BackgroundSo this is my entry for the 16th Techtree Contest all based around the theme of faith. Now to be honest I didn't really have much of an idea for this contest other than that I wanted to use Daenar7's really cool Runic skins. In the process of looking at these skins they always gave off a kind of celtic/nordic/pagan vibe and so I had the idea to blend this aesthetic with my own knowledge of Scottish and Celtic History and Mythology.
When it came to coming up with a mechanic that revolves around faith I knew I wanted to bring in the varied, and sometimes conflicting, aspects of Celtic culture and history such as the Christianisation of Britain and the difference between people from different areas of Celtic culture. As such faith isn't so much an overt part of the race (however it does feature its own mechanics) but an intrinsic aspect of the race in both lore and gameplay.
LoreThe Runic Clans are an assortment of people who hail from the North of the world, whilst to outsiders they appear barbaric and of a single mind, they are a people with hidden complexities and a vast culture.
Most Runic people live in various villages and towns, but there are various holy people and magic users who live in secluded enclaves dotted around the landscape. The relationship between the wider Runic people and these isolated communities varies on the Clan itself. Some Clans embrace the paganistic rituals of the local witches and weird men who utilise them to great benefit. Other Clans shun these creatures as evil and instead turn to the new faith of the Culdees as well as the traditional Rune Keepers.
In the long history of the Runic Clans they have been united at various points by Kings and Warlords who brought the Clans under their control either through force or to unite against an existential threat. When united the Runic people can bring vast numbers of powerful warriors and magic wielders against whoever was unfortunate to incur their wrath.
Every unit and upgrade also expands upon the specific lore pertaining to that unit and upgrade in its description.
Design PhilosophyI feel like this section will be helpful to both the Judges of the contest as well as people who don't want to play as the faction completely cold. There are a few important things to know and bare in mind when playing the race. Firstly, there is only one air unit available to the Runic Clans; therefore I have decided to ensure that they are a strong counter to the other races air units since air (especially in 4v4) is almost ubiquitous to the meta. Although units like the Silkie also offer a ground based anti-air option so there's still flexibility.
There is also a strong emphasis on Heroes in the race, losing a Hero makes their corresponding units unavailable to train until revived. This can be highly debilitating if you decide to go solo hero but also means that the Runic Heroes generally have some effective means of escape and should be taking extra care with - unless you can afford costly Tavern Revives!
Upgrades are mainly confined to the Shrine which will force the player to get involved in the Fervour system or otherwise find their units underperforming in certain scenarios; as such there is a big emphasis on food production and protecting your food structures in order to prevent being supply capped. To aid in this the Kil is slightly tankier than its equivalent Farm, Burrow etc.
Base Defence is also something that depends upon your Hero choice especially early game. The Tier 2 and 3 Main Building feature a slow aura and your workers can build towers, but unless you have a Warlord in order to gain access to the quickly trainable Teul then base defence is an intended weakness of the Runic Clans.
My philosophy behind tying hero choice into your unit composition was to emphasize the variation present in the different Clans and their culture. For example training a Morrigana and Walord represents a tribe more War oriented with a strong link to the darker, more pagan arts. A game where you go Rune Keeper, Warlord and Scatha will represent a Runic Clan of the lowlands who are more traditional and generally shun the older pagan ways.
So whilst all Runic people subscribe to the same Runic faith the specific doctrines and deities they believe in varies. This is represented by the different upgrades available in the shrine that tie in the different Runic Gods and Demi-Gods. This and the presence of the Kelpie are probably the two features that are the least "classic" in terms of 5th race design. As in general I've tried to keep this race more traditional in design like I always do and anyone familiar with my writings about tech-tree contests will already know my feelings on what a 5th race should be in terms of design.
A few other intentional design choices are: Fianna start off relatively weak but with upgrades scale quite well into the mid game. The Warlord offers a paradox to enemy players: try and kill him in spite of his tankiness and ultimate that could devastate your army or prioritise over units/heroes and let him slowly wear down your own troops. The Gae Bolga is meant to be very tanky for a siege unit but is painfully slow and expensive.
Any balance suggestions and changes are especially welcome as well as any questions about some of the choices made in the design process of the race as a whole.