During a panel at QuakeCon, Dishonored 2 Co-Creative Director Harvey Smith provided some very interesting world-building details on the game, focused on the game’s coins.
Smith described the coins in Karnaca and Dunwall: there are really old coins from the time of Emperess Jessamine that have been in circulation for a long time, there are coins from the Lord Regent time, when he took over the government. In the new game most coins have Emily Kaldwin’s face stamped on them, while in the south there are coins with the Duke of Serkonos.
One of the themes in the game is “how you do your job as a leader, either hurting people or helping them.” The coins from Dunwall with Emily’s face bear the message “Empress Protects Us,” which according to Smith is like a loaded message to Emily. On the other hand in Serkonos, where the ruler is an egomaniac demagogue who believe that his nation only has to last as long as he does, the coins bear the message “Serkonos for the Duke.”
Smith mentioned that just these few words on the coins made by 3D artists and scattered around the world, that players will just loot and spend on more ammo, include character building details that “a huge percentage of people won’t even see.” Yet, it comes down to the intention of everything in the game coming together to activate a deeper understanding of the world in the player.