The latest Kickstarter update for Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore brings us some much-appreciated info on the character system, with races, classes and the various skills and traits discussed extensively, and on top of that has a team Q&A with programmer Michael Flad. Here's an excerpt:
So the first thing the player will get to choose for a character is his or her race. We are offering six races - Humans, Dwarves, Snow Elves, Wood Elves, Halflings and the vicious Tarks. Each race has certain modifiers associated with it that will affect the character's final traits. Snow Elves, for example, have a higher resistance to ice than Humans. Halflings are more dexterous than Dwarves, while Tarks are experts at taunting; that sort of thing.
Naturally, you can also determine the character's gender and name at this point and then continue on to select the character's class. (Deathfire) offers eight available classes, Warrior, Crusader, Scout, Shadow Dancer, Shaman, Druid, Wizard and Sorcerer. The female counterparts for these classes are currently called Valkyrie, Scout, Shadow Dancer, Shamaness, Druid, Witch and Sorceress, though these names may not be final yet.
Each of these classes is specialized in a certain area of expertise and, like the race, comes with modifiers that affect the character's final skills. It is a carefully balanced system that took quite some time to get right, and I expect to tweak it still, once we begin seeing these characters spring to life in the actual game.
The next step will take the player to the base attributes. They are automatically rolled using twenty-sided dice and consist of Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Based on these values, as well as the race and class modifiers, the computer also calculates a number of other attributes, such as weapon skills, attack and defense values and others. The base stats also affect the damage the character can do, the amount of magic points he has, and the armor rating. Some additional values are being calculated and kept invisible to the player, just to keep things manageable.
If the player is not happy with the distribution of these values, a single click will roll the dice anew for a complete, new set of values.
The next step takes us deep into the character's traits and disadvantages. In order to create a role-playing experience that has real depth and gives the player breadth in shaping their in-game characters over time, (Deathfire) currently offers 34 different traits, packed together into various groups to easier track them.
The first group contains Resistances, controlling how well the character can withstand various types of damage. The Body Skills determine how well the character can handle himself physically and is therefore home to things such as Balance and Speed, among others. The list continues with groups such as Nature Skills, Craftsmanship, and Mental Skills, as you can see from the screenshot below, each with a number of individual attributes that determine the character's innate abilities.
And then there are the negative attributes, called Disadvantages. Everyone of us has lost his cool before, so why should our game characters be any different? In my opinion, negative attributes bring zest to the game. They give heroes personality and, from a design standpoint, open up an endless array of opportunities for great character interaction and mishaps.
What we are looking at here runs the gamut from ordinary Temper tantrums, to a person's Fear of Height, or Arachnophobia. But it also includes values such as Greed, Superstition and Pessimism. As you can undoubtedly tell, there is a lot to allow us to color characters and create interesting gameplay moments, but it can also feel overwhelming to the player. Therefore we will also have an optional game mode that will hide away many of these attributes and let the computer control them for you.