Chapter 2: Getting Startedâ€¦In Which We Prepare for the Game to Come 7
Mr. Christieâ€™s Ready-Baked Characters: A Quick Start to Our Pleasures in Arcanum. 7
Evolution in Action: a brief Overview of How Characters are Made. 8
A Unique Privilege: Choosing Oneâ€™s Own Name and Face......... 8
The Importance of Good Breeding: or, the Right Choice of Gender and Race......... 8
Scarred for Life: or, the Tragical History of oneâ€™s Characterâ€¦being A Few Words on the Subject of Background.................. 9
A Playerâ€™s Constant Companion: the Character Editor....... 9
Struck with Amnesia? General Information and where one may find it on display................ 10
The Eight Basic Statistics: a subject of some Importance................ 10
Putting Two and Two Together: An Enlightening Discussion of Derived Statistics 12
Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip; or, the 5 Resistance Statistics 14
The Self-Made Man: a brief Discourse on the subject of Game-Acquired Statistics 15
The Tricks of the Trade: a few words on the subject of Skills...... 16
A Few Words on the Positive Effects of Training. 20
Embracing the Technological Disciplines................ 23
An Introduction to Spells 24
Earnest Lazymanâ€™s Amazing Auto-Leveling Schemes: never Edit Another Character By Hand!..... 25
Magical/Technological Aptitude 26
Final Preparations for the Voyage of a Lifetime!: or, Buying Equipment 26
Chapter 2: Getting Startedâ€¦In Which We Prepare for the Game to Come
Mr. Christieâ€™s Ready-Baked Characters: A Quick Start to Our Pleasures in Arcanum
For those lacking the patience to endure the long and complex process of creating a Character of oneâ€™s own, the makers of this fine Game have provided a means of escaping this unwelcome tedium. Yes, gentle Playerâ€”you can begin your sojourn in Arcanum with all haste! For your personal convenience, a variety of pre-fabricated Characters have been made available, thus avoiding the muss and fuss of making one from scratch!
From the main menu , select â€œSingle Playerâ€? as shown in Figure 2-1, and then choose â€œNew Gameâ€? as seen in Figure 2-2 and â€œPick Characterâ€? as in Figure 2-3. You will find yourself presented with a list of possible dramatis personae for your adventure (Figure 2-4). You have only to click on each name in the left panel, and a brief life history for all persons listed will be at hand: this information appears in the panel on the right. Upon finding one that will serve, press the bottom right arrow (as in Figure 2-4) to begin Arcanum with a perfectly serviceable and ready-made identity.
If, on the other hand, you find that the desire to create your own Character is greater than the desire to begin the Game without delay, you may also select the â€œCreate Characterâ€? option (see Figure 2-3), and then press the bottom right arrow.
The wise player will read the rest of this chapter before proceeding any further, however! You may select ESC to return to the previous menu (Figure 2-2).
In addition to beginning a New Game, the menu featured in Figure 2-2 also allows one access to a previously saved game (see â€œLoad Gameâ€?). One may also leap directly to the most recent save game by pressing â€œLast Saveâ€?. (For more information on save games, see section 3-8.) Lastly, the option marked â€œView Introâ€? will replay the kineographic entertainment we have devised for the opening of our game. Note that pressing ESC will return us to the main menu.
From the main menu, we can instigate or join a multiplayer game (â€œMultiplayerâ€?, Figure 2-1). See Chapter 5 for more information on multiplayer games in Arcanum. By pressing â€œOptionsâ€?, one may set a variety of game, video and sound features to suit oneâ€™s personal preference. See section 3-8 for more information on these options.
Evolution in Action: a brief Overview of How Characters are Made
The Character creation system employed by Arcanum is based upon points. In practical terms, this means that every Statistic, Skill, Magical Spell and Technological Discipline in the Game will cost the player one of his or her allotted â€œCharacter Pointsâ€? to purchase. All Characters begin with certain Statistical values by default, but during the process of Character creation the player can spend Character Points to increase a Statistic, to raise Skill ranking, or even to buy Technological Disciplines and Magical Spells before the Game begins.
In addition to those alterations made by use of Character Points, a player may also choose a Race or a colorful Background story for his or her Character, and these also will affect the abilities with which that Character begins the Game. Whenever the aforementioned Character gains a new Level of Experience, he or she will gain further â€œCharacter Pointsâ€?, which the player will also spend in the improvement if his or her Character, raising the level of many helpful traits and Skills.
A Unique Privilege: Choosing Oneâ€™s Own Name and Face
The intrepid playerâ€™s first step must be to select an appropriate Portrait for his or her Character. A number of images appropriate to the Characterâ€™s Race and Gender will be provided, naturally; browse through these by use of the arrows on either side of the currently displayed Portrait (see Figure 2-5). Regardless of the choice made, the Portrait chosen will be reserved for this Characterâ€™s use only, and no â€œNon-playing Characterâ€? in Arcanum will appear with this Portrait in the course of the Game. More creatively inclined players may also add their own Portraits to the Game (see the documentation on Arcanum User Editing).
The player must also provide his or her creation with a Name, before the journey into Arcanum can proceed. This is achieved with a simple click in the Name Window (see Figure 2-6); the player then has only to type in a Name worth having. The aforementioned Non-Playing Characters in the Game will refer to your Character by this cognomen.
The Importance of Good Breeding: or, the Right Choice of Gender and Race
The playerâ€™s choice of Gender (see Figure 2-7) is not without some far-reaching implications. This delicate decision will, of course, determine how one is addressed by the courteous folk of Arcanum, but regardless of whether oneâ€™s Character is a â€œsirâ€? or a â€œmadamâ€?, there will also be a more practical side to the matter! Gender has a direct impact upon a Characterâ€™s personal Statistics, and in the course of the Game, certain Quests may arise which will be available only to ladies, while others will be reserved for the gentlemen. In some cases, there may even be Quests which have two different solutions, these depending upon the Gender of the Character pursuing them.
Once the matter of oneâ€™s Gender is settled, there are other accidents of birth to which we must attend. The choice of Race (see Figure 2-8) will modify some of the Statistics, Skills and other attributes of a Character, including how Non-Playing Characters will react to his or her presence. In the main, however, Arcanum is playable with any combination of Gender and Race: pray do not concern yourself over-much with being unable to complete your adventure, should you choose an unfortunate combination! The adjustments to Statistics and Derived Statistics which result from oneâ€™s selection of Gender and Race are displayed in the right-hand panel of the interface, so one can easily see how these choices are affecting oneâ€™s Character. Do note that changing Race or Gender will change the Portrait selection as well, since Portraits are specific to sex and species.
For information on the different races, see Appendix 2.
Scarred for Life: or, the Tragical History of oneâ€™s Characterâ€¦being A Few Words on the Subject of Background
Having selected the most desirable combination of Race and Gender, the player may now choose a â€œBackgroundâ€? for his or her Character (see Figure 2-9). A Background, of course, is a description of the Characterâ€™s life history to date, describing those formative events which have significantly altered him or her in some manner. Oneâ€™s Background always has its positive and negative aspects, naturally, and these positive and negative aspects will generally balance one another. Bear in mind, however, that the selection of oneâ€™s Background, Race and Gender are the only possible way to lower some of a Characterâ€™s Statistics or Abilities: in the Character Editor, it is possible only to raise these attributes.
Of course, Backgrounds are entirely optional and not at all required! If we select â€œNo Significant Backgroundâ€?, the Character will not be modified in any way: it can be assumed that his or her childhood was perfectly normal and satisfactory in every way. A last word to the adventurous: many Backgrounds are Race or Gender specific, and will not appear unless one has selected the appropriate combination of the two.
A Playerâ€™s Constant Companion: the Character Editor
Finally we press the right arrow, and we come at last to the bulk of our duties in creating a Character, and see for the first time a screen to which we will often return in the course of our Game. This is the Character Editor (see Figure 2-10), wherein the player can change those Statistics, Skills, Spells and Technological Disciplines of which his or her Character is possessed. The strongest among us may quail at the sight of this complex Interface, but do not despair, Gentle Player! Those uninterested in purchasing any specific attributes for a Character may ignore these complex matters entirely, and employ one of Earnest J. Lazymanâ€™s simple â€œAuto-Level Schemesâ€? instead. (See below) From thence one can simply move on to our final words for the chapter, on â€œBuying Equipmentâ€?.
The most important rule of the Character Editor is simply this: every attribute in the game costs 1 Character Point, or CP, to raise. Every Statistic, Skill, Spell or Technological Discipline will cost 1 CP, no matter its current value. Keeping this in mind, it should not be unduly difficult to decide where points should be spent, and a wise player will also be able to plan future purchases.
We recognize that learning to use the Character Editor Interface may seem a daunting task, at first. To assist you in this difficult area, however, your Electro Dynamo has been provided with a helpful gremlin, which will give you hints on how to proceed. When you hover over any area of the Character Editor, a brief message will be displayed explaining the Statistic, Skill, etc. upon which you have alighted. In addition to a description, the gremlinâ€™s message will also reveal any prerequisites which may be necessary in order to possess this Skill. Technological Disciplines, for example, require a minimum value of the Intelligence Statistic!
Struck with Amnesia? General Information and where one may find it on display
In the unlikely event that one has already forgotten the decisions one made just moments ago on a Characterâ€™s most general description, there is no need to panic. Within this area, the player is given the most basic information concerning his or her Character. These attributes include Name, Portrait, Race, Gender, Level and Points. This area also displays the Age of the Character (Gentlemen, please avert your eyes if the Character is a Lady!). All Characters start the journey through Arcanum as a young adult, but this Age of Majority will be different for each Race.
The Eight Basic Statistics: a subject of some Importance
Any given Character is possessed of eight Statistics, four of these being Physical and four being Cerebral. In both categories, the Physical and the Cerebral, the Statistics fall into four groupings, these four being Power, Skill, Resistance, and Appearance. Thus the Power of the body is its Strength, while the mindâ€™s Power is Intelligence. The bodyâ€™s Skill is its Dexterity, and the mindâ€™s Skill is revealed in oneâ€™s Perception. The bodyâ€™s Resistance is known as Constitution, and the mindâ€™s Resistance is the Will. And the bodyâ€™s Appearance is Beautyâ€¦while the attraction a mind may hold is called Charisma.
These Statistics cover a broad range of characteristics in the Game, but they can be described briefly as follows:
Strength â€“ being the raw muscle power of a Character, Strength determines how much physical damage the Character can inflict with a blow, as well as how many blows he or she can withstand; how many items he or she can carry; and how far any given item can be hurled. Some weapons have a minimum Strength requirement to operate them effectively; a person without sufficient brute Strength will be unable to wield them. The abbreviation for Strength is given as â€œSTâ€?.
Dexterity â€“ being the overall bodily coordination of the Character, this Statistic affects the Characterâ€™s performance in more Skills than any other. The abbreviation for Dexterity is given as â€œDXâ€?.
Constitution â€“ being the bodyâ€™s limit of endurance, this Statistic determines how easily a Character will become fatigued, the rate of healing, and his or her resistance to poison. The abbreviation for Constitution is given as â€œCNâ€?.
Beauty â€“ being the cosmetic appearance of the Character, this Statistic will determine whether the first response of ordinary persons, before the Character has a chance to speak to them, will be attraction or repulsion. The abbreviation for Beauty is given as â€œBEâ€?.
Intelligence â€“ being the measure of a Characterâ€™s Cerebral power, Intelligence has an impact on several Skills, as well as being the limiting factor in the learning of Spells and Technological Disciplines, and for maintaining Spells. Also, a Characterâ€™s verbal acuity is based primarily on his or her Intelligence. A person of low Intelligence has distinctly limited choices in dialog. The abbreviation for Intelligence is given as â€œINâ€?.
Perception â€“ being the Characterâ€™s general sensitivity and alertness to the immediate surroundings, Perception has a significant impact on a Characterâ€™s ability to use ranged weapons effectively, among other things. The abbreviation for Perception is given as â€œPEâ€?.
Willpower â€“ being a measure of the Characterâ€™s mental toughness and ability to resist mental influences, Willpower controls the availability of Spells and also determines a Characterâ€™s aptitude for haggling, as well as his or her resistance to the effects of certain Spells and Skills. Willpower also contributes to the Characterâ€™s hit points, and has an impact on his or her level of fatigue. A strong Will allows a Character to ignore some small measure of suffering, be it physical damage or sheer exhaustion. The abbreviation for Willpower is given as â€œWPâ€?.
Charisma â€“ being the sum of a personâ€™s personality and charm, the Charisma of a Character affects his or her ability to persuade others, and also determines the maximum number of Non-playing Characters who will follow him or her willingly. The abbreviation for Charisma is given as â€œCHâ€?.
Each of these eight Basic Statistics may range in value from 1 to 20 (or more). The Human average for any given Statistic is 8. Nonhuman races, however, may exceed the standard limit of 20 in those Statistics in which they receive a Racial bonus. By way of example, Dwarves receive a bonus of +1 to Strength and Constitution, and accordingly a dwarven Character may have a value of 21 in these Statistics. A halfling receives a +2 bonus to Dexterity and may therefore reach a value of 22!
At this point, the Characterâ€™s Statistics may be raised above the default levels, so long as one never spends more points than one currently has in the unspent points total (see Figure 2-10). Clicking upon the plus or minus buttons next to the Statistic will raise or lower it accordingly.
Having a Statistic reach the maximum value of 20 or higher is a rare event, and such extraordinary prowess is rewarded in Arcanum. A special ability or bonus is associated with each Statistic, and the Character which reaches this lofty height will benefit as follows:
Bonus for a 20 or higher
Double damage bonus
Speed is 25 (+1 per point over 20)
reaction modifier is +100% (+10% per point over 20)
+10% to the success rate of every Skill
immune to any Spell resisted by Willpower
100% loyalty: followers will never flee from your side and will only leave you if you ask them to, never of their own accord
These special bonuses are applicable only while the final value of the Statistic in question remains at 20 or higher. A Character with a natural Beauty of 20, upon suffering a scar which reduces Beauty by 1, will lose the bonus reaction modifier until healed. Note that this also means that certain Races will never achieve certain bonuses, due to racial modifiers--unless they receive some other improvement to the Statistic in question. A half-orc, for example, will never enjoy the bonuses associated with Beauty or Charisma, because these Statistics are reduced by his Race. By contrast, a half-ogre will derive the special bonus for his great Strength quite easily, because he receives a large Strength bonus from his heredity.
Putting Two and Two Together: An Enlightening Discussion of Derived Statistics
Every Character is possessed of certain Statistics which are derived from others. These derived Statistics begin at a default value which is based upon the value of the parent Statistic. Most such Statistics cannot be directly modified; the exceptions to this rule would be Hit Points and Fatigue, which a player can buy directly. To raise a derived Statistic, however, one must generally raise the basic Statistic from which it is derived. The derived Statistics of the Game are as follows.
From Strength we derive:
Hit points â€“ This is a measure of the Characterâ€™s current physical well-being. Any person begins with a number of Hit Points based upon the values of his Strength and Willpower, and loses some portion of those Hit Points when his or her body is damaged. In the regrettable circumstance that the Characterâ€™s number of Hit Points reaches 0, he or she will shuffle from this mortal coil. Hit Points are recovered at a rate determined by the derived Statistic known as Heal Rate (below). Extra Hit Points may be purchased with â€œCharacter Pointsâ€?, if the player uses the plus and minus buttons to the right of the Hit Point display.
Carry Weight â€“ This is the maximum weight that the Character is capable of carrying. (The unit of measure for weight is â€œstonesâ€?, as defined in Appendix One, the Glossary.) The greater the Strength of the Character, the more he or she can carry. See the rules for Encumbrance, in Chapter 3, for further discussion of this matter.
Damage Bonus â€“ A person of great Strength can inflict a great deal of punishment in any unarmed or melee attack. There can also be a penaltyâ€”which is to say, a negative adjustment to damage--for Characters with a lower measure of Strength. A halflingâ€™s fist does far less harm than that of a half-ogre!
From Dexterity we derive:
Armor Class Adjustment â€“ Armor Class (AC) is a measure of how likely one is to be seriously harmed, should one suffer an assault upon oneâ€™s person. A higher AC is more desirable than a lower AC, naturally.
Speed â€“ This is the base quickness of a Character; the higher oneâ€™s Speed, the faster one moves and the more attacks one can make in a given period of time. Logic asserts also that oneâ€™s Speed is necessarily reduced by the weight one carries, and that attack speed must also be affected by the Speed Factor of oneâ€™s chosen weapon. Speed can never be lower than 1.
From Constitution we derive:
Fatigue â€“ This Statistic gives us a measure of how much exertion a Character can endure before requiring rest. If Fatigue reaches a level of 0 or lower, the Character will lose consciousness until Fatigue reaches 1. Spells cost the Character a certain amount of Fatigue both to cast and to maintain, and carrying a heavy physical burden has the same general effect. (Again, please see the Encumbrance rules of Chapter 3 for further elucidation upon this subject.) Characters recover from Fatigue at a rate proportional to the derived Statistic called Heal Rate (below). More Fatigue can be purchased with Character Points, if the player makes use of the plus and minus buttons to the right of the Fatigue display.
Heal Rate â€“ This derived Statistic is somewhat self-explanatory; the Characterâ€™s body heals at a rate proportional to this number. A Character recovers from Fatigue continuously; Hit Points return only during sleep.
Poison Recovery Rate â€“ When poisoned, the Characterâ€™s body will eliminate a number of units of poison proportional to this number every few minutes. (These will be subtracted from his or her poison level: see â€œGame-Acquired Statisticsâ€? below). If the Character rests, the number of units eliminated every few minutes will double: a body freed from other distractions will devote all available resources to purging itself of the offending toxin.
From Beauty we derive:
Reaction Modifier â€“ This is the superficial and sadly inevitable response which may be occasioned by one's physical appearance. The Character receives this bonus, or penalty, upon his or her first meeting with any â€œNon-Playing Characterâ€?.
From Charisma we derive:
Maximum Followers â€“ A Character will never have more willing followers at any given time than this number allows. Please do note, however, that it is also possible for Characters of low Charisma to have followers of a sort! It is more than possible to gain followers through Quests.
Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip; or, the 5 Resistance Statistics
Resistance Statistics are displayed in the bottom middle of the Character Editor Interface (see Figure 2-4). Any Character begins with 5 basic Resistances, which will range in value from 0 to 95%. Most Races begin with a 0% in each Resistance except Poison, which starts at a level based on Constitution.
Damage â€“ A general measure of oneâ€™s resistance to damage caused by weapons and physical attacks.
Fire - A measure of oneâ€™s resistance to damage caused by heat, smoke, and flames.
Electrical â€“ The extent of oneâ€™s resistance to damage caused by electricity and lightning, regardless of whether these are generated by Force Magic or by Technological Devices.
Poison â€“ A resistance to damage caused by any kind of poisoning, be it natural venom, man-made toxin, or a contagion created by means of Black Necromancy.
Magic â€“ This is oneâ€™s innate resistance to Magic, and is similar in nature to that immunity which is provided by Technological Aptitude. (In fact, a creature with both faculties simply adds the two together, when Magic is directed against his or her person.) Unlike Technological Aptitude, however, innate resistance to Magic does not affect oneâ€™s own use of items or spells.
A final caveat: Armor, Background, Race, Technological Therapeutics and Magic can modify any or all of these resistances.
The Self-Made Man: a brief Discourse on the subject of Game-Acquired Statistics
Certain Statistics cannot be modified before the Game begins; they change only in the course of play, as a result of oneâ€™s experiences in Arcanum. These Game-Acquired Statistics are as follows:
Level â€“ A new Character begins his or her sojourn in Arcanum at Level One, and gains additional Levels through the acquisition of Experience Points. With each new Level, a new milestone in the Characterâ€™s development is reached, and in recognition of this achievement the player is rewarded with Character Points to spend on the purchase of Skills, Statistics, and Spells. The maximum Level any Character may achieve in the course of the Game is 50; the current Level of the playerâ€™s own Character is displayed at the top of the Character Editor Interface.
Experience Points â€“ Any Character begins life as a fresh-faced stripling with 0 Experience Points (abbreviated as â€œXPâ€™sâ€?). As these XPâ€™s are acquired, the Character advances in Level. The number of XPâ€™s necessary to achieve the next Level are displayed at the top of the Character Editor.
Alignment â€“ In the spirit of fair play, all Characters begin the Game with a neutral Alignment, and through their own actions will evince an inclination toward either Good or Evil. This Alignment will determine how kindly the Character is regarded by certain Non-Playing Characters, and it may also restrict the use of certain Spells or magical items. Regrettably, it must be noted that an Evil Alignment is a slippery slope of sorts: while the slaughter of a Good creature is always viewed as an Evil act, the slaying of an Evil creature is only considered a Good deed if the Character is less Evil than his or her victim. The Alignment of oneâ€™s Character is indicated by the meter on the left-hand side of the Character Editor Interface.
Reputations â€“ This Statistic is given in the plural because a Character may enjoy more than one Reputation at a time. All Characters begin the Game with no Reputation to speak of, but a certain notoriety may be acquired in the course of play. Like Alignment, a Reputation of any kind is based upon oneâ€™s actions, and the two Statistics are closely related. Both can be determining factors in the reception one receives from Non-Playing Characters, but while Alignment tends to shift continuously as the Character performs deeds both good and bad, Reputations tend to stick permanently. Reputations are reported to the player in his or her Logbooks (see our section on â€œInterfacesâ€? in Chapter 3 for further details).
Fate Points â€“ All Characters begin their adventures in Arcanum with 0 Fate Points, but through the completion of heroic quests these Fates Points can be earned. They are spent during the course of the Game at those crucial moments when events must be altered in the playerâ€™s favor. By way of example, a player may spend a single Fate Point to insure that the next attack of his or her Character will result in a critical hit, or even that the enemyâ€™s next attack will critically fail. Damage or injury can be negated with Fate Points, and Spells can be resisted successfully. In short, Arcanum rewards its heroes with a bit of good old-fashioned luck! This heavenly reward for earthly deeds can be distributed at the playerâ€™s discretion. Fate Points are displayed along the top of the main interface bar. (For more information on this subject, see Chapter 3, and the section entitled â€œPlaying the Gameâ€?.)
Character Points â€“ Character Points are acquired at each new Level of Experience, and can be spent to raise Statistics and Skills or acquire new Spells. The current number of Character Points available for the spending is displayed at the top of the Character Editor.
Poison Level â€“ Thankfully, all Characters begin with a perfectly healthy Poison Level of 0, but this may change if oneâ€™s Character is bitten by some manner of poisonous creature or struck by an envenomed weapon. See Chapter 3, and the section entitled â€œCombatâ€?, for a few words on the consequences of being thus poisoned, and be aware that if a Character has been poisoned, his or her Hit Point bar will turn yellow as an indicator, while Poison Level is displayed as an overlay.
The Tricks of the Trade: a few words on the subject of Skills
By pressing the Skill button (see Figure 2-11), the player may view a full display of his or her Characterâ€™s Skill Window. This display will list each Skill the Character may enjoy, its rank, and its training (if any). All Basic Skills fall into one of four general areas of expertise, and are accessed by the four buttons at the top of the Skill Window: these being marked â€œCombatâ€?, â€œThievingâ€?, â€œSocialâ€?, or â€œTechnologicalâ€?. Each Skill is based upon a particular underlying Statistic, its â€œBSâ€? (Base Statistic). Skills begin at a rank of 0, and can never be raised higher than the Base Statistic upon which they depend.
A person having a Dexterity of 10 begins with a Bow Skill rank of 0. He can never raise the Skillâ€™s level higher than a rank of 2 without first raising his Dexterity.
The chance of succeeding in the use of any Skill is given as a mathematical percentage, and this number will increase several percent for each new rank attained. Ranks are purchased with the plus or minus buttons to the right of the Skill in question. The increase in oneâ€™s rate of success naturally varies for each Skill, but for any Skill a higher rank will automatically translate to a higher rate of success. So, while a ranking of 0 may mean that the Character is appallingly maladroit and absolutely abysmal in the use of a Skill, a rank of 5 will very likely make oneâ€™s Character the most accomplished specialist in all of Arcanum.
In the course of using an Skill, a Character may enjoy a critical success or suffer a critical failure. A critical success causes the Skill to perform extremely well, while a critical failure will often cause the Character to injure himself in some way. The frequency of any critical situation is proportional to the rank of the Skill, with more critical successes and fewer critical failures as rank increases.
All Characters begin the Game without training in any Skill whatsoever, and this training cannot be purchased with Character Points. Instead, the Character must travel throughout Arcanum, seeking out persons who are accomplished in the use of each Skill, and either pay them gold or perform a quest (and occasionally both!) to receive the valuable training they can provide. For more information on this subject, please see the section entitled â€œSkills and Trainingâ€? below.
Pray press the button marked â€œCombatâ€?, Gentle Player (see Figure 2-12), and you can display the Combat skills of your Character in a convenient sub-window. These are the Skills which are useful in causing others intentional injury, and also in avoiding such injury yourself. Some Skills which might be useful in Combat are also useful in other situations, however, most especially Throwing and Dodging! All Combat Skills with the exception of Dodge are defined as â€œactive Skillsâ€?, by which we mean to say that the player initiates their use in the Game. By contrast, Dodge is a passive Skill, as a Character will Dodge instinctively: the ranking of this Skill is useful to your Electro Dynamo machine, when the contrivance is calculating the chances of your Character being struck by an enemy or a trapâ€™s effect. In the case of all â€œactive Skillsâ€?, please make reference to the Critical Hit and Critical Failure charts to learn the possible effects of these happenstances.
Bow â€“ The knack of using a classic bow weapon, be the bow short or long.
Dodge â€“ The tendency to leap aside and avoid injury when one is attacked, or surprised by a trap.
Melee â€“ The ability to land a damaging blow, when boxing or striking with a weapon in hand.
Throwing â€“ The capacity to hurl knives, rocks, grenades or any other potentially dangerous object with accuracy.
Press now the button marked â€œThievingâ€?(see Figure 2-13), and one can see a display of the Characterâ€™s Thieving Skills in a second convenient sub-window. Just as one might guess, these are the Skills most prized by thieves, although there are many perfectly moral and wholly non-criminal applications of the very same abilities (with a possible exception of Picking Pockets, perhaps, a Skill for which they may be no wholesome use). Backstab, Picking Pockets and Prowling are defined as active Skills, while Spotting Traps is passive.
Backstab â€“ this Skill allows oneâ€™s Character to score extra damage when using a rear attack with a dagger. An unaware opponent receives considerably more damage than an aware one. The amount of damage increases with Skillâ€™s improvement, as well.
Pick Pocket â€“ Picking pockets is the fine art of stealing from others, and this Skill allows the Character to add and remove items from the inventory of another person. A failure in the use of this Skill may garner unwelcome attention from his or her intended victim, if said victim makes a successful Perception check. On a critical failure the Character is always caught, however--even by the blindest numbskull imaginable.
Prowling â€“It takes both delicacy and grace to move so quietly that one is able to avoid detection.. Naturally the Characterâ€™s measure of success is determined to some degree by the surroundings and the available light; it is more difficult to hide oneself in a brightly-lit, empty room than in a dark, crate-filled warehouse. Armor will affect a would-be prowlerâ€™s chance of success; it is rather easier to sneak about in normal clothes than in a clanking suit of plate mail.
Spot trap - Even the most skillfully laid trap cannot be completely hidden from a person with properly trained eyes. The ability to locate mechanical traps in oneâ€™s immediate vicinity before they are tripped is called â€œSpot Trapâ€?, and the chance of success may be reduced by improper light.
If we press the button marked â€œSocialâ€? (see Figure 2-14), we come to a display the Social Skills sub-window. Oneâ€™s Character makes use of these Skills in business dealings, on social occasions, and in any situation which requires interaction with the people of Arcanum. The Skills of Healing, Gambling and Haggling are active in nature, while Persuasion is passive.
Gambling â€“ A wise man makes his own luck, and with a bit of Skill one can win consistently at cards, dice and other games of chance. This Skill may come in handy when a Character wishes to gamble for certain items held by a Non-Playing Character. The rank of the Gambling Skill determines the maximum worth of any single item for which one may gamble.
Haggle â€“ The gentle art the deal comes into play when one wishes to buy goods at less than their full price. The higher the rank of oneâ€™s Haggle Skill, the less a Character will pay for items during bartering and the more she will receive when selling items. A person of quick wit and sharp tongue need never pay standard retail prices!
Heal â€“ The Skill of Healing gives a Character the ability to cure wounds and reduce crippling injury. One must make use of bandages or medical kits in order to Heal someone, and each use of the Skill will deplete some of your supplies. A critical success can do a great deal of good to an injured person, but a critical failure will Heal nothing and use up more the usual measure of oneâ€™s Healing supplies.
Persuasion - It requires a certain degree of charm to Persuade others to take action, or to convince them that we are speaking the truth. Within the confines of our Game, this particular Skill operates passively in dialog situations (see Section 3-5).
Finally we come to the button marked â€œTechnologicalâ€?, (see Figure 2-15), and upon pressing it find ourselves treated to a display of the Technological Skills sub-window. These are the Skills necessary for successful interaction with all manner of Technological Contrivances. A word to the wise: any Character Points spent in improving these Skills will alter a Characterâ€™s Magical/Technological Aptitude Statistic, just as improvements in oneâ€™s Technological Disciplines do. The Characterâ€™s interaction with all Magical and Technological items will be affected.
All Technological Skills are active in nature.
Repair â€“ This is the Skill that makes a man handy; possession of Repair Skill gives one the chance to repair a plethora of Technological and smithied items, from swords to steam engines to Tesla guns.
Firearms â€“ This Skill governs the use of all Technological projectile weapons.
Pick Locks â€“This Skill allows one to open locks without the use of the appropriate key. A critical failure in the use of this Skill will jam the lock, rendering it impossible to open without the proper key or a Spell of some kind. Note that the Character must have lockpicks in his or her possession, in order to use this skill.
Disarm Traps â€“ An aptitude in the area allows the Character to disable traps. One must be aware of the trapâ€™s existence (via the Spot Trap Skill, or the like) before one can attempt to disarm it.
Please see Chapter 3 and the section entitled â€œPlaying the Gameâ€? for a more detailed discussion of how these Skills are used during the course of our Game.
A Few Words on the Positive Effects of Training
Training is the best means of improving oneâ€™s performance in any Skill, and training is a separate matter from oneâ€™s rank; all Skills begin as Untrained and remain Untrained no matter how high the Skillâ€™s rank becomes. When a Skill is Untrained, nothing appears in the Skill Window next to the Skillâ€™s Name. The Character must seek and pay for training in order to learn the subtle tricks of the trade, and acquire the training bonuses that are unique to each Skill.
There are three levels of training in every Skill, these being that of the Apprentice, the Expert and the Master. Beginning at rank 1, a Character may seek out a trainer and pay a small sum for a few valuable hints on improving his or her Skill. After this transaction, the completely Untrained Character goes from being Untrained to an Apprentice, and gains a small bonus for use of the Skill. For example, an Apprentice Bowman can shoot arrows at a higher rate of speed than an Untrained Bowman.
Upon achieving a rank of 3, the Character must find an Expert trainer to further hone his Skill. The ranking of 3 alone is not sufficient to earn the training an Expert can give, however; a goodly sum of money will also be required. Upon completing this transaction, however, the Character gains another bonus for the use of his Skill, while retaining the tricks he learned as an Apprentice. To continue with our previous example, an Expert Bowman can fire two arrows at once, in addition to the higher rate of fire he gained as an Apprentice Bowman.
Finally, at the rank of 5, a Character may seek out a Master of his Skill. A true Master of any Skill is a mercurial creature, reluctant to place his or her knowledge in the hands of a Character who may use it for foolish or selfish ends. The Master will require a Character to prove his worth, often demanding quest items which are difficult to obtain or even Expert status in other related Skills, in addition to the usual large sum of money. Masters are very rare and seldom make themselves readily available to the public-at-large, often sequestering themselves in out-of-the-way places to avoid the burdens of their fame. The bonus for a Master level of Skill is once again cumulative to bonuses enjoyed by an Expert and an Apprentice. A Master Bowman can shoot arrows at any target without range penalties, and he also can fire two arrows at once as all Experts can, at the same high rate of speed that he learned as an Apprentice.
Common sense dictates that such training is necessarily sequential. A person Untrained in the use of the Bow cannot become an Expert until he has first trained as an Apprentice. However, although training is restricted by rank, the reverse is not true. One can possess a rank of 5 and still be Untrained.
The specific effects of training oneâ€™s Skill are as follows:
Bow Apprentice â€“ the Speed of the Character with a bow is increased by 5
Bow Expert â€“ the Character may fire two arrows at once
Bow Master â€“ the Characterâ€™s chance of success is unaffected by range penalties
Dodge Apprentice â€“ on a critical success, there is a 10% chance the opponent will critically fail
Dodge Expert â€“ on a critical success, there is a 50% chance the opponent will critically fail
Dodge Master â€“ on a critical success, the opponent will always critically fail (overrides the benefits of Melee Mastery)
Melee Apprentice â€“ the Speed of the Character with a melee weapon is increased by 5
Melee Expert â€“ the Character is unaffected by lighting penalties
Melee Master â€“ the Character cannot critically fail with a melee weapon
Throwing Apprentice â€“ the Speed of the Characterâ€™s throw is increased by 5
Throwing Expert â€“ the Throwing Range of the Character is 50% farther
Throwing Master â€“ the Characterâ€™s chance of success is unaffected by range penalties
Backstab Apprentice â€“ a successful rear attack upon an unaware opponent will bypass his armor
Backstab Expert â€“ the Character may backstab with swords and axes as well as daggers
Backstab Master â€“ the Character gains an enormous increase to his chance of scoring a critical success
Pick pocket Apprentice â€“ the Character is ONLY caught on a critical failure
Pick pocket Expert â€“ the item size penalty is halved
Pick pocket Master â€“ the Character cannot be caught when planting an item
Prowling Apprentice - the Characterâ€™s chance of success is unaffected by lighting, and armor penalties are halved
Prowling Expert - the Characterâ€™s chance of success is unaffected by surrounding objects, and he can walk while Prowling
Prowling Master - â€“ the Character can conceal himself during combat and cause his opponent to lose track of him, and he may also run while Prowling
Spot trap Apprentice â€“ the Characterâ€™s chance of success is unaffected by lighting
Spot trap Expert â€“ the Character is able to sense magical traps as well as mechanical ones
Spot trap Master â€“ if the Character fails (but does not critically fail), he gets a second chance to spot the trap.
Gambling Apprentice â€“ a â€œmarkâ€? will gamble for more expensive items
Gambling Expert â€“ a â€œmarkâ€? will gamble away wielded items
Gambling Master â€“ a â€œmarkâ€? will gamble away things that he or she would not normally sell
Haggle Apprentice â€“ the merchantâ€™s mark-up is reported to the character
Haggle Expert â€“ merchants will buy anything, even things they normally would not
Haggle Master â€“ merchants will sell items marked â€œNot for Saleâ€?.
Heal Apprentice â€“ a Character may heal an extra 50%
Heal Expert â€“ critical failures are merely failures (and thus do not use extra bandages)
Heal Master â€“ all successes are critical successes (and will Heal side effects of a crippling injury)
Persuasion Apprentice â€“ followers will wait for oneâ€™s Character longer than normal
Persuasion Expert â€“ gain a bonus of 2 extra followers in addition to Charisma Bonus
Persuasion Master â€“ anyone will join with the Character, regardless of reaction to oneâ€™s alignment
Repair Apprentice â€“ reduction of max HPâ€™s is only 5%
Repair Expert â€“ reduction of max HPâ€™s is only 1%
Repair Master â€“ there is no reduction of max HPâ€™s except on a critical failure. A Repair Master can fix broken items (items reduced to 0 hit points) but always at a cost of 5% of max HPâ€™s.
Firearms Apprentice â€“ the Speed of the Character with a gun is increased by 5
Firearms Expert â€“ called shots are made with 2/3 the penalty
Firearms Master - the Characterâ€™s chance of success is unaffected by range penalties
Pick lock Apprentice â€“ pick lock action takes half as much time
Pick lock Expert â€“ the Character is unaffected by light penalties
Pick lock Master â€“ the penalty based on the lockâ€™s difficulty is halved
Disarm traps Apprentice â€“ the Character is unaffected by light penalties
Disarm traps Expert â€“ if the Character critically succeeds at disarming, he gets an item that is part of the trap (such as arrows or dynamite)
Disarm traps Master - if the Character fails (but does not critically fail) at disarming a trap, he gets a second chance
Embracing the Technological Disciplines
Pressing on, we find the Technological Disciplines button (see Figure 2-160), and display the Disciplines window for a nearly completed Character. The Technological Disciplines of Arcanum fall into eight categories, listed and explained below:
Smithy â€“ A Discipline concerned with the construction of armors
Mechanical â€“ A Discipline concerned with the production of gadgets through mechanical means
Gun Smithy â€“ A Discipline which covers all aspects of the design and creation of new firearms
Electrical â€“ A Discipline which explores the mysteries of charged particles and magnetism
Herbology â€“ A Discipline concerned with the living body and how natural substances effect it
Therapeutics â€“ A Discipline which explores the beneficial effects of man-made materials on the body
Chemistry â€“ A Discipline which considers man-made substances and their deleterious effects
Explosives â€“ A Discipline concerned with the research and development of unstable substances
To acquire one of the above Technological Disciplines, the player must press one of the category buttons at the top of the Discipline window. Each Discipline contains seven degrees, the lowest being that of the Novice and the highest that of the Doctor. If one does not possess any degree in a Discipline, one is referred to as a Layman. Each degree can only be acquired by attaining the degrees previous to it, and any Character Points spent in Technological Disciplines will alter the Magical/Technological Aptitude Statistic of the Character. This alteration in Aptitude, in turn, will affect the interaction of oneâ€™s Character with all Magical and Technological items.
To purchase a degree, press the plus button which is adjacent to it. One can negate a degree purchase by pressing the minus button adjacent to it. Please be aware that within any given Discipline, each degree must be obtained in the correct order; in this, our humble Game is no different than life. Every degree is, in sequence, a prerequisite for obtaining the next, and every degree has an additional prerequisite as well, this being the possession of the minimum Intelligence value necessary to command such extensive knowledge. The higher the degree, the higher the Intelligence Statistic of a Character must be to attain it.
For each degree attained by oneâ€™s Character, a Discipline-specific aptitude called Expertise will be gained. Expertise is a numerical value, which indicates oneâ€™s understanding of the Discipline in question; Expertise in any Discipline is directly related to the technical complexity of the items one is able to comprehend. In consequence, Expertise directly affects the Characterâ€™s ability to combine items in a useful and productive fashion. The combining of items is further explained in the Schematics section of Chapter 3, but for now, suffice it to say that comprehension and use of a new Schematic is possible with each new degree obtained by oneâ€™s Character--and that the complexity of this new Schematic is congruent with its associated degree.
For a complete list of learned Schematics, please make reference to Appendix Four.
An Introduction to Spells
Conversely, by pressing the Spell button (see Figure 2-17), we can display the Spell window for our Character. There are sixteen colleges of Magick in Arcanum, and all Spells are associated with one of these sixteen:
Conveyance â€“ concerning Spells which supply one with motion and transportation.
Divination â€“ concerning Spells which supply one with information or knowledge.
Air â€“ concerning Spells which manipulate the first elemental material, that of air and wind.
Earth â€“ concerning Spells which manipulate the second elemental material, that of earth and stone.
Fire â€“ concerning Spells which manipulate the third elemental material, that of fire and heat.
Water â€“ concerning Spells which manipulate the fourth elemental material, that of water and ice.
Force â€“ concerning Spells which manipulate and direct pure cosmic energies.
Mental â€“ concerning Spells which influence and control the mind of a sentient target.
Metaphysical â€“ concerning Spells which have their chief affect on other Spells.
Morphological â€“ concerning Spells which alter the material substance of a target in some fashion.
Natural â€“ concerning Spells which manipulate and control plants, animals, and natural forces.
Black Necromantic â€“ concerning Spells that negatively affect the life force of a creature.
White Necromantic â€“ concerning Spells that positively affect the life force of a creature.
Phantasmagorical â€“ concerning Spells which control light and illusory images.
Summoning â€“ concerning Spells that summon creatures of progressively greater power.
Temporal â€“ concerning Spells which control the flow of time.
Each college of Magick contains 5 Spells, and within any one College these Spells must be learned in the correct order; each Spell is a prerequisite for the next. Additionally, there is the prerequisite of possessing the minimal Willpower necessary to learn and cast this Spell, with higher level Spells demanding more Willpower from the would-be mage than lower level Spells. No spell may be learned if the Character has an Intelligence with a value lesser than 5.
To purchase a desired Spell, press the plus button next to its name; the player can undo a Spell purchase by pressing the minus button. Please do keep firmly in mind that any Character Points spent on Spells will alter the Magical/Technological Aptitude of the Character, and this, in turn, will have significant effect of the Characterâ€™s interaction with all Magical and Technological items.
Remember also that when any Spell is cast, it costs the mage a certain amount of Fatigue. Additionally, some Spells will cause continuous Fatigue for as long as the mage maintains the desired effect. If Fatigue ever drops to 0 or below, all maintained Spells are discontinued, and the caster will faint dead away and remain unconscious until enough Fatigue is regained to reach 1. No caster can maintain more Spells than his Intelligence divided by 4. Yes, Gentle Readerâ€”a person with an Intelligence of 3 or lower cannot maintain any Spells at all! But a person of such low Intelligence will probably have more than sufficient challenge in life just controlling his or her bodily functions; marshalling mystical energies would only be a burden.
No Spell is guaranteed to achieve its intended effect. While some Spells are impossible for the target to resist, others can be resisted by the targetâ€™s Constitution or Willpower. Also, any Spell or Magical item may fail when used by or directed upon a target who possesses even the smallest measure of Technological Aptitude (see Chapter 3 for more information on this subject). Regardless for the reason of a Spellâ€™s failure, the caster will pay the full price in Fatigue for the attempt.
Note: innate Technological Aptitude can cause Spell failure. The chance of failure is proportional to the Technological Aptitude of the caster and to the Spellâ€™s level. Someone with a high Technological Aptitude casting a level 5 Spell stands a VERY good chance that the Spell will fail to cast.
For a complete list of Spells in each College of Magic, please see Appendix Three.
Earnest Lazymanâ€™s Amazing Auto-Leveling Schemes: never Edit Another Character By Hand!
By pressing the Scheme button (see Figure 2-18), we can display an Auto-Level Scheme window for our Character. This window displays the currently active Auto-Level Scheme, as well as a list of other Schemes which are available for our use. If the Character in question is using â€œNo Schemeâ€?, the player must distribute Character Points manually whenever the Character gains enough experience to raise a new Level. However, if the player chooses any other Scheme on the list, the Character will spend its own Character Points without demanding the playerâ€™s time and energy. Each time this Character rises in Level, the Character will attempt to buy Statistics, Skills, Spells and Disciplines in an order based upon his or her active Scheme. These purchases will be reported to the player along with the message that the Character has leveled.
The player can change his or her chosen Auto-Level Scheme or switch to the â€œNo Schemeâ€? setting at any time during the course of our Game. The player can also invent unique Auto-Level Schemes! See the documentation on â€œArcanum User Editingâ€? for more details on this subject.
This Statisticâ€™s value is based upon the number of Character Points the player has spent on either Magical Spells or Technological Skills and Disciplines. A Character with more points in Spells is said to have Magical Aptitude, whereas a Character with more points in Technological Skills and Disciplines is said to have Technological Aptitude. This Statistic can range from 100% Magical Aptitude to 100% Technological Aptitude. Human Characters begin with a neutral value of 0, having no innate leanings towards either Magic or Technology. The meter on the right-hand side of the Character Editor Interface (Figure 2-4) will display the Magical/Technological Aptitude of oneâ€™s Character.
As the Magical Aptitude of a Character increases, his or her use of Magical Spells and items will be more proficient and effective. By the same token, Technological items will work less well for this Character, and will be less efficacious when used by him and on him. Similarly, as Technological Aptitude increases, Technological items will be used more proficiently by a Characterâ€¦but Spells and Magical items will work less well in his vicinity.
As a general rule, a Magical item will work adequately for someone with no Magical Aptitude, but optimally for someone with a 100% Magical Aptitude and not at all for someone with a 100% Technological Attitude. The reverse is true for a Technological item; it works adequately for a person of no aptitude, best for someone with a 100% Technological Aptitude, and not at all for someone with a 100% Magical Aptitude.
Final Preparations for the Voyage of a Lifetime!: or, Buying Equipment
Once all Character Points have been spent in the Character Editor Interface, the player may press the lower right arrow button and move on to very last preliminary stop before we begin our adventures in Arcanum: Buying Equipment (see Figure 2-19). This Interface is an exact duplicate of the Barter Interface which one will use in the Game itself (please see Chapter 3 for information on how to use the Barter Interface in the course of play). Here, Gentle Player, you may spend your precious starting cash on equipment which may be useful to you, as you take your first tentative steps in a brave new world!
Bearing in mind that certain Backgrounds may have reduced or even eliminated oneâ€™s inheritance, while others may have provided one with a surplus of cash or a valuable item, the player should now spend a few moments in thought. What things might prove useful, in a land where adventure lurks around every corner? Buy or sell as the mood strikes: if prices seem too high, it might be wise to retrace your steps and improve this Characterâ€™s Haggle Skill!
When this last-minute shopping is finished, press the green arrow at the bottom right of the screen to begin play.