What is Trials of Ascension?
Trials of Ascension (ToA) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the fantasy world of TerVarus. It is currently in limited development by Forged Chaos LLC. You might remember them as Shadowpool Studios.
What do you mean by ‘limited development’?
We are developing ToA in a limited capacity, mostly due to lack of funds. We WANT to move into full development but must first raise the funds and we've chosen KickStarter, a crowd-sourcing fund-raising website, to do that.
We are 'testing the waters' so to speak with this website. If the world can show us that there is indeed enough desire for ToA, we will post our project on KickStarter. There we will be asking the fans to 'put their money where their mouth is' by pledging to fund us. If they deem us and the design worthy of development by achieving our project's goal, we will move immediately into development.
Why use KickStarter instead of traditional development funding?
During the development of the initial design many years ago, we met with countless investors, investment groups and publishers. They passed us by. Not because they didn't believe we couldn't build it. We had a prototype to prove that wasn't the case, plus many of them told us outright it wasn't the team, it was the design. It was "too different" or "not main stream". They subscribed to the "copy-cat" model of investing, meaning they were looking for games that cloned what was already released and making a good return on investment.
With the idea of crowd-source fund-raising coming into its own, we have seen an opportunity to potentially fund ToA development through the ones that wouldn't let it die -- the fans. They get it. They understand the MMO world needs ToA. So much so that they wouldn't stop emailing us, even after the project shut down. Some going so far as to offer their time and even money if we would open the doors again.
A side benefit of using KickStarter is we won't be strapped by the confines put on us by traditional investors. We can develop ToA the way it has been designed and without compromise. The best part is we'll be able to pay back their generosity in spades with a plethora of rewards ranging from special access to development progress to becoming a permanent part of the game they helped fund!
How much will ToA cost? Will you be charging monthly fees?
ToA will be free to download. We will offer a trial period, followed by a monthly subscription model.
How many characters can I play? Is there one big realm or several smaller ones?
There will be multiple realms, based on the number of subscribers we receive. To start, we plan on having one multi-character realm where you can create multiple characters, and one single-character realm where you will be limited to one created character at a time.
Will there be a limitation on who can play on what realms?
Not at this time although that may change once testing latency and other factors reveal possible issues.
Can you tell us the differences between the new design and the old one?
Before detailing the changes, we should explain why the changes were made - design scope. We want to keep the design at a realistic level so we can get the game into your hands. To do that we had to trim, but we did so always keeping the core ideas of ToA in place.
The larger changes you can expect are:
- Humans will be the only playable race
- Removed religion
- Removed mounts
- Removed ships
- Removed artifacts
- Shrank the size of the world
- Lowered the number of starting settlements
- Lowered the number of types of structures
Will you do anything about these changes once the game is launched or are they permanent?
We will most certainly be doing something about them post-launch! We want some of these features as much as our fans do (it nearly killed us making some of these cuts!) and will be focusing on implementing them as soon as it's possible.
What can we expect from the interface?
You can expect the interface to be intuitive and minimal. We want you to be immersed in the world around your character, not distracted by hundreds of animated and flashing buttons that are typical in today's MMO's.
How do I communicate with other players?
Get close enough to their character so they can hear you when you whisper, talk or shout. There will be no global chat in ToA.
Can I block someone’s movement?
Yes. You will not be able to 'pass through' other characters and NPCs.
Will I be able to bypass someone that is blocking my way?
Yes you will be able to push through someone but at a heavy cost to your stamina.
Will instant travel such as teleporting be available?
Only to the mages that have researched the spell.
We believe instant travel, while convenient, destroys the size and danger of a game world. Why make a large world to explore when you can just hop a portal to the next town? Why bother making certain areas dangerous when players can just teleport around them?
Will my gear wear out? Can I repair it?
Armor and weapons will take damage as they are used. Repairing will be available for those that have chosen to take such crafting skills.
Will there be a party system?
No there is no party system planned for ToA.
Can I form a guild?
We will not have mechanisms for forming guilds. ToA's idea of 'guilds' are settlements, allowing like-minded citizens (guildies) a base of operation; a place to call home.
Will there be quests?
ToA will not include static quests (such as an NPC who stands by the road and pays infinite amounts of cash for every ear you bring him). Events will certainly occur, but these will be handled individually by our interactive GM team, and except in unusual cases will not be repeatable. A few of these events may have permanent consequences for TerVarus, while most will have only temporary, local, or individual impact.
Will there be dungeons?
Yes but not the kind you're used to. Our interactive GM team will build, place and remove dungeons throughout TerVarus on an ongoing basis.
Imagine, one day as you're crawling over a ruin that you've been to multiple times you might notice a trap door that wasn't there before. Inside you find a cave filled with goblins. You fight your way to the end and grab a chest full of goodies. A few days later you and a friend return to the cave and find more goblins along with a few orcs inside. You clear the cave and are looting the corpses when the cave walls begins to rumble. You and your friend barely make it out as the trap door collapses behind you, sealing the cave forever.
Those are the kinds of dynamically spawned dungeons you can expect in ToA.
Will we have a mini-map?
No. Like instant travel, we consider mini-maps a convenience that distracts from the challenges ToA is meant to offer. How can you ever get lost when you have a mini-map? Shouldn't the idea of getting/being lost be a possible adventure in itself? Also, without a mini-map, we open up a whole new industry - guides. Players with deep knowledge of an area could guide others safely.
You will be able to view a world map at any time that shows settlement locations. In order to find your position on the world map, you'll need to carry the right navigation equipment with you such as a sextant or compass.
Is the skill system class based?
ToA does not have a class system. Character development is skill-based, which means that any character can develop any combination of skills that they see fit.
How do I gain skill?
You gain skill by practicing the skill you wish to be better in. If you want to be a better swordsman, you need to go out and fight with a sword. Want to be a better smith? Spend some time at a forge crafting various smithing items.
Can I learn any skill?
Yes. You can learn and gain in any skill.
Do skills decay over time?
No. Skill points you earn are permanent.
Will our skills be displayed as points?
No, you will not see skill points. Instead you will be given different titles as you gain in skill along with a progress bar showing how far you've progressed within the current title.
What are techniques?
Techniques are different aspects of a skill. For example the smithing skill will have forming, tempering and balancing techniques. A smith that focus on bettering herself in tempering will craft items that are far more durable than smiths without the tempering technique.
You will receive a technique point every so often as you gain in a skill. You may place these technique points in any technique of the skill you gained in.
What is an innovation?
It's a moment of discovery and creation that may come to your character anytime he is using a skill. When an innovation is discovered, you will immediately learn a new way of improving upon an existing craftable item, a new item altogether, a new skill technique, or even a new skill itself! The discovered innovation will always be related to the skill you were using at the time. In other words, don't expect to learn how to make better bread while swinging a sword.
Beyond what it offers you, the player, it will allow us to organically forward the world of TerVarus by introducing items, processes and skills.
Read this article that explains innovations in more detail and the positive impacts it will bring to the game.
Is an innovation limited to the character who discovered it?
Yes and no.
Once an innovation is discovered, it is removed from the list of available innovations other characters could learn. What you do with your innovation is up to you. You can choose to share the innovation with other characters, which allows those characters to use or benefit from the innovation too, but the innovation doesn't automatically appear on everyone's skill list. This allows those who discover an innovation to control its use. Beware though - when you share your innovation (not the product of an innovation but the innovation itself), they can in turn share it with others all they want. Point being, sharing your newly found secret with even just one person means you give up control of its possible propagation.
An innovation can also be involuntarily learned from you through interrogating your character. Information gathering can be done on unconscious characters, including extracting innovations.
What kind of innovations can we expect?
In short, all kinds. Innovations will range from knowing how to add a certain ingredient to make your breads more filling, to discovering a new command to teach pets, to unlocking new types of ships!
Can I discover an innovation even as a new character?
Yes. While some innovations will not have any requirements on them, such as minimum/maximum skill level(s), allowed race (once new races are introduced), etc, other might.
What races will be in ToA?
For initial launch, the only race will be humans. The reason, again, is project scope.
Post launch, we'll be working very hard to introduce new races as fast as revenue will allow.
We're making it a point to put in multiple stretch goals in our Kickstarter campaign for some of the other races.
What attributes will my characters have?
There are six basic attributes each character will use. They are:
Strength: The measure of how physically strong a character is.
Fortitude: The measure of how mentally strong a character is.
Agility: Measures how well a character can perform acts of dexterity and balance.
Intelligence: A measure of how smart the character is.
Vitality: A measure of how well a character can recover from hit point loss, fatigue, diseases, etc.
Perception: Determines how well a character will be able to notice the details of his or her surroundings.
Will I be able to modify these attributes during character creation?
Each character will have default attributes based on its race and gender. You will be able to adjust the attributes but only so much.
Do I get to modify my character’s attributes as his or her skills advance?
No. Attributes are not adjustable after you've created your character. As you use your skills there will be a very rare chance that it could add a point to the associated attribute. The chance of attribute gain is rare enough that you should never expect an attribute to grow more than 5-10% throughout the life of the character.
What choices can I make during character creation?
You'll be able to adjust your character's facial appearance using hair style/color, skin color and adjusters for various aspects like nose width, mouth size, eye size, etc.
You'll be able to adjust, within certain limits, the base stats given to your character based on his/her race within.
Where does my character start?
During character creation, you'll can pick any settlement in the world currently accepting new citizens as your starting location. You'll also be able to pick the monolith as well.
Does my character have any needs that must be met?
Your character will need food and water to survive. Going without either will weaken your character to the point where he won't even have the stamina to move, making him a very easy target.
The conditions under which a character is operating will also affect these needs. A character that's in a hot area will tend to require more water, for example.
Will my character have reputation standings with others?
Yes and we will stress that you ignore your reputation with others at your own peril.
If you commit enough crimes against a settlement, your reputation will precede you and you'll be met by angry citizens, both PC and NPC, that are free to exact justice on you. If this happens to be in the settlement that you're a citizen of, expect to get escorted to the edge of town in a not so friendly fashion to begin your time in exile.
Your shopkeeper will certainly remember when you forget to pay him his wages by not bartering so hard for the best prices or conveniently forgetting some inventory a customer might be looking for. Mistreat him enough and he'll quit working for you, possibly taking a few things with him for compensation.
Own a settlement? Watch how you tax your citizenry. Not only will the PC citizens be upset, your guards may start responding to problems a little slower or outright leave to go to work for your adversaries. Keep running your settlement's guards to their deaths? Don't expect many replacements when they abandon their post.
Yes, your reputation with other PC, NPCs and settlements will be crucial, sometimes to your very survival.
Will there be static creature spawns?
Not in your typical MMO sense where you go down to the forested grove and watch deer spawn all day, watching a new one spawn three seconds after one was killed.
We will have areas, known as biomes, that will determine what type of and how many creatures get spawned there as well as how often. The spawned creatures will not be in a close proximity either. In other words, deer may spawn in the biome you're in, but not always in that nice tidy 50 feet x 50 feet forested grove.
Does that go for the plants and trees as well?
Yes. The biomes will know which plants, bushes and trees it can spawn and in what capacity.
So we can harvest items from the environment?
Absolutely. You will be able to cut down trees for timber and harvest plants and bushes for their resources (sometimes killing them in the process).
Could we in theory void an area of plants and animals?
In theory, yes. The biome will always be striving to get to its optimal count of plants and animals, but harvesting could out pace the biome's production rates.
Another variable that will impact biome production is the presence of settlements. The biome will slow production of its resources when there is a settlement within. The more, and larger, the settlements, the more it will reduce its resource production.
What are GM spawn markers?
Game master spawn markers is a tool that will enable GMs to place dynamic spawn points anywhere within the world. These spawn points, while invisible to the players, will have a host of parameters that can be set such as what it spawns, how often, the radius in which it can spawn, escalation (once 10 goblins have spawned, spawn an orc), terminators (if orc cheiftain is killed, destroy the spawn marker), lifespan (spawn creatures for 7 days, then destroy the spawn marker) and countless other options.
The result: a spawn layer above the biome spawns that will make the world feel truly dynamic.
How will combat work?
There will be no clicking on a person to make them your target in ToA. Instead, we will use coordinates, facing and weapon range to determine what you hit, if anything.
In its most basic form combat is simply left-click to attack and right-click to defend. While that may sound too simple to be fun, we firmly believe you'll think differently once you've experienced it. It allows for a certain finesse and rhythm that gets lost when you're being overloaded with buttons to monitor/mash.
Spells and missiles will travel in the path that you launched them.
Is PvP allowed?
Player versus player combat is fully permitted, meaning you can attack (and be attacked) anywhere at anytime, with a single exception that is explained below.
With open PvP, how do you intend to keep it from getting out of hand?
First, we're removing 'conning', the ability to see someone's prowess. That unassuming shopkeeper might also be a powerful warrior or mage that is far beyond your combat abilities.
Second, you have reputation with every settlement and doing a citizen harm, be it PC or NPC, will lead to severe consequences within that settlement, including losing your citizenship with the settlement (if you were one to begin with), being placed on their Kill On Sight list and even having bounties placed on your perma-dead head.
How does unconsiousness work?
ToA will include unconsciousness, the state between life and death. Your character will fall unconscious when its hit points drop to 0 or below.
Each character will have an attribute called fortitude. One of many roles this attribute plays is to determine how deep into unconsciousness your character can go before it dies. For example, your character has a fortitude of 50, meaning he could go to -50 hit points before he dies.
While unconscious, you have no control over your character and others may loot and interrogate him as well as kill him.
Your character will wake up when he reaches 1 hit point.
Will there be critical hits?
Yes. Critical hits will result in the target receiving a wound. Wounds are medical conditions that natural healing can't cure. Each wound has a specific debilitating impact on the character. An example would be a broken leg would cause a 40% penalty to movement speeds. Wounds are permanent until the character's next death or it is healed by someone with the proper healing skill.
Are there any safe places where I cannot be attacked?
The monolith is the only place where attacking another character will result in your instant death. The reasons behind this anomaly have never been fully understood or uncovered but many believe it to be divine intervention.
Will there be siege combat?
Yes. The game will launch with the catapult as the only siege weapon. Innovations are sure to follow that will allow other siege weaponry available.
What is perma-death?
When your character dies, it must make its way back to the land of the living. The journey back to life greatly taxes your character's soul. Sooner or later your character's soul is too weak to make the journey, instead deciding to leave the world of TerVarus forever.
Perma-death is a core feature of ToA that has rippling effects into just about every other feature of the game. It impacts how one will approach combat. It heightens the sense of danger when adventuring. It makes combat, or even just the threat of combat, more visceral knowing you could be one step closer to the end of your character's life.
Read this article if you're not convinced perma-death can work or is for you.
What happens when my character dies a normal death?
Your character's corpse is free for others to loot. Granted, looting is against the law in settlements so those doing so within its borders will be committing a crime.
When your character dies, its life counters will be reduced by one and a one minute timer will begin. Your character cannot resurrect until this timer ends. You can however move around in a spirit form as far and as much as you want. You will be limited as to what you can see while in spirit form. When the one minute timer ends, a resurrect button will appear and you can resurrect your character anytime after that by clicking said button.
So, we can’t resurrect each other?
No. This may change once religion is introduced.
How many times can my character die before it’s gone forever?
Each character will have 100 life counters.
What happens when my character perma-dies?
In short, it is gone forever. We are entertaining various ways to allow you to immortalize your past characters, including being allowed to create an artifact upon perma-death, but nothing is solidified at this point.
When my character perma-dies, does anything the character did affect my next character?
No. Each character starts with a clean slate and no one will be given any automatic indication that the new character is connected to the old one.
Generally speaking, how does crafting work?
At a high level view, crafting in ToA will require you to gather your resources and follow a preset steps for making an item. Some steps will let you be completely hands-off while others will demand more of your attention (gotta stir the soup every few minutes). For example, turning ore into ingots won't really require you to be there as the ore is smelted by the smelting forge, but pounding out a metal rod into a semblance of a sword will require you to be there and engaged with the process the whole time.
During these steps there will be opportunities for you to apply skill techniques you've learned for the skill. Using the sword creation example above, you could choose to apply your tempering technique during a particular step to give the final product more durability. By doing so, you are purposely pouring more skill into the item (in hopes of a higher quality final product) which in turn makes the skill check harder. In essence, you get to determine if you want to make a basic version of an item or a more advanced, higher quality version.
What is ‘cooperative crafting’?
Cooperative crafting is when you work with other crafters of your skill to complete an item that is of the utmost highest quality -- a masterwork item. In order to do so you'll need to have multiple crafters specialized in the different techniques to apply said techniques throughout the item creation process
Continuing the sword example above, you'll need to bring in three smiths, one that has maximum technique points in forming, one with maximum technique points in tempering and yet another smith with maximum technique points in balancing. The first smith will apply his forming technique and (assuming he succeeds at his skill check) the sword is given the best properties allowed via forming. He then passes it to the tempering specialist to do the same, and so on with the balancing specialist. The sword will have traded hands many times, thus cooperative crafting.
Why can’t I make a masterwork item by myself?
We want to encourage a sense of community with the crafters of ToA and we feel this is one way to do that. Beyond that, we want the highest of quality items to require something more than just getting to "max level". This also help to create demand for specific niches within a skill. Maybe you want your guards to have the best armor and weapons they can get but you're short a tempering specialist so you put the word out and a fellow player steps in to fill the bill.
Will items have minimum skill point requirements before I can even attempt to craft it?
No. Even the newest of crafters can have a chance to make an item, albeit near impossible. That doesn't take techniques into play as you must have points in your desired technique(s) before you can apply them throughout the creation process.
How does magic work?
If you want to be a mage in ToA, you will need lots of patience, tenacity, skill, gold and some good old fashioned luck. If there were a hardcore version of this already tough game, trying to become a mage of any renown would be it.
Here's an article we wrote up with some details on how the magic system will work.
Magic involves building your own spell book, learning symbology, the language of the arcane, going to distant lands to gather rare to impossible resources (you can't buy them off others as they must be freshly harvested), locking yourself into one-on-one battles with creatures of the arcane that would love nothing more than to rip your soul to shreds, and finally trying to unlock the encryption of your spell.
What's more is once you've finally unlocked your spell, it's a pathetic version of what you can enhance it to ... by doing the above process many times over.
*** MOST OF THOSE THAT TRY WILL NOT MAKE IT IN THE ARCANE ARTS! ***
Consider yourselves warned.
Why make magic so difficult?
We do it for multiple reasons.
TerVarus is not magic rich. We don't subscribe to the idea that every other person can cast magic or every third item is magical. When you do that, you lose the whole draw of it being something different and magical.
We want you to be awe-inspired, jaw-dropped and outright fearful when you see a fireball rolling your way.
Lastly, magic is *powerful* in ToA. The above said fireball could possibly decimate an entire group of characters. The way we chose to balance such power is with the difficulties of obtaining it.
Will mages use mana?
No. They will use stamina instead of mana as casting magic in ToA is incredibly taxing on the body. This puts most mages into an immediate quandary because stamina is also used for physical activities such as combat and running. Stamina management will be crucial for any mage's survival.
Will a spell be the same for each mage?
Every spell will come with multiple properties that can be individually enhanced as desired by the mage. For example, the fireball spell mentioned above will have properties akin to range, damage, area of effect, casting time, chance of component consumption and more. As such it's very likely two mages will have two wildly different variations of the same spell.
Can I start my own settlement?
Yes. Anyone who wishes to may try to claim an area of land to start their settlement.
Can one settlement war against another?
Absolutely and they can do it for whatever reason they wish.
Be cautious when declaring war against other settlements. Over use of this option will make your NPC population very uneasy, especially in cases where you declare war and end up losing.
Will there be settlements when the game is launched?
Yes. There will be four starting cities. In fact, they are up for grabs to anyone who registers on the forums. Read about it here.
Can I become a citizen of any settlement? More than one settlement at a time?
You can opt to become a citizen of any settlement that is currently accepting new citizens.
You may be a citizen of only one settlement at a time.
As a settlement ruler will I have a say in who can join my settlement?
Yes and no. You can toggle the new citizen acceptance option at any time, shutting off/turning on citizenship to everyone, but you can't decide on a per person basis.
What is stopping a settlement ruler from griefing his/her citizens?
We have many designs in place to stop a ruler from such acts. For example, a ruler can only elect to remove a citizen if that citizen's reputation with the settlement falls to a certain level. A ruler can't arbitrarily take a citizen's home away from him/her. He also can't target a specific citizen with different tax rates.
We know some of this doesn't align with the "do what you want but it'll cost ya" mantra we touted before, but there are certain lines that must be drawn for the sake of fun for everyone.
Will settlements have NPC guards?
Settlements will be able to hire NPC guards. The higher reputation the settlement has with its guards, the larger the pool of possible guards they can draw from when hiring new ones.
Do guards have life counters? Will the settlement be expected to equip them?
Yes, guards have life counters. They also get better at their skills by use, just like PCs.
A settlement will need to house guards by providing either guard posts, barracks or garrisons, each one being able to hold more guards than the one before.
Guards will also need equipment that must be supplied by the settlement. A guard that doesn't have proper equipment will not leave his housing. Settlements may set up contracts with its citizens to equip the armories.
Is there anything else you can tell us about settlements?
We're posting a series of articles describing the details of settlements. They are:
• Staking Your Claim
• Getting Started
• Settlement Warfare
Can I build and own a house or a shop?
Yes. You can own multiple houses and or shops so long as a you're a citizen of the settlement.
What types of structures can we expect in ToA?
We have a core number of structures planned for initial launch with many more planned (via innovations of course!) post-launch. For launch you can expect to see a few types of houses and shops, various settlement walls, towers, gatehouses, a few large keep options, and various civic buildings such as a town hall, a treasury and barracks.
Is a building instantly built or will we have to build them?
You will build them. Each building will have a set number of 3D models built to represent each stage of its construction. Some will have more than others.
Within each stage of construction, crafters will have to go to various points on the structure and complete multiple crafting tasks (carpentry, stone laying, etc.). Once enough of these tasks are complete, the structure will change models to the next more complete version. This process continues until the structure is complete.
Building structures will take a considerable amount of time and resources. It's not an endeavor to be taken lightly.
Here's an article we wrote detailing how buildings will be built.
Will structures require any maintenance?
Only when it has taken damage.
Will structures decay over time?
Building owners must occasionally visit their structures or they will be considered abandoned. Once flagged as abandoned, a structure will begin to fall into disarray, eventually collapsing from neglect.
Can structures be damaged or destroyed?
Yes, but only by siege weapons.