Age of Wonders 4 Developer Diary #4 - Realms and Pantheon
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With Triumph Studios' 4X/RPG hybrid Age of Wonders 4 announced in January and scheduled for a May 2, 2023 release, the developer diaries for the game are coming in at a rapid-fire pace. The latest one, for example, is dedicated to the many Realms we'll be able to explore in the game, and what that actually means in terms of gameplay for AoW 4's scenarios and maps.
And then, we're also told about the curious Pantheon system where upon completing a Realm adventure, our rulers will get to ascend into the game's pantheon and earn us permanent unlocks and new Realms to explore.
Here's more on that:
Hello everyone, I'm Thomas Schuiten, the designer at Triumph Studios. Today in this dev diary I will give you some insight into the many Realms you can explore, and the Magehaven from which you do so.
The fourth Age of Wonders brings the return of the Wizard kings, but more than that, with the barriers between worlds torn open, many Realms are now within reach.
This new freedom calls for a different approach to Scenarios and maps than Age of Wonders has known in the past, and it's an excellent fit to build upon the lessons of Planetfall’s Empire Mode.
In this age you will form a Pantheon of god-like characters through your conquests. A Ruler may ascend to the Pantheon by conquering a Realm, from where they may join future conquests, or oppose them…
There will be more info on the Pantheon further down, but first we must choose a Realm to conquer.
There are 3 kinds of Realm to choose from:
Each Realm is made up of various Realm Traits, these are divided into 5 types based on which aspect of the Realm they affect; Geography, Clime, Inhabitant, Presence and Miscellaneous (further referred to as Misc). Each realm can feature 1 of each of these (except for Misc traits, of which a realm can have 4)
- Story Realms, with custom lore and story content that tells the story of the Fourth Age of Wonders and the return of the Godir,
- Challenge Realms, where an interesting set of traits is gathered together to give a unique Realm to be explored and conquered.
- Custom Realms, these are your own creations, making a custom Realm lets you pick Traits as you see fit to make something unexpected.
Geography Traits determine the shape of the world and can have a huge impact. This is where you find “Continents” and “Islands” map types, but also a few unique twists such as “Lava Divide” where the realm is roughly split in two by an ocean of impassable lava (only connected through the underground)
Clime Traits are next, and they modify the environment of the realm, making certain climes more or less likely to appear.If you want a desert realm or a frozen wasteland this is where you can find it. (Or if you want some real chaos you can choose Forming Realm and watch the world form around you as you build your empire)
Inhabitant Traits affect the prevalence of particular creature types on that Realm as well as certain structures, perhaps left behind by the Realm’s previous inhabitants. This is where you can make the Realm dominated by undead creatures, or have enormous beasts stalking the wilderness.
Presence Traits add Empires to the realm that have special starting conditions and provide a unique challenge, for example the Pretender kings adds 3 kings with substantial kingdoms in the midst of a succession war.
Lastly there’s Misc Traits, these modify the rules of the game, or otherwise modify the realm in a manner that can be mixed and matched with any other trait. Want to make a realm where Free Cities are less common, leaving ruins instead to mark valuable locations? The Ruined Realm trait will do that.
When you’ve obtained some experience in the game, misc traits are where you find interesting twists to change up your play through, like with for example the Megacities trait.
The Pantheon is where you collect your Ascended rulers, each ruler you complete a Realm with may ascend to your Pantheon, from where they may aid or hinder future conquests. It is also where you spend the Points you’ve earned with your Pantheon XP to unlock new customization options for your leaders!
During your conquests you gain Pantheon XP for completing certain actions, clearing infestations, conquering cities, defeating players and gaining vassals are just some examples. Completing a Realm through victory, defeat or by abandoning it adds this XP to your Pantheon and gives you Points with which to unlock new items in the Pantheon tree.
These include hats and cloaks as seen above, but also Leader origins and society traits that will add new options to your empire creation.
As you gain Pantheon XP you will also unlock new Realms to explore, each bringing a unique Presence trait to the table that you may then use in your own custom realms as well.
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to the Realm and Pantheon system, there is much to be explored and experimented with. I look forward to seeing the Realms that you create and reading the stories of your conquests!