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The Alpha Plan - Player Version

Game related announcements from the staff, including RPTs, general plot information, etc...

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The Alpha Plan - Player Version

Postby Dero » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:11 am

Hey there all, I am going to start post here tid bits from the Alpha play that Icarus has wrote up. Just like with any design document, we can't give away all the secrets within it, but we want to be as transparent as possible. The only think you pretty much won't see here is things about plot, story lines or other bits of the game that we'd like to be a surprise.

There will be several posts on different areas of the plan, some with details added by me. First we'll start off with a great start to it all...

Why Alpha?

Before we get into the setting, I want to discuss why we are doing an alpha.
Our game engine is unproven. Our concept is unproven. Our staff is unproven.

We have a lot of ideas that sound great on paper, but that we truly don’t know will work when we stick in the crazy reality that is a bunch of players. Before we invest ourselves in a setting that we truly love, we want to make sure that the mechanics, the nuts and bolts of what we do, will work properly. We also want to make sure that we as staff can handle the challenges that come with a relatively small gameworld before we enter into a much, much larger gameworld. Without a stunning success here, it would be irresponsible for us to make grand promises for folks to come aboard with and get disappointed about when they don’t turn out.

Doing an Alpha will give us a chance to make changes without constantly flitting from idea to idea once we open the game. We need a united vision when Shadows of Isildur: Laketown opens up fully, and we cannot have that if we don’t even know how we will handle RPP, PvP, major plots, staff engagement, or a host of other issues. Baby steps, so to speak. Expect things to change wildly during Alpha. Expect staff to disappear, to be tested. But, also expect that the idea that we emerge with after Alpha will be much stronger than it would be without an alpha.

Most importantly, beyond those reasons, is that we are doing an Alpha because I say we are. If there is a single lesson that has been pounded away at as long as I have been running these games, is that there must be a strong, firm vision that leads both staff and players to success. My vision might not be the best, it might not be perfect, but by god it’ll get us somewhere better than where we are now. That being said, I’ll take advice, but I’m sticking with my gut and with my guns for this alpha run. We can discuss how it went when we are finished.

- Icarus


Keep an eye here, there is much more to come.

Discussion can be had here.
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Re: The Alpha Plan - Player Version

Postby Dero » Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:20 pm

Regional Lore

The events of the Hobbit occurred during the Third Age, in the year 2941. For reference, the events of the Lord of the Rings begin in the year 3018. Our game will begin twenty years before the events of the Hobbit, in 2921, allowing us a chance ourselves to experience the final years of Laketown and witness the events of the Hobbit itself, such as the Battle of 5 Armies, the crowning of the King Under the Mountain, the return of Dale, and the fall of Dol Guldur.

Let’s explore the region and recent events briefly, so that you have a firm grasp of the greater area within which our events will take place.

Erebor, a stronghold of the Dwarves, was taken over by Smaug in 2770. At the same time, the nearby city of Dale was abandoned due to the dragon’s presence. The region around Erebor is now known as the Desolation of Smaug, and is uninhabited by almost any living thing. Nothing significant has occurred in this region between 2770 and 2921, though there is some scholarly debate as to whether Smaug roamed the area at all during this time or simply slept. Most likely it is that Smaug periodically awakened and maintained his hold on the area, but that he was largely inactive.

To the east of Erebor are the Iron Hills, occupied by the Dwarves of Durin’s Folk. They are led by Dain II Ironfoot, son of Nain who was killed in battle with Orcs at the gates of Moria in 2799. Dain II is the Dwarflord who leads the Dwarven reinforcements at the Battle of 5 Armies later in 2941 and later becomes King Under the Mountain.

To the north of Erebor are the Grey Mountains, occupied and infested by orc and wyrm. These are entirely unsafe, though luckily far enough away that any real influence they might have over the region near Erebor is limited to the once-a-decade long-distance raid.

Wilderland Map

West of Erebor is, of course, Mirkwood. Going back further than one usually might, Mirkwood was ruled in the First and Second Ages by the Elves under Oropher. Then it was known as Greenwood the Great, and the elves held their capital at Amon Lanc, where now stands Dol Guldur. Oropher was slain during the final days of the Last Alliance in an ill-advised attack, and his son Tharanduil took over the realm. By this time, and indeed before the rise of Tharanduil, the elves had moved from their capital north. According to various sources, they moved three separate times, settling north of the Mountains of Mirkwood by the start of the Third Age. By the time we open, in 2921, the elves only occupy the forest north of the Forest River, in an area known as the Woodland Realm.

The rise of the Necromancer, who we know ourselves to be Sauron in disguise, occurred in 1050 during the Third Age at Dol Guldur far to the southwest of Erebor. From that point onward, Mirkwood darkened considerably. This is the sole source of the darkness in Mirkwood. The mere presence of a power like Sauron’s in the area has twisted and changed the forest for hundreds of miles, attracting orcs and wargs and spiders, amongst other dark beasts.

The Old Forest Road was built during either the First or Second Age by the Dwarves as a way to secure passage through the forest. Certainly it was used during the War of the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age. By our time, in TA 2921, the Old Forest Road, once a grand avenue through Mirkwood, has fallen into disrepair and even been lost in places. Orcs and goblins raid along it, and travelers that pass along it almost never make it to the other side.

The Mountains of Mirkwood are similarly a hive of orc and goblin, serving as the furthest constantly-occupied goblin outpost in the region. Dozens of independent tribes have established themselves in the area, as well as a number led by more nefarious forces.

Thus we come to Laketown itself, which is a shadow of its former self. A trading town with very few allies with which to trade, they are dependent on the waning and increasingly rare caravans and boats that come up the river laden with goods. Additional trade occurs between themselves and the elves, as well as with the dwarves of the Iron Hills, yet compared to the wealth of trade that once was present in Dale and Erebor, the region is a shadow of its former self.

Such is our story. We are telling the tale of the waning days of Man, Dwarf, and Elf in the Wilderland, a tale that would have continued uninterrupted had it not been for the efforts of a certain Wizard knocking on a burglars door some hundreds of miles away. The world has grown wild once more. Those who were once friends now look at each other with suspicion. The shadow of Smaug and the Necromancer rests heavily on all. The White Council tarries and does nothing. Soon, great powers will move in the world, but not quite yet.
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Re: The Alpha Plan - Player Version

Postby Dero » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:32 pm

Explanation of Phases
Alpha will be broken up into three distinct preparatory phases. Phase 1 will serve as a foundation stage where the essential lore of the game will be documented. Phase 2 will serve as the primary building phase for physical rooms. Phase 3 will serve as the primary building phase for objects, crafts, and mobiles. Once these phases are complete, the game should be about 95% ready to open for Alpha.

Dero Note: As you all know, we have completed Phase 1 & 2 and are working on Phase 3 at the moment. So much work is going into this and there is so many new things that are coming out of it. Now Phase 1, what is coming next deals with a lot of background information and lore, not all of it can likely be released, but I'll try to release as much as I can. Also going to add a disclaimer here, all of this is subject to change. Lore and Background can and will change as needed by Staff.

Phase 1 – Design of Vadok Mal, Utterby, and Wilderness
The purpose of Phase 1 is to establish the framework within which Alpha will exist. This is required to pin down the vision and the course of Alpha, and provide context to builders and staff for what the project will entail. Much has been done already regarding this phase, and it is nearly complete. (Dero Note: We've said it is complete, I know... but there are always minor changes that come in as things progress further)

Utterby Lore & Background
Hornbeam (nicknamed Ironwood) is used for a variety of woodcrafting purposes. The dried heartwood is a pure unchallenged white hue and is used for artistic inlay and work. The general wood is difficult to fell, plane, or shape, but the effort is rewarded by producing the highest quality handles and poles for long-lasting tools and spears that the men of Wilderland use to build and protect their homes from the elements, orc, and warg alike.

And thus, Utterby existed long before it had a proper name. Its first nameless incarnation was simply as a lumber camp conveniently built next to the trade road and river where whole hemmed trees left via the trade road to points beyond, or were taken to be guided up-river towards Long Lake and Laketown by trade skiffs and oxen teams. A rudimentary fence was built around the settlement as a means of defense, and the sole inhabitants were the outcrop of hearty woodsman who felled the local copse of valuable hornbeams from the eves of Mirkwood Forest.

Merchants came to haggle for prices and to choose the best samples, and the Ironwood Inn was built to house them and entertain them during their stays, and as the wealth of the lumber camp grew - it earned a name - Utterby, a nickname more than a proper moniker, it simply means "The Outer Village" in the local line of Dalish. Once the Ironwood Inn was built, and mercantile interest in the lumber output grew - a self-made exporter and importer from Laketown - Gararic Omdahl saw further potential in Utterby's small but important export. Not just the pittance made on unfinished logs for which another village up river gleaned the profits for debarking and planning, but a fully functional village - complete with its own river-driven lumber mill, a rare and liberal intention, given that hand-sawing remained the common practice because of the expense to build, maintain, and staff such a venture.

But after a solid night of mead, a round of well-told bravado-filled stories, and promises on the graves of ancestors, a charter was signed between the lumber camp's workers and Gararic. In exchange for agreeing to make Gararic the Overseer of Utterby's lumber production with an assigned portion of the operations profits, Gararic would put forward the capital to transform Utterby into a proper outpost - he would build a lumber mill and support the call to arms for a dedicated force of well-paid Guards to ensure that the expensive adventure wasn't laid to waste by an incursion of orcs from the nearby mountains.

And so Utterby grew. And as the profits rose and the Guard was drafted, wives were found, and children followed, and in time Utterby became a very small, but functional village centered around a trio of buildings - the old Ironwood Inn, the oldest proper building the settlement, followed by Gararic's dream - the Lumber Mill, which overtime came to be called the Lumber Lodge as it served both as the workspace and the housing for the men employed there, while their wives helped to maintain a small grazing yard and garden plots to supplement the village's needs for food otherwise provided by the scattering of hunters and fishermen amongst the citizenry.

In time, a hunter on the prowl for a wild boar on the eaves of Mirkwood made a curious discovery at the root of an older, twisted hornbeam - a knotty black tuber which his quarry was rooting for with a reckless abandon. Slaying his prize, he stooped to examine the curious growth and returned with it to Utterby's small market and sold it for enough to buy his evening's beer thinking it to be some wild thing of little value. An errand boy coming from the Ironwood Inn to fetch more supplies came across it and bought it as a curiosity having heard the story of its finding.

He wondered if perhaps it was a wild food that the trencherman might make something out of it, wind the story of its finding, and charge some inflated price to any merchants staying in the Inn brave enough to try it. And a merchant did try it, and rather, as the errand boy expected, he didn't feel cheated and abused for over paying for a meal made with some half-rotten wild potato, he was ecstatic - his dish was a delight, hinted with a taste of something he'd never had before. And word of the mystery food spread.

Experimentation with the growths, difficult and rare to find revealed that sausages and cheese were the best uses of the curious flavor. And Utterby discovered another source of export out of its small dock - something that rumor has even the Elvenking's Halls seek, as much as the Wood Elves like to dine on fine wine, and curious foodstuffs to go with it.

What Utterby will do with this potential source of wealth and whether the increase in merchant traffic to town will just encourage more action by the local orc horde remains to be seen.
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Re: The Alpha Plan - Player Version

Postby Dero » Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:57 am

Dero Note: So I am leaving out the background for the Orcs for now, as it is a bit revealing on a few things that will likely play into plot. To the Orc players, I'll bug Icarus to give me a different write up for you all!

Wilderness Background & Lore
From Vadok Mal spills forth the River with No Name, called various things by various peoples but without a title truly agreed upon. It sets on a course toward the River Running, some forty miles away through the heavy boughs of central Mirkwood until it passes the small human settlement of Utterby and joins with the larger river.

The forest around the River is thick and overgrown, growing darker the further one reaches into Mirkwood. Around the western expanse, however, it opens up due to the constant activity of orc and beast that marks the lands surrounding the Mountains of Mirkwood. Gnarled trees are felled to sate the goblin furnaces, though the trees always press in against the encroachment, fangs and claws and teeth waiting to catch the unwary axe-goblin.

To the east near Utterby the forest also opens up, due to the logging activities of man. Seeking valuable Hornbeam, woodsmen have cut enough trees apart that the forest is navigable in relative safety. The lumber is processed in the great lumbermill present there, and the noise can be heard for some miles away. (Dero Note: I cut the rest off here, there is actually more, but we'd like you all to discover it in game. We're rather excited... there will be some interesting things to discover in the wilderness that could be useful to either side of things.)
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