Carduus

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Cast down your eyes, oblivious, lightly shaded,
Assuming the shape of a friend, you known to all men, yet
Almost it bends our knees, such loftiness. Nothing in
Your presence I know; but one thing: mortal you are not.
A wise man could elucidate much for me; but where
A God as well appears, a different clarity shines.

- Friedrich Hölderlin, from A Celebration of Peace


I do not believe that civilization will be wiped out in a war fought with the atomic bomb.
Perhaps two-thirds of the people of the earth will be killed.
-Albert Einstein

Trigger Warning: This game contains references to homophobia, racism, nationalism, religion and cults, unpopular historical forms of government, prostitution, slavery, extreme wealth disparity, wry takes on philosophical subjects, and gnomes. Continuing beyond this point is to acknowledge your willingness to view these topics.
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Overview
This is a top-down post-apocalyptic/science fantasy game focused on moral ambiguity, forcing the player to make decisions based on their own interpretation of the issues involved, rather than take the meta 'right' answer that the creator wants you to. Towards this end, spellcasting is a tradeoff, there are boatloads of side quests, skills are made to allow for different ways to solve problems (steal, charm, kill, seduce, sneak, etc) and even the main antagonists have very good justifications for why they do what they do. Do the ends justify the means, and what *is* truth, if not a universal force? These are the kinds of questions I want the player to answer as they play.

It is set in a far-future Southwestern Germany, near the Black Forest, and incorporates an eclectic mishmash of cultures, from traditional Swabian (Diligent and hardworking, cuckoo clocks, half-timbered houses) to the remnants of internet culture, to the long-term impact of the European Union. Technology ranges from hovertech, lasers, bioplastics and AIs for the wealthy landowners, down to near-medieval tech in the hands of slaves and serfs. Fairies, demons, vampires and gods are real, though perhaps not quite as one might imagine them to be. Magic can take the form of inventive wit, power over time and movement, and power over the mind, with some of these magic-users lauded and others lambasted.

The protagonist is Nic Andele, with the player able to choose a few starting skills, and define how he progresses over time. Likewise, player choices will help define the character's backstory.


Backstory

In the year 2129, nobody had used nukes for over 180 years. Sure, a couple dozen super-massive warheads were pointed at various strategic targets across the globe, but they were more symbols than weapons. The mutually assured destruction they promised allowed globalization to flourish and trust amongst nations to grow. So when the Seventeen Minutes' War began, it was more than a bit of a shock. One janitor in Kaliningrad dusted the wrong control panel on the wrong day, and in less than half an hour, four billion human beings lost their lives. Another billion died within the next year due to nuclear fallout, pandemics, and the constant barrage of tiny moon meteorites and satellite chunks, a constant reminder of the nuked mass driver in Mare Tranquilitatis.

What was most disturbing about this accidental mass-extinction, though, was what it brought forth. Within days of the War, from a long, unbroken scar of radioactive earth reaching from Paris to Moscow emerged tens of thousands of...things. Alien things. Things of black, pagan, folkloric nightmares. And like those peasants of a darker age, the surviving people of Europe bolted their doors. They built walls to keep the things out. They swore their lives and labor to those who could keep them and their families safe. Many saw this as the end times, and by 2168, a disgraced Cardinal claiming to be the risen Christ led an army of thousands into the radioactive zone, calling it the last Crusade. None were ever seen again. The reprisal from the dark things was quick and harsh, ending in the Catholic Church retreating from greater Europe to fortify themselves south of the Alps in Italy.

It is now 2436. Most of the manufacturing technology from a safer age has been hoarded by those with power and wealth. This has the effect of creating fiefdoms and city-states around these few, and dividing serfs and slaves into those valued few who can repair and maintain the aging technology, and those who must gather materials for recycling ...or prove their worth in more degrading ways. It is now known fact that some of the nightmarish creatures that continue to emerge from the rift the locals now call 'Feebrucke' are able to take human guise, and the growing number of half-breeds and suspected half-breeds creates a convenient minority to blame problems on. It isn't a pleasant peace, but it is nonetheless a kind of peace.

Nic is a half-breed, living a cozy, pastoral life as a busboy in one of the many little half-breed villages that continue to pop up on the edge of civilization. That is, until a group of raucous horsemen charge into town and begin to indiscriminately kill and kidnap the village’s denizens, barely leaving Nic with his life. So much for peace. Who were they? What did they want? Where were the kidnapped taken, and for what purpose? Or would he be better off not knowing? Whatever the case, there's not much left for Nic where he's at.

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PCs
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Nic:
A somewhat slow but sturdy young busboy, living in the hills of the Northern Black Forest in a small village of half-breeds.

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Chanty: A bubbly and thrill-seeking French-African woman in her early 20's who seems to be running away from something.

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Haas:
A resolute and strict German woman in her early 70's and a Major in the Salvation Army of Dieroten.

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Telek: A bald, fatalistic Polish man in his late 30s with blue skin, and a member of the Anchadan Kelamizmi, a group that slowly purifies the irradiated zone acre by acre.

NPCs

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Lacuna: A wry and playful woman with big plans.


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Thymus: Lacuna's right-hand man; a grouchy spellcaster.


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Lady of the Ember Days: White-haired fae creature, more a force of nature than a person.


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Gjergj "Lover Bear":
Gheg freed slave who serves as Lacuna's bodyguard.

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Henryk: Once a Polish writer and now seemingly undead, he rules a larger and larger empire to the East.

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Moller:
A no-nonsense beefy blonde man in a Schutzstaffel uniform, Henryk's right-hand man.

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Drollic:
A nigh-insane ghost-like creature that Henryk has somehow enthralled into his service.

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Athene: The leader of the Strigoi, a group of humanoid owls under Henryk's rule.

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Queen Danica Kellner:
Ruler of Poselsvetla, the largest country in Eastern Europe.

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Mimi the Cat:
A (mostly) harmless AI that serves as honorary ruler of Poselsvetla, serving up Dadaist entertainment and merging old internet memes in increasingly bizarre ways.

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Bischof Bernhard: An itinerant priest of the Church of David to the East. A blowhard, but seems to hold useful secrets.

Other NPCS:
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Update! A few sprites:
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Stats
C.A.L.I.P.E.R.S. attribute system: Charisma, Agility, Luck, Intelligence, Perception, Endurance, Resolve, and Strength.

The hierarchy goes: 8 attributes, 16 categories (2 per attribute), ~5 skills per category, many techniques that require 2+ skills from different categories.

'Buying-in' to a category costs more than buying skills within a category, but each character starts already 'bought-in' to 4 categories out of the 16. Trying something with a category you don't have is possible but unlikely to work well, and is governed by your Luck.

Example: The Melee Category costs 10 skill points. Within Melee, there's Blades, Polearms, Bludgeons, Unarmed, and Exotic skills, each costing 1 skill point each.

Having the Melee:Bludgeon Skill and Ephemera:Elemental Skill would allow you to buy the Elemental Bash technique.

While characters will gain in base stats in pre-determined ways as they level, a large chunk of free xp will be allotted for customization to your specifications.

Example: Haas will gain 1 Resolve and 1 Intelligence at level 2, 1 Resolve and 1 Perception at level 4, 1 Resolve and 1 Intelligence at level 6, etc., but she'll get a free stat point per level to do with as she wishes.

Weapons/armor/held items are governed by minimum attributes: A decent two-handed sword might require 10 Strength, a laser pistol might require 10 Perception, a wand of healing might require 10 Sublima.

An item system like Dragon Age, with recipes as general templates, and the raw materials you put in affecting the stats, allowing one recipe to potentially create level-appropriate weapons for you the entire game. [This may be on the chopping block, as the coder who was going to do this has disappeared]

Example: Player finds/buys/receives as a quest reward a recipe/blueprint for a Falchion, requiring 10 metal, 1 wood, 1 leather, and 1 gem. Player's choice in materials affects the stats of the end product, rewarding exploration and experimentation. Gold might give a lower damage output but higher persuasion with nobility. A tiger eye gem might give +20% against blindness and +1 to Luck. Choice of wood might subtly affect chance to hit, etc.

A two-axis reputation/relationship system, with each character rating you on love/hate and comfort/fear based mostly on their own interactions with you, but influenced by how you've acted towards other members of their group.


Physics
  • Magic (and reality) is divided into three categories: Technica (inventiveness, creator’s spirit, science, body, the ‘real’ world), Sublima (mental, individuality, order, soul, rebirth, the collective subconscious), and Ephemera (movement, energy, elements, animation, time, spirit, the place of ‘gods’, ‘fae’, etc.
  • In most creatures, the soul and body are tethered together via the silvery cord of ephemera, with each thread of the cord signifying a possible future. As we age, these threads break as the possibilities don’t come to pass.
  • Undead, while unnatural, are no more inherently evil than a dam: they found a means of forcing the soul and body to remain together when its tendency is to drift apart after death.
  • Sublima, while the magic of soul and healing, is not broken up into the holy/unholy dichotomy, but rather by fervency and belief.
There are a variety of types of 'magical' people and creatures:
  • Snowflake or Geek - Those with hereditary skill in technica.
  • Kludger or Hatter - Those with learned skill in technica.
  • The Cunning Folk - Those with hereditary sublima abilities.
  • Devout - Those with learned skill in sublima.
  • Paragnostic or Faeblooded - Those with hereditary ephemera abilities.
  • The Wise or Occultists - Those with learned ephemera skills.
  • Hexen or Chanter - Those who have learned the Words and thus have access to Spoiling others, a form of curse that unmakes reality the tiniest bit.
    The Words - A 'shortcut' to sublima power that almost anyone who can speak is able to wield, but rather than change reality, it simply unmakes it.
  • The Sold or The Promised - Those who have promised their soul to another entity in exchange for worldly power.
  • Goethian - One who acts as a middleman in the exchange of favors between worlds.

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And without the menus blocking the screen:
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  • Need more ways to depict derelict/overgrown houses.
  • Sending out feelers as to other people to do a Dragon Age-style crafting system, as no one so far seems to be able to do it.

  • I'm so close to being entirely original images, I really ought to go the rest of the way so I can say it's 100% original.

  • Trying to plot out the other two games such that I don't need to retcon anything in this one.



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None yet!

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v 0.1: The approval process.
v 0.11 Approved!
v 0.12 Added a few sprites to the NPC spoiler.
v 0.13 Finally finalized the art style of my main characters.
v 0.14 1/15/17 - First screenshot!
v 0.15 2/8/17 - Posted multiple talking heads of the various characters.
 
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Joronjo

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Good luck with this! It's looking very interesting.
 

Hyacin

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This sounds interesting. That the antagonists have good justifications sounds nice. :)  Gameplay seems interesting, too. 
 

Alexander Amnell

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   It sounds like wasteland... but without all the campy, zany anti-anti-communist origin story weirdness and an overall more serious tone. May just be walls of text and a few concept sketches right now but I'm thoroughly hooked, even so far as following the topic (and I never follow any topics). Best of luck to you, I'm very excited to see where this project goes.
 

Carduus

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Yeah, I've had a couple people mention Wasteland now. I guess I'm going to have to track it down. Thanks for all the praise, guys. 
 

Carduus

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Spent the week shoring up and making hierarchies for my bestiary. Still need to finalize the look of the Alps, the dream-sapping little kobolds. Basically literal emotional vampires that prefer sleeping victims. 
 

Violet

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Personally, I'd like to see the game not be dumbed down. That's what mainstream games by huge publishers do in order to appeal to audiences who are either younger or just don't think. I'm sure it gains them more players and more revenue, but the cost is that mainstream media always seems kind of stupid. Indie games don't have to do that because they don't have to recoup a certain dollar amount, and that's one of the best things about them. It's a major reason that people would bother to put their time into playing an indie project in the first place. We're not here for AAA graphics-- we're here for the fact that indie creators will address issues deeply even at the cost of a smaller market.
 
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I am kind of curious how you will let this game look ^^ can't wait for the screenshots 
 

darthdevidem01

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Love the concept!! Excited to see where this project heads. Please don't try to dumb down the plotline :)
 

Carduus

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Haven't gotten as much done as I'd have liked this week due to parties and increased workload, but I'm doing the best I can to flesh out the crafting system without DreamX's crafting code. Hopefully I'm not doing work I'll have to repeat later.
 
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Well much stuff I did in the past few months have had 'updates' and 'refinement' and I have had multiple occasions where I tought I had something worked out to the max. and later on I came up with something to make it even better xD 


So good luck with all of that! On the other hand you think you will be sharing any screenshots in the near future?
 

Carduus

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Probably not for another few weeks. The art is the most fun for me, so I'm trying to hold off on it so as to force myself to work on the less-fun things like balance and organization.
 

Carduus

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Update! I've added a couple NPC sprites to the NPC folder. I had forgotten how annoying pixel art was. 
 

Canini

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Seems interesting! Kudos for taking on some serious subjects. I look forward to seeing screenshots from the game, and even playtest it in the future.
 

Carduus

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As this theme blends science and magic, I wanted as much as possible to find real-ish world analogues to some of the classic Slavic/German/French monsters, and give them real-ish evolutionary tracks. So six-legged basilisks and four-legged/two-winged dragons ought to have a common ancestor.. So I'm finding myself making...a six-legged turtle. I'm trying my damnedest to make all size proportional and battle view sprites the same size as they are on the map, but I'm not sure if I can go through with it. How do you put a hundred-foot dragon in a map? Here's the turtle in question, the mythical Peluda: 
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Edit: Another issue. Not wanting to offend people on this forum, but some content does involve sensitive-ish subjects. Fairies are naked. People die. **** happens. Should I leave that kind of stuff out of my updates? Putting it in a spoiler makes me feel like it's somehow lascivious, when nine times out of ten, it really isn't. Here's an example:

 
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 She's a Vila, and she's naked. Is it sexy? Maybe to a twelve-year-old or something. Should I just leave it out of updates to protect the twelve-year-old? I dunno. 
 
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Kes

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This site has a PG13 rating, so 12 year olds should not be looking.
 

mlogan

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Anything pg-13 is allowed, not 18+. The case of nudity has been discussed, and the result of the conversation came around to "if it's sexually explicit, it's a no", if it's for something like a nude base template, it's fine. While I realize that that can be subjective as well, it's gives a bit of a guideline.


As for your fairy, my personal opinion is that it is fine. And believe me, I know I'm one of the more conservative ones on this site regarding such things. My measuring stick is usually my kids (10 & 7), and I can say with something like that, if they were to see it they would just giggle at the fact that it is naked. As far as people dying, they realize that happens and would comment "that's sad". So, with things like that, I think you are okay. Just try to use a bit of common sense - mentioning someone dies, a dead sprite, okay. A graphic drawing with someone beheaded or something, maybe not. :)
 

Lymmet

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Friggin' loved the backstory of this game. Hope this one comes to life!
 

Carduus

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Lack of updates doesn't equal lack of progress. Learning Blender in my spare time to better model the characters. Stuff like this:


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Marquise*

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:3  I was thinking almost... hey Bluman group!
 

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