It's good to be king, except when your domain is plagued by raging Radovian barbarians, legends of monsters harassing villagers, and all other dark and depressing matters. Yes, Your Grace metabolizes the folklore and culture of Slavic myth and infuses it into its own game where you take the role of a king burdened by the world. Crafting a world such as this is an interesting process, and one that Rafal Bryks, lead designer, programmer, and artist, spent considerable time with.
Yes, Your Grace is a strategy title developed by Brave at Night and published by No More Robots. In Yes, Your Grace, you take the role of King Eryk. As ruler of your own kingdom, you have subjects to listen to and please, alliances to forge, battles to fight, and family matters to deal with, too. All of it comes together in an emotional and intriguing title filled with tough choices. We talked with Bryks about his process in researching and creating the world of Yes, Your Grace; and you might be familiar with some of its inspirations!
You can read our review of Yes, Your Grace here.
Yes, Your Grace's Fantasy
For those unfamiliar with fantasy, there are many different subgenres. High fantasy has characteristics such as magic, elves, dragons, and such like Dungeons & Dragons. Low fantasy, on the other hand, is more grounded in reality, if fantasy can even be such a thing. While Yes, Your Grace looks quite medieval and historical on the surface, make no mistake: This is a brand new world.
"I feel like [a] historical theme would add additional pressure and workload," said Bryks, "whereas fantasy world can be more forgiving in terms of historical accuracy. I wanted to play around with non-conventional narrative and [a] fantasy setting suited this better."
Bryks lived in Poland, so he decided to base his world on Slavic culture, which he says is "close to heart." Slavic mythology is at the forefront of The Witcher series, which is filled with rich lore and detail. This is proof that Slavic culture makes for a fantastic foundation, and for Yes, Your Grace, that principle rings true. Still, Bryks had to do research to properly create the lands that would inhabit Yes, Your Grace.
"Research mainly consistent of looking into Slavic mythology," said Bryks, "and I was often surprised how many stories I remember from childhood. I strongly recommend picking up Bestariusz Słowiański by Paweł Zych and Witold Vargas (alongside with the whole range of series they did), for those interested in Slavic folklore, although I’m not sure if they’re translated to English."
Other stories that Bryks grew up with served as inspiration for this world; stories such as Baba Yaga, Fern Flower, Rodzanice, and more. Some even made it into Yes, Your Grace in the form of quests. For example, King Eryk is constantly plagued by petitioners telling tales of monsters and other supernatural happenings plaguing the villagers of his domain. For those familiar enough with such tales, many of these tellings resemble tales from Slavic myth.
While these stories played a large part in the creation of Yes, Your Grace's world, other forms of media served as inspiration, too. Games, modern books, and even music played a part in crafting Bryks' vision—and they are most definitely names many have heard.
"Of course The Witcher books and games were a huge inspiration, as well as Game of Thrones," said Bryks. "I’m also a big fan of folk metal, and their lyrics and atmosphere definitely influenced the game’s setting. Amongst my favorites are: Merkfolk (actually found in our game!), Percival Schuttenbach, Żywiołak, Arkona and many more!"
Interestingly, with The Witcher being filled with monsters at every turn and dragons front and center in Game of Thrones, Bryks' world in Yes, Your Grace takes a more restrained approach to fantasy. As mentioned, petitioners will beseech the king to handle matters concerning monsters or magic. Such cases include a monster within a well, rendering a village's only source of water void; or even, vegetables being inexplicably dug up. These sound like situations that have a natural explanation, yet villagers blame monsters. It's an interesting juxtaposition to fantasy's typical "it's a monster" mindset. In this way, Bryks and his team strike a fine balance between fantasy and history.
"I think it helps that we very rarely show any evidence of them in the game," said Bryks. "You mostly just hear stories about magic and monsters from your petitioners."
Of course, there are other elements of fantasy found within Yes, Your Grace that Bryks would rather leave up to players to discover. Yet again more grounded in reality, Yes, Your Grace features a land with many different kingdoms and rulers, like Davern (your own kingdom), Radovia, and Atana. Creating such a thing comes with its own challenges.
"The process of creating the nations was a lot of research planning, designing, and sketching," said Bryks. "There was a lot of back and forth before it all shaped into something more concrete."
The original Kickstarter for Yes, Your Grace promised even more kingdoms with fleshed out lore than what is seen in the final product, but according to Bryks, because of time restrictions, "not all of the original nations are equally represented." There are always challenges in game development, and crafting a fantasy world is one of them. While the original scope was dialed back, the world still feels well thought out and mysterious. Bryks says that the most challenging part of this process is starting from a completely blank slate.
"So I would say the beginning was the most difficult," said Bryks, "and with time it all gets easier as it all takes shape and you can better judge what fits where."
Bryks hopes that players find enjoyment out of Yes, Your Grace's various characters and the "quirk (and sometimes dark)" stories that Slavic folklore is known for. To find out yourself what Yes, Your Grace has in store, you can pick it up now on Steam and GoG.