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A new update for The Bard's Tale IV has been published on Kickstarter. It offers a look at the game's character progression, which is largely based on class skill trees, though interestingly weapons will also grant special abilities that characters will eventually be able to learn and add permanently to their arsenals. A few choice quotes:
Each class has access to its own unique skill tree. From here, your adventurer is able to learn how to wield new gear, gain attribute points, learn new abilities, and gain passive effects. Basically, your character can be fully described through their skill tree. At a glance, you can tell a Sorcerer from a Wizard, a Thief from an Assassin, and a Vanguard from a Commander, all just by looking at their skill tree. Each time one of your Adventurers levels up, they are granted a single point to spend on their skill tree, with each skill costing exactly one point.
As you unlock new skills, you'll begin to also unlock the next tier of options in your skill tree. That's displayed by the counter under each tier header, with each tier requiring a total number of skill points spent character-wide. The adventurer above, for example, has so far unlocked seven out of nine skills needed to progress to Tier 3. These tiers play a role in a character's growth in a few ways, some more obvious than others. First, it helps create big milestones in the career of your adventurer. Just as you've advanced your progression towards one or more sub-classes and your options have begun to taper down, you unlock a new tier and your available options explode out again. It also provides incentive to each adventurer to acquire skills they might not have otherwise, encouraging exploration within your build. Lastly, it allows us as designers to deliver a more balanced experience because we can better ensure that at least some minimum number of points were spent towards defensive and offensive skills in one form or another during the early stages of the game. What kind of armor and fighting style you adopt and eventually specialize in later on is entirely up to you.
Once a character has spent the needed number of skill points to reach the next tier within their skill tree, it's time to visit the Review Board. For those of you who are new to The Bard's Tale series, the Review Board is a returning oldie but goodie – it is a milestone in your journey as an adventurer. We ask you to perform a pilgrimage of sorts back to Skara Brae to come before the Review Board and be deemed worthy (or not) of their blessing. If found worthy, the next tier in your skill tree unlocks, and along with it a whole world of new possibilities.
For those of you looking closely at the skill tree descriptions, which I'm confident many of you are, you might be wondering where you get your combat abilities from. Many of them, in fact, do not feature in the skill tree directly – instead, the place you acquire abilities is actually from your equipment. As you progress down the skill tree you unlock the ability to wield new and more exotic weapons, off-hand items, and trinkets. You may unlock access to a single item, such as a battle standard, or an entire category of items, such as Tier 2 great weapons. These items each have a specific ability or abilities. By wielding a great club you'd be able to use Lumbering Strike during battle, while wielding a battle standard would allow you to rally your allies with the ability "To Me, Brothers." As a certain weapon is used, an adventurer will eventually master its abilities, allowing them to keep using those abilities even without needing the weapon equipped. This will let you naturally unlock a vast amount of tactical flexibility over the course of the game.