The Thaumaturge explores early 20th-century Warsaw, Thaumaturgy and Slavic folklore

One of the wonderful things about indie games is developers often dive into material less commonly touched by AAA studios. The reasons for doing so vary, but it’s normally because they have a personal connection to that subject matter. In turn, that passion often bleeds into the game’s atmosphere, potentially bringing something truly special to the table. And the Thaumaturge is looking promising on that front.

And that makes it great for us as players for two reasons. I steadfastly believe anything born from passion is inevitably more interesting than something created simply because it’s the done thing. Secondly, it’s a chance to learn about a topic you might otherwise ignore or remain unaware of forever.

The Thaumaturge screenshot

In the case of Fool’s Theory’s upcoming turn-based RPG, The Thaumaturge, there’s quite a lot of interesting stuff to sink your teeth into. Set during early 20th century Warsaw, it puts Thaumaturgy front and centre and explores Slavic mythology. I certainly can’t think of any games that blend those three things.

Slavic mythology and beyond

Chances are you probably have some familiarity with Norse, Greek and even Egyptian mythology because they’re often the focal point of AAA titles. God of War tackles both Norse and Greek, while Assassin’s Creed has dabbled in all three over its lengthy tenure. And that’s just the big hitters. Plenty of indies have also drawn inspiration from them in some form.

But Slavic mythology features far less, although its presence is felt in several games. CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher, Morteshka’s Black Book, and the fantastic Inscryption from Daniel Mullins all include elements of it, but it’s just far less common industry-wide.

That makes it something of an untapped well and allows The Thaumaturge to use creatures from the mythology and have them feel fresh. We’ve all seen dragons and unicorns at this point, but few times have I faced the vampire-esque Upyr or the bird-like Lelek. It won’t just be Slavic mythology, either. Fool’s Theory is looking to include creatures from multiple backgrounds, including Bavarian and Arabian folklore.

The practice of Thaumaturgy

Now, while the game’s name gives this away, you might not be familiar with what it is, although you’ve certainly played something where it’s an element, whether stated or not. For example, it’s used as a class in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Final Fantasy XIV.

Essentially, it’s a type of magic that allows an individual to engage with the paranormal in one form or another. The exact use and abilities vary from belief to belief, so there’s some wiggle room for the developers to bend it to suit their needs.

The Thaumaturge screenshot

In The Thaumaturge, protagonist Wiktor Szulski has access to the titular magic, enabling him to tame strange entities called Salutors. These creatures – the aforementioned Upyr and Lelek being two examples – can uncover secrets deep within the human soul and chat with the ominous-sounding Darkness.

They will prove integral to the turn-based battles that feature, with their psychic attacks supplementing the regular human blows you can also dish out on your foes. But this is a story-driven RPG, so their use extends beyond collecting them like Pokemon and deploying them in battle. They can also help his investigations by manipulating people’s emotions to make information easier to obtain or examining the surroundings from a different perspective to uncover information.

Warsaw in 1905

With Fool’s Theory being based in Poland, it’s no surprise the team decided to lean into part of their country’s history with The Thaumaturge. Not only is it an often untouched place and period in the gaming realm, but it’s also quite interesting. At the time, Warsaw was culturally diverse, with Russian soldiers, Jewish merchants and Polish inhabitants all existing uneasily with one another.

The Thaumaturge screenshot

It means that while the city thrives in some ways crime is often rife. That makes it a dangerous place to live. The team has extensively researched this period. So, if you’re a real history buff, you might get a kick out of learning more about it. Just remember that the otherworldly creatures weren’t truly there. Unless, of course, there are no surviving Thaumaturges and we simply don’t know.

You can check out The Thaumaturge later this month when it launches for PC on February 20th. An Xbox and PlayStation 5 version are also in the works, but neither has a release date yet.


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This Article was written by: Stephen Gregson-Wood