Embers of the Imperium

2021 / 12 / 23

Creating the Keleres: A Closer Look by Sam Gregor-Stewart

Embers of the Imperium is a Genesys setting sourcebook for the universe of Twilight Imperium, the famous strategy board game from Fantasy Flight Games.

The origins of the Keleres began before the creation of Edge Studio. Back during the run-up to the release of the Prophecy of Kings expansion for Twilight Imperium 4th Edition, I was working as the RPG manager for Fantasy Flight Games and was helping game designer Dane Beltrami create the background and setting information for the new Twilight Imperium factions. It was incredibly exciting to get to help develop a brand-new look at a world that had been around for decades, and we spent a lot of time brainstorming and riffing on ideas for the setting.

Dane agreed and said he had been thinking about that. He explained we’d need to invent a new element in the setting, some sort of secret agents that worked for the Galactic Council, since that was the only major pan-galactic organization in TI. “Oh!” I said. “You’re right, that would totally work.”

At one point Dane came to me and said, “I really hope you get a chance to make an RPG for Twilight Imperium.” I told him that would be amazing. As we kept talking about it, I pointed out that one of the biggest challenges for a Twilight Imperium roleplaying game was the core concept. After all, the game wouldn’t feel appropriate if you played characters from just one faction, but the factions were all pretty antagonistic toward one another. So, it didn’t make sense that a bunch of characters from different factions would just be adventuring together. And if we made a game that didn’t involve the factions at all, like some game where you just play smugglers or bounty hunters, that also seemed like it would miss some core element of the setting.

Dane agreed and said he had been thinking about that. He explained we’d need to invent a new element in the setting, some sort of secret agents that worked for the Galactic Council, since that was the only major pan-galactic organization in TI. “Oh!” I said. “You’re right, that would totally work.”

Fast forward a couple of years. Edge Studio has taken over producing content for Fantasy Flight Games, and I was now running their RPG development. Gilles Garnier tells me that the next expansion for Genesys should be a Twilight Imperium setting book, and asks if I have any ideas about what it should focus on. “As a matter of fact…” I said, “I think I do.”

Developing the Keleres

The Keleres quickly developed into an agency created by the Council on Mecatol Rex to protect them (and by extension, most of the galaxy) from threats so serious that no single faction could hope to deal with them. In fact, the name “Keleres” was a derivative of the Latin word “celeres,” the bodyguards of the kings of pre-Republic Rome. Katrina Ostrander, FFG’s head of Story and Setting, suggested the name and fellow developer Tim Cox wisely recommended we change the soft “c” to a hard “k,” so it wouldn’t sound so much like “celery.”

With the core concept in place, we began building out our new organization. Since the Keleres served the Galactic Council, it made sense that each of the member factions would send people to serve in it. This gave us a chance to include characters of nearly every species, and allied to nearly every faction. However, I also thought it was important that no matter how noble the original goal of the Keleres, that the organization be divided from within by intrigue and political infighting. Politics are a huge part of the board game, so they needed to be just as crucial in the RPG.

Finally, I felt the Keleres needed a bit of desperation. Roleplaying games can often be at their most exciting when the heroes suffer from a scarcity of resources or aid, forcing them to act creatively and think on their feet. So the Keleres became an organization dependent on the Council member factions for contributions, and as all-too often happens in those situations, many of those contributions would be given grudgingly, late, or not at all.

Agents of the Galactic Council

So that led to the Keleres’ development. They are an organization with a vital role, charged with protecting the galaxy against threats like the L1Z1X Mindnet, Vuil’Raith Cabal, Mahact Gene-Sorcerers, and Nekro Virus. However, at the same time they are chronically understaffed and underfunded, have authority that relies on the Galactic Council being in agreement and backing their decisions, and worst of all, many of their fellow agents have hidden agendas. Being a Keleres is dirty, dangerous, and underappreciated work. But if you do your job right, you might just save the galaxy.

Embers of the Imperium, a setting sourcebook for Genesys, will be out next year. If you can’t wait to learn more about the Keleres and experience one of their missions, be sure to check out the free adventure Ashes of Power, available right here on our website!

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