Developer Journal: Items in 9 Dragons by Ken Johnston
Emerald Jade... rare, beautiful, translucent. The most precious material that could be found in ancient China. A perfectly crafted jade item would pit trader against trader, warrior against warrior and thief against thief... could even spark the imagination of The Imperial Emperor himself. For to own such a treasure may offer one a certain power... and makes that one a target for all those who would seize it...
The best way to describe the game is to visualise the world of House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and then imagine that you are Kwai Chang Caine (aka "Grasshopper") from TV's Kung Fu series. You enter The Land (which the Korean design team has rendered in a visually breathtaking style) as a wandering vagabond, and you become immersed in the sights and sounds of ancient China. Cities, buildings, wardrobe, weapons...the game prides itself on attention to historical authenticity. You are prompted to interact with several villagers, like a blacksmith who can craft you a sword or some razor wheels, or a doctor who can heal your wounds, and they tell a little about the current situation in the Middle Kingdom, and of course about all the fabulous riches that can be found... like the bowl made of emerald jade.
Ah... the history of such an item. Of course, hardly anyone has ever seen such a rarity. You, wandering vagabond that you are, have hardly ever seen anything! Paupers such as you are nothing to begin with... but you have a wealth equal to emerald jade. You have... potential.
Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan, Heavenly Demon, Sacred Flower, League of Beggars, or Brotherhood of Thieves... there are six starter clans you may join to find your true master and learn Kung Fu in The Land. That is, if a master from one of these clans sees in you the basic material to craft a great martial artist.
You are like the jade before it became the bowl, and your training relies on the quality of your raw material and a master's craftsmanship applied to bringing the best out of you. A true master will show you that a great martial artist is so much more than just a master of techniques and moves. For you see, not only must you learn how to craft, enhance and balance yourself and your weapons... you must also become an expert on all manner of additional items you can use to enhance your abilities and aid you on your quests.
Yes, that's right, you guessed it. The items you find and carry will change your stats, and some of their effects are temporary, while others are permanent. A precious ring that raises your dexterity, an amulet that triples your strength, a blessed sword that cannot be damaged, or a cursed saber with an effect you must deduce...
Items can give you an edge in battle, right down to a strand of prayer beads a Shaolin monk might carry that raises his dodge rate, or a blessed hairpin that a Sacred Flower assassin might wear that raises her chance for divine intervention toward a critical hit.
If you are to become such a master, then you too must be prepared to pay attention to these details. You may have honed your Kung Fu through training, but if you have not researched your items then you may find out the hard way how much more there is to learn. If you come up against an opponent with a masterpiece sword (one that belonged to a hero of old) then your Kung Fu skills will likely not be enough. Worse still, you could meet someone with an inherited artifact. Items so rare that they confer tremendous power to their wielders (though the price in Vital Energy to wield them may be equally high). If you are prepared to travel and search, that wielder could be you. The items are there waiting, calling out to those who seek them.
In 9Dragons there are countless items for you to encounter, scattered throughout The Land. Even the clothes you wear will make a difference. Some of them have hidden pockets into which you can place magical artifacts that enhance your stats. There are books to be read that can automatically teach you some Kung Fu, herbs that can heal your wounds, antidotes for poisons, and special elixirs that once consumed can permanently raise your stats... or lower them, so beware. Many special treasures can be found in hidden chests that must be opened with special keys. Use the wrong key and you could destroy what lies inside. Use the right keys and you are granted items of the rarest sort.
You will discover in 9Dragons that many items can enhance your life and abilities, but the real value is to be found in the rare, the precious and the masterpiece items. These are what give a master his enhancements that make the difference between winning and losing... between living and dying. We promise that adventure will come to surround and fill up your Life in The Land, but it's up to you to decide if your character holds Life like a bowl... or like a bowl made of emerald jade.
We hope you've enjoyed our introduction to The Land of 9Dragons, and we look forward to writing our next article. On a final note, we should announce that the game has finished development and has now entered Closed Beta testing. For more information, or to join Open Beta in November, please visit www.9dragonsgame.com if you are from North America and www.9dragonsonline.com if you are from Europe and register for a free account.
- Ken Johnston