Project Eternity Social Round-up

Given we're not getting a Project Eternity updates this week I thought I could fill the wait with a round-up of the latest information from forums and social media (mostly from project director J.E. Sawyer, who has proven pretty talkative during development).

Let's start with some clarifications on the Monk class:
Thanks for the feedback, everyone. To clarify a few things:

* A percentage of damage done to the monk, after DT, is converted to Wound damage. If the monk gets hit for 100 points of damage, a big chunk of that is still sailing through.

* Wounds are "buckets" of damage, so the monk needs to have that amount filled before they gain the Wound resource.

* Monks start with a limited number of Wounds they can carry at one time. Once that limit is hit, additional damage goes straight through. This is one reason why wearing some amount of armor can be a wise strategic decision, even for a monk.

* Monks' unarmed damage does increase as part of their Transcendent Suffering class ability. This makes their attacks competitive with other fast melee weapons, but their raw damage is nowhere near as high as something like a longsword or a maul. When fighting heavily armored opponents, monks can benefit from using other melee weapons (their special attacks still work with them).

* While monks do have several active-use abilities, Turning Wheel exists to give the monk a passive bonus from fighting with Wounds. If you let a monk with Turning Wheel "ride" for a while, he or she will do additional fire damage on melee hits automatically.

We describe monks in a way that makes them sound powerful because we want you to look forward to playing them, but they are not invincible! They also can't do a lot of the things that other classes can. Their strengths are in mobility, status effects on hits, and resisting/confounding status effects on themselves. They're intended to be melee skirmishers, but they lack the raw damage output of rogues and barbarians, they cannot "hold" enemies like fighters can, and they don't have the command/targeted buff capabilities of paladins.


Monks have passive abilities as well. For example, Transcendent Suffering gives them unarmed damage and movement speed bonuses.


Other than Wounds filling more slowly, there are no monk-specific negative effects from wearing heavier armor. Many of their special attacks last for a duration rather than a single attack, so if they're wearing heavy armor that decreases attack speed (or using a shield or two-handed weapon that attacks more slowly), they may have fewer applications of those special attacks. But if you need the shield for its Deflection bonus or a larger weapon for armor-penetrating capabilities, you can use them just fine.

I wouldn't characterize 3.5 or 4E that way. [note: "Everyone can do everything with little to no efficiency drop off."] Both 3.5 and 4E can have huge efficiency decreases when a character is built or geared in sub-optimal ways. I think PE will be much more forgiving than (especially) 3.5 when it comes to build and gear choices as long as you're playing to the class' core focus. If players put their wizard in plate armor and have them immediately run into melee with pikes while their monks hang back and take pot shots with a blunderbuss -- well, yeah, in those cases, they're not going to do very well.


We'll probably do a lore update for them in the future, but here are the basics:

* Centuries ago, one man founded the fighting monastic disciplines. He was an old warrior who had knocked on death's door many times and had endured numerous periods of captivity and torture. He discovered a method of mentally focusing on his pain to invoke power from his soul. When he left the service of his lord, he devoted his time to developing these techniques and teaching them to other warriors (in this way, he can be seen as a sort of cross between Ignatius of Loyola and Suzuki Shōsan). He believed that mortification of the flesh not only made warriors more powerful, but that it strengthened the souls of its practitioners, making it more likely that their souls would remain intact (i.e., not fragment) when they died. He advocated fighting with bare fists and without armor to emphasize a fighting monk's personal suffering.

* Because the founder of these disciplines was old when he began teaching and died only a few decades later, there are now many different monastic orders. Some are more secluded, some are mendicant travelers, some are mercenaries. They all tend to believe, like their founder, that combat is the ideal path for pursuing their particular brand of mortification of the flesh. Some choose to pursue this in dedicated service, some become mercenaries or assassins, and others devote their lives to dangerous wandering and exploration. There are other groups that also practice mortification of the flesh, but they are not "fighting" monks.

* Monks believe in the fundamental philosophy of mortification of the flesh, but different orders and individuals have wildly different takes on it. Some monks (and entire orders) are very religious, but the founder was not religious and the discipline does not depend on religion. Most monks see the disciplines as a method of self-improvement that can co-exist with (or without) religious beliefs.


They're sort of a cross between traditional D&D monks and groups like the Flagellants.


PE flails are also fast melee weapons and would be a great alternative to bare fists.


Monks have balanced defenses across the board. They are not particularly vulnerable or resistant to any attack type. They are not able to self-inflict wounds.


Monks' special abilities apply to any melee attacks that they make. Their unarmed damage does increase on its own -- it's part of a passive ability called Transcendent Suffering that also affects movement speed -- but the emphasis is on speed, not raw power. If a monk is trying to do serious damage to an armored target, it may make sense to use slower, more powerful melee weapons.


Monks aren't particularly exotic or foreign in the Dyrwood. Other than their bare hands, they don't have any specialty weapons. They're philosophical, but not particularly Asian. More Flagellant than Shaolin.

They are not literally Flagellants, but they believe in mortification of the flesh. The original "guy" was a Suzuki Shōsan-like warrior figure who believed that combat was the ideal place to experience pain and mortal danger in a way that focused the individual's mind and soul. Of course, different orders and individuals interpret and pursue this mandate in different ways. There are people who practice mortification of the flesh who are not fighting monks. You don't play those guys because they make boring adventurers.


Flagellant and not self-inflicting? Also, why should these monks need to hit someone else if they are just flagellating in the first place?

They are not literally Flagellants, but they believe in mortification of the flesh. The original "guy" was a Suzuki Shōsan-like warrior figure who believed that combat was the ideal place to experience pain and mortal danger in a way that focused the individual's mind and soul. Of course, different orders and individuals interpret and pursue this mandate in different ways. There are people who practice mortification of the flesh who are not fighting monks. You don't play those guys because they make boring adventurers.


We haven't discussed the monk's animations in detail yet, but they are very likely to have different unarmed attack animations than other characters.

Also, speaking of earlier updates, he also elaborated on the Cean Gúla, the undead monster shown recently:
The horn arrangements often looked liked crowns or stag horns. That might be appropriate for a specific individual, but not for the "ordinary" cean gúla. The figures where the legs had very little cloth with them felt less "ghosty", but we knew we were likely to develop even more ghosty creatures, so we wanted the cean gúla to keep her legs and a mostly bare upper body so you could tell it was a woman. We also knew that the cean gúla was not primarily going to be a melee-oriented attacker, so we had Polina play down the size of the hands and change the pose to be more upright with the head bowed down.


Is the design for the Cean Gúla based off some modern depictions of onryo?

Polina wasn't pulling from traditional onryō depictions, but we did talk about contemporary things inspired by onryō like the girl from Ringu/The Ring.

Here are some assorted mechanical tidbits:
Shapeshifting (for PE druids, it's called Spiritshift) allows druids to turn into anthropomorphized forms, with abilities that are more inspired by the emulated creature rather than literally transforming the druid into that creature. Druids will always be allowed to continue spellcasting while spiritshifted. We definitely want it to be an ability you want to use often.


Currently, corpses "hang out" for a while, as in the IE games. After an amount of time has passed (currently only a few minutes, but probably 24 game hours in the final game), the corpses disappear. We probably won't do any sort of decomposition modeling.


I encourage designers to think of a player's responses in a naturalistic way, where the NPC's line and tone suggest a number of responses that seem to spring to mind -- not quite automatically -- but easily. I believe the efficacy of a given player response should depend heavily on the character to whom they are speaking. E.g. flattery and praise may appeal to certain character types, while others can only be persuaded through threats and abuse.


Currently, corpses "hang out" for a while, as in the IE games. After an amount of time has passed (currently only a few minutes, but probably 24 game hours in the final game), the corpses disappear. We probably won't do any sort of decomposition modeling.

If we can afford to have the 3D models there in the first place (i.e., when they are alive), we can afford to have them there when they're corpses as long as we're not loading a bunch of new creature models in on top of them. If we wind up in some wacky situation like that, we'll probably make a script command to do a forced corpse cleanup on area load.


Summoning should be implemented very carefully. The summoner and his summons together still represent only one character in the party and their combined power should reflect that. If a summoner can conjure up five ogres to do his bidding, then what incentive is there to have a fighter in the party instead of just another summoner?

This is my main concern with summoning. Tossing an additional ally onto the battlefield, even if all it's doing is soaking up attacks, is immensely valuable.


I don't see how having a particular ability that is temporary and with limited castings unbalances the game any more than any other classes abilities. Summon some cannon fodder for rounds or Horrid Wilting 10 mooks at once? Seems like a wash.

It depends on the actual effect of the ability. If it's the de facto caster tactic (as mstark described), either the comparable abilities should be stronger or the summons themselves should be weaker. Most high-end caster tactics (in 3E, anyway) rely very little on direct damage spell and instead go for summons or extreme status effects (often Will-based, since most melee-type characters have little chance to defend against them).


We are planning to allow you to set non-combat movement to the speed of the slowest party member. This option will be on by default. Our monk with Transcendent Suffering can already fly ahead of the party very quickly in open spaces.


If we need an action queue, we will implement one. However, I am concerned such a need suggests enemy combat behavior lacks sufficient dynamism to discourage the use of rote actions. I.e., if you are regularly queuing a sequence of 3 or 4+ actions, the battlefield must be predictable enough that you do not need to make reactive tactical decisions for that character in units of time smaller than 15+ seconds. For more passive characters (e.g. some fighter builds), this is desirable. If characters like spellcasters (specifically, wizards) are supposed to excel based on flexibility and adaptability, regular use of queued actions suggests that stock strategies suffice in place of reactive tactics.


But why is it necessary not to have a queue?

Why is it necessary to have a queue? The combat-focused IE games all had six character parties and certainly did not demand an action queue. The elements that would have most benefited from a queue were the elements many of us seem to oppose, i.e. rote buff casting.


Hopefully no offence but it's one of those things that seems like a developer trying to be a bit purist about a design philosophy and losing sight straightforward quality of life issues for the player.

Please re-read what I've posted. If we need to implement an action queue, we will implement it when it becomes required. There's no point to having any design philosophy at all if you're not going to put any effort into actually implementing systems and content that reflect it.


Procs have their own voodoo math for calculating damage vs. DT. Procs are always a percentage of the weapon damage, so the proc damage is compared to the same percentage of DT, modified (if necessary) by special damage type resistances.

N.B.: While we will typically show damage and armor values in integers, we will actually track them as floats.

E.g. if you hit someone with a sabre that does +20% Shock damage, you would calculate the base (Slash) damage -- let's say it's 20 -- then the Shock damage, 4. The target is wearing armor that has 8 DT, no special modifier for Slash damage. It takes 12 damage from the sabre itself. The armor has -30% Shock DT, so that goes down to 5.6 DT, which is then reduced to 20% its normal value (because the proc is 20%), or 1.12 DT. The target takes an additional 2.88 damage from Shock, for a total of 14.88.


Can you tell us more about PE's rogue? I know it's a core class and you'd think it should be obvious, but over the years different games have had different concepts of what the rogue class is for. So, how will the rogue in PE play, minute-to-minute?

They haven't changed a lot from when we initially talked about them during the Kickstarter campaign. Combat-wise, they're very good at moving around and through enemies and they have the greatest single-hit damage potential of any class. Out of combat, they can easily fall into traditional roles but can move to other skills without difficulty (which is pretty much the case with all of the classes).

Their Escape ability has been modified to allow them to break Melee Engagement (instead of forcing a target to "lose" them) and Reversal was replaced with an active ability that gives them increased damage that is inversely proportional to the current health of the target (i.e., more damage to targets that are closer to 0 Stamina). As they advance, they gain access to passive abilities that increase their Crit range, make Sneak Attacks easier, and generally turn them into increasingly "spikey" damage combatants while also making them more difficult to engage.

If you try to one-on-one them with hard-hitters, they will tend to get their asses kicked unless their damage spikes fortuitously, but pairing them with pretty much any melee ally should work well as long as you get them away when attention turns to them.

Out of combat, they have inherent class bonuses to Stealth and Mechanics skills, so playing them "the traditional way" with scouting, lock-picking, and trap-finding is a natural fit. Classes like rangers also receive Stealth bonuses and even non-Stealth characters don't receive inherent penalties, so rogues don't need to be solo operators if you want to sneak around. However, they are the only class to have built in bonuses to both Stealth and Mechanics, so that level of proficiency (assuming the rogue focuses on it) can't be duplicated with a character of another class.

"greatest single-hit damage potential of any class"

Hmmm, what does that mean, exactly? In terms of damage output, which existing Rogue class from another game or ruleset would you compare them to?

It means that against a single target, rogues have the potential to do more damage with a single attack than any other class.

I wouldn't compare them to rogues from another system.

With a single attack, but NOT with many attacks over time?

They have to hit consistently and use weapons that are appropriate for the target's DT. Additionally, the timeliness of when and how class abilities are used can have a large impact on efficacy. A rogue using Finishing Blow prematurely is wasting it.

Obviously, but that's true for all classes, not just rogues.

Besides class abilities, is there anything inherent to the rogue that makes him more of a hard hitter?

No. Abilities are, strictly speaking, class-related, so the rogue's combat capabilities are framed by the abilities (passive, modal, and active).


Hi, Josh. What kind of diversity do you hope to bring to combat with the Barbarian? As a melee combatant, what distinguishes them from the Fighter or the Monk? If played traditionally, how do you expect them class to perform in and out of combat?

We switched our initial concepts of the paladin and barbarian a bit. Barbarians are really great against groups of enemies because their passive Carnage ability gives them automatic, lower-damage attacks against enemies near their primary target. They also have abilities that give them short-duration bonuses when they down an enemy, so it's better for them to pound mobs into the dust than to try to stand their ground against a single, powerful foe.

Barbarians focus on damage to groups (essentially melee AoE), monks convert incoming damage into status effects, and fighters are defenders/line-holders (kind of like 4E earthstrength wardens). None of those classes have the single-target damage potential of rogues or rangers, but they're all better at dealing with groups and they can all take hits better and for longer.


So, Project Eternity will have a unified inventory for all party members, as opposed to the Infinity Engine games' per-character inventory. That doesn't bother me so much, but what's your opinion of per-character inventories? You don't like them?

In a game where one player controls all party members, I don't think it adds anything to the game to split gear up across 6 screens. There's no mental challenge to the process of organizing items across the screens. It's just busywork.

If each companion has different encumbrance thresholds, it's not as simple as just splitting the inventory..There's also a roleplaying factor involved.

"This is my strong fighter, he carries the heavy stuff. This is my mage, he carries all the scrolls."

You could accomplish the same thing by color-coding a single grid to represent what parts are carried by what character. In practice, people playing IE games just drag items onto any available slot until a limit is hit, then drag it to someone else.


What limits will be imposed upon inventory? Weight? Size of items? Slot size? Will we see weak elf stuffed with 100 full plates of feather weight? Or party of barbarians and paladins with inventroy filled with 100 slots of beans?

In the current design, party Stash size (withdrawals only available at rest locations) is unlimited. Worn Equipment is slot-based and is the same for all characters (barring abilities or talents that do things like increase available weapon sets). The one area we haven't decided on in terms of capacity is the shared Pack, which is gear that is not actively worn but available for access outside of combat. However it is defined, it will always be displayed as a unified UI for the player so they aren't flipping between characters for what is, practically-speaking, a shared inventory.


What's your opinion of damage bloat? If we look at Project Eternity's weakest and strongest weapons, will their damage values be radically different from each other? And how important is weapon damage anyway? Can a high level char kick ass with a dagger?

We haven't designed out the full spectrum of how weapons or characters advance, but I think it's safe to say that late game weapons will not be *radically* more powerful than early game weapons. Daggers are very effective weapons at low levels as long as the targets aren't in heavy armor. At higher levels, as long as daggers are still used against DT-appropriate targets by a wielder with high Accuracy, they can be extremely powerful.

Because Crits are scored at a fixed margin (again, barring modifiers like the rogue's Dirty Fighting) above the standard Hit result, if an attacker's Accuracy significantly outclasses a target's defense, the attacker can do serious damage even with a modest weapon.

Well, if there won't be much damage bloat, then logically that means there won't be much DT bloat either. DT of late game armor will not be radically higher than DT of early game armor. So why were you so worried about the original armor system?

Even a relatively small increase in the damage of a weapon or DT of a target could shift the viability of a weapon significantly. It was not mathematically intuitive.

What is mathematically intuitive about the new DT mechanics?

When you see that an armor type has a weakness to a damage type, it will *always* have that weakness no matter its base DT or your weapon damage. Oromi Mail (pretty bad) is worse against Crush. Ymyran Mail (pretty good) is also worse against Crush.

With the previous armor, you literally needed to use a spreadsheet or a calculator to figure out the efficacy relationship between your weapons and the target's DT.

Okay, not literally -- you could also use a pencil and paper if you had about 5-10 minutes.

Now every armor has 1 weakness expressed like "-40% to crush. dam."? The piercing weapons' raw DT penetration is out, as well as crushing weapons' special large minimum damage through DT? Does armor also have 1 strength vs damage type, e.g. +50% to crush?

Some weapons still do have DT bypass (e.g. stiletto, estoc), but it's a property of that base weapon, not of the damage type as a whole. Currently armors don't have specific "strengths". The base DT is used for all damage types except vs. weak ones.

E.g. mail has a slight weakness vs. Pierce and Shock and larger vs. Crush. Plate has a large weakness vs. Shock.

When you say DT bypass, does it mean that it completely negates DT? ... Oh, that's fine.. armors really *don't* need strengths vs damage types, IMO.

No, DT bypass just negates a value of DT on the target.

I don't find it logical that a weapon with a 100% bonus shock damage is blocked by 100% of DT and a 20% bonus is blocked by only 20%. Naturally, I'm talking about the shock damage part. If anything, armors should have separate DT for elemental damage.

Weapons are probably not going to have +100% procs because that is a large damage increase. For the procs to be viable and still respect the strengths/vulnerabilities of the target's armor, they need to be compared to type-modified fractional values.

"Proc" is a random event, a chance that an attack triggers an effect. Bonus elemental damage can be viable if, e.g., a plate armor that has 20 DT has 5 DT against fire, universally, for 50% or 20% bonus fire damage. Which, then, wouldn't need to be a %.

I'm using "proc" in the original sense: a procedural event. For our purposes, additional elemental damage done represents a special case and I don't think the core aspects of armor (e.g. their elemental DTs) should be designed around their viability.

Otherwise DTs balanced for handling a fractional amount of base weapon damage done as elemental damage will be virtually worthless against big elemental attacks like spells.

That said, I think a better course than the scaling value would be a fixed percentage, e.g. DT vs. bonus alternate-type damage is always resisted by 25% of the target DT, modified for type weakness/strength. I talked to Tim and it would be easy to do.


You said that the roles of PE's Barbarian class and Paladin class had been swapped around. So tell us about the new Paladin class. Is it no longer like the D&D Warlord?

It's really the group melee damage element that shifted from the paladin to the barbarian. The paladin is still very warlord/marshal-like.

Got anything else to say about it?

Right now, not much else. They have modal auras they can switch at will, single-target "commands" (buffs), and passive buffs they grant to allies. I've been testing one lately and she's been very useful.

A few lore tidbits from George Ziets and J.E. Sawyer:
RPGs today try to stay away from AD&D alignment.Will PE feature at least some "pure evil" chars? Characters like Chaos Space Marines from Warhammer universe or Angel Slayer from AD&D - someone, who is beyond saving, repention and completely irredeemable?

PE will probably have some factions and groups that are just bad guys, like the raiders in Fallout. On the level of specific NPCs, it will be up to whoever is designing or writing the character. The team doesn't have any rules against irredeemable NPCs, and they could certainly exist within the fiction (e.g., pirates, cutthroats, cultists, slavers, etc.)


I remember reading that Slavery is permitted in the Dyrwood in Project Eternity. If so, is this one of the themes that you'd like to explore writing for P:E ?

Slavery is present in the game world, but it doesn't play a prominent role in our current storyline. IIRC, slavery isn't especially prevalent in the Dyrwood. It is more widespread in some of the surrounding nations and cultures, though, and it might be found in outlying areas of Dyrwood, or among foreigners who pass through the big cities like Defiance Bay.

Can we take that to mean Defiance Bay is one of the 2 big cities?

It is one of the big cities in Dyrwood. But I cannot confirm or deny that it is one of the big cities in PE. ;)


Why's the etymology of Aedyr from deer, what's the significance?

"Aedyr" literally means "many deer", but colloquially means "people of the deer". "Dyrwood" is Hylspeak for "deer wood". Prior to arriving in their current home, the Aedyrans (humans and elves) migrated south over many centuries. They were known as deer hunters and (later) farmers during that time. The current Aedyr Empire itself has very few deer, so when colonists landed in the new world and found abundant deer in the nearby forests, they considered it a good sign and named it the Dyrwood.


Does teleportation exist in PE? and are there realms/planes what have you beyond the material and where the gods inhabit?

We have discussed the possibility of short-range teleportation (i.e., within a hundred feet at most) but there is no long-range teleportation. People have a lot of different beliefs about the afterlife, but other than being able to observe souls passing through portals that appear to leave the physical world, no one is certain where souls go after they die -- or if the gods exist there.

Finally, in case you're a Linux user, you might want to suggest a DRM-free delivery service to host the Linux version of Project Eternity on to Darren Monahan on the Obsidian Entertainment forums. There are already some good suggestions but I figure advertising the topic to more people wouldn't hurt.