The Let's Play Archive

Realms of Arkania III: Shadows over Riva

by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 1: Character Creation

Here we can see the character’s stats. From the top, the left side has the positive traits: Courage, Wisdom, Charisma, Dexterity (hand-eye), Agility (full body contortion), Intuition, and Strength. However, on the right side we see the negative traits: Superstition, Acrophobia (fear of heights), Claustrophobia (tight spaces), Avarice (greed), Necrophobia (dead bodies/undead), Curiosity, and Violent Temper. These you generally want to be low, especially Superstition, which makes you especially vulnerable to magic.

Here we have the skills. The names should make most of these pretty obvious, and I’ll get into more depth once they start coming up. Figuring out successes in The Dark Eye is pretty simple—roll a 20-sided die, and if the number is lower than the skill level (+ or – modifiers), you succeed. As such, skill levels range between -20 to +20.

Something else to note, though, is that Shadows over Riva is hard. Does the skill succeed? Roll for it. Does the spell work? Roll for it. Will the crippling disease infect the character? Roll for it. Will you be able to identify the crippling disease and purchase the correct herbs to counter it? Roll for it. And most of all, can you increase a skill when you gain a level? (Inverted) roll for it. Between having to roll for skill increases and critical failures that can potentially break your weapon or make you stab yourself in the eye, the game can be a lot harder than even 2nd edition D&D.

The game also keeps track of food, water, and sleep, adding to the basic difficulty. The rest I’ll get into once it comes up.

On the plus side, any spellcaster can learn any spell, assuming s/he can get it up to at least -5. Most of these spells are worthless, at least in the game; I’ll explain each spell I use after the video I cast it in.

Oh, have I mentioned that? The reason I called this a hybrid is because, while wandering about in town will be done in screenshot format, all combats will be shown in video form. Combat is turn based, but I’m familiar enough with the system and the combats are few enough in number that watching them should be more entertaining than seeing a few screenshots. Now, let’s get to the character classes.

Jesters are poor fighters, but they have strong Body and Social skills.

Hunters are at home in the wilderness. They specialize in missile weapons and have good Nature and “Treat ___” skills.

Warriors have by far the best Combat skills, with fairly good Body as well. Even better, they can use almost every weapon and armor in the game.

The Rogue is about what you’d expect, with good Craftsmanship, Body, Social, and Intuitive skills, although the Social is worse than the Jester and their combat skills also leave something to be desired.

Much like the earliest forms of D&D, races count as separate classes in SoR. In this case, Thorwalians are basically Vikings: a massive love affair with axes and swords, better Nature skills, but they can’t wear the heaviest armor.

Dwarves are also warrior-types. They also love axes and can wear the best armor, along with a focus in Craftsmanship skills. Still not quite as good as Warriors, though.

Warlocks (and Witches) are one of the spellcasting classes. They have a limited amount of class spells (class determines how fast you can level a spell up), but their broom can come in handy, as can their “Treat ____” skills, particularly since there isn’t a dedicated healer type (or even any good healing spells, for that matter).

Druids are also spellcasters. Their spell list is slightly more useful than the witches, but all they’ve really got for skills is in the Nature category.

Magicians are the ultimate spellcasting class. They get more Astral Points (mana), more spell increasing attempts per level, and their list of class spells is more than the other classes combined. They’ve also got some neat tricks they can make their staff do, and they’re practically the only class with good numbers in the Lore skill category.

They also specialize in a certain magic school. Whatever else is true, the party will contain a Magician, and s/he will specialize in the Transformation skill set. You’ll understand why later.

Slightly worse than ice elves.

Slightly worse than sylvan elves.

I have no idea why there are three types of elf. The only real difference is the minimum requirements for ability levels, and since you can roll as often as you want to make a character, that doesn’t really matter. Elves are good at distance weapons and Nature skills, and they have a good spell list, although they have crap where their spell increases ought to be.

Something that’s unique about Shadows over Riva is how the entire party gets characterization, rather than the usual “Chosen One plus his snarky companions” you see these days. Basically, the game picks the character with the best/worst relevant stat and has him or her act through the set pieces, rather than always having the party leader do all the fun stuff.

Now, here’s where you come in: I need me a party. I’m handling this Captain Garlic style: give me a name (below ten characters or so) a class, maybe a couple recommended skills to focus on (although I’ll be handling most of that myself), and a character background. There’s no alignment system in this game, so go wild, although they should all have a reason to answer a call for help from a temple dedicated to the goddess of marriage and the home.