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Having just released a character creation spotlight video for The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep, inXile follows that up with a new Kickstarter update for their upcoming dungeon crawler. The update offers a detailed look at the Wizard, one of the game's arcane Practitioner subclasses with a focus on summoning magic. Apart from that, the update features a couple of Q&A's. One that for the most part covers The Bard's Tale IV's party creation and interactions, and another one that shares a few details about The Bard's Tale Trilogy remasters. An excerpt:
Hi everyone, David here with the promised look at the Wizard class. The Wizard is a subclass of the Practitioner that focuses on summoning and maintaining allied minions through a variety of spells, passives, and stat boosts. These minions have a lot of different uses – they can split up enemy focus, deal damage, tank hits, buff one another, or even be used to heal the caster. In a lot of ways, they’re full-fledged party members that show up exactly when and how you need them to.
Obtaining the Wizard: Novice skill will grant mastery in the Gate ability. Gate summons a Shadowy Wraith, an elemental who uses Spell Points to deal damage to enemies. It’s one of a few abilities that can be cast in several ways: the longer you channel this ability, the stronger the minion it’ll create by granting more Spell Points. A Wraith will vanish back to the ether it came from when its Spell Points run out, so starting with a high number can let your elemental throw out a couple extra spells before dissipating. With this style of casting, you can plan more effectively around how long you expect a fight to last and be ready for whatever situation you’re in.
Passing the Wizard: Journeyman skill, a Constitution boost that allows you stay in the fight and boss your new friends around a little longer, the Wizard: Master skill will grant mastery in the Prime Summoning ability. Prime Summoning raises two Skeletons to join the party, either as Warriors or Archers. Warriors have an armor-boosting ability, Deflect, and can be put to good use protecting the rest of your party. On the other hand, Archers go down a little more easily, but can put out devastating punishment with their bows if you protect them. Figuring out how best to utilize your bony friends presents some interesting choices.
Wizard: Master also teaches the Sacrifice Minion ability. Another Multi-Function ability, this spell is effectively three in one. Coalesce Essence kills one summoned minion to bolster another, transferring the original’s stats over. Release Bonds sets free the target minion, weaponizing their essence in a True Damage attack against a target enemy. Absorb Soul sacrifices the target, reabsorbing their magic to heal the caster. These abilities let you get the most out of your minions, letting them fight for you while they’re strong and die for you when they’ve lost their usefulness. You can even combo the spell with itself, using Coalesce Essence and then Absorb Soul to create one big minion and then drain them, gaining an even bigger heal. We here at inXile don’t recommend getting too attached to your minions – killing them is sometimes even more fun than creating them!
At the end of the skill tree, having demonstrated time and again your mastery of minions, players can pick up Grand Summoner and another hefty Constitution boost. The skill grants a passive by the same name that shows your minions who’s in charge, buffing all summoned combatants with Armor. After all, they should be protecting you, not the other way around. This passive is especially helpful with Skeleton Warriors: stacking Armor on them and letting them shield you can be a great way to keep your squishy Practitioner safe. Hey, 11 Armor here – not bad!
Thanks for reading along, and looking forward to seeing what your party builds looks like once the backer beta comes out!
Q&A - The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep
Hi all, Paul back to take you through the rest of the update. We received a number of questions for both The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep and The Bard's Tale Trilogy remaster.
With the backer beta due out very (very) soon, we've truncated the number of BT4 questions answered (since the beta will answer many of them) and added in some BTT questions that you've asked us.
Q: Will there be different instruments to play, all with their own renderings of the songs?
A: Each bardic song plays a different track played on a different instrument when cast. We worked with Kurt Heiden, who was the composer for The Bards Tale III: Thief of Fate. Each version of the game had a different MIDI track for each of the Bards songs, and we picked our favorites to recreate. They were scored and then recorded in Scotland by Ged Grimes and his crew of talented Celtic folk musicians.
Q: In regards to the "Will it be possible to create your full party?" question, can you clarify a bit how that works? You start with one character but soon get more? Can you have all characters you made or do you have to have any written NPCs?
A: We get you straight into the game, absorbing the story and the world, as soon as you start a new game. We give you a default character, a bard obviously, but almost immediately let you make your own character if you prefer. The combat and character progression systems in The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep are deep, so we didn't want to ask you to make six characters right out of the gate before you even engaged in your first combat. The first section of the game is basically a quest to recruit your starting party, so we quickly ramp you up to four party members. You meet three narrative characters at the start that join your party: Dalgliesh the Dwarven fighter, Wringneck the Trow Rogue, and The Green Lady, an Elven Practitioner. Similar to the starting character, you can choose to continue adventuring with them, or spend Mercenary Tokens to create custom characters to replace them. No one character is required to be in your party.
Q: Does weather impact the gameplay in any way?
A: No. Any weather in our game is purely cosmetic and just helps to set the mood.
Q: Another question: how much depth will there be in intra-party interactions? Is it just occasional banter or will party members develop running feuds, flirtations, etc. over time (or based upon in-game events).
A: Different characters have different interactions and relationships. Narrative NPCs, like The Green Lady, have fully fleshed out scripts, but the custom characters you create will also have their own personalities and interactions based on the voices you pick for them, so making your own characters won't mean you're missing out. Party Chatter isn't a dynamic system in that you can't, say, make two characters fall in love, but different characters do have different relationships and will interact in special ways.
One fun anecdote to illustrate this is that I made a character and gave him the Volatile voice pack, making him super aggressive. When Dalgliesh the Dwarf joined my party all of a sudden my character kept trying to goad him into an arm wrestling match to prove he was stronger than a dwarf. This exchange probably went on for forty seconds and I was cracking up the whole time.