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I've been meaning to write this one down for quite some time now :

 

CULTURAL EQUIPMENT

 

racinet1.jpg

 

I've touched upon this topic before, but I think it warrants a more in-depth look. To start off - I think that many cRPGs make the mistake of rendering magical items utterly mundane; after all, if you practically trip over them since the very beginning of your journey, they do lose their charm a bit, don't they? On the other hand, using nothing but ordinary trappings doesn't sound too exciting either.

 

What if PE offered players cultural equipment, while making magical items truly rare? Instead of finding just another +1 longsword we'd, for an instance find :

 

1. Aedyran sabre :

 

s1233.jpg

 

2. Glanfathan sword :

 

s933.jpg

 

Both would fit into the same basic category, but there'd be a sense of progression both in their effectiveness (as if you just had replaced a +1 sword with a +2 equivalent) and appearance (as the items could look wildly different).

 

But what of magical items? I think that they should truly extraordinary and rare. Finding them should really feel very rewarding - and their level of power should absolutely reflect that.

 

But there's more that you could do with cultural equipment. Let's use two different PE cultures as examples :

 

Free Palatinate of Dyrwood

Due to a long history of conflict, all denizens of Dyrwood are accustomed to constant warfare and to hardships - as a result, they are practical people. They value discipline and uphold strict laws.

699_max.jpg

 

This could be reflected not only in the equipment they use, but also in the way they fight :

 

1. They fight as a group, supporting each other, often using reach weapons and trying to keep enemies at bay.

2. They favour heavy armour over mobility.

3. Instead of firearms, they prefer longbows.

 

You'd not only be able to who you're fighting (due to their specific cultural armour & weapon designs you'd be able to spot right away) but also how to fight them. Let's make a second example :

 

Vailian Republics

Being merchant people, the citizens of the Vailian city states value style over substance and like to let everyone know that they're wealthy. Their armies consist mainly of well-paid mercenaries, who tend to uphold the same values when it comes to fashion. Vailians are known to be strong ndividualists.

010_max.jpg

 

1. Vailians are individualists and this is reflected in their fighting style - they often fight as duellists, seeking personal glory.

2. They eschew heavy armour in favour of mobility.

3. Avid users of firearms.

 

To recapitulate : I'm hoping that Obsidian will go an extra mile with the work that goes towards fleshing out various cultures. Each region should be unique, whether it's in clothing, weaponry or even battlefield tactics.

 

That'd not only make the world of PE a truly immersive environment, but would also allow for very varied combat encounters.

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Wonderful post, Karranthain! :)

 

And I agree 100 %!

 

Early on, I've been a proponent for a true scarcity of magical items. For instance, in BG 1, it took forever, to get your hands on a magical weapon (at least in my first playthru) and I still found that a bit on the frequent side. And your ideas on cultural items are great. In FNV, if you wear certain gear and armour, you get to be interpreted as part of those factions. I'd like to see that kind of thinking expanded in PE. Also, each cultural instance of a dagger, just as an example, would have slightly different qualities and perhaps even be better if you are raised with the confines of that specific culture.

 

I'd hate for the game to include titles for items like "leather cap +1" or Skyrim's material fetishisms (glass bow, anyone? *Snap!*)

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*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Also, each cultural instance of a dagger, just as an example, would have slightly different qualities and perhaps even be better if you are raised with the confines of that specific culture.

 

That'd be very interesting indeed. I.e.

 

Glanfathan kukri

 

Used for slashing.

 

s1075.jpg

 

Aedyran dagger

 

Ignores armour.

 

s1014.jpg

 

etc.

 

 

I'd also make the choice of a cultural background a more meaningful decision.

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Yes, yes, YES!!! I'd love to see a CRPG with the choice of cultural background be as important as Race and Class. Let's have a new factor while making our characters: Culture! Hopefully, in this way we could at least encompass some stereotypical differences of class and social habitat as well, like making having an Urban or Rural background count, just as a Ceremonial upbringing would be quite different from Mundane.

 

In certain extreme case, your Culture would make certain items taboo - you wouldn't wear them or use them even if your life depended on it.  

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*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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I thought this thread was going to be pictures of weapons and armor wearing monocles and drinking tea. Shame.

 

Also, making certain items taboo might be a bit restricting. A set of bonuses and specializations based around items related to cultural backgrounds sounds better in my mind.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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If Karranthain's example is one to go by I'd be playing a Vailian rogue for sure!

Yeah I like cultural items, at least the way you describe. I don't like it when some cultures are better at the use of certain items. But I do like distinct styles by culture.

I do recall somewhere beginning this year it was talked about. let me see if I can find the thread...

http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/63311-cultural-weapons/

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Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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I too was slightly hoping for Monocles of Magic Resistance +1, and the Cane-Sword of Charisma +2. Maybe a Tophat of Torchlight. :)

 

Seriously, though, this (the actual thread/post) is an excellent means by which to introduce variety and tactical dynamics into the choice of weapons.

 

Also, you could, potentially, work in some sort of bonus for matching cultural background to cultural weapon type. Betrayal at Krondor did this quite rudimentarily (it was basically racial matching, at that point). If a Human used a Human type sword, they got a bonus. Of course, it was a straight numbers bonus, and, again, it was tied specifically to race, rather than culture. So, if you were a Human from the south, and you used a Human-made sword from some northern region, you still got the bonus, even if there were actual cultural variants of Human swords. 8P

 

Anywho, cultural equipment variant possibilities, FTW! 8D

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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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I'd be in favour of slight statistical boni tied to certain pieces of cultural equipment. Or perhaps even having a bonus applied to a character wearing a matched set; that's perhaps a somewhat gamey mechanic - but you could argue that it's due to rudimentary training the characters might have had.

 

 

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I'd be in favour of slight statistical boni tied to certain pieces of cultural equipment. Or perhaps even having a bonus applied to a character wearing a matched set; that's perhaps a somewhat gamey mechanic - but you could argue that it's due to rudimentary training the characters might have had.

It does make sense, I think, within the context of abstracted mathematical representation. So long as it's minor. I hate to see the "you're using a type of sword with which you're extra familiar? +7 to hit! Different type of sword that's EXTREMELY similar? Meh... just a +0 to hit, u_u."

 

I can see that kind of a difference between, say, a two-handed sword and a short sword, or an axe and a spear. But, just a slightly differently-balanced, differently-shaped sword of approximately the same size and length? Sure, you'd be better with the one you'r more familiar with, but you shouldn't have absolutely no idea what the other one even does or how it works. I mean, if you take a knight's longsword and give him a katana, I think he's going to know not to try to cut people with the blunt side, and that it doesn't carry the swing weight and such, and that it's made more for slicing/cutting than just-plain slashing, etc. Even if he was still better with the longsword than with the katana.

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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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Wonder if one could have a certain sort of character oft reborn into the same culture, whose soul feels more comfortable in certain familiar armaments and raiments. Perhaps even with light penalties for not adhering, and bonuses for doing so, be an interesting point of character creation I think.

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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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While I do think the idea of different cultural equipment is a fine one, I do have a small issue with your idea. I'm fine with being flooded with magic items by a certain point in the game if magic items are extremely common in the setting. That may be a bit nit-picky, but I do believe that keeping true to the laws of the setting should be a design principle.


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I can see that kind of a difference between, say, a two-handed sword and a short sword, or an axe and a spear. But, just a slightly differently-balanced, differently-shaped sword of approximately the same size and length? Sure, you'd be better with the one you'r more familiar with, but you shouldn't have absolutely no idea what the other one even does or how it works. I mean, if you take a knight's longsword and give him a katana, I think he's going to know not to try to cut people with the blunt side, and that it doesn't carry the swing weight and such, and that it's made more for slicing/cutting than just-plain slashing, etc. Even if he was still better with the longsword than with the katana.

 

I basically agree with this and the original post, would love to see something like Vailian getting something like a +1 to hit when using vailian equipment, and maybe some minor bonus when using something like 3 or more vailian armor pieces.

 

But about the knight... if you've trained enough with a longsword, I'd imagine you to make instinctive moves and every now and then try to slash with the reverse side even when you'd suddenly be using a saber or a katana. Or do a lunge without remembering your current hacking instrument doesn't actually have a sharp tip...

 

Wouldn't mean it'd be like RuneQuest, where despite superior saber skills, you're a complete nobody with a rapier, as likely to pierce yourself as the opponent.

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But about the knight... if you've trained enough with a longsword, I'd imagine you to make instinctive moves and every now and then try to slash with the reverse side even when you'd suddenly be using a saber or a katana. Or do a lunge without remembering your current hacking instrument doesn't actually have a sharp tip...

True. You just wouldn't be incapable of comprehending how you should attempt to adapt. You'd obviously be less effective with the katana than even an amateur who was familiar with the katana (be it due to occasional lapses/instinctive responses that don't match the weapon, etc.). But, you'd be much more effective with a katana than you would with, say... a chakram, or a nunchaku. Definitely not like RuneQuest.

 

"Where's my longsword? THIS IS A DIFFERENT SWORD! I don't even know how to BLOCK anymore, 'cause this isn't my longsword!" Heh. Like glasses. "I'm legally devoid of skill without my prescription sword." :)

Edited by Lephys

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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I don't think it is logical to assume all dyrwoodians or all vailians would have received some basic training in the same weapons. That's like saying all Americans would be better at using the M16 over the AK74 because it is an American weapon and the AK is Russian. I'm sure there are many Americans who don't know how to even hold a weapon, let alone have a preference for a make or model.

 

That said, I would not be surprised to see more M16's used in the US than AK74's, because it is an American weapon. So more of specific types of weapons found within a culture, absolutely cool and logical, people somehow being better at using them because of their cultural background, no.

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Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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I think what might recieve bonuses for almost any background, considering the largely agrarian population, are makeshift farm implements: Bills, forks and such, which any Dyrwood peasant might know his way around, no matter his upbringing. Or perhaps they have a similar law to the old English custom of training with the Longbow on the Lords day.

 

Might be a nice way to add a little cultural flavour, the Glenfathans might be trained in fighting with the claymores, dirks and targes of their clans by their fathers, mothers or other close family members. The Dyrwood might turn out highly effective Fyrdmen, who spend quite a few hours every week drilling under the eye of the local Thane and his Housecarls.

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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Wonder if one could have a certain sort of character oft reborn into the same culture, whose soul feels more comfortable in certain familiar armaments and raiments. Perhaps even with light penalties for not adhering, and bonuses for doing so, be an interesting point of character creation I think.

 

That's a very interesting idea; electing to pick an old, experienced (in a manner of speaking) soul during character charaction could also be encumbered with some sort of a penalty (slower leveling etc.).

 

While I do think the idea of different cultural equipment is a fine one, I do have a small issue with your idea. I'm fine with being flooded with magic items by a certain point in the game if magic items are extremely common in the setting. That may be a bit nit-picky, but I do believe that keeping true to the laws of the setting should be a design principle.

 

If that were indeed the case, I could very well see some of the pieces of cultural equipment to be magically imbued.The remaining perks would've still been in place.

 

I think what might recieve bonuses for almost any background, considering the largely agrarian population, are makeshift farm implements: Bills, forks and such, which any Dyrwood peasant might know his way around, no matter his upbringing. Or perhaps they have a similar law to the old English custom of training with the Longbow on the Lords day.

 

Might be a nice way to add a little cultural flavour, the Glenfathans might be trained in fighting with the claymores, dirks and targes of their clans by their fathers, mothers or other close family members. The Dyrwood might turn out highly effective Fyrdmen, who spend quite a few hours every week drilling under the eye of the local Thane and his Housecarls.

 

Excellent post - such details really go a long way towards establishing believable cultures; not only that - you could tell a story with just items. Using your bill example, we'd known a lot about the society just by inspecting their soldiers' favoured weapons - i.e. they're mostly farmers.

 

english_billman_-_1400s_.jpg

 

But cultural background could be expanded beyond just combat - some cultures, for example, would be expert hagglers or diplomats. That'd definitely add another layer to the character creation (and it'd also potentially make humans less mundane).

Edited by Karranthain
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I don't think it is logical to assume all dyrwoodians or all vailians would have received some basic training in the same weapons. That's like saying all Americans would be better at using the M16 over the AK74 because it is an American weapon and the AK is Russian. I'm sure there are many Americans who don't know how to even hold a weapon, let alone have a preference for a make or model.

 

That said, I would not be surprised to see more M16's used in the US than AK74's, because it is an American weapon. So more of specific types of weapons found within a culture, absolutely cool and logical, people somehow being better at using them because of their cultural background, no.

 

That's a good point actually.

 

So.. let's tie it to character generation phase instead?

If you pick weapon proficiencies in when creating your character, it's assumed you trained with the gear of your culture

and will then get the minor extra bonuses when using equipment from your own culture.

 

And I'm thinking minor stuff. Like, you're skilled with a longsword.

You can also fight with a saber, but not quite as well.

But if you happen to get your hands on a damascus steel saber,  it's time to toss that old longsword.

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Shouldn't it be a given that different in-game cultures have their own particular aesthetic tastes and design preferences? You don't need to vomit a bunch of photos of non-fictional weapons to make that point, it cheapens the concept of the game world having its own unique cultures by just suggesting they be copies of real-world cultures, which is the status quo for fantasy games.

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That's a good point actually.

 

So.. let's tie it to character generation phase instead?

If you pick weapon proficiencies in when creating your character, it's assumed you trained with the gear of your culture

and will then get the minor extra bonuses when using equipment from your own culture.

 

And I'm thinking minor stuff. Like, you're skilled with a longsword.

You can also fight with a saber, but not quite as well.

But if you happen to get your hands on a damascus steel saber,  it's time to toss that old longsword.

You beat me to replying to JFSOCC's post, heh. I'll go a tad farther, though, and propose that you get to PICK a cultural specialization (or none), very similar to D&D Wizards picking a magic school specialization, or going universal.

 

You'd still have cultural factors that could not be swapped, but maybe you happened to train with another culture's equipment style. That seems a lot more like a preference thing. Like a modern Westerner preferring to study eastern swordplay, etc.

 

Just a supplementary idea/possibility. I'm not at all trying to supplant your ideas, Jarmo. The getting hold of a significantly superior saber example is spot on, whether or not the cultural equipment affinity is fixed or selective.

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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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Agreed, P:E cultures should be distinct and unique


Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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These images...they seem a little too...medieval? Where are the matchlock and sabre wielding dandies with plumed hats?

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These images...they seem a little too...medieval? Where are the matchlock and sabre wielding dandies with plumed hats?

... BEHOLD!!!

 

http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/64003-armour-weapon-designs-a-plea-part-iv/

 

(There should be a chain of links to the previous 3 threads in that succession.)

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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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That's a good point actually.

 

So.. let's tie it to character generation phase instead?

If you pick weapon proficiencies in when creating your character, it's assumed you trained with the gear of your culture

and will then get the minor extra bonuses when using equipment from your own culture.

 

And I'm thinking minor stuff. Like, you're skilled with a longsword.

You can also fight with a saber, but not quite as well.

But if you happen to get your hands on a damascus steel saber,  it's time to toss that old longsword.

You beat me to replying to JFSOCC's post, heh. I'll go a tad farther, though, and propose that you get to PICK a cultural specialization (or none), very similar to D&D Wizards picking a magic school specialization, or going universal.

 

You'd still have cultural factors that could not be swapped, but maybe you happened to train with another culture's equipment style. That seems a lot more like a preference thing. Like a modern Westerner preferring to study eastern swordplay, etc.

 

Just a supplementary idea/possibility. I'm not at all trying to supplant your ideas, Jarmo. The getting hold of a significantly superior saber example is spot on, whether or not the cultural equipment affinity is fixed or selective.

 

 

That could be interesting. Let's say that you chose the Aedyran cultural background, but you'd really rather use weapons popular in Dyrwood - I think that'd probably have to be a more expensive option. After all, you'd most likely have to train on your own etc.

 

But that'd make for an interesting choice at the character creation, definitely.

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To recapitulate : 

 

It is my hope that Obsidian will employ a "show, don't tell" approach when it comes to cultures. While I do enjoy reading various lore snippets, whether they're scattered around the world in the form of books, written in a journal/codex or even delivered by a NPC (though that can be bit cumbersome at times - i.e. exposition dumps), I'd rather see it done more elegantly.

 

E.g.

 

Being well-travelled merchant people, the citizens of the Vailian city states value style over substance and like to let everyone know that they're wealthy. Their armies consist mainly of well-paid mercenaries, who tend to uphold the same values when it comes to fashion. Vailians are known to be strong individualists. Most regard them as scheming and duplicitous people.

645_max.jpg

 

1. When you fight them, you'll often face duellists, who fight with little regard for actual tactics.

2. Their architecture is quite bombastic and not very practical.

3. Vailian citizens often wear cloaks, concealing weapons underneath them (cloak & dagger).

4. Due to the reliance on slaves, their level of technological advancement is somewhat low.

5. The mercenaries employed by the Vailians use very elaborate clothing and armour.

6. Most citizens carry rapiers and pistols and have had at least rudimentary training in their use.

7. The Vailian fashion is a mixture of various cultural designs (some of them very exotic).

 

Just the simplest examples of what stories could be told through the equipment, architecture, tactics etc.

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Now I kind of wish Karranthain would write for P:E because I'm digging your Vailians.

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Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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