Thursday, March 29, 2018

Howdy, everyone!

Thomas “Blixtev” Blair here, and I’m here to chat with y’all today about the Crafting profession, Necromancy!

It has been almost two years since I first introduced you to this advanced Crafting profession in an update. I’m happy to say it is now fully playable end-to-end, with all the bells and whistles, in the 5.5 update! We built small pieces of the overall system when we could fit them in, but it really took us finishing the Divine Sacrifice and Crypt features to make the necromancy loop “fire”. That means until 5.5, all the previous work really didn’t have a lot of impact on the game experience.

yaga watermarked

Some of today’s update is going to be repeated from that initial announcement, but multiple aspects have changed, were added or needed clarity… a lot changes have happened over the course of implementation. So, this seems like a good time to go over it all again!

As a reminder, the Crowfall ® vison of Necromancy is not your typical fantasy RPG version, i.e. raising undead “pets” to follow you around and do your bidding. Our version is an advanced Crafting profession; players will dig up desiccated body parts from resource nodes (graves), magically restore them, and combine them in such a way to make a playable character vessel (Race). That crafted character vessel can then be used at a Crypt to turn into a playable avatar (Race + Class).

Because every player will want a crafted vessel (kinda like a thneed!), Necromancy is sure to be a very popular crafting profession. In fact, most players will probably want several custom vessels in order to cover all of the Class, Race and Discipline variants for those Classes and Races.

The Crypt is a new point of interest (POI) introduced in 5.5 where a player can change the current active vessel that their Spirit Crow has possessed. At the Crypt, the player has the opportunity to create a new vessel from the subset of vessel types available at that Crypt. (For most worlds, this list will include all of the available Races, but we added the ability to limit scope so that we can make interesting variant Campaigns, like Elves and Dwarves only, or Centaurs can only be made at this particular map location.) These “free” characters generated at any Crypt are at the white (standard) quality level.

Crowfall PrototypeCrypt Watermarked

If a player wants to possess a higher quality (green, blue, purple or orange) vessel, they will need to receive one from any of the various methods of acquiring objects. The only way for a vessel above white quality to enter the game is through the Necromancy Crafting profession.

The quality of the vessel is incredibly important as it means that vessel will have more base attributes such as Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Spirit and Constitution. That’s right, vessel creation through Necromancy is one of the methods to increase an archetype’s attributes. Increasing an attribute will also increase any statistic that is a child of that attribute, i.e. increasing a character’s Dexterity attribute will also increase their Critical Hit Chance statistic as well as several other statistics.

Higher-quality vessels also get increased benefits from the Sacrifice (character leveling) system. For example, white quality vessels currently get three attribute points per level whereas orange vessels get four attribute points per level. (Vessel quality levels between white and orange get a mix of three and four per level increase.) Higher-quality vessels also get bonus maximum health grants at key levels. We are debating more benefits for higher-quality vessels. We want to get the system in and see how high the demand is before we add (or remove) any more design knobs to tweak this system.

The cost for all these benefits is not free, however. Higher quality vessels are harder to obtain and require more Sacrifice XP to gain vessel levels.

Necromancy is linked closely to the Alchemy profession, which provides the solutions and elixirs needed to restore a desiccated body part to usefulness. Additionally, Alchemists also craft the Philosopher’s Stone, which is a crafting additive that grants a significant chunk of attributes to any crafted vessel.

The creation of the Philosopher’s Stone is the pinnacle goal of any Alchemist. Creating the Stone was thought to require a transition of materials through four coloring stages: a blackening, a yellowing, a whitening, and a reddening. Of course, no one ever made anything resembling what was promised, just a whole mess of gunk, but hey, it’s good lore!

Crowfall Alchemists can make five distinct color solutions via combinations of ground minerals and powdered stone dust. Each solution maps to one of the character attributes. The Philosopher’s Stone recipe requires any four of the color solutions the Alchemist wishes to use. Want to go all Strength? Use all red solutions. All Dexterity? Use all black solutions. Basically, whatever attribute mix that’s desired for whatever vessel that is the end goal.

The Philosopher’s Stone is also eligible for use in mass production via crafting factories. So, when you finally get the perfect combination, make a blueprint and mass produce them.

While the Alchemy requirements for Necromancy can be mass produced, vessels cannot. Each vessel is a bespoke, hand-crafted masterpiece, potentially loaded with optional additives. Or, conversely, a poorly-crafted mess. Better supplied, more skilled Necromancy crafters will find themselves constantly deluged with orders to make specific vessels.

Crowfall NecroTable Watermarked

This is the first crafting profession for which we have designed a considerable number of additives. As a reminder, additives are normally loot items found throughout Crowfall that can be optionally added to many crafting recipes and that add all kinds of fun stats to the item that is being crafted. Odds are, if you are crafting something special, you are going to want to use as many additives as you can get your hands on!

Here are some examples:
The Restored Head recipe can take up to two enhanced eyes:
• Use a Scout’s Eye to increase the Perception statistic,
• the Master’s Eye to increase Crafting Assembly, or
• the Bowman’s Eye to increase Critical Hit Chance.

In this example, can you match the eyes or use different ones to achieve your desired result. Additives such as these currently come from loot drops (either from defeating the Risen or from getting a Critical Harvest success while grave digging) but in the future we will tie additives into other systems (Exploration, Harvesting, and other Crafting trees).

There are fewer stages in Necromancy than a profession like Blacksmithing; however, there are lots of required components for each finished product (vessel). (A Centaur vessel alone requires half a dozen extremities!) Since vessels are handcrafted, it will take a good portion of a crafter's time to keep their shops stocked.

Example of the Crafting Stages:
Turn Desiccated Body Parts into Restored Body Parts.
Optionally add some additives.
Combine Restored Body Parts into a vessel of the appropriate type.

There is a unique recipe for each vessel type, but they generally have similar requirements. (Except for the Centaur-based vessels noted above.)

Vendors were introduced in 5.5, allowing crafters to sell desiccated body parts, restored body parts, vessel additives, even complete vessels, through a Necromancy-themed vendor stall. It’s pretty darn cool, albeit a little creepy, to keep that vendor stocked with body parts.

Finishing the implementation of Crypts and Sacrifice has completed the game loop of crafting, equipping, and leveling player vessels. It is totally awesome, and a crafted vessel is the cornerstone of any good Crowfall character build!

As always, please feel free to leave comments on the forums, and we’ll see you in game!

Thomas “Blixtev” Blair
Design Lead, ArtCraft Entertainment

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