The Lamplighters League Developer Diary #2 - Your Agents

The previous developer diary for Harebrained Schemes' upcoming tactical RPG The Lamplighters League shared some info on the team's vision for this project, and in particular, how it will have a cast of unique characters as opposed to an endless supply of disposable units.

Which now brings us to this new diary that introduces us to some of these characters, tells us how we'll go about recruiting them, highlights their signature abilities, and outlines certain scenarios where they can work together to achieve great results.

Check it out:

Hi all!

Time for the second Developer’s Diary for The Lamplighters League! You’ve got two of us today: I’m Patrick Lipo, Lead Designer and with me is Campbell Tran, Senior Designer responsible for a whole bunch of the combat and upgrades in the game.

If you read the last diary you’ve certainly heard one of our credos was “Characters, not Units…” It has been in our DNA since the very start, and it manifests in both how the Agents fit into the story and your gameplay. Each character has their own way of tackling both the infiltration and turn-based battles in each mission.

Finding Your Team

A Lamplighters League campaign kicks off with some core characters to help you get your footing, but once things get rolling it’s up to you to bring new operatives into the fold… which requires you to scour the world for Agents and Allies and bring them back alive.

Each week from your Hideout, you can send Agents to locations across the globe, using a resource called Intel to search for new activities of the Banished Court. You can’t be sure what they’ll uncover: perhaps it’s a piece of critical Court infrastructure, maybe the location of a captured Ally who can support you back at your Hideout, or it could be the whereabouts of a new Agent.

These new discoveries appear on your World Map as available missions. If you locate a character who sounds enticing, it’s up to you to send your team of Agents on a mission to retrieve them from enemy territory. Make contact, fight your way out, and you can fly them back to the Hideout to join your team. Welcome to a new set of capabilities, a new approach, a new playstyle! Now you can take that Agent and gear them up for the next mission, or keep them in the wings for searches and special situations. No matter where you are in the campaign, your choice of Agents is the most important one you can make.

Let’s say you have been playing a lot with Eddie Sawyer, the classic gunfighter, a Great War vet turned bank robber. His twin pistols let him target two enemies per attack, spreading the fun around the battlefield. He’s really about pouring ammo into a bunch of enemies, including flashy actions like Light ‘Em Up where he can use all his bullets and flush his foes from behind cover. Luckily, he also has passive abilities like Quick Load, which helps him restore ammo if he scores a critical hit before his guns dry up.

But there’s more to Eddie than that... you’ve got options to make him your own. Spend your skill points wisely, and amp up his potency against a single enemy by unlocking and upgrading his Bullseye ability. Mark targets for followup attacks by Eddie and his companions with Set ‘Em Up. Increase his Crit Chance (and remember, his Quick Load ammo regeneration) with Hit ‘Em Fast.

To help cement their personal flair, each Agent also has a Signature Ability with limited charges that is tailor made for their special situations. Eddie’s is up-close and personal… a hail of bullets in a deadly arc called Barrage which makes quick work of groups unlucky enough to be caught within it.

As a pistol-packer, he’s going to be better against a crowd than a single strong enemy. When you’re playing Eddie you might find yourself picking fights with groups of weaker foes, trying to pull them together to catch them in range. As someone who needs to get close to a lot of enemies to really shine, he’s also going to be at risk fairly often, so keeping him on his feet takes a little effort. You can help with that by acquiring some body armor from your Supplier, or bringing back a useful weapon mod from a mission that helps Eddie’s ability to make quick kills.

Still, one of the best ways to keep him alive is to pair him with someone who covers his weak points. Maybe you pair him with Judith Harlow… She’s a driven young engineer who takes to the battlefield with high tech gadgetry and a really big shield. Her style is to use her technology to armor up, bring enemies to her, and shove them around the battlefield. She’s great at building her defenses with Shield Slam and attracting enemy aggro with her Signature Challenge. If you unlock her passive Ironclad and Unbreakable abilities, then keeping on the offensive will build up her armor rating, making her nearly invincible for the rest of the turn. And for added fun, she can attach Sticky Grenades to enemies and watch them flee.

Playing with Eddie and Judith together, you can discover all sorts of new kinds of trouble to create. Now you’ve got a bullet-slinger who excels at attacking a lot of characters at once and a walking tank who can safely draw a lot of enemies into the line of fire. Eddie’s multiple attacks makes it easy to set off Judith’s Sticky Grenades once they’re attached to a foe. Judith can use her upgraded Fortify to drop a defensive shield on Eddie that lets him purge himself of Stress damage with every attack… And since Eddie’s fires both pistols with each action, he gets double the effect to boot.

When Judith uses her Challenge Signature ability, weaker characters like the Acolytes are drawn in where Eddie’s Barrage Signature can take them out. Plus, Judith can unlock the ability to shred the tough armor of enemies like the Purifier, making it easier for Eddie’s lighter pistols to punch through their shells.

The more you pair Agents together, the more you can discover ways to combine their abilities to set up something that Campbell likes to call, “The Big Turn.” And we’ll talk more about that idea another day.

Character Combos

So later in the campaign, perhaps you discover someone new you want to try out. For example, perhaps you recruit Fedir and add him to your team… You take some skill points you earned previously and build him up, decking him out with gear and special artifacts, including some additional upgrades that can enhance all your Agents across the board.

I’ve got a real soft spot for Fedir: a beefy criminal enforcer with a gruff demeanor. He carries a wide-firing shotgun that he can Bludgeon with when it runs out of ammo. Being attacked builds Fedir’s Rage, increasing his potency as he puts himself in harm’s way. Plus, with his Signature Manhandle he can simply pick up and throw people, knocking down enemies he impacts. By pairing up Fedir and Judith, two walking tanks, you’d think they would eat each other’s lunch… but even this match can lead to some delightful combos.

For example, Fedir has an ability called Provoke that causes enemies to assault him, similar to Judith’s Challenge, but, thanks to his Short Fuse passive, Fedir also gains Rage with each incoming attack. Rage benefits from the Rancor ability, leading to more damage and more mobility for a powerful follow-up turn.

While Fedir is attracting everyone’s attacks, Judith can drop her Fortify shield on top of him to further protect him. She can then swoop in with an AoE Shield Slam which has the ability to knock down the gathered enemies while giving her temporary extra armor with each hit she deals…

That combo is really awesome but one of my very favorite things about Judith is that she can attach a Sticky Grenade to an enemy before Fedir Manhandles them and tosses them into a crowd of enemies… You can imagine the result.

More About Characters Next Time!

While we’ve talked a fair amount about some of the characters and their gameplay, we've only touched on what they mean to the story and world of The Lamplighters League. The next diary will introduce you to our Lead Narrative Designer, Jill Scharr, and go deeper into the storytelling side of our Agents, and even more will be revealed about our characters in the weeks to come!