Hello everyone, and welcome to TotA Dev Blog #8! Last week I talked about dying. Today I aim on covering another pleasant topic: poison!
I really wish we had art for this. If you haven't already noticed by now, we have a wonderful artist who's working as fast as he can, but I'm posting these articles faster than he can crank out new pieces. But picture, for a moment, a figure on a hill, garbed in a hooded white cloak and goggles, and frankly a little kooky. He loads a vial into a modified crossbow, and fires into an enemy patrol. Absolute chaos ensues. The target's skin turn blue as he collapses, begging for help. To his comrades' horrors, their legs begin to freeze in ice as he grasps at them for assistance.
Tales of the Arcanimus supports a wide variety of character concepts; for a long time, one of those builds was poison. A very traditional concept, it functioned as one would expect. You apply a concoction to your weapon, and then that weapon deals debilitating effects, such as a modest penalty to stats, or a little bit of ongoing damage. But our testers found these types of builds to be rather underwhelming. Maybe it's the comparison with the popular and prevalent magic available to everyone in the setting. Maybe it's the fact that combatants drop too quickly for something as subtle as traditional poison to be as effective as people expect it to be.
In either case, traditional poison went out the window.
Thus the Alchemy Skill was born. In keeping with TotA's "magic is everywhere in this world," we decided to extend that magic to alchemical compounds themselves. One kind of thing you can create with Alchemy is Elixirs, which bestow potent effects upon the user for a time frame of six hours. Because they are often made from ingredients taken from inherently magical creatures created long ago with Old Magic, the bonuses Elixirs grant you usually cannot otherwise be replicated. In a world without proper healing magic, Alchemy is one of the most reliable methods of getting your character back into fighting shape within a short time span.
The concept of inherently magical potions is naturally intuitive, but we decided to extend that train of thought to what used to be poisons. By having these items based on magic, rather than purely biochemical substance, we are able to give them any fantastic properties we need to in order to make them interesting and engaging for players.
We call them Banes.
In practice they act similarly to diseases as opposed to toxins; many progressively get worse, ranging from gradually to rapidly, and many are even contagious. They can be incredibly dangerous, and prone to backfire. And, of course, they can be very magical. See my example of TotA's Frost Bane above; the afflicted takes ongoing Ice damage and becomes weak to fire, eventually completely freezing when they fall unconscious. And while Frost Bane might not be truly contagious like some other Banes, anyone who tries to contact the afflicted can become frozen in ice. Very potent, very double-edged.