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Q&A #5

Jon Wood Posted:
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We Return For Our Bi-Weekly Interview

Victor Watcher of Turbine Entertainment answers five more of Jon Wood's questions in this week's Q&A. Today he delves into the setting and some of the game's important systems.

MMORPG.com: Can we expect any cameos from recognizable DnD characters?
Victor Watcher:

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach is set on the continent of Xen’drik, which is largely unexplored in the Eberron source material. As such, we are not featuring any characters from previously released source materials. But the cool part is that since we are helping to define this region for the Eberron campaign setting, it may be that characters recognizable from our game would appear in cameos in other books or games.

MMORPG.com: Without crafting and with an experience system that doesn't reward killing monsters, your game relies very heavily on quests. Will all quests be available to all players, or will there be quests specific to class or level?
Victor Watcher:

All quests will be available to all character classes. However, the challenges and puzzles are developed to have a variety of possible means of facing, which players will face in a manner that best fits the class combinations available in their party. Each challenge can be faced by any character class, though the options available to each may be more or less practical than the options open to another class. The classic example is that the rogue can pick a lock to get through a door, but a Wizard would have to cast a spell and consume spell points to knock it down.

Also, the game starts with a directed experience for characters, where they are given a specific set of quests to progress through and learn the basics of the gameplay. Over time, they will open up more areas

MMORPG.com: A few of our readers were wondering if you were planning on including any planar baddies in the game. Anything, for example, from the Abyss?
Victor Watcher:

Eberron has its own cosmology that is different from the planes of other campaign settings. And we have monsters that come from several of them. The ice flenser, the fire reaver and the flesh render are Turbine creations that come from the planes. The Ice Flenser comes from Risia, the Plane of Ice. The Fire Reaver comes from Fernia, the Sea of Fire. The Flesh Render comes from Shavarath, the Battleground. From Risia and Fernia come the ice and fire mephits, respectively, elemental imps. The Marut inevitable is a planar guardian from Dolurrh, the Realm of the Dead.

MMORPG.com: Can you explain what you mean by "four ranks per level"?
Victor Watcher:

The game uses the standard D&D level progression system for the most part – experience points, leading to level advancements, new feats, spells and other abilities. However, Core D&D stops at level 20 before you get into epic level content. This works well in the pen and paper environment, given the pacing and time between levels. However, MMORPG players are used to a greater number of milestones in developing their characters, and we wanted to be sure that expectation was served as well.

Using four ranks per level allows us to add these milestones within the Core Rules’ system. While a character progresses through each level, they will gain ranks along the way, which will also give them points that they can spend on various enhancements, such as attack or saving throw bonuses. Once a character has earned all four ranks within a level, they will be ready to move up to the next one.

MMORPG.com: With a franchise like this, players want to know that "their game" is in the hands of other players. Too often, projects like this are turned over to people whose interst in the game is purely financial. What can you tell me about the Dungeons and Dragons experience of your development team?
Victor Watcher:

Here at Turbine several times a week, meeting rooms are appropriated for the various D&D campaigns being run in the office, ranging from those who are brushing up after being away from pen & paper for some time, to those who have been hardcore for years and are continuing their adventures together with their co-workers. Most of us developing RPG’s first got into gaming through AD&D, launching passions that would develop into careers.

Beyond that, our team also has strong professional experience with Dungeons & Dragons. Senior Designer David Eckelberry comes to us after a long tenure at TSR and WotC. Quest Designer Chris Pierson has published several novels in the Dragonlance series. We work in close communication with the WotC staff, including Core D&D Creative Director Ed Stark.

Many thanks to Alex at Turbine for making these happen.

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Jon Wood