, as well as for the early story authors, the halforcs were an incredibly important idea, as they would have played a crucial role in presenting the brutality of the setting and the racism in the world of Gothic, which will become more than clear when reading the authors ideas for quests that would show this racism in action, while it also would have given even more differentiation to the factions and single characters, since e.g. the people of the Free Camp would threat the half orcs well, while others would rather use and abuse them for hard labour and protection.

In the first draft they were supposed to live in a huge forest north of the Psi Camp, then inside the Free Camp. During the Phoenix Concept phase at least single halforcs in different camps were supposed to remain. But in the end the only thing that was left were some names such as “Grunt” (or “Shabak”, removed shortly before release) and these NPCs were displayed as regular humans… It should be obvious what a huge narrative potential was given up with the idea of the halforcs.

Not to speak of how poorly the Orcs in general were represented in the game due to the removal of the OrcCity in which the player was supposed to learn their language and be confronted with their culture and history. In the end the game did not tell us anything about the racism between humans and orcs (apart from the existence of Orc Slaves) or about them once living together at the surface and their conflicts being the very reason for why the Orcs are now living underground (which due to the removal of the OrcCity, is not even the case anymore in the final game either).

Camps & Factions

OC: Very little was shown of the Orebarons as a Mafia-like organisation and the idea of the shadows as spies and snitches inspired by the German Democratic Republic that would be hidden in the crowd of people of the Old Camp was given up almost completely, not to speak of the character development, the internal conflicts of the camp that were once supposed to occur in course of the story or traditions such as the liberation party that were planned to be shown; while there were a lot of good ideas and background story for the camp, in the end the presentation was very poor.

And the early differentation of battlemages and healingmages still played an important role in Alex Wittmann’s story, but was completely lost in the game. The mages changed names, but the battlemages were still supposed to be more offensive, shown for example by ideas in Alex’ story like one of the firemages working as a torturer for the barons. We didn’t get to know anything about them, not to speak of any character development.

FC: It might have been reasonable to link the Free Camp with the New Camp as we described above, but by simplifying its role, forgetting about its history and making it a mere subcamp of the NC, the Free Camp lost its own identity almost completely. Once it was this independent anarchist faction, still called the “Schürferbund” (Scraper’s Union), that described its camp as the “most free camp” of all. Now it had no interest on its own anymore, nor would it ever occur to the players that the free miners have founded their camp before the New Camp was established.

This way not only was a lot of interesting complexity lost in the relationship between the camps, the simplification also killed other story-relevant ideas, such as that the Brotherhood of Silence (the “Master” guild that the four friends belong to and that in the end couldn’t find it’s way into the game at all - one of the things Mike regretted the most), were supposed to be the secret leaders of the Free Camp with a secret headquarter there. The brotherhood of silence was also absolutely essential for the early immersive sim approach with the four classes, as they were one of the highest guilds and the path that the player was supposed to take as a thief to complete the game in the stealth way.

Another lost aspect due to these changes were the trappers of the Free Camp that were supposed to be specialists of setting traps against the underground monsters; a crucial aspect when considering how one of the primary reasons of the revolt was the helplessness of the diggers against the monsters in the mine that the wardens didn’t care much to protect them from.

NC: Just as with the firemages, the watermages as healing mages did not really survive in the game. The initial character of the water mages may still be partially alive in their synchronisation, presenting them as milder than the arrogant firemages, but nothing of their primary focus on healing comes through, nor did we ever get to know any details about the founding of the camp and the background of their alliance with Lee. And in this context, an even more important aspect was missed in the poor execution of the release version: The NC was always supposed to be the “Anti-Outside-World” faction. And with the introduction of the war and the king into the setting, the general “Anti-Outside-World” idea evolved into them becoming the “Kinghaters” (Königshasser), as they were described in the Gothic Sequel documents. That said, Lee and his men, as well as the water mages, were totally against cooperation with the outside world, against cooperation with the king. The mages themselves, once working for the king, in course of the conflict with the circle of fire about the barrier and the deal with the criminals and the king, parted ways and joined forces with General Lee; and now they are, so to speak, inflicted by an imperial ban and outlaws in the eye of the crown, due to their alliance with the General, but of course almost nothing of it found expression in the game.

Which brings us to another and one of the most unknown aspects of the early lore, which I realised very late, the gladiator background of Lee’s men, which is so obvious, from their old background story to their armours, and I really wondered why it did not occur to us earlier. Since this aspect is so strongly related with the story of the faction as we want to present it in the game, we won’t tell more at this point.

As far as the NC in general is concerned: Jörg Bütow was a story author who was specificially given the task to develop the New Camp; background story, characters, its involvement with other camps, internal conflicts, all of these things. He had a lot of good ideas but all of it was removed or never realised in the first place in Mikes attempt to rescue the release of the game in the last couple of months.


It is hard to separate “setting” from story, in so far as the circumstances in which the story is taking place, are often something that were supposed to (or should) be discovered in course of the story through dialogue with the characters and so forth; therefore we cannot and do not want to make an exhaustive analysis of all the aspects in which the game did not deliver what the setting promised; since many of these aspects will be interwoven with the story in our project (and will thus be dealt with in the corresponding sections); but we hope that we could at least give an overview of what the Setting was originally meant to be and in how far the game diverged from some of these original ideas.


Author: Flosha
Creative Director

Created: 02.09.2023
Last Change: 26.03.2024

  • Mythology (wip)