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Arcanum Blather

Discussion in 'Arcanum Discussion' started by Langolier, Jul 2, 2019.

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  1. Langolier

    Langolier Member

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    Not sure why I bother since it seems this place has understandably declined over the years. Part of me holds out hope that Arcanum will get a modern remake and then part of me dreads that Arcanum will get a modern remake. Thankfully it's probably never going to happen.

    However recently I went on a binge listening to lectures about the War of the Rebellion while at work and that got me thinking about Arcanum. I had intended a few years ago, well, many years ago, to play as a sort of Teddy Roosevelt inspired character. I still like that concept but I've never actually taken the time to implement it. The last time I sat down to play Drog's latest patch was out and I did a test run and then got sidetracked when I figure out how to modify the tech disciplines and modify the guns in the game. A suggestion on RPG Codex was that firearms should be slower but powerful and do lots of fatigue damage. So reduced the speed of all guns and implemented a gradual increase in ammo consumption, basically +1 more bullet for ever 10 damage after 20. A way to simulate higher calibers. By making the flintlock, old flintlock, and handcrafted flintlock low range, low accuracy, slow, but powerful guns, they actually became an option at the crash site. Didn't play far enough to see how broken later guns might become, what with apprentice training and all.

    I also modified Gun Smithy so that the Fine Revolver is the first schematic, then a shotgun, which has low range but a high TH. I also changed the Smithy tree so that Pure Ore is replaced by the Balanced Boomerang. I figured that the Handcrafted Flintlock was kind of a waste of space and that it was just BS to spend a character point just to manufacture and ingredient. I also replaced Strong Poison in chemistry with tech version of the Liquid of Skin Thickening. Worded it as this salve you pour over your skin that toughens it up for a limited time. Of-course it stains your nice suit so think carefully (that's a "joke"). I think I contemplated or attempted to change the Electric Light into something actually useful, but I can't recall if I did or not. When I play again soon I will rediscover what I might have or might not have done. I have two days off this week.

    If I'm ever feeling really ambitious I will try to make a new item or two; the first being spring-heeled shoes which increase Speed and Dodge Skill for techies. Inspired by the old Spring-heeled Jack legend. I've also contemplated some additional tech rings but the reasoning is flimsy. I was thinking of a sort of "Swiss Army Knife-Ring" that increases lockpicking skill, repair, and disarm traps, while providing +1 to Perception and Dexterity. (the Perception comes from its built in magnifying glass for all manner of intricate operations) and the DX because using the ring requires a deft touch (right).

    Techies have no neck items to equip, so I recall that I added +BE modifiers to some fancy jewelry so that they can at least wear something. Though I also thought up the concept of, but of-course did not implement, the idea of a Necklace of Magnets. Naturally magnetism is known to have adverse effects on magick as well as positively effecting the human body. So it would give +10 MR and +2 CN (or maybe +1 CN and +1 ST).

    A more ambitious idea was a two technological gorgets; the Tesla Gorget and the Gorget of Injections. The former casts Shockshield on the wearer when attacked but consumes charges. The Gorget of Injections automatically injects the wearer with needed medicinal items during combat, restricted to basic healing items like the salve, fatigue restorer, and poison cure. These ideas are just daydreams, I doubt I'd ever get around to learning the scripting/coding necessary to implement such things, though importing the art assets probably isn't beyond my ability if I set aside the time for it.
     
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  2. Langolier

    Langolier Member

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    In thinking about Arcanum the other day and concepts for a remake I imagined what the core themes and setting might be. Rather than a plot about an ancient necromancer taking advantage of the weakening of magickal wards to return and lay waste to the world the core conflict in a remake would be the conflict of change vs stasis, to put it simply. On the one hand you'd have all the stuffy Mage-Aristocrats who remember the days of old with obedient and dumb serfs who paid their taxes and tithes and were contented in life. Then that damned printing press came about and the religious wars, followed by the plague, and in a few centuries the spectre of technology and democracy had reared its ugly head. Once the rivers and forests were clean but now they are polluted and clogged with gunk, withering.

    Literacy has exploded and every idea under the sun is given to print, tackled to the letterboard in every square, in every school, in every tavern. At one time the populace were happy to rally against the old nobility and drive them out when they weren't cutting off their heads. However their ire has turned in the last years to the very scholars and factory owners who liberated them from the lordly estates in the first place. Rioters run through the streets demanding unions and direct democracy whilst eleven saboteurs drive spikes into tree trunks. Not that the lumber ever reaches the mills anymore what with the orcish tribes tearing up railroad tracks to derail the great behemoths that they might pillage them, uselessly, of every shiny bolt, rivet, and muffler they can get their hands on. If the elves will drive metal spikes into their precious trees then can it be entirely discounted that they wouldn't set aside their hatred of orcs long enough to provoke them into conducting these raids? Instruct them and arm them?

    I think that the player would be drawn into a brewing civil war between these two sides, and in the process become involved in the inner-conflicts among the factions that comprise opposing view points. As I said the face of the Conservationist side is the old noble families that ruled under the old royal family, before it was brutally put to death during the revolution. They want a return to a pacified populace that is ignorant but happy, obedient to priest and lord, who lives in a land with strict customs, classes, and that lives in harmony with the land around it. Aye, they're Luddites, but they aren't entirely wrong are they? How many children in the modern age are maimed or killed working in the factories? How many die young of rust lung or malnutrition, how many are born deformed after their mothers consumed tainted water and breathed tainted air? The land is becoming increasingly poisoned and while the industrial farms have managed to keep everyone reasonably well fed for now, some vigilant minds are warning of a coming crisis, of a time when locusts will choke the sky and dust will fill the air, when the common folk in their hundreds of thousands will die slow deaths of hunger.

    Some on this side want the total eradication of technology and, perhaps more importantly, literacy. The people must be culled if necessary as one might do when the rabbits become a bit too numerous. After all it is obvious that the common man, the mob, is not wise enough to guide society on his own. The chaos that the Libertines has unleashed in society is proof of this. Only wise and well bred men can be trusted with such power. Others are more moderate and only want a guarantee that their ancestral lands will be protected with the vast wildernesses between estates similarly guarded against. New laws must be put in place to clean up the rivers and the skies. The Technocrats have usurped them but the harmony the Old Nobility practiced has been supplanted by ruthless and short-sighted exploitation of the land which has reduced the quality of life for all and will do irreparable damage if left unchecked.

    However the Enlightened recall that the serfs were but slaves, forbidden to travel, called to die in wars for his lord without compensation. Bed time tails recall the horrors of the more infamous Sorcerer Lords. Those who practiced the darkest of the arcane arts high in their castles; bathing in the blood of virgins and babes, gathering it in great cauldrons whilst they writhed upon the great spikes which impaled them. What of the young ladies bewitched by intrusive mental magicks, seduced against their will and then left with bastards in their bellies? The worst of the old Kings lived nigh on three hundred years, his own people policed by cruel demons summoned up from Hell itself, their dreams plagued by his Warden Spirits, who patrolled the citizenry's very minds for mere thoughts of insurrection. Even when his people did managed to free themselves his dark and twisted castle remained, bound partially out-of-time by his powerful temporal magicks, preserving his life far beyond its natural life-span. He might have been deposed sooner had their been more of the magically inclined among the meek peasantry, but it is now accepted that the many witch burnings were in reality efforts to ensure that no magickal bloodlines arose among the common folk. Eventually Science and Technology, the fruits of learning, of free discussion, were the only alternative.

    Now nearly every man man can read and write, and even women have taken to the practice. No more are the people at the mercy of their leaders; each man is equal under the law no matter the manner of his birth. Ink and Powder. That was the phrase of the Libertines who carried the first bundles of printed pamphlets by horseback to all the taverns and farmhouses of the land. Armed and organized the common man was finally set free of those who would call him his better, and his reward was liberty of the body and the mind. With education came innovation, birthing the first factories and secular studies. At last the people have been set free of the dogmatic control of the mages, the human spirit free at last.

    Those intellectuals most concerned with the raw sciences are not unaware of the pollution done to the land. Such harm will be a temporary growing pain. The factories are becoming more efficient and the rivers will heal too. Just as soon as the factories are moved. Their are verdant lands to the East with wider rivers already sullied by mud and salt. Why shouldn't we build there? We need only evict the primitive halfling tribes that reside there. We must do so, for only replacing the current manufacturing with more sophisticated, better paying operations will satisfy the populace, which is becoming more agitated by the day. The Grand City on the Hill is no mere fable; it is a reality if only we will make it. Look at all that has been done in the last century.

    On the one hand you have pure scientist types who merely seek to understand their world and their history better. They are driven by no ideology save that of knowledge and reason. However such voices are not as compelling as those calling for the continuation of the revolution. For those who insist it is not over until the threat of the old Aristocracy is gone forever, torn form the land stem and root, their ancient texts which codified their oppressive laws and brutal customs burned and banished from human memory. Even removed from power their influence lingers in the hierarchical structure to society that still remains. They are not wrong when they complain that the Industrialists are not much different than they were, but the great giants of industry were but the framework supporting the construction of the Great New Society that will hold no man above any other, that will want not, that will waste not. Carefully guided by the wisdom of vast councils of equals who see to it that every man, woman, and child, every cow and every pig, every plot of land, is put to be the most efficient and beneficial use for the people.


    I'm thinking that this theoretical Arcanum is not so much Victorian England as Revolutionary France and Russia. It will be difficult for the player to find a moderate path forward in which society rectifies its ills without creating new, perhaps even more horrific ones. If the Aristocrats get their way then the factories fade away and the old status quo returns, the old honors, the old duties, and the same abuses. The land will be clean but the people will not be free. What is left of the people, anyway.

    However, if the radical Libertines get their way then the old world is swept aside for good. What comes in its place though? Those remaining rural folk who refused to emigrate to the cities will be dragged to their rightful place on the Industrial Farms against their will, for the common good. The wilds will be tamed and the horrors that haunt them expunged. Civilization will grow, painfully at times. Chaotic and dynamic, at times violent. It may reach unheard of heights, but as its might grows so too will its capacity for destruction.

    Stasis vs Change
    Elitism vs Populism
    Nature vs Industry
    Magick vs Technology
    Theology vs Science
    Caution vs Reckless Abandon

    Rather than try to balance late 19th century firearms with melee weapons, the guns should probably be a bit more primitive. So again, late 18th century, mid 19th century technology, at least in some respects. Lots of slow firing muskets, a few revolvers. Only the most advanced rifles are lever-action. A lot of rifles would double as makeshift melee weapons; attach an axe blade on the butt and swing it like one. Of-course you might also attached the bayonet and make yourself a reliable spear. Rather than try to reload your pistol in the heat of battle; carry a backup or two.

    I suppose my spiritual successor to Arcanum wouldn't be so much steam-punk in many regards. What do you call fictional 18th century aesthetics?


    Anyway, sorry for rambling. Had to get it off my chest. World building is a favorite pastime of mine.
     
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  3. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    I would love something set in the Age of Legends myself. I mean, there is untapped potential there. Three more spells for each college, I think? And then there are the technological wonders of Vendigroth (and whatever technology the dwarves have hidden in their halls, weren't war machines and the like alluded to in Arcanum?). Anyway, I think a lot of what you list here could be inserted to the Age of Legends, myself. I don't remember the lore perfectly, but you have the Elven Council ruling Arcanum. These are mages powerful enough to be like the Antediluvians in Vampire - and probably just as aloof, being generally uninvolved in people's daily matters and more concerned with the broad strokes of things, magickal research and banishing godlike creatures to the Void.
    Hence, there is plenty of room for those stake-burning mage lords you mention. Heck, this is how the game could start - either the player character or one of their friends has magickal ability, and the precarious situation that follows from that forms the first Act of the game (you end up killing the lord, of course).

    So, now you have discontent over the status quo growing. A corrupt political class that want to kill any and all wizards among the hoi polloi - thus inadvertently creating the drive for technological advance that will become their undoing. Factions will spring out from this, of course. Mages who like the established order (who may be very interested in that boy Kerghan's research, eternal life as a lich and all), mages who want freedom, technologists who just want so see all mages burn... and the technologist faction that go on to found Vendigroth, which could be one of the cornerstones of the main campaign.

    Wouldn't that be cool? Of course, one wonders why a player character who is a mage would want to help found the most technological city in all of Arcanum, but then again, a lot can be done with factions and their motivations (and Vendigroth should perhaps found itself without the player's involvement, if you should choose to take another course).

    Sorry, I'm rambling too.
     
  4. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    Okay, so which factions could exist in the Age of Legends? This could be a beginning:

    Kree - so here we have a barbarian nation. I suppose the racial makeup should be mainly orcs, half-orcs and humans (and I suppose ogres and half-ogres too, though half-ogres would have been rare during this time). They worship Shakar, and should be all about going to Shakar's version of Valhalla in a blaze of glory (any ogres would be Torg worshipers). Probably neutral on the magick/tech side of things, their shamans and gunslingers should fight side by side. Torian Kel is here, obviously - perhaps in the capacity of a chieftain, or foremost among the warriors? The city will be razed by the army of the Bane of Kree at some point in the game, and Torian will be killed.

    The Molochean Hand - I can't remember when they were founded? But sure, an amoral assassin's guild that takes on bounties could certainly be in this. Probably worship Moorindal.

    Quintarra/T'sen Ang - The split between "normal" elves and dark elves happens after the banishment of Arronax, but there's no reason why there shouldn't be two elven factions. One that is elven supremacist, and one that is more accepting of the other races. This ideological split shouldn't be divided between the cities though - there should be elven supremacists in Quintarra, and hippie elves in T'sen Ang. If there is tension between the two cities that could be because of something other than the burgeoning polarization between the elves. Regardless of faction, the elves worship Ter'el, but have different opinions on his teachings (and particularly Ter'el's relationship to gods like Halcyon and Kaitan). Ancestors to the Silver Lady/Raven, Min'Gorad and Zan should be here.

    The faction that will found Vendigroth - the "good" technologists, I suppose. Tired of being persecuted by the wizards, these people want a society based on enlightenment values and rationality. So they settle in Vendigroth, which might just as well be nice, green and temperate before Arronax dropped the bomb, and accept refugees from the mage lord provinces while fighting off the armies of Elven Council and others (going so far as to create the Vendigroth device, of course - and a terrible battle against powerful mages, won only at great cost in one of the acts of the game, could be what triggers its development). The religious among them worship Velorien, mainly.

    The Mage Lords - The Arronax/Kerghan lot. Wish to preserve the feudal order where powerful mage lords rule the land. Cordial relationship with the supremacist elves, opposed to Vendigroth. There should certainly be a Tarrelond-Ashe among them.

    The "good" mages - Wizards who are opposed to the fact that the mage lords often kill hedge wizards and technologists alike. Cordial relationship with the "good" elves and have a somewhat strained, but still functional, working relationship with the Vendigroth faction. A Smythe should be here.

    Gnomes - wouldn't be capitalist factory owners. Possibly, they would live in hills close to their dwarven cousins, mining gold and worshiping Kerlin. Not sure which factions they would be comfortable supporting, but probably the Vendigrothians. Perhaps one quest could be about securing gnomish financial backing for the founding/further development of Vendigroth (which incidentally helps creating the institutions that make the gnomes become the capitalist class later on).
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  5. Ruda

    Ruda Active Member

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    I've always had two main ideas for Arcanum sequels.

    The first would be an early to mid 20th century setting. It would be mix of themes from 1900-1960. Topics would include a financial crisis brought upon by Jongle Dunne's mass production of gold, a great war between Tarant and Cumbria (with Arland possibly on the sidelines), expansion of orcish mafia in Tarant (bootlegging, speakeasies and so forth), elven flappers, half-breed civil rights movements. More room for political ideologies with a magick vs tech twist.

    The other would be a colonial game over a fairly great time period. The game would start in Tarant (but the rest of the original's game world would be unavailable) with various merchant companies taking you to see the world and exploiting the natives, while returning to Tarant on a semi-regular basis, seeing it develop over time. The various places in the world would vary greatly in terms of climate, general appearance, government form, and, of course, overall reliance on magick and technology. Longevity would be likely be a factor (NPCs age and die over the course of the game) which would rule out a human PC, unless they find a fountain of youth of sorts.
     
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