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Update #56: Paladins and Wild Orlans

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Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director




Today, we'd like to talk to you about one of our more recently-implemented classes in Project Eternity: the paladin.  The paladin has been a staple of fantasy RPGs for decades and it was one of our most quickly-funded stretch goals during the Kickstarter campaign.  As one of several melee-oriented classes on our roster, paladins presented some unique challenges for us and we'd like to share their development process with you.


Paladins have a strong tradition in FRPGs.  While the class represents different things to different players, it often conjures images of legendary European figures like the Twelve Peers of Charlemagne, El Cid, and the Knights of the Round Table.  Players who like playing paladins often think of them as devoted, principled, brave, and unrelenting.  They stand out because of their single-mindedness and unwavering dedication to their cause.


In Project Eternity, we wanted paladins to maintain their sense of selfless passion and zeal without being bound to concepts like "alignment" or a universal moral code.  We also wanted their mechanics to be distinctive from the other classes while reinforcing their role in the world.  Area designer Bobby Null has always liked the marshal class from D&D 3.5, which is conceptually similar to the warlord in 4E: combat leaders who are at their best when they are augmenting their teammates.  This is the approach that I took when developing Project Eternity's paladins.  They have persistent modal auras, strong single-target healing and buff abilities (contrasting the broad AoE effects of clerics), and can passively grant bonuses to teammates in close proximity.


In the game's lore, paladins are zealous champions of a cause that may be religious, philosophical, or cultural in nature.  The "foundational" paladins in this part of the world were the legendary elite guards of Darcozzi Palace in the Grand Empire of Vailia (now Old Vailia).  They set standards for selfless dedication, unwavering loyalty, and inspiring leadership that have become the pillars for similar orders that have sprung up in the two millennia since they were founded.  Even among orders where the chosen cause is perceived as bleak or malevolent, paladins always place the cause ahead of their own personal interests.


In Defiance Bay, recent experiments performed by animancers and ciphers suggest that paladins' souls are continuously "burning" wellsprings of spiritual energy that are overflowing their physical vessels due to the paladins' fanaticism.  When ciphers have tried to directly perceive paladins' souls, they have described the experience as uncomfortable or painful, not unlike gazing at the sun.


All paladins currently begin with the following abilities:

  • Reviving Exhortation (Active) - Paladins can command an unconscious ally to awaken and get back up with an immediate spike in Stamina, though the target will lose half of the regained Stamina after a short duration.
  • Zealous Barrage (Modal) - The paladin and all allies standing within 3m have their attack and ability speed increased.  Cannot be used with Zealous March (below).
  • Faith and Conviction - Paladins have an inherent bonus to all defenses (Deflection, Fortitude, Reflexes, and Psyche).
As they advance, they gain additional abilities in the same spirit, such as:
  • Coordinated Attacks - The ally closest to the paladin attacking the same target as the paladin has a bonus to Accuracy.
  • Shake It Off (Active) - The paladin can command an ally to temporarily ignore existing Hostile effects for a short duration.  The effects are suspended; they do not lose any of their duration and will resume as soon as Shake It Off expires.
  • Inspiring Triumph - Allies within 4m gain a temporary bonus to all defenses when the paladin downs an enemy.
  • Zealous March (Modal) - The paladin and all allies within 3m have their movement speed increased.  Cannot be used with Zealous Barrage.
In playtesting so far, our test paladin has been very useful in combat, with the melee group often centering around her to gain the benefits of her Zealous auras and Coordinated Attacks.  While several other classes have Stamina healing abilities, the paladin's Reviving Exhortation can turn the tide if party members start dropping late in a battle.  However, using it too early can spell disaster for the revived character if the granted Stamina boost runs out in a long fight.


Optional Talents for the paladin will focus on shaping the passive or active bias of the character: widening the effects of Zealous auras; granting additional uses or increased potency for targeted commands; or giving paladins more direct offensive and defensive capabilities if players want to boost their paladins' personal viability.


Wild Orlans - What Do They Look Like?

Though we've previously shown one concept of a hearth orlan (the "orlan detective"), many people have asked and speculated about what the other orlans, the so-called wild orlans, look like.  Wild orlans have the same general range of stature and build as hearth orlans, but are almost entirely covered with hair.


pe-orlan-head-female.jpg pe-orlan-head-male.jpg


Though they can be found on a few continents, wild orlans in this part of the world are typically found in the deepest forests of Eír Glanfath.  In recent centuries, the biases of surrounding colonial cultures have driven them even farther from new settlements.  Considered savage and uncontrollable by many Dyrwoodans, Vailians, and Readcerans, wild orlans often find interactions with outsiders strained if not outright violent.  Many colonists pre-judge all orlans as untrustworthy and bloodthirsty, but within that vein of racism, they often classify wild orlans as "the bad ones".  Given the difficulty of concealing their hirsute bodies and faces, prejudice follows them in most colonial areas.


We'll continue to develop the paladin more over the next few months, but we'd like to hear what you think of the concepts and mechanics we've come up with so far.  Similarly, we hope you like the less- and more-"beastly" branches of the orlan race.  We developed the different appearances based on widely conflicting player (and developer) desires for the race to be both more and less wild.  What do you think of the direction we're taking?  Thanks for reading!

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Now I am really stoked to play a Paladin. Anyone want to help me build a time machine to jump to 2014?

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Oh man, I remember hearing that song in the movie "Stand By Me" but I didn't know where it was from ... all these years later and there you go :)

I like the Wild Orlan look, they look different to what I pictured (I was thinking fur from the skin rather than hair) but still cool. The detail on their face actually makes them look better than the Hearth Orlan in those comparison pictures there  just saw the large versions.

Paladins sound fine to me, I don't have any experience playing the 3.5 Marshall, just the 4E Warlord. 
Will the Paladin be or Cleric be retaining any of the "Turn Undead" type stuff ? I don't know if there's undead in P:E but I assume there probably is something similar.

Edited by Sensuki
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It all sounds good. Thanks for the update! :)


A couple of questions:

  1. Could you explain 3m and 4m in terms of the space occupied by a character? Are they 2m circles, or something else?
  2. What happens when identical powers (such as Zealous Barrage) overlap with each other?
Edited by rjshae
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I really like what you guys have been up to! However, I did have once quick question about the Paladins. Is there going to be any kind of "lay on hands" ability in P.E.? Saving that special ability to make it out of a nearly impossible fight has always been my favorite part of playing as a Paladin and I’d love, even in a tweaked form, to have that in Project Eternity! Keep up the good work!

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Splend-tastic update! ^_^


I was actually thinking earlier today about how offensive capabilities seem to just kinda steamroll any effects from incoming damage/strikes in a lot of games, with, perhaps, the exception of a select few things (usually just abilities that cause burning, or status effects. So, I was actually going to ask about how "hit mechanics," for lack of a better description, are intended to function in P:E; when my Warrior takes a crossbow bolt to the shoulder in mid-swing, does he flinch a bit? Does that attack get delayed? Does he simply suffer a penalty to that in-progress attack roll?


The reason I bring this up is, I really love the whole class "roots" of the Paladin, but I was wondering specifically how to cover the "just make myself more awesome and focus less on Fantasia-ing the rest of the party's effectiveness" end of the character progression spectrum, and I was thinking that, perhaps, the Paladin's extreme fervor could result in a sort of unflinching, relentless focus in a lot of self-only passives. But, that would kind of depend on what kind of flinching/wavering we could expect out of non-Paladin combat.


I suppose I'm mainly just wondering if your Paladin will be of much use if you get separated from the immediate vicinity of the rest of your party (maybe a foe knocks/teleports/throws you far away?), and/or you're the last person standing, etc. I'm just wondering if you'll be able to build a more solitarily-effective fighter out of a Paladin, or if you'll mainly just be choosing specializations that are all along the "make everyone else better in some way" spectrum.


As for the Orlans, I like them! You do realize, though, that you're now obligated to implement, SOMEwhere in the world, both a village of extremely sophisticated/intellectual Wild Orlans AND a town/city/settlement of "savage" Hearth Orlans, right? It's pretty much mandatory now, u_u...


Also, I'd be remiss not to suggest that you implement two party-loving Orlans, who happen to be Wild Orlans, who refer to themselves as "Two Wild and Crazy Orlans!" 8)

Edited by Lephys
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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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YES!  :w00t:

I'm lovin' the paladin...pretty much exactly what I wanted

The combo of passive and active buffs to allies, with some "healing" magic and close combat ability sounds perfect so far

The Orlans look interesting as well 

great update 

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I really like the look of the Wild Orlans.


Paladins: I like the lore and the overall approach you're taking to designing the class. I'm particularly interested in knowing more about their "personal viability" skills, as I'm not sure I'd like playing a straight buff-bot Paladin, useful or not.


Will Paladins be able to select a cause to champion? If so, I think it'd be interesting if the choice had gameplay implications, if tricky to design (e.g., championing Philosophy X gives access to certain abilities or gives you some advantage against opponents of X).

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With regards to the paladin, great start, but  I'm hoping that along with buffs to allies, there will also be de-buffs to enemies.  Also, I would like to see special individual feats befitting the paladin that are tied to the status of allies; increased movement to get to an ally in trouble, increased damage when aiding an ally that id below 25% stamina, berserk rage if all other party member go down and the paladin is the last one standing, etc. 

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I was hoping to see the paladin class be a sort Roland (a la Charlemagne) meets Cortéz (a la the conquest of Mexico), and I'm not sure whether this announcement fits that hope or not. At the very least the notion that paladins won't have to be 'good' per se is in the direction I'd hoped.

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Orlans overall look nice, but savage look of the wild orlans is clear winner ;).


Paladin seem to be nice front line supporter, but it is good to hear that you can make more offensive builds also. I already see some maybe worthwhile combinations with other revealed classes. Monk and paladin combo especially seems to be quite good combination. 

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When ciphers have tried to directly perceive paladins' souls, they have described the experience as uncomfortable or painful, not unlike gazing at the sun.


While I love all the details, this bit of flavor is my favorite thing about this update. It's just so awesome.

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Really loving how the Paladin is turning out to be. The class abilities seem pretty awesome, and I love the way their souls are described by the ciphers there. That is really cool. But I'm curious what you mean that they'll not be as restricted by a global moral code alignment and such. So I'm guessing we'll be able to have something like a Evil Paladin, Neutral Paladin and Good Paladin? Or even more free from that and simply be a very forward moving and thinking person that is dedicated to what they do?


Either way, it's exciting. Looking forward to more updates and when the time comes playing the game itself.

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Like the leadery paladin.  The wild Orlan design looks cool, but I've always personally hoped for a wild/primal/nature-attuned displaced race that is more common near cities and not confined to the depths of some forest.  Sort of like a sentient raccoon; dependent on the existence of a city for its way of life, and totally at home in an urban environment, but still not controlled by or even directly interacting with whatever race builds cities.

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It would be cool instead of seeing your typical dnd strength based paladin a more intelligence orientated one. Less physical in nature like a real life commander in a fortress residing by a table, studying a battlefield map. While less brawny then your typical foot soldier they are  able to empower their attacks with their blazing willpowe to inflict the equivalent of  a gunshot wound temporarily to a opponent. If you ever get shot in the head irl your mind thinks completely random thoughts until you lose conscious from lack of oxygen. So basically a paladin with less muscle and more brains. 

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