What will you leave behind after you die? Maybe some sentimental quilts. Or a collection of snow globes from every state in the continental U.S. Probably a little unpaid debt. Pauldron: Shield of the King raises the bar slightly higher than novelty heirlooms and financial regret. Marcus, the titular “Shield of the King,” has lived a life of duty and dedication to a kingdom risen from the ashes of revolution. His pauldron, a piece armor worn over the shoulder, is a symbol of family and loyalty. But is this legacy worth passing on?
Pauldron itself is the culmination of decades of heritage. Project Creator Luke Farinella describes his own inter-generational anxiety at the root of the development process. His mother, an author, left behind echoes of herself in her writing. After being diagnosed with multiple pulmonary embolism, Farinella realized that he didn’t have anything like that to leave his own children. “[Pauldron]’s kind of a love letter to my kids,” he says.
This project isn’t the only thing Farinella passed on, however. He also introduced his son to Chrono Trigger, a wildly successful RPG franchise featuring gameplay mechanics that continue to inspire game developers twenty years later. Pauldron draws from both classic titles and modern innovations to create a uniquely strategic turn-based combat system. Players are encouraged to experiment with various classes and formations, sometimes shuffling the deck mid-combat. The resulting battle sequences test quick intuition and persistent foresight simultaneously.
Unlike many other RPGs, Pauldron’s party members are more than placeholders and attack sponges. Tertiary characters have no plot armor to protect them and can actually, permanently die in random enemy encounters. If you’re not careful with your allies, you might not have many left in the future. You’re probably thinking that a few necessary casualties are no big deal. “I’ll worry about that later,” you say. Wrong. You will worry about this now.
Taking another page out of Chrono Trigger, Pauldron’s sprawling storyline refuses to be confined to just one timeline. In the present day, Marcus balances his duties to the once-rebel king with his role as a father. His two sons – Griff, a solemn boy reluctant to take up the pauldron and Kay, Griff’s reckless younger brother – stumble upon evidence that a dragon has breached the protective walls, throwing the realm into a panic amidst an annual celebration.
Travel back to the past to join the future king and other rebel territories in an uprising against the oppressive dragon-riding ruling class. Or skip ahead to the future to witness the fall of your hard-won kingdom. Each timeline feeds into the next, letting you see firsthand how your actions affect Marcus and those around him. Think about that before using your cleric as a human shield.
Pauldron has almost reached its 5K goal on Kickstarter, but Farinella admits that they’re low-balling it. If funding continues going at this rate, they’ll surely knock out some of their stretch goals, upping the final product’s overall quality and potentially opening doors to multiplatform releases. Regardless, Pauldron is set for launch on PC and Steam around summer 2016.