Council of Elysium – Chapter Eleven – Twitch Stream
Join us live on Twitch for the Eleventh Chapter of the Council of Elysium!
Hi fellow gamer and MMO enthusiast! We’re glad to welcome you to the very first Feature Spotlight of Fractured, a series of lengthy (but hopefully not boring!) articles lifting the veil on the major game design solutions and mechanics behind Fractured. Before we begin this exciting journal, however, there’s one thing we have to tell you: it’s not been easy to choose what feature of Fractured to cover first! Could it have been the Knowledge System? Or perhaps character creation and MOBA-inspired character re-specs? Action combat and massive interactions with the environment? Player-made cities and empires?
All of the above are areas of gameplay where Fractured is trying to innovate the MMO genre, true, but we soon figured out there is one mechanic that comes before all of them. The very first choice you make when you open the game client to start your adventure. A choice that will make a tremendous difference in your whole Fractured experience, on day one as much as one year later. The choice of your race.
“Races? But that’s a standard MMO feature!” I can hear you think. Absolutely true. The concept of races has been a cornerstone of MMOs since the inception of the genre. From orcs to dragons, from elves to undeads, we know you’ve seen (and played) them all. But let us ask you a question: did the race of your character ever actually matter to you? Sure, perhaps it added some variety to combat, giving you different attributes and a handful of unique abilities. Perhaps it had you starting in a different location and following a different set of quest. Perhaps it even got you in a faction fighting against some others. Of one thing we’re sure of, though: it never made you feel like you were immersed in a different culture, a different society, and, to an extent, a different game.
In Fractured, that’s a whole different story. The choice of your race determines:
In our initial plan for this spotlight, we wanted to cover in detail most of the above. Such fools! We soon realized we would have ended up with a blog post as long as a novel. Therefore, we decided to break it down into several spotlights, with this first one being a high-level overview of the three races of Fractured: Beastmen, Demons and Humans.
Within this spotlight we’ve also dropped some little stories about a few characters you’ll likely meet or hear about in game. They will show up in future spotlights, too. If you’re not interested in lore and want to get straight to the juice of game mechanics, feel free to skip the parts in italics.
And now, let us begin!
Tenoch climbed down from the colossal Watcher tree with one long, final jump. He was growing older, but his legs were still strong, his paws sharp, his grip on wood perfect. He didn’t have to go up there to keep guard – not anymore – but he still liked the feeling of being so far away from the earth, watching the endless line of trees that embraced Arboreus like a warm blanket.
“Dad?” Elya was standing behind him, eyes half closed, barely awake. ”What’s up?”. Elya pointed her paw up and almost lost her balance. She was young, still struggling standing on two legs. “Why are these two stars so bright?”
Tenoch raised his eyes to the night sky and sighed quietly. Even today, after all these years, it felt like a piece of him – of them – had been taken away together with their land. Perhaps one day they would get it back. They would be one again.
He doubted it. He had heard some of the merchants’ stories. It didn’t seem like they were going to change their ways. Cutting, digging, mining, scarring the beauty Tyros had gifted them. Even worse, there had been frightening tales of more and more of them leaving the light. Meddling with demons and dark powers that luckily had no place on Arboreus.
“Those are no stars, Elya. They’re planets. It’s the light of the sun that makes them shine like stars. Now go back to sleep, will you?”
Tenoch laid down on the grass. The two planets were dangerously close. They would align soon, he thought. Perhaps the following day already. It would be a day of terror on Syndesia. A day of blood.
After a little more mulling over grim thoughts, he turned around and closed his eyes. It was their business after all – they had brought it upon themselves. Didn’t they?
Beastmen are the native inhabitants of the wild and lush planet Arboreus – what’s left of Elysium, once home to all the races of Fractured. While closely resembling an actual animal right after birth, the shape of the body of a beastman changes dramatically during puberty, eventually assuming the same two-legged posture of a human.
The beastman society is a tribal one, based on equality and respect for the elders. Although split into tribes and clans, each headed by a different High Druid, beastmen always see the members of their race as brothers or cousins, assuming a peaceful attitude towards them. Some of the favorite locations for a beastman clan to build its village are riverbanks and power nodes, where they can find the highest concentration of primal energy and their connection with nature is deeper.
Speaking of this, the relationship between beastmen and nature is really something that goes beyond the understanding of other races – and sometimes beyond that of beastmen themselves. It’s a peculiar one, as it doesn’t mean they’re not allowed to harvest resources from the earth. They can – and they do – but always careful not to harm the environment they live in. In exchange for this respect, they have been gifted the ability to draw power straight from the soil of Arboreus, making them even more formidable fighters when they walk through their homeland.
Connection with nature isn’t the only ace up a beastman’s sleeve though – an hypothetical sleeve, actually, given their love for light armor and clothes. In the first place, their affinity with druidic magic is unrivaled. Moreover, they can morph at will into their animal counterpart – a choice that comes with consequences, the main one usually being their enemies getting eaten soon after.
Below is a high-level overview of the four families that can be chosen when creating a beastman character, each one with its own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Also known as Tiger-Kin, the Chadra, whose body is substantially larger than an average human, are the beastmen most endowed with quick reflexes and agility. Real jacks-of-all-trades, they excel in most fighting styles thanks to the accuracy of their attacks, and can resort to magic to further increase their combat prowess.
When transformed into their primal form, the tiger, the Chadra enjoy an even higher movement speed and attack precision. Plus, they gain access to unique abilities aimed at catching up with fleeing targets and hitting their vital spots, causing severe wounds that lead victims to quickly bleed to their deaths.
Also known as Wolf-Kin, the Udoadra are regarded as the most social and friendly family among all beastmen. While not larger than a human, they are considerably stronger and more resilient.
Udoadra’s true excellence lies in coordinated group fighting, as they are the keepers of ancient secrets that allow them to increase the power of their pack. A group of Udoadra is truly an unstoppable force of nature! Moreover, their social skills and attachment to other living being make them unparalleled animal trainers.
When transformed into their primal form, the wolf, the Udoadra gain speed and additional pack bonuses, unlocking abilities designed to empower allies and to cooperatively damage or restrain even the most powerful opponents.
Also known as Bear-Kin, the Nheedra are the largest and bulkiest of all beastmen, endowed with the greatest strength and endurance, but also slower and clumsier compared to the members of other families. Even more than the average beastman, Nheedra are exceptional druids, able to harness the natural energy of Arboreus and shape it into elemental manifestations.
When transformed into their primal form, the bear, the toughness and regenerative abilities of Nheedra become even more impressive. Plus, they gain several abilities designed to overwhelm their opponents with raw power, stunning them or cleaving them with their immense strength.
Also known as Hart-Kin, Erwydra are smart, agile and perceptive creatures, but physically weaker than the members of other beastman families.
Thanks to their superior intelligence, the Erwydra are naturally inclined toward magical practices and enjoy the advantages of an excellent memory. The weakness of their bodies is compensated by the ease with which they can escape from dangerous situations, both by physical and by magical means.
When transformed into their primal form, the hart, the Erwydra gain access to abilities that allow them to block or deflect magical attacks and to charge through enemy lines. In case they need to leave the battlefield, they can rely on even higher movement speed and escape abilities.
Sixty-eight losses on the eastern flank, without even going to battle. One of those retarded, ten feet tall heaps of muscles had decided he was really too hungry to wait a few hours for human meat, so he had started plundering the stocks of food of the fifth battalion. It had taken a few minutes only for the whole situation to descend into a large-scale brawl, and nearly an hour to sedate it after.
Liahria wasn’t at all shaken by the news. It was just everyday life when one tried to raise an army of demons that included Infernals. She dismissed the emissary and smiled. It had been Babilis’ will to gift them Vampires the smarts, unlike the others. One simply doesn’t question Babilis’ will.
She took out the seemingly unremarkable medallion from the chest in the corner and laid it down on the table. The other generals were coming to confer, but she still had a few minutes. She muttered some words – words only she had known, she hoped – and a crack started to make its way through the gold. She could see an eye within it. A green eye, then two small, pale lips. A voice came out of the jewel, now ablaze with fire and sparks. She responded quickly, then rushed to put it back in the chest.
Hers was going to be the most clever attack plan in the whole history of Tartaros, she was sure of that. Well, that wasn’t such a long history after all, but whatever. Liahria smiled again, more widely than before, her face turning wrinkled and unsettling to the sight. There was nothing pretty in her when she was anticipating the taste of blood.
Banished to the hostile and resource-deprived planet created for them after the Fracture, Tartaros, demons are by nature a bloodthirsty race with a naturally evil alignment. The structure of their bodies may resemble that of humans, but they’re usually taller, physically stronger, and fitted with a huge pair of horns coming in a million different shapes – although, it has to be said, their appearance may change a lot depending on their family.
The demon society arisen over the years on Tartaros is a brutal and lawless one, in which criminal actions and murders are committed aplenty on a daily basis. Besides the unconditional love for their twisted and dark god, and the lust for strength and power, demons hold no values close to their hearts – assuming they have one, that is.
Forced to grow up in a culture of hatred and violence, the only way to earn the respect of their own kind demons know is fighting – an evergreen activity they all get involved in soon after birth. As a result, demons are not only the terror of all the other races, but also of each other, with clans being almost always at war, busy slaughtering each other’s warriors and pillaging each other’s cities. Yes, cities, as the belligerent nature of demons doesn’t stop them from building lavish settlements filled with monumental buildings and shrines erected to show off the clan’s wealth and power.
Since the Fracture, demons have developed an evergrowing contempt towards beastmen and humans alike, and so did their god. Maddened by revenge, Babilis gave its progeny the ability to travel to other planets way more easily than humans and beastmen can do, allowing them to spread death and chaos to Syndesia and Arboreus. These travels of horrors can’t be permanent, however, as the demon body gets debilitated over time, eventually forcing them to return home.
Below is a high-level overview of the three families that can be chosen when creating a demon character, each one with its own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Also known as Vampires, Blood Demons are among the most intelligent and cunning creatures in Fractured. Standing slightly taller than the average human, they’re much stronger than what they look like at a glance.
Although Blood Demons thoroughly enjoy drinking the blood of other living creatures, they don’t need to do so in order to survive. However, the taste of human blood – especially that of the pure ones – grants them extraordinary powers for a while, both physical and magical.
Adding to the above, Blood Demons can easily master any type of sorcery, and excel at mental abilities and blood magic, making them even more formidable foes.
Also known as Nightmares, Shadow Demons are the undoubted masters of assassination, helped by the relatively small size of their bodies – no larger than those of humans – that make them the smallest of all demons on Tartaros.
Shadow Demons are agile and evasive creatures, aces of disguise and illusion, naturally proficient in the use of traps and poisons. Attuned to obscurity, they enjoy a wide array of benefits during nighttime or when moving through dark environments.
Also known as Infernals, Hellfire Demons have gigantic, muscular bodies that endow them with inhuman strength and make them the creatures most feared by humans, beastmen, and other demons alike.
Hellfire Demons are skilled and powerful fighters, generally oblivious of trickeries and battle tactics, whose greatest love is to charge head-first whenever the occasion for a fight arises. Thanks to their innate affinity with fire, they can easily use any fire-related ability and are able to survive in extremely warm environments.
As further bonus to their battle prowess, their racial bonuses get stronger over the course of a tough battle, setting the thick veins that run through the skin of their bodies afire.
One blink, two blinks, then more every second. Mae could see the brief flashes of purple light coming from every street in the dark of the eclipse. The mages were calling it a day and teleporting god-knows where. The town was lost, now that was for sure.
There had been hope before, even when the light of day had started to fade at the wrong hour of the day. They were prepared. The walls surrounding Omenia were strong, and everyone had a great deal of faith in those shining tubes of iron they had put up there on the bastions. They could shoot large spheres of metal right in the middle of the sieging army, the engineers said. And then there was the main door of course, an unbreakable monster of wood and iron. Too heavy to be handled by human or animal power, it was controlled by a massive steam engine – another novelty of the twisted times they lived in, she thought. It could have all worked out, hadn’t she ordered her little rebel unit to murder the technicians and seize control of the engine. Soon after, the main door had swung open, throwing the whole garrison of Omenia into dismay.
Mae turned around to a rumbling sound getting closer to her apartments. They were coming. She could hear the screams of agony of her guards and servants. A bitter sacrifice, but one for a good cause. Bad things must be done at the call of a superior good.
The ravaging beasts that entered the bed chamber found her naked, glaring back at them with impassive green eyes. They were still hungry – always hungry – but didn’t dare to make a step further. They had been ordered not to do so, and while they didn’t always respect orders, that time surely they did. Then they moved to the side, swift and respectful.
Mae watched them pave the way for their master – and soon she made her appearance. She was so beautiful, slim, tall, with shining white eyes that seemed to eat all the light in the room. Mae had waited so long to meet her. Shaking a little – but just a little – she started walking towards her, then broke into a run, ending up straight into her arms. It was a moment of pure joy – no, more, ecstasy! – when she finally felt the teeth slowly descending into the flesh of her neck.
Stained by the sin of the Great Betrayal and the ultimate culprits of the chain of events that led to the Fracture, humans are the inhabitant of Syndesia, a poor copy of the glory of Elysium, rich with resources but deprived of all primal energy.
Curious and inquisitive beings by nature, humans often spend their lives trying to gather more knowledge, power, or wealth. Unlike beastmen and demons, they aren’t born with an innate alignment: free will is their biggest privilege, and with it the ability to forge their own destiny.
Together with alignment, humans lack the physical advantages both demons and beastman are born with – but this absence is made even by their ability to delve into any field of knowledge, be it combat-related or magical. Moreover, humans have learnt to design and produce artifacts to enhance their cities, their homes, and ultimately their own bodies – and their technological progress doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
After the Fracture, it didn’t take long for humans to re-establish an organized feudal society on Syndesia. From reigns to regions, from large towns to small villages, the power of territorial authorities is the backbone of human society… although, of course, it’s never been boundless. Banditry is a plague against which the forces of law and order have to fight every day, and it’s a well-known fact there are entire guilds fully dedicated to unlawful activities on Syndesia – one just needs to know where to find them.
Ultimately, it seems the biggest danger for the thriving human civilization is the human heart itself.