Torment: Tides of Numenera Update #44: Production, Fettles, Lore

The latest Kickstarter update for Torment: Tides of Numenera keeps up to date on the the production of the title, and gives us some new info on the game's handling of status effects, or "fettles", and lore, with a write-up on the Valley of Dead Heroes.

Production has apparently been going well. While the bulk of the content implemented by inXile sits roughly in the middle of the game, the company has also been working on its "First Exhibit", a slightly downsized version of the first section of the game, lacking a few of the features and characters that will be present in the full title. The areas contained in this "First Exhibit" will also be the basis for the beta test of the title. 

During the Kickstarter campaign for Torment, inXile also promised Alpha System Tests for the game, and they're apparently now closer than ever to the release of the first of them. While initially they were planning to release the first, which was meant to contain only a conversation, a few months ago, they ultimately decided to focus on production and content creation. There's an upside to this internal delay, though: the first AST to be released will be larger in scope, according to the developers.

As for the "fettles" (the developers assure us it's a real word but my spellchecker doesn't seem to agree), I'm going to quote an excerpt from the update:

I want to talk to you about fettles.

"What the hell is a fettle that's not even a word."

Right. See, that's exactly what I said when Kevin suggested 'fettle' as our term for lingering conditions and effects. But yeah, it's totally a word, one perfectly suited to the linguistical atmosphere we're shooting for in Torment.

Fettles are conditions that affect player characters in and out of combat. Some examples that will be immediately familiar to RPG players are things like Poisoned, Bleeding, Slowed, or Hasted. Any condition that has effects beyond the immediate probably qualifies as a fettle.

Being set in the Ninth World, Torment has some stranger fettles as well. A character might be Energized (giving her extra damage and changing all his damage to a specific type, like heat, cold, or gravitic), she might be in Stasis (paralyzed), or even Phased (bonus to defense and protecting her from most physical damage types).

But the beauty of the fettle system is that it's not just about buffs and debuffs. We can use fettles to keep track of whether a character is Hidden, Knocked Down, in Low Light, or Hovering. We have a Distracted fettle for when a character has too much to keep track of in combat, like if he's flanked by too many enemies or someone successfully Taunts him. And a character that's completely mobbed would be worse than distracted, they'd be Overwhelmed.

These fettles last only as long as the situation demands, of course. If a character downs one of the enemies flanking him, he'll no longer be Distracted, or if he attacks someone from the shadows, he will no longer be Hidden.

Most other fettles last for a specific duration. But Torment doesn't use a real time clock to keep track of durations, so we have to get more creative with how long fettles last. In combat, that's simple fettles last for a number of rounds or until combat is over but what about a Diseased fettle that lasts after the Crisis is over, or a character has been Dismayed by an ancient, mental booby trap? In these cases, we use the rest system.

I talked about the rest system some on the forums, but in short each character gets a limited number of rests per day to recover some of their Stat Pool. They will also get a single Sleep that acts as a rest, restores all their other rests, and counts as a "day" for the purposes of time passing.

For fettles outside of combat, then, we specify the duration as "until next rest" or "until next Sleep." In this way, the player controls how fast time passes whether they want to spend some of their Stat Pool to heal right away, or else Sleep and risk things changing (or coming after you) by passing time. This is just one of the systems we're implementing to make combat (and non-combat) more tactical, and to put the power of choice into the player's hands.