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J.E. Sawyer

Update #5 - Souls, Technology, and Adventuring Companies

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Wow, sounds terrific! Sea monsters and mythical lands almost make it sound like a Jules Verne Victorian kind of setting, which I always thought would be great for an RPG.

 

Just one question though -- have gods been confirmed by men to objectively exist and affect the world, like in the Forgotten Realms, or is it more a question of faith and open to reasonable doubt, like in Dragon Age?

 

Feargus confirmed the existence of deities, but not whether they are figments of imagination or whatnot. I'm pretty sure they'd exist, though.

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Currently taking a world religion class in college, and the more I hear about the souls, the more it sounds like Hinduism. They believe that souls exist on a cycle of reincarnation or "samsara" that eventually leads becoming one with God. There are so many different cults that hold to a multitude of different beliefs on how one experiences becoming one with God. Thuggees murdered people, Tantrics sleep around and do things to excess, others still renounce all worldly possessions and live like monks. It seems PE is really going for an Eastern style of religious philosophies.

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As we hinted at in our pitch videos, souls are A Big Deal in Project Eternity's world. The mortal world has not unlocked all of the secrets of how souls "work" and differing schools of metaphysical philosophy can be found in virtually every culture. What is known is that sapient souls move through an endless cycle of waking life and purgatorial slumber among the gods. Often this slumber lasts for years of "real" time, but occasionally it is brief, with a soul immediately moving on to a new life.

 

Far from being a flawless process, souls are subject to "fracturing" over generations, transforming in myriad ways, and not quite... working right. Some cultures and individuals place a high value on "strong" souls, souls with a "pure" lineage, "awakened" souls that remember past lives, "traveled" souls that have drifted through the divine realms, or those that co-exist with other souls in one body. However, the opposite is also true, resulting in negative discrimination and sometimes outright violence.

 

Interesting. So reincarnation is the default state of a soul. Reminds me a bit of Jade Empire, what with its emphasis on the cycle of reincarnation. I'm guessing (no need to answer, of course) that the plot of the game will involve some force disrupting the cycle (perhaps a soul that refuses or is unable to pass on), which the player becomes exposed to. It also seems pretty likely based on your comments later on about deities that the official explanation regarding souls may not be the whole story.

 

So, in other words, a bit like the caste system of India (which was based in part on the doctrine of karma and reincarnation) but with a more definite measurement of whether a soul is "strong" or "fractured." What's interesting about this is that there seems to be some validity to the distinction between one soul and another in the setting, though perhaps it isn't as black and white as any one group would like to imagine it is. A possibility that occurs to me is that the broken souls aren't damaged randomly or through any fault of their own, but due to some unknown factor (possibly also related to the "pure" souls' strength or divine power plays).

 

Through a variety of techniques (e.g. martial training, meditation, ritualistic evocation, mortification of the flesh), some individuals are able to draw upon the energy of their soul to accomplish extraordinary feats. These abilities range from the mundanely superhuman to the explosively magical. Having a strong soul seems to make this easier, but sometimes even people with fragmented souls are able to accomplish the extraordinary. The individual's body seems to act as a conduit and battery for this power, drawing in replenishment from seemingly omnipresent "fields" of unbound spiritual energy in the world around them.

 

So physical training and bodily mutilation are both endemic to magical training? I personally like this take: it seems as though accessing magical power should take more than simple book-learning. The kind of energy mages routinely wield can't come from nowhere - there should be a cost. While I don't expect Obsidian will have mages lopping off fingers to cast the equivalent of magic missile, I do find it encouraging that the concept of "no pain, no gain" is present.

 

Additionally, I'm guessing then that each class has access to innate supernatural abilities, even if they aren't mages? That's an interesting turn to take, although not a poor one in my mind. I've never quite been fond of the "mage exceptionalism" in many fantasy settings, where it seems as though some people are magical and others aren't.

 

Thinkers, spiritualists, and scientists of the world have theorized for thousands of years about the nature and purpose of this process, but others have turned to prayer for answer. Rather than illuminate the presumed higher purpose of this cycle, the gods have obfuscated the truth, at times spreading cosmological lies, pitting believers and empowered chosen agents against each other, and tacitly approving the prejudices of their followers to maintain power.

 

It sounds like this is shaping up to be a potentially malthiestic setting, which could go a number of ways. It'll be interesting to see if the deities of the world are entirely selfish and unconcerned with the plight of mere mortals so long as their power grows or whether there is some division on the subject, with both exploitative and benevolent deities. Additionally, I'm curious as to whether or not there is some kind of greater purpose beyond the deities' deception that we are unaware of.

 

The cultures of Project Eternity are in a variety of different technological states. Though some remote civilizations are still in the equivalent of Earth's Stone Age or Bronze Age, most large civilizations are in the equivalent of Earth's high or late Middle Ages. The most aggressive and powerful civilizations are in the early stages of what would be our early modern period, technologically, even if they are not culturally undergoing "Renaissance"-style changes.

 

This is what I was expecting, more or less, after the announcement of firearms in Project Eternity. That said it's interesting to see that the rise of late medieval technology has not given rise to early modern humanism or religious dissent the way it did in our world. You mention later that the printing press hasn't been invented yet, which I'm guessing is the main reason behind this discrepancy, since it's not as easy to spread radical ideas. I'm guessing that also means long-range magical communication is difficult or at the very least largely controlled by those already in power.

 

For most large civilizations, this means that all of the core arms and armor of medieval warfare have reached a high level of development: full suits of articulated plate armor, a variety of military swords, war hammers, polearms, longbows, crossbows, and advanced siege weaponry.

 

I'll be interested to see how these weapons play into the game's combat (sans siege weapons, I'm guessing). Most RPGs in my experience give only very minor consideration to any weapons besides swords, bows, and crossbows, for example and it would be interesting to see if mixed arms warfare is given more thought and consideration in Project Eternity's combat. On the other hand, while pikes, halberds, and other polearms were the bread and butter of most late medieval armies, they were most effective in large numbers, which PE's 6-member party doesn't really equate to.

 

The most recent technologies seeing use in the world are ocean-going carrack-style ships and black powder firearms (notably absent: the printing press). Cultures with large navies and mercantile traffic are exploring the world, which has led to contact with previously-unknown lands and societies and settlement in new lands. Despite their intense drive, these explorers have been restricted from aggressive long-range exploration by monstrous sea creatures that pose a lethal, seemingly insurmountable threat to even the stoutest, most well-armed ships.

 

It sounds like maritime travel may be more important to the game then I'd hitherto assumed, although it could just as easily be a background environment to inform the setting. I like the idea though that actual sea monsters impede transoceanic voyages. I could imagine whaling ships that specialize in dealing with this sea beasties arising as maritime trade and colonization increase in importance.

 

Black powder firearms are of the single-shot wheellock variety. Largely considered complex curiosities, these weapons are not employed extensively by military forces. Their long reload times are considered a liability in battles against foes that are too monstrous to drop with a single volley, foes that fly or move at high speed, and foes that have the power of invisibility. Despite this, some individuals do employ firearms for one specific purpose: close range penetration of the arcane veil, a standard magical defense employed by wizards. The arcane veil is powerful, but it does not react well to the high-velocity projectiles generated by arquebuses and handguns. As a result, more wizards who previously relied on the veil and similar abjurations have turned to traditional armor for additional defense.

 

Interesting that firearms are considered less than fully effective against particularly large monsters like (I'm presuming) dragons or trolls. This makes sense if you think about it, they don't call an elephant gun an elephant gun for nothing - thicker hides means greater deceleration for the bullet which means more resistance (but not immunity) to damage from gunfire. This tidbit also seems to imply that large monsters are not terribly uncommon, since their resistance to gunfire is reason enough to consider firearms unsuitable for widespread usage in combat.

 

It would also seem that guns are explicitly anti-magical. As others have pointed out, there is some plausibility that the old abjurations of mages accustomed to dealing with bows and crossbows may not hold up against the higher power of an arqueubus volley. I also like the idea of armored mages; as others have said it lends some plausibility to the setting, since the rule that armor somehow "interfered" with magical casting never seemed terribly believable.

 

i hope we will not have to use firearms against mages

 

I don't think so. I'm sure non-mages had a way to penetrate the arcane veil before the invention of firearms. My guess is that guns simply make said penetration (significantly) easier.

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"Understanding is a three-edged blade."

"Vivis sperandum: Where there is life, there is hope."

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Mages in armor? Sounds interesting as long as their is a distinct difference in the armors you get for your frontline bruisers and the frailer (i guess) spellcasters. I dont want full platearmor on all characters towards endgame as it limits the customization of your parties apperance and the different types of armor that is viable.

I agree I don't want to see magic users in full metal armor or something, but I never understood why mages in so many games have to use nothing but robes or something. Yes yes, I know the reasons often given, but ... meh. Just seems an excuse to keep them super-frail to balance their often powerful AoE spells. I'd rather have more subtly-powered mages who wear some armor ... and where wanting mages in the party isn't just/largely for huge AoE dmg. but for other spells they can do hat are highly coveted in a tough battle.

 

Many leather armors don't restrict mobility that much, I've always thought mages should at least be able to wear that type of armor.


“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts

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Through a variety of techniques (e.g. martial training, meditation, ritualistic evocation, mortification of the flesh), some individuals are able to draw upon the energy of their soul to accomplish extraordinary feats. These abilities range from the mundanely superhuman to the explosively magical. Having a strong soul seems to make this easier, but sometimes even people with fragmented souls are able to accomplish the extraordinary. The individual's body seems to act as a conduit and battery for this power, drawing in replenishment from seemingly omnipresent "fields" of unbound spiritual energy in the world around them.

 

Thinkers, spiritualists, and scientists of the world have theorized for thousands of years about the nature and purpose of this process, but others have turned to prayer for answer. Rather than illuminate the presumed higher purpose of this cycle, the gods have obfuscated the truth, at times spreading cosmological lies, pitting believers and empowered chosen agents against each other, and tacitly approving the prejudices of their followers to maintain power.

Wonder how much room for interpretations allowed in the soul factor. The truth seems to be that there exist the cycle of souls, which makes, outside of the attempts to analyze this soul system, other religious interpretations of the worlds are untrue and lies. This, basically, means there are two types of technologies in PE world - one can be found in our world while the other is unique to PE world, which tries to reveal the mystery of soul magic. Except that the their technology is still at Renaissance level at most, this reminds me of Arcanum.

 

Related with this, does the gods exist in this world? This may make soul factor less mysterious. How about refraining from calling all the polytheist concepts are untrue? If "the gods" are not visible and can be only contacted through ritual and/or someone like "awakened" souls (shamans and/or priests), for example, they may be powerful souls in different planes. IMO, one of absurd thing in the Forgotten Realms' setting was that the gods actually came to the world. I know it is still early to judge and it's my preference that there should be varieties in interpretations of the world to explore more aspects of humanity, though.

 

 

Despite this, some individuals do employ firearms for one specific purpose: close range penetration of the arcane veil, a standard magical defense employed by wizards. The arcane veil is powerful, but it does not react well to the high-velocity projectiles generated by arquebuses and handguns. As a result, more wizards who previously relied on the veil and similar abjurations have turned to traditional armor for additional defense.

So a crossbow bolt would be too slow to break the veil? Because I imagine it would be a lot cheaper and reliable to use.

Well, speaking of which, conventional whips is much faster than even these projectiles and exceed the speed of sound, causing sonic boom.

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Can one be an unbeliever?

 

Good question. Can I be an atheist bard who's got soul?

 

Just because the gods exist is no good reason to go around believing in the bastards as it only encourages them

Edited by Perderabo
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I find it slightly weird that mages use armor against firearms when guns were the reason why heavy armor became obsolete.

Not that I'll get sleepless nights over it or anything, just interesting.


"Bones heal, chicks dig scars, pain is temporary, glory is forever."

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Through a variety of techniques (e.g. martial training, meditation, ritualistic evocation, mortification of the flesh), some individuals are able to draw upon the energy of their soul to accomplish extraordinary feats.

 

I think this is the most important bit besides mages wearing amours. It implies that warriors might get access to some spells or spell-like abilities, which would balance their limited combat options.

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Will there be strict 'mages' as a class? It's getting far enough along that I should probably stop reading stuff so that I don't ruin any of the story, but I'm still curious about a few of the gameplay aspects, such as, are there even classes? If so, is magic use something confined to one or two classes? Is soul magic the only magic? If so, then there's nothing like the divine/arcane thing of DnD and everything is either 'arcane' or 'divine' depending on how people interpret the soul magic idea? I prefer if there were two categories, but I'll live with whatever. I plan on playing a mage and the best way to keep yourself safe from gun-totin' red-necks is to kill them first. Towards that end, I'd like to think that it's not going to be a rock/paper/scissors approach where mages can kill off melee with ease, melee can kill off ranged at ease, and ranged can kill off mages with ease. If it falls into that sort of uber-balanced nonsense, I'll be a bit disappointed.

 

EDIT:

I find it slightly weird that mages use armor against firearms when guns were the reason why heavy armor became obsolete.

Not that I'll get sleepless nights over it or anything, just interesting.

Guns of this variety weren't the reason armor became obsolete. Edited by Cantousent

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I find it slightly weird that mages use armor against firearms when guns were the reason why heavy armor became obsolete.

Not that I'll get sleepless nights over it or anything, just interesting.

 

well it was only when guns became more advanced and wide spread that heavy armor started to become obsolete, also in the game their armor will probably be made out of elements we dont have, ie mithril which could have been lighter and stronger than the iron/steel we used making gunfire less usefull against it than it was in our world

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I find it slightly weird that mages use armor against firearms when guns were the reason why heavy armor became obsolete.

Not that I'll get sleepless nights over it or anything, just interesting.

But firearms had to evolve for a few centuries before heavy armor became obsolete. At this point where the have wheelocks the best plate armor should still protect you just fine, especially if you add some magic barrier to go with it.


1.13 killed off Ja2.

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One note I hadn't touched on earlier in my initial reply was the idea of designing an enemy adventurer party, which sounds pretty interesting. IIRC this was a concept Black Isle had for Van Buren, correct?

 

Can one be an unbeliever?

 

Good question. Can I be an atheist bard who's got soul?

 

Just because the gods exist is no good reson to go around believing in them as it only encourages the buggers

 

Strictly speaking you can't be an atheist in this setting unless you're of the "Flat Earth Atheist" variety, since it seems that the existence of the gods is pretty established. That doesn't mean you couldn't be a maltheist, however.

 

I find it slightly weird that mages use armor against firearms when guns were the reason why heavy armor became obsolete.

Not that I'll get sleepless nights over it or anything, just interesting.

 

Eventually, yes, guns made traditional metal armors obsolete. However, there's about three centuries of history wherein the two coexisted (plate armor didn't really disappear from warfare until the early to mid 18th century). In fact, the kind of plate armor we normally think of (Gothic plate) was actually invented after early firearms (as stated multiple times in the firearms thread) and was specifically designed to shore up chainmail's weaknesses against new weapons like firearms.

 

So the idea of mages using plate armor to counter firearms is actually a perfectly valid response and one that has a precedent in history.


"Understanding is a three-edged blade."

"Vivis sperandum: Where there is life, there is hope."

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I must admit I'm disappointed they decided to stick to include the standard Tolkinesque races (although this may apply to an earlier update), I was hoping for something more outlandish or at least not having to see Elves and Dwarfs again.

 

Apparently another game with a setting as unique as PST is too much to expect.

Edited by Drowsy Emperor

И погибе Српски кнез Лазаре,
И његова сва изгибе војска, 
Седамдесет и седам иљада;
Све је свето и честито било
И миломе Богу приступачно.

 

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Everything in this update sounds really quite awesome and my previous fears that the setting would just be an attempt to re-create something like Fearun or Greyhawk have been put to rest.

Edited by limaxophobiacq
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I must admit I'm disappointed they decided to stick to include the standard Tolkinesque races (although this may apply to an earlier update), I was hoping for something more outlandish or at least not having to see Elves and Dwarfs again.

 

Apparently another game with a setting as unique as PST is too much to expect.

 

It may not be as unique as PS:T but it doesn't sound like its a generic fantasy setting either. Which has resulted in a lot of outcries of its own, I've noticed.


"Understanding is a three-edged blade."

"Vivis sperandum: Where there is life, there is hope."

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I am the type of person who doesn't let hype and expectation cloud reason, so with that in mind I'm going to take a very critical look at this update-

 

Aw, f***k it!

 

Pre-colonial oceanic exploration hampered by giant sea monsters? The mystery of the "cycle of souls?" Early powder weapons as a counter to classic wizardly defenses? Deities with apparent malicious intent? Seriously? This stuff just oozes with talent, well done! More importantly, this type of world building sounds like the perfect springboard for rich conflict and story.

 

Great stuff, keep it coming!

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Rather than illuminate the presumed higher purpose of this cycle, the gods have obfuscated the truth, at times spreading cosmological lies, pitting believers and empowered chosen agents against each other, and tacitly approving the prejudices of their followers to maintain power.

To maintain power? Power from/ over what? How?

"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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To clarify, some people use traditional armor to augment their arcane veils because the veil itself is vulnerable to penetration. The arcane veil is reactive; armor is a physical barrier.

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Rather than illuminate the presumed higher purpose of this cycle, the gods have obfuscated the truth, at times spreading cosmological lies, pitting believers and empowered chosen agents against each other, and tacitly approving the prejudices of their followers to maintain power.

To maintain power? Power from/ over what? How?

 

Over the people. They are probably either powered by faith (like in Discworld) or just powerful who are very mortal and need followers because of their limitations.

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I must admit I'm disappointed they decided to stick to include the standard Tolkinesque races (although this may apply to an earlier update), I was hoping for something more outlandish or at least not having to see Elves and Dwarfs again.

 

Apparently another game with a setting as unique as PST is too much to expect.

 

It may not be as unique as PS:T but it doesn't sound like its a generic fantasy setting either. Which has resulted in a lot of outcries of its own, I've noticed.

 

So far the only new thing I've seen is the vaguely described matter of souls. I don't consider extending the timeline beyond the usual middle ages to the renaissance a significant change.

Edited by Drowsy Emperor

И погибе Српски кнез Лазаре,
И његова сва изгибе војска, 
Седамдесет и седам иљада;
Све је свето и честито било
И миломе Богу приступачно.

 

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The theology sounds interesting. I agree that it seems reminiscent of Hinduism.

 

I wonder if all the gods (or beings that are seen as gods anyway; maybe they're just the most powerful souls?) are deceptive and manipulative. If so, I wonder why. If not, I wonder what might have happened to the more truthfully-inclined gods or what they're doing.

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The 'souls' segment kind of reminds me of a different game I played recently. The PC as well as the two accompanying NPCs could all awaken new souls inside them, that also granted them new spells and abilities. Not a bad idea. I just wonder how versatile such a mechanic could get. As much as I like the idea of a character whose background involves him squaring off with people who possess far stronger souls, I hope this doesn't eventually go off into DragonBall territory.

 

I love having the ocean as an insurmountable obstacle. It's a little disheartening that I realize we won't be able to explore the deep sea and all the eldritch horrors that inhabit it, though. I guess we'll have to settle with whaterver takes refuge near the surface.

 

Back in the days of BGI&II, I remember finding a couple of enemy adventurers, every once in a while. I was quite enraged by their complete and utter disregard for their companions well being, as they sent fireballs amidst my group, thus killing me and their companions as well. Which was exactly why I refrained from hurling fireballs at them. Would love to have a group or two of them as recurring throughout the story, as well.

 

Speaking of which, any chance we'll get to square off against an entire, well rounded enemy party in the end, as opposed to a single arch-villain? Would make for a harder final battle as well. I'm pretty sure you guys can pull off more than a few memorable characters, as the antagonists. MCA's head must be full with antagonists so firmly on the grey side, we'd all stop and wonder whether we are the heroes or the actual villains in the game, by the end of it. If only they could work together for a common goal?

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I must admit I'm disappointed they decided to stick to include the standard Tolkinesque races (although this may apply to an earlier update), I was hoping for something more outlandish or at least not having to see Elves and Dwarfs again.

 

Apparently another game with a setting as unique as PST is too much to expect.

 

It may not be as unique as PS:T but it doesn't sound like its a generic fantasy setting either. Which has resulted in a lot of outcries of its own, I've noticed.

 

So far the only new thing I've seen is the vaguely described matter of souls. I don't count extending the timeline beyond the usual middle ages to the renaissance a significant change.

 

Don't be so judgmental. Arcanum also had standard fantasy races but managed to do something great with them.

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I'm very happy to hear that guns aren't going to be that big in the game. They're still there, of course, but not like Fable 2 and 3

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