7 July 2015 | Talisman

The Shattering World

Preview the Dire Omens and Changing Terrain of Talisman: The Harbinger


She’d heard about mages and musicians selling their soul to the devil at the crossroads, but she’d always thought those tales were false. Nevertheless here the devil was before her, larger than any human, grinning wickedly and flipping a coin. The horned creature caught her in his fiery eyes. “I hear you’re looking for a spell that will help you survive these dark times,” he hissed. “Want to make a deal?”

Devils invade the realm of the living, dire omens fills the skies, and the ground itself changes unpredictably in The Harbinger, a new expansion for Talisman Fourth Edition. As the aged, blind Harbinger wanders throughout the land leaving a trail of demons and destruction in his wake, the apocalypse follows close on his heels. You will need the utmost cunning and fortitude to merely survive in these treacherous times, let alone reach the Crown of Command. 

The darkened skies and transforming earth are the focus of today’s preview of The Harbinger. You’ll learn about the Omen cards that give shape to your impending doom and the Terrain cards that alter the ground beneath your feet. You’ll also discover a few of the Spells and Magic Objects that you can wield to stave off doom and keep pursuing your quest as the world around you shatters.


Countdown to Doom

There are countless prophecies about the end of the world. Some say that the dead will rise, others that the heavens will open and all-powerful beings will descend to judge and condemn all evil-doers. The four Omen stacks of The Harbinger bring such prophecies to life, creating challenging game conditions and counting down to impending doom. Each deck begins with a unique prophecy, followed by seven Omens that have mysterious effects upon the realm. Once the seventh Omen has passed, doom arrives, the game ends, and everyone loses. 

One prophecy states that the stars will align and cause magic to surge like a flood so that even the simplest creatures will be able to wield it. But then, the stars will vanish and magic, too will fade from the world, causing all life to wither and die. The Stars Align Omen stack enacts the intesifying and fading of magic. Under the First Omen, each character gains a Spell and the Spell Limit is increased. Characters continue to gain greater magical abilities until the Fourth Omen appears and casting a Spell costs either a life or a fate. Under the Seventh Omen, characters must discard all their Spells and Magic Objects. 

There are ways to fight, ignore, slow down, or even quicken the approach of doom. The Black Astrolabe enables you to ignore the effects of any Omen card, and keep casting Spells even as magic begins to disappear. If you meet a Heretic Angel , you might bring back a previous Omen and delay the end times, or discard the present open and hasten them, depending on the roll of a die. The fiendish Crossroads Devil entices characters to discard the present Omen and shorten time in exchange for a Spell, a life, more Strength or Craft, or the chance to teleport to another space in the Region. Perhaps from him you can gain the Augury Spell, which enables you to look at the top four cards of any deck and rearrange them as you please, shaping the world to your own ends.

Uncertain Ground

According to another prophecy, the entire world rests upon a glacier that has become too warm, and soon the glacier’s ice will crack, causing the world to split into many pieces. Some fragments will survive to endlessly float upon the cosmic sea, but many others will not. If you play with the Shattered World Omen stack, you’ll experience the entire realm of Talisman splitting apart. The terrain randomly transforms as once conjoined lands separate, acquiring new climates and geographies. 

Under the First Omen, each character places a random Terrain card on his space. Terrain cards irrevocably change the landscape and a character’s experience of it. A field might become a Crater that could yield up ore or sap your life, the Ruins might become Necropolis where Strangers, Enemies, Objects or Follows you’ve already encountered return to haunt you. As the Omens of the Shattered World pass, the realm becomes less and less stable until, under the Fifth Omen, Terrain cards transform the Chapel, Tavern, Village, and every other landmark of civilization, turning the works of mankind to rubble.

Other forces may also bring Terrain cards into play. The Insane Elemental transforms the land wherever he appears. If you acquire the cursed Worldeater Box , anytime you roll a 1 for movement, you must place a random Terrain card on your space and encounter it. With the Terra Shift Spell, you yourself can cause geographical change by moving a Terrain card to another player’s location. And while there is no defense against these arbitrary changes of the landscape, you can cleverly use the Dark Binding Spell to control another character’s movement and thrust them into the worst possible landscape.

Defy Augury

With the stars aligned against you and the world shattering around you, the quest for the Crown of Command is more challenging than ever. Yet while prophecies of doom may be coming true, you can still overcome them and triumph in Talisman. With enough Strength and Craft, a few Spells or powerful Objects and Fate on your side, you can take matters into your own hands. Defy dark predictions and auguries of the apocalypse. Survive the arrival of the Harbinger and the forces of destruction. Seize the Crown of Command before time runs out. 

The end times are imminent. Pre-order your copy of The Harbinger today!

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