David Forest
Canada
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Hi everyone, and welcome to this final artist diary! Our initial plan was to write one separate diary for each of the characters, but considering how we’re already in the final week of the campaign, and also how rich in details the daily journals have become, we have a feeling you guys have plenty to chew on with what has been released so far without stretching this onto three more diaries. So without further delay, let’s get on with Axl, and then we’ll give you some context on how we created Caiman and Sagashi!



Naviri being a water-based city, very early on we knew we wanted to have some cool watercrafts to move around. But the game was still in early development back then, so to be sure that this element would be included in the game, we decided that watercrafts should be important to at least one of the main characters. We were looking for an idea for someone who could embody the Spirit Trait, and some impetuous, free-spirited young guy racing full speed across the bay pulling wild stunts seemed like a good starting direction. But we also didn’t want Axl to be superficial, only caring about himself or breaking the rules, so we dug deeper. Why the need for speed, the desire for recognition? From these questions emerged the young half-Nag’i you see today. Before we delve further into his story, this would be a good time to give some background about the Nag’i. They are an aquatic race, the closest cousins to humans in Naviri from an evolutionary standpoint. While the two races tend to get along pretty well, the red skin of the Nag’i; their tall, slender figures; blue fin-like hair and gill-streaked necks make them easy to tell apart. Axl is a half-Nag’i, born from the union of a drifter human dad and a well-known Nag’i Tidal Blade. His mother Braze disappeared fifteen years ago in the Fold, sacrificing her life to protect the city from an unstoppable onslaught of sea monsters. He was too young when she went missing to remember much, but being compared to Braze was still the single most defining factor in his life. Legends preceded her. Everyone seemed to know her better than he ever could. Luckily, Axl had something of his own he could hang on to -- his passion; what he was born for: racing. When his watercraft split across the open waters he felt free. He first became known racing the unofficial tracks surrounding the bay, and this led the famous Lamara sisters to take him under their wings. From then on, he started racing more seriously in Lamara Stadium and made a real name for himself. Finally, people saw him first for who he was. All this was turned upside down upon discovering that his mother was still alive, frozen in time, still a prisoner of the Fold. From then on, his spirited nature would rise to another level. Winning the Tournament wouldn’t be merely about proving himself to the world. It would be about finding the courage in his soul to become a Tidal Blade, like her and so many of his ancestors did before him. Battle monsters despite his fears. And step inside the Fold to rescue his mother.



Caiman is the big guy. Any team needs a big guy, but the thing we didn’t want was for him to be the tank, always charging first and taking the most damage without a scratch. So we decided that he would have a harpoon and be a monster hunter, a sharpshooter first and foremost. This fit perfectly with the Focus trait he was associated with, but we still wanted to push this further. He needed to have a real, long-lasting focus in his life, like Axl had his mother raising his spirit. We ended up with the following backstory: For generations, Crocs in Caiman’s family had been mercenaries. This was rather common among Crocs, as by tradition they had always been nomads and didn’t understand the appeal of close boundaries in cities. Caiman’s uncles were ruthless warriors. They taught him the way of combat as soon as he was old enough to hold a weapon. Perhaps because it was forced on him, or just because of his particular affinities, Caiman never really felt happy with this life. Then one foggy, rather unparticular day, he met a nice family of Fish-Folk. They had a small floating fruit grove and he and his uncles were helping them with vermin. He was taken aback, how quiet a farmer’s life looked! This was so different from his existence killing monsters to make ends meet. That’s when he knew he had to make the most daring decision in his life. He asked the Fish-folks for apprenticeship. His uncles were furious, they couldn’t believe the direct affront! They probably would have killed him on the spot too if it they weren’t on Turtle grounds. But Caiman’s decision was final: he wanted to become a farmer. It took him years of learning but, eventually, Caiman could afford to have his own orchard, live off his farm comfortably, and even filled it with a loving family. His old harpoon, taking dust in the back of his shed, hadn’t been used in years, and was never missed. Until tragedy struck, in the most vicious form it could find: a Guaracuda. That terrible day, he lost everything he had ever cherished. He couldn’t save any of them. How weak and useless he was, how excruciatingly empty his life had become in one flashing instant. And from that nothingness, one tiny focus appeared. And it grew and grew until it took the place his missing family had left. That beast, the Guaracuda. All the lives it could still take were spinning around him. He nearly destroyed his shed searching for his old harpoon. He couldn’t save his children, but he could avenge them. He could prevent others from suffering. That Guaracuda had to die, and all of their kin. From that day, he became a lone mercenary again and swore he would become the best monster hunter in Naviri. Not because he was forced to, not because of any particular affinity, but because it was the only thing he had left.



Sagashi and Dru are the latest addition to our main cast of characters. We had long contemplated adding a fifth character even before the campaign launched, and while nothing was exactly finalized until we locked down the content for the expansion, we have had a rough idea of where we wanted to go with that character for a long time. Now, all the other characters already covered one of the Traits with their backstory, so that meant Sagashi would have to be different. An outsider, relying on strange tech, maybe. One thing we love about the Tidal Blades universe is how it blends more traditional sword fantasy with time-traveling in a very unique way, and we felt that Sagashi would be the perfect character to further this element of the world, just as Axl gave us an opportunity to showcase the watercrafts. Since he wasn’t part of the original crew and could - or not - be added with an expansion, the simplest solution was to make him a voyager coming from afar. That’s how we had the idea of having him come from the Fold. But how could this be, for the great Barrier had never been crossed? He had advanced technology, was a time-traveller. But why come here of all places? It became clear Sagashi needed a quest, his own reason to become a Tidal Blade, and one that hadn’t been explored by any of the other characters yet. It couldn’t be revenge, or destiny, or fame. And then it struck us: Love. He had a loved one, lost in his time-traveling voyages, disappeared from all possible timelines, existing only in his memory, and somehow he knew she was here, because Dru could sense it, and he trusted the little isopod more than anyone in the world. That was his quest.

Well, that concludes our artist diaries! We hope you have enjoyed learning more about our thought process as we developed these characters. Please let us know if you have any questions, we’re always happy to share more about this world and these characters we love so much!


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Karsten Kutterer
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I love the depth of character given to each one. Caiman is my favorite and became even more so because of his background and his personality. Thanks for not making him just another "tank" but giving him heart and purpose. I am so excited to play this game and to see where things go in Part 2!
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Justin
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Love these design diaries and all aspects of the narrative reveal system that kept me engaged throughout the campaign and seamlessly integrated each stretch goal with thematic prose into the expanding story of Tidal Blades. Extraordinary work by the entire team: Druid City Games, James, the Eisners, and Mr. Cuddington! This is the new benchmark for Kickstarter campaigns.
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