Heretic Operative takes place in the Northern Reach, a land torn by a failed rebellion and now a shadow of its former glory. Mechanically, the map is broken up into a set of locations, each of which represents a different important landmark or area within the region. Whether it is knowing where to find the best new recruits, or investigating areas where the Cult has grown strong, a solid understanding of the geography of the game is important.
The most dominant feature of the region is the capital city of Ione. It is the center of power for the Empire and the Hierarchist Church, and a thriving hub of commerce and culture. The capital is large enough that it is broken up into three distinct locations: The Harbor, Cathedral, and Museum Districts. While patrolling Church Templars and cultist plots can make the city dangerous, it is also a vital resource for the Heretics.
The lands outside the capital are well settled but more rural – Copec’s Tavern is a crossroads for travel and information, and further out there are various farmsteads and country roads to traverse. Far from the capital and well off the beaten path lies the Heretic’s base of operations. Secrecy is key, for if the Cult ever manages to find the Hideout, they could destroy the Heretics organization completely.
At the far edges of the map are wilder, more dangerous places. The safest of these is the vast forest where the Elves have secluded themselves to study magic in peace. Tribes of orcs to the south continually test the defenses of the Elves and the Empire’s outposts. Even further out lie forgotten tombs and ancient temples where the darkest of magics are possible…
Mechanically, moving an Operative from one location to another takes one Action Point, so deciding when and where to move to is important. There are many ways to reduce this cost, recruiting Townsfolk who can open new travel routes or gaining assets that can give free movement points each turn.
Each location is rated with a primary skill challenge type and a matching difficulty. For example, Woodbridge Farmstead is a “Physical” location with an Easy difficulty, so Adventure cards there are likely to use Physical skill and have a target difficulty of zero (meaning there is at least a 50:50 chance of succeeding even if untrained). All the locations in the center of the map have a fairly low difficulty rating, but there are many reasons you will need to visit the more dangerous areas. Using Operatives with the right skills, and increasing those skills, is key to success.
The Cult moves from location to location as well, spreading their Influence. Next time on the blog we will explain Cult Power and why those Cultist controlled locations matter so much!