As many of you noticed, so far, we’ve (intentionally) steered clear of discussing the RPG systems and Combat mechanics in great detail. The primary reason is that our team was busy taking on other challenges: designing and scaling the world, laying the foundations of the economy with resources gathering and crafting, and finding our own unique way of offering housing in an MMO context… The foundational parts of the game.
The good news is that Combat and RPG systems have been getting a lot of attention over the last few months. While it will still take some time before all of this makes it into the game, we have now progressed enough to share a clear vision of where we’re headed. Even if, as they say, the Dark Lord is in the details, let’s talk about how Pax Dei will handle that bedrock of any MMORPG.
A classic MMO foundation
Let’s begin by summarizing some key aspects of the Pax Dei Combat system that should appear very familiar. Pax Dei will offer the “holy trinity” of tank, healer, and various forms of DPS. We also have a hate/aggro system for players to manage, Health Points that will trigger death if they run out (you want to avoid that); and Endurance for running, climbing, swimming, chopping, and… even attacking.
In short, Pax Dei will feature most of the usual MMO mechanics… except for a class system.
Craft your own role
Pax Dei is a sandbox because we believe in offering our players maximum freedom in all possible game aspects. It was, therefore, a very conscious decision to get rid of character classes. In Pax Dei, there is no class to pick. Instead, your character’s role derives from the gear you choose to wear at any given time. And with players crafting all items in the game, your individual character progression choices are also very much tied to the establishments and crafting facilities you’ve built with your clan and the overall game economy.
Advanced crafting options will allow you to enhance individual items with unique abilities, like spells, weapons techniques, buff and debuff, passive or active. These will offer various combinations to test and optimize based on taste, play style, and the challenges you aim to overcome.
For example, a tank build could involve combining a full plate armor, including the Thunderous Visage, able to trigger an enemy or increase its aggro, along with the Soothing Choker, a medallion that can cast a Lull spell – always useful to avoid aggroing a full room in one pull. You can also opt for more hybrid combos: the tank pictured above could swap their plate legs for leather pants with a Heal Spell and equip the Hypnotic Band, a ring with a Mesmerizing spell. Alternatively, a Healer would benefit from the Soothing Choker mentioned above to reduce their aggro when they’re on a healing spree. The choice is yours.
So, why not simply hang around with three full sets and be ready for any eventuality? Well… you can! That would involve making a certain number of trade-offs, though.
Firstly, advanced gear abilities will also come with skill prerequisites: anybody can use the Sacred Sword of Phaionios, but only a character with enough knowledge in Magic of Light can benefit from its bonus against demons. Alternatively, some spell effects included in an item may scale with the corresponding skill level of your character – making the Divine Heal spell imbued in your robes much more efficient as your Magic of Life skill progresses.
Again, without restriction linked to class, any character can theoretically learn every skill to the highest degree, but in practice, we fully expect some degree of specialization to happen. You’ll want to optimize for synergies between the gear you equip and the skills you develop.
Secondly, there’s the very practical limitation of the space available in your inventory. Of course, since items are not bound to characters, a well-coordinated group of players sharing a pool of common equipment will find ways of balancing efficiency and versatility. However, between armor, weapons, potions, reagents, and other items you’ll want to gather to build an optimized combo, being prepared for everything would imply leaving behind a lot of the precious loot you’ll find on your adventures… And you probably don’t want that!
Let’s talk about the juicy bit: loot. Again, you can expect classic foundations, with shared loot tables for similar mobs and rare items for formidable foes. Other factors, such as your skills, may also influence loot tables – but we won’t divulge further specifics, leaving some mysteries for you to uncover.
While it’s possible to loot magical items from enemies in the current state of the game (Friends and Family Alpha), this is not our long-term plan. Instead, one of the main rewards of PVE will consist of rare resources that are essential for crafting high-level items and cannot be gathered elsewhere in the game.
Acquiring the ultimate combat set you’re after will require the most precious materials. And those will only be found in the most dangerous places. Away from the Home Valleys, deep in the Wilderness, the greatest risks and rarest loot await in the dungeons.
Unlike most modern MMOs, our dungeons are fully open places where you should expect to encounter other parties. Another opportunity for social interaction: up to you to cooperate… or compete for rare mobs and their valuable (shared) loot.
No encounter is complete without the risk of death and accompanying penalties. When your character meets their demise, all your equipment remains with your corpse. Without resurrection, you’ll need to retrieve your belongings. In PvP scenarios, death carries even more consequences, as enemies (or allies) could loot some of your gear.
While we’re not prepared to disclose the whole system, many items will also have durability. Generally, higher-quality items will possess more significant durability. However, you may come across recipes for powerful but fragile weapons you can choose to craft and wield, knowing they will eventually break. Stay tuned as we continue to refine and expand upon these systems in Pax Dei.
You Do Not Talk About Fight Club
This article is not about PVP. Still, it feels like we have to say a word about it. PVP in Pax Dei will always be based on consent. Home Valleys, in particular, will be sacrosanct: your home can never be damaged by other players, and you can always roam around your village and its surroundings without fear of being ambushed. (The only exception is we want to implement the possibility for duels, even in villages.)
Instead, we want to dedicate specific areas to PvP. We call them Contested Provinces. Contested Provinces will contain unique resources that cannot be harvested elsewhere (to be clear: “unique” doesn’t mean “best” – other areas of the game also feature unique resources). Anybody entering a Contested Province gets automatically flagged for PVP, a flag that can only be removed by leaving the area (it will be a bit more subtle and complex, but you have a rough idea).
We have plenty more ideas for the Contested Provinces (and for PvP in general), and we’ll definitely want to come back to the whole topic of PVP with more details.
We are confident that this initial set-up will already provide opportunities for a lot of fun encounters for the more aggressive members of our community while also allowing them to meaningfully contribute to the social fabric of the game.
Our goal with Pax Dei is to give players complete freedom in the role they choose to play while making sure everybody can meaningfully contribute to the world. We hope this article gave you a sense of how we want to express these principles in the Combat and RPG systems.
While it will still take a bit of time before all of this makes it into the game – these systems are still mostly in prototype stages in the current build – now you know what’s brewing in our kitchen.