Chapter 3: Playing the which We Sally Forth to Play Arcanum, part 2

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Section 3-2: General Game PlayEdit

The vast majority of our Game is played with an isometric view of the proceedings. In the main, the persons, places and things we wish to examine may be perused simply by hovering the cursor of the mouse over them; when we do so, important information about the target will appear in the Message Window. Each description is accompanied by an icon appropriate to its subject.

When examined, living beings will display a name, a reaction to one's Character, a level, and the current state of both Health and Fatigue bars. When the cursor is placed over the Followers of one's Character, these will display their exact Hit Points and Fatigue number, while non-Followers will simply report a percentage. The icon in the Message Window will show the player a portrait of Followers, but for non-Followers an image of the target's Race will suffice, unless the Character has cast the Sense Alignment Spell: in this circumstance, an Alignment icon will be displayed. Additionally, if a Character is Prowling, one will receive feedback indicating how close the targeted creature may be to detecting the presence of one's Character. These reports indicate that one's situation is either "Safe" (the target is not aware of one's Character) or "Perilous" (the target can very nearly see or hear you).

Items will always display a name and a weight in stone, as well as some other specific information, such as how much damage they cause in combat. Occasionally, the description of an item may also give us additional information, including a measure of quantity (when the item is gold or ammunition) or effects the item may yield when used, or even how much damage the item has taken.

When scenery is examined, the Message Window will display its name, and if it is destructible, its hit points. Not all scenery is worthy of comment, by any means—only the most interesting features of the landscape will occasion any remark! Portals and containers, when examined, will be seen to be either locked or unlocked.

To simplify interaction with one's surroundings, every object the player left-clicks upon has been given a default behavior. Clicking on a door, for example, will open it. Clicking on a living being will talk to this being. Clicking on an item will pick it up. Clicking on a chest or dead creature will loot it. Clicking on a location will instruct the Character to walk to that spot.

There are some overrides to this default behavior, however, and these are as follows:


If the player should hold down the control key while clicking on a location, his or her Character will run, rather than walk, to that location. Alternatively, the player can set a preference to run all of the time, in the Options menu (see Section 3-8). Note that running will cost Fatigue points, when the Character is in Combat Mode.


If the Character is in Combat Mode (see Section 3-3), the left-click upon any non-Follower will be changed by default to an attack, rather an attempt to strike up a friendly conversation. It is also possible to force an attack on anything—followers, doors, chests, etc.—by holding down the [Alt] key when you left-click in Combat Mode. Finally, holding [Shift] when left-clicking on a target will force one's Character to stand still and attack, using the ranged attack of his weapon if such is necessary and available.

Dragging ObjectsEdit

Outside of Combat Mode, a Character can drag an item or corpse to himself by holding [Alt] when he left-clicks upon it. The Character must be standing directly adjacent to the object in question, which will then move to the Character's location. This is useful when one must move items which cannot be placed in one's inventory—for example, the inconveniently placed and highly incriminating body of a fallen foe, or any other heavy item which must be removed from the path of overly curious passers-by.

Examining Creatures in CombatEdit

If the Character is in Combat Mode, a player who hovers the cursor over an enemy creature will receive useful information in the Message Window. This display will give an estimation of the Character's likelihood of hitting the creature with his primary weapon. If some factor is reducing this likelihood and the player can affect this factor, then an icon may appear to indicate the presence of this reduction. These icons are the Weight (which tells us that a Character does not have sufficient Strength to wield the weapon he holds), the Target (which indicates that one's target is beyond the range of one's weapon), the Eye (which indicates that the target is beyond Character's range of Perception), the Wall (which informs us that the target is hiding behind partial cover), the Bulb (which indicates that the target is dimly illuminated), and the Red Cross (which informs us that the Character is suffering an injury which affects his Combat Skills).


When a Character picks up an item of sufficient weight to cross over to a new level of Encumbrance, the player will receive a message in the Message Window. There are several levels of Encumbrance, from light to heavy, and each level causes the Character to move more slowly by progressively reducing his or her Speed. At the highest levels of Encumbrance, a Character may take Fatigue damage as well from carrying such a great weight. Under no circumstances can the Character carry more in stone than his Carry Weight (see Chapter 2 for a definition of this term).

Section 3-3: CombatEdit

It is our sad duty to inform you that Combat, for better or worse, is an integral part of life in Arcanum. Should the need arise to give someone or something a jolly good thrashing, the player can initiate Combat Mode at any time by pressing the Combat Button on the main interface. This will cause the Character to gird himself with weapon and shield, if these are available, and assume a Combat stance. Any creature which is not a Follower of one's Character will be attacked, should the player left-click upon it while in Combat Mode. Note that certain Spells and Skills are considered hostile actions, and practicing them upon a living thing will inspire the target creature to violence. Unwise dialog responses (see Section 3-5) can also lead to a physical altercation.

When attacking, a Character's chance to hit his opponent is displayed in the Message Window. This chance to hit is based primarily upon one's Skill with the weapon one wields. For example, a Character who makes use of his fists, or any other weapon which is neither Technological nor Ranged by nature, will be forced to draw upon his Melee Skill. When using an ordinary Ranged weapon, he must make use of his Bow Skill. If the ranged weapon of choice is Technological, the Character will require Firearms Skill. If his chosen mode of attack is to hurl an object—be it a dagger, a grenade or a particularly over-ripe vegetable—his Throwing Skill will come into play.

By default, all Combat in Arcanum is played out in real-time. By this we mean to say that ordinarily, when the player attacks his opponents, they are also attacking back. Attack Speed is determined by two factors, these being the Speed Statistic of the attacker and the Speed factor of his weapon. These two values are added together to determine an overall Attack Speed. The higher the Speed, the faster the Character will animate and the more attacks he will perform in a given amount of time. Remember, however, that certain Spells and conditions—Encumbrance, for example—can reduce a creature's Speed Statistic greatly, thereby reducing his overall Attack Speed to a significant degree.

Should real-time Combat prove inconvenient in some way, the player can toggle his Combat to a turn-based mode by pressing the space bar. This action will create a Turn-Based Action Point bar to appear above the hot key bank. The Character is given as many Action Points as he has points of Speed; available Action Points are displayed in green. Walking costs 2 Action Points per tile, while running only costs 1 Action Point per tile. But whereas walking is not terribly taxing, running incurs Fatigue costs! Weapon-based attacks cost an amount of Action Points inversely proportional to the weapon's Speed; faster weapons cost less Action Points to use. Other actions taken in Combat, such as the casting of Spells and the use of Skills, will also cost a set number of Action Points to perform.

During the course of Combat, Action Points available to this Character will turn orange, giving us an indication of the cost of performing a given action—be it attacking or moving. The player can also choose to spend more Action Points than are currently available to the Character, to deliberately over-reach the Character's bar; Action Points spent in such a fashion are shown in red, and by performing such actions the Character may incur a heavy cost in Fatigue.

If the player clicks on a location in Turn-Based Combat Mode, the Character will walk until he reaches the location or runs out of Action Points, at which point his movement stops and his turn is over. If the player clicks on a target to launch an attack, any Action Points spent beyond those available for the turn will be drawn from his Fatigue. So if a certain Character with 2 Action Points remaining over-reaches himself to perform an attack that costs 5 Action Points, he must spend both his remaining Action Points and lose 3 Fatigue points as well—but he can still perform the attack.

The player's turn ends when he is out of Action Points, or when he presses the End Turn Button on the right-hand side of the Action Point Bar. Thereafter, all of the other creatures involved in the fracas will be allowed their own turns, before the player is permitted to perform a turn again.

Whether one's Combat takes place in real-time or in a turn-based mode, damage inflicted to a creature is reported in text bubbles floating above its head. Damage to the player's Character is red, while damage to other creatures is displayed in white. Poison damage to the player's Character is reported in the Message Window, and it will also turn the Hit Point Gauge from red to green. The current Poison Level will be displayed in the gauge.

Occasionally, any creature involved in a combat may score a critical hit, which is an exceptional blow of some sort. Such blows will cause additional damage to the target, or perhaps damage the target's equipment. This is reported in the text bubbles above the target's head. If the player scores a critical hit, his Followers may make a comment which expresses their awe at witnessing such prowess. If the player's Character is seriously harmed by a critical blow, it will enter the player's Logbook in the Kills & Injuries section.

Of course, a creature may also suffer a critical failure, which usually causes the unfortunate party to harm himself or his own equipment in some way. The effect of a critical failure depends entirely upon the weapon being used; a sword will critically fail very differently than a Tesla Rod will. Critical failures are reported in the text bubbles above the attacker's head. If the player critically fails, his Followers may make waspish remarks on witnessing his apparent lack of Skill. Any serious side effect of such a failure, apart from keen embarrassment, will enter the player's Logbook in the Kills & Injuries section.

The player may also choose to perform a "Called Shot", deliberately aiming for the head, arms or legs of his intended victim. Called Shots are more difficult to perform than ordinary attacks, as they are less opportunistic, and thus a certain penalty is incurred. Any Called Shot which does connect with the target, however, has a greater chance of being a critical success, and when such critical blows are delivered the Game makes use a special table to calculate damage, this damage based upon the location of the wound. Called Shots to the head have a greater chance of knocking the opponent unconscious, while Called Shots to the arms and legs have a better chance of causing crippled limbs. Armor worn in those areas will help protect against these blows, which is why it is always a good idea to wear helmets, gauntlets and boots.

[,] (comma) — Attacks will be called shots to the Head

[.] (period) — Attacks will be called shots to the Arms

[/] (forward slash) — Attacks will be called shots to the Legs

Experience is awarded to the player character for scoring successful blows upon his or her target, and a smaller amount of experience is awarded for killing the target. It is quite possible for a Character to avoid killing creatures and still attain the highest level in the game, although the Character should take care to use Fatigue-causing weapons, in order to knock unconscious the opponents bent upon his destruction. Some creatures cannot be knocked insensible, such as undead, and one must either flee from these creatures or immobilize them if one wants to avoid killing them.

Section 3-4: ThievingEdit

Given the right combination of Statistics and Skills, the Playing Character can enjoy a storied career of robbery, burglary and all manner of petty larceny in the world of Arcanum. The locks of countless doors, windows and chests will present no obstacle to a thief properly trained and equipped.

All of the Active Skills available to Thieves can be found in the Skill Window, which is accessible, as previously stated, by pressing the Skill Button. The first three buttons in this Skill Window are for the Skills most prized by Arcanum's criminal classes. These Skill Buttons are, in order, Prowling, Pick Pocket and Disarm Traps.


This button will force the Character into a sneaking mode. A successfully sneaking Character reduces the Perception range of any creature which is looking for him. This means that the higher the Character's Skill, the closer he can pass by hostile creatures without them attacking or even noticing his presence. The Character can examine the creature while Prowling, to see how close he can get without being revealed.

When not moving, the Character will use the Prowling skill to stay hidden and duck into a hiding animation. When in motion, the Character will use Prowling skill to travel quietly and will use a tiptoe animation. A prowler will attempt to stay in the shadows and in dimly lit areas when moving—but of course, the player can force the Character into brightly lit areas if necessary. Remember, lighting affects one's chances of discovery, armor can reduce one's chance to Prowl.

When one's Character is Prowling about, one's followers will try to Prowl as well. However, the player should be aware that many followers are not skilled at Prowling, and if anyone in the group is detected, hostile creatures will attack. For this reason, the most successful prowler is usually a solitary prowler!

Pick PocketEdit

This button will create a target cursor. The player indicates his "mark" by a left-click; with a right-click one cancels the action. Once the target is selected, the player will be shown a Stealing Interface which is very similar to a Barter Interface—only ever so much less expensive! The target's Inventory is shown on the left-hand side, and the player can use the buttons in the upper left to switch from the target's wielded items to its carried items, and vice versa.

To steal an item, the player moves the desired object from the target's Inventory to his own. To plant an item, he moves it from his own Inventory to the target's! By doing this, the player is indicating that he wants to perform the action; should he change his mind about taking this action, he can always click in the circular window to cancel the Stealing Interface. As soon as the transfer is completed in the Interface, the Character will walk over to the target and attempt the action, as casually as possible. Depending on many factors (the Skill of the Character, the Perception of the victim, the size of the item, etc.), the Character may succeed or fail in carrying out his larcenous intention. If he fails by a wide enough margin, or most especially if he suffers a critical failure, the target will notice the attempt and may well attack the Character in retaliation.

Remember, larger items are harder to steal than smaller ones, and it is much more difficult to steal or plant wielded items than carried items; a substantial penalty applies to such thefts. However, there is a significant bonus if the target is unaware of the Character's presence, so sneaking up on one's target is very helpful, and stealing from sleeping creatures is even easier.

Disarm TrapsEdit

When pressed by the intrepid player, this button will create a target cursor. With this cursor the player indicates a trap which he wishes his Character to disarm. The Character will walk to the trapped object or location and attempts to disarm the trap. If successful, the trap is disarmed and disappears. If unsuccessful, the Character may set off the trap.

Pick LocksEdit

The ability to pick the locks of doors, windows and chests is another Skill highly prized by thieves. In order to pick a lock, one's Character must first be in possession of lockpicks of some kind. The player must use these lockpicks by dropping them in the Use box of the inventory interface, or by using them from the hotkey bank. Once the lockpicks are in use, the player will be provided with a target cursor, which one then uses to indicate a door, window or chest that one's Character will unlock. Once the item to be unlocked is selected, the Character will walk to the object in question and attempt to unlock it. Please be judicious in the use of this Skill, and never fail to take into account that the good people of Arcanum are seldom amused to find a would-be thief picking the locks of their own windows, doors or chests! Some people will shout a warning to the thief, while others will simply attack ruthlessly.

Spot TrapsEdit

The only passive Skill prized by Thieves is Spot Traps. This Skill is constantly in use, as the Electro Dynamo Machine constantly calculates the chance that a Character will notice a trap on the object he is about to use or in the location he is about to enter. If the Character does notice the trap, then the trap is displayed, a Message is printed, and the Character will not use the object or enter the location. If the Playing Character does not notice the trap, then it will go off when the object is used or the location entered.

There are many different types of traps in the game, and the majority of these are classified by the sort of damage they do. Traps can shoot arrows or bullets, explode, or shock the Character who has the grave misfortunate of triggering them. Some are purely mechanical, like the ever-popular Spike Trap, and these do perfectly normal damage. Some are Magical in nature, and when triggered they cast a Spell upon the Character. Magical traps cannot be disarmed by ordinary means; they must be dispelled via magic.

Once a trap is noticed, the player may attempt to disarm it using Disarm Traps Skill, employing the procedure described above. Otherwise, one can simply choose to set the trap off, either by using the object or by forcing one's Character to walk over the trapped location. Usually the Character will avoid a location known to be trapped, but if the trap lies on the only path available to the Character, the trap will be triggered.


The final ability which all thieves possess is Looting, which requires no special Skill whatsoever. Looting is the removal of items, whether it be from a chest, a dead body, a junk pile or any other container. Clicking upon any container or dead body in the course of our Game will cause the Character to walk to that object and loot it. A Looting Interface will appear, quite similar in character to the Stealing Interface described above, the only difference being that the items in question are transferred immediately, and that no Skill is required or checked. The interface also has a Take All button at the top, which will transfer all inventory, wielded or not, to one's own inventory. Do note that when looting corpses, a wise player never forgets to check their wielded items! The sword pried from an enemy's cold, dead hand may well be the choicest loot of all.

Section 3-5: Social InteractionEdit

Now that we have thoroughly discussed the anti-social aspects of life in Arcanum, it may behoove us to turn our attention to more pleasant matters. Healthy social interaction is a very important aspect of a Character's performance in our Game! No player will be able to pursue his adventures solely by virtue of theft and murder. At some point, we must all interact with the denizens of many towns, cities and fortifications, and a large variety of Interfaces and Skills are available to make each interaction a pleasant one.


The main form of interaction in Arcanum is dialog. Dialog is initiated outside of Combat Mode by left-clicking on the creature with which one wishes to converse. If the target is capable of speech, it may initiate a dialog with one's Character; a Dialog Interface will appear, if the creature has anything more to offer than a simple greeting or a vile insult. During the conversation, the responses of one's partner in conversation will float above its head, while the player's list of potential responses appear in a floating window in the lower half of the isometric window. The player must select one of these responses and click on it to continue the discussion, and one's words will then lead the creature to its next response. Dialog ends when either the player tires of talking and selects a closing statement, or when the targeted creature makes a similar decision.

This deceptively simple Interface conceals an enormously complex model of conversation. The player's responses are filtered, and not all responses are available to every Character! Most commonly, certain responses may be tagged as requiring a minimum (or maximum) Intelligence to speak, but any other Statistic, Skill or trait may also filter a response. For example, sometimes the player may be given a choice of a line because he has a specific item in Inventory, or has heard a certain Rumor, or has undertaken a particular Quest.

When some responses are selected, the creature may change its reaction to the Character, or even launch a physical attack, if it has been insulted. Fortunately, the player can always see the reaction of the creature in the Message Window at the bottom of the screen, which provides a helpful gauge of one's success in making friends rather than enemies!

Dialog is also the circumstance in which a Character's passive skill of Persuasion comes into play. Many player responses are attempts to cajole the creature into performing some useful action, or to convince a target that the player is telling the truth. In each of these cases, the Character's Persuasion skill is checked. The Character will need a higher Persuasion to convince creatures to perform actions which are ordinarily against their nature...or their better judgment.


Dialog is also the pathway to Bartering, which is the player's means of buying and selling goods, as well as one's opportunity to Gamble for items. The Bartering Interface is similar to the Interfaces used when Stealing and Looting, and these have already been described, both in the previous section and in our discussion of the Personal Inventory Screen, in section 3-1. In the case of Bartering, one can see the items carried and wielded both by one's own Character and by the target, and one may either try to buy or Gamble for the target's items, or sell one's own items to the target.

When the player hovers over any item in the target creature's Inventory, the creature will tell him how much it will cost, or that the item in question is not for sale. If the player picks up the item and moves it over to his own Character's Inventory, one is indicating a desire to purchase the item, and that he will pay the required number of coins for it.

Similarly, when the player hovers over any item in his own Inventory, the target will reveal how much he is willing to pay for this item, or that he is not interested in buying it. If the player moves the item over to the creature's Inventory, the action indicates that he wants to sell the item, and that he will accept the proffered number of coins for it. Note that not every creature wants to buy every item available in the world! Many buyers are looking only for items of a particular type, such as weapons or Magical gadgets.

During the act of Bartering, a Character's Haggle Skill comes into play. The higher the Haggle Skill of the Character, the better the prices the Character will enjoy, meaning one can sell for more coins, and buy for less. Other factors have an impact on prices as well, of course, including any reactions the salesman may have to one's Character, or the salesman's basic price mark-up on all items in general...but Haggling is a deciding factor, and the only factor which is completely under the player's control. If prices seem too high, the one should consider raising one's Haggle Skill. Also, training in this Skill will allow the player to see the creature's price markup on all items, and will give one's Character the opportunity to buy and sell items which the creature would not normally wish to trade in. In the midst of one's pipe dreams of glorious battle and daring theft, the player should not underestimate the value of this humble Skill!

Gambling is another Skill which is used within the context of the Bartering Interface. The adventurous player can drag a desirable item to the Gambling Box on the right-hand side of the Interface, and if the box lights up red, the creature will refuse to Gamble for the item. This occurs if the Character's rank is too low, if the creature is not interested in selling that item, or if the Character simply doesn't have enough money to cover the bet. Should a merchant refuse to Gamble for an item, the player must buy up more Gambling Skill, pursue additional training or scrape together more money before the dice will roll.

If the box lights up green, conversely, the creature in question will make the player an offer of coins. When the player drops the item in the Gambling box, the Gambling takes place automatically. If the player wins, his or her Character gets the item for free. If the creature wins, it keeps the item and takes the indicated number of coins from the Character.

Gambling is a good method of acquiring items which the Character could not otherwise afford, as having enough money to buy any one item will allow the player to Gamble for several items in a row—so long as one doesn't lose! Of course, all gamblers must accept a certain measure of risk, and a player may end any love affair with lady Luck with no money and no items at all to show for all his pains.

Bartering can also change a creature's reaction to one's Character; if the creature is making a good profit from the Character's purchases and sales, this reaction may improve. But as no one cares over-much for poverty, a creature's reaction to any Character may drop if his Gambling losses pile up too high. The wise player will know when the well has run dry, and will move on to a different Gambling partner before his current mark becomes an enemy for life.


Through the use of the Heal Skill, a Character may be capable of Healing himself and others without resorting to either Magic or Technology. When a bandage or medical kit is used, the player is given a target cursor which can be clicked upon one's own Character or any other living thing. Once this command is given, the Character will walk to the creature and use his Heal Skill upon it. With a successful use, some hit points are returned to the target. With a critical success, an existing injury is healed as well. Nothing happens on a failed use, but a critical failure will use extra bandages.


One's Character may gain Followers at any time as the Game progresses, both of the willing variety and the unwilling variety. Willing Followers will tend to join one's company after a Dialog of some sort, which may reveal common interests or goals. Unwilling Followers may be gained while in the process of completing a Quest, through the use of Spells from the College of Summoning, or from one's construction of automata. Only willing Followers are counted against the maximum Followers allowed by the Character's Charisma Statistic (see the section of Chapter 2 entitled "Derived Statistics").

Naturally, it stands to reason that not every Non-Playing Character will make himself available as a Follower to the player, and many of those who could offer themselves may choose not do so, depending on their reaction to the Character's Beauty, Level, Alignment, Intelligence, Reputation or other factors. Some Followers have an agenda of their own, as well, and may follow the player's Character solely because they wish to travel to a certain place or achieve a certain end; such Followers may pester one's Character about their ambitions periodically. Finally, Followers may leave the group of their own accord, especially if their own needs are not being met, if the player Character undergoes a shift in Alignment shift, or performs some deed which is particularly onerous or repellent to the Follower. Usually, but not always, the Follower will warn his leader first before making such a weighty decision.

Any current Follower appears on the Follower bar. Each Follower also displays his Portrait, as well as his Health and Fatigue bars. Clicking on the Follower's bar Portrait is the same as clicking on the Follower, and both actions will initiate a Dialog. The Follower bar may be toggled so as to be as hidden from view by using the display toggle at the bottom of the list of Followers; many players prefer to see the Follower bar only during Combat, when it is useful to keep track of the Health of comrades-in-arms. In the event that the Character has more Followers than can be displayed in one column, the player can also scroll the list up and down using controls to each side of the display toggle.

Followers will occasionally override their Leader's use of certain skills. Specifically, if the Character uses Pick Lock or Disarm Trap, and any of his or her Followers possesses a higher rank in that skill, then the Follower will step forward to perform the task in the Character's stead. The Character can prevent this behavior by hold down [Ctrl] while clicking on the target lock or trap, or he may set the appropriate Game Option to prevent this behavior altogether (see Section 3-8 for Game Option descriptions).

Followers do not deprive the player of Experience Points, with the exception of the experience per blow in Combat which the player does not receive. Anything killed by a Follower is treated as a kill by the player's Character, for purposes of both Experience award and for any Alignment shift that it may cause. Additionally, when the Player Character goes up in Level, each and every Follower of that Character will also go up in Level. Followers will spend their Character Points according to an Auto-Leveling Scheme of their own devising.

Do note that some Followers, most particularly those created with Spells of Summoning, are often viewed unfavorably by other Non-Playing Characters. One may find Non-Playing Characters unwilling to converse or even frightened enough to launch an attack or take to their heels, rather than face one's daemonic entourage. One must dismiss these Followers, or have them wait discreetly elsewhere, in order to conduct business with such people.

When you are trading with a follower NPC and you have additional followers with whom you can trade, you will see arrows on either side of the follower's portrait. These arrows will cycle among your followers. This feature allows you to trade more easily with all of your followers. Note that followers with whom you cannot trade (eg. a dog) will not appear as you cycle among your followers.

Similarly to trading with followers, when you are examining a follower's character sheet and you have additional followers, you can cycle among all of your followers by using the arrows that appear near the top of his portrait. This feature simplifies the comparison of follower's abilities.

Broadcast MessagesEdit

Occasionally, a player may choose to broadcast messages from his or her Character outside of the normal Dialog Interface. One may wish, for example, to issue orders to a particular Follower or to all of one's Followers at once—or one may even wish to talk to another Player when the Game is being played in its popular "Multi-player Mode" (see Chapter 5 for further details). The player may issue such a broadcast message by hitting the [Enter] key, typing whatever it is one wishes to say, and then hitting [Enter] again. The message thus entered will appear as a text bubble above the Character's head, and everyone nearby will see it.

Commands which can issued as a broadcast to Followers include:

Leave — banishes Non-Playing Character from one's group

Wait — command a Non-Playing Character to wait in its present location for a while

Come (or Follow) — commands a Non-Playing Character to begin Following one's Playing Character again

Stay Close (or Close) — commands a Non-Playing Character to follow the Playing Character at a lesser distance

Spread Out (or Spread) — orders a Non-Playing Character to follow one's Playing Character at a greater distance

Attack — commands a Non-Playing Character to attack the Playing Character's selected target

Walk — orders a Non-Playing Character to walk to a target location

Back Off — Commands a Non-Playing Character to stop fighting its target

If the command requires a target, the player should target it by hovering over it before hitting Enter.

To direct a command to a particular Follower, preface the message with his particular name. To order a Follower named Virgil to stay near your Character as you move in a dangerous area, type "Virgil stay close". If he hears this command, the Follower will acknowledge this command. In general, a Follower must be on the same screen as the Player Character in order to hear and acknowledge a command.

Some commands can be prefaced with the number sign, so as to issue a general order to all of one's Followers at once. These commands are as follows: #Walk, #Attack, #Stay Close, #Spread Out, #Back Off

In addition, hotkeys have been assigned to issue orders to all of ones followers. These command keys are as follows:

[F1] — Walk — Commands a Follower(s) to walk to a target location

[F2] — Attack — Commands a Follower(s) to attack the selected target

[F3] — Stay Close — Commands a Follower(s) to follow at a lesser distance

[F4] — Spread Out — Commands a Follower(s) to follow at a greater distance

[F5] — Back Off — Commands a Follower(s) to stop fighting its target

To provide an example, the command given as "#Stay close" will command all of one's Followers to remain near the player in a dangerous area. This is very useful if you have gathered a great many Followers!

Finally, some broadcast messages are used on or by other Playing Characters. To use these, the player clicks on the target and types:

Join — joins targeted Playing Character to your party

Disband — banishes the targeted Playing Character from your party

In addition to broadcast commands, you can right-click on the follower bar to display a drop-down command menu. From this menu, you can issue commands directly to the follower. Note that two menu commands (Walk and Attack) require you to specify a target. You may right-click at any time to cancel this menu or the targeting mode. Also note that not all commands are available at all times, such as the Inventory command for followers who cannot barter. These inactive commands are dimmed.

See Chapter 5 for more details on parties which consist solely of Playing Characters.

Section 3-6: MagicEdit

Magic and Technology are the two fundamental powers in Arcanum, and of these two Magic is by the far the more ancient and universally respected. Until a few decades ago, Magic was by far the predominant force in the world, and its power and usefulness easily outstripped the paltry gadgets that were passed off as scientific accomplishment! These days, however, Magic often finds itself struggling to compete for the hearts and minds of Arcanum, as Technology moves forward in prodigious leaps and bounds. This is not to say that Magic is weak--quite the contrary! Magic is still capable of producing effects that Technology cannot Spells of teleportation and summoning being just two of many examples. But the absolute primacy of Magic in Arcanum is now a thing of the past; the ancient art of spellcraft now has a younger brother in the upstart Technological Disciplines, and sibling rivalry between the two is intense. Accessing spells

To access the Spells one has purchased for one's Character, the player can press the Spell Button on the Main Game interface (see Figure 3-37). A Spell Window will slide into place over the Message Window, and in this Spell Window the player will perceive a row of buttons which represent the various Colleges, with Slots for the Spells in each College. If the Character knows any Spell in a particular College, then the button for this College is active and colored. Otherwise, it appears as a featureless dimmed button and cannot be pressed.

By pressing an active College button, the player displays all the Spells in that College which are known to his Character (see Figure 3-38). At least one, and perhaps all five these Slots will be filled with a Spell icon. These Spell icons can be dragged to the Hotkey Bank for quick and convenient access in an emergency. Casting spells

To cast a particular Spell, the player can press its Spell icon in the Spell Window (see Figure 3-39). If the Spell does not require a target, then it will be cast immediately. In this case, the Entangle spell does require us to select a victim, so the player is given a targeting cursor and must click on the target of the Spell (see Figure 3-40). If one holds down the Shift key while clicking on a Spell, it will be cast upon yourself automatically, which is extremely useful when using Healing Spells in Combat.

When the Spell is cast, the Character is charged its associated cost in Fatigue. If the cost reduces his Fatigue to 0 or below, the Character will faint dead away, and remain unconscious until he regains at least a single point of Fatigue. Unbridled Spell-casting is dangerous in Combat situations, because the caster is vulnerable to being knocked out not only by his own Spells, but by Spells cast by his opponent, which do Fatigue damage. A defeated mage commonly crumples to the ground insensible.

Maintaining spells

If the Spell we have cast must be maintained in some way, its icon appears on the player's Spell Maintenance Bar (see Figure 3-41). Intelligence limits the number of Spells that may be maintained simultaneously by any given Character (see Chapter 2- Spells). Active Spells drain Fatigue continuously, and when the Character's Fatigue drops to 0 or below, these Spells immediately drop and are removed from the Spell Maintenance Bar as the Character loses consciousness. The player may stop an active Spell by clicking on its icon on the Maintenance Bar at any time. Scroll spells

During the course of our Game, the Character may occasionally find a scroll with a Spell scribed within. If one's Character has an Intelligence of at least 5, this Spell can be cast in one of two ways: either the player may enter the Personal Inventory Screen and drop the scroll into the Use Box, or he may place the scroll in his Hot Key bank and use it from there. In either case, the Spell is cast as described above, with the Character considered the caster, excepting that the scroll provides the energy for the Fatigue cost of the Spell--and is consumed in the process. If the Spell must be maintained in some way, it works for one cycle of Fatigue draining and then ends. So while a Hellgate scroll would most assuredly create a demon, and while this demon would most assuredly be under the player's control briefly, this same demon would only last for one minute before returning to the nether world. Item mana

Some items have the precious property of providing mana to a caster. If these items are wielded when the magician casts a Spell, they will provide mana towards that Spell's cost in Fatigue, as well as contributing mana toward any subsequent maintenance cost. However, once such an item is drained of its mana, the caster must provide the balance of the remaining Fatigue cost. Such items will slowly regain their mana over time, just as a living thing would. The player can see the mana available for use in such a device by reading the Gold/ Ammunition Counter when the item is being wielded. Item spells

Certain Magical items may also contain one or more Spells of their own, Spells which may be cast by the wielder. The functioning of such an item is similar to the function of a scroll, in that the item itself provides the initial Fatigue cost for the casting of its inborn Spell but unlike a scroll, the item can also maintain the Spell in question by drawing upon an internal mana store of its own. A mana resource of this kind may be wholly separate from the mana that such a Magical device could provide its wielder for the casting of his own Spells! The Spells maintained by such an item still appear in the Spell Maintenance Bar, however, and the player can cancel them at any time.

The player uses the item's Spell Button (see Figure 3-42) to access these Spells when and if the item is being wielded. Until identified, however, the player may remain entirely ignorant of the wondrous properties of such an extraordinary device; such an item will reveal neither its actual internal mana store nor its Spells willingly, and when initially examined it will display only question marks. Only after identification will the amount of mana available be revealed (see Figure 3-43), but thereafter the item's Spells can be cast. Magical Items

It must be said at this juncture that all Magical items, including weapons, have a quality of Magical Power, which ranges from the very weakest magicks to enchantments of world-shattering power. When a Character makes use of any Magical item, however, his or her personal Magical Aptitude (or lack thereof) is a strong determining factor in how well the item functions. The available power of the item is proportional both to the Character's Magical Aptitude and item's own innate level of Magical Power. If the Character has Technological Aptitude rather than Magical Aptitude, it will serve to reduce the item's Magical Power. However, the available power of the item in use can never exceed the maximum Magical Power it contains...nor can it drop below 0.

When a Magical item is used at less than full power, its effects diminish. For example, a Magical long sword may lose its bonus to hit when it is functioning below 50% of its power, and armor which was made weightless by Magic will regain its weight slowly as its power diminishes.

When a Magical item or a Spell is used to target someone with Technological Aptitude, it may fail to operate. The chance for failure is directly proportional to the target's Technological Aptitude. However, if the user has Magical Aptitude, then his own knack for the Art reduces this chance of item failure. The higher his Magical Aptitude, the more the chance of failure is reduced.

Note that these two rules are cumulative, so that a Technologist using a magic item on another Technologist will probably be extremely disappointed in the result. A Magical item used in such dire straits will be doubly hampered, and at such vastly decreased power it may fail to operate at all.

Section 3-7: Technology

According to some authorities, Technology is nothing more than the twisted shadow of Magic--but nay-sayers have fallen increasingly silent in recent years, as the Technological Disciplines have grown more and more powerful. Over the past few decades, more and more Technological Contrivances have been offered to the public at large, and many citizens of Arcanum's great cities have discovered that while a job accomplished by Technological Devices is seldom accomplished prettily, or with Magic's flair for the dramatic, such jobs are accomplished very quickly and they stay done indefinitely! Repair

Most of the Technological Skills of our Game have already been described above (Firearms in Section 3-3, Pick Locks and Disarm Traps in Section 3-4). The only other Technological skill available is to the player is Repair, which is accessed in the Skill Window (see Figure 3-44). After clicking the Repair button, the player will be given a targeting cursor; thereafter the player may click on any item in his Inventory or on the ground, and the Character will attempt to Repair that item. Repair is like a Healing Skill for items, and it works by removing damage from the item at the cost of lowering its maximum possible Hit Point value. The damage removed is proportional to the Character's rank in Repair, while the maximum Hit Point reduction is proportional to the Character's training in Repair. With additional training, Repair will lower the maximum Hit Points of the item very little, if at all. Schematics

Technological items in the Game are manufactured by reference to a variety of Schematics. The player may gain access to the Schematics Interface by pressing the Schematics Button on the Main Game Interface (see Figure 3-45). Once this Interface is opened, the player can thereafter gain access to any learned or found Schematic in the Game by using the two buttons to the left. These two buttons open the player's Schematics Books, one of which is reserved for Learned Schematics, while the other is used to record the player's Found Schematics. Learned Schematics are gained when the player buys additional degrees in any Technological Discipline; Found Schematics are the children of fortune, windfalls which a player may stumble upon in the course of play.

Each Technological Discipline in the Game is represented in any Schematic Book by a tab on the right-hand side. Each tab, when clicked upon, will open a section of the Book filled with Schematics for a single degree. If more than one Schematic is known for a certain degree, the section can be paged forward and back by using the arrows in the upper left and right-hand corners of the pages.

Each Schematic serves as a blueprint for a certain Technological Contrivance, and bears the name and description of this device, as well as a display of the two components that are needed to build the item. A component is colored if the player's Character possesses it, and gray-scaled if he does not. Each component also displays its Technological Discipline and its Complexity in its display, if it has such. For each component with such values, the Character must have Expertise in the appropriate Discipline which is equal to component's Complexity; without matching Expertise to Complexity, one will be unable to make use of the Schematic. (See Chapter 2 Technological Disciplines)

The player uses the bottom left-hand button to construct the item. This button can only be used if the Character possesses both the necessary components and sufficient Expertise in the required Technological Disciplines to assemble the resulting machine. If one's Character does not possess the necessary Expertise, then the button lights are red. If one's Character has the Expertise but not the components, then the lights are yellow. If one's Character possesses both the components and the necessary Expertise, then the lights are green, and pressing the button will consume the components and construct the new Technological item, which will then appear in the fortunate Character's Inventory. Technological Items

During the course of his or her travels throughout Arcanum, the player will almost certainly encounter a broad range of Technological items, ranging from guns to Tesla coils. Each Technological item we encounter has a certain quality of Technological Complexity, which ranges from the very simple to the extremely ornate. When someone with Technological Aptitude uses such an item, the item will tend to function as intended, for the most part. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case when a Character with Magical Aptitude attempts to make use of the same item. On such occasions, there is more than a slight chance of critical failure, and this chance is proportional to both his Magical Aptitude and the item's innate Technological Complexity. This chance of critical failure is entirely separate from the item's chance to hit, and it is checked before the attack roll is made.

Additionally, when a Technological item is used against a person with noteworthy Magical Aptitude, the item may fail to operate at all not critically fail, but simply fail to function at all. The chance for such a failure is directly proportional to the target's Magical Aptitude. As in our discussion of Magical artifacts, the user's Technological Aptitude may reduce the chance of item failure; the higher his Technological Aptitude, the more the chance of failure will be reduced.

Note that these two rules for Technological items are cumulative. A mage attempting to use an advanced Technological item on another mage is in the gravest possible danger. The item in question may critically fail in the attacker's hands and even if the aggressor in such a case could manage to wring some use out of the contrivance in question, the target would have the full force of his Magical Aptitude to resist its intended effect!

Section 3-8: Saving, Quitting and Options

At any time, the player may press the key marked Esc to open a menu which allows access to his or her Saved Games and Options. [See Figure 3-46.]

A player well-pleased with his or her progress in Arcanum may wish to save the current Game. To do so, please select Save Game, and a list of available Save Slots will appear (see Figure 3-47). Select a slot in which to Save the Game by clicking on a single slot within this list. If the selected Slot is already occupied by another Game, you will see a screenshot and a description of the Game which has already been Saved previously in the right-hand panel. Pressing the bottom green button will Save the current Game in the selected Slot, over-writing the existing Saved Game, if any.

To Load a Saved Game, select the Load Game option. This action will open a list of previously Saved Games (see Figure 3-48). Select a slot and the self-same screenshot and description will appear, as before, in the right-hand panel. Pressing the bottom green button will load the Saved Game we have chosen into our Electro Dynamo Machine, and we will return to find our amusements just as we left them.

In both the Load Game and Save Game interfaces, we can press the button at the top of the right panel to toggle the Save description on and off. This is useful when we wish to see the Save Game sketch without obstruction.

To manage the small technical particulars of one's Game, select Options. This selection will open a menu of Preference categories, by use of which one's Game can be tailored to suit one's special needs (see Figure 3-49). Select the category in which you are dissatisfied and the Preferences are listed to the right; here the player can make many changes. The preferences are, as follows: Game Preferences (Figure 3-49)

           Module selects the module to use (this can only be selected from the Start menu, not during game play)
           Difficulty Moderate Mode is the default. In Easy Mode, one's Character does more damage, succeeds with Skills more often, and receives more experience points for quests and combat.  In Hard Mode, the reverse is true.
           Violence Filter when turned on, there are no violent death animations and no red displayed blood.
           Default Combat Mode Real-time combat has every creature attacking at the same time, while turn-based sequences each attacker. Fast turn-based is identical to turn-based except the opponents do not display their movement animations. Instead, they simply appear at their destinations.
           Auto Attack when turned on, one's Character will continue to attack his target after his initial attack
           Auto Switch Weapons when turned on, one's Character will switch to a new weapon if his current weapon runs out of ammunition
           Always Run when turned on, one's Character will run by default, rather than walk. Note that running during Combat will use up Fatigue!
           Follower Skills when turned on, one's followers will attempt to perform skills such as Pick Locks and Disarm Traps if their rank exceeds the Character's rank

Video Preferences (Figure 3-50)

           Brightness controls the gamma correction in the game (this control may be disabled if your video card does not support it)
           Text Duration controls how long a text bubble will remain over a speaking Character
           Floats when set to none, there will never be text feedback that scrolls over a Character. When set to minimal, there is text feedback on everything except hit point and fatigue damage. When set to verbose, all text feedback occurs.
           Float Speed controls how quickly the text feedback scrolls over a character
           Combat Taunts when turned on, NPC's will make comments during combat

Sound Preferences (Figure 3-51)

           Effects controls the volume of most sounds in the game
           Voice controls the volume of speaking NPC's
           Music controls the volume of all looped background sound

To quit the current game and return to the main menu, select Quit Game. From the main menu, one can begin a new game, or exit to Windows.

Finally, one can select Continue to return to one's game in progress.

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