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Age Of Decadence RPG preview.

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Mar. 14th, 2010 | 04:03 pm

Age Of Decadence: The New Classics Of Genre!
game release expected in the 2nd half of 2010

THIS PREVIEW IS COMPLETELY UNOFFICIAL AND IS TO BE CHANGED AND UPDATED

Information in this preview comes from the game's forum at
www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/board,1.0.html
and from my experience playing the game's Combat Demo v.3.1
www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,1259.0.html

GREAT THINGS ABOUT AGE OF DECADENCE:

Graphics: "A". just as much 3D as necessary, plus very flexible camera control. Plenty of smoothest landscape details and atmospheric animations, e.g. trees swaying in the wind; NPCs scratching; gladiator arena auditory bursting into roar after spectacular strikes etc.

Setting/atmosphere:
"A". plenty of smallest graphical and story/dialog details creating total immersion into the Age of Decadence. Dialogs include endless cultural and historical references. Weaponry and armor looks is designed in a non-trivial way, again with cultural references.







Combat system:
"A". turn-based: better than Fallout 2. Involves even more tactics than F2 - e.g. the biggest an the most expensive weapon is not necessarily the best in any situations; any enemy has unique vulnerabilities and advantages which your AoD alter-ego needs to meet through char dev system or suffer a bitter defeat.





Character creation and development opportunities: "A". very versatile: no "dump" stats at all; social skills are as much useful as combat skills; unlike many other famous RPG raising a Jack-of-all-trades is hardly possible; the system allows creating various surviving character "builds" following totally different tactics of handling game situations.



Unlike classes and backgrounds in some other RPGs in AoD character backgrounds do not influence anything but your initial reputation with different guilds and houses and your role in the starting story about the merchant and the ancient map (see the
http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,149.0.html AoD forum thread for details).
In AoD everything is flexible - you can raise a monstrous murderer Loremaster/Grifter/Merchant or a limp wealthy and sociable Mercenary/Assassin/Knight.


Additionally, like in RPG classics (e.g. WIzardry series) starting inventory will vary according to created character's specializations:
A character with a high sword/axe/spear/hammer/dagger/throwing/bow/crossbow skill gets a corresponding weapon; a character with high alchemy or crafting gets corresponding alchemy or crafting items; a character with high block skill gets a shield; a character with high dodging skill gets a dodge scroll which can be exchanged for another scroll increasing the skill further etc.

Also, a Loremaster (or a Merchant) gets some corresponding status clothes, while a Mercenary get an Auxillary Armor (bronze) at the beginning; an assassin gets a rope for climbing buildings and a corresponding light armor etc.




Enemy AI: "A" - enemies never behave stupid, instantly getting adjusted to any player's actions. Combat difficulty is rather high, so you cannot turn your character into a total enemy mower by the middle of the game, maintaining combat suspense until your reach one of many game's endings. At the same time, you can trick the AI with elaborated tactics.



Sound and music: "B+" - truly great for an indie game (esp. atmospheric sounds). Tho I think it would be great to render music with higher quality realistic instrument samples.

WHAT MAKES THE GAME DIFFERENT WITHIN ITS GENRE:
pretty subjectively

AoD will feature many old-school text adventures, which are basically stat or skill checks allowing you to resolve situations in a variety of ways. For example, when you encounter a locked door in AoD, you may have the following *sic* 6+ options:
- Bruteforce the door (strength check);
- Unlock the door (picklock skill check);
- Craft a key for the door (crafting check);
- Blow the door up with a bomb (using alchemy skill to create a powerful enough bomb first);
- Destroy the lock with acid (using alchemy skill to brew a potent enough acid first);
- Go and get the key from an NPC, which hypotheticall may include following options:
                                  - Bribe the NPC;
                                  - Threaten the NPC;
                                  - Steal the key;
                                  - Persuade the NPC;
                                  - Refer to an authority to impress the NPC;
                                  - Kill the NPC.

No magic setting. Tho technology is present - crafting and alchemy, poisons, bombs, flying fortress (
http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,258.0.html) etc. Additionally, hypnosis and creatures from alternative plains, the Abyss and certain futuristic technologies are present.

No character classes and related bonuses. The game has a great skill-based system instead. Some form of perks might be present, e.g. you get some special trait if one of your starting stats is equal to 10, but that is going to make your other stats rather low as there is no way to increase your starting stats in AoD. Nothing like Fallout's perks nor Arcanum's backgrounds nor mage/tech abilities nor Planescape's tattoos nor Knights Of Chalice's feats will be available. Tho, getting special training with some skills from NPCs will be available or from special scrolls/books will be there. Additionally, the reputation your character acquired with different fractions in the game is very essential; your character can also get some custom statuses opening new opportunities in the game. For example, if your character is known as a victorious fighter in numerous battles, some NPCs will fear to attack her.


MISC. COMMENTS:
What I adored about Age Of Decadence true indie RPG is:

+ A versatile and fast character development system.

+ A highly non-linear storyline and developers' "environmental" approach to creating the setting: any actions in the game will have consequences. For example, killing an NPC will always have ssignificant outcomes in the local society, guild or house.

+ Experience analogue (Skill Points) can be gained equally well from combats and quests. Thus, the game can be played successfully with a completely non-combat character following predominantly the ways of peace.

+ Developers' unique approach to weapon mastery skills, weaponry and armor characteristics, weapon crafting and weapon use.

+ Strongest sense of atmosphere in the game.

+ AP-based combats involving plenty of tactics development opportunities.

+ Wonderfully old-school graphics without all these unnecessary commercial 3D effects like in Fallout 3.

+ An outstanding non-combat skills system.

+ Diversity of character archetypes and ways of development and playthroughs.

+ A flexible and rich storyline announced.

+ Developers' openness to adding new features suggested by the game's fans.

+ A dialogue/choice situation available in AoD combat demo beta 3.1 allowed as many as 5 (!) options on how to resolve a situation:
Flee, fight, threat, bribe, refer to an authority.
For example, all-time classics Planescape: Torment normally allows 3.

+ Developers dedicated much time and effort to balancing the game and the combat system.

+ Creating a realistic feel about the setting and gameplay is another one of developers' priorities.

RECOMMENDED LINKS:

Age Of Decadence FAQs
www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,124.0.html


Much useful information on character creating in the game
www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,565.0.html

The starting story
www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,149.0.html


Essential information on AoD's character development system (many thanks to Dragatus):

- "On average players can expect 600 skill points per character and 800 is for overachievers. I'm unsure whether he meant that with or without the Intelligence bonus, but I'm assuming without. So a Loremaster with 10 INT could expect 840 skill points. 240 for Lore would leave you 600 to spend on other skills and that would easily allow for 100 points in a weapon and 200 in Dodge/Block, while still leaving you with 300 points to spend on things like Persuade and Streetwise.

The main problem is that if you had 10 INT your other attributes would be 6 on average, which isn't very impressive."

- For example, the Etiquette skill will be most useful for entering the houses of nobility and interacting with them. The skill alone will not be enough - to be successful in impressing the nobles you will also need high enough Charisma, other social skills (e.g. Streetwise) and a corresponding expensively looking outfit (both clothes and rings/jewerly).

- The Crafting skill will allow you to forge new weapons from ore and to upgrade your armor and weapons in different ways:

- On two weapon fighting:
the main reason to use a 1-handed weapon is the opportunity to use a shield, therefore it's best for builds focused on defense, while offense-oriented builds would benefit more from 2-handed weapons. Also, when you put multiple blows with a 1-handed weapons you loose more because of enemy's armor's damage resistance then when you put few blows with 2-handed ones.

Finally, different opponents in the demo require different tactics, so you can effectively shift weapons from battle to battle.
And keep in mind such an important factor as Crafting when you compare different weapons. For example, a balanced 1-handed weapon might be better for a high-Dex build, while a balanced 2-handed weapon would be best for a low-Dex build.


Crafting:

Armor and helmets:
Lightened - increases armor's action point cap and decreases dodge and stalk penalties
Hardened - increased armor's damage resistance.
Reinforced - Improved against criticals.

Weapons:
Balanced (also applicable to bows): decreases action points you need to spend on an attack by 1
Sharpened: a +1 - +3 bonus against opponent armor's damage resistance
Masterwork: weapon created with exceptional damage characteristics
Metal works: improvement of material the weapon was made of.

Alchemy:
Imbue weapon (or arrow) with liquid fire.
Imbue weapon (or arrow) with poison.


- To make use of crafting well you need to develop the skill well - the more skill points you invest the better items your can forge or upgrade.

- The same concerns use of the alchemy skill: to create a decent (or a working) bomb, greek fire, poison or acid you need to increase the skill very well: the more skill points invested the more effect these things will have against opponents.

- In AoD weapon skills are synergized: if you are excellent with dagger, you're also good with sword and spear, and ok with hammer and axe as well; if you you are good with bow you are also ok with crossbow and throwing. Thanks to skill synergy there is perhaps merely a 10-25 point difference (that's excl. bonus you get from specific weapons you wield, which ranges from +5 to +20). This difference is not that essential so you can use other weapons really effectively when necessary.

- You can get training in using specific weapons from NPCs: in one of the game's prewied snapshots there is "Dagger Mastery" trait.

- High perception stat would give you extra THC with all weapons, so you can save SP well for other skills. Like, one of my deadliest sword+dagger fighters in the Demo had perception 10 (+20% to THC), 153 Sword skill and 128 dagger skill (plus +20 bonuses from wielded weapons), and 300 dodge skill.

- So far I don't see any reasons to increase weapon skills over 200-220 for a 4 perception/9-10 strength spear (or potentially alchemy) focused build, neither for a critical strike focused build, neither for a dodge focused build. Perhaps block builds w/ heavy shields and heavy helmet wielders would need to increase it further to compensate for penalties.

- Finally, combat skills are only one of the keys in AoD so they can be kept at a surviving minimum.


Some figures on weapons:


[All for BRONZE BALANCED @ 120 skill level, Power attack]

Spears: (@ 145 skill level)
Hasta: 5-12 @ 4, fast 2-5, 42%
Dori 2h: 6-15 @ 5, fast 3-9, 42%
Romach 2h: 6-17 @ 5, fast 3-7, 42%
Trident 2h: 10-20 @ 6, fast 5-14, 40%
Krokspar 2h: 10-24 @ 6, fast 5-10, 40%

Swords:
Knopesh: 5-11 @ 4, 35% critical, fast 2-6
Gladius: 5-13 @ 4, 35% critical, fast 2-4
Shamshir: 6-15 @ 5, 30% critical, fast 3-9, normal 3-12
Handar: 6-17 @5, 30% critical, fast 3-7, normal 3-12
Scimitar 2h: 10-22 + 1 @ 6, 20% critical, 20% splits, fast 5-12 + 1

Axes:
Zaghnal: 5-11 + 1 @ 4, 23% splits, fast 2-6
Sceggox: 5-13 +1 @ 4, 23% splits, fast 2-4
Mineb: 6-16 + 1 @ 5, 28% splits, fast 3-8 + 1, normal 3-12 + 1
Shadhavar 2h: 10-20 + 1 @ 6, 31% splits, fast 5-14 + 1
Labrys 2h: 10-24 + 1 @ 6, 31% splits, fast 5-10 + 1

Daggers:
Jambia: 3-8 @ 3, 40% pierce, fast 1-3, normal 1-6
Sefet: 3-9 @ 3, 40% pierce, fast 1-2
Pugio: 3-10 @ 3, 40% pierce, fast 1-1
Khajar: 5-11 @ 4, 35% pierce, fast 2-6 (25% pierce)
Yatagan: 5-13 @ 4, 35% pierce, fast 2-4

Hammers:
Marculus: 5-12 @ 4, 13% knock
Spiked club: 6-15 @ 5, 18% knock, normal 3-12
Mallet: 6-17 @ 5, 18% knock, normal 3-12
Sledgehammer 2h: 10-20 @ 6, 21% knock, 20% splits, fast 5-14, normal 6-18
Warhammer 2h: 10-24 @ 6, 21% knock, 20% splits, fast 5-10, normal 6-18


(@ 24 skill level, not balanced)
Karda: 3-8 @ 4, 15% pierce, fast 1-3
Plumbata: 3-9 @ 4, 15% pierce, fast 1-2
Pilum: 5-11 @ 5, 10% pierce, 30% shield pierce, fast 2-4
Chakram: 5-12 @ 5, 5% pierce, fast 2-6
Handox: 5-13 @ 5, 5% pierce, 20% splits, fast 2-5


I guess any weapon has pros and cons, depending on your stats and your tactics.



Age Of Decadence - Fallout in Ancient Rome's setting - is one of my most awaited for game releases in 2010.


The game is strongly recommended to the fans of
Fallout 1&2, Baldur's Gate 1&2, Planescape: Torment, Arcanum, Wizardry Series, Might & Magic series, Realms of Arkania, Spiderweb Software games, Daggerfall, Vampire series, SW: KOTOR, Ultima series, Knights Of The Chalice, Rings Of Power etc.

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