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the World of Troika Games
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Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura
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Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
Frequently Asked Questions

Unofficial FAQ currently maintained by Mark "Ratster" McGeehan,
Originally created by Jason "Codeguy" M. Bryant,
All answers originally appeared on the Arcanum Inn message board unless otherwise stated
Number of Questions/Answers: 719
Version 2.2 3/19/2001

Warning: These answers represent the design
teams answers *at the time they were written*.
Many of them are several months old, and may
have changed since then.

Editor's note: Since Conceal and Silent Move have been combined into one skill, some editing has been done to the answers relating to those skills. Also the prerequisite for purchasing spells has been changed from Intelligence to Willpower, when necessary some answers have been edited to reflect this.


Part 1: Common Questions
Magick vs Technology
Specific Spells

Part 2:  Characters and Stuff
Character Creation
Backgrounds, Alignment, and Reputation
Character Refinement
Thieves and All Things Sneaky
Non Player Characters and Followers
Inventory and Items
Weapons and Armor

Part 3:  How the Game is Played
The User Interface
General Gameplay
The World of Arcanum
The Creatures of Arcanum

Part 4:  Life After the Single Player Game
The Editor
World Building

Part 5:  General Information
The Game Engine
Betas, Demos, and Other Things That Troika Might Give Us

Part 6:  Websites

Part 1: Common Questions

Magick vs Technology

1) How do magick and technology affect each other in Arcanum?

Tim Cain 2/3/2000

In our world, magick works because physical law is not inviolate. A person can bend physical law to his will, which then allows something "magickal" to happen. This bending of physical law weakens the law a little bit.

On the other hand, technology makes use of physical law. Tech depends on it, and each use of technology strengthens physical law just a bit, making it harder for some mage to bend it.

Let me give an example of magick and tech being incompatible.

A mage wants to cast lightning bolt. Normally, electrons want to flow on the path of least resistance from high potential to low. The mage cares little for what "electrons" want to do, and forces that law to weaken, so electrons flow along a path that they normally would not. Voila! A lightning bolt shoots from his finger and arcs into his enemy.

But wait! His enemy is a technologist using a tesla coil rifle. Being a powerful technologist, he resists the change to physical law that the mage is imposing. He wants electrons to flow normally, or his gun would not work.

What happens in this situation? Maybe the mage is really strong, so not only does he zap the tech guy, but the guy's gun misfires when he shoots back. Or maybe the tech guy is more powerful, so the lightning blot is weak or nonexististent, and his gun works fine. Or maybe, they are about equal, so the bolt hits and the gun fires.

Our engine computes this incompatibility as a continuous function, not a discrete one. So as the tech guy gets more powerful, he notices that his gun works more often and spells work on him less often (even good ones, like Heal). And he worries less and less about pesky mages.

2) When a magick user faces a technologist, how are critical failures determined?

Chad Moore 12/7/99

Players and characters in Arcanum will have what is called "aptitude" in respect to magick and technology... aptitude is a value that is obtained from many variables, but suffice it to say that the more technological disciplines a character studies, the higher his technological aptitude (the same applies for magick...)

In combat, it is this value which determines the outcome of an action. Therefore, a low-level mage casting a spell on a high-level technologist will find that his spell has little or no effect... it is the RATIO between the aptitudes of the characters that determines the success of the spell. Technological items can fail, and a low-level technologist will find his items failing more often against a powerful mage...

BUT! If a high-level technologist and a high-level mage were to fight, the ratio of their aptitudes is closer to being equal, therefore the effect they have on one another is very minimal... neither will have a bonus or a penalty... they are fighting on common ground...

Tim Cain 11/27/2000

Critical successes (and failures) occur proportionally to your chance of success (or failure). This chance is your FINAL chance, after your rank, training, and environmental factors (lighting, range, etc) are factored in. So someone with a success of 50% scores a critical less often than someone with an 80% chance of success.

Items can add their own factors. I have made magical swords that do not do more damage than regular swords, but have a higher chance of scoring a critical success. You can also let items affect the KINDS of critical success and failures (they add to the roll which determines the critical effect). So you could also make a gun which doesn't critical more often than other guns, but that gets better criticals when it does critically hit.

Using a tech item with a high magical aptitude adds an additional chance (not just an additional factor) to critically fail. This is why mages should NOT use guns unless they REALLY REALLY REALLY need to.

Spells do not critically succeed or fail. They always strike the target critter or tile, and then saving throws and resistances come into play.

3) Do supportive spells get affected by magick/tech aptitude, like a healing spell on a technologist follower?

Chad Moore 6/15/2000

If you're a mage and you cast a heal spell on a technologist party member, the effect of the spell is calculated in the same way that it would be if you cast a fireball on an enemy technlogist... the higher the tech aptitude of your friend, the less chance that the spell is going to work well...

4) Is there any *positive* bonus for casting a spell on someone with a high magickal aptitude?

Jesse Reynolds 6/18/2000

There is no bonus for beneficial spells being cast on you. What there is, is the absence of a *negative* modifier if you are both magickally inclined.

In the same fashion, there is no bonus for damage you take, but if you are more magickal (as opposed to more technological), you will have less protection from magickal damage (a Death spell cast on a Technologist would have less chance of going off, but against a Mage it wouldn't).

5) Is there any way to see the magick/tech aptitude level of the PC?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

The magick/tech aptitude meter is a single meter/bar in the character editor (on the right side), with one end at magick and one end at tech.

6) How can you tell if the area that you are in has an affect on your tech/magick aptitude?

Sharon Shellman 9/13/2000

When you hover over your character, it will display how you are affected by the magick/tech bias of an area.

7) Is your magick/tech aptitude directly related to CPs? That is, 100 CPs spent in magick & 0 CPs spent in tech means your magick aptitude = 100?

Jesse Reynolds 6/12/2000

It's not a direct relation (so spending 10 points in magick won't give you a '10' magick Aptitude).

8) What affects you magick/tech aptitude?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Your magick/tech aptitude in Arcanum is effected by 3 things. How you've spent your points, your race and your background. Nothing else.

Wielding tech or magick items does not alter it. This was the original idea, but it was much too complicated and convoluted to keep track of. Plus you lost track of "why" things were happening, so we simplified the system.

Blesses and curses *could* alter your magick/tech balance. However, we are not using them in this manner. We thought they should effect you in ways outside of the magick/tech conflict. But if you wanted to make a mod that had a Blessing or Curse in it that altered your aptitude, you could.

Tim Cain 2/15/2001

You change roughly 5% per point spent in magic or tech. Tech skills as well as tech disciplines cost points that affect tech aptitude, but only magic spells affect magic aptitude. Back when higher level stuff used to cost more, then they affected the aptitude more. Since we went with the single-point system, this is not longer true. The only major affect of this change is to make generalist mages (mages who buy a lot of lower level spells, rather than all of the spells in a few colleges) more viable.

9) Do technical disciplines like lock picking affect your aptitude?

Sharon Shellman 7/29/2000

Yes. Putting points into either tech skills or tech disciplines will move your aptitude more towards tech. Locksmith is a technological discipline because locks require some technical knowledge to pick, however there is a magickal spell that will unlock things if you wish to go that route.

10) If you have a character who is really good at magick, does that mean he can't use his technology skills?

Jesse Reynolds 4/4/2000

Actually, the Magick/Tech aptitude is a continuum, with Magick at one end and Tech at the other. Based on how you spend your points, you will end up somewhere on the Magick/Tech meter. If you spend lots of points learning Tech, you will be more Tech biased, and if instead you spend the majority of your points on spells you will be more Magick biased. You can of course spend points in both (or neither!) and end up near the middle. However, doing so you will never end up being as powerful a technologist (or magician) as someone who pumped all of their points into one or the other.

Yes, skill "levels" are different than the special training abilities. Being trained gives you special abilities for each skill, at each level of training.

Spells don't have proficiencies, you gain them immediately if you buy them. The same goes for the technological disciplines.

Spells are most effective when cast by someone Magick biased *on* someone who is Magick biased. However, what really matters is who is more powerfully biased. If a highly Magick biased mage casts a spell on someone who has a low Tech bias, it will be very effective. If instead a low Magick biased (or even Tech biased) character casts a spell on a Tech biased character, it would be much less effective.

11) Could a minor mage go into a tech biased area and use tech (like guns) better than normally?

Jesse Reynolds 6/27/2000

[A magick/tech biased area] affects all critters by modifying their "effective" aptitude. So yes, if you had trained some in Tech and then started leaning towards Magick, if you headed into the train station at (for example) you would probably want to switch to a gun if you started fighting (unless you were *really* powerful magickally, or had no other choice :) ).

12) Does magickal and technological aptitude affect anything besides characters?

Tim Cain 2/10/2000

We can do this. We can make a generator that sputters and dies if anyone with high magickal aptitude comes near it. We can make ticket sellers tell mages to sit in the back, or guards that keep them out of factories.

We can do the reverse. We can have wards that weaken when technological PC's try to open doors, and alchemy shopkeepers who ask technologists to leave their shop.

Your magickal-technological aptitude is one of many stats in your character that the world will react to.

13) If you have a strong technologist in your party, will he mess up your spells and vice versa?

Sharon Shellman 2/21/2000

Yes and No. Individual characters will be affected more on a character vs. his opponent level. So if you had one technologist and 2 mages in your party, you would not adversely effect one another.

There will be areas that will lean more toward magick or technology. Such as the Train Station and Tulla, City of the Mages. Your characters will be effected when in these locations.

We decided not to have your party effect each other because we wanted people to able to play cooperatively without having to worry about the magick/tech aptitude of their characters. Also, in mixed groups, the results could get confusing and it would be difficult or impossible for you to know how and why things were effected the way they were.

14) If a magician summons a magickal creature and that creature attacks you, what determines the combat bonuses from the tech/magick conflict?

Sharon Shellman 5/1/2000

If you summon a magickal creature, it will have it's own magick level. This level will be the determining factor when it attacks the techie.

15) Does casting a powerful spell like Mind Control on someone change their magick/tech aptitude?

Jesse Reynolds 6/9/2000

No, Mind Controlling someone does not change their magick/tech aptitude.

16) How much crossover is there between what technological skills can do and what magickal skills can do?

Jesse Reynolds 5/19/2000

We have very few *direct* crossovers between Magick and Technology, other than in a "vague" way. I don't consider a fireball to be the same thing as a flame-thrower. They both do fire damage, but they do so completely differently. A fireball explodes causing area-effect damage (and probably Fatigue damage from the blast), whereas a flame-thrower would do more of a cone or line, and would be just fire damage.

A sword and a mace aren't the same simply because they both do physical damage, because the mace does more Fatigue damage and the sword does more cutting damage.

Magick and Tech work completely differently in the engine; Magick comes from you, and Tech allows you to guild items that you can then use.

There is a resurrect spell, but there isn't necessarily a direct Technological equivalent, for instance. There may be something *similar*, but it won't be exactly the same. There may be different costs, availability of items, usefulness, and it may not even have the same effect.

There are quite a few things that are vastly different between the two. For instance, it's been mentioned that you can build a mechanized spider. This item you can then carry around with you and have it help you fight. However, how it fights, the types of attacks, etc., are different than, say, how a Mage's summoned critter might fight. Plus, the Mage can only summon the critter for as long as he/she can pay the Fatigue costs. The Technologist can pick up the spider and repair it, etc. You may be able to modify the spider, to give it extra abilities, which is something that you can't do via a summoned critter. On the Mage side, if your summoned critter dies, well, you can always summon another one instantly to take it's place.

Sharon Shellman 5/20/2000

About 50% of magick and tech have similar effects. As in, a mage has a fireball spell, a tech has a flame-thrower. As mentioned above, even though the mechanics of how these two items work and effect the character are completely different, the base "effect" or "idea" is the same.

However, the other half of magick and tech is more exclusive. We have not yet revealed everything, but a couple of examples are as follows: A mage can gain the ability to fly and/or teleport. There is nothing similar for a tech. Tech's have the ability to create concoctions that will actually alter their base stats. Mage's have nothing similar.

Both magick and tech are balanced in their good/destructive ratio. So either type of character can still choose to be either magickal, or technological, or a little of both.

Jesse Reynolds 6/6/2000

You cannot make a direct comparison between one Tech Discipline and a particular spell college. They don't directly compare. Tech and magick work completely differently. In some ways, a particular schematic created item may "outperform" a particular spell in a college, while for some uses a given spell may be more helpful.

17) Will magick users end up being the most powerful by the end of the game?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

We are balancing the game for various stereotypical character types -- "Combat machine", "Diplomat", and "Thief", with the added complexities of Magick and Tech thrown in.

In Arcanum mages won't end up being the most powerful for various reasons. We are trying to make sure that no one "type" of character is the be-all end-all character. A mage has fewer hit points, relies upon fatigue/energy to cast spells, etc. Depending on how you build your fighter, you could have a wide range of differences. You could be really fast, or maybe you are really strong, dealing out more damage. Perhaps you have a lot of hit points, or fatigue. You might have a high willpower or constitution, allowing you better saves against certain spells. Perhaps you are just *really* skilled at fighting, so you hit a lot more often. Also, just because you are a fighter doesn't mean you can't use magick items, some of which allow you to cast spells. Similarly, you can still use technological items.

18) Does a race being bad at tech meant that it is good at magick?

Sharon Shellman 6/3/2000

If you have a -1 to tech, that means your starting out in the +1 magickal area (not zero and neutral) So yes. You get a bonus to using magick, it's just not as large as it would be for a full elf.

19) If a magickal monster like the Siren Spider attacks, will your tech/magick aptitude affect her attack?

Jesse Reynolds 9/22/2000

Yes, the Magick/Tech aptitude differences only affect *Magickal* and *Technological* attacks, so in your example, if the Siren Spider did a physical attack, they wouldn't come into play. If on the other hand, a magickal creature used a spell, or an "innate" magickal attack that was similar to a spell (say, a creature tried to infect you with a magick that paralyzes you briefly or something), that *would* be affected. Of course, if it was just a non-magickal poison, it would take effect normally.

20) Are magickal weapons and armor more useful if you are really good at magick? Are there bonuses?

Jesse Reynolds 9/22/2000

All Items have a Magick/Tech rating specifying how "complex" they are. The more Magickal you are, the less useful Tech items will be to you (actually, what matters is the difference between your aptitude and its rating, the same as with spells/etc.), and the more useful certain magickal items will be. What I mean by the latter is that based on your Magickal Aptitude, you may not get the full use out of a magickal item. A *really* powerful suit of armor would still be magickal when worn by a Neutral Aptitude, but it would be more powerful when worn by a highly magickal critter. When worn by a highly technological critter on the other hand, it would seem to be just normal armor of its type.

There aren't any bonuses. What I was talking about was the "effectiveness" of the item (a vague term meaning all of the items' capabilities combined). For example, say a magick sword has a Magickal Complexity Rating of 50. What this means is that if your Magickal Aptitude is equal or greater than that Complexity Rating, you can use 100% of the item's capabilities. However, if you are less than that Complexity Rating, you will only get partial use out of it. For someone who was true neutral (who never bought any Tech or Magick, or bought both equally point-wise), they would only be at 50% effectiveness with that sword.

For a more concrete example:

* Magick Sword, +10 Damage, +2 Strength, Magickal Complexity of 50 (made up on the spot here ;) )
* Starting PC with no points spent in Technology/Magick

You would effectively have a:

* Magick Sword, +5 Damage, +1 Strength

Similarly, if you were a character with a higher Magickal Aptitude (say 50 or higher), you would have the full +10 Dam/+2 Str (but it wouldn't matter if you had a 100 Aptitude, it would still only be +10/+2).

Does that help clear it up? I realize this may sound confusing on paper (err, pixels), but it is actually much clearer when playing the game. Whenever you look at a magickal item, you can see the % of it's total power that you have access to, and you can see your stats change as you spend points.

All of the lower level (read: more common, less powerful) magickal items have fairly low Magickal Complexities, so neutral characters will still get most (or all) of the effectiveness out of the item. However, more powerful magickal items work best in the hands of a more magickal wielder.

21) Does the magick/tech aptitude reach beyond death or will it cease to be after the reaper?

Sharon Shellman 3/9/2001

A person's magick/tech bias does carry beyond the grave. So you will have difficulty using a spell on a tech corpse, or anything tech on a magick biased corpse.


1) Does learning a particular spell restrict what other spells that you can learn?

Jesse Reynolds 4/13/2000

Arcanum doesn't restrict you to buying particular Colleges of magick. You could buy the first spell in every college if you wanted (you would have a wide range of spells, but wouldn't be that effective in any given College). We don't have "Water Mages" and "Fire Mages", you could learn both Fire magick and Water magick if you wanted.

2) Does mastering a magick school give you any extra abilities?

Wartoy 2/9/2001

"Mastery is not automatic. you must seek out the wisest magicians in Arcanum to complete your training.
mastery will half the (fatigue) cost of spells in that college. choose wisely, as that you may master only one of the magickal colleges".

Jesse Reynolds 2/9/2001

" applies to the maintain costs as well... "

3) Do any spells have side effects?

Jesse Reynolds 4/13/2000

Some of the Colleges have spells that affect your resistances (usually in a good way, but occasionally as a side effect one might go down when others went up, and always in a way that makes sense) and other traits, either as their primary effect or as a side effect (if they give you something else powerful in exchange).

4) Does learning certain spells make your character evil?

Tim Cain 3/30/2000 and 3/29/2000

Learning a particular college of magick will not affect your alignment. However, using it might, since your alignment is changed when you kill creatures, and, well, Death Spell just has the one use that I can think of.

Remember, Death Spells don't kill people. People kill people.

Necromancy is not good or evil unto itself. Necromancy is simply the spells that deal with the body and the life force within it. We divided it into two colleges depending on whether they promote the positive or negative aspects of the life force. So good necromancy has healing and resurrection spells, while evil necromancy has spells that deal damage or animate dead bodies.

5) How many spells are there?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/9/2000

There are (will be:)) 80 spells. Each level of each college has only one spell. There will also be scrolls and magick items that the PC can find in the game that contain magick spells that the PC cannot buy. That way we can throw in any cool spells we think of later :).

6) Are there time and teleportation spells?

Tim Cain 4/2/2000

Yes, the Temporal college contains time based spells. And Conveyance is for any spell that helps you get from point A to point B.

7) How about some info on the magickal colleges like Divination and Meta?

Jesse Reynolds 6/4/00

The Divination college? It allows you to gain (possibly temporary) information about your surroundings. The Meta college covers spells that affect the foundation of magick itself.

8) When you cast a maintainable spell (control undead, polymorph, animal and mind control), how do you turn it off?

Tim Cain 04/1/2000

When you cast a maintainable spell, any spell like Mind Control or Animate Dead, it ends up in a maintain bank at the top of the interface. You will continue to lose Fatigue until you either run out (which breaks the spell automatically) or voluntarily discontinue the spell by clicking on it in the maintain bank.

9) How many maintainable spells can you have running at once?

Tim Cain 4/23/2000 in the unofficial Arcanum chat room

You can't have more than 5. Max maintainable spells is IQ divided by 4, and Max IQ is 20

10) Why do maintainable spells cut off when you go to sleep?

Jesse Reynolds 6/30/2000

Mind-Control/summonings were never really meant to be continuous. It is certainly possible to mind control (or summon) a weak critter that you can maintain "indefinitely" if your character is highly developed.

However, these spells are usually thought of as requiring active control/concentration...

You don't *have* to sleep. :)

Another one of the reasons we want to cancel them is because when you sleep, it "speeds up" the game, and if we were to process spell maintains normally, then there would be a lot more overhead when sleeping, because we would have to process thousands more time events.

11) How does spell casting work in Arcanum?

Jason Anderson 1/17/2000

Well, the magick in Arcanum will not require any rituals, but neither is it mana based. When you use magick in the world of Arcanum, it effects your fatigue. You can regain your fatigue through potions or having someone heal you, but you can also regain it by simply resting.

You will also be able to find magickal talismans and staves that contain mana. If in possession of one of these artifacts, your magick will draw upon the object and drain it's mana, before effecting you.

Magick is not the only thing that will effect your fatigue. If you are hit with a blunt object (club, for instance), it causes a small amount of physical damage and a larger amount of fatigue damage. Fatigue can also be effected by running for long periods of time or being heavily encumbered.

Additionally, there will be objects that contain their own spells that you can find and use. These objects will not effect your fatigue when you cast them, but will drain the objects own mana. (As a side note, you will not be able to use magickal items until you have had them identified)

12) If you are crippled, will that keep you from casting spells?

Tim Cain 3/30/2000

Crippled arms will affect you ability to use items, but it will not affect your ability to cast spells. That has more to do with your mind than your body. Arcanum is not a "wave your arms and chant some syllables" kind of magick system. We envision magick as focusing your thoughts and applying your will to bend reality. You can do that with a hurt arm.

13) Can mages cast spells with things in their hands?

Leonard Boyarsky 5/31/2000

Mages can cast spells with weapons/objects in their hands.

14) Can you keep some maintainable spells going indefinitely without running out of fatigue?

Jesse Reynolds 5/22/2000

Yes, there are some spells that can be kept up "indefinitely", at least as long as you don't get knocked out/etc.. In other words, there are spells that are maintained that charge Fatigue at a slower rate than you recover it. There are also spells that charge at a much faster rate, requiring you to stop maintaining it at some point (which is done via the maintain-bar at the top of the interface).

15) Can you use up all you fatigue on a spell and make yourself fall unconscious?

Sharon Shellman 9/29/2000

Yes, you can *over* cast and pass out unconscious from fatigue loss.

16) If you are getting close to using up all your fatigue, do you get any warning?

Sharon Shellman 9/30/2000

Currently there is no warning prior to passing out. You just have to keep an eye on your Fatigue Vial. Once its empty, you pass out.

As of this moment we don't have any plans to change the way it works. I just added the "currently" because you never know. :o)

17) What spell costs the most fatigue?

Sharon Shellman 9/20/2000

Disintegrate is currently the most fatigue expensive spell. It costs 55 fatigue per cast at the moment.

18) What do low level spells cost in fatigue?

Sharon Shellman 9/20/2000

Many of the first level spells (such as harm) have a fatigue cost of 5.

19) Why can't your PC enchant items?

Jesse Reynolds 5/23/2000

There are various reasons for not being able to enchant items yourself. While very cool in many ways, the view we have of it in our world is that enchanting items is very difficult and time consuming. So it would take a Master class Mage to make one, and even then he might take months (or even years) to do so. If *anyone* could make a powerful magick item, then no one (except technologists :) ) would have anything else. Every beggar on the street would have a magick dagger, etc. That isn't the kind of feel we wanted in our game. In Arcanum, magick items are uncommon and to be treasured when found.

Another reason is that we wanted Magick and Tech to feel different. If we allowed Mages to create enchanted items, then we would have to carefully balance those items as well against Technology. We would have to carefully limit what you could enchant, and give Technologists items to help balance out (not duplicate) these items. This would be a real pain balance wise.

If we let people enchant *anything*, that would make balancing them *very* difficult (if not impossible, given that we only have so many Tech items we can make).

Letting Mage characters enchant items is certainly a cool thing to do, and who knows, perhaps a sequel might include it.

Of course, you can always create your own magickal items for Mods.

20) Will the same spells get more powerful as your character develops?

Jesse Reynolds 2/9/2001

"...all spells (including direct-damage) now scale based on your Magick/Tech aptitude. So, the more magick-oriented you are, the more damage you will do with the Stone Throw spell (for instance).

Jesse Reynolds 2/16/2001

"It's not increasing by a direct total percentage of damage, but by a percentage of the *spread* of damage that it can potentially inflict.
So, if a spell might do 4 points of damage at a Magick Aptitude of 5%, but will do as much as 12 points at a Magick Aptitude of 100%. At 10% Magickal Aptitude, it would do 4 points of damage (rounding down). At 20% Magickal Aptitude, it would do 5 points, at 30% it would do 6, etc.

No, spells are not useless at a Magickal Aptitude of 0, but they are less effective. Also keep in mind that the *Target's* Magickal Aptitude will affect this damage as if you attack someone who is very Technological, you will do less damage.

As to spells that don't do damage, generally, whatever effect they *do* have is affected by Magickal Aptitude. For example, the Shield spell will protect you better from damage the higher your Magickal Aptitude, and some of the summoning spells will scale the type/level of the creature that they create based on this."

21) Is there any reason why a low level character can't use high level spells early on?

Jesse Reynolds 5/31/2000

Spell costs vary with each spell, including maintain costs. Some charge every 5 seconds, some once a minute, etc. Just depends on how powerful the spell is.

Actually, the different rank summonings in the Summoning college vary in power quite a bit. The way low-level characters are prevented from being unbalancing with this is: (i) Fatigue costs of the spell (if it costs a lot to cast/maintain, low-level characters won't be able to keep up the spell for long enough to be useful), and (ii) spells are currently level limited, so really low-level characters won't be *able* to cast these spells. This is for balancing.

22) Can anyone use a magick scroll, even a technologist?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Yes. Anyone can use a scroll (or potion). If you have a high tech aptitude, there is a chance that it will fail.

23) Can scrolls only be used once?

Sharon Shellman 6/7/2000

Yes. Scrolls are one shot deals, no reusage.

24) Will there be a lot of unique extra spells hidden on scrolls? Can you learn spells from scrolls?

Jesse Reynolds 6/10/2000

I think you guys are misunderstanding the purpose of spell "Scrolls" somewhat. You may find (one shot) scrolls that have special spells on them. More frequently, you will find *magick-items* that have "unique" spells on them. These items may have charges, or they may have unlimited uses. Examples include a magickal ring, staff, sword, etc.

Saying that "anyone" can use a magickal scroll doesn't tell the whole story, as Sharon mentioned above. Using a spell scroll is no different than using *any* magick item in the game. As the FAQ states, magick items in the hands of a technologist (or even a middle of the road character) will be either less effective, or will fail to work altogether.

Also, there is no real *chance* based on the magick/Tech Aptitude (so no reloading to get a better effect), it just depends on how *much* you are aligned in opposition to the item. So, if you have a scroll that casts a really powerful spell, it would be extremely magickally aligned, and a highly tech aligned person probably won't be able to use it at all (well, it would have no effect, as I mentioned in a previous post yesterday). A magick aligned character attempting to use a highly technological device would run into similar problems (though in that case there is a chance of *critical failure*).

We purposefully made the magick system such that players buy spells and gain them immediately, as we wanted it to feel different from technology. In technology, there are some schematics that you gain by default, but you still have to find the material components to make the item, and there are other schematics to find in the world. If players had to find scrolls in order to cast spells, then it would be too similar to technology, and if we did that we would have to limit tech schematics as well. Also, if you didn't spend *points* to gain these spells, you would completely throw off the game balance that we are trying to achieve (that's a different game/magick system, not the one we created in Arcanum; they both have fun factors, and they are both valid to use).

There are *80* spells in the game that you can potentially learn innately. They cover a wide range of uses. We are using these "extra" spells to give special abilities/effects, etc. As such, you will certainly run across a variety of magick items in the game which will give you additional abilities.

25) Will there be cross-disciplineary spells in the game?

Jesse Reynolds 6/10/2000

"Cross-disciplinary spells" wouldn't really fit the theme of the system. Spells are already quite a bit less rigidly structured than technology. In a given spell college, you may find one spell that enhances your attributes, one that summons a monster to fight for you, and one that does damage to a target. In technology, the types of items you can create are more unified in effect. So if you create something from the Therapeutics Discipline, you *know* you are creating an item that someone can drink, that will affect some of their stats.

26) Do spells have a range that they lose accuracy or damage after?

Jesse Reynolds 6/6/2000

All weapons/skills/spells have ranges. Some of them are short (one tile away), and some of them are longer. Both PCs and NPCs are constrained to these ranges. Some ranges are outside of the screen, in part to allow you to strike moving targets that run off-screen (since it takes time to attack, and you can auto-attack).

As I said in an earlier post, spells always succeed, they will never "fail" (not even critically). There is no roll to determine whether a spell "goes off". However, whether or not they have any effect is a different question. This may sound like the same thing, but it isn't. An example: You cast an area effect (AE) spell of some kind. There are 2 critters in the radius of the spell. One of them resists completely (due to magick resistance, saves, &/or magick/Tech aptitude differences), the other doesn't. The spell hasn't *failed*, but it had no *effect* on one of the targets.

Spells don't have unlimited range. Some of them are very short range, some of them are longer, as with normal & Tech weapons. Spells don't have a distinct range advantage, due to the various limiting constraints on them (magick resistance, "saves", etc.). Also, spells are Fatigue limited, while a technologist can stock up as many bullets/etc. as he or she can carry. :)

As a similar balancing factor on the *other* side, yes, many normal/technological weapons have a reduced chance to-hit due to range and lighting factors. However, no, damage is not being reduced.

Also, a missile spell may miss, if the target ducks behind a building/etc..

27) Can spells miss their target? Is there a stat that will improve spell accuracy?

Jesse Reynolds 6/5/2000

There is no Stat that affects your "accuracy" of a spell. Spells that fire "missiles" will hit their target if it hasn't moved in the interim (though of course Area-Effect spells may still hit them).

Spells always "succeed" (in the sense that you don't roll to see if you cast the spell), but their effects may be minimized (perhaps down to nothing) by magick resistance rolls, any applicable Saves (vs. a Stat), and the difference between the caster and target's magick/Tech Aptitudes.

28) Will missile spells ever miss in turn-based mode?

Jesse Reynolds 6/15/2000

Yes, all missile spells will hit in turn-based combat. Firing a missile is a distinct action that will complete before your turn ends.

29) Does every spell have a saving throw affect its outcome?

Jesse Reynolds 6/19/2000

Not all spells require (or allow, depending on how you look at it :) ) saving throws. The only ones that do are ones that are (a) malicious (as in, cause damage/etc.), and (b) affect you directly using magick.

So, the Death and Dominate Will spells both have saves, but a Healing spell wouldn't. A wall of stone wouldn't have a save, because there is nothing to save "against". The magick has merely brought together stone (or created it out of 'thin air'), but it *is* real/'normal' stone.

30) Will certain characters have better chances at saving throws? Like will a mage have better saving throws than a technologist? Will things other than magick/tech balance effect saving throws?

Jesse Reynolds 6/19/2000

A 'saving throw' is dictated by the individual spell itself. All saving throws are based off of an attribute, so a character with a higher value in that attribute will have a greater chance of successfully defending against the spell.

So, for instance, a spell (like Dominate Will/mind control) might make you save against your Willpower, and if you succeed you resist the effect(s). Someone who had spent more points in Willpower would be more likely to resist that spell.

31) What is the prerequisite Stat for learning Spells?

Shellman 1/10/2001

"Your Willpower determines how high of level of spells you can learn. Your magick/tech aptitude determines how well your spell performs against an opponent (or when trying a lock - as with the unlocking cantrip spell). The higher your aptitude, the more likely your spell will work."

32) How is the speed of casting a spell determined?

The speed of casting a spell is determined by the amount of frames in the associated animation. High level spells tend to have longer animations.

33) What is the spell magelock used for?

Tim Cain 2/15/2001

here is what I did with Magelock recently. I wanted to kill a shopkeeper but his guard was nearby, and I couldn't take the guard. So I waited for nighttime, and the shopkeeper went into a back bedroom and went to sleep (I went in this room too). His guard stood outside. I magelocked the door and attacked the shopkeeper, killed him, and teleported out. All the while, his guard went boo-hoo-hoo outside the door.

34) Now that magick is Willpower based, as opposed to Intelligence, Could you tell us some of the effects this change has on magick users, and the balance between the Intelligence vs. Willpower statistic, in regards to magick?

Tim Cain 12/12/2000

- there is still a minimum Intelligence (5) required to cast any spell or read any scroll. So that big dumb Ogre is not the best mage in the game.

- Intelligence still governs how many spells can be maintained at one time. So that minimum Intelligence of 5 lets you maintain 1 spell. So mages will still likely want a good Intelligence, in the same way a techie will want a good Dexterity to use his stuff.

- as mentioned, gnomes get a bonus to Willpower, but elves get a significant bonus to magical aptitude. Both bonuses are nice for a mage, but the latter is better, at least at lower levels when you are a fledgling mage. Besides, an elf can buy more Willpower, but a gnome cannot buy more magical aptitude (at least, not directly. He can buy more spells, but you know what I mean).

- one of the easiest characters in the game right now (at least at lower levels like 10 and below) seem to be generalists. A few points in Melee, a few in Dodge, a few in Sense Traps and a few in Heal makes a really fine well-rounded character. A little later, throw a few points into Pick Lock (or Unlocking Cantrip), Prowling and Persuasion, and you have a character who can fight, sneak and talk his way through a lot of situations in the game.

In any case, I am really enjoying the feel of will-based magick. It provides yet another distinction between mages and techies.

Specific Spells

1) What are the weakest and the most powerful spells in the Morph college?

Tim Cain 4/2/2000, 4/4/2000, and 4/6/2000

The Morph college contains the spells that physically change their target in some way. The level one spell is called Weaken, and you might be able to guess what the level five spell is. Here's a hint: think "sheep".

Items stay in the polymorphed characters inventory, although some stuff may get unwielded. A sheep cannot wield weapons (they have no opposable thumbs, you know). Before you ask where the sheep keeps its inventory, think about playing the game with a near naked barbarian character. They both keep their stuff in the same place.

Polymorph works on players (well, so does Death spell, but the player is then dead).

Imagine this multiplayer scenario:

Bob: Quit taking all the loot Joe.
Joe: Bite me.
Bob: That does it.
Bob casts polymorph on Joe.
Bob: Are you going to share now?
Joe: Baah!
Bob: I will take that as a yes.

2) Can you cast Polymorph on yourself?

Jesse Reynolds 6/22/2000

No, the Polymorph spell can't be cast on yourself currently... I don't think this will change.

3) Does the target stay a sheep forever?

Sharon Shellman 4/4/2000

We decided it should be a maintainable spell. The fatigue cost to your character to maintain the spell will be dependent upon the level of the person/creature you polymorphed. (so it will be very cheap to maintain the spell on a beggar, but very costly to maintain it on a high level wizard.)

4) The player can Mind Control NPCs, can anyone Mind Control the player?

Tim Cain 3/31/2000

No, the player cannot be Mind Controlled. In fact, I identified a few instances of spells and effects like these that just don't work on the player because it doesn't make sense to have a player who isn't playing. I drew the line at realism when it stopped being fun. Kinda like in real life.

5) Do Mind Controlled characters level up?

Sharon Shellman 6/27/2000

Yes. Mind controlled NPC's do level up.

6) When you have an NPC under Mind Control, do you get an interface for controlling all his actions?

Jesse Reynolds 4/1/2000

No, the control doesn't refer to the user interface, it refers to the way the spell works in the world setting. Mind controlled followers will behave similar to other followers, in that they will respond to verbal commands (though they will always obey, unlike normal followers -- if you tell a mind controlled follower to attack his fellow townspeople, he *will* :) ) and will help you of their own accord.

7) When you lose Mind Control over an NPC, will they try to hurt you even if you're trying to save the world?

Tim Cain 3/30/2000

When you Mind Control someone in our game, they are aware of it. They are forced to follow you around and do what you say. The entire time this is happening, they are aware of their surroundings, but they are unable to control their own arms and legs.

So when Mind Control breaks, their reaction to you is lowered a LOT. It is guaranteed to be lowered to the point where they will want to attack you. However, I do have some AI code in place where the NPC judges his strength against yours (which is VERY difficult given the number of stats, skills, spells and disciplines in Arcanum). If he judges himself significantly weaker, he may not initiate an attack. But if you come under attack by something else nearby or you are severely weakened in his presence, he will jump on you.

So think of Mind Control this way: when it breaks, you have made an enemy.

Jesse Reynolds 3/30/2000

Another thing to keep in mind about NPCs getting pissed off at you. Mind control in this sense is kind of like holding a gun to someone's head; You are *Forcing* them to do what you want. Regardless of the outcome, they are going to be unhappy about this, and will likely want to take some measure of revenge.

With regards to you using them to help save the world, well, if you really wanted them to help you "save the world" and they are like that idea, they would expect you to *ASK* them to help. If you choose to Mind Control someone instead of asking them, I would expect them to be pissed, regardless of the purpose.

8) Will the townsfolk be offended by Mind Controlled followers?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

They don't automatically see Mind Control, so no. But the controlled character will attack you when the spell drops.

9) Will townsfolk be offended by your animated corpses wondering around town?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Most definitely.

10) Will we be able to cast the Speak With Dead spell, and is it necro white or black?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Yes, player's can cast it, it is in the Necro (Black) college.

11) What is the Speak With Dead spell good for? Will guards in cities use it to catch you for murders?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Even in large towns, the use of divinity magick like this will usually only be available for really important cases. Finding someone with the spell is difficult, costly, and in some places (inside a heavy technological area, for instance) not viable.

There are various places where the spell is useful (for players). You may learn information that would be extremely difficult (or impossible) to determine otherwise, which could be of use to NPCs. I doubt you would be able to "hire on" for the local constabulary, however. That would probably entail too much scripting.

12) When you cast the Speak With Dead spell, do they have reactions that affect dialogue?

Sharon Shellman 9/2/2000

If we use the spell that let's us talk to the dead will we actually have a dialog and if so will they have a reaction level?

You know, will someone you just killed refuse to talk?

Being called back from the dead to speak with the living is a very painful, disconcerting effort and the spirit appears in a state of other-worldly confusion. Because of this, they are unable to recognize you, even if they knew you when they were alive, and do not have a specific reaction to you. If you are able to ask a question of them wisely, they may have important information for you. Otherwise they will be lost in their own thoughts and ordeals.

Sharon Shellman 9/3/2000

For mod making, dead speak is simply a different script attachment point. You can have the dead speak however you wish and they can have a reaction to you as well.

13) Can you talk to NPCs while invisible? What if you were wearing a ring that casts the invisible spell?

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

No, they won't talk to you if you are invisible. Yes, you would have to remove a ring of invisibility in order to talk to people.

14) Why does that spell with the purple polygons have different sized polygons sometimes?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

Actually, it's the same spell (if you look at the maintain bar at the top, you will see the same "purple" spell listed), the level 5 Meta Spell, called Reflection Shield. The eye candy for it animates in and out, that is why you see them smaller/closer in sometimes and further out in other screen shots.

15) If we see a really small person in the screenshots, is that always a halfling?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

We do have a Shrink spell too, so it could be anyone.

16) What happens when you cast the shrink spell on a halfling?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

They get reallllllly small.

17) Will you be able to to step on shrunken characters?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Actually, yes, you will then do the Kick Low animation :)

18) Can you cast a spell that puts a curse on someone?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Curses and Blessings are outside the realm of magick. They are reserved for higher powers. :)

19) Can you fly?

Jesse Reynolds 9/18/2000 from the official message board

Sorry Lucky, but no, you cannot *actively* fly in Arcanum... perhaps in a sequel.

20) Where can the teleport spell take you?

Sharon Shellman 10/5/2000

In order to teleport to a place in the world you either need to have been there, or had it marked on your map by someone else.

21) Can you summon elementals?

Sharon Shellman 9/30/2000 and 10/2/2000

Yes, there are spell colleges that are capable of summoning Elementals from each of the four elements, (air, fire, water, earth). The Summon Elemental spell is the 5th spell in each of the elemental spell colleges.

22) The elementals should be very different. Are they?

Tim Cain 10/1/2000

I agree entirely. Elementals should be very different, and ours are no exception. I don't want to give too much away, but the basic damage of each is dependent on its nature. Earth elementals hit for lots of damage, while fire elementals burn you for fire damage. Water elementals do some regular damage (less than earth elementals) but they also do fatigue damage as they cut off your air supply. Finally, air elementals don't do direct damage, but instead they blow you around and you take incidental damage as you get rammed into walls and scenery.

There are other differences in AC, resistances, etc. But you get the idea.

23) What is the most powerful attack spell?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

Disintegrate is currently the most powerful magick spell. (although this stuff is still going through balance changes) Fireflash (while not being uber-powerful) is pretty cool too, but only because it does an area effect.

Disintegrate does 30,000 points of damage currently. (almost guaranteed that this is going to change) Fireflash does 5 - 30, with a 2 tile radius.

24) If I ask nicely, will you add a certain spell to the game?

Leon Boyarsky 5/31/2000

We have most of our spells decided on (I'm not gonna tell you which ones :p) but there are still one or two we're not sure of.

Perhaps if there are any we can't decide on we'll ask you guys what you think, but I'm not promising anything.

25) What is the difference between succor beast (nature lv4) and all of the summoning spells?

Jesse Reynolds 11/18/2000

"Well, Succor Beast summons a different creature than the spells in the summoning college. Each of the summoned creatures have their own abilities and strengths/weaknesses. Another reason for having multiple summoning spells is that characters won't be able to learn all spells with any given character; you have to pick and choose. Not all characters will want to learn Summoning, or Nature, etc."

26) Which is better? summoning a demon aide (summoning lv4) or creating an illusion of one (phantasm lv4)

Jesse Reynolds 11/18/2000

"There are differences in abilities/stats/etc. of the creatures summoned. Also, Phantasmal Fiend is *much* cheaper to cast & maintain than Hellgate (but the creature isn't as tough)."

27) What’s the difference between nightmare (mental lv4) and phantasmal fiend (lv4)? will they basically do the same thing?

Jesse Reynolds 11/18/2000

"Nightmare is not a summoning spell; it is a Mental spell that causes the target NPC to become afraid and run away. "

28) What exactly does the "Familiar" spell (5th level Summoning) do? What is a Familiar?

Tim Cain 11/15/2000

"Familiar is the top of the line Summoning spell. It conjures into existence a creature (right now a wolf, but that will change) that you pay NO maintenance cost to keep. It is essentially an extra follower that does not pay attention to charisma limits and is 100% loyal. You can only have one Familiar at a time."

Jesse Reynolds 11/15-16/2000

"No, there is no maintenance for the Familiar. Once you cast it, there are no further costs associated with it. As far as controlling it, it behaves the way all followers do, so no, you won't be able to "see through" its eyes. No, you won't be able to change what critter(s) get summoned on a by-mod basis (at least, the way it is designed currently). We originally talked about making it choose based on the terrain type/etc., but the current design calls for a specific creature-type Yes, you can recast the Familiar if it dies. Yes, it levels-up as you do. Currently, we haven't decided on the the moment, it defaults to the base-level (I don't off-hand remember what that is though, but it is low). "

29) If you mind control say a guard and then have the guard go on a kill spree for as long as your fatigue holds out do you get experience?

ChuBaka 3/12/2001

When you mind control someone, they become your "follower." Since you get some experience for kills made by any follower, you will get experience for your mind-controlled guard killing others. As always, I am 99% sure of this.


1) What kind of technological disciplines are there?

Sharon Shellman 2/7/2000

Well, there's quite a lot to the technological disciplines. Here's a list of just a few of the items you will be able to create in Arcanum:

Through the Discipline of Chemistry, one of the items you can make is Hallucinite. Use a vial of this on your enemy and watch him flee in panic as he sees monsters that aren't really there.

Through the Discipline of Electrical, you can learn how to combine a watch, and various electrical parts to create a magick detector. This device detects magickal items and beings. (one good use for the magick detector is to make sure there aren't any spells on chests before you try and open them)

Through the Discipline of Explosives, one of the item you can create is a Stun Grenade. This weapon does fatigue, not physical damage. (a great weapon to use against mages!)

Through the Discipline of Gun Smithy, one degree that you earn will enable you to build an elephant gun. The elephant gun is a big, high powered weapon, one of the more powerful guns in the game.

That's just a small sampling of the items you can build through the knowledge gained in the technological disciplines. The different disciplines will allow you to build lots of different types of items, from Therapeutics, which let you enhance your characters basic abilities (with elixirs) to Smithy, which will allow you to forge refined weapons, better than those found elsewhere in the game.

There are actually going to be more than 56 items that you can create. In addition to the 7 that you can create in each discipline, there will be several cross disciplinary things that can be built. As an example, if you have a smattering of knowledge in Anatomical, and are well versed in Chemistry, you will be able to find a schematic that will teach you how to animate the dead.

The possibilities are enormous, and we're very excited about the variety of technological things you can create.

Tim Cain 2/19/2001

The bullet schematic has been replaced with molitov cocktails.

2) How exactly does building things from schematics work?

Sharon Shellman 1/25/2000

You get hold of a schematic for a rifle with a scope sight. You also happen to have the 2 items necessary to create the rifle. Your current technical expertise in the discipline of gun-smithy (the college of discipline associated with this schematic) is 30. The rifle portion of the schematic requires a level 20 or greater technical expertise to understand how it works. So it's picture shows up in your schematic. The scope requires a level of 50 or greater technical expertise in gun smithy to understand. You are not yet that level. In the second part of your schematic, an icon showing 50 appears. You cannot understand how to complete the rifle until your technical expertise in gun smithy increases to 50. When you have learned enough, and it reaches this level, you can complete the new weapon, and go kick some ass. (you know, rob that bank, or take out that demon that's guarding its treasure)

[Editor's note: Skills are no longer measured on a scale from 0 to100. There are now 5 levels for each skill. What was just described works the same way other than that. See Character refinement for more detail on the changes.]

3) How do you get Schematics for building items?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

There is a "Base" Schematic for every Degree in every Discipline. These represent "commonly found" Schematics that are easy to find. There are also *much* better ones that can be found in the world, most of which are cross disciplinary (you need 2 or more Disciplines of the appropriate Degree level to make the item).

4) Once you get a schematic, do you have it forever? Can you use it more than once?

Sharon Shellman 5/16/2000

1. When you receive a tech schematic, or find and read one, it is permanently stored in your schematics interface. So in effect, you have "learned" it, and will never lose the knowledge.

2. Yes, you will be able to use a schematic repeatedly. You will also be able to build multiple of the same item, as long as you have the required components.

5) In the screenshots of schematics, what is that little number next to each part?

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

Hmmm... the number is currently the technological complexity of the individual item in question (I'm not sure if we were going to change this though). So, the first item has a complexity of 20, and the second has a complexity of 10.

6) I still don't get it. How about an example of how schematics work?

Sharon Shellman 7/2/2000

Maybe this will help...

Each time you put points into a tech discipline (earning a degree), you gain 2 things.

1) The ability to discern a new schematic (i.e., understand it and put it together)
2) Expertise points in that discipline

So the little numbers next to the components in a schematic tell you what your expertise level must be before you can understand how to assemble that part.

These expertise points are most important with Found and Inter-disciplinary schematics. On the learned schematics, you do not learn the schematic until you have enough expertise points.

7) How hard is it to find parts for mechanical things that you want to build?

Sharon Shellman 4/26/2000

The items necessary to utilize the tech schematics will be plentiful in Arcanum. In the larger cities there will be factories and warehouses that have these items readily available. You will be able to buy them, find them, steal them or earn them. You will also be able to purchase the items from merchants that specialize in the technological disciplines.

8) Will some tech parts be easier to get than others?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Components to build the low-level tech items will be common. Parts for high level schematics will be more difficult to obtain.

9) Can you get the parts from a trap after disarming it?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

If you have received Master training in your Traps skill, then when you disarm a trap you will get it's components. This is only possible if you are a Master.

10) Can you break open a weapon and get the parts it is made from?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Once created, you will not be able to take a weapon back apart into it's components.

11) Are some tech parts used to create different items?

Sharon Shellman 6/11/2000

Yes. Some parts are used to create more than one item. So you will have to choose. :o)

12) Does the quality of tech items that you make depend on your skill?

Sharon Shellman 6/3/2000

Jason's original vision of tech would have had the quality of the item, and your chance of combining it without damaging the individual pieces, dependent upon your aptitude.

Chad slapped him down, because that is just way too complex. (plus, if you found a rare piece, and accidentally damaged it beyond repair while trying to assemble it.... you'd be pretty pissed off!) So we changed it.

So, the quality of a tech item will be the same no matter how high your skill, as long as you have the knowledge and the parts, you can create it.

13) Do tech items like the mechanical spider need fuel?

Sharon Shellman 5/22/2000

No. The mechanical spider does not require any "sustenance" or "fuel" from your PC. And you can repair it if it gets damaged. So it does not work as a polar opposite of a mage's summoning spell.

There will be some tech items that require charges or batteries or fuel to run, but the mech spider is not one of them.

14) How do upgrades to technical items work?

Jesse Reynolds 5/23/2000

Most upgrades take a low-level version of the item in question, and combine it with something else to gain a new ability. Yes, upgrades are based on Tech Schematics.

15) Can you strap knives onto guns?

Jesse Reynolds 5/23/2000

No, you can't strap knives onto guns/etc.

16) Can a critical failure permanently hurt your stats?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Critical failures will not have a chance of permanently taking a stat point loss. However, there are scars, which could be seen as non permanent stat losses to beauty.

17) Do only technological weapons have critical failures?

Jesse Reynolds 6/9/2000

Weapons take damage on critical failures, however, critical failures are *not* restricted to only technological weapons. A critical failure happens with any skill when you bungle it majorly. The effect of the critical depends on what you were trying to do. Critically fail when attacking someone with a sword, you *may* damage your weapon (or you might drop it, etc., it rolls on a Crit. Failure table) some amount. Critically fail while setting a trap, and it will go off in your face.

18) Can a weapon critically fail so much that it is destroyed?

Jesse Reynolds 6/9/2000

Yes, a weapon may be destroyed, but this is *very* rare, and is restricted to specific types -- particularly Fuel based weapons. The particular example was if you got the worst Critical Failure with a Flame thrower, it would explode.

19) Can you tell how damaged a weapon is and repair it?

Tim Cain 6/10/2000

Yes, when you look at a weapon, you can see its current and maximum hit points. You can use a damaged weapon until it has no more hit points, at which time it is "broken". The repair skill removes all damage from a damaged (but not broken) weapon, but lowers its maximum hit points. As you train in Repair, the amount this maximum decrease is reduced, until at Master level, no reduction occurs at all. And a Repair Master can fix broken weapons too, but there is ALWAYS a reduction of maximum hit points for that.

Damaged weapons work normally, but they increase your chances of a future critical by a small amount proportional to the amount of the damage. If you would like to see fireworks, have a powerful mage try to use a severely damaged flame thrower.

20) Is it best to wait until an item is almost out of HP to repair it?

Jesse Reynolds 6/9/2000

It's a balancing act. Yes, you may want to wait to repair the item until it gets more damaged (to save on the maximum hp being lowered). *However*, as Tim pointed out, you then run the risk of more critical failures (because the weapon is damaged), and if you get really unlucky (or wait too long :) ) you may find yourself with a completely broken weapon.

Keep in mind that, as with everything, we are still balancing the Criticals, repair, etc.

21) Do more advanced weapons need a higher repair skill?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

I believe the answer is yes, you will need a higher repair skill in order to repair more advanced weapons, but I'll get back to you on that.

22) Does your repair skill affect the speed that you repair items?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

No, the level of your repair skill will not alter the amount of time needed to repair a weapon.

23) Will armor need repairing also?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Yes. Armor can be repaired in addition to weaponry. And just like weapons, each time you repair it, it's hp drops.

24) Are the cross-disciplinary tech items going to be spread evenly across the different tech disciplines?

Sharon Shellman 6/7/2000

I know I can't tell you for 100% certainty, "it will be balanced perfectly!", but we're trying very hard to make it as balanced as we can.

25) Will the magnetic hat deflect bullets?

Sharon Shellman 7/2/2000

Correct. The hat will deflect bullets and arrows, but it will not have a splash damage or ricochet effect.

26) Do any tech items grant stat or skill bonuses?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

Yes. There are "tech" items that grant stat/skill bonuses similar to magick items. For instance and auto lock pick gives a +2 to your lockpick skill (if your tech biased).

27) What is the minimum requirement for each level of a tech degree?

Sharon Shellman 9/21/00

There are 7 tech degrees in each tech discipline. To be able to earn each degree, you currently need to have intelligence of 5, 8, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19. However, these numbers will probably change slightly.

28) Will you be able to use the components that are used in schematics as a "stand-alone" item? for example: if i have a shaft of a axe, but no axe head, will i be able to use the shaft as a weapon?

Chubaka 12/12-13/2000

"Some of the tech components can be used just by themselves. Like you can use the lamp (which you use to make the electric lamp) or the large pipe as a weapon... it's not terribly exciting using the large pipe but hey, everyone has their own tastes right? Well, it actually makes sense that not all components are usable. For example, say one of the schematics makes you combine a coke bottle with dry ice to make a smoke grenade (don't try this at home, nor in the game since I'm making it up). The bottle by itself is not terribly useful (the imaginative could always do something with it, but do you really want Troika to stop getting the game complete so that all items have an 'use'?).
I hope I made sense... my hair is in my eye =o}"

Wartoy 12/12/2000

"you can throw just about anything......."

29) Do any of the "natural" ingredients(parts) used for some tech items re-spawn? for example if I pick a flower or leaf, as used by some of the herbology schematics, will they "grow" back, or are they gone forever?

Sharon Shellman 2/26/2001

No. However they do appear during random encounters.

30) After using the necromizer(a cross discipline schematic) to create some zombies can you equip them with something ?

Sharon Shellman 3/9/2001

I believe you can equip them with anything they would have been able to wield when they were alive.

31) Can  the elixirs created by techies in the Therapeutics discipline permanently alter stats?

Wartoy 3/5/2001

As far as I know, there is no way to permanently alter the base stat this way.

Part 2: Characters and Stuff

Character Creation

1) Are there classes in Arcanum?

Mark Harrison 1/29/2000

The development of character abilities in Arcanum is heavily skill based. In common with the traditional D&D approach, we also have stats, but classes, per se, are completely absent.

As your character gains experience you will have the option of increasing primary stats, secondary stats, basic skills, technological skills, and magickal skills. All of these categories will be available to you regardless of how you set up your character at the start or how you have already applied your experience. Previous decisions will impact how far you can advance particular skills and stats -- you can't achieve the degree of Engineer in any tech discipline without first becoming a Technician in that discipline.

Further, there are no mutually exclusive skills. You are perfectly free to build a character who is skilled in both necromancy and healing, or
to study both tech and magick -- though in the latter example you can't be as good at either as a specialist. And of course, every one these stats and skills has been carefully crafted to have a direct effect on gameplay.

2) What (currently) does an average character start off with?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

An average beginning human has an 8 in all stats and a 0 in all skills.

3) How different will dialog be for different types of characters?

Everyone at Troika lives by the mantra "multiple options". Another side of Arcanum that is architected for very dynamic flexibility is the dialog system. Here's a list of what we can test against on any line of dialog:

How smart is the PC?
How much money does the PC have?
What is the PC's alignment?
How charismatic is the PC?
Does the PC have a particular NPC follower?
What is the value of a particular game state variable?
How skilled is the PC at haggling?
Does the PC have an item with a particular internal name?
Does this NPC have an item with a particular internal name?
What level is the PC?
What is the PC's Magickal/Technical aptitude?
Has this NPC met the PC before?
How perceptive is the PC?
How persuasive is the PC?
What is the state of a particular quest in the game?
What race is the PC?
How well does this NPC like the PC?
Has a particular rumor been quelled?
Is a particular rumor already recorded in the PC's logbook?
What is the PC's rank in a particular skill?
What is the PC's level of training in a particular skill?
What is the current state of the main story arc?

And as if that weren't complex enough, Tim expects he'll be adding more.

On any given dialog line we only check a couple of these. With what Chad and Leonard have turned out so far, having five possible branches at each dialog line is common. The player doesn't see all five, though, because some of them get hidden as a result of the tests listed above.

4) Can you customize the look of your character?

Sharon Shellman 3/23/2000, 4/2/2000, and 4/3/2000

Your character will have a different look depending upon their race, what armor they are wearing, and what weapon they are carrying. Their look will not change when they wear different shoes, helmets, rings, etc.

We are reusing the PC body types for NPCs. But it will not be as noticeable as it was in Fallout because we have more variations of each body/armor type.

By variation, I mean that for each body/armor type, there are 4 different color variations. As an example, if you are a half-ogre and are clothed in rags, and you come across a couple of other half-ogres also wearing rags, there is a good possibility that each of you will be in a different color, and not look exactly identical.

Significantly different. For instance, if wearing a jacket, they come in blue, green, brown or black.

Jesse Reynolds 4/6/2000

Generally the way we are using the different palette variations for PCs is via armor. So if you wanted, you could have everyone wear an armor that gave a different palette (you could do this to differentiate teams, if you wanted).

5) What are the different colors for armor types.

Jesse Reynolds 6/4/00

There is no "set" color variation of clothing and armor. What we have is the ability to choose between multiple palettes for each piece of art when we create an item. What those colors are may vary widely between types.

6) Will you be able to see what color an item is before buying it?

Jesse Reynolds 6/10/2000

You can pretty much tell what color armor/clothing is by looking at it in inventory. The coloring you see in the isometric window will match the coloring on the art in inventory.

7) Can you change the color of your favorite armor?

Sharon Shellman 6/5/2000

Sorry guys, but you won't be able to take your armor places and have it "dyed". The reason for this is that the color denotes different properties of that armor. The game looks at them as totally different items, not just different colors.

8) Can we pick our character's hair color?

Jesse Reynolds 7/7/2000

No, you cannot change hair color, sorry.

9) Will the character you create have a portrait?

Jason Anderson 1/17/2000

Yes. We will have a variety of race/gender portraits for you to choose from, or you can add your own. Your portrait will be visible in the character maintenance screen.

10) What size are the character portraits in the game?

Jesse Reynolds

They are 64x64 BMPs. There is also a 128x128 zoomed version used for character creation, but if it doesn't find one it will scale the smaller one.

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Adding custom portraits is easy to do, and yes there will be a description of how to do it in the docs.

11) Can you extract the character portraits?

Jesse Reynolds 6/15/2000

Currently we aren't allowing extracting them, but I don't know if this will change...

12) Will the NPCs ever use the same portrait as you?

Jesse Reynolds 6/152000

Not to worry, NPCs in Arcanum will never pick the same portrait as the PC.

Tim Cain 2/24/2001

The game only makes sure that the player's portrait is not used by any NPC. But two NPC's may have the same portrait. In fact, they MUST share portraits because we have hundreds of NPC's and we don't have hundreds of portraits.

13) Do any of your stats (like beauty) affect what starting portraits you can pick?

Jesse Reynolds 6/29/2000

No, this will not affect beginning portraits (at least at this time).

14) Can you make specific characters like a gun fighter?

Sharon Shellman 2/7/2000

Yes. You can make a gun fighter character. However, this is considered a technological character. To become an expert with Guns, you will need to put points into Firearms (a technical skill) to advance your gun expertise. (sorry though, you can only hold a gun in one hand)

A barbarian type character (one lacking magickal or technical skills) could also be used to complete the game. These characters would use swords/staves/bows instead of magickal or technological weapons.

A few of the other types of characters that could be played include a big, dumb brawny character who just pummels his way through situations, a charismatic diplomat who talks their way through, a thief who sneaks their way through, etc., etc., etc. Arcanum is very open ended. You get to play the type of character you want to. :o)

15) Will it be possible to create clerics in Arcanum?

Sharon Shellman 2/14/2000

Arcanum does have religions and cult sects. You will not, however, be able to create a traditional cleric type character. Two examples of how we are looking at handling a cleric type character would be:

1. Through reputations. If you dedicated yourself to a certain god, or became a priest of a certain religion, you would gain a reputation as such. People in the world who cared about this would react accordingly (either positively or negatively) But not everyone would react to it.

2. Through blessings and curses. If you dedicated yourself to a certain god, or became a priest of a certain religion, that god would "bless" you. These blessings can be just about anything, from increasing your dexterity, to giving you the ability to heal yourself in half the time normally required. Alternately, if you made your god mad, he would curse you, negatively effecting your character. If we chose this route, the people of the world wouldn't react to your status.

We could also do a combination of both. But nothing has been finalized yet.

16) Which races can be played as male/female?

Sharon Shellman 3/27/2000

You can play a male character from one of 8 races, and you can play the female of 4 of the races.

Human (female too)
Elf (female too)
Half-Elf (female too)
Half-Orc (female too)

17) Would it really be that hard to make all the races playable as female?

Sharon Shellman 9/2/2000 From the Official Board

Yes. Actually it will be quite difficult to make the small races playable as female. (and since I'm one of the artists, I say this with plenty of knowledge on the subject) :o) We are a sprite based game. As such, each character that you play requires completely separate animations to be created for each set of clothing/armor, each weapon combination (with shield, without shield, etc.), every animation (walk, die, get up, etc.). It is a very involved process.

2 of the races not being playable as a female are story driven. (and no, this was not done just so we wouldn't have to do the art) The other 2 are artist time constraint driven. Still, you can play 4 races as a woman, which is quite a variety, especially with the role playing capabilities that Arcanum possesses.

Being a female myself, I usually play a woman (since I spend a lot of time testing the areas of Arcanum I'm building) and you can play a *very* wide variety of women. I mostly like to switch back and forth between Mirabelle, my elf who, being high-born, is a bit spoiled and also rather naive. She speaks openly and honestly, and loves to flatter and chit chat. Even though she is traveling in a strange land, she insists upon dressing as a proper lady at all times (even when some form of armor would seem appropriate). She also does not like to get her hands dirty, and has acquired assistants to handle any task that is not to her liking.

Now Ann, on the other hand, is a bit more worldly. She knows her way around a lock, and is quick with her dagger when the need arises. She's fair, for a half-orc, but still finds she is often looked down upon for her heritage, which is apparent at first glance. Ann can handle herself in the local tavern, but has a bit of difficulty dealing with "upstanding" citizens who's racist comments, while embarrassing, seem only to feed the hatred hidden deep within her. She swallows her pride and humbles herself before the swine, knowing that she will ensure that they get what they deserve, once the darkness falls.

18) Are there advantages for playing as various races?

Chad Moore 2/8/2000

There are pluses and minuses for all of the races, so a player will need to think (to a certain degree...) what kind of character he's going to want to be. Dwarves have a high technological aptitude, so they'll make the best pure technologists... each race has its own unique characteristics, so not only does it make for a lot of choices for a player, it also makes for a lot of variety in world interaction once you've chosen your particular race...

Leonard Boyarsky 3/1/2000

When we began designing Arcanum, we decided that the dwarves in our world were the technologists, and the gnomes were the best merchants. The gnomes are the robber barons of Arcanum, basically. They knew a good thing when they saw it, and jumped on the technology bandwagon early on, through financing mostly. They run the railroads and the banks, and basically make up most of the upper class.

Jason Anderson 3/26/2000

If you choose to play a half-ogre in Arcanum, your character gains points in strength and damage resistance but loses points in beauty and intelligence. Half-ogres are very tall and heavy and therefore cannot wear most armor, and their hands are too big to wield small guns. While most other races feel a little uneasy around these huge creatures, there usually is not any open discrimination.

If instead you decide to play a half-orc, your character gains points in constitution and strength, but loses points in beauty and charisma. Most half-orcs can pass as full humans (albeit ugly ones), but they usually have some trait that identifies their orcish blood (upturned nose, hairiness, foul temper) to the careful observer. People usually discriminate against them when they discover their true race.

Leonard Boyarsky 5/4/2000

The orc is the smaller hunched one in the shot. Halforcs generally look like humans in the isometric view. Their portraits look different, though.

Whenever you see a screenshot with the cursor hovering over the PC and the message window identifies him as "Donn Throgg", that would be a half orc.

Shellman 1/31/2001

Okay, I'm lazy (or busy...) so I just cut and pasted these from our .mes files. Go to town. In addition to the below, remember that females (of any race) get a +1 CN, -1 ST adjustment.

Humans - have no special modifiers to their stats and abilities. Humans are the most populous and distributed race by far, having numerous cities and kingdoms throughout the world. They interact with the other races as much as the gnomes, and they interbreed with everything (hence, half-elves, half-ogres, and half-orcs). They are not inherently predisposed towards magick or technology, but they are the front-runners in the latest technological race. Being shorter-lived than most of the other races as well as fairly ingenious tinkerers, they are probably attracted to the quick return on investment that technology promises.

Dwarves - The character gains +1 strength, +1 constitution, +15% to Technological Aptitude and +2 ranks to all tech skills. The character suffers -1 charisma and dexterity and is hampered in throwing spells, finding that they cost twice as much to cast. Dwarven males are short, stocky, bearded people. Although very wide and stout for their height, dwarves tend to be muscular and not fat. They are hard-working, prideful and focused almost to the point of being humorless, although most dwarves enjoy a good mead. Dwarves tend to be quick to judge and quick to anger. Dwarves dislike elves but are respectful to humans and gnomes.

Elves - The character gains +1 dexterity, willpower and beauty and +15% to Magickal Aptitude but suffers -2 constitution and -1 strength and -2 ranks to all tech skills. Elves are slender and pale, having a natural, exotic beauty that is the envy of the other races. Elves are a philosophical race, the dreamers and poets of Arcanum. They prefer to live near forests and rivers, spending their time feasting, singing and talking. Elves can be rather arrogant to all other races, but they especially disdain dwarves.

Half-Elves - The character gains +1 dexterity and beauty and +5% to Magickal Aptitude but loses 1 point of constitution and 1 rank to all tech skills. In build and appearance, they resemble their human parents more, but some half-elves possess the pointed ears and pale, delicate features associated with their elven parents. Half-elven personality ranges the entire gamut available to humans and elves, although most of them have a natural bent to their personality and enjoy spending time out-of-doors. Half-elves do not come across as arrogant to the other races and are generally well-liked by everyone.

Gnomes - The character gains +2 willpower, 2 ranks of Haggle and +10 to any bad reaction, but suffers -2 points of constitution. Gnomes are short with very big noses and while not usually overweight, they do tend to get pot-bellied in later years. Gnomes tend to be a hard-working people. They are equally at home in cities, underground or in the forest. Since they get along well with most other races and because they love wealth, they tend to be merchants and traders. Like humans, they have little predisposition to either magick or technology. They can use either, but most often they choose to abstain from both.

Halfings - The character gains +2 dexterity, 2 ranks of Prowling, 1 rank of Dodge and +5% critical hit chance, but then suffers -3 points of strength. Halflings are short people, smaller even than gnomes and dwarves. They enjoy cooking and eating and tend to be overweight. They do not wear shoes, instead relying on their heavily-soled and hair-topped feet. This also means halflings can be very quiet when they want to be. Halflings are a quiet, rustic folk who tend not to dabble in either magick or technology, although nothing inherent prevents them from doing so. They are regarded as lazy by the other races, but despite this reputation, they are generally well liked.

Half-Orcs - The character gains +1 constitution, +1 strength, 2 ranks to both Melee and Dodge, and an extra 10% poison resistance, but loses 2 points of beauty and 2 points of charisma. Half-orcs are the progeny of orc and human parents, usually a male orc and an unwilling female human. This history makes half-orcs a despised segment of the human population. Most half-orcs can pass as full humans (albeit ugly ones), but they usually have some trait that identifies their orcish blood (upturned nose, hairiness, foul temper) to the careful observer, and people usually discriminate against them when they discover their race. Half-orcs are quick-tempered and violent like their orcish parent. Some have learned to control their temper, but this usually means that instead of attacking immediately, they will plot revenge.

Half-Ogres - The character gains +4 strength and an extra 10% damage resistance but then loses 1 point of beauty, 4 points of intelligence and 2 ranks of Prowling. Half-ogres are half-human, half-ogre individuals, a seemingly rare combination. They tend to be large and heavy and thus cannot wear most armor or use certain technological items. In appearance, they resemble, but are not as violent as, their ogrish parents. They are slow to anger and tend to be gentle with smaller folk and if acting as bodyguards, they will defend their charges to the death. Due to their large size, they rarely face open discrimination in human cities.

19) Why do humans have no stat modifiers?

Sharon Shellman 7/4/2000

We discussed why humans have no stat adjustments. Basically, we designed the entire mechanics of the game utilizing humans as the "baseline". So they have no stat adjustments, and can, if they try hard enough (and spend lots of points), become great at anything.

20) How do the bonuses and penalties for different races work? Do they sum to zero?

Tim Cain 6/1/2000

Races are assigned bonuses and penalties to stats and skills, and some even are given inherent magick or tech aptitude. To answer your specific questions:

- No, the bonuses and penalties do not necessarily sum to zero. However, we are trying hard to make the effect of the bonuses and penalties balance in the game. In other words, everyone won't end up playing elves.

- The bonuses and penalties adjust the stat and do not affect the base stat. You are charged points for changing the base stat. So, if you have a 10 Strength and play a Half-Ogre, your adjusted Strength will be 13. If you choose to raise Strength, you are charged the cost of raising a 10 to an 11, even though you will end up raising a 13 to a 14. Hence, it will be cheaper to make a Strength 20 Half-Ogre, since you only have to raise his base to 17.

21) With the new leveling system, have any of the racial modifiers been changed?

Sharon Shellman 9/24/2000

The 20 point system still underlies the 5. (damn I hope that's not too confusing for everyone) So every time you put 1 point into a skill, and move the vial 1/5th of the way, the underlying system thinks you are putting 4 points into the skill (although this is something you will never see.

So a starting character who had a +2 to all tech skills will see his vial marked 1/2 way to the first mark.

While this does not give you a full point, it is effective when receiving bonuses or being penalized by blesses, curses and magickal or tech enhanced items.

As an example, I chose a background that gave me a +2 to melee for my character. I put no points into melee. I find a magickal sword that adds +2 to my melee. I now effectively have a full point (or 1/5th of the scale) in melee and can qualify for training (as long as I retain that sword).

The actual visuals that you see are very simple. I was just explaining the underlying computations that take place. What the end user sees will be very simple.

Each skill has a vial, on its side with five markers on it. As a point is put into a skill, the vial fills with red to the next mark.

If a blessing, curse or enhanced item is affecting the PC's skill, the red will fill between 2 of the marks.

So someone with a +2 melee bonus, who also put a point into melee would show a vial filled to the one and one half mark. (out of 5)

If a person has a +2 bonus, and puts 5 points into a skill it will only go to 5. However, if they then are cursed with a -2 to that bonus, it will stay at 5. (because their original +2 bonus is offsetting the curse).

22) Are some races better with meelee weapons or bows than others?

"Half-Orcs - The character gains +1 constitution, +1 strength, 2 ranks to both Melee and Dodge, and an extra 10% poison resistance, but loses 2 points of beauty and 2 points of charisma."

23) Will different races start in different parts of the world?

Chad Moore 2/8/2000

The game will start in the same place at the very beginning, regardless of race. From that point on, everything else will be different. Different in regards to how people speak with you (or even IF they will), what things are available for you to do, how the world changes depending on what you either say or do in ANY situation. What we've attempted to do with Arcanum is create a place where your character actually lives... there are social issues, and moral dilemmas... each and every town will have the opportunities for heroism or evil... and people REMEMBER...

So... to make this a lot longer than it probably needed to be...) Your experience with all of the races will be different, even though you begin at the same place. And race isn't the only thing that will affect your game... choices between magick and technology, or character stats, are also extremely important, and you'll see it from the onset of the game...

24) Is it especially difficult to complete the game with a character who doesn't have good fighting skills?

Chad Moore 4/21/2000

The diplomat in our game will have the added bonuses of being able to circumvent most of the "violent" solutions in our quests through talking, or being able to "hire" someone to do them for him. (i.e., get a follower to do his dirty work.)

Myself, I'd rather take care of these things by myself...:)

25) Will the PC start with an age? Will it affect the game?

Sharon Shellman 5/22/2000 and 9/24/2000

Ok, this isn't set in stone yet, but we did discuss the issue a lot today. We are going to leave age in. However, it will not effect the main single player game because we have not accounted for it when writing dialogue. It is being left in mainly for people to make use of when creating their own mods.

When you begin the single player game, your character will be the equivalent of a 20 year old. So an elf would start out around 300, a dwarf around 150.

No the longevity of a race will not factor into gameplay.

26) How many letters can the name of your PC be?

Sharon Shellman 6/6/2000

We have beaten Jesse until he could no longer stand up. To get us to stop, he agreed to alter his code so that your character name could be longer. He was in such pain that he agreed to 22 spaces.


Who said violence never got you anything?

27) Can you be a dark elf?

Jesse Reynolds 6/4/00

"Dark" elves are a cultural/personality difference, not a physical difference. So no, you couldn't start out as one. Depending on your race and actions, you might become friendly with them of course.

28) What stats should I pump up for a “diplomat“ type character?

ChuBaka 3/6/2001

talkers need persuasion, persuasion depends on charisma, high charisma gives you more followers, however, if you are not smart enough, you will not be able to figure out some of the solutions (as in, you'll want to be at least of average intelligence).

Backgrounds, alignment, and reputation

1) How do backgrounds affect your character?

Chad Moore 2/1/2000

We also have backgrounds in the game that act the same way... being purely hypothetical, if a player chose "Son of a Psychopath", where he gains a point to willpower, but people's fear levels might always raise whenever he's around, thus making it hard to interact, gain followers, buy things, etc. Whereas a player who chose "Phantom of the Opera" might gain a point to charisma, but loses two to beauty...

Sharon Shellman 9/28/2000

Also, a PC can only have 1 background in a mod.

2) Why only one background?

Sharon Shellman 9/28/2000

I know many of you have expressed concern over having just one background while in Fallout you could have a couple.

In Fallout each trait (for the most part) had one positive effect and one negative effect. They were little traits that you could add to your character.

In Arcanum, we are giving you an entire background history. They have more in-depth stories (that you can revise with your own if you wish) and they provide multiple bonuses and detriments to your character.

We designed backgrounds to be used to allow you to truly role play your character by giving him or her a history and some moderate or extreme characteristics if you wish.

3) Do all the backgrounds have up and down sides making them just like the traits in Fallout?

Sharon Shellman 9/27/2000


4) How many backgrounds will there be to choose from?

Shellman 1/10/2001

We are adding the 67th background to the game as I type this. Probably by the time we are finished there will be between 70 and 100 total backgrounds in the game. (Keep in mind that some are race or gender specific)

5) What are a couple of the backgrounds that are currently in the game?

Sharon Shellman 9/26/2000

Sheltered Childhood - Your were cooed and coddled incessantly as a child. As a result of overprotective parenting, you take a severe penalty to strength (-6), but, being more sensitive, you have bonuses to Intelligence (+2), Willpower (+2), and Perception (+1).

Beat with an Ugly Stick - You are ugly. There is just no other word for it, unless you consider hideous a better word. Children flee from you in terror and even the kindest of souls finds it difficult to stand your presence for long. As a result of your countenance, you take an extreme penalty to Beauty (-6), but, because you have had to defend yourself from frequent attacks, you gain a bonus to Strength (+2), Dexterity (+2) and all of your Combat Skills (+1).

A few things to note:

- You can change the description that goes with these stat adjustments, just not the adjustments themselves.
- The stat pluses and minuses are not always equal (since all stats are not equal in the game)
- The +1 to all combat skills in "Beat with an Ugly Stick" would be called "bonus to all combat skills" if we changed it to what was proposed in the thread about skill adjustments.

6) Will there be a "Bloody Mess" backgrounds?

Sharon Shellman 9/27/2000

Not so far, but not out of the question. :o)

7) Do the pre-generated characters have backgrounds?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

The pre-generated characters that you can choose from have detailed stories describing them, if that is what your asking. You do not get to choose a background in addition to a pre-generated character. Once you select one, the game starts immediately (with no chance to view or alter your stats)

8) Do backgrounds affect reputations?

Tim Cain 7/9/2000

I think I can answer your questions without giving too much away. Right now, we don't have any backgrounds that include specific reputations. In other words, none of them have any attached "+2 reaction to all thieves" or "-2 reaction to citizens of Tarant". We think of reputations as something you pick up in the game, rather than start with.

With that said, we do have some backgrounds that adjust reactions. For example "Child of a Hero" background says that your Dad was a big hero 30 years ago, and you now possess his magick sword. But your father's reputation precedes you and everyone expects you to be good, so any bad reaction adjustment is doubled! So you get to start the game with a decent magick weapon, but you had better be a good guy or people will really start to hate you.

9) How does alignment affect the game?

Sharon Shellman 7/3/2000

... We went back and forth on the issue for a while, but ended up with all NPC's being able to see your alignment.

NPCs use your alignment as a factor in determining their initial reaction to you.

Tim Cain 1/23/2001

Alignment _is_ a slippery slope, but only for evil. If you kill a good creature, it is always an evil act. However, if you kill an evil creature, it is only a good act if you are less evil than it. If you are more evil than the creature, then you become even more evil.

This effects makes it harder to recover from an evil alignment than a good one. If you kill a lot of good critters, you need to seek out a REALLY evil critter to gain some positive alignment.

10) Can you be evil and have evil followers?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/9/2000

You can play evil or any way you choose.

Tim Cain 3/2/2000

Yes, you can have NPC's that react better to evil than to good. And NPC's have their own alignment. Some of the AI and some of the dialog is based on alignment difference: if you are a lot more good or a lot more evil than me, they may well react differently. This means an NPC may leave your party if you start acting too good or too evil. However, he will give you some warnings first.

11) Will shopkeepers refuse to sell to you if you are an evil mass murderer?

Tim Cain 5/18/2000

Alignment is something you wear on your sleeve, so to speak. If you are evil and go into a shop, the shopkeeper knows you are evil. But most of them will deal with you, since they want the $$$. You may not get the best prices unless you are very beautiful, but then, isn't that life?.

In any case, we will have some shady shopkeepers too, who are available in the seedier parts of town.

12) Can you kill innocents without a major conflict?

Jesse Reynolds 3/22/2000

There will be guards in cities, and yes, they will be on the lookout for criminal acts. So if you want to steal from someone or kill one of the citizens, you will have to make sure none of them are around.

13) How likely are you to be caught murdering someone?

Chad Moore 6/5/2000

If a guard sees you murder someone that he cares about, then, of course, he will attack you. If you murder someone, and hang around the body too long, then any guard that catches you there will attack you as well. This reaction will be based on a specified amount of time... i.e., don't stick around while the body is still warm...:)

14) If you wandered up to a fresh body and a guard came by, would he think that you killed him?

Sharon Shellman 9/29/2000

Yes, if someone in a mod killed a local citizen and ran off, then you happened upon the body just before the authorities showed up - they would come after you as the guilty party.

15) Would killing certain creatures (like the undead) be considered good?

Jesse Reynolds 7/3/2000

As to whether killing Undead is an evil act or a good one, that would depend on the individual creature. Since every creature in the game can be aligned towards Good or Evil, you may run across both. In general, most Undead are evil, so killing them would be a "good" act.

16) Will having a bad reputation cause people to shun your character?

Chad Moore 2/1/2000

Yes! Things will happen exactly like that... reputations in Arcanum range from regional (i.e., enemy of Tarant), to global (i.e., Scourge of the Elves.) People who are affected by a particular reputation will act VASTLY different than those to whom they mean very little...

17) Will what NPCs say when they greet you be affected by your reputation?

Tim Cain 8/22/2000

Well, people won't shout out your reputations as you pass them in the street, but we do have something like what you described already in place. If you talk to someone whose reaction matches a reputation's adjustment (i.e.. it is a positive reputation and he likes you or it is a negative reputation and he hates you), then he may greet you with a reputation related greeting. So if you are the Town Hero, a shopkeeper may greet you with "It's an honor to have such a hero in my little shop", and if you are the Scourge of Tarant, he might say "Look what slithered into my store! What do you want, Scourge?".

They won't always use these greetings (since that would get boring), and they will never use them if their reaction is the wrong way. So no one who hates the character who has Town Hero will ever greet him pleasantly and then act sourly. It was just something fun to throw in with the reputation system.

18) Can your PC start the game with a reputation?

Sharon Shellman 9/28/2000

No, currently a PC can not start with a reputation.

19) Is the benefit from "Special Person" double fate points or double on the good/evil meter?

Tim Cain 10/25/2000

Let me clarify Special Person. The "praise for good deeds" means that if a positive reaction adjustment is made to an NPC for this character, I increase that adjustment. So it is *much* easier for Special Person to get people to like him, for a reason other than Beauty, Charisma and Reputations. BTW, some people here want it removed.

20) Could you explain a little more how reputations and reaction work?

Tim Cain 1/23/2001

Reputations, on the other hand, tend to be "sticky". If you perform an action that is significant and something that a lot of people would care about, then you gain a reputation. Reputations in Arcanum are a handled as a list of reaction/faction pairs. Each pair is a reaction adjustment (positive or negative) and a faction number. Any NPC belonging to that faction will have his reaction adjusted by the corresponding reaction adjustment. Each reputation can have multiple pairs, and there is also a faction number 0 which matches anybody, so you can gain a good or bad reputation with every person on Arcanum, but these latter reputations are rare. BTW, reputations are editable, so you can make your own for your modules.

Reaction is the great amalgam function. Reaction is determined by base NPC reaction, player Beauty, player and NPC race, player reputations, player and NPC alignment, bartering and gambling transactions, spells, and even the player's clothing! It sounds complex (and I guess it is), but it all makes sense when you play. Spend a lot of money at a shop, and the shopkeeper will like you. Gamble for his expensive merchandise and win a lot of it, and he won't like you. Dress really nicely, and some people will like you better. And so on...

Time _does_ affect reaction, but only in multiplayer and only to see if the NPC remembers a particular PC. Reactions are ranked based on the reaction value and the time of the last reaction adjustment, and neutral and older reactions are judged to be lower ranking than recent, extreme reactions. NPC's remember the last N PC's they encounter, based on these reaction rankings. So to make an NPC remember you in a multiplayer world with more than N players in it (not at the same time, but EVER), you need to have a more extreme reaction (either good or bad) that is more recent than other players.

Originally, we were planning to make NPC's reactions to PC's fade to neutral over time, meaning they slowly forget about you, in the single-player game as well. But since it is VERY easy to advance time (sleep or wait or travel on the world map), it was easy for people to act like jerks and then just sleep in the inn for a month. And because people have begged/requested/demanded that we have no time limits in the game, there was no problem for the player to advance time like that. So it's disabled.

21) Can the backgrounds "Day Mage" and "Night Mage" be used to raise your tech apptitude, since they lower your magick aptitude, As in You just pick the opposite of what you want your tech person to be good at. I.E. Day Mage= Night Technologist.

Tim Cain 3/5/2001

No, none of the aspected mageries will make you a technologist. If you have a -20 magic aptitude penalty, then you will have a 0 magic aptitude until you gain 21 magic points, and then you will have a 1 magic aptitude.

22) Are there any backgrounds that give a penalty, but grant a CP as opposed to a fixed bonus?

Sharon Shellman 2/26/2001


23) In reference to some Backgrounds, does an .25 point increase(equivalent to1 using the underlying 1-20 scale) really make a difference?

Tim Cain 3/12/2001

The skill system works internally on a 0 to 20 scale. When you spend a point, you go from 0 to 4, or 4 to 8, etc. Some backgrounds give +1 or +2, which really _do_ improve your skill, just not as much as spending a point would.
So yes, it's nice to have that background bonus. It may add 10% to your skill success chance instead of 20%, but hey, every bonus helps, and they all add up.

Character refinement

1) How much experience does it currently take to go up a level?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

It takes 2,000 experience points to go from level 1 to level 2. 6,700 to go from level 10 to level 11 and 20,600 to go from level 30 to level 31. (these numbers may also be subject to balance changes)

2) How much experience do you get for killing a kite?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

A kite is a level 3 monster.

If you kill an average, run of the mill kite, you will currently get 64 experience points.

3) What is the cap on skill and stat levels?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

Skills/stats are not capped at 50, but at 20 (currently). The player's *LEVEL* is capped at 50. Yes, you can spend points on skills, spells, tech degrees, base stats, as well as some derived stats.

4) Will there be distinct character levels in Arcanum?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/9/2000

We will be having levels in Arcanum. When you go up a level, you are given a lump sum of points to distribute any way you wish, on stats or skills.

5) What is the maximum level you can attain in Arcanum?

Shellman 1/10/2001

The level cap remains at 50.

6) Why did you change the leveling system, and how does the new system work?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

You no longer get 5 character points each time you level up. About 6 weeks ago we took a long, hard look at our entire point distribution system. What we saw was a lot of confusion. Allow me to explain.

With that system, you got 5 points per level to spend, but different levels of things cost different amounts of points, and the higher the level you achieved, the more you were having to "save" your points in order to get the next level of whatever you wanted. I am not sure of what the precise numbers were off the top of my head, but the example below is close to accurate.

As an example, melee could advance through 20 levels. Levels 1-10 cost 1 point each, levels 11-20 cost 2 points each. EXCEPT that you could not raise a skill higher than the stat it depended upon. Stat costs went according to the following point costs: levels 1-2 cost 1 point each, levels 5 - 9 cost 3 points each, levels 10-13 cost 6 points each, levels 14-17 cost 9 points each and levels 18-20 cost 12 points each.

Melee depends upon dex. The average (human) starts with a dex of 8, melee of 0. So if you wanted to achieve a 20 in melee, it would cost you all of the points you earned up through level 22, with you putting nothing into any other stat, skill, magick or tech.

Also, you would have to "save up" points to advance. To get from a level 17 to a level 18 in melee, you would have to save up the 12 CP to raise your DX to 18, plus 2 more to raise your Melee to 18. And you would have to repeat that pattern to achieve 19 and 20 as well. This made the game seem very difficult and un-rewarding the higher level you became. Our old system was nice in the beginning, but got very tedious from the mid-point on up through the game, and it was also very, very complicated as we discovered when trying to explain it to people. So.... we revamped the system.

The new system is much easier to understand and does not require you to look up a chart or remember how many more levels you have to advance before you can raise that skill or buy that spell you want. You now get three character points to spend when you start the game, instead of 5. Skills have been changed to a graphical bar displaying 5 levels, rather than a 1-20 number range. Your skills are still tied to a particular stat, and to reach each of the 5 levels, you must have a 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 in that stat. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) costs 1 point - spells, tech disciplines, stats and skills. And finally, you only get 1 point each time you level, instead of 5.

This system has proven very successful with the testing we've put it through. It is effective, easily understandable, and makes it a lot simpler to plan how you are going to spend your points. With both systems, your character advances at roughly the same overall rate. However with the new one, it is consistent throughout the entire game and, most importantly, you can advance your characters skills each time you level up... You are not required to save up points like you were in the old system.

The old skill system is still in place under the new system. So when you spend one point and move 1/5th of the way through the new skill system, you are at a point that is equal to putting 4 points into the old system. Also, as you raise your skills, the change that happens as you spend each point will be very noticeable, where it was not in the old system. (a 1 in melee was not much different from a 4 in melee before)

The focus on where to put the points is pretty much the same, its just more straightforward. Now, if I want and average starting character to get to Level 2 of Melee, I put 1 point into DX, and 2 into Melee. Before I put 3 into DX and 8 into Melee. Either way took me 3 levels to achieve. And the old way would cost me more as I became higher level.

Our biggest problem with the old system was that we had tried to create a combined level based and point based system. This was confusing. It also took us a while to realize that it didn't work right, since everything was fine in the early levels. It didn't get screwed up until you were a high level character. Early on, you leveled, you got points, you spent them... woohoo. Later, you leveled, you got points, you couldn't spend them on anything... what the? Now, each time you level you can improve your character, or you can save your points (if your not sure where you want to spend it), whichever you choose.

The old system would have been fine if every quest gave you a point or two, and from the beginning you realized that you had to save points up to buy things. But the way it was working, it felt like a level based system early on, where each level rewarded you with enough points to advance, and then switched to a point based system later in the game, requiring you to save up points through multiple levels before you could improve your character.

7) Are characterist advancements more expensive in the new system?

Sharon Shellman 9/19/00

Actually, in the old system characteristics (or Stats) were even MORE expensive to acquire than they are now.

In the old system, it would take you to level 26 to max out one stat and one skill. 77% of your points (or 98 of them) were needed to raise a stat to 20, and 23% of your points (or 30 of them) were needed to raise a skill to 20.

Using the new system, it will take you to level 15 to max out one stat and one skill. 71% of your points (or 12 of them) will be needed to raise a stat to 20, and 29% of your points (or 5 of them) will be needed to raise a skill to 5.

So in reality, skills cost more now than they used to, and stats are cheaper.

8) In Fallout, the number of skill points that you got each level depended on you intelligence. Is that true in Arcanum?

Tim Cain 5/10/2000

In Arcanum, you get a set number of character points when you go up a level. It does not depend on any stat.

9) Along with character points, does the PC get anything else, like more hit points when he levels up?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

For each level you go up, you now automatically get 2 each of HP/Fat. You can also put points into them directly - for each point you add to HP, it will increase by 4.

There are also other ways to increase HP/Fat - For every point you put into Willpower you gain 1 each of HP/Fat. For every point you put into Constitution you gain 2 Fat. For every point you put into Strength you gain 2 HP. We thought this made a lot more sense than the old "static" system.

10) How many fatigue points (currently) will a character point buy?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

One character point will buy 4 fatigue points.

11) Are you still planning to have 5 CPs as the starting amount for character creation?

Shellman 2/26/2001

Yes, at the moment. However our testers think this is too much, so it may well drop back to 3.

Wartoy 3/5/2001

we started with 3 and pushed up to 5... unless we decide to change it at the last minute, that’s where it will stay... ...and don’t be afraid to ask questions...I read them all....

12) Will Arcanum have perks every few levels like Fallout?

Jesse Reynolds 3/17/2000

Arcanum doesn't have perks. Blesses and Curses are gained by doing certain actions in the world, so no, you won't automatically get them. You will have to do something extremely heroic (or antiheroic, though you could get a bless or a curse for either method, it would depend on the specific event :) ) to get them.

13) What are fate points? Are they a replacement for perks?

Tim Cain 5/8/2000

Fate points were not intended as a perk like replacement. They are intended to reward people for role playing by allowing people who do certain difficult quests to be able to override the engine in a particular way. It's the game's way of telling you that you did something heroic (or villainous) and now you can do something cool because of that.

So if your good character does a difficult good quest or your evil character does a difficult evil quest, you get a fate point. Later, while fighting a nasty beastie, you can use the fate point to get a critical hit or restore your hit points or force a skill to critically succeed.

Fate points are there just for fun. You can ignore them if you want.

Tim Cain 5/9/2000

Fate points can be put in a pending state. For example, you can say the next use of skill X will be a critical success by clicking a menu button. Then, until you use skill X, that button will remain pressed. If you decide you don't want this, you can just toggle the button and get your fate point back.

For instant fate point uses, like healing all damage, you need to access the menu, but it is just one click to pop it up and another click to use the fate point.

Shellman 1/10/2001

FP are still in, but you will not be able to use them to buy character points. We are also removing the current bonus where you get a character point each time you get a fate point, this just made fate points "too" rewarding for certain types of players.

14) Since Fate Points can be used to make someone like you after you do something bad, does that mean they reverse time?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

No, nothing reverses time. One of the uses for Fate points, however, is to make someone like you. So if you pissed off that King in Tarant, you can twist him into liking you again, for example.

15) How many Fate Points can you have?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

The "max" (which is still variable) of 10 Fate points is a *story* constraint. You only get Fate points for doing extremely heroic (or villainous) deeds, and we don't want them to become too much of a crutch for the player. They are there to help you out in dangerous situations, we don't want so many that you use them like popcorn. :)

16) Will your character look different in different armor?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/9/2000

We have 9 "looks" for each race, in our "previous game" there were 6. We have some races restricted as to items they can use or armors they can where.

17) How do curses work?

Tim Cain 5/8/2000, 5/9/2000

These are bestowed by the deities when your character does something that the deities do not like, and they are effectively permanent, although some of the Curses can get lifted if you undo the damage you caused.

None of the required quests have them. And you don't have to do a particular side quest, so if you don't want to get cursed, you don't have to be.

18) Are blessings and curses permanent?

Jesse Reynolds 6/5/2000

Blesses/Curses aren't "permanent" because you can theoretically get rid of (or lose) them, though in practice certain ones could stay with you for the entire game (if you made sure to not do something that would piss off whoever gave you a Blessing, for example).

19) Can my character be hurt permanently in any way? Is there a record of these injuries?

Tim Cain 3/29/2000 and 3/30/2000

You can suffer crippling injuries to your limbs and eyes that last until healed (via skill, spell or tech). You can also get scarred. In fact, you can get repeatedly scarred, which decreases your Beauty but might lead to a reputation. Scars can be healed too, but they are harder to fix than mere injuries. A particularly bad wound will cause one, and regular heal skill won't help. You need to find someone with training or get it yourself, or use a spell or technological therapeutic.

Sharon Shellman 6/3/2000

Each time you receive a scar, your beauty will drop by 1. Scars can be removed by healing (if the healer does a really, really good job on you).

Let's say you start with a butt ugly fighter (say a 5 beauty), and you adventure off and get into a lot of fights. In all of your battles, you happened to receive 10 scars. Your beauty will be 1 (because it never goes below 1) Even if you got healed enough to remove 5 scars, your beauty would still be 1, because you still have 5 scars left.

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

Yes, you can see scars/injuries in the logbook. I don't think it currently tells you who gave it to you.

20) Can you add cybernetic arms to your characters?

Jesse Reynolds 4/6/2000

No, there will be no cybernetics in the game. Arcanum is a fantasy world brought into the Victorian Era/Industrial Revolution. There won't be any sort of cyber-anything.

21) If you make someone so mad that they start fighting you and you run away, is there any way to get them to stop attacking?

Tim Cain 5/3/2000

If you piss someone off but you can still talk to them, then there are often ways in dialog to improve your standing with them. Some of these ways are restricted to people with a good charisma or a high rank of Persuasion.

If you piss someone off and cannot talk to them anymore, you can still try to gain a reputation that they will respect. If the reputation raises their reaction to you, then you can try the talking route.

Of course, if you just act terribly all the time, you should not complain when everyone hates you. Being nice is harder, but it has its rewards.

22) How do the auto leveling schemes work?

Sharon Shellman 5/22/2000

The auto level schemes are being edited in a text editor. Each scheme will have a number associated with it, and that is how you will choose which scheme you want in the interface.

We will have 50 predefined schemes, and you will be able to create 50 of your own custom schemes. Following is an example. This is Scheme #68 that Jason made up for an evil mage-warrior type character.

{Melee 5, necro_evil 2, Dodge 3, force 1, fire 1, st 12, melee 10, dodge 10, necro_evil 4, melee 13, summoning 2, dodge 13, fire 3, st 15, melee 18, dodge 18, necro_evil 5, fire 5, melee 20, dodge 20, st 20}

As you gain character points to spend, the scheme listed above will raise your stats/skills in the following order:

Melee to 5
Necromantic Evil spell college, first 2 spells
Dodge to 3
Force spell college, first spell
Fire spell college, first spell
Strength to 12
Melee to 10
Dodge to 10
Necromantic Evil spell college, 3rd and 4th spells
Melee to 13
Summoning spell college, first 2 spells
Dodge to 13
Fire spell college, first 3 spells
Strength to 15
Melee to 18
dodge to 18
Necromantic Evil spell college, 5th spell
Fire spell college, 4th and 5th spells
Melee to 20
Dodge to 20
Strength to 20

Now, as the points are being distributed. If, say, in order to buy the Necromantic Evil spell number 4 (part of step 9), your intelligence needs to be raised. Then the scheme will use your points as you earn them to buy spell 3, then it will raise your intelligence, then it will buy spell 4, and continue on down the scheme.

It's actually a very powerful tool for planning out how to develop your character.

[Editor's note: Skills no longer go to 20. They have been changed to only have 5 levels. Other than that, the system listed here for templates is the basically the same. See the explanation above for more information on the changes.]

23) How would auto leveling templates be used?

Jesse Reynolds 5/22/2000

As we've said before, the templates are there for players that want to start playing immediately without having to learn the stat/skill system. Less hard-core RPGers, in other words, people that probably *will* choose to use a pregenerated character. They could also be used by players with higher level characters, when they know basically how they want to spend their points (you've already bought a lot of spells, and know you want to learn some fighting ability -- so you pick the "Warrior" template, and let it go to town.) The templates already created are ones that make very good choices for the given "type", based on our knowledge of the system. So, if you want to create a "Warrior", using the template will get you a quite good one. However, if you want that warrior to dabble in tech or spells or what have you, then you will probably want to switch it off.

You certainly don't have to use them, in fact if you *create* a character instead of picking a pregenerated on, then it starts disabled. You can turn it on & off at any time, and you can switch to different ones too. There are quite a few that come with the game, so if you *do* want one, you will likely find what you are looking for there. However, for those people that want to play with them (whether for their own character or for a new NPC type in a potential Mod), we allow you to create your own.

Using them for NPCs came about as a nice side benefit. ;)

24) If you use a template to control level advancement of your character, will you get messages telling you when a skill has maxed out?

Tim Cain 5/9/2000

Currently, templates give you a message when they have completed. Since a template can try to raise several things, you will not get a message until all of them have been raised. However, you can make a template that just raises one school of magick, and then when it completes, switch to a new template.

25) Is there a simple, in-game interface for choosing a character template?

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

Yes, these are choosable via a menu that lists them by a descriptive name.

Thieves and All Things Sneaky

1) What is in the game for thief type characters?

Tim Cain 04/1/2000

We added climbing through windows, pick pocketing, concealing and moving silently to our animations, because we are tired of thief-types taking a back seat in most RPG's (well, except for Thief) to fighters and wizards. If you play a thief, you should be able to do all these things, plus pick locks and disarm traps and set traps too. With some training, you can even get some cool stuff when you disarm a trap. We are also paying attention to local lighting and viewing conditions, so [prowling] works better in a dark room behind a table than in a big empty well-lit room. And yes, nights are darker when there is a new moon, so plan your forays accordingly.

BTW, the little slider clock up in the right corner of the screenshots shows time as well as the phase of the moon.

2) Are there any other advantages for thieves?

Tim Cain 6/2/2000

All thieves can conceal themselves to avoid detection. They can move silently. They can pick locks. They can steal and plant items from/on other characters. Any harmful planted item (like dynamite), if planted without detection, will not result in the victim attacking the thief.

Technological (not magickal) thieves can set traps. You can trap a door or a chest or anything that can be used, and you can trap locations as well. Anyone using the object or passing through the location will set off the trap. They will NOT know who set the trap either, so they will not come after you.

Mike McCarthy 4/27/2000 from a preview from


Since thieves sneak around in shadows, it is easier for the thief to shoot out the light source with an arrow.

Michael McCarthy 3/1/2001

Yes. You will be able to shoot out light sources..... but not all of them. hehee

Basically you can shoot out all normal light sources like torches, lamps, electric-lights, and even campfires. The only lights you can't shoot out are some larger ambient lights that we lay down to cover some darker corners of dungeons and such.

Tim Cain 5/2/2000

NPC's will also go to bed at night. While asleep, they do not see anything around them, and their hearing range is reduced. Also, since they are unconscious, they are easier to hit (they don't dodge or get their DX bonuses).

3) Can you climb walls?

Jesse Reynolds 6/10/2000

Sorry, no climbing walls.

4) How does stealing from NPCs work?

Sharon Shellman 4/23/2000

You will be able to "pick pocket" NPCs and other PCs. Here's how it will work.... You see a character you wish to steal something from. You then select your Pick Pocket skill, and click on the character. A loot screen will be displayed showing their inventory and your inventory. Select the item you want to steal, drag it over to your inventory and let go. At this point you will be dropped back into the game. Your character will then walk over to the character you are trying to steal from and attempt to use your Pick Pocket skill. At this point you will either succeed, and have the item. Or you will fail, at which point the other character will either attack you or run from you, perhaps calling the authorities.

Wartoy 12/28/2000

pick pocket is only seen as an attack if you critically fail.....

their perception vs. your dex/pick_pocket; and the size of the item figures in as well.
your pick pocket can be effected by lighting, where you are standing (or if you’re invisible), encumbrance/whether or not you’re wearing gloves above a certain type, etc.
prowling is a tough subject. if/when an npc becomes Aware!! of a prowling character, the npc will turn to face you. kinda puts the nix on abusing prowl. i wonder how that coulda happened.....

5) Will the player be able to go around enemies or non-enemies undetected? Will we be able to sneak up on NPCs/creatures?

Sharon Shellman 4/8/2000


6) Will noises play a role in the game? Will there be sound barriers (e.g. walls)? Will some places be so noisy (e.g. factory) that someone doesn't notice a gun shot?

Sharon Shellman 4/8/2000

Yes. Sound is only affected by distance, not walls or ambient sounds.

Tim Cain 11/17/2000

When you damage something, it radiates a sound. The radius is several tiles, but not the whole map. The object radiates an internal name of the person it thinks should care about its destruction, but any NPC of social class GUARD will also care automatically.
Picklock uses a similar scheme, but the nearby critter will just issue a warning (unless you open the chest or door, or he was sleeping and you woke him, in which case he assumes the worst about you). This is why it is wise to Prowl while you are stealing, because it reduces your noise and visibility.
BTW, you can set the internal name in the object in WorldEd. So you can make a mod where there is a chest, and if you try to pick the lock or break the chest, a nearby critter will get mad.

Sounds come in three types: quiet, normal, and loud. These send out sound notification to 2, 8 and 15 tiles respectively (this could change at any minute, as we balance the game, so don't hold me to this later). Examples of sounds are picking locks (quiet), a melee attack (normal) or an attack with a gun (loud). This sound notification then asks the NPC if it cares about the source, and if so, the NPC uses its Perception score to determine if it hears the sound. So a high Perception guard will hear that loud sound at its maximum range of 15 tiles, while a low Perception guard will not. And Prowling reduces the Perception of the NPC, and helps thief-types go undetected as they do their thing.
I have been skulking around Tarant this week with a techno-thief, and it works well. I did have one problem with a clerk and his safe, but that's why techno-thieves build hushed pistols, right? As for Prowling and gun fire, you cannot Prowl in combat either, so no, it doesn't affect the noise.

7) Will it be possible to decoy guards with noisy distractions?

Sharon Shellman 5/2/2000


8) If you kill someone if a back alley, will, the rest of the town till attack you?

Sharon Shellman 4/8/200

Unless you're seen or heard, no one will know that you have done anything wrong.

9) Will some weapons make more noise than others?

Sharon Shellman 5/2/2000

Yes. Daggers are silent, swords quiet, staves moderate, guns loud, etc.

10) Does magick make noise?

Sharon Shellman 5/2/2000

Yes. Spells will range in sound level from silent to loud. More aggressive spells will tend to be louder.

11) How does the concealment aspect of the prowling skill work?

Tim Cain 6/3/2000

Concealment was an interesting skill to implement. Let me take a moment and explain what I did.

When you conceal yourself, you are drawn with a special conceal animation. When a foe looks for you, the game takes your rank and converts it into a base chance of success. Then it modifies that chance by the lighting situation (bright light = penalty) and by the amount of cover (equal to the shot penalty between you and your foe). The resulting modified percent chance is then bounded to lie between 0 and 100%.

The chance is now taken as the percent reduction of your foe's visual field (which is based on your foe's perception). If you are within your foe's visual range, he can see you. Otherwise he cannot.

This method gives the results I wanted:
- hiding in shadows is better than hiding in a bright lit room
- hiding behind something is better than hiding in plain sight
- perceptive foes will see you more often than non-perceptive foes
- distance IS a factor, as most people can conceal themselves far away from their foes but only high ranking concealers can hide right next to their foes
- eliminates randomness (like when a highly ranked concealer is caught by a low perception guard because of a bad roll)

This explanation doesn't even touch upon the training you can get for Concealment, which teaches you how to reduce lighting or cover penalties.

I have said it before and I will say it again. It is all a rich tapestry...

12) Do characters playing bigger races or wearing bigger armor have a harder time prowling?

Sharon Shellman 9/20/2000

Currently, the race (or size) of your character does not affect your prowling capabilities. We are considering adding a penalty to half ogres, but it has not been implemented yet.

[editors note: Half-Ogres now receive a -2(.5) modifier to their prowling skill]

Armor is now taken into account when using your prowling skill. So a character dressed in leather armor would be much better at prowling than if he was wearing full platemail.

13) Does anything else affect the concealment aspect of Prowling?

Tim Cain 6/4/2000

[The Prowling skill] takes into account your target's perception adjustments too. So an eye damaged guard will have a hard time seeing concealed critters because his perception is reduced.

14) If an enemy spots you while hiding, can you hide again?

Sharon Shellman 7/1/2000

If, while [using Prowling], an enemy spots you and combat ensues, you *can* run out of sight and re-conceal yourself to get away. However, this will only work if you have enough training in your conceal skill.

15) How does hiding in shadows work? If the shadows change, can you be spotted after having been safe?

Tim Cain 5/9/2000

Our [Prowling] skill uses your lighting level to determine a penalty to your skill. In fact, the same bonus for combat skills is used as a minus for [Prowling]. It is harder to hit a distant, dimly-lit figure, and easier for that person to hide from you.

Yes, guards look around themselves periodically. If conditions change, such as you moving or lighting changing, they may see you.

16) Is there a different animation for sneaking than for walking?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Actually, there *is* a special animation for when you are sneaking and when you are trying to conceal yourself, so you will definitely be able to tell the difference.

17) What happened to the silent move and conceal skills?

Sharon Shellman 9/18/2000

As a new fourth thieving skill, we have implemented backstabbing, which, at the moment, is incredibly powerful!
We have combined the silent move and conceal skills into one new skill - Prowling. It works the same as the others did, when you are moving it will act like silent move, when you stop, it will act like conceal. Pretty cool. :o)

18) Is there a backstabbing skill for thieves?

Sharon Shellman 9/18/2000

As a new fourth thieving skill, we have implemented backstabbing, which, at the moment, is incredibly powerful!

19) How does backstabbing work?

Sharon Shellman 9/18/2000

The backstabbing skill works with daggers only (without training). All bonus damage is to HP, not fatigue, so it is not a skill you will want to use if you want the victim to be left alive. The three levels of training for backstabbing are:

Apprentice - Bypass armor.

Expert - The ability to backstab with other melee weapons

Master - An additional 10% chance at receiving a critical success

20) Can thieves steal from the PC?

Sharon Shellman 7/27/2000

Yes. Thieves can steal from PCs. (NPC thieves in single player, and both PC and NPC thieves in multi-player) If someone steals from you, you will be notified the next time you go into your inventory.

21) Do NPC thieves take you stuff?

Sharon Shellman 9/3/2000

When NPCs pick pocket you, the only thing they will ever take is money. This was done so that they could not steal a quest item and screw up your game.

22) Is magic or tech better for being a thief?

Chad Moore 10/2/2000 From the Official Board

Remember... a lot of being a thief in Arcanum is based on your skills, not your magick or tech aptitude. So, whether or not you're a tough tech-thief or a weak mage-thief (wait, are my biases showing again..?), you both can be VERY skilled at picking locks or backstabbing. The main differences come in when you choose how you are going to break into someone's house, or what weapons you will use. We've done our best to incorporate interesting items on both sides of the magick/technology scale, so its merely up to you whether or not you want to be cool, like a technologist, or otherwise, like a mage... (sorry about that...:))

23) How will the pick pocketing animation work?

Shellman 1/4/2001

"Okay.... Here's how it is "supposed" to work.
If you succeed, you merely walk up to the "victim". If you fail, the "hands" animation will play, giving a visual cue to the intended victim that you just tried to "lift" something of theirs.
Currently, it plays the animation all of the time. It has been placed upon poor overworked Jesse's shoulders to have it only play when you fail prior to feature complete.
All hail the great Jesse and his ceaseless energy!
*Hail Jesse* "

24) Do magickly inclined thieves have a spell that can be used to disarm traps?

Shellman 2/19/2001

"Okay, I've gotten some info for you.

Magickal traps can be disarmed by using the dispel magick spell.

All other traps are mechanical in nature. This means that magick could not really disarm them. That being said, you will need to find more creative ways to disarm traps. The people above have commented on how to disarm ground traps. Trapped windows, doors and containers would be slightly different, as the traps will not "go off" until the door, window or container is destroyed. So you could have a summoned follower destroy it or one of your regular followers, or use a ranged weapon or spell to do so."


1) What are the most important stats for dialog?

Leon Boyarsky 5/31/2000

Since all tech disciplines and Magick colleges were based off Intelligence, we've actually made Charisma and Persuasion more important in variety of dialog choices to the diplomat (we didn't want to make Int too powerful). Intelligence still gives you some extra options here and there, but, as in the real world, charisma is more important for convincing people than intelligence.

(editor note: Magick colleges are now based on willpower)

2) What stats influence fatigue? How important are those stats to a mage?

Sharon Shellman 1/30/2000

The short answer..... constitution is the stat that influences your fatigue. A little longer explanation... Arcanum is a classless system, so there are no "warrior" or "mage" characters to select as you start. However, if you wanted to make your character into a warrior, you would pump your points into strength and dexterity (with constitution probably coming up third in importance). But if a mage is what you'd prefer to become, then you would spend your points on willpower and constitution.

3) Is there anything you can do to recover fatigue faster?

Sharon Shellman 5/22/2000

Yes. Raising your constitution will raise your fatigue recovery rate. You might also find items in the world (like a ring) or receive blessings or curses that would cause your fatigue to restore itself faster or slower.

4) How is the balance for the speed that fatigue is recovered?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Hit points and fatigue are recovered over time. Hit points recover a lot more slowly, of course. When a critter goes negative in fatigue/energy, they will pass out. If nothing happens to slow their recovery, they will recover at a regular rate, based on their heal rate and any modifying effects (spells, potions, therapeutics, etc.). They will become conscious when they become positive again, but of course they will want to avoid combat until they get enough energy back, or else they will risk passing out again.

Since recovery is based on heal rate, critters that don't have means of speeding this up certainly *could* be out of the battle until after combat was over. I have had battles where I knocked someone out and was able to switch to the other attacker and take him out, and was then able to sit around for a while and wait for the first guy to recover. It was a neat feeling of "Yes! I might survive after all!" when the first guy went down, combined with the fear that I might have just grazed him. :)

This is a game-play issue. In a CRPG, it would be a pain if you had to sit there for hours waiting to become conscious (or for a party member, etc.), but we also don't want it to be just as much of a pain where people you knock out get up 2 seconds later. As to balance, it seems to play quite well so far. Keep in mind that most monsters/NPCs (and the player, unless he or she is specifically *trying* to knock someone out) generally use attacks that do physical damage as well as fatigue damage, so if *you* are knocked out, unless a friendly critter takes out your attacker, you will eventually die, instead of being stuck unconscious.

5) What actions drain fatigue?

Jesse Reynolds 6/4/00


* Running during combat

* Spell Casting

* Being hit by a weapon that causes Fatigue damage

* Walking or running while encumbered.

Not sure if I'm missing any...

In turn-based combat, it takes action points to do any action (walking, cast a spell, attack, etc.). Wielding a heavy weapon will fatigue you if it encumbers you (as stated above), but if it is too heavy for your current Strength, you will suffer bad to-hit modifiers.

6) Does running drain fatigue even when you're not in combat?

Sharon Shellman 6/6/2000

Under normal circumstances, walking and running will not drain your fatigue. Running while in combat will.

The exception to this rule is if your character is heavily encumbered. (carrying more weight than his strength/const would normally allow) If encumbered, walking and running, both in and out of combat, will drain your fatigue.

7) How is the Speed stat determined?

Tim Cain 9/19/2000

Speed is derived from your Dexterity stat. Speed is modified by your weapon speed (which adds into your Speed, so you want high Speed weapons) and by your encumbrance level (the higher the level of your encumbrance, the bigger a penalty to your Speed).

8) How is the Carry Weight stat determined?

Tim Cain 9/19/2000

Carry Weight is derived from your Strength stat. I don't think anything in the game directly affects Carry Weight, but a number of things can affect Strength, which in turn will affect Carry Weight.

9) How does encumbrance affect your Carry Weight?

Jesse Reynolds 9/17/2000

There are multiple levels of encumbrance (currently 7). You experience more severe effects the more encumbered you are. The carry weight listed in the character editor/inventory is the "maximum" you can carry before becoming *severely* encumbered (the highest level), as you approach this weight you will become more and more encumbered. So you start with no encumbrance, and will then become lightly encumbered, etc.

At the higher levels of encumbrance, you are so overloaded that you are unable to run (you have to walk). Also, the more encumbered you are, the faster you take Fatigue damage. At low levels of encumbrance, you don't take much damage (if any).

Jesse Reynolds 9/18/2000

Encumbrance levels are based on a percentage of your maximum carry weight.

10) What percentage of your Carry Weight can you carry before you begin to suffer "abnormal" or "excessive" fatigue loss?

Tim Cain 9/19/2000

Currently, you will begin to suffer significant encumbrance penalties at about two thirds of your maximum Carry Weight, and truly heavy penalties at about 85% of Carry Weight. However, these numbers are on my list of "Things to Balance", so they will very likely change. My guess is I will make penalties occur at percentages closer to 100% (maybe 75 and 95%), but I still want to reward people who buy up their Strength.

The perceptive reader will be noticing that higher Strength leads to higher Carry Weight which leads to less encumbrance penalties which leads to higher Speed. I point this out for two reasons. First, to show how a characteristic like Speed which looks entirely Dex-based can be enhanced by buying up another stat, namely Strength. And second, to show why this game is so hard to balance, since changing one value can affect values in other places.

11) Were you serious when you said that a Beauty stat of 1 will cause every NPC to attack you?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

That was not a joke. If a half orc takes the "Beat with an Ugly Stick" background, all NPCs attack on sight. I thought this was changed for the beta, but it is still in, so you can try it, if you'd like. :o)

12) What stats do the various skills depend on?

Shellman 1/10/2001

The pre-requisites for the skills have remained unchanged.

Dexterity: bow, dodge, melee, throwing, backstab, pickpocket, firearms, picklocks
Intelligence: repair, heal, gambling
Willpower: haggle
Perception: prowling, spot-trap, arm/disarm-trap
Charisma: persuasion

13) Does increasing your stats help your skills?

Sharon Shellman 9/27/2000

Increasing your stats does improve your skills.

An example would be melee. If you up your Dex or Strength, you will be a better melee fighter, because you will hit more often or do more damage each time you hit. (depending upon which stat you raised).

14) How about an example of how stat adjustments work?

Sharon Shellman 7/4/2000

Let's use the 1/2 ogre again as an example. He has an adjusted strength of +4. So effectively, you would only need to buy his strength up to level 16 in order to reach the maximum level. Now, if you did go ahead and raise his strength up to 20, his adjusted strength would still read 20, because that is our cap. However, (here's the good part!) if he was, let's say, cursed with a -4 to strength penalty, he would still have a strength of 20. (base 20 - 4 curse + 4 adjustment = 20) So there are still advantages to being a 1/2 ogre over a human if your going for brute strength.

15) Can items or quests raise you stats?

Jesse Reynolds 6/5/2000

No, there are no permanent stat increases due to items/quests/etc., since you can spend points yourself to increase stats.

There are *temporary* ways of increasing/decreasing them, via Therapeutics, items, Blesses, Curses, etc.

16) Can achieving a certain level in a Primary stat via a magick/tech item/potion or spell make you eligible for purchasing skill levels? For example I take a potion to increase my dexterity from 11 to 12, making me (temporarily) eligible to raise my Dodge skill from 2 to 3, I can then Spend a CP and raise my Dodge skill to 3, correct?.

Tim Cain 9/19/2000

Yes, you can do that. However, when the effect wears off and you lose the stat bonus, your skill will cap back at 2 until you can raise the stat again (at which point the skill will jump back to 3).

17) Can primary stats exceed 20?

Tim Cain 11/22/2000


Anonymous, yes, I decided to put in the exceeding of 20 in certain stats by certain races. It worked well, after spending a few weeks testing it.

Now I am debating stat minimums by race...

I have finished the toying, and stat maximums CAN exceed 20 for each race. This code is in the beta and easily testable with the Half-Ogre with the "Ran Away to Join the Circus" background. In fact, that is my character Surly Joe.

18) Has the change in the character system affected the bonuses which you get for achieving 20 in a primary stat?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

No. There has not been any significant changes made to the bonus system granted for achieving a "20" in a primary stat. These are bonuses granted when you achieve a 20, not gained steadily over time.

Tim Cain 1/23/2001

Here's the chart from the game specs. Most of the above was right, but a few are wrong (like the Intelligence bonus), so I thought you would like having it all in one spot.

Statistic Bonus for a 20 or higher

Strength Double damage bonus

Dexterity Speed is 25 (+1 per point over 20)

Constitution poison immunity

Beauty reaction modifier is +100% (+10% per point over 20)

Intelligence +10% to the success rate of every Skill

Perception sense invisible

Willpower immune to any Spell resisted by Willpower

Charisma 100% loyalty: followers will never flee from your side and will only leave you if you ask them to, never of their own accord

19) Will you get the bonus if you get to 20 with a stat modifying item?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

Yes. Reaching 20 in a primary stat via a magick item will give you the bonus ability.

20) Does raising a primary stat raise all the secondary stats that use it?

Jesse Reynolds 6/5/2000

Yes, changing a Primary Stat will modify all associated Secondary Stats.

21) Do your starting stats, race, or anything else affect how much cash you start the game with?

Jesse Reynolds 6/15/2000

No, starting stats/etc. do not affect your starting cash. However, a few of the Backgrounds *will* affect it. You can gain money or items from some of them.


1) How you you know if you need to improve a skill?

Sharon Shellman 4/4/2000

If you want to learn a spell, you just have to have enough intelligence to do so. If you go to cast a spell, you're intelligence must be at a level to cast it and your fatigue must be at a level to let you cast/maintain the spell.

If you find a tech schematic and do not have a high enough degree in the given discipline, the schematic will list what you need to learn in order to assemble it.

If you are using a skill like haggle or melee, it will work automatically, without you having to start using the skill. You're skill will automatically be tested against the person you are trying to use it against. And this will determine how well you do. The more points you put into these types of skills, the better you will become at them.

If you are using a skill like lock picking, which is a type of skill that requires you to actively use it, you will know if you're skill is high enough by whether or not you succeeded in doing it after trying a few times.

2) What level do skills start at?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

We are still playing around with skills/etc., but currently all skills start at 0 (a few of the skills used to default differently, but that is the current start value). Derived stats (hit points, fatigue, etc.) each have their own equations.

3) Do you get a bonus in a skill by getting it up to level 5?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

No. Achieving a 5 in a skill does not grant you a bonus. These come via training.

4) What does training do for a skill?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Skills have "levels" and "Training". A skill can have a "level" of 0-20, and Training goes from "Untrained" all the way to "Master".

You can put points into a skill all you want, even up to 20, and raising the skill will make you more effective at what it does, but *Training* the skill will give you special benefits specific to that skill. In order to Train a skill, you will have to find someone who is already trained in that skill, and convince them (via money, trade, quest, etc.) to Train you.

[Editor's note: The level system for skills has now been simplified. Skill level now goes from 0 to 5. Other than that, the preceeding description is the same. See Character refinement for a more detailed explanation of the changes.]

5) Will you have to run around a lot to find all the instructors for training?

Mark Harrison 3/25/2000

We do plan to vary the number of instructors by the level of instruction. There will be only one master instructor for each skill, but there will be several basic level instructors.

One fundamental difference with Arcanum lies in the balance of available experience and available skills. While the game is large, with much to do, there are so many skills to choose from that even a generalist will usually finish the game before learning a third of them. There are balance issues that will be tweaked until the game ships, but in very rough terms, you won't be able to master much more than a tenth of Arcanum's skills in a single pass through the single player game -- unless you spend a lot of extra time smelling the roses instead of pursing the main story line (which some people, myself included, will do). Bottom line is, training, beyond basic training, will be a big event in Arcanum, not frequent, tedious busywork.

Also, as training gets more advanced, don't expect to just be able to walk up to the instructor, hand over money, and get your training. Tim is making sure advanced training is something to be remembered. :)

6) At what skill levels can you get training?

Shellman 2/1/2001

"Just to update you on the training... You need a 1, 9 and 18 (.25, 2.25, 4.5) to obtain apprentice, expert and master training."

7) Does training affect skill cost or success chance?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Training does not affect skill costs, and it does not affect your % chance of success with the skill. Each level of training gives additional special abilities in addition to the previous ones (so a Master gets the abilities of an Expert and a Beginner).

8) I still don't get it. How about an example of training?

Sharon Shellman 2/21/2000

In addition to putting points into skills, characters can seek training in any skill (basic or technological) that will improve their performance above and beyond what could be accomplished through point distribution by giving them little "perks" in that skill.

All skills start out in an Untrained state. Unless you receive training, they remain at the Untrained level no matter how high the skill rank becomes.

There are three levels of training in each skill, Beginner, Expert and Master. To receive training, characters must seek out and pay for training from special teachers (or Trainers as they are called). Also, training must be completed sequentially. So a person Untrained in Bow cannot become an Expert until he has first been trained as a Beginner.

Once a character has put enough points into a skill to reach Rank 5, he can seek out and pay a Trainer. Your character then gains a bonus to that skill, and changes his level to Beginner. As an example, a Beginner Bowman can shoot arrows at a higher rate than an Untrained Bowman can.

Once the character has reached Rank 10 in a given skill, he can seek out an Expert Trainer to continue his advancement. An Expert Trainer may require other prerequisites than money prior to training you. He could require that you have a good alignment, or that you complete a certain test (or quest) before he will agree to train you. Once you receive expert training, your level is changed to Expert, and you are given your skill bonus. You do not lose your Beginner bonus when you receive your Expert one, it is given in addition to it. As an example, your Expert Bowman can fire two arrows at once, in addition to firing them at a higher rate of speed.

When your character has reached a Rank 15, he may seek out a Master Trainer. The Master will definitely require prerequisites from you, often asking for difficult quests in addition to large sums of money. Masters in Arcanum are very rare and will be difficult to locate. As with the Expert level, the skill bonus given for Master is given in addition to your other two bonuses. For example, a Master Bowman can shoot arrows at a target without range penalties. Plus he can fire two arrows at once, and fire at a faster rate of speed.

[Editor's note: The level system for skills has now been simplified. Skill level now goes from 0 to 5, Other than that, the preceding description is the same. See Character refinement for a more detailed explanation of the changes.]

9) What skills do different weapons use? Is there a bow skill?

Tim Cain 2/10/2000

Yes, we have a bow skill, which covers all non-technological, non-thrown ranged weapons, like bows and crossbows. Spears and daggers would use the Throwing skill (when used as ranged weapons), while swords, axes and fists would use the Melee skill. Technological ranged weapons use the Firearms skill, so yes, a pistol and an elephant gun both use the same skill.

Dodge is a dexterity based skill which encompasses your ability to avoid successful attacks. If someone hits you and you succeed in your Dodge roll, they miss you instead.

10) Could a half-ogre learn gunsmithy, even though he can't use all the guns?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Yes, you could make pistols as a half-ogre, if you spent enough points.

11) Does the healing skill require components or affect magick?

Jesse Reynolds 6/4/2000

The Healing skill is unaffected/does not affect magick.

Tim Cain 12/12/2000

The Heal skill has changed a bit since the beta. It now requires the use of bandages (or med kits for techies), and each use of the skill reduces the number of bandages you have. When successful, it returns a random amount of health proportional to your skill. On a critical success, it always heals your maximum amount. When unsuccessful, nothing happens, but bandages are lost. On a critical failure, lots of bandages are lost. The training advantages are now:

Heal Apprentice - heals an extra 50%

Heal Expert - all critical failures are just failures (and do not use extra bandages)

Heal Master - all successes are critical successes (and heal side effects like crippling injuries)

We made these changes because the Heal skill was rarely being used, since it could inflict damage on the target. When we removed that effect, the skill was used constantly, since it had no limit (it used up neither items nor fatigue). So we added the requirement of the bandages (available fairly cheap at most general stores), and now the skill seems balanced with the healing spells and items available.
Bandages are items. You can purchase them in general stores, and each item can be used several times before it is used up. Think of a bandage item as a roll of bandages. You wrap a wound and tear off what you used. Finally, when you examine the bandages, it will say how many uses are left.

12) Is there any way to get the materials from a trap and use them somewhere else?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

I believe that if a trap is actually triggered, it consumes the items that make it up (unless it is a multi-shot trap).

Using the Traps skill, when you successfully disarm a trap, you have a chance of recovering parts (i.e., you didn't break them while disarming it) from it that you could then re-use. No, you can't "pick up the trap and move it", you would have to disarm it and take the pieces (if you got any) to create another trap.

13) Could your PC get caught in his own traps?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Traps are indiscriminate, so yes, if you trap a door or something, anyone can set it off, including you.

14) Will traps "decay" like any other items or do they stay until set of or disarmed?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Traps will stay until triggered or disarmed.

15) How does gambling work in Arcanum? Does it have some randomness?

Sharon Shellman 9/20/2000

There are two forms of gambling in Arcanum. Gambling when bartering with someone, and gambling via dialog. Your skill in either one is based upon your Gambling Skill.

Gambling during barter usually involves shopkeepers. This is a simple straight forward process similar to Fallout. You select the item from their inventory that you wish to gamble for and drag it over to your gamble icon. The result is calculated instantaneously. If you win, the item is placed in your inventory and the shopkeeper displays losing dialog. If he wins, you have the chance to gamble again or you may buy the item or exit barter. If you do not have any skill in gambling, shopkeepers will refuse to gamble with you.

Gambling via dialog is available with certain NPCs (like dock workers). They will play a game of dice with you that is based on craps, although it is more straight forward, only giving you the option to roll and re-roll your mark. They do not care if you have skill in gambling or not - robbing you blind if you give them the chance. ;) But if you're good, and win too much of their coin, they will refuse to gamble with you any more.

Sharon Shellman 9/20/2000

When you gamble with a shopkeeper, you are gambling for the price of an item. If you win, you get the item. If you lose, he gets the money *and* he gets to keep the item.

Currently, shopkeepers are only taking about 1/3 of the purchase price from you when you lose. This will be changed, but not for the beta.

Yes, it will always have a random element. But as your skill improve, so does your chance at winning.

16) Does the gambling skill assume that you are cheating to improve your odds?

Sharon Shellman 10/5/2000

No, the gambling skill does not assume you are cheating. You are just better at gambling. So there is no chance of getting caught cheating. You could do that via script or dialog options though, so that people with lower gambling skill would get caught cheating and higher skilled people would not.

17) Can you actually see the characters rolling the dice when they gamble?

Sharon Shellman 9/22/2000

No, you will not actually see the dice roll when you are playing a game of "craps" with someone. It will be done via text.

18) What are the training bonuses for the dodge skill?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

The training bonuses for dodge are as follows:

Apprentice - on a critical success, there is a 10% chance the opponent will critically fail

Expert - on a critical success, there is a 50% chance the opponent will critically fail

Master - on a critical success, the opponent will always critically fail

19) What happened to the Anatomical college?

Sharon Shellman 7/21/2000

We have renamed the Anatomical college to Herbology with the following definition: Concerns itself with study of herbs and how they effect the body.

The Therapeutics college has retained its name, but has a new definition: Explores your knowledge of pharmaceuticals and their interactions with each other.

"Anatomical" and "Therapeutics" confused people as to which did what. So we changed Anatomical to Herbology to differentiate between the two a little better. :o)

20) Do skills only depend on one stat?

Sharon Shellman 9/18/00

Many of the skills in Arcanum have a secondary stat that acts complimentary towards it. Using Firearms as an example, Dex is the base skill that it is dependent upon. The better your Dex, the more accurate your aim. Perception acts as Firearm's complimentary skill. The higher your perception, the farther away your target can be, and your aim will still be accurate.

This is why we currently have Dex as the dependent stat for the Firearms skill, since perception is taken into account secondarily.

21) Does the usefulness of a skill (chance to succeed, etc.) increase linearly as you improve in that skill?

Sharon Shellman 9/22/2000

Skills advance in a linear fashion. Although the starting point is adjusted depending upon the skill. (e.g. not all skills start at 0)

For instance, if you have no points in Backstabbing, you will never get a backstabbing bonus when trying to use that skill. On the other hand, with no points in melee, you still have a chance of hitting your opponent with a melee weapon, although it is not a very good one.

When I said that not all skills start at zero, I was speaking about the underlying system. What you will see is a zero for all skills when you start (unless they were modified by race or background).

Everything used to be zero when it said zero a few months ago. But that meant with a zero in melee you had absolutely NO chance to hit another creature, even with your bare hands. This felt really dumb. So we adjusted the underlying starting point for Melee. So now, even though your character sheet says you have a zero in Melee, you still have a chance to hit.

All skills start at zero when you begin a game. The only way to adjust these prior to spending points is through your race or background modifiers.

22) Regarding the non-zero base value of some skills in the case of their skill level being zero, will they be fixed or determined by stats?

Sharon Shellman 9/24/2000

They will be fixed.

23) How exactly are rolls calculated for whether or not the use of a skill is successful?

Tim Cain 5/19/2000

Skills are measures in ranks, from 0 to 20. Internally, those ranks are converted into percentages, adjusted by circumstances (like lighting, range penalties, etc.) and then a roll is made on a d100.

Each skill uses a different formula to convert its rank to a percentage. However, for all skills, rank 0 is terrible and rank 20 is awesome, and any rank N is better than rank N-1.

[Editor's note: Skills have been changed so that they are now in ranks from 0 to 5. Other than that, the preceding should be true. See Character refinement for more detail on the changes in the level system.]

24) Will nighttime affect skill use?

Jesse Reynolds 6/10/2000

Yes, night and day affects skill use as well as the environment (people will go home to bed, etc.)

25) In other games the throwing skill has not been very useful, how useful will it be in Arcanum?

Shellman 11/13/2000

"Don't worry. We are making the throwing skill very, very useful. (can you say boomerang? . . . . exactly) "

Non Player Characters and Followers

1) Will there be factions that you can join?

Jason Anderson 2/6/2000

Arcanum will have many different factions, some of which you can align yourself with, if you so choose. I don't want to spoil the story for you, so I'm not going to give you any details on the groups. But rest assured, the option will be there.

2) What can you find out about NPCs without talking to them?

Sharon Shellman 3/21/2000

When you hover the cursor over someone, you are given their Race, their Known or Unknown Name (i.e., "Bob the shopkeeper" if you've met him before, vs "Shady Looking Shopkeeper" if you haven't), Reaction towards you, Level, Health and Fatigue (as percents). And for some characters, you will get additional descriptions through dialogue.

3) How does your character know these things?

Jesse Reynolds 3/23/2000

The "reaction" that you get is what you perceive based on your impression of how you think the NPC will react to you. You can tell by looking at someone (By posture, facial expressions, body language, etc.) who is looking at you whether you think they will trust you or are suspicious of you. It's kind of a general "gut" feeling. If I ticked off a shopkeeper (whether through dialog, attempted shoplifting, or whatever) I can tell by looking at him that he won't be all that happy to talk to me again. If I come up to a complete stranger, he would likely be suspicious of me.

4) Will NPCs get in your way?

Chad Moore 12/16/1999

The AI in Arcanum will be much different in respect to where NPCs want to be... every character will have a desired state that will be associated with a particular place in the world. For the most part, those places won't be situated in front of doorways...

So, if a character is standing in your way, it probably means he's meant to be there and you'll need to figure out a way to remove him...:)

5) Can you ask NPCs your own questions about things?

Jesse Reynolds 3/31/2000

There won't be a TELL ME ABOUT option in Arcanum. Dialog is based on branching dialogues where you will get different options based on your character's attributes (many core responses are available to everyone, but extra responses will be different).

6) Will NPCs ever react to the clothes that you wear?

Sharon Shellman 6/1/2000

You will find several places in the game where your and your follower's choice of clothing is very important.

7) Will NPCs notice what weapons you're carrying?

Sharon Shellman 6/1/2000

If you have a ton of weaponry in your inventory and you are wearing your nice clothes, no one will notice the weapons. Things in your inventory are invisible to others unless they are scripted to check for a particular item.

NPC's will not notice if you have your weapon readied. This was a design decision. We didn't want you to accidentally ready your weapon in the middle of town and have the whole place suddenly become your enemy and come after you.

Shellman 10/25/2000

No, NPCs do not react to you having your weapon equipped. They only care if you go ahead and whack them with it. :o)

8) If you need a certain item for a quest, or you need to NOT have it, will NPCs notice if one of your followers has that item?

Sharon Shellman 6/1/2000

Depending upon the quest, if an NPC is set to check you for an item, they will also check your followers inventories.

9) Are there any love plots in the game?

Sharon Shellman 3/14/2000

There will probably be a few NPCs that you can develop a romance with.

10) Do you have to have NPC followers to finish the game?

Sharon Shellman 1/30/2000

No, NPCs are not required. You may choose to pick up NPCs along your journey, or you can go it alone.

Sharon Shellman 2/7/2001
It will be more difficult to go through the game without any followers, but can definitely be done.

11) Do you get any less experience points when you have followers?

Jesse Reynolds 7/5/2000

No, you don't lose any experience points by having followers with you. They won't "steal" exp from you.

Chubaka 1/5/2000

"Followers level up when you do. They start at specific levels. In battle, you do not gain experience for hits made by your followers, but you still get the experience for the kill. Having followers do not decrease the amount of EXP you gain upon completion of quests. When your follower levels up, they will put their character point into whatever skill their leveling scheme dictates. Hope that helps! "

Tim Cain1/17/2001

If I remember correctly (and this was over a year ago that we decided on this system), there were two reasons we did not give experience for fatigue damage. First, almost every weapon that does fatigue damage also does health damage, so that would would give its owner a LOT of experience vs. his buddy who is just doing health damage. In fact, a weapon like a staff (which does about equal health and fatigue damage) would give all of Pool 1 to the attacker when the victim was at about half health and half fatigue.

Second, we used to have some weapons/spell effects that knocked the opponent unconscious by doing a lot of fatigue damage. I say "used to" because I think direct unconsciousness is treated differently now. But if anything still works that way, then that weapon/spell would grant all of Pool 1 immediately to the user.

Hmm, my 70% was me calculating as a percentage of N, but I see that is misleading since someone can get 120% of N by attacking and killing things himself, and my figure of 80% was of the total. So let's try this again.

My chart looks like this:

1 PC - gets 120% N
2 PC's - each get 60% N
1 PC and 1 follower - PC gets 70% N
1 PC and 5 followers - PC gets 36% N
1 nonkilling PC - 99% N
1 nonkilling PC and 1 follower - 49% N
1 nonfighting PC and 1 follower - PC gets 20% N
1 nonfighting PC and 5 followers - PC gets 20% N

A nonkilling PC stops just 1 hit point shy of killing the creature, while the nonfighting PC does not attack at all.


PC's who do not kill or fight will have opportunities to make experience on quests that are only available to those of a particular alignment or skill set. Generally quests exclude extremes (no bad people, no good people) and non-killers will not have alignments changed as much as killers. And nonkillers obviously have spent the character points on non-combat skills, so they can do thieving quests or quests involving persuasion or some other skill.

Quest experience is not divided among NPC's, so quests can advance the player quickly whether he has followers or not.


Most (all?) CRPG's only give experience when you kill something (except for quests, of course). We have tried to come up with a system that rewards non-killers too. We don't reward them as much as a fighter-type, because this is combat experience, which in theory a fighter will be doing the most. And we didn't want to discourage the use of followers, but it is MUCH easier to go through some combat-oriented locations with followers than without, so we give less combat experience when you have more followers, simply because you can kill more things more quickly with followers.

So yes, one PC by himself kills a monster and gets 120% N. But he is hurt and needs to rest or heal before he can continue. A PC and a follower kill that monster, the PC gets 70% N, but he is not nearly as hurt. Assuming they kill at twice the rate of the first PC, the second PC actually gets MORE experience.

We tried to come up with a reward system for the other skills, but we couldn't devise a system that wasn't riddled with exploits (eg. I will just sit here and pick this lock all day and become level 50). So we made quests that have skill / stat / alignment / level / reaction / training / expertise restrictions, and said "There, Mr. Fighter Pants won't be doing those".

Given that some fights are unavoidable, especially random encounters, I think most PC's will get combat experience somewhere along the line. But even if they don't, there is a LOT of quest experience out there, and our testers aren't finding any character type to be orphaned by the system. I would second the earlier recommendation of just playing how you like, and the experience will come.

12) Will you be able to order your followers to do exactly what you want?

Sharon Shellman 3/7/2000

When not in combat, you can ask one of your Followers to pick a lock or cast a spell, and they will do it (as long as it doesn't conflict with their beliefs or goals). However, they will not automatically perform the task, you will have to request that they do so.

During combat, they will choose whatever spell or skill they feel is best for the situation in order to take care of themselves and their group (yourself included).

And no, they cannot do your bartering for you.

Jesse Reynolds 3/30/2000

NPCs are similar to Fallout in the sense that you don't control them directly. Each NPC will have his or her own motives, though you can ask them to do certain things through normal speech. For instance, you can tell an NPC to go attack your target, or to get out of your way, or to follow you, wait at a location, etc.

However, don't expect them to behave contrary to their personality. If you convince a townsperson to join you and then start killing his fellow townspeople, he will leave you and start fighting you. Some NPCs may hate other particular NPCs, so for example, an elf NPC from one clan might hate an orc clan that destroyed his homeland, and would fight them.

NPCs behave smarter in combat, and can even do defensive actions. For instance, if you have a magician that knows the Necromantic-Good college, they will cast healing spells on you if you get hurt. In fact, if they know resurrect, they will even resurrect you if you die (only if they aren't under severe attack, of course ;) ).

Wartoy 12/26/2000

Mr TimCain has been working overtime to bring us new features, and I've been approved to answer some questions about the AI.

Followers will use scrolls, potions and items in their inventories as they see fit. The AI will handle spell combat better and will not heal below a certain percentage of their fatigue, but will instead use items to supplement their skills. Outside of combat they will prefer to use heal skill over anything else. NPC's will also search their inventories and equip the best armor and weapons they posses. As the final nail in the coffin, the devious MrCain has instructed the people of Arcanum to pick up stray items in their spare time to keep their cities beautiful!!
Also combat AI will now ignore unconscious characters if there is someone else to attack... don't get yer hopes up though, they come back for you when they're done.

Jesse Reynolds 2/17/2001

Followers can also be made to disarm traps for you. They will also detect traps on their own...if they see them...

13) How will you give followers orders?

Tim Cain in an interview with

A follower interface, that gives extra information to the player but that he can also choose to hide.

14) Will your followers protect you?

Sharon Shellman 9/30/2000

As a matter of fact, Virgil, one of my followers, passed out today trying to defend me. Of course, in one of my other games today, I passed out, and Virgil was busy fighting someone else, and some stupid half-ogre kicked me to death. (or at least he would have if I hadn't had cheats enabled) ;

15) Can you tell your followers to keep from killing all their enemies?

Sharon Shellman 6/27/2000

Currently, no, you can not tell your NPCs to use non-lethal violence. If they attack, they attack to kill.

However, we are thinking about adding functionality that would stop them from attacking if the opponent went unconscious, or tried to run or surrender.

16) Can you tell a follower to wait for you? If you do, will he eventually leave?

Leonard Boyarsky 5/3/2000

PCs can tell their followers to wait as well as disband.

NPC followers will wait for the PC for varying amounts of time, depending on their personality (their AI packet, in code terms).

They go home when they wander off. In general, they will wait a fairly substantial amount of time before they leave.

17) Will morale affect your followers?

Chad Moore 1/25/2000

There will be morale as you're saying... but most of it will be dependent on things you (as the leader) do in the world. If a player joined you because your alignment was good, and you start committing unspeakable acts of bloodshed and treachery, you'll more than likely be losing party members.

Some followers will do whatever you say whenever you say it... others may ne very touchy when it comes to questionable commands. All of these things are a function of the character's personality and the role that you, as their leader, will be asking them to play...

18) Will NPCs give you a reason if they don't want to join your party?

Leonard Boyarsky 5/31/2000

NPCs will tell you why they won't join you, so if they say your party is too big, you can just kick someone out...

19) If an NPC follower leaves you, will you know why?

Sharon Shellman 5/1/2000

In addition to seeing the "hover" reaction, if an NPC leaves your group, they will tell you why just before they leave.

"I can no longer permit myself to accompany you in your evil exploits. I take my leave of you, Murderer of Sheep!"

20) Before a follower leaves, will you have enough warning to take all his stuff?

Leon Boyarsky 5/31/2000

If a follower gets uppity and leaves, I prefer to kill him and take his things....

9 times out of 10 followers will give you ample warning that if you continue on your present course of action, they will leave. So you can take everything off them if you plan on continuing to kill blind old ladies....

21) Will your followers improve as the game goes on?

Chad Moore 11/30/99

In Arcanum, we're striving to make your followers as autonomous as possible... to give them personalities and actions of their own in accordance with the kind of individuals they are. That means leaving things like stats and leveling up to them. Followers will have the same stats, skills and levels as the player, but only the follower will be able to allocate his/her points and level up... again, he/she will do this intelligently, depending on the type of character.

22) How will leveling up be handled with NPCs?

Tim Cain 3/4/2000

Having just finished the code, let me explain how NPC's are going to level up.

They use a scheme (we call them auto-level schemes) to decide where to spend their points. NPC's can spend their points ANYWHERE. They can buy up their stats or their skills, or buy new spells, or buy extra hit points or fatigue. In fact, they can buy anything the player can buy, because these same scheme are available for the player to use. If you don't want to bother spending your character points or you know exactly where you want them spent, you can tell the computer to use an auto-level scheme for your character. These schemes can be turned on and off at any time, and you can switch schemes if you want.

And yes, you can edit your own schemes.

23) Can you see you followers' experience levels or stats?

Jesse Reynolds 7/3/2000

You can see a follower's level by looking at them.

Jesse Reynolds 7/5/2000

No, you won't see NPC's experience, only their level.

24) Will followers look different when they wear different armor?

Chad Moore 11/30/1999

Yes! In Arcanum, both the player and his follower will change when different armors and weapons are equipped...

We realize its important to be able to see these changes as you're playing the game. There will be A LOT of things in Arcanum which add to the realism of our world's experience, but we knew that this issue was one of the most important...

25) Exactly how many followers can you recruit?

Sharon Shellman 3/14/2000

The amount of party members that you can have is equal to your charisma divided by 4 (at least that's the formula we're using as we begin playtest....might have to change it). NPC's will react nominally to one another, unless they have an extreme reaction to each other.

Wartoy 2/7/2001

CH/4, plus 2 followers for being an expert in persuasion, plus any summoned creatures, familiars (i know theyre summoned as well, but they dont cost maintenence), plus forced followers (for quests), and mech followers (see the screen shot of my INV with the automaton). with the right stats you too could have an unstoppable army!!
the portraits can be turned on and off, otherwise they stay on the left side of the screen and can be scrolled through if you have too many. there will be a right-click (on the portrait) menu as an alternative to opening dialog with the followers as well.

26) Do summoned creatures count against your charisma limit for followers?

Jesse Reynolds 6/29/2000

No, summoned creatures only count towards your Spell Maintain limit.

27) Are there any followers that you can get without counting against your charisma limit?

Jesse Reynolds 6/29/2000

Yes, there are a few followers that don't count towards the Charisma limit. They are quest oriented.

28) Will NPCs (especially followers in your party) have good/bad conversations and relationships?

Chad Moore 5/2/2000

We already have NPC to NPC interaction...this interaction will vary, depending on the situations you encounter with certain NPC's, and also depending upon which followers you have. Most followers will comment about the addition of new followers...some followers may go so far as to refuse to stay in the group if another joins...these are all ways we can make the people you travel with seem more real, and the world they interact with more tangible...

29) Can you get dead party members back?

Jesse Reynolds 5/19/2000

Resurrect is a high-level spell. There are some towns where you can go to get assistance. There are also items (scrolls, etc.) that you may find in the world that may help here. However, they are not that common.

Technologists have the ability to do something similar, though via a different means.

30) Can your followers have followers? Would they cast resurrect on you if you died?

Jesse Reynolds 4/1/2000

Followers can have followers (can have followers... :) ), and those followers can help you as well, so if a follower (of yours) had a follower that could cast resurrect, then yes, they would do so at an opportune moment, if they had the fatigue left and weren't under attack themselves.

I *do* know that mages (whether or not they are followers, regardless of being mind controlled or not) can cast summon spells, if they know them.

Tim Cain 11/17/2000

"About followers having followers: I was watching a QA tester play the game yesterday, and I thought I saw a bug. Because he appeared to have three followers, but I only saw two on his follower bar. It turned out that the fire elemental was a follower of one of his followers, and not his own follower. It was neat to watch the elemental preferentially protect his leader and not the PC."

31) If one of your followers dies, what happens to his followers?

Tim Cain 8/24/2000

If a follower dies who had his own followers, they will eventually go home (back to wherever they started). They don't go home immediately however, which gives the player a chance to talk to them and perhaps win them over as his own followers, assuming he meets any joining restrictions they have.

32) Could you do something that keeps you from meeting a potential follower later in the game?

Chad Moore 4/23/2000

We already have situations in the game where potential followers are bypassed because of particular choices the character makes...most of the time, this opens up the possibilities for other followers...

I think this add significantly to the experience we offer in Arcanum...when you and your friend win the game with a different menagerie of followers, in totally different ways, you're going to want to play again because it could potentially be a completely different game. As much as possible, we're trying to avoid the type of gameplay where it "feels" non-linear, but in reality everyone has to do the same thing, with the same people, in the same order...

33) Can you see your followers walking behind you all the time?

Chad Moore 5/24/2000

Yes, you can see all of your followers when walking in the game world (unless you happen to be carrying them around, like a mechanized arachnid...:))

34) Do our followers get reputations too when they do something with us?

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

No, only the player gains "reputations" (in terms of something you will see in your character screen). However, by doing certain actions NPC followers may gain a "simulated" reputation if scripted to do so.

35) I've seen a few screenshots where the follower looks like the guy pictured in Arcanum Tales. Is that the character from that story?

Sharon Shellman 9/28/2000

The follower portrait in the screenshot is a temporary portrait drawn from an existing pool. That particular follower will have a different portrait in the final game.

36) Will Dogmeat (or a reasonable facsimile) be in the game?

Sharon Shellman 1/27/2000

Would a pet wolf make you happy? I've made a wolf. :o)

Sadly, I cannot take responsibility for giving him [Dogmeat] his great personality..... but we'll make sure one of us gives good ol' wolfy the right disposition for ya.

37) Can Followers build tech items?

Shellman 12/18/2000

"Okay, okay.... I was wrong. Jason told me that NPCs can build low level tech items. (just not the cool high level stuff)"

Tim Cain 1/4/2001

Ok, I have spent yesterday making the schematic interface work with NPC's. Basically, you can ask a follower to show his schematics, and you can look through them just like you would look through your own schematics. If he has the skill and the items, you press the Combine button and he makes the item, which ends up in his inventory. He will even wield it immediately if he likes it.

Tim Cain 1/6/2001

Right now, followers can only build learned schematics. I will consider making them read any schematic that enters their inventory, but since followers pick up items off the ground, you will have the problem of a follower grabbing and reading a schematic that YOU wanted.

BTW, that is how found schematics work. You pick it up, go to inventory, and drag it into the use box. Your character will read the schematic, and if he doesn't know it, it is added to his found schematic list and destroyed.

38) Will allied NPCs be damaged or affected by "friendly" area effect spells (such as fireflash or call winds)?
Sharon Shellman 2/26/2001
YES & NO. Your party members will not be affected by localized area effect spells thrown by other party members. But they will be affected by ranged area effect spells thrown by other party members.

Inventory and Items

1) Is the inventory screen easy to use?

Sharon Shellman 1/30/2000

You'll be happy to know that the inventory system is a lot better than it was in Fallout. If it's similar to anyone's, it resembles Diablo's, but with more room. If you'd like to see a screenshot of the inventory screen, you can check out
this screenshot

2) What will limit the amount that you can carry?

Sharon Shellman 3/13/2000

You will be limited by both weight and quantity of items. However, you will be able to carry unlimited quantities of gold, arrows, bullets, charges and fuel. (fuel is for fire based weapons)

Here's a simple example of how inventory system and encumbrance works. You could place 120 cannon balls into your inventory. But there is no way you would be able to move with all of that weight on you. Or you could fit 12 large feather pillows into your inventory, and move around unencumbered, but you couldn't pick anything else up until you dropped some of the pillows.

3) Ogre's would have bigger pockets than gnomes, wouldn't they have more inventory space?

Sharon Shellman 3/24/2000

Everyone has the same amount of space. (all those pockets must've been made by the same tailor! :o) ) But a half-ogre could carry a lot more weight than a gnome.

4) Is there any kind of upgrade that will give you more inventory room?

Jason Anderson 3/26/2000

No, there will not be any interface upgrades to increase the size of your inventory.

5) Do objects always take up a rectangular space in inventory, even if they don't fill it?

Jesse Reynolds 9/17/2000

Yes, items take up rectangular area. Besides the fact that this makes using inventory more intuitive, it is important for the performance of the inventory packing feature. :)

6) Can you rotate items to fit in the inventory? It seems like you could just rotate the pictures easily.

Jesse Reynolds 9/16/2000

No, sorry, you cannot "rotate" items in inventory.

Jesse Reynolds 9/17/2000

It's slightly more complex than that, I'm afraid. We can't just rotate the item in code, because the items are drawn to look right from a particular perspective. For instance, they have a light falling on them, and they may have shadows. If you rotated that image 90 degrees, it would look wrong. So, the only way to do it "properly" would be to render the items in different rotations (if this was a 3D engine, this could be done more easily, if you designed for it).

7) When you trade in a store, do you have access to you followers inventory?

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

No, there is no group trading mode.

8) Can you barter and trade items, or use an item as the stake to gamble with?

Sharon Shellman 9/22/2000

If you want to buy anything, it will cost you cash, or you can gamble for it (if you have enough coin). The shopkeeper will not gamble with you if you don't have enough coin to cover the cost of the item in the first place. You can not gamble one of your items against one of the shopkeepers items.

9) Can you mind control shopkeepers and steal all the stuff in the store?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Yes. You will be able to mind control shopkeepers, although it will be rather difficult. They do not hold the store's inventory on them, it is usually elsewhere (like in a chest).

If you can manage to open it (by using locksmith or destroying it) while the shopkeeper is mind controlled, then you can take anything you want out of it. (As long as a guard doesn't happen by at that moment.)

10) When you defeat an enemy and check his body for loot, can you only take weapons and items, or can you also take the armor that he is wearing?

Sharon Shellman 3/9/2001

If they were wearing armor, you will be able to take it. Then you can wear it, sell it, give it to your followers, whatever. ?The exception to this would be basic townspeople who are wearing either rural or city clothes (not armor). They usually don't actually have it equipped, we just changed their art when we dropped them into the world. The armor rule also applies to weapons.

11) Will there be a lot of items in the game?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/9/2000

There will be loads of inventory. For instance, we have more than a hundred technological inventory items alone. This is not including magick or "neutral" inventory objects.

12) Will items have histories?

Chad Moore 10/1/2000

Currently there are only statistics available to you when you hover over an object in your inventory...

However, there are weapons in the game that have very deep histories. We've included those histories (during interactions with NPC's) when we think they're necessary...

13) How can you tell if an item has a bonus?

Sharon Shellman 9/24/2000

If you examine a +2 sword, it will say so. You will also be able to see by how it adjusts your stats/skills.

14) Will there be healing potions and drugs?

Jesse Reynolds 3/3/2000

Yes, there are potions, as well as "therapeutics" (which are Tech-based). There are no "drugs" in the style of addictive substances, however.

15) Can you create the magickal healing potions?

Jesse Reynolds 6/4/2000

Player Mages cannot create magickal potions in Arcanum. This is partly due to the fact that creating them would take great skill and time, as we have said with regards to all magickally enchanted items, and partly to balance against Technology. You may still find them in the world, of course.

16) What items can be enchanted in Arcanum?

Jesse Reynolds 2/11/2000

Almost anything can hold enchantments. Actually, now that I think about it, *any* item you can pick up in the game can be magickal (as in, it can contain spells, have enhanced attributes, etc.). Players cannot enchant items themselves, but you may find people in the world that have the knowledge to craft specific items, and of course you will be able to find them in the world by adventuring and buy some of them from merchants.

There are different types of enchantments an item can have. Weapons can have enhanced bonuses to-hit, damage (different types of damage too, such as physical, fire, electrical, etc.), speed (how quickly you can attack with the weapon), how far a ranged weapon can fire, critical modifiers, minimum strength adjustments (so the 90 pound halfling can wield the Huge Hammer of so-and-so, for instance), and more.

Armor adjustments can modify your various resistance's, etc..

Generally, items can have weight adjustments, and they can have innate stores of mana to help you cast spells (the item is drained before you are, and it will recharge the same way you do). Also, any item can hold multiple spells (and they can have a separate store of mana charges that are dedicated to these spells), and these spells could be the ones you can learn yourself (from any of the 16 colleges), or even "lost" spells that are unique to the item. Normal spells would be ones that you specifically activate (say, a staff that shoots fireballs), or ones that activate based on various triggers (a ring that gives you regeneration when you are wearing it, a sword that drains the life out of your opponent and gives it to you when you hit successfully, an amulet that brings you back to life -- once -- if you die, a magick rock that explodes as a fireball when it hits the ground -- a kind of magick grenade if you will, a dagger that lights up like a torch and does extra damage against undead, etc.). I'm giving you examples of obvious, traditional items, to show some of what we can do without giving anything away, but we plan on having many interesting items in the game, some you will expect for sure, but many we hope will be new and exciting to you. We don't intend to have +1 swords everywhere that are so common they are meaningless, but I think you will be pleased with what we come up with.

Mind you, this is what they can *theoretically* do. For balance reasons, you will never find an item that does *all* of these things, or even that does even a handful of them super powerfully. Some items even have trade-offs. For instance, you may have a weapon that is enchanted to do massive damage, but due to a flaw in the enchantment it is difficult to move it quickly. So you would have a weapon that could deal out some hefty damage, but you wouldn't hit as often with it.

There will be artifact-level magick items, but they are extremely rare and will almost always have trade-offs one sort or another.

As to firearms, no, due to the schism between magick and technology, you won't find magick guns. However, you could certainly have magick swords (as above), bows, etc.. Tech-based items can be enhanced by technologists with the appropriate skill, items, and schematics, so you will find tech-items that balance out the magickally enchanted ones, but sometimes in different ways.

17) What makes and item "technological"?

Mark Harrison 2/12/2000

A heap of metal becomes technological when it is complex enough to be out of place in a traditional, pre-gunpowder fantasy setting. A lock would be a good example of one of the most complex items that would not count as technological and would not interfere with magick.

Most of the time magick interferes with the firing of a gun, it will merely destabilize the bullet's trajectory and cause a miss. On occasion, though, the gun itself may be damaged, possibly even hurting whoever is holding it.

18) Will items break after a certain number of critical failures?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

To clarify, items don't have a number of critical failures they can take, but they have their own "hit points". A critical failure has a chance of damaging your weapon (a variable amount, based on the severity of the critical). If your weapon runs out of "hit points", it is destroyed. They can be repaired before this.

19) How can you repair an item?

Jesse Reynolds 5/11/2000

Weapons may become damaged due to critical failures. If they are damaged you can either take them to a blacksmith/etc. or you can (if your skill is high enough) repair them yourself.

20) Will stat bonuses from items enhance your stats past the regular limit?

Sharon Shellman 7/3/2000

I believe Items/potions/etc that enhance your stats will not take them over the 20 limit.

21) If an item grants you a 20 stat, do you get the special stat bonus (e.g. poison immunity)?

Sharon Shellman 7/4/2000


22) Since a Halfling has a minus to Adjusted Str, would an item be able to offset that and take it to 20?

Sharon Shellman 7/4/2000


23) Will there be a safe place to keep items?

Sharon Shellman 5/20/2000

You will be able to store your items in containers (chests, barrels, etc.), and they will stay there until you come back to retrieve them. That way you don't have to lug junk all over the place.

24) Can you leave gold lying around?

Sharon Shellman 9/3/2000

Yes. You will be able to drop gold either on the ground or into chests. If you put it in a chest, it will remain there indefinitely. If you drop it on the ground, it will decay after a while - sooner in a city than in the forest. Perhaps decay is not the correct term to use for gold, it will vanish. :o) (oh! looky there bob! someone dropped 250 coin... looks like my lucky day!)

25) Will you see the NPC's picking up the gold?

Sharon Shellman 9/3/2000

NPC's will not actually walk by and pick it up. It will just vanish after a while.

26) How do you get money? Does killing normal animals give you money?

Sharon Shellman 9/2/2000

Lots and lots of different ways. You can do jobs to earn money, you can kill people and take their money, you can steal it, you can sell stuff that you've made or collected or found, you will also find some on creatures (but only ones that make sense - wolves don't carry gold).

27) Are there cursed items/weapons in the game, how do they work?

Shellman 10/28/2000

"Cursed items are magick. Being magick, if you don't buy them from someone, or have them given to you as a gift, you will have to get them identified. Otherwise you will not know what they do. (or if they are cursed)

Unidentified magickal items that have effects on them still work, you just don't know what they're doing. If you get a magickal item that has its own spells and power store, you will not know what spells it is capable of, or be able to access them, until you get the item identified. (Thus the importance of the *identify* spell)"

28) Does an area’s magick/tech bias affect the items a PC(or NPC) has equipped? For example, if a I’m in a high tech area wearing the "ring of constitution", which normally raises my CN by 2, can this bonus be adversely affected by the area’s bias, or is only the "wearer‘s" bias considered ?
Sharon Shellman 2/26/2001
YES. The areas magick/tech bias will affect the items that a PC or NPC has equipped.

Weapons and Armor

1) Why would you want to use a bow instead of a gun?

Tim Cain 2/10/2000

Bows and arrows have two advantages over guns in Arcanum: (1) arrows are cheaper than bullets, and (2) the Bow skill does not depend on your technological aptitude or the target's magickal aptitude. In other words, your bow is not going to "misfire" when used against Zappo the Mage.

Swords are a great option in the game too. Unlike guns, swords and other melee weapons take advantage of your strength bonuses. Plus, they never run out of ammo. And they can hold an enchantment.

The philosophy of this game is balance, of the matching of the pros and the cons of each decision you make.

And with a huge gun, you may not fear one native with a spear, but 10 are pretty scary. And you may run out of bullets...

2) Will flaming arrows be in the game?

Tim Cain 6/1/2000

I was *this* close to posting "Sorry we cannot have flaming arrows" when I checked the code (my own code!) and saw that we can do it EASILY. Weapons store their ammo type and projectile art separately, so you can make a bow that fires arrows that look like flaming arrows.

Consider the idea duly noted and put into the game.

3) Can you shoot two guns at once?

Sharon Shellman 7/14/2000

No. Unfortunately we do not have dual pistol capabilities (ala John Woo). Although in hindsight, it would have been really cool. Perhaps on Arcanum 2?

4) Will the guns reflect the period?

Chad Moore 1/11/2000

We'll have plenty of older guns... flintlock pistols, and breech loaders and the like... we're trying to be as true to the period (industrial revolution) as we possibly can...

Of course, that doesn't mean you won't be able to modify these guns... technologists will have the ability to create new guns which have increased range, more rapid fire, or new and different types of ammunitions (some not necessarily bullets...:))

5) Will any of the guns be real world models?

Sharon Shellman 3/5/2000

All guns in Arcanum are "fantasy". In other words, we didn't duplicate any real gun models, but made up our own. (Since Arcanum isn't stands to reason things would be different)

A few examples of types of guns would be flintlock and low-grade revolvers which are the standard guns in Arcanum. More specialized ones would include sniper rifles, high-powered rifles and in rare cases you may get your hands on a machine gun.

Most of our guns have not been given specific names yet, so I can't tell you exactly what guns will be available. There will be several variations of each type of gun (an example being the "finely made pistol" will have a faster rate of fire and do more damage than the standard pistol)

6) Will there be high tech weapons eventually, like the Tesla Coil Rifle Tim Cain mentioned?

Sharon Shellman 2/14/2000

Yes, the Tesla Coil Rifle is a real weapon. It is a high-end inter-disciplinary weapon that you can obtain schematics for and build. To build this weapon, you must become quite adept in both the Gun Smithy and Electrical disciplines.

As to making an elf with a ray gun..... errr yes and no. The Tesla Coil Rifle is actually a lightning gun, not a ray gun. And since Elves are more magickal by nature, they get an automatic negative hit to tech. So an elf would not be my first choice as a tech-heavy character. (But if that's what you wanted to make, then you could.)

7) Is there a minimum strength for using weapons?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Many weapons have a strength minimum, so if you use it below that minimum, you suffer penalty

8) Will burst weapons like automatic guns hurt my followers?

Leonard Boyarsky 1/14/2000

In Arcanum, we've changed the area of the burst from a burst weapon so that it is more focused, and that should reduce greatly the incidence of being shot by a follower with a burst weapon. Also, weapons fire either a burst or a single shot, so if you want to avoid indiscriminate bursts from followers, just don't give them any burst weapons.

9) How is weapon loading done?

Sharon Shellman 7/12/2000

You do not need manually reload guns in Arcanum. It will be done automatically.

We have taken reloading time into account when setting the "speed" of each weapon. So a flintlock pistol is the slowest gun in the game. It only allows you to shoot 1 round at a time, with a delay between firing. Now something like a machine gun would fire multiple rounds at once and you would be able to fire it more quickly.

Weapons will be auto loaded in turn based mode as well. It will just cost more AP to fire a weapon that requires more load time.

10) How do you get ammo?

Leonard Boyarsky 1/12/2000

In Arcanum, you can choose to learn how to manufacture bullets which is a cheaper alternative to buying them. As far as building exotic types of ammo, the weapons you build yourself generally use one of three different types of "ammo" that are in the game. To minimize having to find a particular type of ammo for a particular gun, we've standardized the ammo a bit, the theory being that you're building a better delivery system that uses existing ammo types. I personally would be upset if I put a lot of points into a certain discipline to be able to build a special gun, searched far and wide for the parts to build it, and then I couldn't use it because I'd still have to learn to build the ammo for it.

11) Can you pick up arrows that miss?

Jesse Reynolds 2/4/2000

Yes, arrows will drop to the ground, so you will be able to pick them up again if you want. Picking them up is quick and easy, and if they are in a pile at a location you can pick the whole pile up at once.

12) Can you take out two people with one shot?

Sharon Shellman 2/14/2000

Neither bullets nor arrows will blow through a character and then hit other characters in Arcanum. They will only hit and effect one character per bullet/arrow.

13) Do any weapons have a knockback?

Jesse Reynolds 9/16/2000

Yes, certain types of weapons (such as grenades) can do knockback damage, blowing objects away. This doesn't always happen of course. Throwing grenades at a pack of monsters is pretty effective... and fun, not that I condone violence against pixels. Long live pixels! Similarly, some attacks can knock creatures down.

Jesse Reynolds 9/17/2000

Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention is that when being knocked back, if the critter hits a wall/tree/etc., it will take damage, potentially killing it.

Shellman 12/19/2000

"The "knock back" function occurs through the use of spells, such as unseen force and call winds, but does not occur when using normal melee weapons."

14) Can anyone use any weapon?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/9/2000

Wizards can use any weapons in the game, as long as they have the stats required for them. Their magick level will only impinge on their ability to use guns and technological weapons.

15) Can you use maces and hammers?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

Yes, you can wield maces and hammers.

16) Will all the weapons types have enchanted versions?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

We have a variety of different weapon types, including swords (1Hnd and 2Hnd), axes, maces, etc. Any of them can be enchanted to any degree. As to what we are putting in the actual game, I'm not going to give anything away, but I will say that you will find a variety of different enchanted items, as well as a variety of artifact level items.

I personally really like to run my dwarf around with an axe. I just like the way he looks. :)

17) How many weapons are in the game?

Sharon Shellman 5/22/2000

You will be happy to know that there will be more weapons in Arcanum than there were in Fallout.

18) Are there any blocking weapons that add to defense as well as offense?

Leonard Boyarsky 3/8/2000

We don't have "blocking weapons", the closest thing would be shields. Default shields will most likely reduce your risk of being hit (upping your Armor Class), but shields (and any other armor, for that matter) can also up your damage resistance, depending on the properties the designer wants to give it.

19) How complex is the armor?

Sharon Shellman, 2/14/2000

Main body armor is one piece, similar to armor in Fallout, so you cannot have your breastplate be different from your leggings. However, helmets, gauntlets, boots and shields are separate and can be mixed and matched with whatever armor you wish.

20) Are there different advantages to different types of armor? Will different types be useful throughout the game?

Tim Cain 5/7/2000

We have made more powerful versions of the same armor type. We are trying to add armor in such a way that there is no clear "best" armor. Some armor that provides a high AC or DR will weigh a lot, while some light but low AC robes may be enchanted to provide a high fire resistance. Armor also contributes noise to your walking, so it is harder to move silently in plate mail than in street clothes. There are a lot of values to play with on armor.

21) Why can't ogres wear advanced armor?

Tim Cain 3/31/2000

It's all about art. It takes a long time to make a complete set of art for one gender-race type. We have to show every armor/shield/weapon (ASW) combination for every animation (like running, attacking, falling down, climbing through windows, etc.). If we make a gender-race type unavailable to the player (i.e.. NPC-only), we don't have to make all of ASW combinations. So we can make a female gnome noblewoman NPC who only has dress/no-shield/no-weapon animations, which saves us a heck of a lot of rendering time and storage space.

By limiting the weapons and armor an ogre can use, we can make them available to the player. We don't have to make as much art, and it fits the game design too. Yes, it is
a limitation, but when we get the time, we can add animations to Arcanum 2 and relax some these limitations.

22) Will it be hard to find armor that fits smaller people like dwarves?

Tim Cain 5/4/2000

Dwarves, halflings and gnomes can wear all of the armor types. But armor comes in sizes small, medium, and large, so a dwarf can't wear human armor. So if you play a dwarf, expect to visit a big city or a dwarven city to get armor.

23) If you mind control an NPC that doesn't usually wear a certain kind of armor, will there be problems making them wear it?

Jesse Reynolds 6/7/2000

No, that won't be a problem. All armor/clothes/etc. are marked as to which body types they fit. For instance, a half-ogre cannot wear a halfling's suit, etc. You won't be able to force someone to wear something they don't have an animation for, as they simply won't be able to wear it.

24) Will you see a difference in the look of your character when you change armor?

Jesse Reynolds 5/19/2000

Yes, you will see the type of armor you are wearing. You won't see the difference in boots/gloves/etc., because that would be too much art, but you will see the basic armor (leather, plate, regular clothes, etc.).

25) Can you wear glasses?

Chad Moore 10/9/2000

Yes, you can wear glasses...

They go into your "helmet" slot...

26) Can you wear nothing?

Chad Moore 10/9/2000

You can most definitely run around naked, and people will most definitely notice...:)

27) Will certain weapons have names? Also will there be more then one graphic for the same item? like say, "superior revlolver" would look different then "poor revolver"?

Shellman 10/27/2000

"Yes, special weapons and items will have names. Also yes, different items will look differently. (ie, the rusty dagger looks different than the fine dagger). Weapons will look different in your inventory and on your wielded "paper doll", but on the actual character when they're animating; all daggers will look the same, all one handed swords will look the same, all two handed swords will look the same, etc., etc. The weapons are small enough when fighting that you probably would not see the difference, it is in inventory that you will be able to take nice, long looks at your weaponry. :o)"

28) Will there be weapons that can be used to knock people out. as opposed to killing them?

Shellman 10/31/2000

"There are bludgeoning weapons in the game. These are the type that will aid you in knocking people unconscious. (and then you decide whether or not to kill them)"

29) Will there be any kind of mech knifes?

Shellman 10/23/2000

"There is a mech dagger. (works in a spring-loaded manner) It is the only mech dagger/sword so far. "

Part 3: How the Game is Played


1) How will turn-based and real-time combat work?

Tim Cain 2/3/2000

Both real-time and turn-based combat are based on your character's speed. Speed is determined by your dexterity, how encumbered you are (which depends on your strength and your equipment weight) and how fast your attack (weapon, spell, etc.) is.

In real-time, your Speed determines your attack animation speed. Faster characters will literally swing their swords faster than slower ones.

In turn-based, your Speed determines how many action points you have to spend on your turn. Actions such as attacking, moving, or spell casting cost points to perform.

We like this system because it is balanced and neither mode has an advantage over the other. Although some people will always use one mode or the other, I would probably go real-time to mow through some rats in a sewer and then switch to turn-based when I stumble into the lair of a vampire.

There is a switch for real-time combat. In one setting, you click once on your opponent and then your character will continue to attack over and over (similar to Baldur's Gate)

In the other setting, you must click on an opponent to initiate each attack, similar to Diablo.

Why two settings? I demanded the first setting, since I loved Diablo but it killed my wrist. This setting eliminates the click-fest problem. However, lots of people like the second setting, as it feels more responsive.

2) What happens if you don't have enough action points to complete an action during combat?

Jesse Reynolds 6/22/2000

In Turn-Based combat, if you don't have enough action points to complete an action (say you have 2 AP's but it costs 4 to swing your sword), you can still *do* the action, but it will cost you Fatigue for every AP that you couldn't afford.

You don't *have* to take that last action, obviously. It represents exerting yourself to swing just a little faster/etc., but if you do so, you will of course end up tiring faster...

Sharon Shellman 2/7/2001

In real time, fatigue cost happens automatically while you are attacking, so you get the same results. Oh yeah... Its very easy as a mage in real-time to cast spells quick enough to pass out. he he

3) What happens to unused action points at the end of your round?

Sharon Shellman 9/29/2000

We have still not addressed the issue about unused action points (although we did get a lot of feedback several months ago from you guys). Currently if you do not use all of your AP in TB, you lose them. This will not be the final outcome, but I thought I should let you know the current status for those of you that get in on the beta. :o)

4) When the game is set to turn-based mode, will enemies trigger turn-based mode?

Chad Moore 1/25/2000

Yes... when combat is triggered by a hostile character (or by yourself), then the game will switch to turn-based mode, until combat is over...

Otherwise, it will play almost identically to the real-time mode. Things like walking around and interacting with characters will feel exactly the same...

5) Will you be able to play turn based mode in user created single player mods?

Jason Anderson 4/8/2000

If you start playing a module as a multi-player session, either as the server, or join a game in progress, turn-based will not be an option.

However, if you start playing a module in single player mode, you will have the choice of both turn-based and real-time, regardless of the map/module.

6) Will the interface be different for turn based and realtime, even when you're not in combat?

Jesse Reynolds 4/12/2000

Turn-Based mode brings up a little interface bar along the bottom of the isometric window, that shows you how many action points you have left, and includes an "End Turn" button, so it will be clear which mode you are in, at least during combat. We'll see what we can do for out-of-combat.

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

We haven't put the icon in for when you are out of combat, but it is scheduled to be in. We just haven't gotten to that part of the interface yet.

7) Are there different types of attacks?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/2/2000

As far as different types of attacks, we have weapons that do fatigue damage, crushing damage, as well as cutting damage. By beating on someone with a weapon that does a lot of fatigue damage, you would be able to knock them out rather than kill them. All of our critical hit charts are based on weapon type, the armor that people are wearing, and where they are being hit. Aiming for specific body parts will be accomplished with the use of hot keys.

8) Will there be multiple physical attacks?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Sorry, but no, we will not have multiple attack moves for fighters, and weapons only have one attack. Magick weapons of course can potentially have spells attached to the item as well.

9) Can weapons do serious fatigue damage?

Tim Cain 2/3/2000

Yes, clubs are both crushing and fatiguing. Also, called shots to the head are likely to cause a great deal of fatigue damage and therefore prevent spell casting (because the caster has too little fatigue) and possibly knock someone out if all of the fatigue is drained.

This allows alternatives to killing NPCs. A player could bypass a guard by popping him over the head with a club and knocking him out.

10) Do weapons do more fatigue damage if enemies are less alert?

Jesse Reynolds 7/3/2000

No, anti-fatigue weapons do not vary damage based on the AI's alertness.

11) When you are hit by something that does fire or electrical damage, is the damage first reduced by the general damage resistance and then, in addition, by the specific damage resistance (fire/electrical)?

Jesse Reynolds 6/10/2000

No, each type of damage is only resisted by it's *particular* damage resistance. So Fire damage is applied directly to Fire Resistance, etc.

Tim Cain 3/13/2001

Each weapon is further categorized for purposes of critical hits and misses. The critical hit categories are cutting, crushing, impaling, electrical, and fire. The critical miss categories are bladed, bludgeon, handled, guns, bows, hands, explosive, fire, and electrical.
The types are used to determine the type of critical you receive. For example, cutting weapons are more likely to scar on a critical hit, while crushing are more likely to cause unconsciousness. Similarly on a critical miss, fire-based weapons can literally explode on a very very bad roll.
Other factors in criticals: critter's body type (biped, quadruped, amorphous, insect, snake, and avian), attacker's skill and training, and weapon bonuses.
It is all a rich tapestry.

12) Can you cut off body parts of enemies?

Jesse Reynolds 2/4/2000

If by "cut down the body parts" you mean lop off limbs and such, then no. You can target specific regions with called shots (as Leonard stated above) in order to get bonuses to criticals, however.

You will see visual confirmation that you hit (blood splotches, etc.), but no, you won't see wounds on the person you are attacking. Of course, if you kill them that's another matter. :)

13) Can you do called shots in both real time and turn based modes?

Jesse Reynolds 5/27/2000

Called shots are done via the same method in both Turn-Based and Real-Time combat, via hotkeys.

14) Can you chase down enemies that run away?

Jesse Reynolds 2/4/2000

Enemies may flee in combat, based on their AI settings (skeletons would never flee, but a wimpy orc would, for example, and possibly early in the fight, too :) ), and if you want you can then chase them down. However, in combat running will cost fatigue, and when you get too low on fatigue, you can't run anymore, which has some interesting behavior. If you've wiped yourself out fighting a group of orcs and one runs off, you may not be able to catch him, and he will escape, which makes sense. However, if you've been beating someone up and they run off, they likely have taken fatigue damage, and so they will quickly slow to a walk allowing you to catch up to them. This also means that most mages aren't going to be running around like the proverbial chickens w/out heads during combat, because they will run the risk of passing out due to their spells.

15) Can the enemies escape by running off the screen?

Jesse Reynolds 4/6/2000

Arcanum has a continuous world. What this means is that there is never the case where someone will run off-screen and you won't be able to get to them because the screen stops. You can keep chasing them down if you want. (Though, as Tim pointed out a few messages below, we are tweaking the way fleeing works).

16) Do you only get points for killing an opponent?

Tim Cain 4/6/2000

We _are_ employing a scheme that awards experience for hurting the opponent. Killing him just provides an extra (but smaller) award. This allows you to play a character who does not kill. You will still level up, but you cannot beat on the same critter all day long. Eventually it stops providing points.

17) Can you resurrect monsters and kill them again to get more experience?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

No, you can't resurrect monsters to repeatedly get experience.

18) Do you have to knock out or kill everything that you fight? Can they surrender or be knocked out?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Yes, monsters/NPCs may (depending on their stats/AI/etc.) flee and go into a "surrender" state. We don't currently have any way of forcing them to drop their weapons, but its an interesting idea.

No, there is no way to tie someone up after knocking them out, sorry.

19) If you knock someone or something out in a fight, will it still try to kill you after it wakes up?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

They will go back to a normal state, they will go back to work/etc. just as they would before. Whether or not they will attack you again depends on why they attacked you in the first place. If it was a monster that was attacking you because it was hungry, then they probably would attack you again. If it was an NPC that hated you for some reason (perhaps because you had done something to them before), then they would probably attack you again, unless they thought you were too tough for them. If it was just a tavern brawl then they probably will leave you alone.

Jesse Reynolds 7/3/2000

As to creatures "learning their lesson", they will do so in the same fashion that they do if they *don't* get knocked out. If you get a lucky shot in and knocked them out, they will probably get up and try to take you out again. If on the other hand, you beat them up to the point where they are afraid of you, they will probably run away.

20) Do undead creatures go unconscious?

Jesse Reynolds 7/3/2000

No, Undead cannot go unconscious. They do not take fatigue damage from combat (they are immune to it), but they do lose fatigue by casting spells (though again, they won't fall unconscious, they will just become inactive magickally).

21) Will the enemies ever do anything besides just try kill you?

Sharon Shellman 4/2/2000

Using the base AI, if an enemy is attacking you....they are trying to kill you, and will not stop until they have completed the task. However, I believe it is possible for us to individually script different NPC's so that they only attack you until you're crippled, or knocked out, etc. But this would be the exception, not the norm.

22) Is there any way to have your character can automatically defend himself?

Jesse Reynolds 5/11/2000

Besides real-time and turn-based combat, there is another combat option which dictates whether you are in auto-combat mode or not. When turned off, you click to do your own actions (like Diablo), and when turned on, you will automatically respond to attacks (similar to many RTSs, BG I think, etc.) in the sense that if you aren't doing anything else you will start attacking back, and will continue attacking until you click to do something else or your target is destroyed.

This is so you can have more control (you click to do every attack, etc.), or you can let the computer continue attacking your target if you want (to save your wrists :) ).

This isn't 'AI', and your character won't do anything complex, but it is there as an option. Since it is handled on the server-side, yes, if you weren't doing anything else (not walking, etc.) you would respond to attacks, but you wouldn't cast spells or anything, you would just attack with your current weapon.

23) Can you use skills in combat?

Tim Cain 5/4/2000

You will be able to use all of your skills in real-time or turn-based combat.

24) Is there any action that you can't do during combat?

Jesse Reynolds 7/5/2000

As to changing armor/weapons, yes, you can do it in combat, but changing armor will cost more than attacking, for instance. Doing it from *within* the inventory interface will probably cost the same amount as clicking on a hotkey.

All skills/spells/hotkeys/items/etc. are available during combat (at least currently). However, some of them would be inadvisable, except in dire circumstances. For instance, if you try to pick a lock during combat, since it takes time, you would likely get interrupted (unless you had followers holding the attackers off).

Normal dialog is unavailable during combat (you can't have a nice discourse with someone when you are being attacked), but float-text (follower-commands/etc.) is available.

25) Will using hotkeys during combat cost action points?

Jesse Reynolds 7/5/2000

Yes, using hotkeys during turn-based combat costs Action-Points (APs). How many APs they cost are based on the underlying action that they attempt to trigger. So, if you click on a hotkey to cast a spell, it costs the same amount of APs that clicking on the spell the "normal" fashion (via the rotating window, for instance) would.

26) Is there any way to instantly kill someone?

There are a couple of ways of "instantly" killing someone, but none of them are guaranteed, and they require lots of study. Of course, depending on what you are attacking, your skill, the weapon you are using, etc., you may find creatures that you can easily kill with one blow. A magickal mace against a chicken? -- Chicken Nuggets. :)

27) Is there a maximum chance to hit an enemy?

Sharon Shellman 6/27/2000

Yes there is a maximum chance-to-hit level. But internally the chance can go over that number, so if you encounter a penalty, we use the internal number. But the final percentage can never be higher than 95.

Also, the minimum chance-to-hit is zero. You can get penalized to the point that you will not be able to hit, no matter your skill. (if there's bad lighting, cover, range penalties, etc.)

28) Is there any way to avoid accidentally attacking your followers, like highlighting them?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

No, we don't currently allow highlighting of followers. However, you can highlight individual ones by hovering over their icon on the follower bar. Also, during combat, your mouse-hovers will automatically "see through" followers to targets behind them, so you won't accidentally click on a friendly when you are attacking. :)

29) Does the strength damage bonus(or penalty) only apply when using the melee skill, or a weapon that uses the melee skill ?

Shellman 2/26/2001



1) What kind of quests are in Arcanum?

Mark Harrison 3/25/2000

We are maximizing non Fed-Ex quests and meaningful dialog branches. We don't like repetitive fetch or return-key dialog. Some of these master level quests might have you agonizing over whether or not you really want to do the quest -- they're that good.

2) Will there be any timed quests?

Leonard Boyarsky 12/2/1999

All I can say is that we learned our lesson about time limits on the main quest from Fallout 1. We will most likely never have a timed main quest again.

As for timed side quests......

3) Will there be more than one answer to each quest?

Mark Harrison 11/22/1999

Multiple solutions is our mantra. Every major quest is scrutinized with an eye to how it can be solved using different types of characters, both in terms of skill focus and moral fortitude.

One quest I've worked on had three solutions when I first looked at it. The solution for the "combat machine" character required a somewhat evil play style. I added a fourth solution, effectively adding an entire subquest with multiple solutions of its own, including one appropriate to a more noble "combat machine" character.

Not every quest will be completable by every character. Some side quests are accessible only to certain character types, allowing for a greater variety of experiences. Some quests will require a particular play style - as in there's an excellent magick item of some sort, but to get it you must play dirty.

We are sure to have a number of FedEx quests, but those will also be constructed with multiple solutions. And yes, even a FedEx quest
can include a moral dilemma.

4) If you have a quest that requires getting an item from someone, do you have to kill him to get the experience?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

Experience points for quests would be entirely dependent on how the quest was designed. If you were specifically told to kill the mage, then no, you wouldn't get the experience for just "knocking him out", because he would still be a menace. If you were just told to retrieve an item that he was carrying, then the NPC wouldn't care *how* you got it. As to the mage hunting you down later, that would depend on how he was scripted.


1) How big is the game world?

Leonard Boyarsky 1/27/2000

It would take twenty game days to walk from one side of the continent to the other, which would be forty-eight hours in real time. This is just straight walking, no encounters or stopping for anything. As an added note, this is just a relatively arbitrary size we chose as being good for gameplay, the largest map our engine could handle would take fourteen REAL YEARS to walk across. We thought that was a bit large, though.....

Tim Cain 12/21/2000

The world is broken down into sectors. As you walk along, sectors in front of you are loaded in, and the ones behind are thrown away. There is no barrier to walking, no map "edges" in the world.

Arcanum is roughly 2000 by 2000 sectors. It would take you approximately 35 real-life hours just to walk across this map, assuming you never stopped due to random monster encounters or to go into a town, cave, dungeon, etc. Arcanum is not the largest map you can make either.

2) How big is Tarant?

Sharon Shellman 9/17/2000

Tarant is 7 x 4 Sectors (64x64 tiles each) in size.

3) How will your characters be represented on the world map?

Chad Moore 5/24/2000

Just a dot for the whole party on the world map...

4) Does your character show up on that little window in the world map screen? There was one shot with nothing there.

Jesse Reynolds 6/26/2000

Actually, the character *does* show up in the window in the upper left, as long as you aren't moving. The shot you are referencing must have been taken during movement. Actually, *all* of the user interfaces (barring the main menu UI) have this little window.

5) What kind of notes are there for the world maps? Are any added automatically?

Jesse Reynolds 6/26/2000

Yes, there are 'system' notes that are added automatically (denoting towns, etc.), and you can add your own notes, including different types ('danger', 'treasure', etc.). You can also toggle displaying any of them off/on.

6) Can you access the World Map from inside a dungeon or a town?

Jesse Reynolds 5/11/2000

No, when you are in a town/dungeon/etc. you instead get a Town Map representation of the area you are in. In order to go the World Map you need to leave the town.

7) Are the town maps made from scaled graphics of the regular view?

Jesse Reynolds 7/5/2000

Yes, it is scaled graphics, but its not scaled on-the-fly. Town maps are built (and attached) with WorldEd. They are "pregenerated" for various reasons, the main ones being speed (they can take time to generate), memory constraints, and the ability to turn off certain features (so Critters won't show up in the town maps, for instance).

8) Can you see a town's map when you are not in that town?

Jesse Reynolds 7/5/2000

Yes, you cannot (and this is not likely to change at this point) view town maps for any area but the one that you are in.

9) Can you get a map of a town without expoloring the town?

Sharon Shellman 8/30/2000

You will be able to obtain (buy/steal) maps of certain towns if you wish. If you have a paper map, there will no longer be fog on your town map. This only works in town maps, not on the world map.

10) If you bring up the town map and click on it, will your PC move there?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

I'm not sure if we will allow you to click on the Town Map to go somewhere, but we are working on some improvements to make moving around easier.

For one thing, you can just hold down the mouse button, so you don't have to keep clicking, though this may not be quite what you wanted...

11) When you discover a new feature (town, dungeon, ruin, etc.) during your travels/exploration of Arcanum, will it be marked on your world map?

Jesse Reynolds 6/13/2000

Yes, cities/dungeons/etc. will be automatically marked on the World Map when you find them or are given directions to them.

12) Will there be roads and vehicles in the game?

Chad Moore 1/25/2000

Roads are something we've talked quite a bit about around here... we haven't yet decided exactly how roads will be implemented in the final game... but! the kind of things you're talking about are the kind of things WE'VE been talking about all along... looks like we're on the same page...

There will be trains in Arcanum as well, as well as the tracks they travel on...

The world map will be readily accessible anytime during the game. And I can tell you (and of course I'm not biased...:)) it looks and feels AWESOME. I think people are going to respond very well to the world map...

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

We took roads out of the world map. They were causing too many headaches. They could have been done, but the time spent wouldn't have been worthwhile.

13) What kind of vehicles are in Arcanum?

Tim Cain 2/10/2000

We have trains and boats in the game.

With trains, you buy a ticket and the train takes you there. It's as fast as worldmap travel, but with no chance of random encounters. And of course, all mages must sit in the back of the caboose so they don't screw up the engine.


If we add zeppelin travel, it will act like train travel. You buy a ticket and go to your destination. However, in our world, zeppelin travel is expensive and mostly used for intercontinental travel (like the QE2 used to be), so you will probably be using the train system.

Jesse Reynolds 7/8/2000

Boats work the same way as trains (you buy a ticket/etc. and pick a destination). We won't have boats that are user-controlled (there were too many problems with that, making it not worth implementing at this time).

14) Can you rob the train?

Leonard Boyarsky 1/26/2000

We actually talked about allowing train robberies and such, but the way we are implementing train travel makes that impossible, sorry. Maybe for Arcanum 2.....

15) Can you buy a boat and keep your stuff there?

Sharon Shellman 3/28/2000

You will not be able to buy or rent the boats, or store stuff in them. They are strictly a means of transportation.

16) How about other methods of travel, like horses and teleportation?

Jesse Reynolds 2/11/2000

Yes, there is a teleport spell that can take you back to a point. There are shorter-range versions as well (as in near-screen distance). There will also be certain items that will teleport you to specific locations.

Currently, we have no plans for horses, nor for cars that you control, and that likely won't change. No conveyances that you ride around in and control on the isometric view (though we will have boats as Tim said, some of which would be controllable on the world-map).

17) Why walk when you can run?

Sharon Shellman 12/23/1999

You can run twice as far as you can walk, that's why it costs less. But it will take more fatigue away from you. So you probably wouldn't want to run constantly.

18) Someone mentioned that trains would be as fast as walking. Why aren't they faster?

Jesse Reynolds 6/5/2000

The statement on "fast as walking" had to do with real-time, not "game time". As in, walking on the world map vs. using a train would take about the same Real-time.

19) Once your character is a high level, will he have to continually fight weak creatures to get through easier areas?

Tim Cain 4/6/2000

One thing that happens with random monster encounters is that the monster group compares itself to your group, and if you are too powerful, the encounter does not occur. This means the forest of wolves that slowed you down so much at level 5 doesn't even make you pause at level 20.

20) Will random encounters only be avoided when using the world map to travel?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

When you are travelling/walking around at the "tactical" level, the random encounter will still occur. However, the creature(s) will not initiate combat. If you want to fight them, you'll have to be the one to start it.

21) Will the world stay the same from one game to the next?

Tim Cain 1/27/2000

Yes, in the sense that if you find a secret dungeon or building at a certain location during a game, then it will be there in any new game you make. You can also post the location to the Internet, so others can find it too. It's a big world, and we imagine that some brave souls will explore it just to be the first one to discover a hidden location. We will have fun placing some cool ruins or lost cities in out-of-the-way locations, for just this reason.

However, random encounters are just that - random. If you were crossing a mountain pass and got jumped by bandits, not everyone will encounter bandits there too.

22) How would someone tell you a postion in the world if you want to find something good?

Jesse Reynolds 5/11/2000

Yes, you can determine a rough position on the world map, so if someone gives you the coordinates you can go there and search.

23) Are there bandits and brigands, you know, people that attack you while you are traveling?

Sharon Shellman 3/9/2001

Yes. There are bandits and brigands that attack you while you are traveling.

The User Interface

1) Some of the screenshots show a small portrait in the upper left of the screen. What is that?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

That icon represents a follower.

2) Can you turn off the interface for the followers?

Jesse Reynolds 6/29/2000

You can toggle the follower bar display with a button on the left side of the screen, at the top of the bottom section of the interface (if that makes sense :) ).

3) Do you see the followers of your followers on the control bar?

Jesse Reynolds 6/30/2000

No, you don't see followers of followers on the follower bar.

4) Do you see summoned monsters and mind controlled characters on the bar?

Jesse Reynolds 6/30/2000

Yes, Summoned/Mind-controlled/etc. creatures show up on the follower bar.

5) Do all the pictures for the followers go on the left of the screen?

Jesse Reynolds 6/30/2000

If you have more than 5 followers then the next 5 will show up on the right hand side.

6) Will the follower bar take up a lot of space if you have a lot of followers?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

You can scroll the follower bar up and down

7) Does the HP meter being yellow mean that you are poisoned?

Jesse Reynolds 9/9/2000

Yes, the Yellow Hit Point bar indicates that you have been poisoned. Once poisoned, you receive damage at a frequency based on how poisoned you are...

8) What are those two buttons at the bottom left of the main interface?

Leonard Boyarsky 4/30/2000

Those two buttons are always changing because they are the last two skills/spells you used. We put them there for easy access, in addition to the hot key bank.

9) Can you equip armor and weapons using the hotkeys?

Sharon Shellman 7/4/2000

Yes. You can put armor, weapons, spells, potions, tech items... anything that can be worn, wielded, cast, used, drunk etc. into the hot key bank.

Walking into town? ...just click on your tux in the hotkey bank.

About to enter the foreboding cave of death? ...better click on the full plate, and maybe that elephant gun too...

We thought this customization would make gameplay a lot more fun.

We've also set it up so that the hotkey bank will automatically refill with the identical item once that item is used up, destroyed or thrown. (as long as you have another)

10) Can you assign keyboard keys to an action, or do you have to use the hotkeys?

Sharon Shellman 5/2/2000

We knew that some people would like to click on the hotkey bank, but others would prefer keyboard shortcuts. So we assigned each space in the bank (there are 10) a hotkey, which are the numbers across the top of the keyboard (1 - 0).

11) On the main interface, what's that little round button on the left of the hotkeys?

Jesse Reynolds 7/3/2000

What you are seeing is the magic-item interface button. I need to change the UI to not show that button unless you actually have a magic-item wielded, but for now we have left it in for testing purposes.

What it does is switch the rotating window (the window in the bottom-middle that switches between being a message-window/a spell-window/skill-window/etc.) to the magic-item interface. This interface shows you how many charges (if any) the item has, and lets you cast spells that are bound into the item. We will probably release a sceenshot of this before too long. You can drag those spells up to the hotkey-bank just like other spells, and if you click on them, it will automatically wield the item (if it isn't already wielded) and start casting the spell.

If you haven't identified the item, you won't know how many charges it has, nor what spells it has, and of course won't be able to cast them.

12) What are those red concentric rings with the little icons in the message window?

Leon Boyarsky 7/11/2000

Actually, the concentric rings (the bullseye) mean the PC is targeting something, and the eye is the symbol for a perception penalty. The 0% means you have a zero percent chance to hit.

Tim Cain 7/12/2000

Every icon you see below your percent chance to hit is a penalty that you can correct. The light bulb means your target is dimly lit and you are suffering a lighting penalty. You could correct this by casting a light spell or using a lantern or a variety of tech based light items.

Other icons are:

eye - you are firing at something beyond your Perception range and are suffering a penalty (so try to move closer)

bullseye target - you are beyond the range of your weapon and cannot hit it (so try to move closer)

wall - your target is partially covered, like behind a barrel, which makes him harder to hit (you can change your angle of attack to correct)

weight - you are below the MSR (minimum strength requirement) for your weapon and attacking with a penalty (so switch to another one or up your Strength)

bandaged arm - you have a crippling injury that is penalizing your ability to fight (so get it healed)

13) Is HP and FAT all that you see on enemies?

Sharon Shellman 9/29/2000

Yes, the standard information you will be able to see on an enemy is their HP and Fat while in combat (in addition to their name and reaction). It is a little different than the information you see on yourself or your followers.

With your character and your followers, you can see the actual number of HP and Fat remaining. On an enemy, you see a percentage. So you may have knocked an enemy down to 50% of their HP, but you don't know how many HP that is, or how many they still have to go.

If you were really fighting someone in a real life fight, you would be able to visually tell if they were beaten down half way or more, or if they looked as if they had enough energy to uh... cast a spell, or something. :) So we wanted to do something similar, you can't tell *exactly* how your enemy is doing, but you do have a pretty good idea from visually looking at them.

Enemies can see this info about your character as well, but usually do not change their actions according to it. If they are attacking you... they want you dead.

14) What are the different mouse pointers for?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

The "Gold" mouse is the normal action mouse, the silver-blue one is used for spells and items, and the "sword" one means you are in combat mode, and there is a "key" one used when you are using an active skill (I *think* that's all of them).

15) What's that little window at the top left of all the interface screens?

Jesse Reynolds 6/19/2000

The circle 'window' in the upper left is a view window showing you what is happening to your character while you are rummaging through inventory/etc. Since the game continues going while you are off in these interfaces, it lets you know what is happening (is someone attacking you, etc.)

16) That dial at the top middle of the character screen, does that measure how good/evil your character is?

Jesse Reynolds 6/19/2000

Yes, the dial/meter at the center top is alignment. The number below it is the numerical "value" of it. The Fate points are at the top of the screen, about 1/3 from the left, just under the infinity sign (just to the right of the 4 yellow buttons).

17) Why are there two different numbers next to each stat?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

The two different numbers next to your stats are displaying your actual stat on the left, and your adjusted stat on the right. So the true number will display on the left. And if any modifiers are currently affecting your character, they will be displayed on the right (green being positive, red being negative). If there was just one number that was a different color if it was modified, you wouldn't know how much it was being modified by, that's why we put both numbers there for you to view.

18) What's the bar on the far right of the character screen?

Jesse Reynolds 6/19/2000

The bar on the far right (up/down) is the Magick/Tech Aptitude scale.

19) What are those numbers under each of the skills?

Jesse Reynolds 6/19/2000

That is the current cost in character points to raise the skill one rank.

[Editor's note: This question references old screenshots. In the current system, every skill at every level only requires one character point to go up a rank. See Character refinement for more information on the changes in the leveling system.]

20) In the inventory screen, what is that button on the right, next to the little blocks?

Jesse Reynolds 7/1/2000

The button you are referring to is the "autopack" button, that rearranges your inventory.

21) Where in the inventory screen is your encumbrance shown?

Jesse Reynolds 7/1/2000

Encumbrance is in the upper right corner. I think we talked about changing it to show maximum as well.

22) How is weight measured in Arcanum?

Jesse Reynolds 6/19/2000

Carry weight is in 'stones', with which about 10 stones equal 1 pound. Also, this is the character's 'maximum' potential carry weight, the closer you get to it the more Fatigue it will cost, and the slower you will walk...

23) Are there distinct slots for different parts of equipped items, and can an item take up more than one slot?

Jesse Reynolds 7/1/2000

Yes, there are distinct "slots", though some items may take up more than one (and sometimes quite a few, in the case of the armor).

24) Can you only put shields and lights in the PC's secondary hand?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

You are correct, the second hand is for shields and torches/lanterns/candles only.

25) What are those five counters on the right of the inventory screen?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

The counters are: Money, Arrows, Bullets, Batteries, and Fuel.

26) Do all inventory items stack?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

No, nothing stacks in inventory except the above 5 objects. However, the hotkey bank will "auto-fill" with items of the same type when used. Oh, and yes, it now has a counter on it to tell you how many you have.

27) Why can't anything else stack?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

Not stacking items in the inventory made for a smoother, easier to manage inventory system. This comes into play most noticeably when bartering with a shopkeeper. When you hover over an item in his shop, you know there is only 1 item there, and he tells you the price of that one item. Plus you do not have to have a secondary interface pop up when you try to purchase something asking how many of that item you wish to purchase.

Also, if items stacked, you would have to put a number over each grid area, so you knew how many you had. Pretty soon your inventory would look like a bingo card and would get pretty confusing.

For the sake of gameplay, coin (or gold) is weightless, all other items add up and contribute to your level of encumbrance.

28) Can you access your inventory while unconscious?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

You will most likely not be able to access inventory. You will still see the isometric view, so you will know what is going on.

29) What's the journal like?

Jesse Reynolds 6/26/2000

There are separate journal sections for notes/rumors, quests, reputations, blesses, curses, and extra info (kills/etc.).

Quests are listed (and colored) in what state they are in (mentioned, accepted, completed, botched, etc.). Once completed, they get crossed out.

30) Can you remap the keyboard commands?

Jesse Reynolds 4/12/2000

There is some support for keyboard remapping, but we haven't put together an interface for it yet (as in, most of the code references keys in a lookup table built out of a data file, but we don't have a UI screen to modify it on-the-fly yet). This will probably make it in.

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

Keyboard remapping isn't in, but is scheduled to be.

31) Is there force feedback support?

Tim Cain 2/10/2000

We have no plans to support force feedback in Arcanum.

32) Will there be a hot key or interface button for switching from turn based mode to real time mode?

Sharon Shellman 4/10/2000

The spacebar will be the hot key to switch between turn-based and real-time combat.

33) Will there be an "Always Run" option, or maybe even set it to running outside of battle, but not in?

Sharon Shellman 7/19/2000

We haven't implemented these options yet. However, we were thinking there would be four or five options, but they're not finalized yet.

But not to worry, we will be giving you different walk/run options.

34) Will the camera be locked on the PC, or can you scroll it around?

Tim Cain 7/26/2000

I have changed the camera to allow scrolling within a range proportional to your character's Perception. This seems to be fun and realistic (a rare combination) and gives yet another reason to want a high Perception. So I think we will keep this feature in the game.

35) Can you get the camera to center on the PC easily?

Jesse Reynolds 6/22/2000

FYI, you can always center on your character with the <Home key.

36) Can you take a screenshot?

Sharon Shellman 9/7/2000

F12 = take screenshot

37) Why do the spell icons look that way? Will they change before release?

Sharon Shellman 6/7/2000

The current icons are final. They were created this way (using the icon for the spell college and a hash mark indicating which spell) to make translations simpler.

The other alternative was to make a completely different icon for each spell. We thought this might get confusing for the player. Plus, it's difficult to come up with interesting 32 x 32 pixel images that look good, are legible, and explain the spell. So we opted for the college icon and hash marks.

38) About sleeping until morning in the rest interface (nice, BTW). Does "morning" mean the time that the shops open?

Tim Cain 10/25/2000

When you sleep until morning, you wake up at 7am. Shopkeepers wake up randomly between 6am and 7am, so they will all be awake by 7am.

39) What are those row of lights and the bar below the hot key bank for?

Tim Cain 2/13/2001

The lights are the xp bar, and the line below them is a magnification of each light. Each time the line reaches the right hand side, one light turns on. When all the lights are on, you go up a level.

This magnification lets you see advancement in your xp more easily, especially at higher levels.

General Gameplay

1) Can you crouch?

Jesse Reynolds 3/22/2000

We have no plans for supporting crouching currently. Maybe in a sequel...

2) Can you target an area effect spell like a fireball at a location, or only at NPCs?

Jesse Reynolds 6/17/2000

Yes, with most spells/area effect weapons/etc. you can target a location instead of just a critter. The ones that would have no effect on a tile (like the "Death Spell" for instance) can't be targeted, but then that is what you would want, instead of wasting energy.

3) When you cast an area affect spell like fireball, do all the objects get hurt too?

Sharon Shellman 6/14/2000

Area affect spells WERE doing extensive splash damage. We have had to change this due to multi-player constraints. It was just too much data to pass back and forth. We are still balancing the problem. So we can't say for certain how much splash damage will be in the final product.

Sharon Shellman 6/17/2000

The engine for multi-player and single-player are the same, it's just the map that is different. So whatever splash damage affect we end up with after balance/testing are complete, it will be the same for both multi and single player.

4) Do guards always attack to kill, or do they ever just knock you out and haul you off to jail?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Not right now. This could be scripted in a mod, but we steered away from it, too many design issues. For instance, what if you can't pick the lock to get out of jail? Are you stuck, game over?

5) Can you save the game anywhere?

Jesse Reynolds 3/30/2000

You can save anywhere, at any time except during dialog. You can have multiple saves, so yes you could have different saves with different characters.

6) How many different save games can you have?

Sharon Shellman 9/7/2000

For all you sav-a-holics out there, we currently have 1000 save slots. We have been messing with this lately so its not finalized, but you should have "plenty" of slots by the time we're finished. :o)

ChuBaka 3/5/2001

There is an auto-save and an auto-load
I don't know about the maximum number, maybe 1000, but basically, it's as many saved games as your hard disk has space for.
I'll check about the max number (or someone else will post about it)

7) How does dialog work?

Jesse Reynolds 2/12/2000

Dialog lines for NPCs appear near them, it tries to place them over the head of the NPC in question, unless there is a nearby text line that would overlap (in which case it shifts it over a little). They *can* overlap in some cases, however different text colors can fix this.

Also, you don't see the dialog choice you made appear (so *it* won't interfere), though other people will see your message in multiplayer games. Oh, and you pick dialog lines from a list of choices in a separate window.

When in a full dialog (as opposed to just a greeting, if the person has nothing to say to you) the dialog text "bubbles" won't disappear until you make your next choice, so you won't have to worry about losing what they just said before you decide.

8) Why is the dialog different from Fallout?

Jesse Reynolds 2/11/2000

Arcanum will not have a pop-up dialogue interface like Fallout did. While we liked the way it presented things to you, it took you out of the game, jarring the player, and it made it too obvious that this was someone important that you needed to be careful with. In Arcanum, you won't know that someone is important just because they have a special interface that comes up; it will be because the dialogue itself opens up important things to consider.

9) The world keeps going on around you while you are talking. Doesn't this cause design problems?

Jesse Reynolds 5/23/2000

Yes, allowing the game to continue when you go into dialog requires you to plan for multiple contingencies. The solution is to never create a situation where you have to read a dialog in order to continue in the game. Come up with multiple ways that the player(s) can get that information. For instance, say you have an evil NPC that wants to take over a village, by first kidnapping the mayor's daughter. Well, if he has a dialog where he tells where he hid her (right before he plans on destroying you, in stereotypical evil-guy overconfidence), then give him a journal that also hints at where it is. Put in a follower of his that also knows it (and isn't that attached to his boss). Make it so that the location is still discoverable if you spend enough time looking.

The entire main story arc is protected in this way (and in many other ways), so that players will never get stuck not knowing what to do next. If you actively go out of your *way* to break the main arc (attack everyone without talking to them, don't read & instead destroy every object you come across, etc.), you should only succeed in making it more difficult for yourself, not impossible.

Side quests however, aren't as stringently protected, partly on purpose, and partly due to the complexity of designing this "protection". I say on purpose because we want there to be consequences to your actions. If you kill the evil wizard before he tells you where he hid the stolen Sword of Power (tm) then you pay the price of it being a lot more difficult to find that item.

As a nice "feel"/feature, it means you can't stop in the middle of combat and converse with people.

You can't walk away from dialog (we didn't have time to script the complexity of this for all of the quests). You can choose to *exit* dialog via the dialog tree of course.

10) How will you quit talking to an NPC?

Jesse Reynolds 7/7/2000

It behaves the same in multi-player as in single-player. If you get attacked, it kicks you out of dialog. However, since you can't start dialog when in combat-mode (and can't switch out of combat-mode when something is chasing you) this happens very rarely.

Also, many dialog-trees have "exit" lines to terminate dialog.

11) Can exit lines from dialog lower an NPC's reaction to your character?

Jesse Reynolds 7/8/2000

Yes, you could make exit lines lower reactions.

12) How does poison work?

Tim Cain 6/24/2000

When you get hit in the game by something poisonous, you receive some poison damage. Any such damage is reduced by poison resistance (from high Constitution, spells, magick items, armor, etc.). Then the result is added to your current poison level. Periodically, the game inflicts physical (normal) damage on your character based on his poison level. The damage amount is always the same, but the higher your poison level, the more frequently you take damage. At low levels, you take some damage every few minutes, and at high levels you are taking damage every few seconds.

Your body will metabolize poison at a rate determined by your Constitution. This process reduces your poison level, so over time, your poison level will drop and your damage will slow down. There also exist spells and technological therapeutics to reduce your poison level.

We have some monsters that do varying amounts of poison damage, and you can find items that inflict poison damage as well. And there is at least one spell that RAISES the targets poison level, so you can poison something and then run away and let it die.

13) Do poisons hurt your fatigue?

Chad Moore 10/3/2000

Currently, poisons (as far as I know), only do HP damage... perhaps we could make a more powerful poison that also affects your fatigue... I'll check into it...

14) Will every character have access to poisons?

Chad Moore 10/3/2000

Both magickal and tech weapons will have inherent poisonous abilities... you can create poison if you're a technologist, cast a poison spell if you're a mage. Some creatures you run across will do poison damage to you when they attack. In case your unaware, poison can be absorbed into your system without killing you (dependent upon your stats and the amount of poison you've been exposed to), but both magick and tech will have poison cures...

Technologists will have the ability to create items into poisonous items through the use of schematics. No such ability for the mages. HA! Technology rules...

15) Will your character need to worry about eating and drinking?

Sharon Shellman 2/7/2000

We deliberated over having to make your character eat and drink throughout the game, and decided against it. Arcanum is a rich, plentiful world, as opposed to the desert world of Fallout, so it would not be difficult to come by these base necessities.

16) Does your character have to sleep in the game?

Sharon Shellman 3/13/2000

You are not REQUIRED to sleep in Arcanum. However, there is a sleep function, that will allow time to pass (similar to Fallout). That will be helpful because cities and towns do have day/night cycles where people go home and go to sleep at night, and return to their work during the day. So a thief-type character would probably sleep part of the day away, to pass some time, and lurk about at night. While a more sociable character would sleep at night and only interact with people and do things during the day.

17) Will you be able to rest until a specific time of day?

Jesse Reynolds 5/23/2000

So far, none of the quests that I know of trigger at a specific time, but instead at a general time (night time, as soon as you get where they want you to go, etc.), however it is likely that we may add more specific ones (I don't know all of the quests, so I may easily have missed some).

Talking to Leonard, we are planning on changing the sleep interface to simplify sleeping for differing amounts of time/etc.

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

Yes, the sleeping interface was completely reworked. Now it is a drop-down menu that lets you sleep by amounts of time (including "Rest-Until-Healed"). In towns, you are required to find an available bed in order to sleep.

18) How do Inns work?

Chad Moore 5/24/2000

Right now, you pay for one room for your whole party. We're currently working on refinement of the the whole Inn concept...things may change in the next few weeks...

19) Why do we need Inns if we can recover on our own by sleeping?

Leonard Boyarsky 5/24/2000

The PC will not be allowed to sleep in towns unless he has a bed he can use, hence the need to buy a room at the inn.

20) Does sleeping in certain places make you heal faster?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

You get more healing if you sleep in a bed than if you just rest somewhere. But beds in inns cost $$.

21) Is not being able to sleep in town streets part of the interface?

Jesse Reynolds 7/3/2000

Yes, it is a function of the interface for gameplay reasons. For story reasons, the reasoning is that the town guard/etc. don't like you sleeping on the street, and would wake you. It would be annoying to be continuously bumped if you tried to sleep on the street...

22) Do you need a sleeping bag to sleep outdoors?

Jesse Reynolds 5/30/2000

For ease-of-play, we are currently allowing you to just "sleep" anywhere outdoors, without the need for a sleeping bag.

23) How long is the game?

Leonard Boyarsky 12/22/1999

We're not sure at this point, but we're hoping to have a length of at least 60 - 100 hours- meaning that if you did nothing but only the bare minimum of quests it would take you 60 hours, but if you explored and took on a lot of secondary quests it would take closer to 100 hours.

Sharon Shellman 9/20/2000

If it gives you any indication of Arcanum's size, the city of Tarant is (in relation to quests) as large as Fallout 1.

24) Can you see how long it took in real time to finish the game?

Sharon Shellman 9/20/2000

No. Currently we do not have anything in place that will display total game hours when you complete the game.

25) Can you carry a dead body somewhere?

Tim Cain 5/9/2000

You cannot carry a dead body but you can push one to move it over a tile. You can use this method to get dead bodies away from a guard's path, for instance, but it would take a while to drag it somewhere really far away.

26) If you die, is the game automatically over?

Tim Cain 2/17/2000

We have toyed with some neat ideas for death in multiplayer. We haven't made any definite design decision yet, but death may not be "game over man".

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

We will probably have "respawning" as a server option, but it isn't in yet.

Tim Cain 2/17/2000

In single-player, we are extending the AI so that any NPC with a Raise Dead spell will try to bring his leader back to life (assuming he likes his leader, so be nice to your followers). I have always hated RPG's where I have resurrected my followers dozens of times but they never return the favor.

Tim Cain 3/30/2000

This feature is in the game now. Basically we just run the game for 5-10 seconds after you die. If you have an NPC who can cast Resurrect, he will try to do so. Assuming he has enough Fatigue and isn't being eaten by whatever killed you, you should be raised.

*Anecdote On*

The first time I added the code, I wanted to test it fast. So I mind controlled
a nearby Priestess and attacked a wizard. After starting combat, I just sat
there and let the wizard work me over. He also summoned an earth
elemental to help out, so I was dropping fast. The Priestess tried to heal me,
but they were outdamaging her cures and I died. To my surprise, she just
turned and walked back home.


Because when I died, the Mind Control wore off. She was furious with me
(later in the debugger I watched her reaction plummet and go negative), so
rather than help, she let me stay dead.


*Anecdote Off*

Later I tested it with a real follower and I was raised from the dead. Pays to be a nice guy sometimes. :)

27) Could your followers drag your body to a temple to revive you?

Jesse Reynolds 6/15/2000

Since Arcanum focuses on you being the central character, and you don't control your followers directly, they won't be able to drag you to a temple to be resurrected (the game ends a few seconds after you die, after giving NPC followers a chance to resurrect you if they have the ability).

28) Will Arcanum have Fog of War?

Sharon Shellman 8/29/2000

In last night's build we implemented fog on the town maps. (woohoo!) This will allow you, when viewing your town map, to see where you've been and black out areas you have yet to explore when in a town or city. We consider it a nice addition that will assist you in your exploration of a new town.

This fog will not be visible during actual gameplay, which is what I think some of you were concerned with.

29) Will NPCs stand in doorways and block your way?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Many critters won't stay in your way in Arcanum (i.e., they either have someplace to be, or they tend to stand in a place that won't block you.) However, some *will*, on purpose. If a bouncer doesn't want to let you into a bar, you will have to either give up, or come up with a way to get him out of your way, whether that involves bribery, threats (in some cases), or physical violence.

30) What kind of field of view will NPCs have?

Sharon Shellman 6/15/2000

NPCs field of view will correspond to the direction they are facing. So they will not see you if you sneak up behind them. But if you're not careful, they may hear you...

31) Can time be accelerated in any way?

Jesse Reynolds 5/23/2000

Sleeping is time accelerated, as in most RPGs. You currently rest in 8 hour "chunks". Travel on the world-map is also accelerated.

You can interrupt sleeping/resting at any time.

We may be adding other functionality to it (to sleep until a given time perhaps), I don't know.

32) What is the ratio of game time to real time?

Jesse Reynolds 5/23/2000

Game time is 8 times real time. So 8 game seconds go by for every real second.

33) How do you collect loot from enemies?

Jesse Reynolds 7/7/2000

Looting brings up a "Loot Screen" where you see the items that a critter has and is wearing.

34) Can you loot unconscious characters?

Sharon Shellman 7/17/2000

Looting an unconscious body will act like pick pocketing. However, you won't get any penalties.... since they can't catch you in the act. :o)

You will not be able to loot anyone that has been "stoned" as their stuff is stoned too... The same would go for disintegrate.

35) How much experience do you get for killing vs. other things?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

The experience you get for killing vs. talking/puzzle solving varies due to level.

36) Can you carry a light around?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

There will be portable lights and a light spell.

37) How will secret doors work?

Sharon Shellman 8/28/2000

We do have hidden doors and passageways in the Arcanum. They are effectively "turned off" (meaning you can't find them), until the time you are directed to find them. They are then turned on via script. So you will not be able to search out any hidden passageways that you have not been clued into or directed to locate.

For your own use when you are creating mods, you could effectively write a script command that would reveal a hidden passage or trap door to anyone with X or higher perception, even if you have not been made aware of its existence via notes or dialogue.

38) Is there a pause function for single player or multiplayer?

Sharon Shellman 8/27/2000

There is no in game single player pause. The game continues when you go through your inventory, adjust your stats, review tech schematics, etc. However going to the options menu will effectively pause the game, although it will bring up the options menu, and you won't see the in-game screen anymore.

There is no pause function for multi-player, as this could really annoy the other people you were playing with. :o)

39) Chud (and only Chud) was wondering, can he cross dress in the game?

Sharon Shellman 10/4/2000

Well, cross-dressing huh? (like those panties, Chud?)

Ok, on to a serious answer. Way back when we originally designed Arcanum, we had a thieving skill called Disguise. This skill actually did let you cross dress, or dress up as any other NPC you came across, if you were good enough.

Sadly for Chud, the thieving skills were re-worked, without Disguise. Disguise is still something we would like to add someday. Arcanum 2 perhaps?

40) Is there any way to play the game without using money?

Sharon Shellman 10/5/2000

You could probably complete the game without using money as an assassin or warrior type as well. Just kill people and take what they have... Or you could steal everything. So yes, it probably is possible.

41) Can I have an army of sheep that follow me around and do my bidding?

Tim Cain 2/3/2000

Yes, you can mind control sheep. You can mind control ANYTHING in the game, but some creatures (sheep) are easier than others (the Elven Queen). How many you can control is up to your intelligence, and for how long is up to your fatigue reserve (based on constitution).

As to whether you would WANT to have lots of sheep following you around to do your bidding is up to you. That's one of the basic design philosophies of the game. Do what YOU want, and the game will react.

The World of Arcanum

1) Is Arcanum a parallel world to ours?

Sharon Shellman 1/25/2000

As to the industrial revolution and accuracy..... Arcanum is a magickal world, that is going through AN industrial revolution, not THE industrial revolution. So it will be similar to Europe in the 1880's, but not identical. (this gives us a little more room to be creative)

2) Is this based on another game, like Castle Falkenstein?

Tim Cain 3/23/2000

We tend to get asked this a lot. People also ask if we are based on Shadowrun or Thunderscape or Space 1889. While I can see the similarities, Arcanum really came from our desire to make a fantasy RPG that wasn't stuck in the medieval period like every other FRPG. We took a typical Tolkeinesque world, cranked it forward 400 years or so, and added an industrial revolution.

The discussion ran something like this:

Tim: I want to make a fantasy RPG dammit!
Leonard Boyarsky: Ack! Not 14th century medieval again. Let's move it up to the 18th or 19th century. Have an industrial revolution.
Jason: I have some ideas on how to mix magick and technology.
Evil Ninja: I will defeat you all!
Tim: I want some candy dammit!

Of course, I may have embellished it a little.

3) What are the waterways and boats in Arcanum like?

Mark Harrison 3/25/2000

Arcanum has relatively few rivers. We're using sail power for our boats, and keeping the industry near the coast. Inland industry is growing with the advent of the steam powered train, but the steamboat, per se, is absent.

4) What kind of music is in the game?

Mark Harrison 2/12/2000

Arcanum will have very ambient background music. The goal is a background track that enhances the experience without drawing any attention to itself -- something you could listen to for hours upon hours without thinking about turning it off. Of course, we'll also yet you turn it off, just in case.

We'll put more thematic music here and there, such as to introduce a particular place or perhaps highlight a conversation or event. Some of this music will be baroque or classical original compositions. The sound of a string quartet should be a great match to certain settings within the game.

5) Will the death sequences be as gory as in Fallout?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/9/2000

heh heh heh.

There won't be quite as many gruesome variations as in Fallout, but there are still a few pretty gruesome deaths. I personally wanted to have even more than in Fallout, but disk space and animation time would have been prohibitive. In Fallout, you could only play a man or a woman in various armors, while in Arcanum, you can play any of several different races/genders and most of these can wear any armor that can be found in the game. You can imagine the difference in time and disc space we would have been looking at to accommodate all the different combinations possible. I think you will be more than pleased with the ones we do have, though.

Shellman 1/30/2001

If you do a called shot to the head, and get a critical death, you will see a decapitation animation.
If you do a called shot to the torso area, and get a critical death, you will see a "bloody chunks" out the middle animation.
If you do a called shot to the legs, and get a critical death, you will see the leg or legs get blown away.

Chubaka 3/6/2001

you can toggle gore on and off
some people are really into that sort of thing...

6) How interactive are the NPCs with the environment?

Leonard Boyarsky 12/22/1999

NPCs will have places they will go to, beds to sleep in, friends and enemies, things they want to do, and periodically they will have places they will go to. They will not be baking bread or having a complex schedule of things that they will be doing every day. We hope to give the feel of an alive world with intelligent, "alive" NPCs without going over the top. If I need to talk to an NPC, but he's in 15 different places every day, I'll have to track him down just to talk to him. We don't want "super realism" to get in the way of a fun game.

7) How interactive are the objects in the world?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

You can use beds, destroy chests/doors/windows, and climb through windows

8) Can you sit in chairs?

Jason Anderson RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

No sitting.

9) Will the people walk to their homes every night and will the shops close?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Yes, everyone has places they want to be during the day and at night. At night, *most* people (that is, people that don't *work* at night :) ) will go to their beds, get in them, and sleep. In the morning, for instance, shopkeepers will get out of bed and walk to their shops, opening them up for customers.

10) Will NPC's move during the day (i.e.: guards walking the streets, people moving in and out of taverns?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Yes, some NPCs (guards, or anyone that has a place to be) will walk around. Of course, shopkeepers/etc. will stay in their shops during open hours.

11) If an NPC attacks you in a town (say, after being released from Mind Control), what will the guards do?

Sharon Shellman 7/26/2000

If you are in the NPC's home town, then the guards will attack YOU. This is because you are fighting with one of their citizens. :o)

If you are in a different town, the guards will probably let you go at it, as long as you don't hurt any of the local citizens or their property.

12) Will the game have places where the player does one thing, and there is a drastic change in the world around him?

Chad Moore 4/22/2000

We will, and already have, situations in Arcanum which meet these criteria. Things like who you speak with first, or what agreements you've made, or objects you've picked up or stolen...these will greatly affect the outcome of any given quest or set of circumstances. We realize that this is one of the coolest parts of RPG's...we want people to be talking about a particular area or mission in our game, and have to people describe vastly different solutions and experiences.

We've created a system that supports this kind of thing beautifully...not only in the magick/tech dichotomy, but also in the reactions to race and alignment. We're working overtime to make sure the dwarf technologist plays a different game than the elven mage or the evil gnomish diplomat...

Sharon Shellman 7/2/2000

For the most part, changes will not occur during gameplay unless you initiate it. However, once you complete the game, you will see what happened as a result of your actions or lack-there-of.

You can effect the politics of most of the cities in Arcanum, if you choose to do so.

13) Can you destroy stuff?

Leon Boyarsky 5/31/2000

As far as destroying things, you will be able to destroy doors, windows, chests, and any movable object. Other than that, I can't say at this juncture. It wouldn't be prudent.

14) Can you destroy the walls in a building to knock it down?

Jesse Reynolds 6/15/2000

No, you cannot destroy a building and have it fall down.

15) What kind of humor will be in the game?

Chad Moore 2/8/2000

Myself, as both a writer and a designer, I can appreciate the uses of humor and satire... its ABSOLUTELY necessary in order to create an experience that is both fun and believable. BUT... this always has to be tempered with subtlety, and, more importantly, originality. There is a time and place for kitschy/campy references, but as much as possible I try to avoid them. We all laughed at them the first time... its never quite as enjoyable in repeat performances...:)

We're trying to create a mood through Arcanum... through use of both language and visuals we're trying to take you somewhere else, somewhere new. Humor is a large part of our world... but its humor that makes sense, is unique, and (hopefully) original...

16) Will NPCs lock their doors at night?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

Yes, people's houses (and stores) are generally locked at night or when they aren't there. If they *are* there then they will usually get pissed off if they see you stealing their stuff.

17) What is the look of the clothing based on in the game?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

FYI, most of the clothes in Arcanum are based at least in part on *real* Victorian Era clothing.

18) Are there any fancy clothes in the game?

Leon Boyarsky 5/31/2000

There is a really suave smoking jacket that will up your charisma, and there is a hat or two, but those are functional (and no, I won't tell you what there function is). Mostly, the helmet slot is for helmets.

The smoking jacket is red velvet!

19) Will there be children in Arcanum?

Sharon Shellman 5/14/2000

Due to localization issues, (which you experienced with Fallout) we have decided not to have any children in Arcanum.

20) Will the sun rise and set everywhere or only in the field (ie: out of town)?

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

The sun with rise and set almost everywhere, but you will only *see* the lighting change if you are in a normal world area (as opposed to in an underground dungeon, for instance). Every area can have it's own lighting, overriding the default "day/night" lighting.

21) Are there different types of food in the game?

Leon Boyarsky 5/31/2000

We're hoping that most (if not all) food and other items in the game will have some use. Everyday I beat Chad to keep him from adding useless junk items. :)

22) Will religious factions fight each other?

Chad Moore 6/1/2000

We don't currently have religions acting this way in the game, although we could... we do have the ability to define a group and have that group react in different ways to other groups... all of this is very easy to do in our World Editor...

We have scenarios built around this already... I think you'll like the way they work...

23) Do store clerks restock the shelves?

Sharon Shellman 6/3/2000

You will be happy to know that all of our shopkeepers restock their shelves. They do not restock during the day, but wait until after the store has closed for the night. Also, shopkeepers won't always restock with the exact same items they had previously. The inventory in their store would depend upon their supplier, and what they think the customer's will need.

They're actually just going to restock from a random list based on the "type" of shop they own. (magick, tech, general, etc.)

24) Will there be any useful books in Arcanum?

Sharon Shellman 6/12/2000

You might find some books in Arcanum that enhance a skill. But for the most part, books will be used to provide information, nothing more.

25) The game seems to start in the year 1885. What event is that calendar based on?

Chad Moore 6/27/2000

Heh... as if we're going to tell you what event the calendar is based on...:)

BUT! I can tell you that the game starts in 1885... that should give you enough information to have a frame of reference for articles and what not...

26) How many brothels will there be? Will much be shown of the, uh, activities?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Sharon just finished our one giant brothel. She is a bit twisted...

No, just tasteful screen fades

27) Can you tell us anything about the, uh, "ladies" shown at the brothel?

Sharon Shellman 9/28/2000

The girls in the screenshot are of various races (not all human) with very, um, "distinct" personalities.

The Creatures of Arcanum

1) What kind of creatures inhabit Arcanum?

The "mythical" creatures come from a wide variety of sources. Tolkien certainly did an excellent job of creating a world with fantastical creatures with detailed backgrounds and cultures, which has been a foundation for hundreds of games, novels, etc., but we look at many different things when creating a world. Some things, like the elves, have something of a Tolkeinesque feel to them (pointy ears, some of them like trees, etc.), but they have many other influences as well. The people here are constantly exposed to many types of media, from fiction novels (and historical reading too), movies, comics, pencil & paper games, computer games, art books, toys, etc. (as with most people, though game developers tend to do this a little more than average, due to the fact that we rely on being creative and learning/trying new things). So there isn't any one thing you can point to and say "That's where we got the idea for our creatures".

2) How about some really weird monsters? Any good old fashioned dragons?

Jason Anderson 2/6/2000

The monsters in Arcanum lean more toward being standard D&D, than mutated or freakish. However, many of them are of our own design, so they are not exactly generic. And to your question about dragons. We have not designed a traditional dragon, although you may come across a creature with some similarities.

3) How many types of spiders are in the game?

Sharon Shellman 9/24/2000 from the Official Board

Hmm... Quite a few. At least 8 different varieties (common spiders, giant spiders, siren spiders, etc.)

4) Can you become a Lich?

Sharon Shellman 9/18/00

Your character will not be able to become a Lich. The knowledge of the powerful magick required to produce such a transformation has been lost in modern day Arcanum.

5) Why are most of the monsters that we have heard of magick oriented?

Sharon Shellman 9/22/2000

Because Arcanum is a magickal world, there are magickal creatures in it. But there are also neutral creatures. So a giant spider would be considered neutral, while a siren spider would have a magickal aptitude, which could effect your combat with it.

6) Why are the major races just the old Tolkien stuff? Why no new races?

Jesse Reynolds 4/6/2000

In Arcanum we wanted to take the theme of a standard fantasy world and throw some twists into it; move it forward into the Industrial Revolution, etc.. We wanted to see how this would affect the typical races and stereotypes. If we had created completely new races, this change would have been lost on the player; you would have no frame of reference. The whole point we are trying to create is to take something familiar and make it new and interesting.

Keep in mind, just because you think that you know what the stereotypes are, doesn't mean that they are still the same in our world. Things change during an industrial revolution, and old ways lead way to new.

Chad Moore's first story, "The Unfortunate Affair", gives you a glimpse at this. In the city, orcs have jobs (albeit low-paid ones) and are not considered evil. Who knows what other changes have occurred? :) Any future installments should help explain things even further...

7) Are there any creatures that are restricted to water, or that you will only see if you venture into, or near, the shallows(that you can walk into without the aid of magick or tech)?
Sharon Shellman 2/26/2001
Sadly, no. This was something we envisioned but just didn't make it into the game.

Part 4: Life After the Single Player Game


1) Will multiplay have a monthly fee?

Jason Anderson RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

No, there is no monthly fee

2) How can a story based game have good multiplayer? Is the multiplayer a minor part of the game?

Jesse Reynolds 12/28/2000

I agree, it is *very* difficult to reconcile the two modes of play. Multiplayer games and Single-player games are in some ways very different breeds. It is extremely difficult to balance a game such that it plays well in both single-player and multiplayer, and having interesting quests and "events" (things that move the story along, such as scripted events, cut scenes, etc.) that are challenging in both is so difficult as to generally not be worth the trouble, i.e., you basically would be creating two different games anyway. So yes, trying to make a game play well in both single and multiplayer tends to dilute both of the experiences. As such, we consider them to be almost completely different games. Our normal single-player game is where we are creating the long-spanning, in-depth story, while for multiplayer we will have a list of separate, smaller games that work well for groups of (live) players, that you will be able to choose from. Multiplayer games will each have their own maps, quests, stories, etc., and you will be able to "grow" your characters by taking them along from game to game, watching them grow in abilities and equipment.

Our multiplayer game works in a client/server fashion, so one person will set up a server, pick the game to play, set game options, etc., and anyone who wants to (assuming they meet the server operators character constraints/etc.) can join the game as players (the server machine can play the game as well, if desired, or it can run as a dedicated server to improve performance).

Game play will be the same in singleplayer and multiplayer games, with the exception that multiplayer games will of course have multiplayer-specific menus/controls. In a multiplayer game, players can form groups together, but they can also form separate groups, and they can of course still have followers. So you could theoretically have two (or more) separate groups adventuring in the game, and how they interact is up to the players as well as the server operator. They could compete to complete a quest, they could work together, or they could even fight each other.

You will be able to export and import characters, so you could take them with you to other servers, but you could also leave them and have them be "saved" in the multiplayer session.

We want both the single and multiplayer games to be very fun and worthwhile, so we are putting effort into both. We don't want to cheapen (or weaken) either one. :) So no, it's not meant to be just a "bullet" on the box.

3) Can you play turn-based in multiplayer?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

Real-Time constraints in Multiplayer are done in the engine, not the module. If you play a module in single-player mode, then you can play turn-based. If you play it in multi-player mode, then you can't.

4) How many people can play at once in multiplayer?

Jesse Reynolds 1/3/2000

At this time we haven't fixed the upper limit for the number of players in a multiplayer game. This will largely be determined by how many players the engine can handle without losing playability, but also how large the multiplayer maps can be, and we aren't at the point where we can really test this seriously yet (we won't do that until we start QA'ing the game *heavily* in multiplayer mode, and stress testing it to determine what works best, both for LAN games and online). First we make sure that multiplayer (and the engine as a whole) is working primarily bug free, and then we can start gauging how many people we can fully support.

Logically, we will probably have some modules that work well with fewer people (small maps mean smaller space to run around in), and some with more. If so, we will likely specify the suggested # of players in the module description. You could of course create a module that required a certain # of players to complete certain quests, but that would be up to the module designer, and would have to be handled carefully in case someone died (though you could Raise them from the dead, if you had that capability). :)

Generally, we expect to support somewhere between 4-8 players, but again, that's just a ballpark figure. It might be possible to support more, especially on a LAN, but we will have to see.

Jesse Reynolds 6/11/2000

[still 4-8?] We haven't locked this down yet, but that is our current estimate, yes.

5) Can you join a game in progress?

Jesse Reynolds 2/18/2000

In Multiplayer (whether death-match, co-op, or whatever) you will be able to join on the fly if the server options are set to allow this (if the person running the server is playing with their friends and doesn't want any more players, they can lock the game), and there are several settings for what happens when a player dies. Depending on the server options, you could "respawn" at a set starting point, or you could have to wait for someone to resurrect you (or quit & create a new character), or even have both -- you respawn after 10 seconds if no one resurrects you. Just depends on what the server operator wants...of course, you will be able to see important options like this when you are looking at joining a game, so you won't get a nasty surprise. :)

6) What happens when I die in multi-player?

From the official FAQ

There are several settings (set by the server operator) that determine what happens when you die. Depending on these settings, you could "respawn" at a set starting point, or you could have to wait for someone to resurrect you (permanent death, though you could quit and create a new character), or even have both -- you respawn after 10 seconds if no one resurrects you. It depends on what the server operator wants. You will be able to see settings like this when joining a game, so that you won't be surprised.

7) Will you be able to tell how long a game has been running before joining?

Mark Harrison 3/4/2000

You got it... we'll track the amount of time a server has been running a particular module, and we'll let you know when you go to select a game.

8) Can the server estimate how long a module will take?

Jesse Reynolds 4/1/2000

You create a description of the module, so you could put any text in there that you want. The game can't really estimate something like time-to-complete, but you could by playing it, and then put that in the text. The server host can set character level restrictions. I haven't checked it recently, but I believe that the download section of WON allows for descriptions there as well.

9) Is there a spectator mode?

Jesse Reynolds 3/30/2000

Adding a spectator mode, while not earth-shatteringly difficult, is not "trivial". To do it properly would require a custom interface, and would by it's very nature need to support things that the normal game doesn't. For instance, you would need to be able to find out information on all the players, be able to see what any of them are doing, etc. It would need to be designed properly, with a lot of thought, and would require significant-enough code changes to add up to more time than we have available to implement it. Look at Nihilistic's Vampire game, and the GM-mode they are implementing (perhaps overkill for what you wanted, though some people have requested it, but it gives an idea as to how much work it can be).

Maybe for an expansion, or a sequel. It's certainly something we will keep in mind.

10) Can a server be set to allow characters to go past level 50?

Sharon Shellman 9/24/2000

No. The game will be capped at 50, and this will account for mods as well (at least at the moment).

11) How is player killing handled?

Sharon Shellman 9/29/2000 From the Official Message Board

We currently have plans of implementing a switch that can be set by the mod server (or originator) that would enable or disable player killing. So this could be set on a game by game basis.

12) What is being done to prevent cheating?

Sharon Shellman 4/9/2000 and 4/10/2000

One main feature we have implemented in multi-player is that the amount of cheating allowed will depend upon whomever is hosting the Server. The Server will be able deny access to the game to anyone who is not within a specific Level range. So if someone was hosting a module and only wanted PC's that were between Levels 7 and 12 to be able to join, they could set it up that way. Anyone trying to join that was higher or lower in Level would be denied admittance to the game.

In addition to what I previously posted. We have a process that will add up all of the points on your character. If they don't fall within the range of the level of your character, then your character will be deemed "illegal" and not be allowed to join the session.

13) What is being done to ensure play balance between different types of characters?

Sharon Shellman 8/21/2000 from the Official Arcanum Board

We are trying out best to make a balanced game. This is a difficult choice given the quantity of options available to players. Where a game like Diablo offered stats and skills to advance through based on class, Arcanum is offering 12 race/gender options, 8 stats, 12 skills, 80 spells and 56+ tech schematics to choose and advance through in whatever order or variation the player wishes. At this very moment we are changing the power of certain skills, spells, etc., as we work towards balancing them. We are going to great lengths to ensure that Arcanum will be a solid, balanced game.

Multi player will not be available for use during the beta. As it is being tested in house exclusively. However, you will have the option of playing all of the variations listed above in the beta. So playing through it multiple times, with different types of characters, will give you a feel for strengths and weaknesses of the different ways of developing your character.

14) If magicians start out with all their spells and technologists only have usable skills when they have items, won't mages and generalists have an advantage over technologist?

Jesse Reynolds 4/22/2000

Players in multiplayer games don't start naked. As stated in the FAQ, when you join a multiplayer game, you are allowed to buy equipment upon starting. How much money you get will probably be modifiable by the mod itself.

The way character-creation shopping works is you "shop" with a merchant (similar to how it happens in-game). As a mod-maker, you can specify what items are available. Create a merchant for the shopping map, drag the items you want available into him, and voila!

Everyone has the same starting money, however that *doesn't* mean that all of the items will cost the same. A sword would cost more than some of the components for a Technologist. Most shops won't contain the really good items that Technologists can make, but instead the components to *make* those items. Mages won't be able to use those items, and so won't bother spending money on them.

As to Technologists being at a disadvantage versus generalists, this is incorrect. A Technologist is capable of *building* items out of other items. So a Technologist that was well learned in Chemistry, for example, could build things (out of base items that could be purchased at character creation, if desired) that a generalist would not be able to. As a Technologist, you don't need to *possess* a schematic after you have learned it, so you aren't at a disadvantage for that when you start a game.

If for a given mod you wanted to give people set "packages", you could do this via scripts. When a player enters a game, have a script automatically dump the equipment you want on the player. That way you could limit people to specifically what you wanted them to have.

Another thing to keep in mind balance wise: Yes, Mage characters always have their spells, similarly Technologists always have their schematics. A Technologist needs items to build things, but he isn't dependent on Fatigue to do so. When Mage characters run out of Fatigue, they don't have any other options generally. A Technologist on the other hand can build things whenever, and can in fact build things ahead of time to prepare for trouble.

Yes, we are definitely continuing to look for balance issues as we go on. :)

15) Can you stay in a mod if your level advances while you're playing in that mod?

Jesse Reynolds 6/13/2000

Yes, the restrictions only apply when you enter the mod. If you level up in the module it won't boot you.

16) Is there any way to enter a multiplayer game when you are not in that server's level range?

Jesse Reynolds 6/11/2000

No, if you try to enter a game that is for a specific level range, and you are outside of that range, you will not be able to enter. If you *want* to play in a game with a rigid level range that you are outside of, you will have to convince the server operator to relax the limit.

17) Will all my items come into the game with me when I join a game?

Sharon Shellman 9/29/2000

You can not carry anything, items, weapons or coin over from one mod to another.

Currently, you start a multiplayer mod with nothing. The mod's creator will set up the area where you enter the mod with items you can equip your character with that are pertinent to his or her particular mod.

This was done to minimize cheating by not allowing unique or altered weapons and armor to be transported between mods.

Jesse Reynolds 5/29/2000

Game-balance is only one of about a half-dozen different reasons why we aren't allowing items to transfer between modules (it's a big one, though). A few of the reasons are:

* Game balance -- since you can create anything in the editor that the engine allows, you could easily create items that were overly-powerful. It would be difficult (without creating an entire object editing interface from *within* the game, and that would be a pain to use anyway) to determine exactly how powerful the item is. You could make it do 500 points of damage, or give you an ungodly AC bonus, or cast Resurrect on you whenever you die, or Full Heal whenever you are damaged, or do *all* of these things. We could come up with some form of internal "power level" value, but that wouldn't tell you what the item really does, because there are so many variables.
* Quest items -- if you allow someone to take these, then you can run into problems with quest states where two (or more) people *all* have the (supposedly unique) item needed to complete a quest.
* Items with scripts attached -- since scripts can do a wide range of things in the engine, it would be very difficult (though probably not impossible) to determine whether or not a script attached to an item was "validly portable" to another module. If it references global variables, looks for a particular item in the world, location in the world, etc. (there are a lot more cases, too), then it wouldn't be valid to transfer it, so we would have to remove that item anyway.

18) I have a lot of ideas for allowing items to be carried between mods. Why can't any of these ideas work?

Jesse Reynolds 6/12/2000

There are various reasons why we aren't allowing transferring items between mods. There are problems with super-powerful items, problems with quest items, problems with items that have scripts, etc. There are problems just in *identifying* items that fall into the above categories.

On top of that, because you can edit anything in an object, the only way to determine whether an item *was* super-powerful (for example) would be to personally look at all the stats for every item, and given that there are a *lot* of stats in an item, this would be an extremely time-consuming process to do by hand.

We don't have the time to implement an object-editor/viewer and a way of filtering out items you don't want on-the-fly from inside the game itself, as we are simply too close to shipping.

Items don't track what mod they originally came from, so it wouldn't be possible to allow items by-mod. Even if it were, someone might edit the object after gaining it in that mod, which would invalidate that test.

19) Does the client computer do a lot of work or will the server control everything?

Jesse Reynolds 6/26/2000

Yes, the server controls everything important in a multiplayer game.

20) Will your character improve from one mod to the next?

Jesse Reynolds 3/3/2000

Yes, stats, (and skills, spells, etc.) and experience will carry over in multiplayer games. You can save your characters and you can export them to other servers if you wish.

21) Can you use single player characters in multiplay and vice versa?

Sharon Shellman 9/29/2000 From the Official Message Board

Yes, you will be able to export characters from the single player game and then import them into a multiplayer mod. Just not the other way around.

22) In multiplayer, can you talk to another PCs followers and steal them away?

Tim Cain 8/22/2000

When I saw this "Capture the friend" question, it reminded me of some code deep in AI. So I went and looked and sure enough, I had thought about this problem back when I made follower code. You _can_ ask another PC's (or NPC's) follower to come join you, but he will only switch allegiance if your Charisma is higher than his current leader's. If it isn't, he tells you he likes his current leader better.

The corollary is that if you have a 20 Charisma, no one can ever steal your followers, since no one can have a Charisma higher than 20.

Hmm, I suppose I should have been more specific. The Charisma check I mentioned is for when you are trying to steal a follower from someone else. You still need to meet any other requirement that follower may have (alignment, reaction, etc.). I was just addressing an extra check that comes into play if you are trying to lure him away from his current leader.

23) Could you script it so that some NPCs can be bribed away by a PC with lower charisma?

Tim Cain 8/22/2000

Yes, you can write an NPC dialog that requires money for the NPC to follow you. You could make the NPC need less money the higher your Persuasion skill was, or something neat like that.

24) How is Player vs. Player handled?

Jesse Reynolds 6/29/2000

PvP will be a server flag. As such, it will probably be modifiable during play, but it will notify everyone playing when changed of course. "Regular" damage and AE (area effect) damage is handled the same, so there shouldn't be any loopholes with this.

25) How complex is setting up a server?

Jesse Reynolds 2/18/2000

The server options will all be handled through menus in the user interface. We don't have all of the options decided upon yet, so we will likely end up with several separate different windows to keep them easy to find/view.

26) How do you get a module, and how big are they in disk size?

From the official FAQ

Multi-player modules will be available on Flipside through their WONSwap mechanism, which allows you to grab a module "package" and install it. You would just browse the web to their site, surf for any modules you want, download them, and then use the WONSwap installer to install them. Then, just run the game, and all modules will be available for you through the multi-player menu.

Of course, if your friends want to play a new module they have, they could just send you that module file directly. WONSwap is just used so that people can share their modules in one easy to find location.

Sharon Shellman 3/5/2000

WON is supplying a forum for people to post mods, but you can also freely exchange them, without going through WON. I just did some estimating, and an average mod would probably be about 3 meg. An extremely large mod would probably not be larger than 13meg.

27) How many people can be on a multiplayer map?

Jesse 2/25/2000

There is no real set limit on how many people can be on a map (other than how many tiles it contains), though you will of course get better performance (in the renderer, the AI system, etc.) if you don't flood-fill rooms with monsters. It would be a bad idea to drop 100 monsters in a really small region, but I guess that should be obvious.

28) Will the host be able to join the game?

Mark Harrison 3/4/2000

Joining the game is optional for the host. The server can be run in a dedicated mode, which would make for improved performance on larger maps.

29) Can players form parties?

Official Arcanum FAQ, April 2000

In multi-player mode, any player can create a party by using a special command and supplying the party's name. The action automatically makes that player's character a member of that party. Any player can have his or her character join a party by convincing someone already in the party to add him, again using a special command. A character can only be a member of one party at any time and can quit that party if he or she wishes.

Any party member at the location where experience points are awarded to a member of the same party shares in those points. For example, if a party member is awarded 1000 experience points and three other members of that party are standing nearby, then all four party members get 250 experience points each. However, any party members outside the immediate vicinity gain nothing.

Depending on a server option, party members may or may not be able to harm each other. In fact, it will be possible to set a server so that no player can harm another player, whether they are grouped or not.

30) Do players have to stay together in one location?

Official Arcanum FAQ, April 2000

No. Because our world is continuous and does not require zoning, the players can split up and go anywhere in the world they like. They do not have to stay together unless they want to share experience (if grouped) or fight each other.

31) Will there be in-game chat?

Jesse Reynolds 3/17/2000

Actually, we do consider in-game chat to be a necessity. We aren't sure exactly what chat options we are going to allow. Mainly, we don't know for sure if we want to allow different types of chatting, such as individual vs. party vs. global.

We have always allowed players to float messages over their heads, the way all dialog works, but that only is of use if you are near the other player(s) (as in on-screen). What we are planning for someone off-screen is that you will likely receive a text-bubble at the edge of the screen in their direction.

32) Will automapping or town maps or whatever be available in the multiplayer version? Not for quick travel, obviously, but just for easy reference?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

I can't think of a reason off-hand why they wouldn't be available. So most likely the answer is yes.

33) Can two people play at the same time on the same computer?

Jesse Reynolds 5/19/2000

Sorry, but no, you can't play more than one person on a particular computer. The interface just wouldn't work (you would have 2 people that had to stay right next to each other, and in any case there is no support for anything like this).

34) Is there any kind of time acceleration during multiplayer games?

Leonard Boyarsky 5/24/2000

No time acceleration of any kind in multi player, including sleeping

35) Can you sleep at all in a multiplayer mod?

Jesse Reynolds 7/7/2000

Sleeping is disabled simply by being in multi-player mode, so if you were to play that same module in single-player, you would be able to sleep.

36) Do Fate Points work in multiplayer games?

Jesse Reynolds 5/23/2000

They work the same way in multiplayer as they do in the game. If two players fight each other and set opposing Fate Points (Force-critical and No-Critical for instance), then they will cancel out.

37) Will you be able to see other player's character portraits in multiplayer games?

Leonard Boyarsky 5/31/2000

That would be a big fat yes. You can see other PC's portraits in multiplayer.

38) Will a PC be able to see other PCs who have turned invisible?

Jesse Reynolds 6/29/2000

Yes, if a PC goes invisible, other PC's won't see him or her unless they can see invisible creatures (via a spell) or have a 20 Perception (each stat has a special "ability/bonus" at 20). Yes, this is true even for people in your party. Invisible creatures are visible briefly when they attack, however.

39) Can a multiplayer game be saved?

Jesse Reynolds 6/6/2000

Yes, that's the plan (to allow saving MP games).

40) Can you connect through a firewall?

Sharon Shellman 9/7/2000

This is not final, but as a client you should be able to connect through a firewall. As a server, we're not sure you would be seen through the firewall without the help of WON, so you may only be able to join games in progress, not host them.

41) Is it easy to login to the Arcanum multiplayer servers?

ChuBaka 3/17/2001

If by "easy to login in" you mean like, start the game, select multiplayer, select "internet" and login, then yes.

The Editor

1) How easy is the editor to use?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

The script editor is "fairly" user-friendly. It won't allow you to make syntax errors (you pick options from menu pull-downs and dialogs), though of course you could make logic errors.

There are a good number of script actions, conditionals, attachment-points, etc.. It's powerful enough to do the types of things that we are doing in the game, but protected from being able to directly mess things up in the engine (in the case of a bad or malicious script). You could obviously create scripts that don't work, or that have bugs in them (don't trigger appropriately because you didn't think of some particular case/etc.).

2) Will the manual have much on the editor?

Mark Harrison 3/4/2000

I don't know how comprehensively the manual will cover the editor. Creating the world is a lot more complex than playing in it. You will be able to get help from us right here at the Arcanum Inn.

3) Will the editor be translated for the non English versions of the game?

Tim Cain 6/23/2000 from an IRC chat

I *think* the editing tools docs will be translated. However, the tools themselves may not be. Most of it is iconic anyway.

4) Will there be an example module?

Tim Cain 3/16/2000

We will include at least one module that is not compressed into the big data file but instead is included in its own directory. It will serve as an example of how to make scripts, dialogs, quests, backgrounds, items, etc. While we will provide docs on these things, we know how important seeing examples can be.

5) Multiple people on the same network can work on the same map. Are there features to keep you from stepping on each other' work?

Jesse Reynolds 5/15/2000

Yes, Multi-User WorldEd locks the appropriate data so that you don't have someone overwrite work that someone else did. When you are done making changes you "check back in" the work you have done, and everyone else can see it.

6) How could two people work on the same map in single-user WorldEd?

Jesse Reynolds 6/6/2000

Yes, you can give someone else your mod and they can use it/edit it/etc.. If you make a "dungeon" map and they make a "town" map, you could have those maps link to each other in the editor without scripting. You wouldn't be able to cut and paste the two maps together, though. There also might be some naming considerations between the two (if you created scripts and so did they, or if you both named the map the same name).

7) Can you copy custom items from one mod to another?

Jesse Reynolds 5/25/2000

Currently it is not possible to copy objects between modules, but as long as they don't differ much from the base prototypes, recreating them is easy.

8) How would you reuse objects/scripts in a new module?

Jesse Reynolds 7/11/2000

There's a difference between "object modifications" and scripts/dialog. Nothing prevents you from re-using scripts & dialog between modules. The only thing to be aware of is that if you reference *specific* areas/locations or use Global Variables, you would need to adjust those to be correct for *your* module.

Obviously, if you were making scripts/dialog to be re-usable you would want to avoid doing something like that anyway (you don't want someone referencing Tarant if there isn't one in your mod :) ).

Object modifications would include: Attaching a particular script/dialog to an object, changing an object's name, changing its stats (Strength/spells/etc.).

You can't take a particular instance of an object and copy it into another map, but you could create another instance of the appropriate object, make any custom changes you might want (perhaps none), attach the scripts & dialog you want ("GenericMerchant1", for instance) and be good to go.

9) How many map levels can the editor handle/create? In other words if I make a dungeon, how deep can it go? Or a tower, how high can it go?

Tim Cain 5/19/2000

There is not a preset limit to the height of a tower or the depth of a dungeon. Each staircase can teleport you to a new location, so you can make it seem higher and higher (or deeper and deeper).

We might be adding some upper limit to the size of multiplayer maps, if further testing reveals cache problems. But it should be a big limit.

Sharon Shellman 3/12/2001

We have facades of castles that you can use for the outside. You put a teleport script on the front door and it transports you to the "inside" (which is really just another area on your map). You can then use stairs, trap doors, etc. with teleport scripts on them to load up other "levels" of the castle.

10) Can mods be randomly generated?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

For the most part, no, mods can not be randomly generated. The engine does not (and I'm fairly positive cannot) support this. So once you play a mod, you will know everything about it.

If the creator wanted to spend more time on scripting, they could set things up so that NPC's handed out quests in a random order, or that quest items you were spawned in a random area of a particular location (somewhere in dungeon X). This would be hard-core scripting, so I'm not sure how many people would make mods in this manner.

11) How hard is it to make a single-player module?

Tim Cain 2/25/2000

We are not expecting people to make single-player modules, although you can do so. No, you cannot make a world map, at least with the tools we are providing when we ship in a few months. I will try to explain why, so bear with me.

First of all, it is MUCH harder to make the single-player game than you may imagine. The main story line quests have to be solvable by any possible character (and let me tell you, there are a LARGE number of character permutations in this game). Worse, those quests cannot get into an unsolvable state, or the game cannot be finished.

And the quests should be kept linear, to prevent people from jumping to the end of the story as soon as they begin playing. We spend more time with these issues than almost any other design issue.

Another reason is the tools. They would need to be much more complex to support world maps, for instance (or monster animations, to name another complex piece of art). Complex tools tend to be harder to use and put people off. We could make such tools, but it would take us several extra months (and delay our game) and probably only appeal to a small number of users. Just look at the low sales of Bard's Tale Construction Set or Forgotten Realms: Unlimited Adventures. Eveyone wants to play games. Fewer people want to make them.

So 2 years ago, we made the conscious decision to make some simple but powerful tools to let people make their own modules. There are a few things you cannot change, but for the things you can, you can do almost anything.

We plan to do an expansion pack for the game. We could add additional features to the editors then.

12) Can you import a portrait into a game and assign it to a particular NPC?

Sharon Shellman 7/10/2000

NPC's pick from the same "pool" of portraits as the PC, but they will never use the same one the PC has chosen. You *can* import NPC portraits, but you cannot assign them to specific NPC's. They choose a portrait from an available pool, so if you add one, there is a chance they will pick it.

Yes. A customized character portrait is imported into a mod along with your character.

Once it's been assigned in the game, the NPC will have the same portrait for the entire game (unless you add a bunch of custom ones mid-game).

If you start a new game, and pick a different portrait for yourself, then the NPC's portraits will be different. Main story NPC's will never pick different portraits, as they have a specific one assigned.

No, most NPC portraits are not hard coded (the exception being main-story NPC's). They do pick their portrait based on race and gender. We did this so that you, the PC, could choose from a large pool of portraits for your character. The NPC's then choose a portrait from among those that you did not.

Sharon Shellman 7/11

You can ID and NPC in a mod as "main-story" and hard code a portrait to them. Although this will need to be done via a message file (so it's a little more complex - but definitely do-able).

The portraits have a naming convention. A three letter prefix code, the first 2 specify race, the last 1 gender. So ELM would be elf male and ELF would be elf female (didn't that one work out cute?) :o)

13) Can you create NPCs that are strange or unusual?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

Monster/NPC behavior: All critters (monsters, NPCs, etc.) have default behavior that they respond to based on their various attributes (a bandit orc would probably hate all humans & gnomes, etc.). You can also change what these attributes are, so you *could* make a really tough Ogre that runs in terror if anyone attacks him. On top of this, you can if you are so inclined script additional behavior on top of this, which can if desired override the default behavior. So yes, you could have a rat that says "Hi", or a merchant that goes into a blind rage and attacks you if you try to steal his prized possessions, you could have entirely custom dialogues, etc..

Tim Cain 11/21/2000

Plus, you can tell monsters to "Wander in the Dark", which means they prefer to stay in darkness. Jesse added this and put it on some rats, and it was cool to walk around a dark room with a torch and watch the rats scurry to stay in the dark corners. Very creepy.

Tim Cain 11/27/2000

You can define inventory sets. Each set lists how much gold the possessor can have (a random range), and then a list of each item and the chance it will appear. So you can make an inventory set called "Desert Orc Raider" which gives 10-20 gold, 100% chance for a sword, 80% chance for leather armor, 50% for a shield, and a 20% chance for a gem (repeated three times, so the rare orc will have up to 3 gems but most have none).

Any critter with this set will get the items when he is created, whether in the editor, or in a random encounter, or by a monster generator

Well, it is easy to make wounded creatures in the editor. You just plop them down and then lower their current hit points.

If you want a creature that starts wounded at random, give it a First Heartbeat script (which activates when the player gets close to it in the game). That script would randomly lower the health of the creature, and then remove itself, so it is never called again

Yes, according to AI packets that you can make, creatures will flee when at a certain percentage of health

14) Can you make an NPC an expert or master level skills teacher? Also, can you give an NPC the ability to assign blessings and curses.

Sharon Shellman 3/21/2000

Yes and Yes.

15) Can a mod have NPCs attack your character even if they've never met him?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

You can set NPC's to care about an origin and a faction. These are simple to set and the NPC's will react to anything you do that effects either of these variables. As examples, Kill a bunch of people in their home town.... they'll know or destroy that power plant, and anyone in the faction that cared about it, will try to kill you on sight.

16) Can you make characters that only attack under certain conditions?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

Yes, you can have various conditionals. You could have someone attack you if you were carrying a particular item, give you different dialog responses, or give a particular quest, etc.

17) Do you have to place monster at specific places in the world, or can you set them to respawn?

Jesse Reynolds 5/13/2000

Yes, all NPCs/monsters are placed in the world editor. If you want monsters to respawn you have to script this, which is easily done.

18) Can we set up variables to represent NPCs and objects?

Tim Cain 4/20/2000

Yes, you can set variables that you associate with particular NPCs. In fact, you have a big bank of global variables and flags that you can make stand for anything you want. So if you call Bob a big dork, he can set global flag 1592, and each time he starts dialog with you, if that flag is set, he will say "Hi, it's me the big dork!" instead of his usual greeting.

We use this for all kinds of things in the game, and we provide about two thousand of these variables and flags for you to use in your mods.

19) Are the characters paletted? Can you change the palettes to give characters and monsters more variety over the appearance?

Sharon Shellman 3/21/2000

Yes, the characters are paletted. And we have already color-shifted the palettes to give us several variants for each character. You will be able to pick one of these palettes, but not adjust them on your own.

20) Will regular animals have different colors too? And what kind of normal animals are there?

Sharon Shellman 8/5/2000

We will have 4 different color variants of animals as well as monsters, armor, etc. Animals that I can think of off the top of my head are bunnies, sheep, pigs, cows, wolves, tigers, cougars, gorillas, spiders and rats. And don't worry - no psychedelic colors. :o)

21) Can you edit the levels of the monsters so that weak enemies in the main game would be strong in your mod?

Sharon Shellman 6/25/2000

Yes, all monsters have their own level. And yes, you can set each monster in a mod you create to any level between 1 and 50.

22) Can you use the regular level schemes to make any monster have spells?

Tim Cain 7/12/2000

Yes you can use level schemes on monsters, and make a super-bunny.

23) If you make a template for an NPC or monster, will that automatically be zipped up and included in the mod?

Sharon Shellman 9/21/00

Yes. When you create your own mod and make a custom template to assign to an NPC, it will be zipped up with the other parts of the mod so that you can send it to someone or upload it.

24) Would a map with less monsters and NPCs be able to hold more players?

Tim Cain 5/7/2000

Yes, a map with no monsters could handle more players, but it all really depends on the sheer amount of art and your processor speed. In addition to monsters, you could slow the game down by using a different wall set on several closely-placed buildings or by placing a lot of different trees in one clump on the screen. If the renderer has to load a lot of art in one pass, there will be a hiccup. If the total amount of art on-screen at one time exceeds the art cache size, then the game will bog down.

25) Can you create notes and other objects with text on them?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

You can make "written" objects, and yes, you are able to set the text that they contain.

26) Can you put your own newspapers in mods?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Yes, you can script newspapers in mods, easily. They're text file based.

27) Will the newspapers in the game have advertisements?

Sharon Shellman 7/29/2000

Well, we really liked the idea of being able to include ads in the Tarantian newspapers you find in the game. So we've gone ahead and added that feature to Arcanum, as well as the ability to display your portrait in the newspaper (be careful what you do...)

You will also now be able to use these ads when creating newspapers for your mods. However, you will have to choose from the ads we include, as this is considered "art" and you will not be able to edit them or add to them.

28) Can you make new weapons?

Sharon Shellman 3/20/2000

Yes. You are able to edit weapon names and attributes to create new and different ones for multi-player mods, although the artwork will remain the same.

29) Editing a item like a dagger change all daggers or just that one?

Sharon Shellman 8/1/2000

Only that one dagger.

30) Can you create new schematics?

Sharon Shellman 8/27/2000

Yes. Using the editor, you will be able to create your own schematics of new items and weapons, with whatever components/power level you wish. However you will have to use the existing art in the game to represent the components and final product.

31) Can you edit called shots hit locations?

Sharon Shellman 9/2/2000

You will not be able to edit called shot hit locations on monsters. These are hard coded into the templates.

32) Can you create weather effects?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

No weather control. We don't support weather in Arcanum. We do have time-of-day lighting (which isn't the same thing, but can give an atmospheric "effect"), which can be set on a by-map basis (so you could have a dark dungeon, or an outdoor area that lights according to the sun, or heck, even a place that is brightly lit all of the time).

33) Can you make new spells?

Jesse Reynolds 2/18/2000

No, you can't create new spells. Actually, the internal (game-engine) spell system is fairly modular and flexible, but it has a little too much room for user error if you don't know the constraints it works within, and some things do require code-changes to allow the spell data to do the appropriate things.

There is also the difficult problem of making sure that someone didn't create an unbalanced spell (a fireball that does 500 points of damage for 2 mana/fatigue, has a radius of 10 tiles, and doesn't affect the caster or any followers, but instead heals them to full? I could put this in now with no changes to code, but it would be *way* too powerful... :) ).

However, while there are 80 player-castable spells, there are also item-only spells beyond those. Some of them are variations of spells that already exist (perhaps just more effective -- for instance, a ring that makes you invisible could have a longer duration than normal, or could even be infinite as long as you were wearing it...), but some of them are "lost" spells that players will never learn to cast themselves.

34) Can we use the art from spells in any way?

Jesse Reynolds 5/31/2000

The scripting system will be able to play spell "eye-candy" effects (well, *any* of the eye-candy effects theoretically) in a day or two, but as Leonard pointed out above, it wouldn't work as scenery.

Jesse Reynolds 7/2/2000

Yes, "eye candy" effects can be triggered via scripts.

35) Will there be any spell effects that are not in the game which we can use?

Sharon Shellman 9/2/2000

We *do* have at least one spell effect that isn't going into the game. I'm not sure if there will be more by the time we're done. We will keep it in mind though. :o)

36) Can you import your own art?

Jesse Reynolds 2/18/2000

No, you cannot import artwork (well, you can import player portraits, but not in-game isometric artwork), nor can you create new "base"/prototype objects (though you can modify any of the existing ones to a huge extent -- you could take a wimpy orc and turn him into the "King of all Orcs" with a 20 strength, but you'd be better off just starting with a "really tough orc" prototype, then you wouldn't have to make as many changes).

Sharon Shellman 5/20/2000

The reason you can not import artwork into mods is definitely a technical one. We would love to allow people to add their own art. However, the process of getting the artwork the correct size, palletting it, changing it to proprietary file formats, and proto-typing it for the game to recognize is quite involved. That is why you will not be able to add your own artwork.

Sharon Shellman 3/12/2001

The primary reason we are not allowing you to import custom art into MODs is the required use of our custom .exes to get the art set up for entry into the game. There are several steps that need to be done that are rather complicated, and require someone to be well-versed in both the art and programming side of our game.

37) Can you add sounds or music?

Sharon Shellman 9/2/2000

You can add any mp3s or waves that you want as sounds.

38) Can we control the music and make it play when we want?

Sharon Shellman 9/2/2000

On mods, you can use any of the music we have in the game, or you can add your own, using mp3s.

39) Will technologists be able to use those teleport pads Tim mentioned?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

The teleport pads Tim is referring to are not magickal, they are for convenience. Basically, a way of saying "You make it to the other end of the tunnel/etc." or whatever, so yes, anyone could use them.

40) Is the journal available in mods, and can we make entries for it?

Jesse Reynolds 7/7/2000

Yes, the journal is available in mods.

Yes, you will be able to make journal entries for the mods.

41) Can we cut and paste dialog from a text file?

Tim Cain 7/9/2000

Dialog is all handled in plain text files, so you can use any editor you like and cut-and-paste to your heart's content. I use emacs because I am super geeky.

42) Could you make a complex cut scene happen within the mod?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

You asked if it would be possible to make the following scenario happen: a player walks into a room and looses control of his character then watches the badguy and the enemy talking about their sinister plot, then the badguys see him and a guard knocks the player out and take him to a prision cell. Yes. You could create a complex pre-scripted event like this that automatically happens when you trigger something (like walking into the room). But it will not be easy, it's quite a complex operation.

Sharon Shellman 9/28/2000

Yes, you will be able to create and add your own cutscenes into your mods.

43) Is there any way to turn day into night?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Yes. You will be able to script an event (like teleporting to a new location) that will turn day into night. Just be aware that if it is a multiplayer mod, it will suddenly be night for everyone.

Shellman 11/15/2000

"Yes, you can lock the day-night cycle. Lighting is stored in a seperate text file and can be edited on a per-map basis. "

44) Can you change the time?

Jesse Reynolds 7/7/2000

Yes, scripts can change time. However, it currently doesn't do anything in multi-player mode.

45) Will mods be compressed when they are sent to people, and can you decompress them?

Sharon Shellman 6/7/2000

OK. I just talked to Tim about this. He said that the same utility that compresses the mod will also decompress it. So you will be able to edit any mod that you get, you just have to decompress (de-compile) it first.

46) Is there any way to tell teams apart during multiplayer games?

Yes. In a multiplayer team games, you could have differentiating armor per team. The person that creates the mod would be able to give out specific armor (color, type, etc.) depending upon your starting faction.

47) As a story line option, can you start a game NPC dead to be brought back to life by the PC?

Sharon Shellman 7/22/2000

Yes. As long as a critter or NPC is not marked unresurrectable, you will be able to bring them back to life.

48) Is there a character creation screen at the beginning of mods?

Shellman 2/9/2001


49) How complex can dialog trees/option be?

Tim Cain 2/13/2001

You can create VERY complex dialog. In fact, there are so many things you can check, I doubt if you will use them all in one dialog. I was playing the other day and laughed at something that was said to me because I happened to be a female half-orc with a Shrink spell thrown on me. I thought to myself, how many people are ever going to see this line? And I answered myself, if just 1 person sees it and laughs, that's ok.

World Building

1) Can you make a persistent world?

Jesse Reynolds 2/18/2000

Yes, you could create a "persistent" world to a certain extent. You could make a module that had quests and items that would respawn & reset periodically. You could also just take a character you have been playing and bring it over to a new module (or restart a given module).

The characters can reside on the server-side, but you can also export them to take to other servers, so you could have a continuing adventure...

2) Why can't you make a world map for our modules?

Tim Cain 2/24/2000

There is a simple reason you cannot have a world map in multiplayer: time dilation.

Example: you and I are standing in a town. You use the world map to go to another town, while I teleport there directly. If the world map says it takes 2 game-days for you to get there, do you have to wait in limbo until the game timer catches up, while I am free to wander the town?

Of course, we could say the world map has no time dilation in multiplayer, but that just means it is a teleporter (and diminishes the value of the Teleport spell). Of course, you are free to make a BIG world and place teleport pads everywhere to link things up.

3) Can you create on big town map for the whole world?

Jesse Reynolds 7/5/2000

No, you wouldn't be able to create a town map the size of a *huge* world. They are expensive memory (and hard-drive space)-wise.

4) How are town areas distinguished from the rest of the world?

Jesse Reynolds 7/5/2000

Yes, the world is broken up into sectors, which are 64x64 tile sections. Towns are built any way you want, but will obviously end up taking up 1 or more sectors. When you specify a town map, you set the town map for each sector in question, and when you are ready, you tell WorldEd to generate it.

5) How do you set up an area to affect a characters magick/tech aptitude?

Sharon Shellman 6/14/2000

We have grouped tiles into "sectors" that are 64 tiles x 64 tiles in size. You can set a magick/tech bias by sector, but not by tile.

6) Is there any way to create a dead zone where neither magick nor tech works?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

No. Currently we don't have any areas in which neither magick nor tech work. Although it is an interesting theory.

Jesse Reynolds 6/27/2000

To clarify, no, you cannot have an area that is negative to both Magick and Tech.

7) Do you have to designate the size of a mod’s map before you start creating it?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Technically, you need to set the map size before you start

You can't make a map larger once it is made, but there is nothing making you fill every area of a map you build, so, as long as there is free space, you can add to it.

8) What is the maximum size, in terms of 64X64 tile blocks, that a mod can be?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Technically 2,000,000,000.

9) How are coordinates calculated?

Sharon Shellman 7/17/2000

In WorldEd, if you are hovering your cursor over the main grid area, the coordinates that display are individual tile coordinates. The coordinates that display on the left menu bar are the sector (64x64) coordinates.

When you create a mod map, you specify the size, and WorldEd automatically assigns the coordinates.

10) Are there tools for creating vast outdoor areas easily?

Jesse Reynolds 4/1/2000

Yes, we have tools to deal with the world-map that let us paint terrain in a "global" way, however this is keyed to the world-map itself, so I don't know if it will be released (at least initially).

Jason Anderson 4/2/2000 and 4/2/2000

I believe we are releasing the "painting" tool with the editor, which will easily allow you to place large areas of different terrain types and have them all border correctly. Also, the tiles automatically match up together when you paint them.

11) Does the terrain button paint large areas?

Tim Cain 7/12/2000

Yes, you use Terrain to spray down large scale pre-generated terrain sectors. You tend to use this mode when you first start, to spray down the grasslands, mountains, rivers, etc. But sometimes you will go back to clear cut some forest around a village.

12) What kind of terrain is there?

Mark Harrison 2/12/2000

Here is a working list of the varied terrain types that will make up the Arcanum wilderness. We will probably add and remove quite a few terrain types before the final map gels. Our world editing utilities make such changes relatively easy, and the map is absolutely huge.

Broad Leaf Forest
Desert Island
Desert Mountains
Elven Forest
Green Grasslands
Scorched Earth
Snowy Mountains
Snowy Plains
Tropical Jungle
Tropical Mountains

13) Are the town boundaries defined by sectors?

Jesse Reynolds 7/3/2000

Yes, towns are defined by sectors (which are 64x64 tiles), however, the way we lay out the towns is to have them taper-off before the edges. You will never come across a situation where part of a city is "hanging" outside of the town because of this.

14) How are buildings created?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

City Layout: Buildings are created by painting a region that specifies the extents of the walls. You can drop multiple regions to have more complex buildings (and secondary internal walls), and they will automatically clean up adjoining edges/walls. You can also drop certain walls individually, but that is only used for attaining certain effects (outdoor walls mainly).

15) Can you make multistory buildings?

Tim Cain 7/12/2000

Yes, you make upper levels on another map and link them with jump points on the stairs. You can pick a roof that looks like the place is taller, or use a facade for the whole building to make it look bigger.

16) Can you create stores? Would you simply pick what type of store it is (armor, magick, etc) or would we be able to directly control the inventory.

Tim Cain 3/31/2000

Shops in Arcanum will only buy and sell items of interest to the shopkeeper. An arms dealer does not want to buy gems, and a grocer does not want to buy scrolls. Of course, we will have general stores for convenience, but just like convenience stores in our world, the prices aren't so great.

Of course, all this assumes a player with some Haggle skill, but no real training. Once you get training, you can convince people to buy things they normally wouldn't. With even more training, you can get them to sell things they normally wouldn't sell, like the stuff they have wielded. "Hi Mr. Guard, can I buy your sword? Gee thanks. OK, everyone attack the guard." :)

The best thing about all this is, in your own modules, you can decide on a shopkeeper by shopkeeper basis what you want these people to buy from the player. It is VERY customizable. Want a shopkeeper who only buys bows usable by halflings on Tuesdays? Ok.

Tim Cain 11/29/2000

You can control their inventory, which refreshes approximately once per day, and you can control what they want to buy. The former is an inventory source set and the latter is a script that is called for every time the PC tries to sell an item. You can check properties on the item and return whether or not the NPC will buy it. You can use this to make a magic shop owner refuse to buy tech items, or a blacksmith who won't buy anything but armor and weapons.

The value of an object is not just dependent on its worth, but also your Haggle skill and his reaction to you. So it would be hard to force an item to be worthless to a particular shopkeeper, since other factors may induce him to buy it anyway. So we use the script override to test items for their properties.

17) Does a map have to have a shop at the beginning?

Jesse Reynolds 4/22/2000

Hmm...Actually, due to the way the Map List works, you *can* skip the default shopping by simply not specifying which map is for shopping, but then you could always specify no money for the player anyway (though that would be annoying to players).

18) Can you designate areas to be "underground" so the light doesn't change with time of day?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Yes you can make underground areas.

19) How will secret doors work?

Sharon Shellman 7/14/2000

We are still working on exactly how secret doors work. So we can't give you any specifics right yet.

20) Can you make a train in the editor?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

Trains: Yes, you can "link" train end-points together, but they work similarly to teleportation points (they don't animate).

21) Can you make a game where the trains can crash?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

Well, you could make a sector of the map that had a train wreck if the art is already supplied elsewhere in the game, but no you couldn't animate it.

22) Can you build boats of different sizes?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

The boat is one piece of art (a facade), with some extra scenery (and critters) placed on/near it.

23) How are those tree cities made?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

The Elven tlans (tree-cities) are done as facade pieces, so they fit together.

24) How do you set up random encounters?

Mark Harrison 9/22/2000

Random encounters are set up in a text file. There is a list of tables. Each table includes a list of possible encounters and chances for each encounter relative to other encounters in the same table. Each encounter can be limited to occur under a few circumstances, and can include multiple types and quantities of monster.

By default the choice of table used is entirely dependent on terrain. This choice can be modified, however, by lists of circles in the same text file.

Each circle has a map location and radius. These circles can modify the difficulty of the table chosen (easy, medium, hard), frequency of encounters, or they can even override the terrain based lookup entirely, and force use of a specific table for the area they cover.

25) How can you change the types of enemies that the PC encounters?

Mark Harrison 9/23/2000

Each individual encounter can be assigned a flag for communicating with the scripting system. Scripts can set and clear these flags to enable and disable their associated encounters. So, the circles can't be changed during the game, but the table contents can.

26) Can the editor print out maps?

Sharon Shellman 8/20/2000

There are no current plans to enable a print map function in Arcanum's editor.


1) Is there a scripting hook for what spells someone has?

Tim Cain 5/7/2000

No, there is no script command for determining what spells a critter knows. It would be easy to add though.

2) Is there a scripting hook for detecting when a certain spell has been cast?

Tim Cain 5/7/2000

There are some hooks for detecting the effects of particular spells, like mind control, polymorph, and invis. There is no general hook for any spell.

3) There is a scripting hook for when someone is attacked, but how does this apply to casting spells on someone?

Tim Cain 5/7/2000

There is a hook for when a character is attacked, which only includes aggressive spells. Healing someone is not considered an attack, but polymorph is. The aggressiveness of a spell is NOT based on damage, but on intent.

4) What kind of victory conditions can a map have?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

"Victory" settings are generally scripted, so you could make them be anything you can think of and that can be implemented in the scripting engine. You could make the game end when you kill 3 sheep, you could make it end when you turn in a quest item to someone, you could make it end 30 minutes after starting play, or when you enter a particular's fairly wide open...

5) Can you create a setting other than death that causes someone to lose a game?

Sharon Shellman 6/10/2000

Yes, you can make a setting other than death the reason you lose. (i.e., a particular NPC dies)

6) Could you make it so that each team has a different victory condition?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

Since victory conditions are scripted, they can be "anything" you want. Scripting is a form of simplified coding, so anything you can come up with (multiple conditionals, states, etc.) that you can code in it can be done. So yes, you could have different victory conditions as you asked. You could make it so that the game ends if a Halfling steps in a particular building, OR if an Elf eats a bagel, OR a Human kills 3 (and exactly 3!) sheep, etc. (all in the same game). :)

7) How could you set up a scoring system?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

It would be trivial to attach a script to an item that changes it's Examine to instead print something different. You could then drop it in the hotkey-bank and examine it whenever. I'm sure people could come up with other (better) ways as well, given time with the engine...

One thing that occurs to me is that you could have a script that causes people (or items/signs, etc.) to float a message whenever a script triggers them to, so whenever the score changed they would update....

8) Could you make animated signs like a scoreboard?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

Signs could animate, but we don't plan (currently) on putting any art into the game that would support any sort of scoreboard. Not really related to this, but you *could* have an object that animates (with sound) that was triggered whenever someone "scored".

9) How could you have different people start a module in different places?

Jesse Reynolds 3/22/2000

Even if you start in the same place, you could have a script that teleports starting players to separate cells/etc. Just make the spawn point have a tile-script that triggers and moves the player to an empty cell. The same script could give players all the specific equipment that you want them to have.

10) How complex a quest can you make?

Jesse Reynolds 2/25/2000

With quests and scripts you can make them as long and complex as you wish. You can script events such that you have to complete a quest before another gets offered, or you have to have an item in your inventory, etc.. You could have multi-part quests made up of various sub-quests. So, you have to kill the orc bandits, and when you do you come back and are told to find/save a halfling that was kidnapped by the rest of the band (after you destroyed their friends), and on, however you want to happen.

11) Do the scripts allow for comments, and can one script call another script?

Tim Cain 4/13/2000

No, the scripts do not allow comments, but they read like English (almost) anyway, so they are not much trouble to use. One of our artists likes to say "hey, look at me, I am scripting!", implying that if he can do it, anyone can. I will not name this artist. :)

Scripts can call other scripts, either immediately or with some time delay (relative and absolute). So you could make a script that says if a door is opened, call a script that makes a monster appear. Or you could call that script in 30 seconds. Or at 1pm. This lets you do all sorts of neat tricks.

12) Do you have to write specific scripts to recreate the race relations from the regular game?

Leonard Boyarsky 3/1/2000

Anyway, There ARE basic race reaction adjustments handled by the engine. We don't have to handle them in scripts. For instance, the fact that everyone responds negatively to half orcs is automatic, and is then (possibly) further modified by things like a high beauty or charisma. Therefore, a half orc won't react negatively to a normal looking half orc, but will still dislike an ugly one.

13) Can you make your own reputations and make scripts for assigning them to characters?

Tim Cain 5/8/2000

Yup, you can define your own reputations. And you can define new factions and control who is on those factions.

14) Can you make items that have dialog, like a phone?

Sharon Shellman 5/20/2000

Leonard has just told me that "Yes, you can add dialog to an object." He also said it wasn't very intuitive, but that it could be done. Perhaps we'll work on making it a little more intuitive. :o)

15) Can you script NPCs to steal certain things?

Sharon Shellman 9/3/2000

Yes. It is possible to script an NPC to steal a specific item from a PC if they have it.

16) Can you make an NPC follower start a conversation with the PC?

Sharon Shellman 5/20/2000

Yes. It is possibly to script NPCs to initiate a conversation with the PC.

17) How do you edit scripts and dialog?

Jesse Reynolds 7/11/2000

Dialog/Scripts are separate files, in their own directories from the maps.

Dialog files are edited with a text editor (or an Excel spreadsheet template), and scripts are edited with a script editing tool.

As such, they are "external" to the maps, unless they reference map-(or mod-) specific data (variables, locations, etc.).

You don't "copy and paste" dialog & scripts in WorldEd, what you do is edit an object, and mark it to *use* a particular script/dialog. For instance, you could set the script that triggers when you look at/examine something to be your own custom script that overrides the default "examine". You would do this by editing the object, clicking the "Scripts" button, clicking on the attachment point you want (Examine in this case), and typing in the reference # for the script.

18) How do you work with scripts in the editor?

Sharon Shellman 8/21/2000

Scripts are called via number, not name. When you name a script, they are named using a number and then a name, as in the dialogue for adam is script 1150_Adamdialogue.scr, the script that goes off when you pick up the sword of X is script #1151_swordofXuse.scr, the blessing of X is script #1152_blessingXapply.scr, etc. In the editor, you input the number. The name does not appear at all.

I have found it best to have my list of scripts open in a separate window while working in Arcanum's WorldEd. This way I can pop over to the list if I am not sure of a particular script number. If time allows, we may try and alter the code so that you can access scripts by name, not just number.

We are planning on creating some templates to accompany the editor when Arcanum is available.

19) Is sharing scripts with other people easy?

Sharon Shellman 8/21/2000

Script files are not connected to a particular map. So they could be shared via the internet very easily. The number just has to be unique per map, but that could be changed on an individual basis.)

20) Can you make scripts that change the background art while the game is playing?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Limited art changes.

21) Can you redo the gambling to make different games with different levels of success and loot?

Sharon Shellman 9/22/2000

The gambling is merely a script. So you could change its values, or change it completely to simulate a different type of game for your mods. Our intern David came up with the script - its pretty cool. :o)

22) Can a script read or write a text file?

Mark Harrison 9/23/2000

Scripts can't manipulate text files. The text files that control the game are loaded as the game is run, and are set up to only be loaded once per play session -- helps to avoid slowdowns.

23) Can we write (complex) scripts that examine the stats of a character and assign stat altering blessings/curses to every stat (like a triggered blessing batch file)?

Shellman 11/15/2000

"Yes, you can write (complex) scripts that examine the stats of a character and assign stat altering blessings/curses to every stat (like a triggered blessing batch file). "

24) Can you script a follower to change sides, and join the "UBG"?

Tim Cain 2/14/2001

Via scripts, you can have a follower switch sides, either by switching his leader to UBG or by disbanding and setting his faction to the UBG's faction, so he will help the UBG.

25) Can an NPC be scripted to only hurt, not kill, another NPC?

Tim Cain 2/14/2001

You can also make an NPC beat on another NPC until health is reduced to a particular amount or some other event occurs. We have a similar event in the game in a side quest.

26) Can A script give out character points(CPs)?

Tim Cain 2/9/2001

You *can* give character points in scripts, but we don't do it. You could in your own module, though, if you feel it is appropriate. Maybe a Vend-O-Stat machine, made by PointCo of Tarant...

27) Is it possible to script  Plants(used for tech ingredients) that have been "picked" to respawn?

Sharon Shellman 2/26/2001

Uh... I think it could be scripted. (we haven't tried that one yet)

28) Is there any way for a script to turn monster generators on or off? For example, people are walking around, everything is safe. Then someone picks up the stone-of-obvious-danger, and demons start popping up.

Sharon Shellman 3/12/2001

Yes, you can write a script to turn monster generator's on and off.

29) Is it possible to rename Arcanum currency within a mod for increased verisimilitude?

Sharon Shellman 3/10/2001

You can call it whatever you want in dialogs and such... but the art will still look like gold coins.

Part 5: General Information

The Game Engine

1) Why is the game 2D instead of 3D?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/9/2000

We chose not to go 3d this time around because we wanted to focus most of our energy on our roleplaying and dialogue/scripting systems than on creating or adapting a 3d engine. Since we knew exactly what we wanted in a 2d engine, and we were experienced in that area, we figured that would be the smart way to go. This way, if we decide to go 3d on our next game, we already have a complex rpg/scripting/dialogue system in place and we can spend more energy on exploring how we would even want to use a 3d engine.

2) Will Arcanum use 3D acceleration for anything?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

I recommend a 3d card, it makes it so much nicer...

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Yes, we work on 3D cards. And we are faster on them too.

3) Is there any kind of z-axis for height?

Jesse Reynolds 6/10/2000

No, we do not have a Z-axis. Anything you see like that (as in the picture you mention) is an optical illusion.

4) Are you using the same engine as Fallout?

Jesse Reynolds 3/22/2000

Arcanum is not using the Fallout engine. It is a completely new engine written from scratch. As such, it supports higher color depths (16-bit) and a higher resolution (800x600). Because of this, the size of the data is much greater than it was for Fallout (Fallout was 8-bit color and 640x480). So we are shoving around over 3 *TIMES* the data that Fallout did. That much data requires more VRAM to put it in. We also are doing a lot more with eye-candy effects, which means that more art may be displayed at a given time than others (yet more memory needed).

5) Is there colored lighting in the game?

Chad Moore 4/20/2000 from the unofficial Arcanum chat room.

We have colored lighting in the editor already...

6) Do spells use colored lighting?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

Yes, colored lighting can cast light on the ground under the caster. Not all spells do this (depends on the effect), and it is more noticeable in some areas/at some times of day.

7) Are the tiles hexagons like in Fallout?

Jesse Reynolds 6/10/2000

No, Arcanum does not use a hexagon tile system, it uses a more traditional "square" method.

8) Does the tile system have any special art tricks?

Jason Anderson from an article at Daily Radar

One thing that's really nice that we tried to do with the editing is to combine the look of a tiled game -- which Fallout was -- with like a Baldur's Gate type of prerendered look. That's because we have big sections of art that are just put down as pieces of art, but they're not tiled themselves. We will also be releasing an editor, so people will be able to build their own maps using those big pieces of art as well as the tiles.

9) Are there any kinds of stairs, bridges, or multilevel effects?

Sharon Shellman 4/19/2000

There are not any stairs that you can actually go "up" or "down" they are used as teleport points, much like in Diablo. There are also a few "facade" pieces of art (non-tiled) that do have stairs you walk up and down, (at least it looks that way) but not on any of the tiled art. We are able to give you the 3D effect of a bridge over the water, but you cannot pass under it.

10) In the screenshots, some walls are transparent and some aren't. Why is that?

Leonard Boyarsky 4/30/2000

The criteria for making walls translucent is if the PC would be able to see something behind that wall, but you can't. Scenery objects do not go translucent, but things highlight through them.

11) How are the load times when switching maps, like when going from one floor of a building to another?

Jason Anderson RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

It depends upon the size of the map. They are reasonable and we are working to speed them up.

12) Why 2 CD's for the game, how about DVD?

Sharon Shellman 12/20/1999

One that is installed onto your computer, and one that you play from. Though we are taking up only 2 cd's, the world is very large and expansive and there will be a lot of places to explore.

Jesse Reynolds 3/22/2000

Yes, one CD is the install CD, the other one is the play CD, so there will be no disk swapping. We currently have no plans for a DVD version (that would be up to Sierra).

13) Why does the user interface have those proportions?

Mark Harrison 3/19/2000

We use the full width of the screen for the main window, for a wide-open feel. The height is close to half of the width. This ratio is used because it's the ratio of height to width of our ground tiles. The isometric perspective shrinks distances in front of and behind the PC (who is always in the center of the screen). So, with these dimensions, a monster at the left edge of the screen is just as distant as a monster at the top edge of the the screen.

This "equal distance" property is fundamental to the way we determine what is near the player, which in turn gets used in a lot of different parts of the game engine -- ai, combat, sound, object management, and so on.

14) How many tiles wide and high is the player view?

Sharon Shellman 6/15/2000

Approximately 20 x 20 tiles.

15) Is there a way to turn off the interface and have a full screen mode?

Leonard Boyarsky 4/30/2000

There is no way to turn off the interface in Arcanum.

16) Can the game be modified by players?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/2/2000

...all the tools we will need to make an in depth quest heavy multiplayer game will be available to us, but the depth and complexity levels we will be able to include in the multiplayer map(s) we release with the game are still to be determined (mostly by the amount of time we will have available to us). We could make a multi level multiplayer dungeon crawl in a few hours with the tools we have. Those tools, by the way, will be available to the buyers of Arcanum. So we're expecting all of you to make huge, rich, in depth multiplayer scenarios! :)

17) How different is the art creation process than in Fallout?

Sharon Shellman 1/31/2000

It's actually a lot different. On Fallout, we animated segmented characters. Because they were so small, you couldn't really tell. With the larger resolution, we can't get away with that, so all of our meshes are whole. Also, when creating Fallout, each piece of art had to be paletted down to THE 8-bit palette. (There was one palette for the entire game) With Arcanum, we are using 16-bit color, so that each piece of art can have it's own 8-bit palette. This makes the artwork look a lot better, and the artists don't have to worry about how a piece of art will palette.

The tools we created to make Arcanum are SOOOO much better than the one's we made for Fallout. (Live and learn) :o) Viewing animations, placing art into the engine, building maps..... all a million times improved.

As to how the engine handles armor changes...... we've had to pre-render every possible clothing/armor variation for every race, every gender, every animation. (whew...... and boy was it a lot of work!) :o) We were able to set up some scripts in Maya (the 3D package we use) to copy animations from one character to another with only minor tweaking necessary.

Sharon Shellman 3/12/2001

All of our art was created using Maya, a 3D program. A character is modeled, textured, animated and then rendered out into sprites (the full animation, for each of the 8 rotations available in the game). The sprites are then palleted and turned into a .art file using our own custom program. Then we use a different custom program to set the speed and "action" frame on the .art file, name it appropriately, edit a .mes file to tell the game its there and then its done.
We use several custom .exes that we have made specifically for Arcanum. I don't believe we are planning on releasing them to the public. If we did, they would most likely be unsupported.

18) Do gnomes and halflings use the same art?

Tim Cain 7/12/2000

Yes, gnomes and halflings share art.

19) There are no female half-ogres or dwarves, will there be any female halflings or gnomes?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

There will be female halflings and gnomes but not as player characters. This cut down the art requirement considerably.

20) Could characters be mirrored to allow for left handed characters, or would that mess up text and other symbols?

Jesse Reynolds 6/15/2000

Yes, we can mirror some things in the engine, however this wouldn't work for characters as well, due to the problem you mentioned. Any symbols/text/etc. will show up wrong. At this point, I don't think it will happen.

21) What format do you use for the music?

Sharon Shellman 3/20/2000

We get all music in .wav format, but then we convert it to our own proprietary format.

22) Do high tufts of grass obscure characters' feet?

Jesse Reynolds 7/12/2000

No, the normal grass does not obscure peoples feet. However, there is scenery that does.

23) Do some programers work on new features and some on bugs?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

It's balanced. You are responsible for bugs in your own code.

24) What's the weirdest bug you've found?

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Let's see, I made everyone in a town attack the bunny rabbits in the game.

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

He's not kidding. Rabbits had the ultimate good alignment.

Tim Cain RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

There was also the bug where no one would get out of bed in the morning. I think that was subconscious desire.

25) Are there any cheats built into the game?

ChuBaka 3/13/2001

CHEAT? *sputters*
There's no Cheating at TROIKA!

26) I read that Arcanum is rated T, is this correct?

Chubaka 3/6/2001

no, the Teen rating was wrong. We're rated M

Betas, Demos, and Other Things That Troika Might Give Us

1) Will there be a demo or a beta?

Sharon Shellman 8/4/2000

We will be conducting a public beta for parts of the game beginning in September. This is a great opportunity for us to get feedback directly from all of you about play balance and other issues. We always believe in supporting our community, and we think that support works both ways.

In addition to running the beta program, we also plan to release a demo later this year, so in fact you will get to play part of the game before February! :o) With the extra time, we'll also be making sure that we release translated versions of the game at the same time as the English version, and we'll be refining and polishing the World Editor as well.

Leon Boyarsky 8/8/2000

The reason we are doing the public beta is to get outside feedback on things such as the game system and the overall feel of dialog and character interaction. A lot of times with games the only people who see them before they are released are people who have such an intimate knowledge of the game it is difficult to get perspective on it. And we want your opinions...

2) What's the official word on the beta?

From the official site 9/20/2000

Sierra Studios and Troika Games are proud to announce that enrollment in the Arcanum beta test will begin next Tuesday, September 26th. The "Chapter One" testing session will encompass the first 20% of the total content found in the single-player game.

Selection for the beta test is based on a variety of criteria: system specs, experience with other games, and skill in documenting suggestions and communicating them clearly. Beta testers will get a pre-release version of the game, and will have access to a private message board to communicate directly with the developers at Troika Games.

All potential beta candidates are required to sign-up via a web form to be posted on this website Tuesday, September 26th at 9:00 AM PT (16:00 GMT).

[ editor note: the public beta ended Jan 15th, 2001]

3) What things will be changed by feedback from the beta?

Sharon Shellman 8/15/2000

We should be feature locked by the time the beta takes place. But balance, spell costs, AP dist, AC, etc. will not be finalized. If you guys find something that really needs changing, or just doesn't make sense during the beta, we would change it. :o)

Leon Boyarsky 9/29/2000 From the Official Message Board

Actually, we're looking for feedback on the game system, the way things feel, what drives people crazy. We're still balancing/adjusting a lot of elements in the game, and we felt feedback at this time would be invaluable.

4) Will the editor be in the beta?

Sharon Shellman 8/28/2000

No editor in the beta... that would mean we'd have to be done with documenting it (cough)...

5) What can you tell us about what the beta includes?

Sharon Shellman 9/7/2000

- You will actually be able to wander "anywhere", we've actually removed the other areas, so you will not be able to find them, even if you go to where they should be. (sneaky, huh?)
-Your characters will probably be able to obtain level 20 by the end of the beta.
-The beta encompasses bout 20% of the game. The first 2 areas are small, but the third area you will be exploring is Tarant. The hugest city in the game. Tarant has a very large number of side quests that the main story arc does not rely on, so you will only be seeing 1/13th of the main plot. So it shouldn't spoil anything for you guys, just make you want more. :o)
- You will probably not be able to bring any save games from the beta into the final game. Because we are using the beta for balancing, we will probably be moving/adding/deleting people and items from the beta to the final, and this would corrupt your save game.
- We are very much hoping that the beta testers will play through the beta many times over, with different types of characters. That way we will get plenty of feedback on gameplay and balance issues. (and of course, bugs too)
- If you wanted to spend a bunch of time wandering the world map getting random encounters... you'd
ultimately hit level 50 (if you tried hard enough). Ya know... if that's really what you want to do... :p

6) Will any of the hidden areas be in the beta?

Sharon Shellman 9/24/2000

No, the hidden areas in the game will not be possible to find in the beta. We have actually removed them completely.

7) Will all of the trainers be in the beta?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

Not all of the trainers will be available in the beta. This is because they are scattered throughout the world, and the beta only consists of three of the areas from the world.

8) Will the beta have all the backgrounds?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

I am pretty sure we will be adding additional backgrounds after the beta ships, although there are quite a few in now.

9) Can you fight bigger monsters in the areas of the world where they would be in the regular game?

Sharon Shellman 9/21/00

For the beta, all areas (except for the 3 included) have been completely deleted and filled in with generated empty terrain. All high level monsters that were specific to a particular deleted area are also missing. The only way you will find creatures (outside of the 3 areas) is through random encounters. Not all of the monsters are in for the beta, so you will only have random encounters with a few different monster types.

10) What is the difference in the beta and the demo?

Sharon Shellman 9/6/2000

The "press" demo and the beta will contain the same first 3 areas of the game. This will be the actual game, in its current form, minus multi-player and the editor.

The demo that (I think) is currently scheduled for release around christmas will be smaller in scope than the beta/press demo. I believe it will have the first 2 areas (not 3) so as not to give too much of the story away.

So those of you that get in on the beta will see a lot more of the game than those who have to wait for the demo.

11) Will there be updates to the beta?

Sharon Shellman 9/25/2000

I do not believe we are planning on patching the beta. You will have to wait until February for the real deal. :o)

12) Will there be a beta sign up specifically for Arcanum?

Sharon Shellman 9/8/2000

I believe there will be a special sign up form for Arcanum. We think we're special, so we wanted to be a pain and have a different form :p

I believe the press-kits will be sent out at the same time as the beta. Perhaps even slightly sooner, because there is no registration process. :)

13) How about a gameplay movie?

Sharon Shellman 9/3/2000

Heh... not to worry. We've seen the request. We just don't have one done yet. I've notified the guys that your clamoring for one. :o)


1) When will the game be done?

Sharon Shellman 8/4/2000

We realize many of you have been concerned about our release schedule for Arcanum, so we want to share with you what's been happening here at Troika. Arcanum IS getting very close to completion, but because of the size of the game and the complexity of our role-playing system, testing it is turning out to be a long and drawn out process.

Our number one commitment is to release a great game that is bug free and well balanced, and we want to take the time we need to make sure that happens. Which is why we've gotten together with Sierra and mutually decided to release Arcanum in February, which gives us the extra time we need to polish the game.

[editor note: release is currently scheduled for spring(april/may/june) of 2001, an exact date has yet to be given]

2) Is Troika going to make sure that the game doesn't ship with a ton of bugs?

Tim Cain 04/1/2000

We _are_ dedicated to a non-buggy product. Arcanum is very complex, more complex than anything we have tried in the past, but we are checking everything to make sure it works right. And Sierra has been very, very good to us in this regard.

Tim Cain 2/14/2001

Yes, it is tedious, but I like it (or most of it) because we are getting to balance the game too. It is literally getting more fun every day.

Perfect example: a tester fought a monster with a melee weapon and then again with a boomerang. Both did the same damage and he had the same skill in Melee and in Throwing, but the melee weapon was far superior. Too superior in fact. So I analyzed a combat in the debugger, blow by blow, and ended up making a new formula for success for Throwing. Happiness and joy followed.

3) Will the game be tested with the copy protection?

Tim Cain 5/22/2000

We will certainly test the game with its copy protection in place. I am surprised companies would NOT do this.

4) What are the minimum specs for the game?
official site

System Requirements
Windows (c) 95/98 CD-ROM

Pentium 200, 32 MB RAM
500 MB HD Space
4x CD-ROM Drive
DirectX certified video card with at least 4 MB of video RAM
16-bit DirectX(R) compatible Soundcard

Pentium (R) 266+, 64 MB RAM
DirectX certified video card with at least 8 MB of video RAM
16-bit DirectX (R) compatible Soundcard
IPX and TCP/IP LA, or Modem TCP/IP Internet Connection

5) Will there be a Linux/Mac/OS2/Amiga/BeOS/Dreamcast/Nifty Doorways 5.0 version?

Mark Harrison 3/5/2000

At first there will only be a Windows version of Arcanum. If the game sells very well, Sierra may consider ports to other platforms. Whether any such port is made is entirely up to Sierra. If you want a Mac version, a Linux version, or even a console version, Sierra is the company you'll want to talk to.

6) Well, how about Windows 2000 or ME?

Jesse Reynolds 5/14/2000

We require DirectX 7, and we are running it on Windows 2000 on several machines here, so yes, as long as you meet the requirements...

Wartoy 2/7/2001

Arcanum will run on WME (thats what i am graced to be testing it on), and it seems not to suffer from it...

7) Will the international versions ship at the same time as the American version?

Sharon Shellman 9/6/2000 from the official message board

We hope so. We are aiming for simultaneous world wide release. :)

8) What will the manual be like?

Leonard Boyarsky 5/17/2000

We've always felt that a great manual that has the feel of the world is extremely important to any game. Our plan has always been to make our manual as comprehensive as possible. Right now it's looking to be about the size of War and Peace.

Sharon Shellman 2/26/2001

It will be standard binding, 2 color, sepia tone.

Sharon Shellman 3/18/2001

And yes... the manual is done. Its been done for about a month. (although Chad changed something minor a week or so ago). Its not printed yet, so we can still tweak it if need be, and it should be very up to date. Tim wrote most of it, and then a wonderful person contracted by Sierra re-wrote it to have more of a stylistic "Arcanum" feel

9) Will the game have difficulty levels?

Sharon Shellman 9/28/2000

We knew you guys really wanted difficulty levels, so we are adding them. We haven't hammered out how many, or what they will be, but they will be there. :)

10) Is the picture on the net the actual box art?

Sharon Shellman 9/30/2000

No, that is our original box cover. It has been changed since then. The new one still incorporates many of the same things, but looks much more "Arcanum". :o)

I do not know when a shot of the new box will be available.

11) Are there any elevators that take you to different levels in a building?

Jesse Reynolds 5/19/2000

Nope, there won't be any elevators such as you describe with multiple level capability.

12) Will there be newspapers that have stories about the quests you've done or the people you've slaughtered?

Chad Moore 5/25/2000

Yes, there will be newspapers! (They could very well be one of the coolest things in the game! I seem to say that a lot...). They will be used for a variety of different reasons, many of those you listed, and a few others. I think people are really going to enjoy going out for the daily paper, right after their morning cup 'o tea...:)

Leon Boyarsky 5/31/2000

It is one of the coolest things we have in the game, if I do say so myself...

It looks just like a newspaper front page, with a headline and story elaborating on the headline, plus some random stories thrown in for good measure. You will be able to purchase back issues, but no subscriptions :p

By the way, have I mentioned that creating your own newspapers (books, telegrams, notes) for your modules is as easy as editing a text document? Hmm, I wonder if I was supposed to mention that...

13) If you kill the paperboy will you be unable to get any more newspapers?

Jason Anderson RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Don't F* with the paperboy... :)

14) When will the submissions for stories be picked and added to the game?

Sharon Shellman 9/8/2000

I just talked to Chad. He's been out sick... *cough* "Burning Man" *cough*. Anyway, he says they (Chad & Leon) have chosen the semi-finalists and are reviewing these to pick the ones that will go in. So legal forms should go out shortly (maybe a couple of weeks?). You won't see any of them in the beta. They're so cool that we're saving them for the real deal. :o)

15) Why is there a 'k' on the end of Magick in the title?

Chad Moore 5/28/2000

Its more of a period adding the "e" to "olde". We actually had discussions about whether we should do the same thing to some of the technological disciplines (tecknologick, meckanickal...), but it only seemed to fit with the magick...err, magick...:)

16) Will there be movies in the game?

Jason Anderson RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Yes. There will be in game movies.

17) Will any of the voice actors from the Fallout games be in Arcanum?

Leonard Boyarsky 2/23/2000

We haven't thought about who we will have doing the voice acting for Arcanum yet. Since we are not having "talk heads" like in Fallout, we are still undecided as to what extent we will use voice acting in Arcanum. If we had the chance, I would love to work with some of the same voice actors as on Fallout, but I don't know how much of a possibility that actually is.

18) Will the cinematics show the PC, or is that too much work?

Sharon Shellman 5/28/2000

You are correct. Because of the fact that we would have to make (at least) 12 different movies, just to cover race/gender (not even touching on whether you went tech or magick or neither), you will not see your character in the cut scenes. We have designed the movies around this issue, so the movies will still tie in with your character. You just will never see him/her directly.

19) Will the end have multiple endings describing what happened in the places that I visited?

Tim Cain 2/3/2000

We will most certainly have such multiple endings. We had a lot of fun inventing them as we wrote the story.

20) What will the game be rated?

Sharon Shellman 6/2/2000

I don't believe we're rated yet. So I can't give you an answer to that.

21) Where does Troika get its art inspiration from?

Sharon Shellman 6/30/2000 on Sierra Message Board

Uh... I'd have to say all kinds of different places. We have six artists, all with very diverse backgrounds, training and styles. So, mostly, we just fight about how things should look, and what software/medium to use to make them. :op

22) Which team members' portraits are in the game?

Leonard Boyarsky RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

Chad, Mike, and Jesse

Jason's in there as well

Jason Anderson RPGVault Chat 7/14/2000

And Leon

23) Why does Tim like sheep so much?

TimCain 4/6/2000

Being a sheep isn't so bad. Sure, you don't have any opposable thumbs so you can't wield items, or open doors or chests. And everything you say comes out as "Baah!". But think of the wool! THINK OF THE WOOL!

24) What kind of things does Jesse think about when he's been coding too long?

Jesse Reynolds 6/6/2000

If a train leaves Tarant going 40 miles per hour, at what time will it collide with a Greater Demon eating a halfling rogue in the Glimmering Forest outside of...

Sorry, couldn't resist. :)

25) How does Shellman feel about math?

Sharon Shellman 5/22/2000

Ewwwww! You want me to do math?!?! No Way!

There! How's that for a stereotypical female answer?

ha ha ha ha ha

26) How much soda does Troika drink?

Sharon Shellman 5/22/2000

We go through about 8 cases (24 cans each) of soda a week, plus four 5 gallon bottles of water! Not bad for 12 people! I have noticed the amount has been increasing along with the stress levels though... :o)

27) How much pizza (in terms of pies) is consumed, at the Troika offices, in the space of a week?

Tim Cain 9/19/2000

None. We eat mostly cookies and junk food snacks (Ding Dongs seem popular lately) and drink vast quantities of soda. We like to say "Troika is expanding but we aren't hiring anybody!". OK, *I* like to say that. :)

28) What does "Troika" mean?

From the Official Toika Website

troika (troi'ku), -n.
1. a Russian carriage, wagon, or sleigh drawn by a team of three horses abreast.
2. a team of three horses driven abreast.
3. any group of three persons, nations, etc., acting equally in unison to exert influence, control, or the like.

29) How long has Troika been around. Are you guys just a bunch of crazy Ruskies?

Jesse Reynolds 4/1/2000

Troika has been around for about 2 years.

Sorry, nobody at Troika is Russian (though my maternal grandparents came from Russia :) ), we just liked the name. Yes, Troika refers to Art, Design, Code, and I suppose it also refers to the fact that the three principals (Leonard Boyarsky, Jason, Tim) are co-owners.
30) How do you pronounce Arcanum?

Tim Cain 2/3/2001

We say "ar-CANE-um" around here. But we don't really mind how you want to say it.

Part 6: Websites

Official Arcanum Sites
The Arcanum site
The Troika site
The Official FAQ
RPG Vault Editor FAQ                    Written by a Troika member, great editor info.

Message Boards

The Arcanum Inn                              The most popular board, lots of developer postings
Sierra's Arcanum Board                    The official board, fairly new

Yahoo! Clubs arcanumgame
Dimensions of Arcanum
Terra Arcanum                                  Good site, tons of screen shots, including shots of the editor

Chat room,  #arcanum               Unofficial meeting place.  Requires an IRC client program like mIRC


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