What is a Warden?
Andy: Hello there! It’s Andy and Ian from Undead Labs, back with more juicy information about the world and story of Moonrise, our upcoming mobile creature-collection and battle game.
Y’know “Andy and Ian” has a lot of repeated letters in the same order. Would it be easier simply to refer to us as the collective entity known as “IANDY”?
Ian: I am going to really give that some thought, and, you know, in the mean time, why don’t you go ahead and not bring it up ever again, and I’ll get back to you.
Andy: I will make a note of that. Meanwhile, let’s talk about Wardens...who are they, and why are they important to Moonrise? Along the way, we’ll touch on some other aspects of the world as well, including dungeons!
In Moonrise, your character is a member of the Wardens Guild. In fact, you’re a brand-new graduate of the Warden Academy as the game begins. After a decade of diligent study, you’re finally qualified to fulfill the responsibilities of a Warden. But what does that mean?
Ian: For your character it means a job. The Wardens Guild posts you to a specific town, where you report to the local guildmaster then start your protecting and serving.
Andy: The primary threat requiring Warden attention is the population of savage Lunari—the corrupted forms of otherwise peaceful Solari—that teem in the fields and forests of the world. Smaller Lunari are mostly pests when encountered individually, but larger Lunari can be extremely dangerous to the average farmer or townsperson. Thanks to your Warden training, you’re well qualified to handle this threat.
That’s convenient, since the majority of gameplay in Moonrise features your character battling Lunari. As discussed in a previous column, we needed an in-world explanation for why you roam around fighting creatures, and being a Warden gives us that.
However, most Wardens don’t find themselves battling Lunari in defense of their local town, at least not right after graduation. In fact, the number of new Warden graduates far outstrips the number of job placements that the Warden Academy can create...which informs our story in important ways.
Ian: The average Warden graduates, moves to a new city, and finds themself in the exciting world of doing paperwork for more senior Wardens in hopes that they’ll invite you to watch them work. Lucky young Wardens might get to do things like crowd control, or traffic direction. It’s simply a case of too many graduates, and the undeniable fact that an experienced Warden who’s seen action and managed to upgrade and evolve their Solari is significantly better equipped to do the job.
Andy: When Ian brought this story pitch to the team, it gave us a crucial grounding element that helped our fantastic world of strange creatures become a place that you could imagine yourself in. To be blunt, we expect that many Moonrise players are familiar with the situation of having spent a lot of time (and money) on specialized training that they found themselves unable to put to use thanks to an oversaturated job market.
When you notice yourself empathizing with the plights of the characters in a story (or a game), it means you’re more invested in what happens to those characters. It sounds like a simple storytelling trick, but it’s an incredibly valuable tool. But anyway, back to the story...
Ian: The Wardens Guild didn’t always have issues like this. When the guild was formed, it was before they’d figured out how to cure Lunari, and early members were basically just brave women and men waving torches (or buckets of water, in the case of Fire Lunari) at vicious beasts, trying to divert them away from vulnerable populations. It was a dangerous job in those first few years.
Fortunately, Warden Marguerite discovered the secret to subduing a Lunari and removing the effects of the Moonrise corruption, which quickly led to some cured Solari offering their assistance to Wardens. In no time, the job of Warden was redefined as a romantic adventure, full of heroic escapes and last minute saves.
Even then, Wardens had plenty to do, and could easily find use for any graduate of the Academy for decades. The current problems cropped up gradually. First it was about dungeons.
Andy: For reasons not fully understood by the Wardens Guild, Lunari often gather in certain locations—caves, ruins, abandoned mines, and such. The first of these locations that was widely explored was an ancient complex of subterranean chambers dating back to well before the first Moonrise. Those early explorers dubbed the place a “dungeon,” and the name has stuck as a slang term for all such places where Lunari are found in such numbers...often with notable quantities of valuable items that these Lunari gathered up in their wanderings.
Ian: Wardens would, of course, explore the dungeons they found, documenting, battling, and curing the Lunari within. Word quickly got around that these dungeons were chock-full of gear, evolution materials, and even gold. Wardens found any excuse they could to spend time adventuring in one of these places. All too often, inexperienced Wardens found themselves trapped or wounded and needing rescue. In time, each Warden was required to submit formal notices to the Guild that they planned to enter a dungeon. This evolved into the current Dungeon Permit process, essentially allowing each Warden a limited amount of discretionary travel into dungeons of their choosing.
Andy: But that’s just one symptom of the larger, growing problem of “too many Wardens.” As the story unfolds, you’ll see a lot more symptoms...some of which are quite a bit more serious.
Now, when you have all those people with advanced training and not enough outlets to stay in practice, it’s only natural that they’d find a way to stay in top fighting shape. These days, most Wardens keep their skills honed by sparring with others in the guild. While these battles have no official guild sanction and don’t have any bearing on your standing with the organization, it’s rare to find a Warden who doesn’t enjoy proving themself against their peers. We expect players to spend plenty of time sparring with other Wardens, either the AI-controlled NPCs throughout the game or other player-controlled Wardens via PvP combat.
Ian: Having the guild helps us create and explain things like friendly NPC battles in ways that fit with the theme and tone, and don’t get into, you know, dog fighting. From a purely functional perspective, having an organization that the player belongs to makes a lot of potential inconsistencies easier to sort out and explain consistently.
Andy: For example, building the Wardens as a group helps us explain why there are so many other characters with similar abilities (that is, other players who can do what you can).
Ian: It’s also just really nice to have a consistent external group that can be responsible for conveying information and whatever’s needed to get plot moving.
On the more “I can’t believe this is my job” side of things, I really love playing with things like the way different towns, regions, and individuals relate to the guild. In Gateway, where the Academy is located, there’s definitely a townie vs. university feeling. In Kijang Village, the guildmaster is also a community leader, and the title of Warden is more about conferring responsibility than granting authority. Any time you can take two institutions or groups and think about how they relate to one another, you get a great opportunity to define each of them.
Andy: This wraps up our discussion of Wardens. Join us next week when Ian and I continue to talk about the story of Moonrise. Until then you can share your Moonrise thoughts and questions on the Undead Labs forums.