Author Topic: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction  (Read 10167 times)

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Offline FarAway Sooner

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Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« on: January 03, 2017, 09:35:04 PM »
I was a God once.

My followers were so numerous that I never bothered to count them, and the name of Svarog fell from my worshippers' lips as both a blessing and as a ward against evil.  That was before The Darkness.

Many of my brethren were slain when the Cosmic Tree was poisoned and turned to cinders.  Others were unmade in the decades after, as their followers perished and their own hold on this world waned.  As a God, I had often looked down upon my mortal followers in their elder years.  Their faculties would decline and their moments of lucidity would grow more and more scarce, such that their view of reality became little more than a flickering series of snapshots separated by huge gulfs of time.  Such has been my fate for an entire century now.

But I was a God once, and have clung to this world with all the determination that I could muster.  Once, my blinding light could sear entire fields or boil a river in seconds.  Now, I am little more than a flickering light acknowledged by those who worship me only when they can lift their heads up from the tasks required for their daily survival.  My followers now number but a small handful of desperate primitives, huddled around a central campfire and living in only a few huts.

The sun has risen today, pale and wan, but aloft in the sky and visible to my followers for the first time in a century.  I know not what it means, but I am resolved to inspire and empower my worshippers to find a way to redeem me and reclaim their world.

I was a God once.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2017, 10:29:33 PM »
Life within this village has been nasty and short.  I have but ten grown men and women in my village.  Four of them will stay behind to gather and to craft.  I have very little with which to craft, so I will begin with all of my villagers committed to gathering food and fuel.  I am currently limited to foraging for vegetables and for wood, but perhaps in a few days, I will have enough stored that I can set my craftsman to work building a few baskets. 

My people have a small supply of meat laid in from a recent hunting expedition, and the vegetables I gather now will make a nice addition to that.  With time, I may be able to burn some wood to mix together the vegetables and meat to make a soup or stew.  The more food types my people eat, the more they thrive, and cooked foods make for easier transport when I send an expedition into the wilderness.  But at the beginning, even such luxuries as cooked meat or the crafting of gathering baskets must wait on my efforts to bring in more food and fuel.

Such has life been on Thea for more than a century now.



Humbled as I am, I am forced to see the world only through the eyes of my followers.  We begin in a very small village, and my people have scarcely explored beyond the edges of their own fields.  Now, for the first time ever, six of them have set out to explore the land around them. 

From this view, several things stand out.  I spy what looks like some fresh fruit to the NE, next to some ruins of some sort.  We will check those out immediately and hope not to pay a price.  I also spy what look like some wild mushrooms growing in the woods to the west, but I might be best off to send my Healer with any group to gather them--his Herbalism skill will help to make sure we get nothing of the poisonous sort! 



(note:  There's a resource overlay which displays what resources may be gathered here, but I've excluded it for the sake of atmosphere)

In the NNW, my people have occasionally caught glimpses of some abandoned ruins.  We may investigate those at some point, but for now, we want to stay closer to home. 

Without further ado, we move to investigate the ruins.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2017, 10:57:54 PM »
The ruins are half-submerged in water.  Not having the knowledge or skills to explore them more delicately, I wade in through the front door, and immediately find myself confronted by an evil water nymph Utopiec and her three poisonous vipers!



(Combat is handled in an unfamiliar way, but the card-based system works nicely once you get the hang of it.  Based on a random card draw, three of your party are immediately eligible for combat while three more are left in reserve.  The human player and the AI take turns deploying their cards, and the order in which cards are played generally determines initiative (from left to right).  Only after both sides have deployed all the card that they want to do you hit the "Resolve Combat now" button. 

Planning how a combat will play out is critical to victory, but there are a number of nuances to the combat system that keep it fresh and entertaining.

Characters played from "the combat hand" may attack that round, randomly targeting an enemy card on either side of them.  Cards played from "the reserve hand" may indirectly influence the combat (adding to the defense of cards already in combat, confusing enemy cards so that they lose their attack, or boosting the initiative of hard-hitting but slower characters are just three examples--all the options are determined by their skills).  Cards in reserve may also advance into combat, but in so doing they are unable to attack that round. 

In this case, the Evil Utopiec was in the reserve hand but advanced into the battle immediately (the question marks atop her card reveal that she won't attack this turn).  I was then able to play the next two cards from my "combat hand", so in this case, Pavel's big iron sword and Helena's spiked club will both get their attacks in (doing 18 damage each--more than enough to overcome the 24 hit points she has and destroy her).

Lutoslav deployed with a pitchfork, which does less damage (13 for him versus 18 for the other two), but has the added advantage of doing half its damage as a free "first strike" when it's deployed (thus the first Viper is already down to 2 HP out of 8 before the first round of combat even begins to resolve).  I was able to confuse the last Warp Snake with a reserve character, so Lutoslav only one of them will get an attack in in the first round.

In this case, Pavel and Helena slay the Utopiec and Lutoslav finishes off the already injured Warp Snake (who was inactive this turn anyways--he'd advanced from the back).  The second viper is not confused and has withstood my attacks, so he is able to land an attack on Lutoslav that inflicts 3 Physical damage and 5 Poison damage (less the 1 point of "Shield" that Ostrogniev was able to provide.)

The combat is a bit confusing, and I won't bother to detail exactly how all this plays out every time, but I wanted to include an introduction here.  The demo for this game is free and the combat is surprisingly satisfying, after an initial learning curve that only takes 15 or 20 minutes.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2017, 11:27:54 PM »
With the Utopiec and her vile pets slain, my followers seize their loot.  In this case, it's a wide variety of things.



They get 2 baked fruit pies (the Vile Kelpie had a bent for Home Economics, apparently) and 5 sheafs of wheat (useful in baking bread eventually) for food.  They also get 5 Quartz that will likely be useful in building sturdier (if still crude) weapons, and 2 Granite that could be the beginnings of a useful structure for the village. 

My people also gain some experience and some experience and some research, although nothing that will yield tangible rewards yet. 

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2017, 11:50:38 PM »
Editor's Note:  I'm now on Page 4, and I've come to some conclusions about this AAR that I wanted to put up front, so nobody gets to the very end and says "Whaaa?  I was cheated!  This is a crappy ending and I'm not paying for a sequel."

The game is rich with atmosphere and story.  I'm going to intentionally try going light on a lot of that, because it's MUCH more fun to explore those stories as we go.  There might be one or two spoilers from the early encounters in here, but I DON'T want to reveal too much.  So I've made the decision to wrap up this AAR after about 30 turns of game play.  The goal is not to walk characters through the whole story line, but simply to expose them to some of the mechanics and aspects of game play that make this game different.  If I succeed in anything, I hope I am able to call your attention to the hard trade-off decisions that confront the player at literally every turn.

This is one reason why I labeled the thread "An Introduction", but I didn't want anybody confused about what was in this AAR.  Thanks for reading!


(Occasionally, I'll try to take an aside to comment on a few things about the game outside my normal narrative voice.

One thing that I find particularly interesting about crafting in this game: You can make the same "recipe" using different materials.  If I learn how to make a hammer, I could probably make one using wood and quartz, but this hammer would not be as effective as if it used wood and iron.  By the same token, I can fashion a pasture for livestock using wood, vegies, and straw, or I can fashion the same pasture using granite, vegies, and straw.  The latter will yield different (and probably better) results, but wood is obviously far more abundant than granite.  The game is rich with tough trade-off decisions, and you often don't even know what some of them might be, which makes it even more nerve-wracking to spend scarce resources in a profligate manner.

I also enjoy the way they carve out benefits from battle into two categories.  XP is abstracted here more as "general skills and betterment of my people" as opposed to "technical development in one guy's ability to deliver a back-handed cut to his opponent's hamstring".  So XP accrued by anyone helps all the people in my village to level up, regardless of who earns the XP, but their "class" determines what that impact will be.  Soldiers (who comprise 4 out of the 6 folks in my expedition) will likely gain Attack, Defense, or Tactical abilities and HP, while my Medic will improve his Healing and Herbalism skills.  Back home, my Gatherers and my Craftsman might improve their Gathering and Crafting productivity respectively.

In addition to securing XP, overcoming most successful challenges also accrue Research.  Research drives societal improvements:  learning how to make new weapons or armor, discovering how to use more advanced resources, or acquiring the ability to build new structures in the village beyond the mere hovels that one starts out with.  Some challenges yield a lot of XP and little Research, while others might yield a medium amount of XP and a lot of Research. 

How you overcome a challenge even determines the XP and Research benefits.  If you run across a sick stranger, you can kill him and take his stuff.  However, if you have a Healer in your party who has sufficient Herbalism skill to treat him, he may teach you some valuable lessons as a reward.  You don't get any of his stuff, but you might get more XP and research points.  Again, more rich trade-off decisions...)

« Last Edit: January 10, 2017, 12:47:25 AM by FarAway Sooner »

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2017, 11:53:07 PM »
I thought I'd pause for the night and see if there was sufficient interest in this one to keep posting.  I'm having fun so far, but I'll be honest, it's taken longer than I'd hoped and that's time I can't spend playing this fabulous new game! 

I'm also struggling with whether there's a better place to store public images than Photobucket.  The functionality there is cool, but getting booted to ads every 10 minutes if I don't pay for a premium subscription is annoying beyond belief.

Offline CptHowdy

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2017, 11:56:37 PM »
just bought this for 10 bucks at greenmangaming. was watching dastactic doing a playthrough on youtube and it looked intriguing. only on turn 27 but have lost 3-4 people in combat already. was thinking of starting new game but going to stick this one out and take it a little slower or just make better decisions! it really hurt losing those people as well. definitely has that one more turn thing going on. i should have been in bed about 3 hours ago!!

Offline undercovergeek

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2017, 02:15:51 AM »
I'm reading - the game has always been on the limits of my interest but you make it sound very intriguing

It's always a bind doing a quality aar - it's good fun to do and you appreciate the comments but you lose time to playing the game you love enough to tell someone a story about

In the end don't spoil your game but it would be a shame not to share!

Offline Sir Slash

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2017, 10:17:58 AM »
Following along with peaked interest in this game I never considered worth the effort. I mean any game that's got Warp Snakes has got to be good.
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2017, 12:37:55 PM »
I just submitted to Utopiec!  :smitten: >:D

...and to this thread.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline Sir Slash

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2017, 05:39:33 PM »
Utopiec? I though that was Mariah Carey?  :o
"Take a look at that". Sgt. Wilkerson-- CMBN. His last words after spotting a German tank on the other side of a hedgerow.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2017, 11:21:05 PM »
It seems that a creature by the name of Theodore has approached the villagers, claiming to be a familiar of mine who can help guide my worshippers on their path to a better place.  I do not recognize this creature nor any trace of myself in him.  But so much of me has been lost, his story is plausible.  I have fallen so far, I can no longer even imagine--much less remember--all that I once was.

His initial offer is an innocent one, though.  If my people provide him but 10 cooked food items (pies, bread, stew, soup), he promises to reward them handsomely.  I see little potential for disaster.

My worshipers agree, and the villagers focus more of their efforts on gathering wood.  My exploring party has 6 days of food and 5 days of fuel, but I am inclined to encourage them to head back to the village now and swap Lutoslav out for Sulirad, the sole warrior I left in my village to protect the others while they gathered.  Lutoslav can heal while he collects more fire wood, and the rest of the party can continue their explorations.

They return to the village and drop off their recovered loot.  This will help free them up to carry whatever else they find.  As before, four villagers remain behind.  Two gather wood, one gathers vegies, and the last (one of the two village craftsmen) goes to work cooking a simple vegetable stew, in hopes of satisfying Theodore within another day or two. 

Exploring just to the north of the mushroom patch on my western border, I find some more ruins and move to investigate.  I also spy a wandering Witch and some nasty pets on the other side of the ruins.  She is dangerously close to our village, and needs to be driven off or killed before she can menace the hapless civilians there.  Those villagers are laborers and craftsmen, and far less capable of facing such dangers than the hunters and warriors in my exploration party.

I move to search the ruins first, and find a supply store still intact:  15 vegies, 4 precious pieces of iron, and also some wicker that should prove very useful in crafting better gathering baskets soon.  Now it is time to take care of that witch...
« Last Edit: January 04, 2017, 11:54:59 PM by FarAway Sooner »

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2017, 11:54:28 PM »
I approach her camp, but this time, I am given many more options for how I might deal with her.



These choices are usually driven by both the circumstances of an encounter, and the skills that my followers can bring to bear.  Combat is the most straight-forward, but other encounter types often incur far less risk (if I lose a "Social" encounter, my characters are only bored, not wounded).  Some struggles incur more risk than others, but in this case, one or two of my adventurers are stealthy hunters, so they opt to try sneaking up on her to see if they can kill her without a full battle.

And they do!  My hunters win the "Sneak" challenge, but they only manage to kill the witch--most of her Giant Rats get away--but they still find some decent loot from the encounter and (perhaps more importantly) they take no damage. 



We find more herbs, as well as a little meat, some stew, and a small stretch of leather fabric from the one rat my people slay as it scurries off into the underbrush.  They would have probably received far more leather had they engaged the witch and her pets in a full-out battle, but the injuries would have been significant, and injuries heal slowly for my people.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2017, 12:35:16 AM »
This latest encounter has also spurred my followers on to new knowledge, enabling their first step back towards a society their great grandparents knew a century ago.  My people consider developing knowledge in the crafting of new weapons, or learning how to use the supple, strong cane that grows near their home. 

The weapon smithing knowledge is intriguing, but at this stage, my people lack the access to resources like iron or stell that make such weapons truly wortwhile.  The cane-working skill is a particularly appealing option, since my people have a stand of wild cane growing very close to their village.  Reluctantly, my people choose the cane-working technology.  They do not yet know many ways in which they might use this, and my own recollections of such things are maddeningly confused.  But such is life in the Time of Darkness.

As the day draws to a close, both my explorers and my villagers have chance encounters.  A dwarf visits our village, and my people extend their hospitality.  In exchange, he tells us of a Mithril Mine far to the north.  Mithril is a material more fantastic than anything my people have seen in a century--not a single such tool exists anywhere in our village.  It will be a long time before we are able to mount an expedition so far away from home, and my people suspect that they will need to be much more powerful before they seek to obtain such a precious resource.  But it gives us something to plan for.

A Goblin merchant caravan passes by our expedition camp as well.  There is much conversation with the Goblins, but at the end of the day, we have few things that the Goblin wants.  Their shaman offers to bless us in exchange for fuel, food, and herbs, but fuel and food are still too precious for us to waste on charms of uncertain effect.  My people part ways with the Goblins no better equipped, but wiser.

The next day, my villagers continue to gather wood and vegetables while my Craftsman works patiently to cook up more of the Bigos stew to please Theodore.  We seem to be accumulating the cooked food more slowly than I would have thought, but as I focus my attention upon the villagers, I realize that each day they are eating more than half the stew that the hard-working Felislava has been cooking!  After subsisting on half-cooked meat and raw vegetables for so long, I can't fault them for wanting heartier fare. 

But I exert my divine will and am able to instruct them to forego the treats until such time as we have enough to satisfy Theodore.  We do not know what he is bringing, but we are hopeful it will be something.

My expedition also stumbles across a Spider Nest nearby.  We move to clean it out, knowing that it will eventually send forth vile creatures that will menace our defenseless villagers.  We are again given some options besides just charging in and trying to squash them all.  Our Herbalist is able to brew a potent poison that we leave out as bait.  The Spiders quickly eat it and are slain! 

For a reward, my people find a small wooden ring and also gather a cord of Spider Silk from the dead spider's webs.  Given the abundance of Spiders near here (there is another web to the NE), I suspect my people will be harvesting more spider webs whether they want to or not.




Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Thea The Awakening: An Introduction
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2017, 12:43:05 AM »
One thing that keeps this game prticularly interesting is the way that different encounter types play out very differently, depending on which skills (and what level of those skills) you bring to the table.  It is often a good idea to send one or two characters whose main purpose is not combat out on expeditions with your hunters and warriors, for exactly this reason.  I have few doubts that my party could have taken the spider's nest in a straight-up combat challenge (the game gives you a sense for the relative toughness of a fight), but I also have few doubts that I would have collected one or two nasty poison bites in the encounter.

In this case, the Herbalism knowledge of my Healer allowed me to face a "Sickness" challenge to determine the outcome.  These encounters are resolved very similarly to combat challenges, except that different skills and abilities drive different mechanics (e.g., my Healer's Herbalism skill determined his "Attack" score while the complexity of the Poison challenge gave me the "Defense" score I had to overcome to win.  The main difference here, as I mentioned earlier, is that failing non-combat challenges seldom means you take physical damage--you simply lose the encounter and might find yourself counter-attacked physically in the Spiders' turn.

Not only did I gain the spider silk and the wooden ring, but I also picked up 2 XP, which was enough to boost my characters' level.