Hello, Milo here. I’ve been lead game designer here at Critical Forge over the last year while we worked on getting Forged of Blood to its current state. As we are getting a more solidified tactical game design, I thought I’d share the basic weapon ability design philosophy and how it will affect game play.
About a year ago, our studio opened and the founders sat around and discussed the type of game that we would like to make. Having recently finished a two year run of Pathfinder’s Kingmaker campaign and decades of enjoying turn based tactical and RPG games, we decided on Forged of Blood, a fantasy tactical RPG with some kingdom elements. Over the first few weeks, the scope and concept of the game was solidified and we knew we wanted the player’s characters to progress fairly consistently throughout the game. We also decided to try to avoid the typical tank/healer/DPS roles that most games default to. While it is a tried and true system in RPGs, I believe such a design would be too limiting for a tactical game. Throughout the design process, these things have stayed consistently in the forefront of my mind and were core factors in many decisions that were made.
Rather than focusing on class builds, our game is designed around play style, which is reflected in weapon choice, weapon ability builds and a plethora of other decisions made during character progression. Each character can pick a primary and a secondary weapon and switch between the two throughout play, effectively switching how the Character will play. As the character progresses through the game, the player is able to spend Weapon Skill Points on Weapon Abilities for the weapons they are using and each weapon will have abilities that support differing play styles. While tank, healing and DPS roles can be built, they are not mechanically superior options and are just some of the many different viable builds. With nine different types of weapons to chose as primary and eight different weapon options for secondary, the players can effectively make 72 different weapon combinations, not counting dual wielding, shield options, and magic. In all, each of these different combinations can be built to facilitate a different manner of play, allowing for greater variations.
For instance, the dagger, a range five light weapon, has inherent differences in play-style by dint of its range and the possibility to be dual wielded. Characters using daggers will usually be less impacted by cover than the longer range bows as characters using daggers will be closer to their targets, therefore be more able to position themselves to attack around cover. This will help to facilitate a switch hitting play style in which the player can change targets quickly and easily. A character progressing down one side, the Tempest track, of the Ability Tree will focus more on rapid numerous light attacks, relying on speed and attack frequency to compensate for lighter hits. This would be good for a more mobile switch hitter used to chase down or finish off light and medium targets. Meanwhile, a character building down another side, the Hellion track, would be a good support unit that could switch between targets to maintain debuffs and Damage Over Time. While those are two possible builds, there are numerous other viable dagger ability builds that players can discover.
To add to the variation, you can decide on whether you want to focus on having more attacks by dual wielding or if you want to use a shield for more protection. You can choose to be more mobile but squishier with lighter armor or choose heavier armor and give up some damage output and mobility. You can also choose your secondary weapon that you can switch to during combat to change up your play style. For instance, you could choose to be heavily armored and use the Hellion abilities to debuff your target before switching to a shield and sword tank build as you close in. You could also choose to be lightly armored and use the Hellion abilities to debuff targets before switching to a Maul area denial Warden build to keep threats away if they try to engage your character. There are literally hundreds of distinct viable play-styles.
In addition to the various weapon combinations and weapon ability progressions, weapons can be crafted from 5 different materials, have up to 4 distinct quality modifiers, and imbued with 6 distinct possible enchantments. To give a sense of the variations possible, each weapon can be created 32,790 distinct ways to allow for further refinement of your playstyle. (For those who want to understand how I got that, you can have between 0 and 4 quality modifiers chosen from 13 different quality modifiers, 5 different materials, and 6 different enchantments; we are not counting different levels of the same enchantment as being distinct.) When you consider the variations in primary and secondary weapon choices, you have 2,360,880 distinct weapon combinations (excluding dual wielding & shields).
The end result is that the characters are built around how you wish to play them rather than a defining class. The challenge, of course, is keeping them balanced. While some weapons are better than others in specific matchups, there is currently no dominant weapon or play style that is simply better than the others; I am quite happy with how the game currently plays. This design has facilitated a system of play in which the players are rewarded for creative play rather than min/maxing their tanks, healing, and DPS.
Next week, I’ll discuss Magurite, the system of magic we are using in Forged of Blood.