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#3 - Bramin Engineer
The third file of the archives discusses the Bramin Engineer of the Vril Society - a card which takes us immediately back to the fundamentals of Cabals as a collectible card game. In Cabals the four suits of the traditional card deck are replaced with secret societies. Unlike the suits, which only differ from each other in color, each cabal is meant to have a really distinct personality of its own. This personality consists of thematic and tactical levels. The societies are based on different historical and mythological imagery, but they also support diverse playing styles for winning the game. The Vril society, for example, tries to storm the board with big and fast units funded by economics of self-destructively efficient resource generation. In a good collectible card game the thematics and gameplay abilities of the cards are in sync. In the case of Vril it is, of course, pretty obvious that the society and its style of winning are not only modeled on the novel of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, but also on certain German political movement that gained momentum during the 30's...
Now, Bramin Engineer is meant to characterize the "economical" way of playing supported by key Vril cards. The unit gives you two resources when you use him, which is a pretty amazing feat. You may have noticed that each cabal has one similar unit of its own. All these units cost three resources to play and have the loyalty cost and power of two. They are all rare and have an ability which is meant to capture something essential of the tactical personality of the respective cabal. Thematically these units represent the guys who have made it to the inner circle of their cabal. They are the masters, adepts or elders of their cabals and they have harnessed the esoteric powers, probably through a series of ordeals and ceremonies, gaining special insight into being and nothingness through painful training, asceticism, nightly visitations and getting hit (daily) with a bamboo stick. You get the picture. The members of the cabals are humans with different levels of initiation. There is the Vril Novice, Berserker, Initiate of Wodan and finally the Bramin Engineer at the top of the hierarchy, second only to the heroes. All the cabals are, of course, highly anti-democratic, run by despotic masters, often of aristocratic background, with mustaches and perhaps beards (if male). Mustaches were in fashion in the 30's you know, long before the present reign of mustache-loving hipster designers.
The word Bramin designates the obsession some guys in the volkisch* movement of the 20's and 30's had for oriental mythology and the supposed Asian origins of the Aryan race. If you already haven't, read the studies by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke on the popular mysticism in the post-Great War Austria and Germany. "Engineer", on the other hand, exploits the stereotype of the German as the rational planner and operator of machinery. So, thematically the card is a kind of a contradiction: oriental mysticism and instrumental rationalism in one package. The flavor text includes some basic volkisch stuff like scientific race hygiene and apocalyptic Hindu cosmology.
So much for the Bramin Engineer. Some thoughts about the Dananns and the Sidh in the next article.
*(Volk = folk, the people in the German romantic / rustic sense of the word)
"Between day and night, between animal and plant, between summer and winter lies the rotting sphere of fungi, dusk, debris and decaying dwellings." -Morgana Le Fay
The Archives sheds some developer insight on how specific cards were designed. Read more.