Recently the development team of Roma Victor has been placing some focus on features specifically for the barbarian faction. Responding to community feedback that barbarians have been neglected, a host of features designed to “flesh out” the barbarian faction have been implemented or are on the way.
Roleplay is an important aspect of RomaVictor, as it is an historically based MMO set in 2nd Century Roman Britain. In order to support that facet of gameplay, it helps to look the part. As such, appearance is getting some attention in order to give barbarian characters a look that emphasizes the more fearsome qualities that were historically part of “barbarian” culture.
Face painting with woad was typical of the Celtic and Pictish peoples of Britain during the 2nd Century. This has now been brought to life in RomaVictor, with a variety of face paint patterns. Also included are the supporting skills and materials necessary for players to “craft” these patterns on the faces of each other’s characters. In the near future each face paint pattern will impart special benefits in the form of a temporary increase in a specific character ability.
The exact number of different face paint patterns available is not currently known. As each player increases their face painting skill they “unlock” new patterns that they may apply to the faces of other characters. At least two have been unlocked with relatively low skill.
RedBedlam implemented this feature and brought it to the community of barbarian players using a unique method. Although a sandbox-style game, RomaVictor also has a storyline that loosely parallels the actual history of the setting. This is done through the use of developer-controlled characters on a limited basis. For the Romans, the main developer character is the Provincial Governor of Britannia, Ulpius Marcellus. On the barbarian side, a legendary Pict warrior named Brudei facilitates storyline events.
The developers made a series of appearances using the character Brudei to bring the skills to the community and create roleplay opportunities. The legendary Brudei visited a couple of barbarian villages and personally taught the skills for face painting with woad, and interacted with the community through authentic roleplay. Introducing mechanics, features, and content through historical roleplay is one of the more unique aspects of RomaVictor, and is immensely popular with the RV community.
Another recent addition to the barbarian arsenal is the battleaxe. Up until recently, the only axe available for combat was the hand axe, which is simply a larger version of the hatchet. A medium-sized axe is now craftable, as is the larger, devastating battleaxe.
RedBedlam introduced these new weapons in a similar manner to face paint. Initially, Brudei approached characters in-game and led them on a raid against a Roman fort. He taught them the skills for the medium axe and battleaxe, even though neither had been made craftable. The developers then used the as-yet-uncraftable axes as special items. One type of axe was left as part of a treasure at an undiscovered iron mine. Brudei gave battleaxes as gifts, or dropped them as loot when slain by enemy players. After the “wow factor” had worn off, all axe types were made craftable.
According to RedBedlam, the “barbarian warcry” feature will soon be implemented. The barbarian warcry will give combat bonuses for a very short time when use is timed correctly. This, along with bonuses for face paint patterns and more devastating weapons, brings balance to combat, counteracting the Roman advantage of superior armor.
It will be interesting to see over time if barbarian player guilds (tribes, warbands, and cults) will adopt specific woad patterns as part of their guild identity or have different patterns associated with particular rituals or ceremonies. There are currently more than 8 different types of kilt (including short, full kilt, hide, fur, and many printed cloth patterns), 2 types of hide shirt (which also serve as light armor), numerous print patterns of pants, 3 types of boots, several types of headwear and helmets, more than 3 accurately-modeled authentic barbarian shield types, and historically authentic weapons such as axes, falcata, longsword, and falx currently available. As yet no barbarian group has adopted a particular style of dress as part of their tribal identity. Perhaps as groups strive to establish their cultural identity and grow, they will adopt a specific style of dress that sets them apart from others.
In addition to the variety of authentic clothing and weapons, there are several historically accurate building types available to those barbarian players wishing to establish villages or build a home at an already existing settlement. Roundhouses of three different sizes (small, medium, and grand) can be built using authentic skills and materials, including dung and thatch. Barbarian guilds can also build “guildhalls” to claim areas as their own. These vary from a “super-sized” tribal roundhouse to the Sacred Grove of religious cults. The Sacred Grove structure is an inspired recreation of an outdoor Celtic-style religious site, which includes the familiar “circle of stones” and an altar.
Integral to accurately portraying and roleplaying barbarian culture is the inclusion of hair growth, beards, tattoos, jewelry, religious artifacts, ceremonial and ornamental items, headdresses, and game mechanics for rituals. Despite some of these items existing in varying degrees of completion for quite some time, they have yet to be made available to players. The excruciatingly slow implementation of many such items, features, and mechanics is often a source of great frustration for those players wishing to realize the full potential of authentic roleplay in RomaVictor.
Despite recent progress, the common theme of much community feedback to RedBedlam remains the same: more content needed.