Helvetii DevBlog #6: Tschäggätäs

(Note: For previous blog posts, you can check them out by clicking here)

Hello everyone ! 

It's been a little bit since we had a nice dev blog and today I'm here to bring you all kinds of NEW DEEP LORE.

But beforehand, let me give you all a little status update on the state of the project !

To address a recent elephant in the room that was announced on my twitter a few hours ago: Yes the Numerik Game showing here in Switzerland has been cancelled. due to unforeseen problems. I must reiterate that the project is still very early in its development, but regardless I wish to apologise to the people who wanted to see the game for the very first time. I know it can be frustrating, especially since it was last minute. But I also don't  believe in crunching and would rather show you guys a project that is fun to play !  And I thought it would be nice to keep a certain level of transparency from the get go.

With all that said, TGS is still underway ! We have recently refocused the objectives for the con and are very excited to show the game for the first time there. 

Presenting, the Tschäggätäs

A tschäggätä from the valleys of Lötschental (Source: http://en.theoutlook.com.ua/)

A tschäggätä from the valleys of Lötschental (Source: http://en.theoutlook.com.ua/)

In the canton of Valais, in the remote valley of the Lötschental and every early February, you will spot these frightening faces running down the streets at the end of the day, howling and ringing loud bells as they go. They are the "Tschäggätäs", adorned with frightful visages darkened by smoke, and usually pretty mischievous (they are known to throw soot at people and steal their food....)

The origin of said tradition is somewhat vague, although some would pinpoint to the tales of brigands dressed up as monster to frighten travellers a long time ago, protests against the state in the 16th century or an old symbol of the dead coming back among the living. However, despite their frightening appearances and general mischievousness  does not mean they are of the completely evil sort. The Tschäggätäs's parade is also here to ward off evil spirits coming down from the mountain and chase the winter away. It is even said that they can hold the power of healing.

Their appearances are usually composed of sheepskins and furs, leather belts holding heavy bells ("Trichla"), and adorned with a frightful masks made from local pine trees (and are usually the subject of a contest every year for the best wood sculptor).  The mythos itself stayed relatively secretive until the end of the 19th century and early 20th century when scholars and urban elites, discovering the masks from the valleys, speculated on a link between the tradition and Switzerland's more "prehistoric" and spiritual origins.

The Brute, one of the enemy types in Helvetii

The Brute, one of the enemy types in Helvetii

The Tschäggätäs in Helvetii

The Tschäggätas are one of Switzerland's oldest and most remote traditions, but are also quite unique in the context of Helvetii. Effectively, in a game about gaulish and celtic culture, the tschäggätäs are outsiders both in a cultural and anachronistic sense (although the actual origins of the latter point are unclear and it is fairly possible such traditions were born from an even earlier time). 

It felt important, however, to integrate these strange creatures in the game, and for several reasons. The most obvious is the strong identitarian ties that the Tschäggätäs hold with a game about exploring old Swiss and Gaulish mythology. The other is their uniqueness within said mythology. Nothing in Switzerland is quite similar to these grotesque fur-coated monsters. It has even been noted at the end of the 19th century that these designs go against the "usual clean aspect of swiss popular art" (hence why they were appropriated as a form of identity for the prehistoric origins of the Swiss people, however accurate that may be). 

They offer something completely unique in the landscape an their basic designs are already so strong that it felt natural to insert them in some fashion. Hence the Tschäggätäs are planned to become a staple enemy type in the world of Helvetii.

In the game's mythos, the tschäggätäs have been turned by the antagonist and took control of a region and roman settlement near the lemanic lake, where DIvico must go through. They have been convinced of their righteous cause and see you as the necessary sacrifice to complete their tasks. Hence, they will pose quite a threat during your journey, being determined and almost crazed in their savagery and fervor.

Compared to most of the early enemies in the game, The tschäggätäs will also introduce a lot more problematic situations where you'll have to prioritise your targets to avoid taking too much unecessary damage. They are smarter than your average beast or reanimated vine-corpse, and will use the terrain much more at their advantage. And most of all, they will come in many variations. All of this will allow us to do particilaruly nasty but interesting encounters.


Concept of a Tschäggätä stalker

Concept of a Tschäggätä stalker

In any case, I am very very excited to introduce these enemies properly. In the meantime, thank you if you've read so far ! See you at TGS and/or next time on this blog !

- Kevin