Part 121: Game Mechanics Update #1: Character, Interface, & Inventory
Greetings, readers of the LP archive. Assuming that you've just finished reading the bulk of the story, I thank you. The remainder of these pages are behind the scenes things and extras, there is no more story content left, except for the in-game fiction at the end. Thanks for reading!
Game Mechanics Update #1: Character, Interface, and Inventory
Before we get too far into the game, I should explain the mechanics more in-depth. This update covers Attributes, Character Classes, Interface and Inventory, and Combat.
This is all 'About the Game' stuff for those who are interested in what playing the game is actually like.
There are only four primary attributes in the game, but it's not simple how they affect your character.
Strength affects carrying capacity (it increases by 20 units per point for all classes), weapon damage (including bows), and lets you use heavy equipment. None of the equipment will require more than
Agility affects your ability to successfully hit your opponent with weapons, and avoid your opponent's strikes. None of the equipment will require more than 70 agility. With enough points into agility, Survivors can get huge bonuses to defense, effectively rendering them immortal to physical attacks. Wizards who don't intend to fight in melee combat should skip this as much as possible, only as much as they need to equip a weapon of their choice. In order to wield a nice late-game weapon, we'll stop at 30 Agility. (That's how many attribute points we'll put in, when you add in other bonuses, our agility will go much higher than that.) You can't go any higher than a 94% chance to hit an enemy or a 19% chance to get hit by an enemy.
Intelligence affects your maximum Magic (AKA mana). Since your Magic reserve doesn't regenerate over time or increase with your level, at least some points here will be vital for Wizards. Warriors and Survivors can avoid putting points here, because lots of items come with direct bonuses to Magic that are bigger than the value you get for putting points into intelligence. I dumped all my other attribute points here.
Constitution affects your level of Health and Stamina. This is important because you do not get additional health points as you increase in level. Wizards can generally be frugal with points here, but they can't afford to ignore it entirely, as the bosses in the game hit really, really, hard. I'll probably be keeping a LOT of stat point unallocated in case I suddenly need to pump up my health to deal with a boss. (fuck you, Josephina. ) EDIT: In fact, I ended up only putting in 25 points into Constitution.
Stamina works like in Diablo II and lets you run until it runs out. Additionally, it is also used for your class's Special Move.
The game tells you that it's OK to build your character any way you want, use any set of skills you want, wield any weapon you want. But not all characters are the same. There are some hidden mechanics that make it a bad idea to try and build a melee combat wizard or sneaky warrior. Attribute points don't have a 1:1 ratio for all classes - your class affects how attribute points are calculated.
Here's a handy table to explain what your class choice affects. I spent hours prettying it up for you. CON is Constitution, INT is Intelligence, STR is Strength and AGI is Agility.
Damage per strength point is a good reason why making a melee-fighting mage is not ideal. Even with identical statistics, the warrior will do FOUR times the damage as a mage with the same equipment.
The Agility formulas for Offense and Defense seem complicated, but here's what it means: The Warrior has good offense, but has a penalty to defense. The Survivor has a penalty to offense, but has good defense. The Wizard has a penalty to both offense and defense.
In detail, assuming 10 points of Agility for all characters produces this result:
Warrior: Offense = 8, Defence = 6
Survivor: Offense = 6, Defence = 8
Wizard: Offense = 6, Defence = 6
I'm not completely sure what Offence score is used for, actually. It's different from "Chance to hit", but it probably serves a similar effect.
Items with +Defence and +Offence modifiers (in addition to others) can be extremely good, I can't guarantee it works this way in all cases, but for Jeremiah, one point into Defence reduces the chance for enemies to hit you by 1%. It's not as useful as +Vitality or +Magic, but +5 Defense as an added bonus on an good item is always great, it reduces your chance for an enemy to hit you by 5%.
There is no Charisma stat, character reactions to you are based on two things: Your Reputation, and how you've specifically treated them through dialogue options and questing. Some dialog options have a permanent effect on an NPC's attitude; others are temporary for that conversation only.
Reputation is like a global Charisma stat, but you can only raise or lower it from completing certain quests (getting caught doing bad things also lowers reputation, obviously).
Recuperation is the time you need to recover before taking another swing. The lower the number, the faster you attack. Faster is better. Our mage won't care much about this.
There is a hidden "noise penalty" - the distance at which enemies hear you moving is based on your class - Warriors can be heard from 4 units further away than a wizard can, and a wizard can be heard from 4 units further away than a Survivor can. So, when it comes to stealth, Survivor > Wizard > Warrior. I do not know if this is affected by armor weight. The more noise you make, the more enemies will hear you and come attack.
Weight is how much you can carry. Each point of strength adds 20 to your maximum carry capacity. 1800 seems like a lot, but it's less than you think. That tiny little knife I got in Joram's cellar weighs 20. At 75% of your maximum weight, you become encumbered and can't run.
Like Diablo 2, there are elemental attacks and resistances. The major difference is that there is no "Cold" resistance, and in fact, only one cold magic attack in the game. There are still Fire and Lightning resistances.
Fire Resistance is good to have because there are quite a number of enemies who do fire damage.
Lightning Resistance is good not because many enemies use it, but because when you do get hit with the rare bolt, IT HURTS.
Poison Resistance isn't needed too much, but when you're poisoned, you can get stunned for a second when you take damage, which makes it hard to run away. High poison resistance and you don't get stunned.
In place of Magic resistance is Spiritual Resistance, which resists a certain type of magical attack (identified by skills which say "only affects targets with Spiritual Resistance below x"). If a magical attack isn't elemental and has no Spiritual damage identifier, it counts as physical damage which can't be resisted (only mitigated through armor). That makes some spells like Hell Spikes exceptionally powerful later on.
Classes (Click for video with voice acting)
The basic character classes are Warriors, Wizards/Mages, and Survivors; combat, magic and stealth classes respectively. Your class affects your primary attributes, starting skills, and the effect primary attribute points have on your secondary attributes. Each Class also gets a unique special move that uses your stamina. Each class starts with 10 points in their primary attributes, and an additional 5 points to one of their primary attributes based on class.
Special Move: Swirl Attack
The Warrior's special move is a swirling attack which hits every enemy at close range. It's very effective. Warriors do the most damage done per point in strength.
Warriors get their additional 5 attribute points in Strength.
Male Warriors start off with Sword Expertise and Augment Damage. If you're planning to use swords, you can pick this character. Otherwise, choose the Female Warrior, she starts with Repair (a must-have skill), and Elven Sight (a must-have for Rangers), which increases your maximum sight range by 2 per rank.
There aren't a lot of cool looking combat moves, so it gets pretty repetitive and dull towards the end of the game. Instead, what Warriors DO have a lot of passive bonuses: Passive chance to stun, passive chance to add Fire, Lightning, Poison, and Spiritual damage, passive chance to do an instant-kill Death Strike on an enemy, and a lot of passive defense bonuses as well.
Warriors gain the most health and fewest mana from points in Constitution and Intelligence respectively. Agility points give good bonuses to offence, but their defense is lacking.
"Divine Divinity Manual" posted:
Cold, sharp steel and hardened armor are the warriors' closest companions in their fight to meet evil head-on and defeat it with glory. The clashing of steel and the clamor of battle is music to their ears. Through rigorous training with some of the heaviest weapons available, warriors develop high strength and vitality, allowing them to wield brutal weapons and don the heaviest armor in battle.
Warriors can be found in abundance throughout the land of Rivellon, particularly during these dark times. When they are not in the midst of battle, you will likely find them at the nearest tavern speaking of great deeds past and present, or frequenting the local weapon shops.
Strength and honor are the marks of a warrior. They place great importance on physical power. They are easily angered but also quick to call anyone who shows valor in the face of adversity a friend. Some of the most powerful warriors in Rivellon possess not only great strength, but can also develop skills to cast powerful enchantments on weapons to boost their effectiveness in combat.
Special Move: Sneak
Being a Survivor is viable, but stealth is not very useful in most cases. Sneaking is the survivors special move, you crouch down and your stamina starts draining. Survivors are the only class that can interact with things when near-invisible.
But sneaking has difficulties. You can't sneak in the presence of light (which includes daylight), enemies often turn around as you try and sneak up on them (thankfully, the "backstab" skill doesn't care if the enemy sees you). Even if you attack an enemy while sneaking, other enemies can hear the fight and come anyway. If you do manage to sneak to an enemy facing away, they won't turn around, letting you chip at their health until dead. But those times are rare.
Survivors get their additional 5 attribute points in Agility.
The Male Survivor starts with Traders Tongue, which reduces prices at merchants. It is not especially useful, and he also starts with Assassin's kiss, which is a great skill for people who like to use daggers - it gives a 10-50% chance to do double damage with a dagger.
The Female Survivor starts with Lockpick and Identify. Lockpick requires you to have some lockpicks, so it's not immediately useful, but it will be invaluable later on. Identify teaches you how to identify magical items of Ranks 1 through 5, saving you the gold.
For straight up combat, there are advantages for survivors: from their agility points, Survivors get good bonuses to their defense, and it can be hard for enemies to even hit you towards the endgame.
Bows are also useful for Survivors because they make less noise than other classes, letting them kite enemies and escape easily.
The Survivor class has a really odd mix of talents. A lot of them would fit better in the mage or warrior tree, but those were full up. It seems that their skill-set ended up being a dumping ground for everything else that sounded remotely useful.
"Divine Divinity Manual" posted:
Some call them thieves and cutthroats, but the fairness of it is that Survivors have more morals than many a wealthy merchant or those in political office. They endure life by relying on their quick wits and equally quick reflexes. If these abilities work favorably towards relieving the greedy of their heavy purses to help keep themselves fed, then so be it.
Survivors tend to view themselves as victims of a corrupt society where the rich get richer and the poor simply starve. A representative of the Merchant's Guild once asked a well-known cut-purse, caught operating in Verdistis, whether he felt any guilt at stealing the hard-earned money form honest merchants. "I will let you know when I find one to steal from," came the contemptuous reply.
Although Survivors are adept at stealth and would prefer to remain hidden from an opponent in order to achieve their goals, they are still competent fighters. They favour light and fast weapons such as bows, spears and daggers. Many even develop the ability to hide in shadows, set devious traps and develop a proficiency in the art of poisoning.
Special Move: Swap places
The Wizard's special move is Swap Places, which lets you trade places with any enemy or NPC. It may be occasionally handy to get out of the middle of crowds, but it's also useful to move NPC's around so you can steal stuff from their house. I won't be using this much at all, it's an escape skill, if you need to use it, you've probably done something wrong.
Wizards get their additional 5 attribute points in Intelligence.
Wizards (or Mages, the game uses the terms interchangeably) have some huge advantages over the other classes, if you know how to exploit things right. There's no casting delay on spells, so you can fire as rapidly as you can right-click. Also, only Wizard spells can be bought in stores in the form of spell books (see image below).
Survivors and Warriors can use the spell books the same as a Wizard can, but their own skills cannot be bought or found in loot.
Not only can you buy spell books, but bookcases and bookshelves have a small but significant chance of spawning a spell book the first time you mouse over them. Those are completely free of trouble and cost - as long as no one sees you nick it.
You can also drag the book into a container you own and leave with it regardless of people watching. If you save before mousing over a bookshelf, you can abuse quickloading to get tons of free skill points.
One of the things I did was save and reload until I found at least one spellbooks from every inhabited house except one (which I'll do later).
But merely finding free skills isn't the game-breaking thing. This is: spell books ignore level requirements. If at level 1, you find a book for a spell that requires level 22 to put a point into it, you can get and use that skill 21 levels early. All these free skill points add a wrinkle to planning your character, though - if you use the bookshelf trick, you may as well give up any build plans and just wing it.
A female Wizard I made earlier had five points into the Bless skill by level 14 - without putting one single point into it, thanks to three free skill books and a quest reward. Normally, you'd need to be level 27 to get that high. In my current playthrough, Jeremiah has maxed out Elemental Hail by level 11. That would require level 48 normally.
Both Male and Female Wizards start with Meteorstrike, a basic fireball spell. It does moderate damage (8-28 at Rank 1), but it's got a very low mana cost - 2 mana per shot at Rank 1.
Male wizards start with Summon Vermin. Summon Vermin summons 1-5 rats that mill around and distract enemies quite effectively. It isn't very useful, except to trigger traps which are in certain areas.
Female Wizards start with Bless, which boosts all your attributes for 3 points for 15 seconds at Rank 1, up to 15 points for 120 seconds at Rank 5. It is good when maxed out, although your health and magic don't go up, you'll need to take potions to get up to your temporary maximum.
"Divine Divinity Manual" posted:
Many townsfolk finding themselves on the same roadside as an approaching wizard are likely to hasten to the other side. "Arrogant," "Self-serving" and "Too powerful for their own good," are just some of the comments made (behind their backs) about these enigmatic figures. Yet look back through history to the many wars and epic battles between good and evil, and you shall find their kind playing pivotal roles in keeping the forces of hell at bay.
"If it was not for the powers of magic during the last great wat, the League of the Seven Races would have surely been destroyed by Lord Chaos, and one of his Damned would be walking these streets instead of me," commented one irritated mage. Giving their will over completely to the study of magic grants the mages almost unrivalled intellect and great reserves of inner magical power. They largely shun armor and weapons in favour of battle magic to defeat their enemy.
Mages may be relatively weak in physical strength, but they command powerful forces by will of their intellect. A searing fireball spell will kill an opponent as surely as a blade to the neck. The more powerful mages can even gain mastery of the elements and summon creatures to aid them in battle.
Interface and Inventory
The game certainly loves to give you information (yet somehow, it often leaves you uninformed about what some things actuallty mean). The HUD is rather busy. In addition to the standard health, magic, stamina and experience bars, you also have buttons that can show you what weapons you have in your inventory, what potions you're carrying, and what skills you have available. If you find the HUD too obnoxious, you can right-click it and it goes away, leaving you with just three thin Health, Magic, and Stamina bars at the bottom. That mini-HUD really comes in handy for faking screenshots.
The Weapons, Skills and Potions buttons open up a mini-tab (which stays open until you clock the button to close it) showing you exactly what you have available.
The diary is even more informative. It contains quests, a map of the area you're in (which you can add your own notes to), a listing of the number of each type of enemy you have killed and the statistics for that enemy, a conversation log, and personal traits (your level, attributes and resistances)
Your inventory is constrained only by the amount of weight you can carry. Even for a lowly 10-strength mage, it's quite a lot, although things weigh a lot more than you would think they would. For example, the knife I got in Joram's cellar weighs 20 units. The quarter-staff weighs 80. One small potion weighs 1 (which is a bargain if you have the right kind of potion)
You are encumbered at 75% of your maximum weight, which means that you're reduced to walking. If you reach 100%, you can't pick anything up and can't move (except if you use an item we'll find fairly soon).
Your Inventory is divided into five categories: Weapons, Armor, Magic Items, Potions, and everything else. Magic Items don't include weapons and armor, All that goes in that category are spellbooks, a certain special scroll type, and miscellaneous magic quest items and artefacts.
Your Equipped Items screen is a typical paper doll pretty much identical to Diablo 2's (slots for helm, chest armor, belt, gloves, footwear, two rings and an amulet, weapon and shield. The only difference of note is that Divine Divinity has an additional leg armor slot.
It's a bit early to mention this, but some higher-quality magic items have a Charm Quality number. That's the number of sockets available on an item to insert Charms, which give a bonus to either health, mana, an attribute or a resistance.
Combat is in real-time with pause. You can pause the game at any time and mouse over enemies to see their health bar, letting you choose your targets. You can chance your active skill while paused, which works especially well since there's no cooldown time on spells. You can also open up your character screens and inventory without pausing, although actually doing anything will un-pause.
Left-click is melee, Right-click is your currently selected skill.
You can use the function keys (F1-F12) to hotkey skills, potions, or weapons, which helps make controlling your character pretty efficient. It's very helpful to have Restoration potions as one of your hotkeys so you can tap that to restore 50% of your health and Magic without stopping fighting. This will likely be necessary in some tough boss fights.
Click on an enemy once and you'll keep attacking until you or it are dead, you don't need to repeatedly click or hold the button down, unless of course you move around, which is also done by clicking.
If you've clicked on an enemy to melee it, but have an attack spell readied, you can right-click on a second enemy. You'll cast your spell at the second enemy, then immediately resume meleeing the other one.
The Control key targets the nearest enemy, hold it and click to cast a spell or run up and hit the enemy.
Like most RPG's with hidden dice-rolls, it's easier to hit enemies the same or lower level, harder to hit higher level enemies.
Sometimes you'll see skills listed as doing X + Y damage. For example, Rank 1 Meteorstrike does 8 + 20 damage. The first number is the minimum damage, add that to the second number to get the maximum damage. Example: 8 + 20 damage is 8 + (0-20) damage, or 8-28 damage.