Text Adventures In The Age Of Decadence
In this feature, Vince from Iron Tower Studio walks us through one of the "text adventures" embedded in The Age of Decadence.
Text-adventures are an old, venerable, and sadly all but forgotten element. We did our best to capture the spirit, but as usual, you're invited to bitch, complain, and make other helpful suggestions. For those who like to quantify things: this particular text adventure is 14,687 words long.
You start the game in Teron, a small crumbling town controlled by House Daratan. At some point you may (or may not) decide to have a chat with Lord Antidas.
We start by presenting you with all available options:
Option #1 is the main entrance. You can talk to Dellar, Antidas' man in charge of fucking with people and keeping the enemies of the House at bay. He will offer you a traditional "prove yourself first and then, if you're still alive, which is doubtful, I'll let you in" way in via two quests. Alternatively, there are three more quest-related ways to gain entrance - certain side quests may attract or require Antidas' attention.
Option #2 is a "guards only" entrance, which leads to a guard house within the compound.
Option #3 is the left wall of the compound - a lone guard posted near it would have to be dealt with first.
Option #4 is the tall palisade protecting the right wall of the compound.
In other words, you can get in by doing different quests, by talking your way through, by assassinating guards who are in your way (outside and within the compound, if you are a dude that bad), and sneaking/climbing/lockpicking. It seems like we've covered all logical options.
Let's try dealing with the lone guard:
The Streetwise option has failed. Let's kill the bastard then. By the way, this little window isn't a static shot, so when you attack someone, or sneak, or get ambushed, you see all proper animations playing out and it looks very cool, even if I do say so myself.
The bad news is that the Critical Strike option has failed too. The good news is that you've got more options:
- attack the guard (keep in mind that fighting him will alert the other guards, including the trigger-happy crossbowmen in the watch towers.
- use him for cover - comes in handy considering them trigger-happy crossbowmen I've just told you about.
Now, all tagged options in the game have two or three states: success, partial success, and failure. For example, attacking a guard using a crossbow bolt as a makeshift dagger will give you these outcomes:
1. The bolt head pierces the guard's unprotected throat, cutting the arteries and flooding the windpipe with blood. His eyes roll up and he falls down without a sound.
2. The guard moves to the side and the bolt head tears a wound in his neck, missing the vitals. Blood gushes out and the suddenly pale guard charges at you.
3. The guard swiftly moves to the side and hits you with the pommel of his sword. He smiles unpleasantly, showing rotten teeth, and charges at you.
The Run option shown above checks your Dodge skill. If you fail the check, the crossbowmen will turn you into a porcupine. If you succeed, you'll escape.
So, both your attempt to send the guard away and to kill him quickly has failed. The later has drawn the guards' attention to the left flank of the compound, which will make it easier for you to climb the palisade on the right flank - one check instead of two simultaneous checks.
So, instead of getting this:
"You climb the palisade without much difficulty. You reach the top when you hear "I bet you ten imperials that you can't put a bolt through his eye; that last one was a fluke.". You look up when the guard pulls the trigger. The bolt hits you in the throat, the impact throwing you off the palisade. The fall knocks you out and you die in your sleep, just like you've always hoped."
… you will get something more positive. Isn't life grand?
This option requires the Daratan armor. This early in the game, you have two ways of getting one: either killing the above mentioned guard (not the only reason to kill him) or from following up on something you've heard at a local inn. Should you fail the Disguise check, you get 3 options - a lower Disguise check followed up by a Lore check, a Streetwise bluff option, and a simple "I'm new" option that too leads to two Persuasion checks.
As you can see, sometimes we use a single high level skill check, sometimes we have a sequence of progressively harder skill checks, and sometimes we use a combo of several different checks where one skill supports another.
So, let's say you've finally made it to the guardhouse. In the best traditions of text-adventures you have 3 options: east, north, up. The main building is to the east, but the passage is guarded. Logically, there are two ways to get past the guard. One is killing him quickly (the sounds of a fight will attract more attention than you can handle):
"Within heartbeats the passage is stormed and you're pinned to the ground and shackled. The rest is a trip downhill. You're taken to the dungeon and interrogated. The answers you give fail to satisfy the guards and soon torturers take their turn. First they take off your fingers, then your eyes... At some point you stop paying attention to pain and your own screams, and slowly drift away."
The other is pretending to be someone who can actually get past the guard, but here we give you some options. Keep in mind that although though these choices seem narrow and favouring only two character "builds", the passage isn't the only way to get into the main building.
If you explore a small room in the back of the guardhouse, you'll be able to acquire one of the disguise items, which, by the way, might come in handy later on.
As you can see here, we check two skills simultaneously: Lockpick and Sneak. Basically, can you open the chest without making any noise? If you can - as a good thief should - then it's easy. If you can't...
As I was saying, if you can't, then it's not so easy and you'd have to fight 3 angry guards. The good news is they didn't have a chance to put on any armor so their DR is 0. Go get 'em, boy!
By the way, while we do have several pure text adventure fights in the game, in most cases when you do something that makes other people very angry with you, you'd go into the combat mode and fight them as you normally would.
Assuming that you win the fight, which is a big assumption - those who have played the demo would probably agree that fighting 3 opponents is a very fast way to get very, very frustrated - you get a centurion armor, which gives you an opportunity to impersonate an officer:
If you prefer to keep the human interaction to the minimum, taking a pure thief or assassin route, for example, you can climb the walls on either side of the compound, climb on top of the main building, deal with a guard posted on the roof (sneak or kill), and drop down to the second floor (you target is on the first floor):
There are plenty of things to do (and people to kill) on the second floor, which would give you opportunities to test your Critical Strike, Disarm (traps), Crafting, Strength, Dexterity, Perception, Persuasion, Etiquette, Body Count, Lockpick, and Disguise skills, stats, and reputation, not to mention the much covered looting, pillaging, and learning new and exciting things opportunities:
"The only objects of interest are several chests. They are unlocked and contain nothing but bed sheets, toiletries, and clothes. There is a ruby necklace on a dresser. You cut the string and pocket the gems, leaving the rest behind. There is a tractate on the bed table."
1. Take a look.
"Bound I am not to teache you to have a good grace, nor anye thing els, saving only to shew you what a perfect Courtyer ought to be. Neither will I take upon me to teach you this perfeccion, sins a while a goe, I said, that the Courtier ought to have the feate of wrastlyng and vawtinge, and such other thinges, the which howe I should be able to teache them not having learned them my selfe, I am sure ye knowe it all. It sufficeth that as a good souldyer cann speake his minde to an armourer of what facion, of what temper and goodnesse he will have his harneys, and for all that cannot teache him to make it, nor to hammer or temper it: so perhaps I am able to tel you what a perfect Courtyer ought to be, but not able to teach you how ye should doe to be one. Notwithstanding to fulfill your request in what I am able…"
You gained some insights into the lost art of being a Courtier. / Your Etiquette skill is increased by 5 points.
Information aboutAge of Decadence
Developer: Iron Tower Studio
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2015-10-14
· Publisher: Iron Tower Studio