Tyranny: Short Story Collection (2016) by Paul Kirsch, Megan Starks, & Robert Land

This is a collection of nine short stories set in the world of “Terratus”, the setting of Obsidian Entertainment’s 2016 RPG “Tyranny”. None are critical to enjoying the game or anything, they are just a set of stories some of the game’s writers wrote for flavour. They’re all exceedingly short (which I appreciated, as brevity is often lacking in writing for supplementary writing material for video games), so the collection is quite a short read.

The first story, “Under New Management” by Paul Kirsch, sets up how the in-game faction of the Scarlet Chorus operate. It conveys their brutality and how their systems work quite well.

The second story, “Commission” by Paul Kirsch, is an efficient little slice of life setting up the Disfavoured faction. Again, very short, but a good little set-up.

The third story, “The Archon’s Voice” by Paul Kirsch, is more engaging than the first two stories. It’s an inspired little idea. In an introduction by Kirsch before the story itself, he tells of how the idea for it came to him from an interesting personal anecdote. These little authorial introductions were a nice touch, but unfortunately they’re only present for the first few stories.

The fourth story, “Trial by Iron” by Paul Kirsch, establishes one of the in-game companions, a soldier by the name of Barik. It’s a good little character piece, and piqued my interest for the character in-game.

The fifth story, “Carved of Shadow” by Megan Starks, was definitely the most fun story yet. It portrayed evil in an interesting way (the main conceit of the game is that you play as an evil character in a pretty evil world, doing evil things, so a nuanced portrayal of evil is vital), and had some delightful horror-style scenes too.

tyranny-shortstories

The sixth story, “Songbird by Robert Land”, was quite an engaging character piece, setting up the in-game companion of Sirin rather well.

The seventh story, “Epistolary of Song and Stone” by Robert Land, wasn’t a short story in the same way the preceding stories were, but rather a consecutive set of letters telling a narrative as the reader goes through them in succession. It was another story about Sirin, who definitely is the most intriguing character of the game’s world to me so far.

The eighth story, “Red Recruitment” by Paul Kirsch, was a neat little prisoner exchange story, where there’s a lot of tension between two armies. It expanded on the Scarlet Chorus faction, and helped give them a bit more nuance, explaining some of their appeal.

The ninth and final story, “Shush” by Megan Starks, featured the eponymous tyrant of the game, Kyros the Overlord. It also had quite a creatively written death scene, with some neat prosework by Starks.

Overall, the collection of stories is short enough that anyone particularly interested in the game would likely enjoy them, and they’re all competently written, not just by video game supplementary material standards. I give it three stone shields, and a voice of Nerat.

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