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Thread: Race of the Living Dead

  1. #1

    Race of the Living Dead

    I've already mentioned that undead are going to be the forth race in Worlds of Magic. I also mentioned that they would be flavorful. Well, someone asked, quite rightly, “What do you mean by flavor?” It's a fair question. So, I've decided to answer that first so when I say “flavorful” everyone will go “Oh yea!”

    What is flavor? Come on! You eat don't you? You can taste? (I mean no offense to those unfortunate individuals with no sense of taste. You truly have my sympathy.) The universal answer for the question “What does _____ taste like?” is “Chicken.” Example: “What do frog legs taste like?” “Chicken...” Let me tell you this, BACON does NOT taste like chicken. You can be blindfolded, sitting in a dark room filled with chicken scented Glade plugins and if someone gives you a bite of bacon and asks you what you taste you are going to say “BACON!” That is what “flavor” is. It is something that etches an idea on your mind that can't be explained, it can only be shared as an experience. If someone asks you what bacon tastes like you best go buy some, cause you ain't going to be able to explain it. (Now you know what flavor is. Let's have a taste of undead shall we?)

    Undead in Worlds of Magic come in two forms. Created undead and the Undead race. In some ways they are exactly the same. A unit of spell created skeletons has exactly the same stats as a unit of skeletons “trained” at a dark temple (at least in this stage of the game). However, the world is more than military units. Summoned skeletons don't build buildings, don't toil for their masters grand vision, don't have thoughts or desires, they are merely animated humanoid remains who attack on demand.

    The undead race is much more than that. They are from the Shadow Plane, the land of death, and they have but one goal: the destruction of all life. They pay no taxes, sell no goods, raise no crops, eat no food, have no natural form of reproduction. They are of death, not life. As such they are fundamentally different from all other races in WoM.

    Now, this concept comes with a number of challenges. However, most of them are confined to the realm of city management. Let's take a look at a few of the obvious issues.
    Undead don't have children, so there is no natural population growth. (At least anywhere but the shadow plane.)
    Undead have no use for food or gold.
    All living beings hate and fear undead. (As groups not individuals).

    Now for some solutions:
    The base building in an undead city begins to “gather” bodies from “corrupted” lands around the city. (You didn't tell me this city was built on an ancient Indian burial ground!) The city itself will corrupt the tile on which it sits. The rest is up to you.
    Undead can build mines and mint gold coins. (Some heroes will work for anyone if the price is right. The ring wraiths were once men after all.)
    If you choose undead as your race you give up the chance of a diplomatic victory. Everybody hates you and can't wait to kill every last one of you. (That will make it even sweeter when you raise the bodies of their own soldiers to use against them!!!)

    Now, we know this is going to be a challenge. This is an attempt at a fundamental shift, but we think it will be worth it. Snow crab isn't easy to get, but it's worth it for that delicious flavor. (Snow crab also doesn't taste like chicken.)

    This post is long. I'm cutting it here. You guys chime in with your “Wouldn't it be cool if...” and “Well what are you going to do about _____”. I'll do my best to answer you

  2. #2
    Developer Hoverdog's Avatar
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    You will need to be careful not to make necromancy magic and necromantic "race" too similar and redundant (magic should be great to support undead units, too many summoning spells could unnecessarily duplicate cities' functions), but it's something unusual - I like it.

    What about units? Will they gain experience? After all, most of them (excluding liches, vampires and probably some other higher forms of undeath) are but an extension of their master's will, animated corpses. They can't learn. And what about upkeep - no food or wages, that goes without saying, but theoretically you need to spend magical energy to keep them, uh, alive (no, that's not the best word). And the higher beings, like liches, are on their own, self-serving - they won't need to be kept kicking - but maybe rewarded in another way?

  3. #3
    OK, you've asked some good questions.

    First, summoned/created undead are going to work differently. I said early that the stats on skeleton units will be the same whether their created or “trained”. I should have said “starting stats”. Created undead sutch as skeletons, zombies, etc. will not gain experience. Trained skeletons and zombies will.

    Why? To answer that I have share a little more “under the hood” info. This also touches what the undead units consume. The undead are going to produce and consume negative energy. The actual members of the undead society are “alive” in their own dead way. That is to say that skeletons “trained” in a city aren't just animated bones, there is a living force inhabiting their fleshless bodies, a life force of negative energy. So, your undead “peasants” can preform dark rituals to create negative energy and every citizen and unit in the undead empire consumes this energy to “survive” (If they “died” they would just return to halls of the dead or whatever. Still, it would take a lot for them to get from there even back to the shadow plane. Deep waters here...)

    So, a trained unit of skeletons is actually “alive” and can learn and advance (that is to say, gain experience). Whereas created skeletons are held together by mana and are nothing more than animated bones. Now, to add a little to this confusion not all undead are “created” by magic. Skeletons and zombies are constructed and maintained by magical power. Non-corporeals and more powerful corporeals are summoned from the shadow plane (or from even further away) and are bound to their master by magic. So, a summoned arcane wraith should be able to gain experience just like a trained one. However, one serves out of compulsion (enforced by expended mana) the other serves out of allegiance (fed by dark energy).

    I think these differences are going to draw a clear line between a sorcerer focusing on necromancy with a human empire and the same sorcerer with an undead empire.

  4. #4
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    So the undead faction has this notion of corruption? I assume this spreads by some means such as building certain types of buildings in the undead city (like culture in Civ) or by the Wizard using some high level spell on the map or something?
    Likewise I assume that this has some graphical representation in the game with trees dying, ground turning black, and/or other such things.
    Further I assume that undead (faction) units get some sort of bonus when fighting in corrupted tiles? Maybe they "heal" completely after battle or some such?
    What you've said is very vague so I'm not really sure how far it goes but it certainly creates some interesting ideas.

    Another interesting mechanic for an Undead faction could be that when fighting living units they could spawn new undead units. For example the classic zombie mechanic where if lets say a human spearman unit is killed by a zombie unit it becomes a zombie unit as well.

  5. #5
    You have good natural insight, lol.

    Certain undead units will be able to corrupt land (just as priests from other races will be able to purify it). High level spells will be able to instantly corrupt/purify land. Certain buildings may corrupt/purify land near a city over a certain amount of time (number of turns). Undead may have a bonus for fighting on corrupted land. (We haven't made up our mind yet. If we do that we might want to go so far as to add "blessed" land. Things to think about.)

    There will be a graphic representation. You will be able to see it at a glance.

    Some undead units may create spawn. We have to look at it closely to make sure we don't throw off the balance. It may require some unit/spell combination. (Zombies enchanted with contagion create spawn, etc.)

  6. #6
    Mage’s Assistant
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    They pay no taxes,
    Hm, so being an undead is not that bad XD
    Last edited by John Madlock; 02-17-2013 at 01:17 PM.
    Sorry, signature is under construction.

  7. #7
    Lol, yes, they've escaped taxes for the moment. Of course, when any government official comes by they have to "play dead" until he's out of the area.

  8. #8
    Developer Hoverdog's Avatar
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    in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. However, it appears that one prevents the other

  9. #9
    Thematically I like the idea of corruption replacing food as a growth resource for undead. Life magicians could even "starve" undead cities from afar by consecrating corrupt lands near the city.

    The only awkward issue is the way an additional resource like this will be represented in the interface. Some nearly great games I've played have been done in not because the core mechanics were too complex but because the interface made aspects of empire management difficult. For example, finding cities (or planets in the case of sci-fi games) that aren't producing or are losing population, etc. There will need to be a corruption column in the city management screen to keep track of it just like food for living cities and similar notifications for the player so that an undead city doesn't get stealth starved.

  10. #10
    With "all things interface" play testing and beta feedback are absolute musts. The interface has to be streamlined where it's intuitive. It's the kind of thing we'll probably be tweaking up until a few days before the release

    Things like a "corruption column" may well end up in the game.

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