Solasta: Crown of the Magister - Community Feedback and Sourcebook Update

The latest development update for Solasta: Crown of the Magister starts by briefly talking about physical rewards and some other backer-related stuff before addressing a decent amount of community feedback that revolves around a multitude of topics, including additional dialogue choices, vendor stocks, and general D&D mechanics.

Check it out:

Last chance to get your Solasta Sourcebook - Shop closing November 30th!

Over the past weeks since Early Access launched, we've received many requests from people asking if they could become backers even though the Kickstarter Campaign is over. Unfortunately, we've decided long ago that we wouldn't accept late backers - our Kickstarter Campaign officially ended early October 2019. That being said, we also have our Physical Goods from the Kickstarter Campaign available to preorder on CrowdOx... which often are the main reasons why people who missed the campaign wanted to join. As a reminder, we plan to send the Physical Goods within 3 months of the final 1.0 release of the game in 2021.

As we'll soon be moving towards the manufacturing of our Physical Goods, we'll be closing on Crowdox shop on November 30th 2020. If you want a Solasta Sourcebook, an Adventure Box or an OST Vinyl, make sure you preorder one before it's too late - we don't plan on printing / selling them again in the future.

For those of you who are curious, we just completed the first draft of our sourcebook... which is currently sitting at 75,000 words - 165 pages of pure text, and that's before adding any pictures! From there on, we still need to do editing, validation, layout and proofreading before sending the final document to the printer.

Community Feedback Review #1 - Let's get started!

Alright folks, time to tackle them suggestions and feedback! Hope you've got a mug of coffee / cup of tea / bottle of vodka (wait what) ready, because this is going to be fairly long.

Do you plan on adding a "quick start" feature to skip tutorials once we've already completed them once?

Yes. This is something we're planning to do in the long run, however it is very likely that this feature won't be available during Early Access as we might still be adjusting things left and right - which might include the tutorial levels. Our current idea would be to have your party start in Caer Cyflen, skipping the tutorials and cutscene with lord Carran so you can immediately go to the council to start your adventure.

Will you be adding more crucial choices to dialogs?

This one is a hard one. Ideally, we'd love to have a wide range of impactful choices that would strongly impact the various quests you're tackling, but here's the thing - these things need time and money. A lot of it.

Let me elaborate. Adding a dialog choice would mean additional writing, which in itself isn't too bad. Considering Solasta is fully voice acted, you'd have to add voice recording which already starts to become expensive. Then, if you decide that the decision affects the quest - for instance by opening a new path to go around an encounter for instance - you add on top of this time required for game design and level design (to create that new path). And then you also add time required every time we do a test run, because if we don't test all the options chances are some of them may not work.

I explained this in a forum post a long time ago, but it's the same reason we're not going for multiple endings. Let's say you have the time to write three large story quests for the end of your campaign, each taking around 5 hours to complete for the player. When you arrive at the end of the game, if you play those 3 quests back to back, the game is linear but every player gets 15 hours of extra playtime. On the other hand, if you have a to choose between three different endings - each with their own quest - each player only gets 5 hours of gameplay. Now you may argue that players get more overall playtime because they would be encouraged to re-play the game to see the other endings, but those players are exception and not the rule - most players are satisfied with a single playthrough.

So, a single end with more content, or multiple endings with much shorter content for each of them? In the case of Solasta, we never intended our game to be very long - so cutting content to add more forks in the road doesn't sound like a wise choice for us. We'd rather focus on delivering a single, well crafted campaign - even if it might feel a bit railroaded at time.

Now that being said, we also noticed that some dialog options may feel redundant or poorly exposed - for instance a lot of players were really surprised at the fact that experienced adventurers would just put an unidentified crown on their head without second thoughts. You can help us by bringing up particular cutscenes / dialogs where you feel like something just feels wrong so we can take a look at them and change the script a bit to make them feel more natural - I'm sure most of you would have less issues with the crown scene if it was implied that the crown was magically influencing the party to wear it.

Will you be adding more feats that would allow for more interesting martial builds, such as feats that add bonus action options for specific weapons?

We're definitely going to take a look at it. We understand that while spellcasters often get a lot of versatility and options through their spell choices, martial classes often need to rely a lot more on feats for customization - which is why we're not closing the doors quite yet on feats. One thing to note is that feats can either be very fast to implement... or very hard if it implies additional animations and / or programming work when it allows you to do something that doesn't yet exist in-game. We're likely going to stick to more simple ones to avoid delaying other parts of the game - but not just "passive" feats that give +1 here and there, we'll rack our brain to give you more options in combat.

Verticality creates a lot of issues for melee-focused characters, as they often can't reach enemies and have to rely on their ranged weapon

That feel when your Paladin can't smite anything because he's relegated to crossbow duty. More seriously though, while it is true that melee characters may feel a bit left behind in the early game, know that they will eventually come around when monsters become beefier as you won't be able to shoot them down before they reach your squishy backline. And trust me, when that happens boy will you be glad that your Paladin or your Fighter is standing in their way.

That being said, we're not saying just to "tough it up" until you reach higher levels - especially considering Early Access mostly covers the beginning of the campaign. We're looking into solutions to help our melee-loving friends - such as with minor wondrous items that may increase move speed so you can reach enemies more quickly, adding more melee units instead of ranged units in encounters, lowering monsters' AC and increasing their HP instead so they're not dead after a few shots (also lowering the frustration of missing too often).

My rolls are incredibly bad while the monsters' rolls are super good! What the hell?!

This is something that you will see in every game using true RNG. It is human nature to believe that after a series of poor rolls, you will be more likely to get lucky on your next one... but that's not the case. Sure, if you roll a million times the rolls will eventually even out - but if you roll just a mere 10 times, you can absolutely get nothing good. This is why many games use pseudo-RNG that will slowly increase your chances if you keep on failing, in order to reduce frustration. However, that's not what happens on Tabletop - which is why it's not something we've implemented in Solasta to start with.

To be perfectly clear, Solasta uses true RNG (pretty sure modders can look at our code to verify my claim) - but one thing that likely aggravates the belief of the player rolling worse than the monsters is due to a lot of players fighting in the darkness and thus rolling with disadvantage, which further increases the chances of getting a bad roll. We're hoping that the upcoming Lighting System changes which revert it to the Tabletop Ruleset will help lessen this belief that the dice rolls are skewed. We're also considering adding a difficulty setting called "Karmic Dice", which would add pseudo-random rolls as explained above (the more you fail, the more likely you are to get a better roll next).

Why am I getting a game over screen when a critical NPC gets downed? Can't they have death saves? Why can't I use my scroll of Revivify?

There are a couple of different issues here. In a technical sense, NPCs are considered monsters in Solasta, which is anything that's not a player character. They do not have inventories, they do not have personality flags, so on and so forth. As monsters do not have Death Saving Throws (and actually that the same on Tabletop),Critical NPCs are in the same boat and die immediately when downed. Now, we also know that on Tabletop your DM does not slam the table and yell "GAME OVER FOLKS" when an NPC die, no matter how important they were - because they can just start improvising when that happens (while slowly weeping as you just invalidated some 20 pages of quest they prepared for you, you monsters). So we're going to see if we can give Critical NPCs Death Saving Throws in the future, although we'll have to see if we have the time for that since it implies separating them from monsters.

The other issue is the scroll of Revivify. The way it works currently is that the character must be able to use the scroll in order for it to prevent a Game Over screen - so if the scroll is on your Fighter, go directly to Reload and do not collect $200. As a reminder, in 5e Tabletop the spell from the scroll must be part of your class's spell list for you to be able to cast it - meaning you're limited to Cleric and Paladin in Solasta. If we have the time, we'll change it so that the scroll is taken into account regardless of who's keeping it as long as you have a Paladin or a Cleric in your party (to avoid the mistake of giving the scroll to the wrong person coming to bite you).

Why is the game so hard?! I'm getting destroyed by those flying snakes in Caer Lem!

Game difficulty is always a very touchy topic, because it depends a lot on who's playing. We had some players ask us for more challenging encounters, all the while we've had some refund the game because they just couldn't make it past Caer Lem. This issue stems from the fact that we don't have a difficulty option yet in the Early Access - and considering the amount of overall work and balancing we need to do during that period, we likely won't implement difficulty levels before the full 1.0 release.

As for the Flying Snakes, you might be surprised to know that they are actually official SRD monsters and we're just using their stat block. However after looking into it in more details, it is true that they feel very dangerous for mere CR 1/8 (25 XP) monsters - especially with their high damage variance, which can go anywhere from 2 to a whooping 13 damage in a single attack. For newer players that may have taken damage against goblins and haven't done a short rest, a single round with poor luck can easily wipe out their party. We will be lowering their damage to 2 - 9 to start with (1 + 2d4 instead of 1 + 3d4) and see if it helps. For our more hardcore fans out there do not worry about us making some part of the Early Access easier, you will still have plenty of fun with the harder difficulty levels at launch.

What's the deal with food? The trips are long and the vendor in Caer Cyflen only has 10 rations available!

You'll be happy to know that the vendor has decided to stock up after seeing how many of you were coming to ask for more food - from the next update onwards, the number of rations in the store has increased from 10 to 99. You will mostly be limited by gold or weight if you decide to buy that many, but at least you'll be able to stock up as you want.

Another fix we've added to tackle the food issue is that the game will now prioritize food you've created and / or hunted before eating rations (it wasn't always the case before), so rations should only be consumed as a last resort. We've also added travel options to automatically cast and eat Goodberry and / or Create Food and Water before a long rest so that you don't have to micro-manage. Note that we've also made it so magically created temporary food disappear after a long rest to avoid stocking up on it - we know that RAW they should last for 24h, but it added too much clutter and work as you could end up with multiple stacks with different timestamps. Unfortunate as it is, you won't be able to convert your remaining spell slots into Goodberries before going to sleep!

Why do I not get XP when I talk my way out of a fight? I'm forced to face the boss at a lower level because I didn't murder my way through?

That's fixed in the upcoming update. Diplomacy will not give you as much XP as if you fought the encounter, so that you don't feel forced to take every fight just for the sake of optimizing your experience gain. Let's be honest, you need all the XP you can get before facing the new beefed up Madracht and his cronies.

Where is the Manacalon Rosary?

Poor Hugo Requer, no one ever visits his shop. Jokes aside, we understand that it was confusing for players that every crafting kit was available in the general shop with the exception of the Manacalon Rosary. In the upcoming update, the Manacalon Rosary will be available in the general shop next to the other crafting kits. Sorry Hugo, you needed to put a bit more effort into marketing, man.

Spellblade Fighter, Shadowcaster Rogue and Rangers in general should be able to replace a spell when they level up

This is indeed correct according to RAW, however it's also one of those features which are very time-consuming to add and may (and I say may) not make the cut for the full release. It involves a lot of fringe cases and adding a system we haven't worked on yet, so we'll need to see if we still have the time after completing the more important part of the game. That being said, you may be aware that there will be a free post-launch Sorcerer DLC - a class which also benefits from such feature. If we can't have it in the 1.0 release, chances are we'll end up working on it for the Sorcerer DLC.

Why can't we revisit locations we've already cleared?

Unless there are very good reasons why, you should always be able to return to locations you've already visited. So far however we've had two different issues. First, in Caer Lem you could only revisit up to the broken fort because... well, there was simply no entrance to the Caer Lem Caves, making them inaccessible once you left them. Second, we've had a very annoying bug (that you may have ran into) that caused an infinite loading screen whenever you tried to return to Tower of Magic after completing its quest - effectively preventing you from setting foot there again. And considering that the third location (Necromancy) was the final level of the Early Access build, well... There wasn't anything else to revisit, eh?

Both those issues should be fixed for the next update. Go back and grab those treasures you couldn't before!

Can we get get an option to adjust how long the dice remain visible on screen?

This requests falls in the "quality of life and other option settings" bucket - meaning we'll work on it once we get to the polish stage if we get the time. Seriously though, that means we've noted it down in our backlog. It's there. It exists. I promise.

Can we get the battlelog to show the rolls of every dice and not just the D20 ones?

Same as above! We'll get to it if we have the time, but we understand that people may want to check what they rolled exactly to curse twice as loud when they realize they rolled three 1 and a 2 on a 4d8 roll. Curse you RNG gods!