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On the nature of the world Arcanum

An in-character review of Arcanum by Mike "Shooter" Eggertson

Excerpts from the journal of Adaiílan,
Dwarven doctor of Smithing and Professor of Electricals.
Reprinted with permission: Library of Tarant, 15 University Court, Tarant, Arcanum.

Aye, I find myself thrust into this world without my choice, and no means of escape. If there is one thing I have learned already, it is that the populace is not to be trusted with information on whom it is that I was with. I shall speak to no one, no matter how gentlemanly or fine they are, about the crash of the IFS Zephyr.

Just after the crash, I encountered a most queer human, who calls himself Virgil. He has some...rather eccentric (or shall I say odd?) views of who I am. I find myself unsure of him. He practices magick, and though Iím sure he would be much help with perhaps an elf, his ways do not mix well with my educated approach to situations. I have fashioned both him and myself a fine pair of lightweight dwarven swords. He handles the technology well, so the extra sword arm is always useful for the time being. He fancies himself a healer, though more often than not, his attempts fail on me. Virgil says that my scientific background interferes with his magick, and it is bound to fail on me.

My travel to the nearest town, Shrouded Hills, revealed the world of Arcanum is a fairly colorful land, and is enough to catch my eye. While it may not exude the infinite wonders of my homeland, the scenery is plenty pleasing to the eye, unlike what I have been told from others. The environments alone, will not make my stay uncomfortable, for they are adequate. I have noticed a severe lack of creativity in the designs of the buildings and caves across this land though. At first, I thought it may only be the ones near the crash site, but Iíve traveled through mines, and other passages that can only be referred to as dungeons. Even the mined dwarven passageways lack any originality. They are all squared, and some are more like a maze then any practical walkway. Perhaps it is the influence of magick on this land, but the draftsman and engineers who constructed these areas definitely lack the skill Iíve grown accustomed to.

For the most part, the populace of the two towns Iíve been to seem nice. Verbose and informative if queried, I have no complaints, they are most helpful to this dwarf. And behold! I have found many shoppes from which I may purchase the gadgets needed to create my technologies. This land, though its history favors magick, is also in the process of introducing science. A good thing, for not all the populace is friendly. As Iíve said before, it is best to hide my identity, however ungentlemanly, for there are many who seek my demise for one reason or another. I am forced to turn to my inventions, using my sword as persuasion. Fortunately, Iíve found me a stout suit of small plate, and though I donít trust its magickal nature, it undoubtedly has saved my hide more than once. It will do, along with the swords (and now a pair of axes) I have fashioned, until I find the proper elements to fabricate one of my own suits. I am finding it most difficult to commission some fine dwarven steel.

I am in dire need of this steel to fashion myself a stout suit of plate, for I find myself having to resort to violence more often than Iíd like. And how trained are these enemies! To escape the first town I was in, I was forced into a battle which I won only by sheer force of luck. Both Virgil and I were left barely alive. I doubt we could win again, even if we had twenty tires to do so! Many battles I have fought like this, and I find that this world is terribly biased against a strong arm. One who devotes much time to science like myself will find his or her meleť skills lacking for such battles, and will often fall victim to brutes. I find myself avoiding orcs now, not because I find them offensive, but rather simply because it is good for my health. But, if I could actually find the material for that plate Ií ve been thinking of, then matters will change!

These battles made me nervous at first, for combat is hardly the practice of a gentleman. I thought I may not be able to hold my own. But it turns out Virgil compliments my skills well, and between the two of us, we have plenty of time in battle to consider our moves carefully, and apply good tactics. I was afraid that these fights would turn into an unorganized mess of random attacks, for what little fighting I have seen, resembles just that. But I assure you, there is actually quite an art to battle, and applying tactics is of utmost importance and can easily be done.

Fortunate, was I, that I found this fine piece of literature on the nature of this world itself, and of the magicks and technologies it holds. It is most valuable and very well written, but I am forever cursing it, for it completely lacks any table of contents or indices. Evidently the author of this work was not entirely of his faculties when he finished the essay, for though it is a good read, finding information in a hurry is most difficult, if nay impossible. It could have proved to be a very useful item, but in the end, it is almost useless, for I have not time to memorize it.

I do have two solid complaints about this world and its inhabitants. It seems customary for citizens to collect almost everything that isnít placed nicely in a chest or drawer. Even my companions do so, despite my best efforts to prevent this habit. Quite often, Iíll go to trade with them, only to find they are carrying all the rubbish I have been discarding. It is truly a filthy habit, and a counterproductive one too, for there is no need to haul most of those things around. But that is not the only oddity of these natives. I find a level of paranoia unsettling in them. Sometimes they will anger at me for no apparent reason, and I honestly do not know what I did to deserve such hostility. And they refuse to rest when exploring underground! I can somewhat understand Virgilís reluctance, for he is not a dwarf, but after clearing an area and ensuring its safety, he still insists on trekking up sometimes three levels of passageways so that we can rest under the stars. Truly annoning!

All in all though, I find this world has captivated my attention. I am compelled to figure out what is happening, not only because the mystery has sent people out to hunt me, but because I truly do want to help this world.

Well, I grow tired. I sit beneath the stars, awake of course, for one of us must stay watch at night. The Ďsafetyí of the outdoors often brings wolves and such. Honestly, making me trek out of deep from within a dwarven mine just to sleep, even when there are plenty of beds within the halls of the mine. Absolutely ridiculous. It will take hours tomorrow morning just to walk back and find our way back through that cursed maze. Time to wake Virgil, for it is my time to rest.


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