Play This Game, You Must
#21 28-06-2020 
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A "character sheet" in the course of play, listing the character's attributes and skills, and depicting what items you have equipped. If abbreviations aren't your thing, just click on any mini-menu to expand it (so "wImp" becomes "Impact Weapons," "StrW" becomes "Streetwise," and so on).

Skills range from 0 to 99. As usual, the high the number, the better you are with that skill and the greater your odds of success at using it. Skills like Edged Weapons (for wielding any bladed weapons from daggers to zweihanders) are your obvious battle skills. Speak Common is good for fast-talking and convincing people to do what you want, Speak Latin and Read & Write are useful for earning the ears of alchemists, professors, clerics and other scholarly sorts, Healing affects how swiftly your entire party recovers from injuries, and so on.

And mind your encumbrance; your warriors can work just fine with Normal or Heavy loads (though the latter will slow their ground speed), but it's best to keep your thieves and tinkerers at a Light Load; they need to stay swift and mobile. Equipping your nimble, swashbuckling rogues with full plate armor, heavy crossbows and battle axes simply will not do.

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Instead of the usual incantation-chanting sorcery from many a Tolkienesque tale, what passes for magic in Darklands comes in two varieties: brewing potions with Alchemy, and using Religious Knowledge and Virtue to invoke saints through prayer.

With Alchemy, you need knowledge of alchemical formulas and the proper reagents. Not all formulas are created equal; some may consume more common ingredients with weaker or more meager results, while others may consume rarer or more exotic reagents in greater numbers to concoct far more potent potions. Higher Intelligence will improve your chances of success (or, at least, averting a disastrous failure), as will having a Philosopher's Stone; the more refined the Stone, the better.

True to form, expect the various reagents to be known by their Old World names: "brimstone" is sulfur, "manganes" is magnesium, "marsh vapor" is methane, "pitchblende" is uranium, and so on.

(Ah, the carefree and innocent years when people could fearlessly handle uranium ore with their bare hands, right?)

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Knowledge of prayers to the various saints can be earned through select people and places, with monasteries, universities and rare, random encounters with holy hermits in the wilderness being among them.

Each saint requires a different minimal Virtue before that saint will even think about answering that character's prayers; anyone can learn the prayer to evoke Saint Agatha, but if Saint Agatha demands a Virtue of 24 or higher, then your scurvy thief with a measly Virtue of 10 or 15 will be beneath her notice (at least until your thief does enough good for the world to raise that Virtue to 24, of course).

As a rule of thumb, the higher the saint's Virtue requirement, the more powerful the saint's miracles. You need a Virtue of at least 30 to summon Saint Damian there, and he'll heal all of your Endurance but only a point or three of your Strength. Saint Ita is another healing saint; you need a whopping 85 Virtue to summon her, but she'll heal all your wounds! No one can bring you from "almost dead" to full health like Saint Ita can! So call on Saint Damian if you have a few nicks and scrapes, but always try to save some Divine Favor for those near-death experiences that only Saint Ita can fix licketty-split.

(Saint Damian and Saint Cosmas are also a nice two-for-one deal; if you learn about one saint, you can learn about the other. Instead of instant healing, Saint Cosmas temporarily raises one person's Healing skill by a heady amount. So Damian's your man for mid-battle healing, but Cosmas is the one you need for mending your entire party's wounds while you're camping and recuperating from the battle later that night.)

Calling down a saint will consume a base amount of the invoker's Divine Favor, plus any extra Divine Favor that you want to add on to improve the odds of the saint answering your prayer. Divine Favor naturally replenishes itself at about a point a day, but you can speed things along by tithing to churches and other houses of worship, praying during periods of rest, or attending ceremonies like Mass and Holy Confession. Virtue can be permanently raised with huge tithes and donations, as well as by doing certain righteous and holy deeds (like destroying Satanic altars or curing plague victims).

Many saints will give temporary boosts to your skills (ie. Saint George will improve all of one adventurer's skills with weapons and horse riding), some heal wounds and some imbue certain uncanny powers (ie. Saint Giles gives you money if you're poor, Saint Margaret can effectively make you fireproof and Saint Lazarus can save you from "certain" death).

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Watch for opportunities to meet with people in positions of political and/or financial power; they often have quests that you can undertake. Rewards for completed quests may include money (often several Florins), special items, increases in local reputation (or even Europe-wide Party Fame), alchemical formulas and more!

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Here is your F6 menu; it includes your overland map, the time of day, your location and your current money. The overland map not only helps you get where you need to go (important help for those quests) but it also shows your local reputation in various cities. Never underestimate the power of reputation; if a city's gates are barred at night, a Local Hero can easily persuade the guards to let the party in, an Unknown wayfarer will probably be turned away until morning, but a Hated party will meet with a violent rebuttal for daring to approach the city at all!

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A random event in the wilderness. What choices you make will result in different outcomes and may draw on certain skills (such as Woodwise, for attempting to drive those wolves away before they attack).

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The wolves weren't so easily deterred, alas. Fighty Time ensues.

(Hold the E key to get a little insight into your enemies. Wolves are tough, but their teeth aren't very good at penetrating chainmail or other metal armors.)

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Another random encounter, this time with brigands.

Expect lots of robbers, brigands and other scoundrels to accost you, more frequently if you're walking along one of Germany's many roads. Some of them are accompanied by evil alchemists and will have empowered weapons and armor. And if you're intruding on the territory of a raubritter (or robber-knight, a once-noble knight fallen into the ranks of villainy), you may frequently encounter bands of his men intent on collecting "tolls" for their lord, usually rather forcefully).

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If you have ranged weapons equipped, whittle the bad guys down before they close for melee. And don't forget your tactics and your various modes of attack: A for standard Attack (balanced in both offense and defense), B for Berserk (all-out attack, but reckless and with lower defense), P for Parry (the opposite of Berserk: high defense, low offense) and V (for well-armored enemies; you aim your attacks at chinks in the enemy's armor, but at the cost of attack frequency). So if you have the weight of numbers, you can hasten a battle by drawing an enemy's wrath with a Parrying defender, then flank that enemy with one or more Berserkers.

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The best part of any battle: the post-victory loot!

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Yes, the Wild Hunt from the old Pagan myths is alive and well in Darklands (though in this context, they're Hell's hit squad, not the Old Gods' army of justice). My party dodged Herne the Hunter this time, but he shall return.

(...but my party can take him. That's why I haven't bothered to learn prayers to Saint Columba yet: beating up the Wild Hunt is fun and profitable! Why deprive myself of that?)

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Different saints can have different results, even in the same event. Here we have a Pagan site, but the witches are gone, leaving their beasts to guard the place. Praying to Saint Aidan will drive the wolves away, while praying to Saint Hildegard will reveal the time and location for the witches' next Sabbat. If you have the time and the Divine Favor, do both; otherwise, you'll either have to kill the wolves or find another way to the Sabbat so you can break it up.
(This post was last modified: 28-06-2020 11:11 PM by Pizzatron-9000.)

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#22 28-06-2020 
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...and here's one of those raubritters I was talking about.

Raubritters can be very dangerous enemies. If you killed any of his men on the way to his castle, he might defend his territory fiercely. Otherwise, you can coax him into inviting you in as a guest, with either a glib tongue or the right saint's intervention. Why batter your way into his castle if you don't have to?

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Some saints allow you to see into the hearts of other people. Here, a quick prayer to Saint Gabriel (everyone's favorite Archangel of Revelation) compels the raubritter to lay bare his true intentions.

He's a robber-knight. What did you expect? Free puppies and foot rubs? Tongue

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I chose to spend the night because I always choose to spend the night. You can stumble across treasure chests in the raubritter's castle that way, and I'll rarely say "No" to more loot!

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Time to go roving through the raubritter's castle, huzzah!

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Hello again, sir!

My, Grandma, what a big sword you have! And full plate armor from head to toe...Max Schöner came fully loaded!

(I got a few Florins for his salvaged armor at the nearest marketplace. That was nice. Smile )

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Another noble quest leads my merry band to a long-forsaken crypt in the wildlands. Getting in and grabbing the relic is easy enough.

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Getting out — through a host of the awakened undead — is marginally more difficult.

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But I forgot to take a screenshot of the skeletons giving battle, so you get another pic of some brigands instead. Wink

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Sometimes, you stumble across a woman in a cottage with some wolves. Sometimes, she's just an old widow minding her own business, so leave her alone. Other times, she turns out to be a witch, and she'll start throwing potions at you while her wolves try to kill you.

(Potions of Eater Water are basically really corrosive acid. I hate it when witches pelt me with Eater Water! Tears my armor right to tiny bits!)

Defeat the witch and you come to another big multiple choice. I always make her abandon witchcraft and take up penance for her sins; it's usually good for a permanent Virtue increase. Don't pick the first option; not meaning to spoil anything here, but let's just say that the witch has a very unfavorable idea of what "the rest of your life" means!

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While you're out wandering the wilderness, keep an eye out for hamlets like this one! Their smithies usually pay a bit more for whatever you have to sell, and the Divine Favor recoveries from taking Confession at the hamlet's church are massive; half a day in the confessional can easily lift someone up from 0 Divine Favor to a perfect 99! You can also buy horses through the old woman's house, and the schulz sometimes has quests for you as well. Too bad you can't earn some money by taking up odd jobs while you're staying in a hamlet; apparently they already have more people than workplaces.

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But always make your choices shrewdly; injustices can cost you! If you barge into that hut in the woods and the "witch" turns out to be an ordinary widow (usually because you acted on an assumption and didn't check your target first), your whole party will lose Virtue. Same thing if you march into a good and decent hamlet and accuse the schulz of harboring a Satanic cult; expect God to kick you right in the Virtue if you do that.

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So why does that option exist? Because some hamlets and their citizens aren't good and decent, of course! Before you go pointing any fingers, do a little groundwork and ask a few questions to see if the local yokels have thrown in with the Dark Side of the Force. If the schulz quotes the Serpent who tempted Adam and Eve, he's probably a Satanist. If the priest serves moldy Communion wafers, tells you to torture an animal to death as penance for your confession and honors Simon Magus — the sorcerer who once challenged Simon Peter the Apostle to a "faith-off" and lost terribly — as a saint, oh, yeah. That hamlet is Satanic out the wazoo! Either call the schulz out or spend the night at the old lady's house; either way, be ready for a skirmish, because diabolical cults don't take too kindly to goody-goody outsiders!

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So you've beaten back a few hordes of enraged, xenophobic, blasphemy-shouting Satanists, and now you're at their unholy worship site. How do you give the place a thorough purging and kick all the evil out?

Well, if your party has someone who's really buff with Religious Knowledge, just have him or her carve up the altar's unholy symbols just right so it's not consecrated to the Devil anymore. If any alchemists in your party have whipped up a Potion of Transformation, just lob it at the altar; that stuff's like Kryptonite to dark forces. If you're in cahoots with a saint who's all about stomping demon butt, just call that saint in. If you were out wandering around and you found some holy relic (like one of the nails that the Romans used to stick Jesus to that cross, or whatever), just set it on the evil altar and let it go to work.

But if all else fails — and if you can't find it in yourself to let such blasphemy go unanswered — then you're just going to have to yell prayers at that altar until the demon who hangs out there gets sufficiently annoyed and comes out to tell you to shut up.

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...case in point:

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Ooh, he looks pretty tough.

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...but not as tough as me and my merry band! Bring it on, hornface! You kick like an epileptic fruit bat! Have at you!

Anyway, feel like giving Darklands a try yet? Wink
(This post was last modified: 28-06-2020 11:09 PM by Pizzatron-9000.)

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#23 25-11-2021 
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I spent hours playing this game. The plot and the gameplay itself seems to be amazing for me

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Sorry, that is a members only option