RMMV Malleus Maleficarum - Playtesters Needed!

CrowStorm

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"Thou shalt not Suffer a Witch to Live."
- Exodus 22:18


UPDATE 2/29: PLAYTESTERS NEEDED FOR ALPHA TEST. See details just below the capsule summary in this post, or in the most recent post as of the time of this edit.

Hello everyone! Malleus Maleficarum is my very first commercial project, and something like my 27th project overall. It will be divided into either six or seven episodes (not sure yet), and the first episode will be around 1.5-2x the length of the others and free, as a proper demo. Currently, a great deal of the game's infrastructure and core systems are gelling, graphics and audio are mostly in place, and the content and story for the first Episode is just a little under two thirds complete. I hope you'll follow me on my journey to its completion and hopefully, just maybe, witness or aid in the miracle of me finally making at least part of my actual living as a video game developer. (Of course criticism is very welcome, but I trust y'all will please keep it constructive. There are also aspects of the game that I'm not looking to get absolutely perfect, just good enough for me, i.e. most graphical elements.)

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DISCLAMMER: Malleus Maleficarum deals with religious themes,
as well as non-explicit sex & graphic pixellated violence.

Capsule Summary said:
Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of The Witches) is a Dark Fantasy JRPG with elements of Lovecraftian Horror and Low Fantasy. Set in 1589 DR in the fictional Sanguine Peninsula, Malleus Maleficarum concerns itself primarily with witch hunters, and the witches that they hunt. Its historical-religious basis is in the Spanish Inquisition, and its historical-geo-political basis is the medieval Balkans.
ALPHA TESTERS NEEDED
Hey, so I need four people willing to alpha test the first two hours of this game. I don't have alpha test builds ready to go right now but I intend to next weekend. If you're interested in playtesting, please follow me on itch.io. I don't want to assume I'm lucky enough to have more people WANTING to test the game than slots for testers, however, the tester slots I have will go to the first four people to follow me on itch.io.

Alpha testers will receive either a complimentary copy of the first commercially released installment or a coupon for 50% off, not sure yet but you will get something more tangible than a prominent place in the game's credits...which you will also get.

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Camila (Mila to close friends and family) is a poor peasant girl from the poor peasant village of Vaasa on the central-eastern Sanguine Peninsula, just on the northern border of Szargovia. She is entirely unprepared for the enormous power that is about to find her and invest itself in her, let alone the responsibilities and enemies that power comes with. Chax--the mysterious embodiment of that power--likes her to think she is the chosen one. But the truth might owe more to pragmatism.

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Sir Beatrix Bernadotte hates every confounded, convoluted reason that her title is "Sir" but at least she's doing the work she was born for, destroying evil in the name of the Lord.

Women are not allowed to join the Szargovian army, of course. But the sacred texts of Holy Mother Church allow for any lay servant of the Church to join the Inquisition, and to even bear arms and armor as an Inquisitor if they can pass the requisite tests. Her father, Duke Bernadotte, "humored" his daughter by pulling the right strings so that she could take the tests--and then pulled other right strings to ensure she would fail it, so he could say he had given her a fair chance with her wild ideas before she settled down and started being a proper noblewoman.

In spite of her father's meddling, Beatrix passed her text with flying colors. Duke Bernadotte took the necessary political steps so that Beatrix could retain her noble rank and title of Marquessa--some less well-connected Inquisitors must forego theirs. However, there are no Marquis in the Inquisition, so her title there is "Sir", the highest title that the inquisition's men-at-arms are allowed: not that she's actually a MAN at but a woman-at-arms. (Beatrix badly needs the Sanguine Peninsula and the nation of Szargovia to invent feminism, but that movement may be centuries off if it comes at all.)

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There is one other woman in the Inquisition, Sir Cailín Salem, and she is, in Beatrix's considered opinion, dangerously insane.

Beatrix has a higher opinion of the Inquisitors she actually works with. Father Rickard Hardin is a venerable, fearless, and experienced Inquisitor who has never asked Beatrix for anything but competence, and has come to feel protective of her. Frater Wendel is probably a genius, although Beatrix would never admit it to his smug face; as a Plague Doktor, his knowledge of medicine, alchemy, herbs, and ailments of the body is far beyond anything Beatrix has ever seen before, although the strength of his faith is sometimes a cause for concern.

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-CHARACTERS SECTION-
MAIN CHARACTERS
(Note, not all of these are necessarily playable characters.)


Bernie.png
Sir Beatrix Bernadotte

Starting Class & Level:
Knight Lvl 2
Age: 22
Skill Types: Break Arts
Proficiency: Short Blades, Long Blades, Axes/Maces, Polearms, Crossbows, Light Armor, Heavy Armor, Shields
Backstory:
Beatrix hates every confounded, convoluted reason that her title is "Sir" but at least she's doing the work she was born for, destroying evil in the name of the Lord.

Women are not allowed to join the Szargovian army, of course. But the sacred texts of Holy Mother Church allow for any lay servant of the Church to join the Inquisition, and to even bear arms and armor as an Inquisitor if they can pass the requisite tests. Her father, Duke Bernadotte, "humored" his daughter by pulling the right strings so that she could take the tests--and then pulled other right strings to ensure she would fail it, so he could say he had given her a fair chance with her wild ideas before she settled down and started being a proper noblewoman.

In spite of her father's meddling, Beatrix passed her text with flying colors. Duke Bernadotte took the necessary political steps so that Beatrix could retain her noble rank and title of Marquessa--some less well-connected Inquisitors must forego theirs. However, there are no Marquis in the Inquisition, so her title there is "Sir", the highest title that the inquisition's men-at-arms are allowed: not that she's actually a MAN at but a woman-at-arms. (Beatrix badly needs the Sanguine Peninsula and the nation of Szargovia to invent feminism, but that movement may be centuries off if it comes at all.)


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Frater Wendel
Starting Class:
Physicker Lvl 2
Age: 21
Skill Types: Physick
Proficiency: Short Blades, Long Blades, Axes/Maces, Crossbows, Guns, Light Armor
Backstory:
Wendel doesn't have a last name because he was born a commoner, not a noble, and commoners don't have last names (sometimes, serfs or peasants may use the last name of their landlord, if allowed). His title, Frater, indicates that he chose to become a member of the Clergy, one of the only routes of social advancement available to a commoner. As a chirurgeon, Wendel's intense intellectual fascination with science, physick, metaphysick, medicine, maladies, and of course alchemy has limited his advancement in the Clergy to his current rank, which suits Wendel fine. Wendel's main reason for joining the Inquisition was to learn what he could from witches and demons--before burning them, of course. Wendel doesn't like to talk about his past or the peasant family he came from.


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Father Rickard Hardin

Starting Class:
Inquisitor Lvl 4
Age: 59
Skill Types: Break Arts, Miracles
Proficiency: Short Blades, Long Blades, Axes/Maces, Bows, Crossbows, Guns, Light Armor, Mystic Armor, Shields
Backstory:
The tale goes that Rickard Hardin was an ordinary pastor in an ordinary parish. Then a witch that was close to him, but not intimate--she could have been an aunt, cousin, or a stepchild but it wasn't a wife or blood daughter (he never married)--gave him ample reason to fear the Dark. The witch sacrificed his entire village to Baphomet. Hardin barely survived and allegedly marched bedraggled, wounded, dirty and exhausted to the nearest chapterhouse of the Inquisition and collapsed on their doorstep, begging to join. Ever since, Hardin has been a legendary witchhunter and has attained the prestigious rank of High Inquisitor, on the High Council immediately beneath the Grand Council and Grand Inquisitor Grimaldi. Never once in his 30 year career has he showed a witch or a creature of the Dark mercy.


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Camila Vallejo (Mila)


Starting Class:
Witch Lvl 1
Age: 15 at start of game.
Skill Types: Sorcery
Proficiency: Short Blades, Rod/Staff, Mystic Armor
Backstory:
Camila's just a poor girl, from a poor family! /Queen. Camila, (who goes by Mila to close friends and family) is a poor peasant girl from the poor peasant village of Vaasa on the central-eastern Sanguine Peninsula, just on the northern border of Szargovia. An ordinary child, she is entirely unprepared for the enormous power that is about to find her and invest itself in her, let alone the responsibilities and enemies that power comes with. She's going to have to shed her innocence and grow up fast, coming of age in a grave, brutal world, if she wants to survive. Chax--the mysterious embodiment of that power--likes her to think she is the chosen one. But the truth might owe more to pragmatism.

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Starting Class:
???
Age: ???
Skill Types: ???
Proficiency: ???
Backstory: ???


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Starting Class:
???
Age: ???
Skill Types: ???
Proficiency: ???
Backstory: ???

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Sir Cailín Salem

Starting Class:
Knight Level 6
Age: 30
Skill Types: Break Arts
Proficiency: Short Blades, Long Blades, Axes/Maces, Polearms, Crossbows, Light Armor, Heavy Armor, Shields
Backstory:
Her name is pronounced "Colleen". Its literal meaning in Avalonian is "girl", a rather cruel irony. Sir Cailín was the first of two women in the Inquisition. Her route in was nothing like Beatrix's, although she too is the scion of a royal family, House Salem. She disguised herself as a man to join the Inquisition and as the story goes by the time they figured out she wasn't, they had long since pronounced her indispensable. Cailín is perfectly comfortable with the title "sir" because it indicates respect. Fear and respect are what Cailín crave from her interaction with others, and she inspires no small portion of both. Of the same rank as Hardin on the High Council of Inquisitors, even among Inquisitors she is known for the violence of her zeal. The saying is that while most Inquisitors are trying to determine if a suspicious person is a witch or a warlock, Cailín has already run that person through with her sword and moved on to the next.


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Prince Quinn Salem

Starting Class:
???
Age: 27
Skill Types: ???
Proficiency: ???
Backstory:
While very bright from a young age, the young Prince Quinn Salem was generally regarded as an irredeemably, fundamentally unserious person. Almost from the moment puberty hit he was a notorious, philandering lush. Quinn loved good food, good wine, beautiful women, beautiful men (at least if some of the rumors are to be believed), song, and dance. In other words, Quinn quickly developed a reputation as a party animal. Although Quinn is Cailín's younger brother, and in spite of all of his failings, he was the heir apparent to House Salem. That's why it was a cause of some upset when the prince disappeared a few years ago, and why greater upset still has been caused by sightings of him around Innsbruck in the last few weeks.

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Sir Dante Albrecht

Class At Death:
Knight Lvl 9
Age: Approximately 40 at his time of death, approximately 100 years ago.
Skill Types (while alive): ???
Proficiency (while alive): ???
Backstory:
A loyal soldier of Trieste, Dante Albrecht was a commoner who proved himself a hero in the Trieste-Szargovian war of the late 15th century, and as a reward, was knighted by King Frederick VI of Trieste, and considered part of the royal Oldenburg family. Like most heroes, Dante plunged himself into the thick of battle again and again, his courage unfaltering, his skill legendary...until he died, also like most heroes. His tomb is believed to be somewhere in central Trieste.

Please excuse the diversity of art styles. I am aware of the very obvious stylistic clashes between the bulk of the portraits/busts and the three that are done in wildly varying styles, namely Chax, Mila, and Dante. This may or may not get fixed some time between now and release...Chax will be staying as-is, as that is awesome Creative Commons art I can legally use and I really like it. But like I said, Chax deserves his own whole section.

-BAD RELIGIONS!- (NEW!!)
Thanks! I'm glad because I like writing about it.
And 'tis been too long w/o an update. So, this safe reserved for the next update, Religion, and maybe just maybe I'll make it a double, also including an introductory devlog about Chax and starting the conversation about the game's unique blend of systems and features.

The portrayal of organized religion in Malleus Maleficarum, while partially based on historical research, is not meant to disrespect anyone's real life faith or to denigrate its worshippers. While similarities may be more than coincidental, no offense is intended in this fictional portrayal.

BAD RELIGIONS - Religiosity In Malleus Maleficarum

Pontifex Iolaus XIII is the Spiritual Leader and Sovereign of the Holy Szargovian Empire, which has existed in some form or another for over 2,000 years. The Pontifex sees virtually no one but the Cardinal, who oversees the day to day affairs of the Church, for the most part leaving the royal house of Grimaldi (Crown Prince Regent Erik Grimaldi has accepted the regency from his elderly, ailing father, King Vladislaus II, making him both the heir apparent to the Szargovian throne and the de facto ruler of Szargovia). Beneath the Cardinal is Grand Inquisitor Simon Grimaldi (a blood relative of Szargovia's ruling house) who oversees the High Council of Inquisitors who oversee the Inquisition.





The faith of Holy Mother Church is built around a Trinity of Three Pillars, three divine beings who are at the same time one: the Father, the Mother, and the Holy Child. The Trinity is separated both separately and unified. The Mother is named Astarte and is venerated as a righteous warrior angel as well as a symbol of fertility. The unseen Holy Child that will one day forgive all our sins is named Jason. The Church's teachings warns against indolence, greed, wrath, covetousness, pride, and gluttony. But heresy--the veneration of any other spirits besides the Holy Trinity--is what the Church combats the hardest.





The other faith practiced in secret lairs like rat warrens dotted all over the Sanguine Peninsula south of Green River is considered by most church theologians to be a syncretic tradition blending aspects of six or seven different cults. The heretics know this to be false: they worship six aspects of one god. That god, never named within the cults (although the Church names him as Shaitan or the Devil), nor worshipped directly, is referred to as The Ageless Stranger*. And the worship of his six aspects is a far, far, far older practice than the Holy Szargovian Church.


The Wych Dancer Osana

The six aspects of the Ageless Stranger are the demon lords Abaddon, Baphomet, Leviathan, Lilith, Moloch, and Samael, and it is these that are worshipped and trafficked with by the witches. Having railed against the blapshemous horrors of sorcery for centuries, Holy Mother Church now seems determined to act.

Inquisitors will hunt, and hunt, and hunt, until all idolaters, traffickers with demons, devil-worshippers, heretics, blasphemers, and other filth have been swept off the face of this land. Their mandate is broad and their power is great, with no one holding the reigns but the Cardinal.



The Innana Heresy is one of the most popular alternate narratives that the Church has tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress for centuries. It teaches that a mortal woman or goddess named Innana (in some versions of the heresy, she is the mother goddess who birthed the earth, in other versions she was a mortal who ascended to godhood for one reason or another) is at the core of the faith of both the Holy Szargovian Church and their nemeses, the pagan demon worshippers. The Heresy states that at some point after the world was created, but before recorded history (thousands of years before the Dragonfall) Innana was herself split (or chose to split herself, depending on which version) into two aspects.

One of those aspects, Ishtar, represents the fidelity, charity, chastity, and grace of the fairer sex, and the ferocity of a warrior angel, and eventually came to be known as Astarte, the Mother in the Church's trinity.


The Goddess Ishtar/The Holy Mother "Astarte"

The other aspect, Osana, was everything that Ishtar wasn't. Where Ishtar was fair and bright, Osana was dark of skin and hair. Ishtar embodied loyalty, while Osana is a seductress that tempts, deriving pleasure from cuckolding men and departing with their wives. Where Ishtar was generous, Osana hordes treasure, magic, and especially secrets. Where Ishtar was chaste, Osana is branded a whore.

Many believe that Osana was in essence the first witch and that it was with her that the worship of the Ageless Stranger began. Others say that she became Lilith, the only purely female aspect of the Stranger. It all comes down to the version of the Innana heresy you believe. If any. It is, after all, heresy.

* The phrase "Ageless Stranger" as far as I can tell originated with Stephen King (I think I first remember seeing it used to describe Randall Flagg in The Stand), but reminds me a lot of the legend of the Wandering Jew. Its similarities to the seven-faced god of George R.R. Martin's ASOIAF books (one facet of which is called "The Stranger") is coincidental, or at least, if it was an influence, it was a subconscious one.

----END THINGY-----

Is it weird that I'm stoked that I needed to use the word syncretic in a sentence?
-SYSTEMS & MECHANICS!!!- (BRAND NEW!!!)
OKEE DOKE let's talk about some of Malleus Maleficarum's features! Soundtrack of the moment is "Changing" by the band Witch (US) (never heard of 'em before I whipped up the Pandora Station for this project) on the album...also called Witch.

GOD I LOVE METAL

By the way the game teaches you about this stuff as you play, in the order in which you need to knowit, in a way I think is pretty unobtrusive as far as tutorials go, but the game AIN'T OUT YET. My point being, the following's a touch long-winded and in-depth, and the in-game tutorials are much less so.

Gameplay Systems/Features/Tutorials
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AP ALLOCATION
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While every Malleus Maleficarum PC has a character class that determines the basic progression of their stats, you ALSO receive 6 Attribute Points every label to spend on whatever stats you want, so you can customize each character to have the strengths and weaknesses you want. Shore up a character's weaknesses (like Beatrix's Agility) or exaggerate their strengths (like Beatrix's Strength). The AP Cost per Attribute Boost increases fairly quickly with each Attribute going up in AP Cost in proportion to how many AP you put into it, creating diminishing returns for hyper specialization.

Fair warning, while there will probably be an even fairer in-game warning: characters that aren't "vile witches" or "conduits for holy miracles"--which is about half of them--cannot do anything with their Mana, so investing in more Mana would not be smart.

Also, a general disclaimer: when I say every PC, some PCs are exceptions to some things, such as Chax and Sir Dante.

SKILL LEARNING
Downed enemies drop Essence (ES) based on their power/challenge level. Each character can learn the skills of their class in whatever order that they like by spending Essence on them. Some skills have prerequisites before they will even show up on the list, like attaining a certain level, or learning another skill. Chax is an early and obvious exception to this: he learns skills in a fixed progression based on what form he takes, crow, owl, cat, or wolf.

By The Book
Knowledge of Miracles is imparted directly to Clerics, Holy Knights and Inquisitors by God. Witches and wizards have things a bit more complicated. Before they can learn a spell, they must have found a Grimoire containing that spell. As a rule, Grimoires are found "in the wild" as treasure, but there might be a few more wicked/"enlightened" communities in the Sanguine Peninsula that actually sell tomes of Black Magick, but we won't be visiting any in Episode I.

WRATH OF GOD!
Buries all creatures. They cannot be regenerated. I mean...
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Dies Irae which translates from Latin to "Wrath of God" is how Malleus Maleficarum operationalizes RPG Maker MV's "TP" feature. Various archetypes trigger a character's Ire to rise based on their specific conditions: for instance, by default, Hardin (Sadist) raises Ire by taking damage, Beatrix (Penitent) raises Ire by taking damage, and Camila raises Ire by inflicting status effects on foes. The use of Ire is only obvious for martial characters like Inquisitors and Knights (including Holy Knights and Death Knights), who have access to Break Arts. Every weapon class has a Level 1 Break Art that can be activated at 25% IRE, a Level 2 Break Art that can be activated at 50% Ire, and a devastating Ultimate Break Art that can be activated only when the Ire meter is full. It is unclear at this time (I'll leave it up to you whether to read that as "I haven't decided yet" or "I am being mysterious" or some blend of the two) how characters w/o Break Arts will use Ire. It may be in-obvious in game as well.

Eventually, depending on their actions and other factors, characters can unlock additional Dies Irae modes. While only one mode can be active at a time, they can be switched out from the main menu.

NOTE TO SELF: May change the name 'Break Arts' to rip off Vagrant Story less. Will certainly have to change the names of individual Break Arts to rip off Vagrant Story less, although one or two might slip through unaltered. But anyway, in general, note to self: rip off Vagrant Story less obviously.

ALCHEMY
(Art thou afflicted with billious humours today, Cousin?)
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Alchemy is medieval chemistry, a crazy blend of magic, superstition, prayer, misinformation, lies, rumors, and guesswork...with some actual science thrown in. Physickers and Witches can each perform Alchemy outside of combat using the Mix skill. First, they need a book to learn formulas from: Physicker Wendel starts with \fiPhilosophia Hermetica\fi and can learn new recipes by discovering new

Alchemy in Malleus Maleficarum is certainly not what I'd call realistic, but tries to give a nod to realism whenever possible. Charcoal is used in real life as an antitoxin/emetic, for instance, so bitumen (tar) is an ingredient in the Purgative item. The ingredients above could...probably...be used in combination with a nice big mason jar to make a pretty devastating firebomb (KIDS, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!) although you'd want the distilled hydrocarbons in the bitumen in a different form of hydrocarbon distillate, and you'd have to be very careful about how to incorporate the explosive element of fulminating silver.

The primary reason that "realism" wasn't more of a goal with alchemy is that Malleus Maleficarum is not even set on Earth. So the properties of herbs like henbane, wolf's bane, and hemlock give some tribute to what those plants were/are used for in real herbalism, but have different and/or stronger magical properties in this world. There are also some magical ingredients that are completely made up from whole cloth. For instance, goldthorne tree sap is processed into goldthorne extract, which is a base reagent used in the vast majority of common potions.

Some ingredients can be used on their own, although most can't. For instance, "Small Amanita" mushrooms will restore your mana but make you trip balls when eaten raw, or can be used as an ingredient to create mana potions that WON'T cause you to hallucinate.

DUNGEONS & ... MORE ... DUNGEONS
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Dungeons in Malleus Maleficarum are systematic dungeons. Systematic isn't the only approach or the one true way to designing good or great dungeons, obviously, it's just one that I'm really stoked on at the present moment.

Let me explain what I mean by Systematic. For starters, all encounters are on-touch and none of them respawn (no random encounters; severely limited grinding, creating "safe areas" is possible). Additionally, these on-touch encounters are color-coded and have rules to how they behave. Standard encounters might give chase when they see you, whereas optional bosses might wait, stationary on one tile, for you to engage them (they even warn you/give you an 'Are you sure?'! It's not as dramatic as traversing fog gates in the BloodSouls games but it serves the same purpose, you have to make a conscious decision to fight the thing). Sometimes these optional bosses are at the end of a corridor, and sometimes they are blocking access to a room bristling with interesting treasure or something else you want to get at.

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Additionally, dungeons contain rare, hidden items (for the Inquisitors, 'The Jawbone Of A Saint'; for the Witches, wooden effigies (those creepy things you see hanging from the trees in Blair Witch). These items can upgrade any save point in the dungeon into a save point + "Recover Half". Team Inquisitors get their Life Points refilled and all physical statuses (except Plague) cured, while Team Witches get cured of all mental/spiritual and magical statuses and regain all of their Mana.

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Because the two "teams" definitely get split up, mixed, and muddled before the end of the story, I've yet to decide what will jappen with the Jawbone/Effigy thing the first time that, for instance, Beatrix and Camila are finally in a party together.

tangent
As much as I love the Carol/Caroline/Whatever Her Name Is In MV RTP character, good ol' Actor 3-8 in this case, and I DO have mad love for that cute little witch (she's like Masha with modesty lol) I'm concerned that aesthetically Bea and Mila won't make for a cute couple on screen because they're so similar looking. Specifically their hair is way too close to being the same exact shade. I wish I had any decent alternatives to Actor 3-8.

Just in case someone who thinks like an 18 year old me is reading this: no, there doesn't have to be any mushy "relation" stuff, there is totally an ending where they straight on just go all out balls out to kill each other.

Planting and placing these different color-coded encounters with their different behaviors/"rules of engagement", bosses and non-bosses, optional and non-optional, along with treasure, save points, and the consumable Relics, makes the dungeon feel not unlike a "game board" from an Editor's Eye View. Inside, I would imagine the fact that you are CONSTANTLY IN DARKNESS (and, if the soundtrack and writing are doing their jobs, feeling just a little bit spooked) probably diminishes this impression quite a bit but Malleus' dungeons do have a "game board" like quality to them. Because I'm stupid transparent about most things gamedev, I will be the one to first put it out there that this approach to design does have its drawbacks: dungeons that feel "samey" and a lack of unique puzzles (or to be honest, thus far in development, puzzles AT ALL). All I can say is that I'm mad aware of this and am doing my best to design around it (and when necessary, through it).

The Bubonic fricking Plague
Wasn't until I'd had my first bowl hit of the night that I realized how important it was that my game include this as one of its features. The Black Plague casts its long shadow upon the events of Malleus Maleficarum, even if it's not what the story is about. You can get the plague if you do something that could expose you to it (like getting bit by a rat, for instance) AND get really, really unlucky. It WILL be possible by Episode VII of Malleus Maleficarum to CURE the Black Plague. But in this first (or is it "these first and second"? undecided) episode(s), it is not even possible to cure YOUR Black Plague. Whether you reload your last save should you get the plagued or tough it out as a character-building roleplaying experience like
SPOILERS FOR RED DEAD 2 (random, I know)
Arthur's TB
is between you and your God. ; D

That said, on like 40 playtest runs I've only gotten plague once or twice. So unless I've been INCREDIBLY lucky, it must be pretty easy to avoid.

"THE TOURNAMENT ERUPTED INTO A MEDIEVAL MELEE!"
In which we discover what an incurable RenFaire nerd Crow is.

I tried to take what I thought was a relatively Soulsian approach to medieval combat, although of course turn based numbers-based combat will never have the granularity of feel of the slightly different move-sets of all the many many many many many many many many many medieval weapons in each Souls game. Still, many weapons in any given class are viable options at the same time, with strengths and weaknesses, advantages and drawbacks, and then of course weapon classes too have their shared strengths and weaknesses. One thing's for sure, it is manifestly NOT your standard BS JRPG progression of "Sword>Better Sword>Best Sword>Ultra Sword>Omega Sword" w/e the fudge, which requires basically no thinking about how to equip your characters. I have avoided that style of weapon progression in every game I've ever made except the RTPrequel which is a game that is literally ABOUT the RTP, where even then I had a hard time playing it as excruciatingly straight as the VXA database does. ANYWAY, kids,

"Who wields a poem huger than the grave?
Anybody?
Anybody?
Didn't think so."
-e.e. cummings

Long Blades: Probably the most balanced weapons class overall, long blades generally boast average damage, decent accuracy and a high critical rate (but have standard critical multipliers). As a rule, damage scales primarily with Strength but may also be influenced by Agility to some degree. This category also includes the game's few (two handed) greatswords. The first Long Blades Break Art, Storm Wings, deals high Lightning damage to two random enemies.
Short Blades: Short Blades are characterized by the lowest damage and highest critical rates in the game (some also have remarkably high critical multipliers). Some also have That sort of makes them a "gambler's weapon" but as their damage scales primarily with Agility (but may or may not be influenced by Strength to some degree), they are a great choice for any speedy character. The first Short Blades Break Art Fang Song, which double stabinates one enemy, causing Bleed.
Axe/Mace: Brute force. Low Accuracy, High Damage, purely Strength based, mediocre critical rates (but in some cases, high critical multipliers). A necessary source of bludgeoning damage, which is a must-have for skeletal undead, from lowly skeleton archers to lich kings. This category of weapon also includes greataxes and two-handed warhammers. The first Axe/Mace Break Art is Hammer of Heaven which wollops one enemy TWICE for extra Spirit-based Holy Light damage.
Polearms: The second most diverse class of weapons, polearms generally have very high or RIDICULOUSLY HIGH accuracy, mediocre damage, average critical rates but very high critical multipliers, and might inflict piercing and/or bludgeoning and/or slashing damage depending on which polearm is used. Damage scales primarily with Strength, but might be influenced by Agility. Polearms are nearly all two-handed weapons. The first Polearm Break Art is Shadow Pierce, a move which deals extra Dark damage and inflicts the target a Max LP debuff.
Rods/Staves: This is the most diverse class of weapons: a staff could be a two handed wooden stick that increases your Spirit and gives you more Mana for spells that you can make weak melee attacks with as a last resort, or an almost-gun-like one-handed rod that shoots out magical fireballs or lightning bolts. Rods and staves are used in fundamentally different ways, in that some of them 'Press 'Z' to zap' spells (that was just a random roguelike reference, it's not like, actual controls from my game) and others you just WHACK people with. In addition, most of them act as batteries containing Mana to power a Witch's evil spells: the ones that DON'T have unique enchantment auras that they bestow upon the wielder: the Staff of Defense can't shoot spells and isn't a high-capacity Mana battery, but it increases your Armor substantially. On the other hand, the (10,000 Silver) Rod of Blasting fires balefire that will straight-up disintegrate whatever it hits, whether it's a boulder or a charging beast. There are two categories of rods/staves, Clerical, and Druidic/Witch/Warlock/Magician/Magus/Sorcerer/Wizard. Rods/staves in the latter category are illegal. Rods are one-handed, while staves are two handed. The first Rod/Staff Breakart is Sirocco, which deals Insight based fire damage to all foes.
Bows: The better bows get, they more purely they rely on either Strength or Dexterity for damage scaling, but starter bows rely on each about equally. The mighty armor-penetrating Longbow is a "Pure Strength" bow and the rare and expensive Sidhe Bow is a "Pure Agility" bow. Bows generally have above average accuracy, mediocre critical rates, and above average critical multipliers. All bows require two hands (something in which the Bow class of weapons is actually unique). Many bows penetrate armor. Obviously, bows require arrows to fire. Bows all possess the ability to fire nifty flaming arrows, Robin Hood style. The first Bow Break Art is Penetrating Force, a Blast Elemental shot that completely ignores all enemy defenses.
Crossbows: Can I just pause to say crossbows are freaking sweet? Crossbows deal mostly flat damage that isn't as dependent on any of the user's stats as other weapons. Lighter crossbows have their damage slightly influenced by Agility, while heavier crossbows have completely flat damage that doesn't scale. Crossbows have solid accuracy and critical rates. Almost all Crossbows require two hands to use. Obviously, they require bolts to fire. The first Crossbow Breakart is Shadow Shot, a Dark Elemental attack that Blinds the target.
Early Firearms: Guns deal very high flat damage and penetrate armor easily. There are no Gun Break Arts because guns are soulless.
Shields: Shields have a Block Rate (% chance to block a physical attack) and then absorption rate (how much damage gets through a blocked attack). A steel kite shield might have only a 40% Block Chance but block 90% of damage (only average coverage, high resistance) whereas a wooden tower shield could have an 80% or 90% block chance, but will only absorb 40% of damage (very high coverage, low resistance).

View attachment 134449
It took some doing, but I managed to get the equip scene to display a lot of the hidden-by-default stats of weapons in RMMV, in service of how much crunchy differentiation there is in the game's melee and ranged weapons.

I AM DONE. Are there one or three or maybe even as many as FIVE other features that differentiate Malleus Maleficarum from every other RPG Maker game? Sure, probably! But I've always heard that people on average can only pay attention for so many minutes before they start to mentally drop out (it's why my shrink will only give me 45 minute sessions when sometimes I want to talk to him for like THREE HOURS and the session ends exactly as I bring up what I really wanted to talk about), and I think I passed that point (for most people anyway) a while back! Hopefully it won't be

TO BE WRITTEN: a proper credits section, acknowledgements and inspirations (although I imagine the influences of Vagrant Story and the Dark Souls series is self-evident already) quotes, lyrics and songs, a preview of the soundtrack (not an OST, but rather carefully curated and cobbled together from many of the RM scene's most talented composers) as well as possibly some other stuff.
 

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CrowStorm

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(Wow I was thoroughly effing unprepared for this to get approved so quickly after Doge Saga took ~3 days for me to get notified of stuff I needed to edit for it to be approved, then IIRC ~3-5 days to get approved after I made the edits. I am not poopooing RMW staff here, just this got approved like greased lightning in comparison but then again completed games is a different forum from games in development so uh...duh doy.)

Thank you all so much for your interest and kind words they mean the world to me! More than they probably should, I am excessively motivated by external praise and validation lol! It is prolly inevitable that people will come through here with more critical opinions at some point eventually which is great too. The third thing that would also also be great is if anyone has any specific questions about the game/setting/characters/systems I'd be super happy to answer them. (By the time I'm done with all the content that's eventually going to go in this thread, there might not be any questions that aren't preemptively answered, but that's a ways off.

Lemme get y'all some more content! We'll start with characters. First edited into this post, then inserted into the OP.
But mainly just... thanks. :uhappy:

(It is criminal that they don't have these adorable emojiis for the RTP character commonly known as Carol/Caroline, isn't it? Idk, clearly I have a thing for RTP witches. Ulrika will serve for now.)

L'edite: CHARACTERS!

MAIN CHARACTERS
(Note, not all of these are necessarily playable characters.)


Bernie.png

Sir Beatrix Bernadotte

Starting Class & Level: Knight Lvl 2
Age: 22
Skill Types: Break Arts
Proficiency: Short Blades, Long Blades, Axes/Maces, Polearms, Crossbows, Light Armor, Heavy Armor, Shields
Backstory:
Beatrix hates every confounded, convoluted reason that her title is "Sir" but at least she's doing the work she was born for, destroying evil in the name of the Lord.

Women are not allowed to join the Szargovian army, of course. But the sacred texts of Holy Mother Church allow for any lay servant of the Church to join the Inquisition, and to even bear arms and armor as an Inquisitor if they can pass the requisite tests. Her father, Duke Bernadotte, "humored" his daughter by pulling the right strings so that she could take the tests--and then pulled other right strings to ensure she would fail it, so he could say he had given her a fair chance with her wild ideas before she settled down and started being a proper noblewoman.

In spite of her father's meddling, Beatrix passed her text with flying colors. Duke Bernadotte took the necessary political steps so that Beatrix could retain her noble rank and title of Marquessa--some less well-connected Inquisitors must forego theirs. However, there are no Marquis in the Inquisition, so her title there is "Sir", the highest title that the inquisition's men-at-arms are allowed: not that she's actually a MAN at but a woman-at-arms. (Beatrix badly needs the Sanguine Peninsula and the nation of Szargovia to invent feminism, but that movement may be centuries off if it comes at all.)


Wendel (1).png
Frater Wendel
Starting Class: Physicker Lvl 2
Age: 21
Skill Types: Physick
Proficiency: Short Blades, Long Blades, Axes/Maces, Crossbows, Guns, Light Armor
Backstory:
Wendel doesn't have a last name because he was born a commoner, not a noble, and commoners don't have last names (sometimes, serfs or peasants may use the last name of their landlord, if allowed). His title, Frater, indicates that he chose to become a member of the Clergy, one of the only routes of social advancement available to a commoner. As a chirurgeon, Wendel's intense intellectual fascination with science, physick, metaphysick, medicine, maladies, and of course alchemy has limited his advancement in the Clergy to his current rank, which suits Wendel fine. Wendel's main reason for joining the Inquisition was to learn what he could from witches and demons--before burning them, of course. Wendel doesn't like to talk about his past or the peasant family he came from.


Hardin Bust.png
Father Rickard Hardin

Starting Class: Inquisitor Lvl 4
Age: 59
Skill Types: Break Arts, Miracles
Proficiency: Short Blades, Long Blades, Axes/Maces, Bows, Crossbows, Guns, Light Armor, Mystic Armor, Shields
Backstory:
The tale goes that Rickard Hardin was an ordinary pastor in an ordinary parish. Then a witch that was close to him, but not intimate--she could have been an aunt, cousin, or a stepchild but it wasn't a wife or blood daughter (he never married)--gave him ample reason to fear the Dark. The witch sacrificed his entire village to Baphomet. Hardin barely survived and allegedly marched bedraggled, wounded, dirty and exhausted to the nearest chapterhouse of the Inquisition and collapsed on their doorstep, begging to join. Ever since, Hardin has been a legendary witchhunter and has attained the prestigious rank of High Inquisitor, on the High Council immediately beneath the Grand Council and Grand Inquisitor Grimaldi. Never once in his 30 year career has he showed a witch or a creature of the Dark mercy.


mila 70.png
Camila Vallejo (Mila)


Starting Class: Witch Lvl 1
Age: 15 at start of game.
Skill Types: Sorcery
Proficiency: Short Blades, Rod/Staff, Mystic Armor
Backstory:
Camila's just a poor girl, from a poor family! /Queen. Camila, (who goes by Mila to close friends and family) is a poor peasant girl from the poor peasant village of Vaasa on the central-eastern Sanguine Peninsula, just on the northern border of Szargovia. An ordinary child, she is entirely unprepared for the enormous power that is about to find her and invest itself in her, let alone the responsibilities and enemies that power comes with. She's going to have to shed her innocence and grow up fast, coming of age in a grave, brutal world, if she wants to survive. Chax--the mysterious embodiment of that power--likes her to think she is the chosen one. But the truth might owe more to pragmatism.



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Shax/Chax


Starting Class: N/A
Age: ???
Skill Types: Sorcery, Necromancy, Powers Of Hell
Proficiency: Can use a Short Blade, a small Crossbow, a shortbow or a Gun (anything else is too big for him to handle, he's only 3' tall and weighs just 66 lbs), but chooses to wield none of these, instead throwing balls of sticky flame when not casting spells. He has no proficiency with any kind of clothing/armor.
Backstory:
Chax's origins and intentions are unknown. He has thus far demonstrated the ability to take the shapes of: a cat, a bat, a crow, and an owl. He deserves his own sub-section and will get one eventually.

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???????

Starting Class: ???
Age: ???
Skill Types: ???
Proficiency: ???
Backstory: ???

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????????

Starting Class: ???
Age: ???
Skill Types: ???
Proficiency: ???
Backstory: ???

my sweet colleen.png
Sir Cailín Salem

Starting Class: Knight Level 6
Age: 30
Skill Types: Break Arts
Proficiency: Short Blades, Long Blades, Axes/Maces, Polearms, Crossbows, Light Armor, Heavy Armor, Shields
Backstory:
Her name is pronounced "Colleen". Its literal meaning in Avalonian is "girl", a rather cruel irony. Sir Cailín was the first of two women in the Inquisition. Her route in was nothing like Beatrix's, although she too is the scion of a royal family, House Salem. She disguised herself as a man to join the Inquisition and as the story goes by the time they figured out she wasn't, they had long since pronounced her indispensable. Cailín is perfectly comfortable with the title "sir" because it indicates respect. Fear and respect are what Cailín crave from her interaction with others, and she inspires no small portion of both. Of the same rank as Hardin on the High Council of Inquisitors, even among Inquisitors she is known for the violence of her zeal. The saying is that while most Inquisitors are trying to determine if a suspicious person is a witch or a warlock, Cailín has already run that person through with her sword and moved on to the next.


Quinn Salem Bust.png
Prince Quinn Salem

Starting Class: ???
Age: 27
Skill Types: ???
Proficiency: ???
Backstory:
While very bright from a young age, the young Prince Quinn Salem was generally regarded as an irredeemably, fundamentally unserious person. Almost from the moment puberty hit he was a notorious, philandering lush. Quinn loved good food, good wine, beautiful women, beautiful men (at least if some of the rumors are to be believed), song, and dance. In other words, Quinn quickly developed a reputation as a party animal. Although Quinn is Cailín's younger brother, and in spite of all of his failings, he was the heir apparent to House Salem. That's why it was a cause of some upset when the prince disappeared a few years ago, and why greater upset still has been caused by sightings of him around Innsbruck in the last few weeks.

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Sir Dante Albrecht

Class At Death: Knight Lvl 9
Age: Approximately 40 at his time of death, approximately 100 years ago.
Skill Types (while alive): ???
Proficiency (while alive): ???
Backstory:
A loyal soldier of Trieste, Dante Albrecht was a commoner who proved himself a hero in the Trieste-Szargovian war of the late 15th century, and as a reward, was knighted by King Frederick VI of Trieste, and considered part of the royal Oldenburg family. Like most heroes, Dante plunged himself into the thick of battle again and again, his courage unfaltering, his skill legendary...until he died, also like most heroes. His tomb is believed to be somewhere in central Trieste.

Please excuse the diversity of art styles. I am aware of the very obvious stylistic clashes between the bulk of the portraits/busts and the three that are done in wildly varying styles, namely Chax, Mila, and Dante. This may or may not get fixed some time between now and release...Chax will be staying as-is, as that is awesome Creative Commons art I can legally use and I really like it. But like I said, Chax deserves his own whole section.
 
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No cute witch emojis. :(

The save mechanic screenshot made me giggle. 'Offer the jawbone of a saint'. I like to think this is a nod to the many, many claims made by various churches of having saintly body parts in their possession. I mean, John the Baptist only has so many heads and thumb bones to go around. lol.
 

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Yeah, so how that works is, it was inspired by Dark Souls...even though Dark Souls does not actually have an equivalent mechanic (you can burn some item at a bonfire to upgrade your Estus Flask I think, but that's not really the same thing since the estus flask is portable and all bonfires are full heals anyway) it just feels vaguely Souls-y.
Both the Inquisition and the Witches get the ability to enhance their save points to a save point + "recover half" by using an expendable item at the save point.

Inquisition get revived from death, cured of all physical statuses, and restored to full HP at a save point they've offered a jawbone too, making it Hallowed Ground. Witch's Effigy is the counterpart for the witches (just as Consecrated Ground is replaced by Pentagram) to the Jawbone of a Saint. Once a Witch's Effigy is burned at a pentagram, that pentagram becomes a Mana Font which still acts as a save point, but also recovers all mental and magical statuses and fully restores MP.

I want to write an in-game book of hagiography briefly detailing all of the in-game saints and how they died, since there is some delightfully gruesome source material there IRL. Actually, I haven't thought of it before now, but there's a weird parity with the cruel and unusual ways that Christian martyrs were martyred and the cruel and unusual ways that Christians later used to put witches "to the question" (i.e. torture them to death). There are lots of other ingame books I want to write too, some giving setting motivation but most explaining some of the more intricate gameplay mechanics from an in-world perspective, because that seems fun. I'm just about at the part where I get to flesh out the Szargovian capital of Praja (Czech readers will probably be amused by that name), the game's main city, adding all kinds of shops including a book store.
 

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If the player doesn't offer a relic, does the save point only serve to save the game and no more?
Praja kinda sounds like Praha (Prague). I really like using analogues of real world cultures and civs in fantasy settings.
 

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If the player doesn't offer a relic, does the save point only serve to save the game and no more?
Yeah, until a relic is used to upgrade it, it's a regular save point. Pre or post-upgrade it can be used as often as you want like a standard save point.

Praja kinda sounds like Praha (Prague)
Got it in one!

Yes, it is literally and exactly Prague. I mean, dark fantasy Prague with the Inquisition sure, but yeah, it's essentially Prague. :uswt:
 

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Only just noticed that you've updated one of your replies with more character info. Looking good. I really like that Chax looks like he's been ripped right out of a Renaissance painting. ^.^

I also like that you've used archaic words for some of your characters, such as physick - we still have physick gardens over here. lol.

I like how Cailin has the male honorific of sir, rather than dame, because she masqueraded as a man.

It's a very interesting cast of characters. My favourite is probably Sir Dante Albrecht, mainly because I love undead characters. :p
 

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Only just noticed that you've updated one of your replies with more character info. Looking good. I really like that Chax looks like he's been ripped right out of a Renaissance painting. ^.^
I also like that you've used archaic words for some of your characters, such as physick - we still have physick gardens over here. lol.
I'm not sure if physicker was ever a real name for a doctor or if that is one I just made up? I knew that "physick" had been used as well as "Doctor".

My favorite medievalism is "elfshot".

As you can tell, I share your appreciation of ye olde timey archaic language, authoress, doctoress, etcetera. I'm also trying to include whatever case thee/thy/thou, my understanding is that their conjugation versus our standard, normal second person pronoun of you/your/yours, and I think that the distinction was that it was a Middle English equivalent to the tu vs. usted distinction in Spanish. You would use the old timey words when talking to your close pals and inferiors, but the version we use now in more formal situations (so only "usted" survived). I think I am either just making stuff up, or am thinking specifically of Low Speech and High Speech in The Dark Tower but it's in the realm of possibility this was a real thing in logisitcs.

I like how Cailin has the male honorific of sir, rather than dame, because she masqueraded as a man.
Cailin = Colleen = 'Girl' or 'Lass' in Irish, as in "My sweet Coleen." So Sir Cailin's name literally mean "girl" (as Avalon includes, among other world cultures, an Ireland analogue).

This is already the world record for the longest a discussion about pronouns & gender has been enjoyable lol.

To be fair, it's the same title Beatrix has to make due with; this society was so sexist it never invented the word Dame because women below the social rank of Countess were commoners and therefore chattel. I wanted to emphasize that the society is so unprepared for female Knights and the societal progress they represent that they haven't even thought of a title for them yet.

It's a very interesting cast of characters. My favourite is probably Sir Dante Albrecht, mainly because I love undead characters. :p
Me too.

You'd probably pick the cat. The cat is the only form that Chax can take for his familiar that starts with Necromancy spells. So you can have her start out with a familiar that can summon things, which is pretty weird if you think about it. Still unsure if Mila will have Summon spells available on her skill tree.

As for Dante he is totally the Sephiroth of this shizz *swoon*

I am not sure if he will appear in the first episode (free demo), and if he does it'll probably be very very briefly at the end (every other character should get a solid amount of screentime in Parts I and II). He enters the story slightly late but I anticipate he will steal the show.
 

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I'm not sure if physicker was ever a real name for a doctor or if that is one I just made up? I knew that "physick" had been used as well as "Doctor".
You're right, physick didn't mean doctor, it meant medicine in general. So, a medical doctor would be a doctor of physick. There were other types of doctor too. One of my favoourite practices back then was known as chronophysica - a mix of medicine, astrology, and chronometers. They used all manner of arcane instruments to pinpoint the proper time to administer medicine, perform surgery, etc, based upon time of birth, time of injury, and the part of the body that was injured. They also had instruments that measured something called pulse music; not sure if this was just a fancy name for the pulse. lol.

I love medievalisms and, more specifically, archaic English words. There's just so many beautiful and interesting words that have died out.

Like how man doesn't always mean males, but can mean people\humans in general. Werman and wifman were the terms for males and females. I think the word wife came from wif, it certainly looks and sounds like it does.

Or how 'world' (from the Old English weoruld) means the age of man. lol. That's probably one of my favourite olden words. Just sounds so epic. We're not living in the world, we're living in the age of man.

I could bore you all night with this sort of stuff. xD

Cailin = Colleen = 'Girl' or 'Lass' in Irish, as in "My sweet Coleen." So Sir Cailin's name literally mean "girl" (as Avalon includes, among other world cultures, an Ireland analogue).
LOL! So her name is, quite literally, sir girl.

I love me some dystopian exaggerations. Nowt wrong with making an already dark thing even darker. I think a story about witch hunters, witch hysteria, demons, etc, needs to have a very dark backdrop.

Really looking forward to hearing more about your game. :)
 

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Okay, I did not think it was going to take me six days to get back to give this thread a content bump, but that's life. I have a long devlog/blog/forum post about the game's systems and features in me, but for today, instead let's take a quick look at the setting and world.

Oh, I'm quite aware that this setting is (v. self-consciously) quite grimdark McEdgeShadow.

This is a map of the Sanguine Peninsula (just as frequently called Peninsula Sanguine).
PS Good Enough.png
Johnathan Roberts drew it, I just put labels on it.

These are the most interesting places:

The Sanguine Peninsula itself is the northernmost territory claimed by the intercontinental superpower of Castile and considered a Castillen holding (specifically, Innsbruck).

Drakkenmire
This wild sprawl of blighted badlands is known to be the home of most of the world's surviving dragons, and those strange, mad, and/or twisted creatures--very few of them human--that chose to serve their draconic masters during DragonFall, instead of rising up against them with the human-lead resistance.

Avalon
Avalon, also called the Vale, is not the wealthiest or most powerful kingdom on the peninsula, but it is the most respected, revered, and honored one. That is because of its geographical position, where it effectively acts as a buffer for any all terrible things that come out of Drakkenmire or the Hopesdeath Caldera. The occasional sudden, vicious attack by a Ruby Dragon and its followers is the most common, but the area immediately northwest of the Vale regularly ejaculates a bewildering array of diverse horrors.

Avalon was the home of Artúr Banedragon, the human warlord that slew the first dragon killed by man, initiating the DragonFall across the continent. This is another important factor in the respect and honor it's afforded. In addition to being the first line of defense against the frontier of Drakkenvire, the Vale is also known to be closer to the Kingdom of Faerie than anywhere else on the peninsula (of course, Faerie exists nearly everywhere in parallel with mundane reality, but it's a matter of degree to which the presence of the Faeries and the Faeblooded are felt.

Turuksmoor, or the Turukish Empire, to most of the southern Peninsula's inhabitants, and certainly to all of Tsargovia, have always been the most immediate enemy. The Turukish empire is believed to extend well off the map to the north, and may rival the Castillen Empire for size, although it is far more brutal and barbaric. The Turuks are worshippers of the One-And-Three-God, the Holy Trinity of the Father (called God), the Mother (called Astarte), and the Holy Child (called Jason), but their orthodoxy diverges dangerously far from that of the Holy Szargovian Empire. Each considers the other heathens because of the difference in their belief systems, however similar they may be in fact.

Ethnic and racial differences and tensions have exacerbated the situation and the refusal of the Turuks to acknowlege the living divinity of the Szargovian Emperor has proved an unforgivable sacrilege.

Wars and crusades nearly beyond counting have been waged back and forth along the border between the Holy Szargovian Empire and Turuksmoor. Northwatch is the northernmost permanent holding claimed by Szargovia while the twin stone towers of Nur-Sultan are the southernmost permanent holding claimed by the Turukish Empire.


Trieste might be the most powerful nation on the Sanguine Peninsula; it is certainly the largest, at least by most accountings. It has intermarried to a degree with the Szargovian Noble Houses (and hence the Holy Szargovian Empire). Oldenburg is the royal house in Trieste and controls the throne, but Oldenburg is also one of Szargovia's noble houses (and theoretically somewhere in the succession for the Szargovian thrown). The Mayor of Praja is Hans Oldenburg.

Szargovia is the heart of "The Holy Szargovian Empire" is where most if not all of the action of Malleus Maleficarum will take place. The greatest power there is obviously the Church: Pontifex Iolaus XII is believed to speak with the voice of God The Father himself. But the Pontifex is also an old man dying of a wasting sickness, and in practice, the only person he speaks to is The Cardinal, who relays his messages to the ranks of the faithful.

No one knows the Cardinal's name.

Grimaldi is the ruling house of Szargovia. Currently, Crown Prince Regent Erik Grimaldi is the de facto ruler of Szargovia, as his ailing father, Vladislaus II Grimaldi, has abdicated the throne. As Prince Regent, Erik is in charge of Szargovia right now for practical purposes; as Crown Prince, he will shortly become the official king of Szargovia.

In theory, the royal family follows the "spiritual guidance" of the Pontifex (and thus his speaker, the Cardinal), and defer their authority before God. In practice, the ruling house and the church compete in a subtle struggle for power and manipulation over the Szargovian people. King Erik is more popular with the nobility than the church, but the church claims the backing of its own noble houses, and the common man is more afraid of God than the King.

Simon Grimaldi, Erik's brother, is the Grand Inquisitor of the Inquisition. He receives his orders directly from the Cardinal. If Grand Inquisitor Grimaldi's sympathies lie with his family and their ambitions, then the house of Grimaldi has the most overall influence over Szargovia, both secular and religious. But that is not so if Grand Inquisitor Grimaldi's loyalty is to the Pontifex and the Church over his family.

Praja
Generally considered to be the largest, most populous, most advanced, and most civilized city on the Szargovian peninsula. While the capital of Turuksmoor has been razed by Szargovian Knights more than once, Praja prides itself on having never been besieged. While the Szargovian capital and the home of the Pontifex is the smaller city of Zalău (right beneath the letters "Szargovia" on the map), Praja has always been a greater center of culture, trade, and innovation. It is the birthplace of Szargovia's first firearms, the location of the Szargovian library (modest in size and design but with a very extensive collection), and the headquarters of the Inquisition.

Praja2 (2).png
CENTRAL PRAJA
Praja2 (1).png

Innsbruck
The Pontifex used to reside in the city of Innsbruck, before it fell accursed and dark, but that was hundreds of years ago. Since then, Castile has invaded and occupied Innsbruck. Castillen conquistadors have not failed to notice the ancient town is haunted, but they've no idea the true power of the curse that befell Innsbruck in antiquity.
 
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The Stranger

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I like reading the lore of your world. My brain seemed to replace Turuk with Turok though. lol. A whole empire founded by a Native American dinosaur\alien hunter. xD
 

CrowStorm

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I like reading the lore of your world.
Thanks! I'm glad because I like writing about it.
And 'tis been too long w/o an update. So, this safe reserved for the next update, Religion, and maybe just maybe I'll make it a double, also including an introductory devlog about Chax and starting the conversation about the game's unique blend of systems and features.

The portrayal of organized religion in Malleus Maleficarum, while partially based on historical research, is not meant to disrespect anyone's real life faith or to denigrate its worshippers. While similarities may be more than coincidental, no offense is intended in this fictional portrayal.

BAD RELIGIONS - Religiosity In Malleus Maleficarum

Pontifex Iolaus XIII is the Spiritual Leader and Sovereign of the Holy Szargovian Empire, which has existed in some form or another for over 2,000 years. The Pontifex sees virtually no one but the Cardinal, who oversees the day to day affairs of the Church, for the most part leaving the royal house of Grimaldi (Crown Prince Regent Erik Grimaldi has accepted the regency from his elderly, ailing father, King Vladislaus II, making him both the heir apparent to the Szargovian throne and the de facto ruler of Szargovia). Beneath the Cardinal is Grand Inquisitor Simon Grimaldi (a blood relative of Szargovia's ruling house) who oversees the High Council of Inquisitors who oversee the Inquisition.





The faith of Holy Mother Church is built around a Trinity of Three Pillars, three divine beings who are at the same time one: the Father, the Mother, and the Holy Child. The Trinity is separated both separately and unified. The Mother is named Astarte and is venerated as a righteous warrior angel as well as a symbol of fertility. The unseen Holy Child that will one day forgive all our sins is named Jason. The Church's teachings warns against indolence, greed, wrath, covetousness, pride, and gluttony. But heresy--the veneration of any other spirits besides the Holy Trinity--is what the Church combats the hardest.





The other faith practiced in secret lairs like rat warrens dotted all over the Sanguine Peninsula south of Green River is considered by most church theologians to be a syncretic tradition blending aspects of six or seven different cults. The heretics know this to be false: they worship six aspects of one god. That god, never named within the cults (although the Church names him as Shaitan or the Devil), nor worshipped directly, is referred to as The Ageless Stranger*. And the worship of his six aspects is a far, far, far older practice than the Holy Szargovian Church.


The Wych Dancer Osana
The six aspects of the Ageless Stranger are the demon lords Abaddon, Baphomet, Leviathan, Lilith, Moloch, and Samael, and it is these that are worshipped and trafficked with by the witches. Having railed against the blapshemous horrors of sorcery for centuries, Holy Mother Church now seems determined to act.

Inquisitors will hunt, and hunt, and hunt, until all idolaters, traffickers with demons, devil-worshippers, heretics, blasphemers, and other filth have been swept off the face of this land. Their mandate is broad and their power is great, with no one holding the reigns but the Cardinal.



The Innana Heresy is one of the most popular alternate narratives that the Church has tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress for centuries. It teaches that a mortal woman or goddess named Innana (in some versions of the heresy, she is the mother goddess who birthed the earth, in other versions she was a mortal who ascended to godhood for one reason or another) is at the core of the faith of both the Holy Szargovian Church and their nemeses, the pagan demon worshippers. The Heresy states that at some point after the world was created, but before recorded history (thousands of years before the Dragonfall) Innana was herself split (or chose to split herself, depending on which version) into two aspects.

One of those aspects, Ishtar, represents the fidelity, charity, chastity, and grace of the fairer sex, and the ferocity of a warrior angel, and eventually came to be known as Astarte, the Mother in the Church's trinity.


The Goddess Ishtar/The Holy Mother "Astarte"

The other aspect, Osana, was everything that Ishtar wasn't. Where Ishtar was fair and bright, Osana was dark of skin and hair. Ishtar embodied loyalty, while Osana is a seductress that tempts, deriving pleasure from cuckolding men and departing with their wives. Where Ishtar was generous, Osana hordes treasure, magic, and especially secrets. Where Ishtar was chaste, Osana is branded a whore.

Many believe that Osana was in essence the first witch and that it was with her that the worship of the Ageless Stranger began. Others say that she became Lilith, the only purely female aspect of the Stranger. It all comes down to the version of the Innana heresy you believe. If any. It is, after all, heresy.

* The phrase "Ageless Stranger" as far as I can tell originated with Stephen King (I think I first remember seeing it used to describe Randall Flagg in The Stand), but reminds me a lot of the legend of the Wandering Jew. Its similarities to the seven-faced god of George R.R. Martin's ASOIAF books (one facet of which is called "The Stranger") is coincidental, or at least, if it was an influence, it was a subconscious one.

----END THINGY-----

Is it weird that I'm stoked that I needed to use the word syncretic in a sentence?
 
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CrowStorm

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OKEE DOKE let's talk about some of Malleus Maleficarum's features! Soundtrack of the moment is "Changing" by the band Witch (US) (never heard of 'em before I whipped up the Pandora Station for this project) on the album...also called Witch.

GOD I LOVE METAL

By the way the game teaches you about this stuff as you play, in the order in which you need to knowit, in a way I think is pretty unobtrusive as far as tutorials go, but the game AIN'T OUT YET. My point being, the following's a touch long-winded and in-depth, and the in-game tutorials are much less so.

Gameplay Systems/Features/Tutorials
Main - AP Tutorial.png
AP ALLOCATION
Features - AP Allocation.png

While every Malleus Maleficarum PC has a character class that determines the basic progression of their stats, you ALSO receive 6 Attribute Points every label to spend on whatever stats you want, so you can customize each character to have the strengths and weaknesses you want. Shore up a character's weaknesses (like Beatrix's Agility) or exaggerate their strengths (like Beatrix's Strength). The AP Cost per Attribute Boost increases fairly quickly with each Attribute going up in AP Cost in proportion to how many AP you put into it, creating diminishing returns for hyper specialization.

Fair warning, while there will probably be an even fairer in-game warning: characters that aren't "vile witches" or "conduits for holy miracles"--which is about half of them--cannot do anything with their Mana, so investing in more Mana would not be smart.

Also, a general disclaimer: when I say every PC, some PCs are exceptions to some things, such as Chax and Sir Dante.

SKILL LEARNING
Downed enemies drop Essence (ES) based on their power/challenge level. Each character can learn the skills of their class in whatever order that they like by spending Essence on them. Some skills have prerequisites before they will even show up on the list, like attaining a certain level, or learning another skill. Chax is an early and obvious exception to this: he learns skills in a fixed progression based on what form he takes, crow, owl, cat, or wolf.

By The Book
Knowledge of Miracles is imparted directly to Clerics, Holy Knights and Inquisitors by God. Witches and wizards have things a bit more complicated. Before they can learn a spell, they must have found a Grimoire containing that spell. As a rule, Grimoires are found "in the wild" as treasure, but there might be a few more wicked/"enlightened" communities in the Sanguine Peninsula that actually sell tomes of Black Magick, but we won't be visiting any in Episode I.

WRATH OF GOD!
Buries all creatures. They cannot be regenerated. I mean...
Features - Dies Irae.png
Dies Irae which translates from Latin to "Wrath of God" is how Malleus Maleficarum operationalizes RPG Maker MV's "TP" feature. Various archetypes trigger a character's Ire to rise based on their specific conditions: for instance, by default, Hardin (Sadist) raises Ire by taking damage, Beatrix (Penitent) raises Ire by taking damage, and Camila raises Ire by inflicting status effects on foes. The use of Ire is only obvious for martial characters like Inquisitors and Knights (including Holy Knights and Death Knights), who have access to Break Arts. Every weapon class has a Level 1 Break Art that can be activated at 25% IRE, a Level 2 Break Art that can be activated at 50% Ire, and a devastating Ultimate Break Art that can be activated only when the Ire meter is full. It is unclear at this time (I'll leave it up to you whether to read that as "I haven't decided yet" or "I am being mysterious" or some blend of the two) how characters w/o Break Arts will use Ire. It may be in-obvious in game as well.

Eventually, depending on their actions and other factors, characters can unlock additional Dies Irae modes. While only one mode can be active at a time, they can be switched out from the main menu.

NOTE TO SELF: May change the name 'Break Arts' to rip off Vagrant Story less. Will certainly have to change the names of individual Break Arts to rip off Vagrant Story less, although one or two might slip through unaltered. But anyway, in general, note to self: rip off Vagrant Story less obviously.

ALCHEMY
(Art thou afflicted with billious humours today, Cousin?)
Features - mixinggame.png
Alchemy is medieval chemistry, a crazy blend of magic, superstition, prayer, misinformation, lies, rumors, and guesswork...with some actual science thrown in. Physickers and Witches can each perform Alchemy outside of combat using the Mix skill. First, they need a book to learn formulas from: Physicker Wendel starts with \fiPhilosophia Hermetica\fi and can learn new recipes by discovering new

Alchemy in Malleus Maleficarum is certainly not what I'd call realistic, but tries to give a nod to realism whenever possible. Charcoal is used in real life as an antitoxin/emetic, for instance, so bitumen (tar) is an ingredient in the Purgative item. The ingredients above could...probably...be used in combination with a nice big mason jar to make a pretty devastating firebomb (KIDS, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!) although you'd want the distilled hydrocarbons in the bitumen in a different form of hydrocarbon distillate, and you'd have to be very careful about how to incorporate the explosive element of fulminating silver.

The primary reason that "realism" wasn't more of a goal with alchemy is that Malleus Maleficarum is not even set on Earth. So the properties of herbs like henbane, wolf's bane, and hemlock give some tribute to what those plants were/are used for in real herbalism, but have different and/or stronger magical properties in this world. There are also some magical ingredients that are completely made up from whole cloth. For instance, goldthorne tree sap is processed into goldthorne extract, which is a base reagent used in the vast majority of common potions.

Some ingredients can be used on their own, although most can't. For instance, "Small Amanita" mushrooms will restore your mana but make you trip balls when eaten raw, or can be used as an ingredient to create mana potions that WON'T cause you to hallucinate.

DUNGEONS & ... MORE ... DUNGEONS
Features - Jawbone.png

Dungeons in Malleus Maleficarum are systematic dungeons. Systematic isn't the only approach or the one true way to designing good or great dungeons, obviously, it's just one that I'm really stoked on at the present moment.

Let me explain what I mean by Systematic. For starters, all encounters are on-touch and none of them respawn (no random encounters; severely limited grinding, creating "safe areas" is possible). Additionally, these on-touch encounters are color-coded and have rules to how they behave. Standard encounters might give chase when they see you, whereas optional bosses might wait, stationary on one tile, for you to engage them (they even warn you/give you an 'Are you sure?'! It's not as dramatic as traversing fog gates in the BloodSouls games but it serves the same purpose, you have to make a conscious decision to fight the thing). Sometimes these optional bosses are at the end of a corridor, and sometimes they are blocking access to a room bristling with interesting treasure or something else you want to get at.

Tutorials - Dungeon 2.png

Additionally, dungeons contain rare, hidden items (for the Inquisitors, 'The Jawbone Of A Saint'; for the Witches, wooden effigies (those creepy things you see hanging from the trees in Blair Witch). These items can upgrade any save point in the dungeon into a save point + "Recover Half". Team Inquisitors get their Life Points refilled and all physical statuses (except Plague) cured, while Team Witches get cured of all mental/spiritual and magical statuses and regain all of their Mana.

Tutorials - Dungeon 3.png

Because the two "teams" definitely get split up, mixed, and muddled before the end of the story, I've yet to decide what will jappen with the Jawbone/Effigy thing the first time that, for instance, Beatrix and Camila are finally in a party together.

tangent
As much as I love the Carol/Caroline/Whatever Her Name Is In MV RTP character, good ol' Actor 3-8 in this case, and I DO have mad love for that cute little witch (she's like Masha with modesty lol) I'm concerned that aesthetically Bea and Mila won't make for a cute couple on screen because they're so similar looking. Specifically their hair is way too close to being the same exact shade. I wish I had any decent alternatives to Actor 3-8.

Just in case someone who thinks like an 18 year old me is reading this: no, there doesn't have to be any mushy "relation" stuff, there is totally an ending where they straight on just go all out balls out to kill each other.

Planting and placing these different color-coded encounters with their different behaviors/"rules of engagement", bosses and non-bosses, optional and non-optional, along with treasure, save points, and the consumable Relics, makes the dungeon feel not unlike a "game board" from an Editor's Eye View. Inside, I would imagine the fact that you are CONSTANTLY IN DARKNESS (and, if the soundtrack and writing are doing their jobs, feeling just a little bit spooked) probably diminishes this impression quite a bit but Malleus' dungeons do have a "game board" like quality to them. Because I'm stupid transparent about most things gamedev, I will be the one to first put it out there that this approach to design does have its drawbacks: dungeons that feel "samey" and a lack of unique puzzles (or to be honest, thus far in development, puzzles AT ALL). All I can say is that I'm mad aware of this and am doing my best to design around it (and when necessary, through it).


The Bubonic ****ing Plague
Wasn't until I'd had my first bowl hit of the night that I realized how important it was that my game include this as one of its features. The Black Plague casts its long shadow upon the events of Malleus Maleficarum, even if it's not what the story is about. You can get the plague if you do something that could expose you to it (like getting bit by a rat, for instance) AND get really, really unlucky. It WILL be possible by Episode VII of Malleus Maleficarum to CURE the Black Plague. But in this first (or is it "these first and second"? undecided) episode(s), it is not even possible to cure YOUR Black Plague. Whether you reload your last save should you get the plagued or tough it out as a character-building roleplaying experience like
SPOILERS FOR RED DEAD 2 (random, I know)
Arthur's TB
is between you and your God. ; D

That said, on like 40 playtest runs I've only gotten plague once or twice. So unless I've been INCREDIBLY lucky, it must be pretty easy to avoid.

"THE TOURNAMENT ERUPTED INTO A MEDIEVAL MELEE!"
In which we discover what an incurable RenFaire nerd Crow is.

I tried to take what I thought was a relatively Soulsian approach to medieval combat, although of course turn based numbers-based combat will never have the granularity of feel of the slightly different move-sets of all the many many many many many many many many many medieval weapons in each Souls game. Still, many weapons in any given class are viable options at the same time, with strengths and weaknesses, advantages and drawbacks, and then of course weapon classes too have their shared strengths and weaknesses. One thing's for sure, it is manifestly NOT your standard BS JRPG progression of "Sword>Better Sword>Best Sword>Ultra Sword>Omega Sword" w/e the fudge, which requires basically no thinking about how to equip your characters. I have avoided that style of weapon progression in every game I've ever made except the RTPrequel which is a game that is literally ABOUT the RTP, where even then I had a hard time playing it as excruciatingly straight as the VXA database does. ANYWAY, kids,


"Who wields a poem huger than the grave?
Anybody?
Anybody?
Didn't think so."
-e.e. cummings

Long Blades: Probably the most balanced weapons class overall, long blades generally boast average damage, decent accuracy and a high critical rate (but have standard critical multipliers). As a rule, damage scales primarily with Strength but may also be influenced by Agility to some degree. This category also includes the game's few (two handed) greatswords. The first Long Blades Break Art, Storm Wings, deals high Lightning damage to two random enemies.
Short Blades:
Short Blades are characterized by the lowest damage and highest critical rates in the game (some also have remarkably high critical multipliers). Some also have That sort of makes them a "gambler's weapon" but as their damage scales primarily with Agility (but may or may not be influenced by Strength to some degree), they are a great choice for any speedy character. The first Short Blades Break Art Fang Song, which double stabinates one enemy, causing Bleed.
Axe/Mace: Brute force. Low Accuracy, High Damage, purely Strength based, mediocre critical rates (but in some cases, high critical multipliers). A necessary source of bludgeoning damage, which is a must-have for skeletal undead, from lowly skeleton archers to lich kings. This category of weapon also includes greataxes and two-handed warhammers. The first Axe/Mace Break Art is Hammer of Heaven which wollops one enemy TWICE for extra Spirit-based Holy Light damage.
Polearms: The second most diverse class of weapons, polearms generally have very high or RIDICULOUSLY HIGH accuracy, mediocre damage, average critical rates but very high critical multipliers, and might inflict piercing and/or bludgeoning and/or slashing damage depending on which polearm is used. Damage scales primarily with Strength, but might be influenced by Agility. Polearms are nearly all two-handed weapons. The first Polearm Break Art is Shadow Pierce, a move which deals extra Dark damage and inflicts the target a Max LP debuff.
Rods/Staves: This is the most diverse class of weapons: a staff could be a two handed wooden stick that increases your Spirit and gives you more Mana for spells that you can make weak melee attacks with as a last resort, or an almost-gun-like one-handed rod that shoots out magical fireballs or lightning bolts. Rods and staves are used in fundamentally different ways, in that some of them 'Press 'Z' to zap' spells (that was just a random roguelike reference, it's not like, actual controls from my game) and others you just WHACK people with. In addition, most of them act as batteries containing Mana to power a Witch's evil spells: the ones that DON'T have unique enchantment auras that they bestow upon the wielder: the Staff of Defense can't shoot spells and isn't a high-capacity Mana battery, but it increases your Armor substantially. On the other hand, the (10,000 Silver) Rod of Blasting fires balefire that will straight-up disintegrate whatever it hits, whether it's a boulder or a charging beast. There are two categories of rods/staves, Clerical, and Druidic/Witch/Warlock/Magician/Magus/Sorcerer/Wizard. Rods/staves in the latter category are illegal. Rods are one-handed, while staves are two handed.
Bows: The better bows get, they more purely they rely on either Strength or Dexterity for damage scaling, but starter bows rely on each about equally. The mighty armor-penetrating Longbow is a "Pure Strength" bow and the rare and expensive Sidhe Bow is a "Pure Agility" bow. Bows generally have above average accuracy, mediocre critical rates, and above average critical multipliers. All bows require two hands (something in which the Bow class of weapons is actually unique). Many bows penetrate armor. Obviously, bows require arrows to fire. Bows all possess the ability to fire nifty flaming arrows, Robin Hood style. The first Bow Break Art is Penetrating Force, a Blast Elemental shot that completely ignores all enemy defenses.
Crossbows: Can I just pause to say crossbows are freaking sweet? Crossbows deal mostly flat damage that isn't as dependent on any of the user's stats as other weapons. Lighter crossbows have their damage slightly influenced by Agility, while heavier crossbows have completely flat damage that doesn't scale. Crossbows have solid accuracy and critical rates. Almost all Crossbows require two hands to use. Obviously, they require bolts to fire. The first Crossbow Breakart is Shadow Shot, a Dark Elemental attack that Blinds the target.
Early Firearms: Guns deal very high flat damage and penetrate armor easily. There are no Gun Break Arts because guns are soulless.
Shields: Shields have a Block Rate (% chance to block a physical attack) and then absorption rate (how much damage gets through a blocked attack). A steel kite shield might have only a 40% Block Chance but block 90% of damage (only average coverage, high resistance) whereas a wooden tower shield could have an 80% or 90% block chance, but will only absorb 40% of damage (very high coverage, low resistance).

Main - Equipscene.png
It took some doing, but I managed to get the equip scene to display a lot of the hidden-by-default stats of weapons in RMMV, in service of how much crunchy differentiation there is in the game's melee and ranged weapons.

I AM DONE. Are there one or three or maybe even as many as FIVE other features that differentiate Malleus Maleficarum from every other RPG Maker game? Sure, probably! But I've always heard that people on average can only pay attention for so many minutes before they start to mentally drop out (it's why my shrink will only give me 45 minute sessions when sometimes I want to talk to him for like THREE HOURS and the session ends exactly as I bring up what I really wanted to talk about), and I think I passed that point (for most people anyway) a while back! Hopefully it won't be three friggin' weeks before the next update, although in any case I doubt that update will be as in-depth as this one.
 
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CrowStorm

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ALPHA TESTERS NEEDED
Hey, so I need four people willing to alpha test the first two hours of this game. I don't have alpha test builds ready to go right now but I intend to next weekend. If you're interested in playtesting, please follow me on itch.io. I don't want to assume I'm lucky enough to have more people WANTING to test the game than slots for testers, however, the tester slots I have will go to the first four people to follow me on itch.io.

Alpha testers will receive either a complimentary copy of the first commercially released installment or a coupon for 50% off, not sure yet but you will get something more tangible than a prominent place in the game's credits...which you will also get.

Ideal Skillset:
  • Attention to detail, to catch as many bugs, passability errors, and typos as possible.
  • Patience. The game has some branching story stuff already and will have more as it matures so you'll need to test multiple different ways of playing through the same area.
  • Tact. It is, to a certain degree, your main job to tell me what's wrong with the game but please also tell me what you like about it (in workshopping this is the old "compliment sandwich" thing) so that I don't just get demoralized.
  • Communication. You should be able to be articulate about what's working, what's not working, and how you think what's not working can best be fixed in a reasonably clear and eloquent manner.
  • Working copy of RMMV a plus but not, I think, mandatory.
Alpha Testers absolutely can still review the game when it is released should they choose.

If you're looking at that bullet-pointed list and feeling intimidated by it, don't be. Particularly if I don't already have four testers. I'd much rather have four testers that kind of sort of meet some of the criteria than two testers that meet them personally.

Thank you, thank you, thank you,

- Crow
 
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CrowStorm

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HEY, HEY KIDS

So life happened way too hard this week and I do not at all have playtest builds ready to go. I'm almost certainly getting evicted in the next month or so, I don't know where I'm going to live after that, and it suckssssssssss. Anyway it seems like no one is interested in playtesting this anyway? Please don't read this as passive aggressive, it's not meant that way, but that's disappointing. : (

If you are interested in playtesting but have some issue w/ following me on itch.io then let's do this instead, just give me a shout here in this thread, more convenient for you that way.
 

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