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Isometric turn-based RPG/TBS (WIP)

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Basic premise:
This is a turn-based RPG/RTS (EDIT: A friend just asked me one question: "Since it's not a tabletop anymore, why does it have to be turn based?" I couldn't answer that, so now it's not turn-based anymore.) with an isometric viewpoint, with a focus on player choice and consequences, with realistic gameplay, a hostile environment and powers far above the player's ken. The game starts off small, with a number of smaller stories and questlines, which eventually get larger. Eventually you have a number of mutually exclusive faction questlines, choosing from one of four factions that are fighting over the region. These four, I should mention, will refuse to work together or even to not be immediately hostile to one another, even in the face of a mutual enemy they both hate much more than eachother.
 
The story starts with an attack on the player's hometown. The town's defences crumble quickly, and the player is forced to flee. The player's party (and possibly some NPCs, see "difficulty") flees, and ends up going through a tunnel and ending up in a concealed valley a couple miles away. The trip includes some minor scuffles with a few pests, but nothing serious. The tunnel entrance is collapsed behind them, so there's no way back.The game now instructs them to start work on a home base, with materials available throughout the valley. (Which, as luck would have it, was a lumber farm.) After constructing a small home, the player is allowed to leave.
 
This first bit is the only part of the story that the player has to go through, and it's used as the game's tutorial, each step teaching the player a different mechanic. The next post will probably be a step by step walkthrough of the first area.
 
I should note at this point that even the concept is a work in progress, and is open to feedback. It isn't like I plan on starting development tomorrow. Probably more like February.
 
Difficulty:
There's a number of difficulty settings to this game, which are can be turned on or off when you make a new game, and cannot be changed afterwards.

Needs:
1. No needs.
2. Food only.
3. Food and water.
4. Food, water and sleep. (Default)

Environmental damage:
1. Off.
2. On. (Default)

Permanent injury:
1. Off.
2. Dismemberment only.
3. Crippling only.
4. Crippling and dismemberment. (Default)

Item condition:
1. Off.
2. Armour only.
3. Armour and weapons only.
4. All equipment. (Default)

Disease:
1. Minor illnesses only.
2. No terminal illnesses.
3. All diseases. (Default)

Minimum damage:
1. None. (Default)
2. Stamina damage. (This means the default stamina damage from attacks cannot be mitigated, though the rest can.)

You are also responsible for creating your party, and it can be as many as eight characters or as few as one, at your discretion.
 
Currency:
There's three different systems of currency in-game, which are accepted in different places. These are Royal Marks, Imperial Measures and People's Tokens.
 
Royal Marks (M) are the standard currency of the elven Crown in the east. They are the most commonly traded currency, accepted everywhere at full value and is the currency you start with. The iron penny (plural pence) is the least valuable currency in the game, and is 0.01M (about $0.10 USD), meant to be used for small purchases and as change. The bronze Mark is the base unit of currency in this system, supposedly equal to the daily needs of a single peasant, but with inflation is really just enough for that peasant to buy a day's worth of food. (Adult villagers at home, conveniently, consume a single Mark each day by default.) The larger units of currency in this system are the silver Nobles, which are the supposed daily "needs" of a single noble and are worth 100M, and is also the ridiculous daily retainer nobles receive from the crown. (Note: These retainers are delivered annually, and in exchange they do any work the crown needs them for. Usually management and government rolls, though many are military officers as well.) The largest, of course, is the gold Royal, the largest unit of currency in the game and 10,000M. This is the amount each member of the royal family gets each day, when any particular member is likely going to do absolutely nothing of value on 90% of them.
 
Imperial Measures are the standard currency of the troll Empire in the west. They are accepted in the west and in the north, but the east and south will never accept them. There's only one unit here, the Measure, and it's worth 0.1M. Measures are also found in Kilo-Measure notes, which are of course 1,000 measures or 100M. A Measure is a completely arbitrary fiat currency, backed only by the word of the church. As a result, it is worthless in the south and east, and even in the north has only 10% value.
 
People's Tokens are units of currency used by the Oceanic Republic in the south. Cai pay for all of their citizens' basic needs (water, shitty food and community housing), and these Tokens are received for work and cover any additional, non-standard needs. The only official jobs are government run, and there's always openings available both hourly and by commission. Each token is roughly equal to half of a Mark, and while only accepted at full price in the south, in the north they still retain 50% of their value.
 
All of these exchange rates are dictated largely by the Free Bank, which sits in the middle of the map, holding over 60% of the wealth of the Republic and nearly 40% of the wealth of the Crown. They trade in all three currencies, and the rate at which they exchange currencies is the reason the north accepts currencies for the given values, as that's how many Marks they're worth at the Free Bank, and the Mark is the dominant currency in the region.
 
Factions:
As they are mutually exclusive and the source of most late-game quests, it's important to cover factions now.
 
The Crown:
Officially the Kingdom of Etmen, the Crown is a kingdom of men and high elves on the east side of the map. The Crown's royal family is made up of stubborn fools, and the current King Etmen is a violent, vicious idiot who punishes dissent with death. The King's Forest, leading up to the capital city, has been cleared to make room for a forest of tens of thousands of the King's impaled enemies. This grisly policy has given the king the title "The Forest King", or outside his kingdom "The Impaler". He was responsible for the current war with the Oceanic Republic, who he invaded because he felt they were too close and too powerful to not be under his rule. It was also news of his forest of impaled enemies that gave the trolls' Holy Empire an excuse to declare war on Etmen. Even his own people don't care for him, though saying so in public could get them killed, and many conspire to assassinate him behind his back. Unfortunately, the rest of his family is more competent than he is, and their tradition that an act against one of them is an act against all of them keeps them from joining the conspiracy, making it unlikely The Forest King will be unseated any time soon without outside intervention. (Note: If you get deep into The Crown's questline, you DO get the option to either assassinate The Forest King or turn in the conspirators. Your choice.)
 
The Empire:
The Holy Empire is an expansionist nation in the west, comprised primarily of two kinds of people: Trolls and slaves. The trolls have a theocratic government follow strict and barbaric religious law that forbids almost everything good and decent in the world, punishes many crimes with mutilation or death, and strictly forbids free speech and religious freedom. Their list of crimes punishable by death (read this, it is observed in-game) includes murder, treason, apostasy, heresy, blasphemy, dissidence, insubordination, failure to observe religious festivals and fasts (though there are extenuating circumstances), homosexuality, adultery, abortion, consumption of seafood, imbiding any of a list of stimulants and hallucinogens (they have no problem with depressants or alcohol, if consumed after dusk outside of religious festivals), wearing warm colours without church permission, occultism, arcane magic without the express permission of the church, grave robbery, use of crossbows or gunpowder, and desecration of corpses, even of enemies and those who committed capital offences. Their immensely overzealous worship of a series of trollish prophets, many of which never existed to begin with, is widely mocked and there's little evidence their god itself actually exists, unlike the gods of many other religions who make their presence known on a regular basis. What little can be seen of their god is not pleasant, and the "servants" he supposedly sends are violent, xenophobic zealots just like the Emperor himself, with little evidence of the deity supposedly giving them their orders. It is entirely possible these "servants" fabricated the deity entirely, and are the only higher beings in the church. The emperor sees the conflict in the region as being of great importance, as the Free Bank, Oceanic Republic and Kingdom of Etmen are each more powerful than any nation that they've conquered in over a century, and their chaos is this emperor's opportunity to end his empire's 120 year losing streak.
 
The Oceanic Republic:
The Oceanic Republic is a socialist republic in the south. It is the nanniest nanny state that has ever existed, expressly forbidding many drugs that are "too dangerous" for its people to imbide, outright banning most weapons within cities and some being banned entirely within its borders, hate speech, discrimination, harassment and many other things that are unenforceable and make them look foolish and incompetent when these things happen anyway, laws be damned. Even so, this nation is the second wealthiest in the region without having to be seated right on top of a huge supply of precious metals, has the most powerful navy (it's called the "oceanic" republic for a reason), has a working democracy and by far the highest standard of living in the region, if you can tolerate their laws. And the reason for this is in addition to being a nanny state, they're also a socialist republic. They pay for their people's housing, give them rations and clean water, free medical care and higher education, even basic income. However, what they provide is the barest minimums humanly possible, and having even the smallest luxuries requires work. This means they aren't dependent on their work, but they always want it and it's always available. Which, in the end, actually leads to *higher* productivity, better worker's rights and more money in the hands of the consumers, which is good for the economy. And the government that paid for all that recoups much more than it spends through taxes which would, in other circumstances, be intolerably high. (20-30% for private citizens and 20-40% for businesses.)
 
Free Etmen:
The northern section of the island, and the player's homeland, Free Etmen split off from the Crown 15 years ago in a rebellion motivated by a rise in taxation and the ravages of a war with the Oceanic Republic that had started two years prior. This rebellion was successful, but was also what angered The Forest King enough for him to start his policy of impalement. Free Etmen is a loose federation of city-states and neutral villages with no over-arching government. Some settlements are monarchic, theocratic, democratic, oligarchic, anarcho-syndicalist, feudal, tribal or even truly anarchic, the town the player came from being anarcho-syndicalist (all governmental decisions being decided by citizen committee, consisting of whoever could be bothered to show up), and the player's new town being run however the hell they want. The only thing holding Free Etmen together is an alliance between its settlements stating that an attack on any of them is an attack on all of them, and they are all to rush to one another's aid in times of crisis. Which they do rather well, even if they were late to the party in your case. (Though yours *was* a border town with the Empire.) Their freedoms vary, their standards of living vary, and while some of them are wonderful some others are repulsive and they're still bound by treaty to stick together.
 
In the end, the faction you end up supporting is up to you. And really, it depends on which form of government you personally prefer.
 
Gameplay:
As mentioned, the game is a real-time isometric RPG. If you've played any, you probably have a pretty good idea how the UI is structured. However, it has RTS sections. Your home-building is RTS, as are battles. The differences are almost non-existant, except that you spend a lot of time ordering units, building/reinforcing structures and fighting skirmishes where your party *and* local NPC "units" are on your side. Many of the individuals of a unit type are even very close to being the same, with only minor changes being made to the template every now and then. The units have a high rate of not being the default sex, occasionally they might be younger or more often older than the default age, they will sometimes be a totally different species, they might have a trait that isn't normally common in that unit type, sometimes they have one of their secondary pieces of equipment swapped for something else, but every one of them has something that makes them slightly special and a random name after their unit's title. This is done mostly for immersion, to reinforce the illusion that these units are characters, and does NOT mean that there aren't a lot of unit types, OR that units cannot level. There are, and they can.
 
For the most part, though, you will be without your units. And that might be for the best, given that you have less control over your units and most of the game doesn't call for extra manpower. But rest assured, if you feel like using brute force, you can bring small army as long as you have a small army to bring and are willing to take them away from whatever they were doing before. Which probably means leaving a settlement less defended than usual. Which is risky, to say the least, as enemies are both more likely to attack and will do more damage when you are understaffed. For the most part, though, bringing infantry is simply too expensive and too risky and you'll have to resolve issues directly with your dedicated party members, or by yourself. Remember, dedicated party members can *always* be sent home, and there's no set leader that you have to keep in the party either and more is NOT always better, so the fact that you can have 8 player-generated characters doesn't mean you should have all 8 of them in the party all the time.
 
As you progress throughout the game you get a number of rewards, many of which are directly related to the RTS elements of the game. The ability to order new unit types as you earn favour with factions is one common example. Getting a few units for free is another, as is getting resources for your home base. You can also build resources in the background, tasking people in your settlement to gather resources you might need, and can hire units with Marks, though all of them have an upkeep cost. Trained animals, especially dogs, are also common units available. Monsters are also common. Animals generally do exceedingly poorly in combat, your basic infantry units can kill an entire pack of dogs single-handedly, and monsters actually aren't much better, so for the most part you will be relying on sapient, weapon-using NPCs in battle. That does not, however, mean animals are useless. Generally animals are used for their particular skills. Dogs, for instance, are used as lookouts and sentries (with handlers, of course) as well as search and rescue.
 
In addition to sapient PCs, you can also have animals or even monsters in your party. They usually take up partial party slots, and some of the monsters are pretty strong early in the game, but for the most part they are inferior to an actual party member overall and only used either for the same unique abilities that make you purchase them for your settlements or just because you happen to like them. A dog in the party can help you with its excellent senses, for example.
 
The gameplay is extremely realistic, and plenty of things that would fly in other games just will not fly here. For example, taking a musket ball through your bare chest isn't something you'll just walk off. Significant injuries cause body damage and can cripple, when seriously injured you will start bleeding and this can be fatal, many wounds have special, debilitating effects, plenty of injuries will seriously impair you either long before they kill you or maybe even without killing you at all, some injuries that don't impair you immediately can kill you if given time, many injuries can have effects long after the fact, with infection being the most common example, and even if an injury is nothing serious, it will stick with you for a long time and small injuries can start adding up pretty quick.
 
In the end, the main point of this game is to provide hardcore gamers with deep and difficult tactical gameplay, and an immersive world full of characters and stories they'll still be thinking about when the game is turned off. Let me know what you think.

Edited by JustinS

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My two cents:

 

I'd consider collapsing the difficulty levels some: Injuries and item wear are as much thematic choices as they are difficulty choices: Do I bravely sally forth into every battle, a hero confident my people will all stand up and brush off the dirt after? Or do I carefully weigh the risks at every turn, fleeing as soon as things turn, feeling like a sandcastle holding off the ocean as long as possible? Am I mayor of a reasonable sized township or the sole survivor of a terrible tragedy, unable to trust anyone enough to form a party? Writing and quests for one extreme might not fit in the other. It can also mean that a feature one player loves, another doesn't experience.

 

The nations feel inconsistent. The Crown and the Empire are negative caricatures: the worst of kings and theocrats (as an aside, I love the idea that the theocracy worships an imaginary God, even in a world with actual Gods). The Republic is a balanced caricature: the social restrictions are played up, but the underlying economic theories are shown as a positive. The Free Etman come across a blandly positive: sympathetic but with no particular character.

 

Personally, I'd either go with a balanced approach to each (maybe the theocrats really are deeply morale, good folk. Maybe the crown consistently defends the world from outside evils) or take a dark comedic approach, and have everyone be awful (Nobody does any work at all in the Republic, The Free Etman are constantly fighting between cities and swindling each other within them.) Or just make the Free Etman the good guys and remove the faction choices from the players hand.

 

The various currencies are interesting, although you'll have to be careful money exchange doesn't just become a chore.

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Unless the game your making is heavy on story like JRPG's, you should keep the game lore to a minimum.

I found that stretching a small amount of back story works better than a long, detailed one.

 


but every one of them has something that makes them slightly special and a random name after their unit's title.

If you wan't unique characters make them truly unique, something small like a different name or small stats will be overlooked and neglected.

 

If you want to have only slightly different stats for balance then consider the level mechanic. With leveling if a player uses a unit a lot they increase in level and become even more unique and important to the player, while still allowing for game fodder characters.

 


And that might be for the best, given that you have less control over your units and most of the game doesn't call for extra manpower. But rest assured, if you feel like using brute force, you can bring small army as long as you have a small army to bring

Don't add a mechanic that isn't important to your game, not only because it wastes time, because players will almost always take the path of least resistance.

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My two cents:
 
I'd consider collapsing the difficulty levels some: Injuries and item wear are as much thematic choices as they are difficulty choices: Do I bravely sally forth into every battle, a hero confident my people will all stand up and brush off the dirt after? Or do I carefully weigh the risks at every turn, fleeing as soon as things turn, feeling like a sandcastle holding off the ocean as long as possible? Am I mayor of a reasonable sized township or the sole survivor of a terrible tragedy, unable to trust anyone enough to form a party? Writing and quests for one extreme might not fit in the other. It can also mean that a feature one player loves, another doesn't experience.

 
Eh. I'll just change it to an options menu when you make a new game. 
 

The nations feel inconsistent. The Crown and the Empire are negative caricatures: the worst of kings and theocrats (as an aside, I love the idea that the theocracy worships an imaginary God, even in a world with actual Gods). The Republic is a balanced caricature: the social restrictions are played up, but the underlying economic theories are shown as a positive. The Free Etman come across a blandly positive: sympathetic but with no particular character.

 
If you think the Empire is an evil caricature just because of the long list of things they execute people over, you haven't done much reading. Every one of those is inspired by actual historical religious laws. The only things that people have never been executed for in history (to my knowledge) are the ones related to magic, because magic doesn't exist, and their weapon laws. Even so, crossbows and guns were, for a while, banned by the Catholic church. (The punishment just wasn't death.) If anything, their list of laws is downright *reasonable* compared to Judea and in the first millennium BC.
 
And don't blame the Crown for the sad state of things. They're a monarchy, and a lunatic got the crown. This was a common historical occurrence, and The Forest King is based off of two historical figures, namely Caligula and Vlad Tepes III. And like in those historical cases, his successor is going to have a lot of cleaning up to do, but the nation can definitely recover from a lunatic's reign.
 
The Republic's social restrictions are a pain in the ass, but compared to the other nations on the list it's easy to overlook these flaws, since the other nations are worse. But there are a lot of people in the world who would reject them outright for their nanny-state policies, and even more who would reject them outright for being socialist (though most of the people who would don't know what that word means).
 
As for Free Etmen, it's not positive at all. Almost all of the settlements in Free Etmen are horrible in their own way, and the few good ones are bound by their alliance to support all of the horrible ones. There is also historical precedence for this as well, when overall good nations ally with horrible ones and then have to support their allies' horrible policies or brush them under the rug. Take the alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, or the US and China, or the US and South Vietnam, or... You get the idea. 
 

Personally, I'd either go with a balanced approach to each (maybe the theocrats really are deeply morale, good folk. Maybe the crown consistently defends the world from outside evils) or take a dark comedic approach, and have everyone be awful (Nobody does any work at all in the Republic, The Free Etman are constantly fighting between cities and swindling each other within them.) Or just make the Free Etman the good guys and remove the faction choices from the players hand.

 
I'm taking a realistic approach. Each of these nations has huge, obvious flaws and siding with any of them means taking those flaws in stride. The Empire is a good 2,000 years behind the other nations in terms of social advancement. The Crown is a monarchy, so a lunatic can easily end up in control if one is born in the line of succession, and it could easily happen again. The Republic is a socialist nanny-state and its government refuses to grow a pair. Free Etmen is a federation that has a lot of horrible members within it, has no chance of change until they aren't at war. 

 

Similarly, each has practical problems with siding with them. The Empire's laws are likely to get you executed (especially if you aren't a troll), The Crown's king is a mad man and will probably need to be gotten rid of if the nation is to have any real chance (so get some poison ready), The Republic's laws are a pain in the ass (and don't expect to get rich working for them), and Free Etmen is liable to get run right over if you don't secure an alliance to somebody and do it quickly (which will not be easy, though they are the only faction willing to ally).

 

And each of them has a practical reason that you might side with them. The Empire is the militarily strongest of the four and siding with them is the least likely to wind up with you dead on the battlefield. The Crown is the wealthiest and will pay you A LOT. The Republic's standard of living is very high and they'll take care of you even when you aren't working. And of course, you kinda live in Free Etmen.
 

The various currencies are interesting, although you'll have to be careful money exchange doesn't just become a chore.


Probably won't be. It's not like I'm the first person to have multiple currencies in-game. Especially considering that Marks are accepted everywhere, and they do act as a default currency, so you shouldn't have too much issue. Just try to save your Tokens for when you're in the Republic, and your Measures for when you're in the Empire, because you'll get better deals there, trading in their local currency. (You'll save about 25% using Tokens in the Republic and 50% using Measures in the Empire.) But despite the in-game decisions they bring in (which I like), their primarily there for the sake of realism. Universal currencies don't exist, for good reason, and the only reason there's anything close to a default around here is that the largest, wealthiest powers in the region use the same currency. And they only do that, for the record, because the Crown is incredibly wealthy and used to own the Free Bank and Free Etmen not even twenty years ago before they each split off and became their own things.

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If you think the Empire is an evil caricature just because of the long list of things they execute people over, you haven't done much reading. Every one of those is inspired by actual historical religious laws.

 

You explicitly describe it as barbaric and punishing goodness: "The trolls have a theocratic government follow strict and barbaric religious law that forbids almost everything good and decent in the world, punishes many crimes with mutilation or death, and strictly forbids free speech and religious freedom." I mean, you even choose a classically evil race as the only non-slaves in the nation. Modern day Bhutan has theocratic elements, but it also coined "Global Domestic Happiness" as an alternative to GDP, focusing on cultural values and conservation.

 

 

And don't blame the Crown for the sad state of things. They're a monarchy, and a lunatic got the crown. This was a common historical occurrence, and The Forest King is based off of two historical figures, namely Caligula and Vlad Tepes III. And like in those historical cases, his successor is going to have a lot of cleaning up to do, but the nation can definitely recover from a lunatic's reign.

 

The inspiration for Dracula, and heavily fictionalized villain ruler. Contrast with Louis XIV, say.

 

As with the Empire, it's not that bad kings and theocracies don't exist, it's that you choose the very worst representations of them. Then you contrast it with the Ocean Republic where harassing speech and drugs are outlawed (and it's not like you can take drugs or say what you want in the Empire anyways) and combine it with a sympathetic view of the economic policies of modern socialist states. I mean, the Empire is straight out of Medieval Europe while the Ocean Republic has Basic Income, which we're only starting to experiment with now.

 

I'm taking a realistic approach. Each of these nations has huge, obvious flaws and siding with any of them means taking those flaws in stride.

 

It sounds like anything I'm forbidden from in the Ocean Republic, I'm also forbidden from in the Empire, but with worse consequences. Additionally, in the Ocean Republic I'm part of a thriving economy that cares for me, and in the Empire I'm probably a slave. If the moral is that theocracies and monarchies are bad, why not just make them the villains, rather than pretending like all the choices are valid? Or if you want to show each as deeply flawed, I think you need to balance the pro's and con's better.

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You explicitly describe it as barbaric and punishing goodness: "The trolls have a theocratic government follow strict and barbaric religious law that forbids almost everything good and decent in the world, punishes many crimes with mutilation or death, and strictly forbids free speech and religious freedom." I mean, you even choose a classically evil race as the only non-slaves in the nation. Modern day Bhutan has theocratic elements, but it also coined "Global Domestic Happiness" as an alternative to GDP, focusing on cultural values and conservation.


I didn't say they weren't evil, I said they weren't a caricature. They're largely inspired by medieval Christendom. Them being trolls is a jab at the kinds of people who think that kind of religious law is a good idea, who are trolls of a different sort. The trolls of this setting being regressive, stubborn, knuckle-dragging apes is ALSO a jab at those kinds of people, akin to calling them "un-evolved". None of this is subtle, and it's not meant to be.

And for the record, trolls in this setting aren't *inherently* evil, for two reasons. The setting doesn't even HAVE alignments, evil is in the eye of the beholder. Their character traits do tend to make them more likely to engage in behaviour that most people would classify as evil, and their stats reflect that*, but that doesn't mean they are actually evil overall. Plenty of trolls, even imperial citizens, hate the empire and its policies. It's a dying empire for a reason.

*Their perception and especially charisma scores are low, while their resolve is high. As people, they tend to be inattentive, dismissive, arrogant and stubborn. Their willpower is impressive and they're emotionally quite strong, which can make them quite productive if they're pointed the right way, but they are highly vulnerable to indoctrination and their natural zeal makes them dangerous when indoctrinated by somebody with malicious intent, as is the case with the church. Playing as a troll gives you an innate 10% bonus to the "lawful" and "enthusiastic" reputations. (This affects how you are perceived by other characters, and is affected by your actions. This helps you if you choose to act these ways, and impairs you if you choose to act the opposite ways. Which, for the record, would be "diplomatic", "chaotic" and "reserved".) You also gain an innate 25% bonus to favour with the Empire, and an innate 40% penalty to reputation with the Crown and 10% with Free Etmen. (As a quick note, the net on favour is always -25%.)
 

The inspiration for Dracula, and heavily fictionalized villain ruler. Contrast with Louis XIV, say.


There's a lot of fiction in Caligula's life, as there is for Julius Caesar, but he was a real Roman emperor and he really did just about drive the entire nation into the ground with a mix of incompetence and malice. Remember, this guy REALLY said "Utinam populus Romanus unam cervicem habaret!", which translates to "If the Roman people only had one neck!". As for Vlad Tepes, yes, I am entirely aware of him being the inspiration for Dracula. I am also aware that he impaled over 20,000 people to terrify his enemies. He also went to rebellious villages, murdered all their children and forced their parents to eat them before burning the entire place to the ground. If anything, Etmen XVI is rather a lot LESS evil than either of these people. He may be a vicious idiot, but he legitimately believes he can keep his country intact through these tactics and he hasn't stooped nearly as low as Dracul did.

And for the record, I DO REALIZE THERE ARE GOOD MONARCHS. I also DO NOT need to remind people of this, because every other monarch you'll see in an RPG that isn't a scenery-chewing villain is a paragon of everything good and righteous so sickeningly saccharine it makes me wants to cut them open just to make sure they're actually human on the inside. Just because the current monarch is a complete bastard doesn't mean I am disregarding the possibility that a monarch can be a good ruler. In fact, that's most of the reason there's a legitimate option to assassinate the current rulers with the aid of their underlings and speed the transfer of power to more stable and competent members of their family.
 

As with the Empire, it's not that bad kings and theocracies don't exist, it's that you choose the very worst representations of them. Then you contrast it with the Ocean Republic where harassing speech and drugs are outlawed (and it's not like you can take drugs or say what you want in the Empire anyways) and combine it with a sympathetic view of the economic policies of modern socialist states. I mean, the Empire is straight out of Medieval Europe while the Ocean Republic has Basic Income, which we're only starting to experiment with now.


The Empire is straight out of medieval Europe, yes. And it's intentionally contrasted with what is effectively a modern socialist state, yes. But this setting allows for that, for a reason. These nations are run by different species, from different parts of the world, and they're at a very critical point in their development: their industrial revolution.

The Empire is massively behind the times because they've been isolated and stagnating for a long time. Meanwhile, the Republic is *directly responsible* for their world's industrial revolution, putting them in a unique position to spearhead socialist reform. Both are a product of their circumstances.
 

It sounds like anything I'm forbidden from in the Ocean Republic, I'm also forbidden from in the Empire, but with worse consequences.


Not quite. The Empire doesn't care about hate speech or harassment (as long as it's pointed the right way) and their drug policy actually allows a few drugs you couldn't use in The Republic, alcohol being one example. Very close, though.

(NOTE: Alcohol isn't *completely* prohibited in the empire, just distilled beverages intended for drinking. Non-distilled alcohol is just really expensive.)
 

Additionally, in the Ocean Republic I'm part of a thriving economy that cares for me, and in the Empire I'm probably a slave. If the moral is that theocracies and monarchies are bad, why not just make them the villains, rather than pretending like all the choices are valid? Or if you want to show each as deeply flawed, I think you need to balance the pro's and con's better.

 
I'd say getting run over by an invasion force twice the size of your entire population, which still only represents a third of your enemy's total military strength, would be a pretty massive flaw with siding with the Republic. It's so bad that your only hope is naval superiority, and the empire has already made landfall and gotten a foothold. Siding with the Empire makes the entire second half of the game a LOT easier, and that's the main reason people would do it. Not for any moral reason, not because it'd be a good place to live, but because they're easily stronger than all three of the other nations put together. That isn't to say the other factions can't win, they can, but it is quite a lot harder. It would be like siding with Gaul after Caesar's little escapade and expecting to defeat the whole of Rome with just the British Isles. And just like in that case, your only real hope is just to cause them so much trouble that they decide your puny islands aren't worth it. (Maybe they can just erect some kind of wall around their territory on the island... Hmmm... Wonder if there's a historical precedent for that...)

This isn't even a new idea, you know. Letting the player choose to serve the game's main villain, which all other factions are opposed to, is NOT a novel concept. Even making it not necessarily the best ending for the player isn't a novel concept either. (For two HUGELY successful examples, Fallout: New Vegas did it in 2010 and Command & Conquer did it in 1995.)

And seriously, stop blaming the Crown because the king's a monster. They can be back on track with a double assassination and a bit of luck with their new pair of monarchs. Their problem is that there's nobody who is both willing and able to assassinate the king and queen.

Edited by JustinS

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I will now walk you through chargen and the tutorial, as promised. This isn't all that fleshed out right now, so I'm still looking for feedback on the design. (Well, at least the tutorial isn't. Chargen is basically being lifted directly from my tabletop, so it's pretty well fleshed out.)
 
As a quick note, there's reputations in-game. These should be explained first. Basically, there's three axis, these being "chaotic/lawful", "enthusiastic/reserved" and "blunt/diplomatic". Basically, the two highest absolute values determines your reputation. In case of a tie, the first one listed takes precedent. Your current reputation can make speech checks easier or harder, and can unlock certain encounters and units.
 
Lawful+enthusiastic: Zealot.
 
Lawful+reserved: Sheep.
 
Lawful+blunt: Authoritarian.
 
Lawful+diplomatic: Arbiter.
 
Chaotic+enthusiastic: Immature.
 
Chaotic+reserved: Nihilist.
 
Chaotic+blunt: Boorish.
 
Chaotic+diplomatic: Bleeding heart.
 
Blunt+Enthusiastic: Crass.
 
Blunt+Reserved: Stoic.
 
Diplomatic+enthusiastic: Smug.
 
Diplomatic+Reserved: Secretive.
 
If you only have one reputation that isn't 0, you get that reputation by itself. (IE: Lawful with both of the other axis at 0 gives you the Lawful reputation.) These are intentionally inferior to the above reputations. In addition, having 0 in all reputations gives you the "uncanny" reputation, which is massively negative in all circumstances as it puts people on edge to have absolutely no idea what to expect from you. 
 
Chargen:
 
Chargen comes in 5 distinct steps. These are species, subspecies (sometimes skipped), sex/age, experience, vitae and appearance. You can back up at any time.
 
Species:
In the "species" step, you choose from one of fifteen playable species. (The initial version WILL be missing some of these, especially in the early access stages, and more will be added if any expansions are made.)
 
Human (homo sapiens):
Humans (also known as folk) are hearty, capable hominids. Tall with a medium build, humans are on the large end of the "medium" classification, with skin of pink, tan or brown hair of yellow, red, brown or black, and eyes of brown, blue or green. Outsiders to Jotunheim, and only recently having had a population boom, humans have never truly been accepted in most societies. Being violent and overly convinced of their own superiority, the only species to tolerate humans are various post-humans and elves. Humans have double health and stamina and gain a power boost when they or an ally is badly injured. They -10% favour in the Holy Empire, -10% favour in Free Etmen and -5% favour in the Oceanic Republic, and their initial reputation is "smug", with 10% diplomatic and 10% enthusiastic.
 
Dwarf (homo curti):
Dwarves are hearty, durable hominids. Short and broad, dwarves may be short compared to humans but they are actually considerably heavier. They have pink or tan skin, brown or black hair and brown eyes. Also outsiders to Jotunheim, as are all hominids, dwarves have been around and common so long most cultures have forgotten that they aren't native, and many cultures have accepted them into the fold as if they were never a separate entity. However, this is as much a factor of temperament as time, as dwarves are submissive, following their orders from their perceived superiors to the letter and without question. Dwarves have double health and natural armour, with +50% body integrity and -40% movement speed, high constitution and resolve but low agility and charisma, and the same power boost as humans. They have -25% favour in the Holy Empire, -5% favour in Free Etmen and +5% favour with the Crown. Their initial reputation is "sheep", with 25% lawful and 25% reserved.
 
Halfling (homo nanus):
Halflings are small, hearty hominids. The smallest hominids, and the most morphologically different, with disproportionately large heads and disproportionately short arms and legs similar to humans with dwarfism. They are most common in The Republic, where they are protected by law, and multiple laws have been made specifically to give halflings and other small species a fighting chance in the civilian workforce. The efficacy of these laws is debatable, as is their impact on productivity (as there are a lot of jobs they just aren't very good at), but it has lead to over 80% of the island's halfling population moving to the Republic. Halflings are extremely durable for their size, having double health and stamina and natural armour, high agility but low strength, and the same power boost. Their small size is an issue players will have to deal with, though it does have its positives. They have +10% favour in the Republic and +5% favour with the Crown, but -30% favour with the Empire and -10% favour with Free Etmen. They have the starting reputation "Secretive", with 25% diplomatic and 5% reserved.
 
Elf (similis fragilis):
Elves are a common humanoid species. Elves are tall and thin, with disproportionately thin and short torsos compared to their overall height and less prominent secondary and tertiary sexual characteristics compared to humans. Their traits beyond this are almost entirely decided by their subspecies, with all their attributes being fairly average, though their senses are generally excellent and all can take half effect from psychological traumas in exchange for them not depleting until the ability is disabled. Elves form the bulk of the Crown's upperclass, so much so that all elves on the island are strongly associated with the Crown. A few elves live away from the Crown, mostly plantation owners in Free Etmen, but even there they are generally believed to be spies serving the Crown, and are as a result despised. They have +50% favour with the Crown, but -50% favour with the Empire, -10% favour with Free Etmen and the Free Bank and -5% favour with the Republic. Their reputation is decided by subspecies.
 
Gnome (similis tellus):
Gnomes are a rare, tiny humanoid species. Extremely small and with a medium build, but otherwise visually similar to their elvish relatives. They appear most similar to wood elves, with tan skin, brown hair and eyes. Gnomes are secretive and greatly despised by elves, who have always hated their closest relatives and never for any real reason, and the misinformation is so overwhelming and varied it's hard to tell what is and isn't true, especially since gnomes keep to themselves and some of their policies are less than sympathetic. Never the less, gnomes have established themselves on Etmen, having founded the Free Bank and taken a massively disproportionate amount of wealth for themselves. This has not helped their image at all. They have excellent vision, especially night vision, strong hearing and high constitution but low strength and tiny size, with the same trauma-negation as elves. They have a -50% favour with the Crown and the Empire and a -25% favour with Free Etmen, but a staggering +100% favour with the Free Bank. Their starting reputation is "secretive", with 10% diplomatic and 10% reserved.
 
Fairy (differens papilio):
Fairies are a tiny, winged humanoid species, closely related to elves and gnomes. They appear almost like elves shrunk down to the size of gnomes, except for the presence of wings growing out of their lower backs. Fairies are common in all regions not controlled by the Empire, though somewhat less in the Republic, where they emulate the local style and culture, altering it to their own tastes. Fairies have a limited capacity for flight, being able to hover and can descend any distance without taking damage, but have extreme difficulty rising and most can't rise at all. (Their flight is normally lived to descend long distances, get over gaps and avoid floor-based traps. Perks can easily strengthen it, giving it more uses and making it better at what it already does, and their flight speed and climbing improves when badly injured.) They also have low strength and constitution, but high agility, perception and charisma. They have +25% favour with the Republic and Free Etmen, but -50% with the Empire and -25% reputation with the Crown. Their starting reputation is "Immature", with 10% chaotic and 10% enthusiastic.
 
Cai (scutum ignis):
Cai are small, crocodilian humanoids. They are small and have a slightly frame, a strong tail and a short, but powerful, jaw. Their scutes are green or brown with black bands down their sides and spots on their jaws, pronounced scutes shielding their eyes from above and a narrow tail. Despite also being foreign to Jotunheim, cai have quickly established themselves across the smaller islands and formed the Oceanic Republic. Due to their language's linguistic rules, their name is actually pronounced sah-e, and people mispronouncing it is a major pet peeve of most cai, especially older ones. Cai are better adapted for water than land, being able to move at jogging speed in water (normally, you swim at walking speed, with a speed penalty) and hold their breath twice as long as their constitution would suggest, but cannot sprint on land. They have high agility, but low charisma, natural armour, a natural DR 2 and four times normal bite damage, but their small size is problematic. Cai can prevent a limb from healing to prevent an infection on it from damaging their health. Cai have +25% favour in the Republic and +10% with the Free bank, but -25% with the Crown and the Empire and -10% with Free Etmen. Their starting reputation is "Arbiter", with 25% lawful and 25% diplomatic.
 
Troll (grotta pius):
Trolls are large, ape-like humanoids. They are large, with disproportionately long limbs and small heads, pale skin and white fur, looking much like an abnormally large albino gorilla. They are adept at moving both on their hind legs, though they have to go on all fours to sprint. They have high strength, constitution and resolve but low agility and charisma. They regenerate one stage faster than most species and have double health and their large size is a huge advantage, but they are 50% weak to heat and can't sprint without using their hands. When a troll is at 0 health, their stamina recovery can be shut down to increase their health recovery one grade. Trolls are the dominant species in the Holy Empire, being given special rights that other species don't get. Many trolls, however, are not imperial citizens. Trolls are native to Jotunheim, and are distributed across the entire planet, even if they did originate in the south on the Empire's continent. Even trolls who originated in the empire have a high defection rate, and many living on the island of Etmen defected from the Empire. Trolls have +25% favour with the Empire, but -40% with the Crown and -10% with Free Etmen. Their starting reputation is "zealot", with 10% lawful and 10% enthusiastic.
 
Jotun (gigans potentis):
Jotun are huge, hairy, ape-like humanoids. They are extremely tall and thin, with disproportionately long limbs, pale skin and white fur. While distinctly ape-like, just like their troll cousins, they don't closely resemble any terrestrial species of ape. They have the long limbs of a gibbon, but their head is more comparable to a human and their body and coat more closely resemble an albino chimpanzee. Jotun are huge, the largest playable species by an entire size class, with enormous strength and average constitution, but the rest of their stats are significantly sub-par and they lack any special abilities. Jotun do not generally participate in society, living alone or in small groups, being nomadic and hunting large animals for food, though there are exceptions. They have -10% favour with the Crown, -5% with the Republic, Free Etmen and the Empire. Their starting reputation is "boorish", with 10% chaotic and 20% blunt.
 
Naga (homo aberrationis serpens):
Nagas are altered humans, with their lower body replaced with that of a serpent and their internal organs jumbled to better fit their new anatomy. The only noticeable external differences on their upper body are the addition of fangs and second eyelids hidden behind their epicanthic folds, but internally most of their digestive tract is missing, their esophagus continuing all the way into their lower body, where their stomach and intestines are located. Their heart, lungs and reproductive tracts are expanded to fill the empty space and power their massive frame. Nagas are effectively large for the purposes of needs, encumbrance, health, vitality and integrity of their lower body, but only medium sized for purposes of evasion, detection and weapon use. Nagas cannot sprint or jump, but are great climbers. They have high constitution, perception and charisma but low agility and resolve. Nagas are elemental, which is covered under their subspecies and determines their colouration, elemental resistances and weaknesses and the effect of their venom, as well as their reputations. They have +5% favour with the Republic and +10% with Free Etmen, but -10% with the Crown and -30% with the Empire.
 
Subspecies:
 
Human:
Humans have two subspecies, one of which is "human" and the other is "hobgoblin". Hobgoblins are goblinoid mutants, having thick skin and no hair, with the main practical differences being that they have natural armour rating instead of double health. Goblinoid females can only reproduce with unaltered males, as goblinoid males are sterile, and while goblinoid males are sterile and can never have children, every unaltered female they have sex with will be permanently altered so that they will only give birth to goblinoids from there on out, no matter who her partner is. This makes them immensely despised by most societies of their own species. Hobgoblins have 5% favour with Free Etmen, but -10% with the Crown and -20% with the Empire. They have a starting reputation of "Stoic", with 10% blunt and 10% reserved.
 
Dwarves:
Dwarves have two subspecies, one of which is "dwarf" and the other is "morlock". Morlocks are also goblinoid mutants, with brown or black fur and reflective eyes. Morlocks lack a dwarf's extra part integrity and are 50% weak to heat, but can hold their breath twice as long, see in the dark and are 25% resistant to cold. Morlocks have -25% favour with the Empire, and their starting reputation is "Authoritarian", with 25% lawful and 25% blunt.
 
Halflings:
Halflings have two subspecies, one of which is "halfling" and the other is "goblin". Goblins are the original goblinoids, hairless and thick skinned. Goblins have extremely thick skin complimented by their small size, giving them twice the normal amount of natural armour, though they lack a halfling's double health. Goblins have +5% favour with the Republic and the Crown, but -30% favour with the Empire and -5% with Free Etmen. Their starting reputation is "Nihilist", with 25% chaotic and 5% reserved.
 
Elves:
Elves have four subspecies, which are "high elf", "dark elf", "moon elf" and "orc". High elves have pale yellow skin, golden hair and eyes, have double visual and auditory detection range, dark elves have dark red-brown skin, dark red hair and red eyes, excellent night vision and hearing, moon elves have pale blue skin, cyan hair and eyes, excellent vision and especially at night. Orcs are goblinoids with pale green-grey skin, dark green hair and bright green eyes, have a 25% resistance to all energy. High elves have +50% favour with the Crown, -25% with Free Etmen, the Empire and the Republic, with a starting reputation of "Zealot", with 10% lawful and 5% enthusiastic. Dark elves have +25% favour with the Crown, -25% with Free Etmen and the Empire, with a starting reputation of "Authoritarian" with 10% lawful and 5% blunt. Moon elves have -25% reputation with the Empire, with a starting reputation of "Immature", with 10% chaotic and 5% enthusiastic. Orcs have -25% favour with the Crown and the Empire, but +10% with Free Etmen, the Free Bank and +5% with the Republic, and a starting reputation of "Boorish", with 10% chaotic and 5% blunt.
 
Gnomes:
Gnomes have two subspecies, which are "gnome" and "gremlin". Gremlins are goblinoids, appearing similar but lacking gnomish facial hair and being dark green in colour. Gremlins, oddly, are allowed to persist in gnomish society, forming an underclass within it instead of being ejected from it. And on the island of Etmen, the gnomes still generally prefer them to the other species. Gremlins lack a gnome's excellent visual range but having +10 Fortitude. Gremlins have only +50% favour with the Free Bank, but only -25% favour with the Crown and no penalty with Free Etmen. Their starting reputation is "Stoic", with 10% blunt and 10% reserved.
 
Nagas:
Nagas have six subspecies. These are "fire", "water", "wind", "earth", "life" and "death". Fire nagas have medium-dark skin, red scales, hair and eyes, a 50% weakness to cold and a 25% resistance to heat, and their venom boils the blood and causes heat-typed health damage. Water nagas have medium-pale skin, blue scales, hair and eyes, a 50% weakness to heat and a 25% resistance to cold, and their venom chills the blood and causes massive cold-typed stamina damage. Wind nagas have medium-pale skin, green scales, hair and eyes, all energy damage is downgraded one grade and all kinetic damage is upgraded one grade, and their venom disrupts the nerves, causing electric-typed poise damage. Earth nagas have medium-dark skin, brown scales, hair and eyes, all kinetic damage is downgraded one grade and all energy damage is upgraded one grade, their venom stiffens flesh, helping disable body parts for one hour. Life nagas have pale skin, white scales, hair and eyes, do not get fortitude but their regeneration is a stage faster than normal, and their bite delivers a healing fluid instead of venom. Death nagas have dark skin, black scales, hair and eyes, get double fortitude but regenerate one stage slower, and their venom causes necrosis. Fire nagas have a starting reputation of "zealot", with 5% lawful and 25% enthusiastic. Water nagas have a starting reputation of "nihilist", with 5% chaotic and 25% reserved. Wind nagas have a starting reputation of "smug", with 5% diplomatic and 25% enthusiastic. Earth nagas have a starting reputation of "stoic", with 5% blunt and 25% reserved. Life nagas have a starting reputation of "bleeding heart", with 5% chaotic and 25% diplomatic. Death nagas have a starting reputation of "authoritarian", with 5% lawful and 25% blunt.
 
Any species that isn't on the above list skips this step.
 
Sex/age:
If I have to explain what sex and age are, we'll have to be here all day. Suffice to say there's both sexes and five age categories in-game, and the one menu just has you click one of the ten results and move on.
 
Experience:
You gain an amount of starting experience dependent on the age selected in the previous menu. (The ages with less starting experience gain experience faster in-game.) You use this experience to purchase skill ranks (10,000xp), talents (5,000xp) or attribute ranks (2,500xp). There is no limit on the number of skill ranks or talents you can purchase outside of what you can afford and how many actually exist in-game, but attributes cannot be increased beyond twice their starting value.
 
Vitae:
You start off with 3000 vitae to spend on perks or spells. Perks cost 1000, arcane and divine spells cost 1000, occult spells cost 10,000 and nature spells cost 100. Note that actually *casting* a spell takes 10 vitae each time, universally, with a few exceptions (and those exceptions all cost 100). Arcane spells also cost 10 stamina, divine spells also cost 10 morale and occult spells also cost 10 health. It's also worth noting that spells (except divine spells) can only be used 1-2 times each day (except the nature spell "heal" and the nature spell "replenish", these can respectively be used 4 and 8 times), and you need to spend an hour preparing each spell's allotment of uses (this is NOT resting, but leaves you similarly vulnerable) or you won't get them back.
 

Appearance:
This is just a window for making cosmetic changes to your character, which has no effect on gameplay. What choices are available has not been decided at this time. What I can say is that even though there will be presets in the "natural" colour range for your species, you can go right ahead and use RGB input to create whatever the hell hair or eye colour you want. Just write it off as the result of hair dye or coloured contact lenses if you need an explanation, I personally don't.
 
At this point, you can continue to make more characters if you wish, up to the maximum party size of 8. Then you start the game.
 
Opening cutscene:
The camera pans over the town. It's the middle of the night, and it starts at the north gate of the town (the only easy natural entrance to the valley), pans to the south, lingers on a paper mill for a couple seconds and pans back to the north of the town, where trolls with lamellar armour, shields and spears are now pouring into the streets. The front gate has been smashed down since the camera was last on it, and the trolls are easily running over the city guard, who are outfitted with buff coats and muskets. A pair of jotun slaves can be seen at the back of the troll line, presumably having been the ones who destroyed the gate. The camera returns back to the mill, where your party is now standing. A one-legged old elf with a wooden keg yells at your party to run for the tunnel at the back of town and don't stop until you reach the lumber farm on the other side. The party runs into the tunnel, and he sets off the powder keg, collapsing the tunnel behind you. The below narration scrolls on the bottom right up to where the old man starts talking.

 
"Greater Etman, the largest island in the Etman archipelago. Named by the egotist king who conquered it nine score and seven years ago (for the ill-read, that's 187 years), this is the most contested island in all of Jotunheim. Naturally fertile land in the north, massive veins of silver and iron in the east, and a huge, naturally defensible lagoon in the south, the island has been sought after by nations great and small for centuries.
 
The north half of the island is your home, and it's all you've ever known. It calls itself Free Etmen, free since it broke away from the Kingdom of Etmen, and free because it's a lawless land, a loose federation of townships with no central government. It's people prize this freedom and will never submit to an outside authority, most not remembering a time before the insanity of the new king, the reason for their rebellion. However, being free also means it's vulnerable. And wherever there is vulnerability there will always be somebody to exploit it.
 
Seeking the island's silver, the Holy Empire came up from the southern mainland. They already own the south of the island, and from there they've been sailing around the Kingdom and attacking the north. And as much as the people of your town have pretended the Empire could never come so far north, it has. Coming from the northern shore, the empire has fallen upon your town in the middle of the night, and broken down the front gate before the guard could respond. It is hardly a fight, and come morning this town will work for the Empire."
 
At this point, the camera should be back at the paper mill. The old man's exact words are as follows.
 
"I told them it would happen. I told them, and they wouldn't listen. You there, workers, it's time for you to leave. Head through the tunnel, and don't you stop until you each the lumber farm on the other side. I can barely walk, but I don't need to walk to seal the tunnel behind you. They don't know about the tunnel, and they don't know about the valley. Gods willing, they won't be able to find it. Now go, they're almost on us."
 
When he blows the tunnel, he turns back to the trolls approaching behind him, drawing a pistol. His lasts words are "Damned help, getting an old man in trouble like this." He fires his pistol at a troll, and the troll runs him through before the camera cuts to inside the tunnel.
 
Inside the tunnel, the party is a couple metres ahead of the collapsed section. The party doesn't currently have any weapons, equipment or even any clothing, having barely had the time to get out of bed and get to the tunnel. The tunnel is long and fairly straight, with three alcoves off to the side. The first is where the party is presently located. There's a supervisor's office in this one. All it contains is a single filing cabinet, as the desk has been crushed by rubble. (There's a couple checks that will allow them to access the desk, which contains an intact bottle of brandy, a tin of hashish and a hashish pipe. Alcohol and cannabis don't have any combat application, but they do have uses and these are quite strong.)
 
The tunnel is clear to the second alcove, and there aren't any real enemies in the second alcove, just a couple minor pests. Specifically, rats. You can choose to target and attack them if you want, and the game instructs you to do so as it teaches you how to initiate combat (right click on an enemy, hit "initiate combat", not complicated), explains initiative and action points, the different attack types, and so forth. You don't need to worry too much, even naked and unarmed you can drop a rat. Because they're, you know, rats. But once you've chased them out of the alcove, you should be able to loot the first-aid station. There's nothing here useful as a weapon, but there is a roll of bandages, a packet of gauze sponges, a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a syringe and a bottle of intravenous morphine in the locked medicine cabinet in the back. There's a pair of lockpicks right there, because apparently somebody had been trying to get into that cabinet.
 
The third alcove contains another supervisor's office. And here, you can see the lumber mill's manager, sitting in a corner with his dog. Like the owner, he's a cripple. His left leg has a brace on it, he's covered in partially healed bite and claw marks and he's got an empty syringe sitting on the desk. He's shivering and shaking, scratching, muttering to himself and whimpering. You can make a knowledge (medicine) check to notice that he's sweating profusely, his nose is running, his eyes are teary, he's clearly anxious and appears confused. A higher knowledge check will reveal he's suffering from morphine withdrawal. If you talk to him, he'll tell you to stay away or he'll sic his dog on you. Then he begs you for morphine.
 
If you have the morphine and refuse to give it to him, or if you get to close without him taking him any drugs, he'll sic his dog on you. It's no match for a person, but it's a lot more dangerous than a couple rats. And if you kill his dog, he's never going to help you, even if you do bring him his drugs. Because of course somebody's not going to help you after you kill their friggin' dog. If you agree to give it to him, he'll order his dog to stand down, take the morphine and shoot it directly into his leg. At this point, he calms down, thanks you and will actually speak to you. When you tell him what's happened, he offers to help you set up in the lumber mill, as thanks for bringing him his medicine. Alternately, you can bring him the brandy and hashish, and a speech check will convince him to take them instead. Doing this is actually better, as it both provides pain relief for his leg and helps him get through his withdrawal. Otherwise, he'll be needing more morphine in a week. You can also convince him to come with you with a high speech check, which gets his dog to stand down, but he will NOT help you until you bring him something for his pain.
 
The supervisor sets up in the office of the lumber mill if you help him, along with the lumber mill's employees and watchmen. There is an on-site barracks for the twelve workers, four watchmen and two supervisors. The barracks has a capacity of 30, so between them and your party there's 4-11 spare beds. The lumber mill now becomes your first settlement. The settlement starts off with 1000 Marks, 100.00 units of rations (each unit is enough to feed one medium sized creature for one day), 100 units of iron, 100 units of cement and 10,000 units of lumber. You are now directed to build a well, which once you set that up the workers will begin digging, taking up two workers for a single day. This gives them a water supply, which they need. Beyond that all work is elective, but it recommends building a trading post (8 workers, four days). The place already has a wall on the only entrance to the valley, but it also recommends reinforcing the palisade and gate with iron and cement (4 workers, two days), which increases its integrity 50%. Lastly, it recommends ordering (with your Marks, requires a trading post) a gun for the open-topped platform on the wall. You should still be able to afford an eight centimetre gun (for the old-fashioned, that is a 4-pounder) that'll clean you out, but there's also a cheaper four-centimetre gun (that is a half-pounder or "2-bore" gun) available if you feel like skimping on firepower. Either one should arrive in two days. The total time here, even if you did these tasks one a time like an idiot, would be nine days. And if you do as many at once as possible like a smart person, it'll only take six days. During that time, your people (ignoring you for the moment) will eat 108-162 units of rations. You only have 100. Clearly, you need more rations.
 
You can either order more rations (which costs money, so you can't get the bigger cannon), order some of your workers to find food (which provides food dependent on their stats and equipment, but the minimum for a forager is always enough for them to feed themselves, unless they are injured) or you can go get food manually. I recommend you find a way to make them self-sustaining, and that means getting your foragers to provide enough food for the whole group, establishing crops (which takes time and money), which would be more efficient than hunting and foraging, or making enough money that you can just buy food and not worry about it. The lumber mill DOES make a good amount of money, so if you can get the group here back up to full strength they can easily make enough money to handle all of this and give you a little income while they're at it. You can also order more workers, but workers ordered through this menu instead of recruited elsewhere are sub-contractors and are considerably more expensive. (Also, welcome to the industrial age. Unions and staffing agencies as far as the eye can see.) Especially since some workers, like almost every beggar in the entire game, will work for a bed and some food.
 
Now, as for your party, you should find some useful stuff in the lumber mill. If you enter the office, there is actually an armoury with two light pistols and two fighting knives. There's also some spare tools you can improvise into weapons, including an iron crow, two hatchets, two claw hammers, a ball-peen hammer, a large adjustable spanner and three screwdrivers. With a little searching, you can even find a machete lost in a field of thick thorn bushes near the gate, presumably having been left there by the worker assigned to clear the thorns. You can also use the settlement screen to build weapons, though the weapons you can build without dedicated tools or much skill investment are very crude. We're talking staves, clubs, shillelaghs, stick spears, self-bows, that kind of thing. With some investment, you can make much better weapons, and eventually you can even make advanced weapons such as swords, crossbows and even guns. Alternately, you can order some for the trading post, but the shipping cost is murder when ordering individual items that small, so I recommend instead saving your money until you reach another town and buying items there.
 
You are also given a small quest hook. There's a large, female bear that's taken up residence somewhere in the valley. (If it isn't completely obvious, she's the one that mauled the supervisor.) How she got in, they have no idea, but they need her dead. You can either go do it yourself, or bring the guards with you, but killing the bear will make the place safer (two guards are always assigned to watch for the bear until she's dead), and the bear's hide and meat are useful resources and she weighs, like, half a tonne. She's worth 200 units of tough red meat (which, yes, is 200 ration units), 20 units of +1 hide and 40 units of bone. She's very large and very tough, but even a small and lightly armed party should be able to kill a bear. And if you bring the guards with you, you might be able to just straight-up drop her in round 1. (Though even with a full party and all four guards, it is unlikely that such a large bear will go down without a fight.)
 
Beyond this, the only thing this gives you in a quest hook about checking in on your home town, which you can enter if you pay a tariff of ten Measures (one Mark) per day. This will lead to a quest to liberate your home town, but that is something so far beyond you that it requires you to seek help from a major power. And that's the plot hook for the rest of the game, as it gets you involved in the war. And it has an alternate resolution, where you suck up to the trolls and help them get established, and in return they pay you, protect your town (as it IS their territory once you sign an agreement) and then the rest of the main quest is about helping them out. Or you could just build your own settlement's power until you can retake your town without outside help, but that's not functionally very different from calling on the nearby towns to help and takes longer, so it's really just something you'd do for an achievement.
 
And that's it. That's the tutorial areas of the game, and how they link you to the rest of the game. Edited by JustinS

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Hey, so, before I begin I'd like to apologize for taking so long to reply. I missed your comment entirely.
 

Unless the game your making is heavy on story like JRPG's, you should keep the game lore to a minimum.
I found that stretching a small amount of back story works better than a long, detailed one.


Sounds like somebody's never played The Elder Scrolls. Or Fallout. Pillars of Eternity, or Knights of the Old Republic, or most western RPGs, really. Lore is kindof a big deal, even in the more simplistic seeming ones. Even FABLE has hundreds of pages of lore, and it's the most dumbed-down RPG on the planet. It is kinda expected at this point. 
 

If you wan't unique characters make them truly unique, something small like a different name or small stats will be overlooked and neglected.


Not really. Also, this is primarily for immersion. It's a lot easier to buy into the idea of these units being characters when they aren't all carbon-copies of eachother. If you order twelve musketeers and every one of them is exactly alike, it breaks the immersion. But if you order twelve musketeers, and yet four of them are women, one of them is only thirteen, one is wearing a gambeson instead of a buff coat and a few are elves or hobgoblins, and when selected they all have names, that will keep the illusion going that these are actual milita men, actually conscripted from the area.
 

If you want to have only slightly different stats for balance then consider the level mechanic. With leveling if a player uses a unit a lot they increase in level and become even more unique and important to the player, while still allowing for game fodder characters.

 
 Did I say they couldn't level? Your units *can* level.
 

Don't add a mechanic that isn't important to your game, not only because it wastes time, because players will almost always take the path of least resistance.


These mechanics ARE important. You will be doing a LOT of travelling without your army, and a LOT of travelling with it. It may not be exactly 50-50, probably more like 75-25, but you will be getting into battles on a fairly regular basis later on in the game, but also can't be marching around with an entire company all the time. Edited by JustinS

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