X-COM Triathlon

by Kyzrati on 20130125 , under

Okay, so there's no swimming, we already have running (though X-COM soldier endurance leaves much to be desired), and we aren't going to have high-tech bikes.

Today we instead have climbing, jumping, and hurdling for you. (Maybe.)


This could open up a lot of new strategic options for movement. Terrain would have a "climbing difficulty" while units would have a new climbing skill that determines how easy it is to climb different terrain, if they can at all. Unless climbing something far beyond a unit's skill level, failure would usually just mean wasted time and stamina rather than outright falling to the ground.

You'd simply face the terrain you want to climb and use the standard upward movement commands (or let the pathfinder do it for you). You can change facing while climbing to look around, but must again face a surface in order to climb it. Reaction fire is also allowed while climbing, but only with one-handed weapons. If shot while climbing, there's a chance you'll fall. Upon reaching the top you'd climb up onto the roof or whatever flat surface is there. To climb down rather than jump down, you simple walk backwards (this would be a new command) over an edge.


The ability to leap across gaps would be nice, even better if jumping allowed you to fly off a roof and crash through a window in another building.


It would be useful to quickly jump/slide over shorter movement-blocking terrain objects like bushes and tables, rather than going around them.

So... none of this is implemented yet, but I've been thinking about them for a while and still there are quite a few details to be ironed out before coding could begin. Because it may take some time, I've decided to put this up to a vote! Let's decide whether all this should wait until later (in the interest of actually making it to 1.0 this century), or go in now. Rather than using a poll, I ask that anyone with input leave thoughts in the comments section. There are certainly some gameplay implications to consider here, like the ability to climb trees to escape zombies (which would then attack the tree and bring it down?), and no doubt a lot more interesting aspects than that.

Keep in mind all of these features can/will be optional, and that even if not implemented in the current version they would still probably make it in one day, so even if you want to vote nay, feel free to bring up any relevant details I may want to consider when the time does come to add these features.

As cool/fun as these would be, I'm somewhat tending towards skipping them for now, even though I've already put a lot of thought into them. They're fairly complicated and there is a good bit to take into account and test so these systems work smoothly with everything else.

Anyway, I'll leave this topic in the incubator and work on the list of assorted loose ends and general improvements for now.

EDIT 2/1: Well, not as many opinions came in as expected based on the readership, but I think the general trend is apparent: Hold off on this until later (I am combining responses from here and Bay 12). So the parkour skill/actions have been pushed back to 1.0+ territory.

In the meantime I've heard that Linux/Wine and some Windows users have been unable to play the mods using the new standalone format. I've repackaged them all with a second batch file inside the actual game directory which should work in cases where the original/primary batch file does not.
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Science or Fiction

by Kyzrati on 20130124 , under

Andrew has put together a well-written short about Victor Wade's dilemma in Rookie's Tale. You may have to play Rookie's Tale a few times before getting the underlying idea he's presented here. It's not something I'd considered when originally designing the scenario, but works well given the premise:


Kaol was sick and tired of the piss that passed for booze in this damn shack.
Taking another swig of the ruddy liquid, he longed for a glass of real alcohol. A beer would be amazing right now, and it would help take the edge off of the sword wound on his neck. Damn lucky, he was, that the goblin hadn't taken his head clean off; his last potion had stopped the worst of the bleeding after he had bashed the last of the bastards into paste, and after he had crawled his sorry ass back here a priest - the same man sitting across from him, actually - had stitched his flesh back together with a kind word to his deity.

Leaning back in the creaky three-and-a-half-legged chair, he spent a bit of time wondering where the nearest pub was before shrugging resignedly, realizing that he'd have to walk for a few days to get anywhere more civilized than the collection of huts the locals had dubbed a "town."

Kaol's pleasant thoughts were interrupted, however, as a stranger banged through the front door. The unshaven man stood a tad bit taller than he did, wearing the tattered purple scraps of an armor made from a metal Kaol didn't recognize. Some sort of weapon was slung over his shoulder. The man stumbled, catching his fall on a table nearby and leaning on it for support.

"No..." he croaked.

"Somethin' wrong?" the barkeep called from behind his counter; the newcomer waved at him dismissively, looking at Kaol's priest friend with strange, hungry eyes.

"This isn't right," he whispered. "Where... where's Zilith?"

"What the 'ell are you talkin' about?" Kaol asked. This fellow didn't seem drunk, or on anything Kaol had ever taken before; despite that, the strange man didn't quite seem there. Maybe he was mad.

"You... were there," the man muttered, ignoring Kaol's question. His eyes swept through the cramped room, taking in the dingy furniture, dying hearth and the wizard sitting silently at the far end near the embers. Despite his apparent attentiveness his eyes were glazed over, seeing something only he could see. Definitely mad.

"You... Tsek... you were there, that's right..." the madman said, pointing to the robed figure; by the look of shock that flew across the wizard's face Kaol figured he didn't know the man. "And you... Kaol... you were there... but you weren't," he continued, pointing at the priest.

"Now jus ow in tha 'ell do ya know me?" Kaol asked, standing up and knocking his flimsy chair over. "Who tha 'ell are ya?"

"Victor," the madman said, nearly whispering. "Tsek is here... Kaol is here... where's Zilith?"

Kaol drew his mace from his belt. "Ya got one more chance, ya bastard. How in tha name a Belthas do ya know me?"

Victor's unfocused gaze sharpened, boring into Kaol's own. Despite himself the fighter stepped back; the ferocity behind those eyes scared him. "You were born in a town, a far distance away from here. Your father was a blacksmith, your mother died during childbirth. For your fourteenth birthday your father made you a sword; you lost it three years later to a dragon and you never forgave yourself for it. I can get it back for you." Kaol was struck by a wave of confusion, anger and a tinge of long-buried regret as those events flashed through his mind's eye. Was this Victor a psychic? An oracle? How did he know...

"And you," the madman said, turning to point at the mage - Tsek. "Your mother was a mage and raised you into the profession. You are ashamed that you can only cast a single spell and are hoping that adventuring will help you learn more to finally prove yourself to her. I can help you do that." The man in question just stared at Victor, shock written across his face. "But you... priest of Belthas... I don't know you... Zilith should be there... was there..."

The stranger slumped to the ground with a groan, leaning against the wall and holding his face in his hands. Kaol shared a look with his priest and the mage, and by silent agreement the priest stood and walked over to the madman.
"My name is Shentong," he said softly, crouching in front of Victor. "I am, as you guessed, a priest of Belthas." Victor looked up, tears streaming down his face. "What happened to you?"

"She died," the man whispered; Kaol struggled to hear him, even from a few feet away, and he struggled with the urge to creep closer. The priest might be able to strangle some sense out of the loon and figure out how the hell he knew so much... how he knew about Kaol. He didn't want to scare the man away, and kept his distance. "I... it's all so foggy, but... I remember her smile, her hair, her kindness... I remember her. And I let her die."

"What happened?" Shentong asked softly, concern and kindness etched across his face. "Do you remember?"

"I... there were monsters... no, aliens... they sent me here... I was, we were looking... I can't remember, it was something important..." Shentong met the barkeeper's eye, gesturing upstars; the barkeep responded with a nod. "Let's get you upstairs. See if some rest will help you remember."

Victor nodded wordlessly and allowed himself to be led upstars; as Kaol watched the two of them stumble out of sight, the mage approached him. "Do you know that man?"

"No," Kaol growled. "An' I'd guess ya don', either." The mage shook his head.
"I have no idea how he... found out..."

"Nor I." Kaol cracked his neck and rested a hand on his mace. "But I intend ta find out." With that, he followed the priest and his charge upstairs. No matter what this Shentong said, he wasn't going to let the madman rest until he had answers. With the mage trailing him, he stomped upstars to confront the madman.


You can read a couple more fan fiction stories on the forum here and here, though they appear in the members-only board for now. (We'll have a dedicated public fan fiction board later once the game gets bigger.)

"You are ashamed that you can only cast a single spell"... I love that line, so fitting.

Another memorable excerpt from one of Andrew's stories that I'm sure anyone can appreciate:

"It's a good plan and we're a lot better equipped than last time, so I think we can pull it off. What do you think, Kyzrati?"

The erratic mage hummed in thought for a moment. "I'd give it a good thirty-three percent chance that one of us, at least, will survive."

"Better than X-COM usually does," Victor muttered. "You guys ready?"

10101 has posted a screenshot showing what could be the "worst start ever" in Rookie's Tale.
Good luck, Victor.

Development on the game itself has been slow of late. The only new feature worthy of mention is the ability to show all destinations within range of a unit given its current TU/EN. This is a pretty much a standard feature for TBS games and has been on my to-do list for a while, so I threw it together a few days ago since I had recently added Dijkstra processing to the pathfinding class for other uses.

It's nice because it updates as you move, so you can see the area reduce in size as you take each step (most useful while using a keyboard). Another advantage is it's a way to easily see what spaces can and cannot be occupied. It has a couple of [unimportant] known issues, but should work fairly well.

Various News Items:
  • There have been a few new unannounced minor updates to X@COM, and we're now at 8.5. The latest version of Rookie's Tale has been repackaged with the current version.
  • A Rookie's Tale has been updated several times since it was first released, mostly minor fixes and improvements. If you're playing now and plan to create golems, I recommend the new version since I had apparently broken that spell before the original release. Thanks to 10101 for finding almost everything that needed fixing so far. There may be more silent updates in the future, if anything else is reported.
  • "Aggression" the mod has been updated by 10101, who added a possible mage tower and burned mill to the map generator and gave the Elder an extra healing spell. (The mod's original author is Andrew Sundberg.) 
  • By request, the blog has been reopened to anonymous comments for anyone who has something to say. I'd still prefer you leave some name that we can know you by (which you can do without logging in) in case you end up with multiple comments.

The next post will come fairly soon, as soon as I can organize my notes on potential new features to seek some feedback.
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Rookie's Tale: A Guide

by Kyzrati on 20130118 , under

This post is a comprehensive guide to "A Rookie's Tale", the recently released mod which combines a fantasy setting with X-COM mechanics.

Because X@COM does not yet include ways to get extra information about objects and gameplay elements, I've reorganized the relevant details from my notes and the game files here so you can reference them while playing, or just read about them when you've got nothing better to do :)

The first section is general info, to be considered full of "minor spoilers" since it mainly just covers "what's out there," listing classes, spells, abilities, etc. and their stats. The second section further below is major spoiler territory, as it encroaches even more on the potential fun and surprise of various encounters by revealing who/what you may be up against and discussing strategy.


Classes & Abilities

All recruitable units (blue) belong to a certain class, each of which probably has some passive and/or manual-use abilities. The latter are activated by pressing 'z'. Classes gain new abilities and better stats when they level up, which occurs under different conditions depending on the type of class: Casters raise randomly after having joined for at least 15 turns and becoming completely exhausted at least once; non-casters instead gain XP for killing foes.

Fighter / Knight - Front-line units that have no abilities and average stats.

Barbarian / Warrior - Excellent health, stamina, and strength.
  • Rage: Immediately restores full TU. (Cooldown: 5 min. Must have killed at least one foe before each use.)
  • Adrenaline Rush: Immediately restores full stamina. (Cooldown: 5 min.)
  • Bloodlust (Warrior): Gain 30 TU on killing a foe (passive).
  • Cleave (Warrior): Attempt to chop through all foes surrounding warrior in one mighty swing. (Cooldown: 5 min. Requires a weapon suitable for cleaving.)

Paladin / Crusader - Similar to fighter, though generally more robust and prefer melee over ranged combat.
  • Impale: Run a foe through, killing them instantly. (Cooldown: 5 min. Requires a weapon suitable for impaling.)
  • Healing Touch: Restore health and heal wounds of an adjacent ally. Touching undead targets will harm them. (Cooldown: 5 min.)
  • Detect Evil: Sense nearby evil beings.
  • Smite Evil (Crusader): Call upon Belthas to strike down evil foes. (Cooldown: 5 min. LOS not required.)
  • Dispel Undead (Crusader): Call upon Belthas to destroy undead foes. (Cooldown: 5 min.)
  • Aura of Courage (Crusader): All allies within 5 spaces gain extra morale at the beginning of each turn (passive).

Rogue / Assassin - Squishy in a fight, but have skills essential for handling special situations.
  • Capable of using lockpicks to open chests/doors.
  • Can find secret doors/stairs they pass by, and may notice them in the same room.
  • Will not trigger weak floors, cave-ins, or disturb sleeping undead by movement (also must be closer to sleeping animals before possibly waking them).
  • May spot nearby traps automatically, and never trigger set traps, even if unnoticed.
  • Set Trap: Lay down a variety of traps that trigger when anyone passes by. (See trap list below.)
  • Search for Traps: Actively look for all traps within 6 spaces. (Only those in LOS--all directions--will be marked.)
  • Disarm Traps: Disarm an adjacent trap, recovering it for later use.
  • Sixth Sense: May notice weak floors and other dangerous terrain (passive).
  • Dodge: 33% chance to dodge melee attacks (passive).
  • Evasion (Assassin): 50% chance to evade projectile attacks (passive).
  • Counterattack (Assassin): 33% to spot a weakness in an enemy's melee attack and afford a free counterattack, if armed.
  • Shadow Sprint (Assassin): Use a burst of energy to quickly sprint to a nearby position.

Ranger / Hunter - Ranged combatants with a knowledge of forestry.
  • Can identify plants and herbs, as well as notice those in nature which may be useful.
  • Harvest: Turn certain plants and herbs into useful items. (See herb list below.)
  • First-Aid: Tend one critical wound on self or an adjacent ally.
  • Fletchery: Make crude arrows from the branches of any tree.
  • Meditate (Hunter): Restore stamina to full.
  • Sense Motion (Hunter): Remain completely still and focused to sense any nearby movement.

Cleric / Warpriest - Healing-oriented spellcasters.
  • Capable of learning divine spells from Books. (See Book/spell lists below.)

Wizard / Archmage - While initially weak, experienced wizards can deal with almost any situation through a wide variety of spells.
  • Capable of learning arcane spells from Tomes. (See Tome/spell lists below.)


Food - A food clock wouldn't make much sense, but there is one food item for use:
  • Dry Ration: Eat to restore full HP/EN; however, each character may only eat one per game.

Herbs - Find these, or have a ranger harvest them as needed.
  • Nodan Leaf: Heals 10 HP.
  • Vocksel Twig: Improves reflexes (+10).
  • Quibble Nut: Improves health (+10).
  • Cistem Root: Restores stamina (+40).
  • Hmap Seed: Improves stamina (+10).
  • Dage Twig: Temporarily enhances strength (+15).
  • Strange Root: Poisons whoever eats it.
  • Orcah Nut: Permanently reduces endurance (-10).
  • Gorf Seed: Permanently reduces health (-5).

Potions - Quaff 'em or throw 'em.
  • Potion of (Greater) Healing: Heals 15 (35) HP, or does 40 (80) damage to undead when splashed on them.
  • Potion of (Greater) Heal Wounds: Heals 20 (40) HP and two wounds, or does 40 (80) damage to undead when splashed on them.
  • Potion of (Greater) Endurance: Restores 60 (120) stamina.
  • Potion of (Greater) Might: Increase strength by 30 (60) for 8 (12) min.
  • Elixer: Restores health and stamina to full.
  • Greater Elixer: Restores health and stamina to full, and improves both HP/EN (+5/+5).
  • (Greater) Chromatic Potion: Can have any of a variety of stat-modifying effects, some permanent and others temporary. (Effect of greater version stronger.)
  • Potion of Polymorph: Permanently transforms imbiber into a creature or other being, anything from cats to dragons. May also be thrown at targets!

Weapons & Ammo

Larger, heavier weapons do more damage, but also have fewer attacks per turn than lighter weapons. Most weapons have 2-3 attacks per turn, while damage ranges from 10 to 40. Keep in mind that weapons do one of bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage, which may be more or less effective depending on the type of target.

Weapon Damage TU% Accuracy

Weapon Damage Snap Acc/TU% Aimed Acc/TU% Notes
Staff Sling60/25%110/80%
Gnomish Slingshot50/35%**fires in bursts, not snap
Spiked Bullets12
Shredding Bullets5Exploding shrapnel: 30 dmg, 2 radius
Exploding Bullets10Explodes: 30 dmg, 2 radius
Elven Warbow65/25%85/45%
Recurve Longbow80/30%110/70%
Elven Greatbow90/30%120/70%
Marksman's Greatbow100/30%135/70%
Crude Arrows10
Hunting Arrows15
Barbed Arrows20
Broadhead Arrows25
Incendiary Arrows1515-25 incendiary damage, fire radius = 1
Barbed Bolts25
Broadhead Bolts30

Brands - Some weapons/ammo may be enchanted and offer additional benefits.
  • Speed: -5 TU to attack cost (%)
  • Striking: +10% accuracy
  • Holy: Does an extra 5 damage to evil targets (ignores armor), with a chance to disintegrate undead enemies.
  • Fire: +5 fire damage (ignores armor).
  • Lightning: +5 lightning damage (ignores armor).
  • Slowing: Halves victim's TU for 3 min.
  • Poison: 50% chance to do 5 poison damage to victim each minute for 5 min.
  • Warping: Chance to teleport victim, sometimes to a position fairly far away.
  • Death: 10% chance to outright slay victim.

Special - Rare weapons you may come across in your travels.
  • Throwing Knives: Dispatch foes before they close in.
  • Stun Darts:  Incapacitate a target without killing them.
  • Repeater Crossbow: Shoots a volley of bolts in rapid succession.
  • Massive Stone Club: Incredibly heavy, but incredibly damaging weapon.
  • Goblin Slayer: Slays goblins instantly.
  • Dragon Slayer: Slays dragons instantly.
  • Vampiric Blade: Drains target's life force and returns it to wielder. (Don't use it against undead, in which case it returns negative energy.)
  • Signum Mortis: Legendary sword that permanently drains wielder's stamina to disintegrate foes.
  • Crucifier: Legendary sword that may be activated to destroy any evil or undead foe.


Although some units come with NPC-specific named armors, only those found on these lists are actually wearable.

Armor F L/R R U Notes
Barbarian's Garb4444
Rogue's Garb6666
Hunter's Garb8644
Leather Armor8644
Ring Armor121086
Light Scale Mail20161412
Splint Mail24201614Blocks criticals
Plate Mail28242016Blocks criticals, narrows FOV
Heavy Scale Mail32282420Blocks criticals, narrows FOV

Armor F L/R R U Notes
Robe of Power4444Spellcasters regain extra 10 EN/min
Archmage's Robe8644Halves arcane damage, contains extra-dimensional pocket
Quentaficus' Robe4444Spellcasters regain extra 10 EN/min
Warlord's Mail50402525Halves arcane damage
Trollskin Armor20141210Regenerate 5 HP/min
Master Thief's Garb8644Unlimited use of apportation, as spell.
Sneaksuit8644Blink to any position within 5 spaces (cooldown: 1 min)
Anti-Wizard Mail28242016Blocks criticals, narrows FOV, halves arcane damage
Kayten's Cool Armor20161412Immune to ice damage
Lightning Mail28242016Blocks criticals, narrows FOV, 50% chance to discharge electricity when struck
Gnomish Birdsuit2222Enables flight
Gnomish Mechasuit30252010Blocks criticals, 360 degree FOV, sight range +5, motion scanner, enhanced strength, repeater crossbow, rocket launcher


  • Spike: 30 damage.
  • Poison Dart: 50% chance to do 10 poison damage to victim each minute for 5 min.
  • Tangle: Holds victim until they can break free (weaker victims more prone).
  • Fire: Incinerates victim for 60 fire damage.
  • Explosive: Explodes for 25-35 damage over 2-space radius.
  • Shock: 30 lightning damage.
  • Guard: Summons Armor Sentinel.
  • Teleport: Teleports victim away, often quite far...

Magic Items

Scrolls - Single-use items that release a spell when read.
  • Storms: Storms.
  • Meteors: Meteors.
  • Dismissal: Dismissal.
  • Knock: Knock.
  • Demons: Gate.
  • Sanctuary: Sanctuary.
  • Stasis: Renders target immobile and unable to take any action for 4 min.

Rods/Wands - Multi-use items capable of casting one type of spell.
  • Fire: Fireball.
  • Lightning: Lightning Bolt.
  • Disintegration: Disintegrate.
  • Missiles: Magic Missile or Flame Arrow (random).
  • Teleport: Controlled Teleport.
  • Haste: Haste.
  • Charming: Charm Person.
  • Healing: Cure Critical Wounds.
  • Slowing: Target's TU halved for 3 min.

Staffs - Multi-use items capable of casting multiple types of spells.
  • Flames: Flame Arrow, Fireball, Ignite, Conflagration.
  • Energy: Light, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Storm.
  • Destruction: Fireball, Disintegration, Meteor Shower.
  • Necromancy: Animate Dead, Control Undead, Summon Undead, Symbol of Pain.
  • Summoning: Summon Monster III, Summon Monster VII.
  • the Tempest: Lightning Storm, Cyclone (flings all nearby objects through the air, slamming them into the ground).
  • Power: Spellcasters regain extra 10 EN/min.


Casting spells usually drains the caster's stamina, and may require components that must be held in the hand(s) while casting. Material components are consumed when the spell is cast, unless that component is considered a "focus." Note that very powerful enemies may be immune to the effects of certain spells.

  • Magic Missile: Launch a missile of arcane energy w/50% base to-hit chance. 15 damage; 15% spell failure rate. Higher-level wizards can fire three missiles at once without fail (60% base to-hit).
  • Burning Hands: Spew flames for 15 (x2) damage, with additional 15 splash damage to all adjacent spaces. Always hits target. 20% spell failure rate, though higher-level wizards cast without fail.
  • Flame Arrow: Launch a fiery arrow w/60% base to-hit chance. 20 damage; 15% spell failure rate. Higher-level wizards cast without fail (70% base to-hit).
  • Fireball: Throw a ball of fire for 30 (+10) damage at 60% base to-hit, with additional 10 splash damage to all adjacent spaces. 15% spell failure rate.
  • Lightning Bolt: Shoot a bolt of lightning for 30 damage at 70% base to-hit. 10% spell failure rate.
  • Disintegrate: Completely destroy a target. Cooldown: 5 min.

Area Attack 
  • Chain Lightning: Shoot out a fan of lightning bolts. 30 damage.
  • Lightning Storm: Call lightning to strike all units within 3 spaces of target. 30 damage.
  • Meteor Shower: Summon 6 fiery meteors that strike randomly within 0-10 spaces of target, each doing 60 damage on a direct hit and exploding for an additional 60 damage that spreads out to a 3-space radius. Component: Fire Opal or Hydra Gland.

  • Light: Create a magical source of light that lasts for 4 min.
  • Blur: 15% chance to dodge attacks for 10 min.
  • Etherial Shift: Automatically dodge all attacks for 3 min. Component: Phase Spider Antenna.
  • Blink / Controlled Blink: Teleport up to 5 spaces away.
  • Teleport / Controlled Teleport: Teleport up to 20 spaces away.
  • Teleport Other: Teleport target up to 20 spaces away.
  • Mass Teleport: Teleport self and everyone within 5 spaces to anywhere. Component: Any magic ammo.
  • Apportation: Move any item within 20 spaces to another position within 20 spaces.
  • Scry: Reveal everything within 5 spaces of a target location. Focus: Magnifying Glass; Component: Spider Eye.
  • Obscuring Mist: Create a thick cloud of mist over a 6-space radius. Component: Pile of Ash.
  • Knock: Open any locked door or chest.
  • Haste: +80 TU, self only. Cooldown: 1 min.
  • Mass Haste: +80 TU to self and everyone within 2 spaces. Cooldown: 1 min.
  • Time Stop: +160 TU, self only. Focus: Hourglass; Component: Pile of Sand. Cooldown: 1 min.
  • Sanctuary: Erect an impenetrable barrier around the target which lasts for 4 min. Component: Small Box.
  • Read Aura: Know an entity's attributes.
  • Detect Essence: Search the aether for concentrations of elemental power; used to find locations appropriate for creating elementals.
  • Create Soul Trap: Permanently drains caster's stamina (5) to create a special container suitable for storing a single soul.
  • Steal Soul: Rip out a target's soul and inject it into a soul trap; for use in creating golems. Throwing a full soul trap will release a Vengeful Soul. Component: Empty Soul Trap.
  • Dismissal: Recall summons to their plane of origin.
  • Mass Dismissal: Recall all summons within a 5-space radius to their plane of origin.
  • Brand: Fire: Imbue mundane weapon/ammo with fire for 7 min. 50% chance to deal additional 5-15 damage per hit (ignores armor). Cooldown: 8 min.
  • Brand: Lightning: Imbue mundane weapon/ammo with lightning for 7 min. 50% chance to deal additional 5-15 damage per hit (ignores armor). Cooldown: 8 min.
  • Ignite: Set a single space on fire.
  • Conflagration: Spread a raging inferno across an 8-space radius around target. Focus: Torch; Component: Dead Gas Spider.
  • Earth to Lava: Transmute the ground/floor into lava, which scorches creatures that step across it, melts those that stand on it, and melts items. Focus: Torch; Component: Chip of Obsidian.
  • Charm Person: 75% chance to gain control over a sentient humanoid's actions for 1 min.
  • Dominate Person: Gain control over a sentient humanoid's actions for 4 min. Component: Wolf Heart.
  • Symbol of Pain: Lay a magical trap that lasts for 10 min and deals 60 negative energy damage to whoever steps on or near it.

  • Summon Familiar: All high-level wizards are capable of summoning their familiar (one use only), generally a fast weak animal useful for scouting ahead.
  • Animate Dead: Turn a corpse into an animated skeleton for a short duration.
  • Summon Undead: Summons a permanent undead servant (will not follow the caster, however). Lower-level wizards summon various types of skeletons, while higher-level wizards summon either a greater number of skeletons or more powerful undead creatures. Focus: Small Candle; Component: Bones.
  • Animate Armor: Permanently animate a suit of armor (must be of "mail" type) and arm it with a magical blade. Does not follow caster.
  • Create Elemental: Create a permanent elemental servant (follows the caster). This spell permanently drains the life force of the caster (10 HP), and requires that they be standing on a source of the essence to be used in creating the desired elemental. Detect Essence (as well as intuition) can be used to locate proper sources of elemental essence. There are four versions of this spell: Fire, Water, Earth, and Lightning. (Note: Earth elementals are too large to create indoors, though the game will attempt to let you do so and waste the spell unless there is outdoor access nearby.)
  • Create Golem: Construct a golem servant (follows the caster) using a soul ripped from another creature and whatever component the golem is to be based on. Golems: Flesh / Bone / Web / Stone / Sand / Iron / Hellfire. Components: Full Soul Trap + Fleshy Corpse / Bones / Preserved Spider Web / Chunk of Rock / Pile of Sand / Chunk of Iron / Warm Embers. (Note: Iron and Hellfire golems are too large to create indoors, though the game will attempt to let you do so and waste the spell unless there is outdoor access nearby.)
  • Summon Monster III: Summon a friendly extra-planar creature for 5 min. One or more chosen from among Celestial Dog, Imp, Fiendish Ape, Monstrous Spider. Higher-level wizards capable of more/better summons. Cooldown: 6 min.
  • Summon Monster VII: Summon a friendly extra-planar creature for 12 min, chosen from among Mirror Mephit, Inferno Spider, Dire Lion, Colossal Centipede. Higher-level wizards capable of more/better summons. Cooldown: 13 min.
  • Gate: Open a gate to an abyssal plane, which will remain open for 20 min. Each minute there is a 20% chance of some abyssal creature(s) emerging from the gate: Imps, Hellhounds, Mirror Mephits, Phase Beast, Vampiric Abominations, Greater Ameboid, Fire Djinn, Xiquib, Ypaezroth, Ognolith. None of these will be friendly to the caster or his/her allies! They will, however, return to their own plane after 12 min. Component: Ritual Candle.
  • Summon Greater Demon: Cast on an open abyssal Gate to summon one of the three greater demons (Xiquib, Ypaezroth, Ognolith), which will be friendly with the caster and allies, but returns to its plane of origin after 12 min. Cooldown: 21 min.

  • Dispel Fatigue: Restores target's stamina (+40).
  • Cure Light Wounds: Heals 10 HP and 1 wound, or does 15 damage to undead (ignores armor). Cooldown: 1 min.
  • Cure Critical Wounds: Heals 30 HP and 3 wounds, or does 40 damage to undead (ignores armor). Cooldown: 1 min.
  • Mass Heal: Heals 20 HP and 1 wound for everyone within 3 spaces of caster, and/or does 40 damage to undead in that range (ignores armor). Cooldown: 3 min.
  • Regeneration: Target regenerates 5-10 HP/min over 5 min; undead targets instead deteriorate for 10-15 damage/min over 5 min. Cooldown: 10 min.
  • Bless Weapon: Imbue mundane weapon/ammo with holy power, an effect that lasts 7 min and has a 50% chance to disintegrate any undead hit by that weapon. Cooldown: 8 min.
  • Detect Undead: Find undead creatures within a 6-space radius of target location.
  • Control Undead: 85% chance to gain control of an undead creature for 1 min.
  • Sunburst: Cause a holy explosion of light that deals 100 damage to all undead within 4 spaces of targeted position. Cooldown: 8 min.
  • Smite: Call upon Belthas to outright destroy a foe. Cooldown: 8 min.

Spell Sources

New spells are usually gained by either raising levels or, more often, reading tomes and books found during your travels. Sometimes a tome or book may be incomplete, missing its full repertoire of possible spells (non-guaranteed spells appear in parenthesis below). After learning the spells, read the tome/book again to reference any casting requirements.

Tomes - Wizards can read these to learn new arcane spells.
  • Pyromancy: Burning Hands, Flame Arrow, (Fireball), (Brand: Fire), (Ignite), (Conflagration), (Fire Elemental)
  • Energy: Light, Lightning Bolt, (Chain Lightning), (Lightning Storm), (Brand: Lightning), (Lightning Elemental)
  • Destruction: Fireball, (Disintegrate), (Meteor Shower)
  • Escape: (Blur), (Etherial Shift), Blink, (Controlled Blink), Teleport, (Controlled Teleport), Obscuring Mist, (Haste), (Sanctuary)
  • Translocation: (Blur), (Etherial Shift), Blink, (Controlled Blink), Teleport, (Controlled Teleport), (Teleport Other), (Mass Teleport), Apportation
  • Prying: Scry, Knock, Read Aura
  • Time: Haste, (Mass Haste), (Time Stop)
  • Constructs: Create Soul Trap, Steal Soul, Create Golem, (Animate Armor)
  • Elements: Detect Essence, (Fire Elemental), (Water Elemental), (Earth Elemental), (Lightning Elemental), (Fireball), (Lightning Bolt)
  • Summoning: (Dismissal), (Mass Dismissal), Summon Monster III, (Summon Monster VII)
  • Necromancy: Animate Dead, (Summon Undead), (Symbol of Pain)
  • Demonology: Gate, (Summon Greater Demon)
  • Geomancy: Earth to Lava, (Lightning Bolt), (Chain Lightning), (Lightning Storm), (Meteor Shower), (Earth Elemental), (Water Elemental)
  • Charms: Charm Person, (Dominate Person)

Books - Clerics can read these to learn new divine spells.
  • Aid: Dispel Fatigue, Cure Light Wounds, Cure Critical Wounds, Mass Heal, (Regeneration)
  • War: Bless Weapon, (Smite)
  • Unlife: Detect Undead, (Control Undead), (Sunburst)

Misc. Items

  • Torch: Toss on the ground to light up an area.
  • Pickaxe: For mining ore veins.
  • Lockpick: Rogues can use these to open any locked door or chest.
  • Skeleton Key: Opens any locked door or chest.
  • Smoke Powder: Throw to obscure vision over an area.
  • Volatile Substance: Explodes on contact.
  • Flask of Holy Water: Damaging to the undead.
  • Crystal Ball: Can use to Scry and Read Aura (as the spells).


===============================SPOILER ALERT===============================


Opening Chests/Doors - There are many ways to get into/through locked chests/doors, depending on what classes/skillsets are available in your party.
  • Brute Force: Common locked chests and doors can eventually be knocked down by a good blow from any medium or heavy melee weapon, though it may take a few tries. It takes a fairly strong weapon to break through heavy chests/doors. Sealed chests/portals are essentially impervious to weapons, and require other methods to open.
  • Thievery: Rogues with a lockpick can use it to open anything.
  • Magic: The Knock spell or equivalent scroll will unlock anything.
  • Fire: Common chests and doors are made of wood, and thus can be burned open.
  • Luck: If you are lucky enough to find a Skeleton Key, you can unlock anything.

Finding Loot - Certain types of items are more likely to be found in certain places.
  • Cabinet / Shelves / Box: Rations, Torches, herbs, potions, spell foci
  • Desk: Lockpicks, skeleton keys, spell foci
  • Lamp: Small candle
  • Hearth: Ash, embers
  • Incense Burner: Ash
  • Bookcase: Tomes/Books (rarely)
  • Lectern: Tomes/Books (almost guaranteed)
  • Alchemist's Workbench: Potions, herbs, spell components
  • Altar: Spell components.
  • Weapon/Armor Rack: Duh.
  • Goblin Refuse Pile: Spell components, and just about anything else


Aside from the friends Victor can make near his starting area, and other more generic allies that may join up later if you help them, there are some unique and/or powerful characters to be found.
  • Veldorn (Elven Ranger): Retired adventurer, but deadly with a bow, so you may want to visit his giant treehouse to seek his help.
  • Quentaficus (Sage): A powerful, if not entirely sane, practitioner of the arcane arts. Find his staff for him (it's safely stowed away in a pile of underwear beneath his bed) to convince him to join your party. He'll eventually leave you for more important matters, so spend your time with him wisely.
  • Kyzrati (Wild Mage): You can find me almost anywhere on the map--just read the note on the statue and do what it says. I may be a boon, or nightmare, depending on exactly what I end up casting :)
  • Urist McScorch (Tunnelmaster): It can be tough to find Urist, but if you spot some gray Loose Rocky Ground, check it out and you'll catch him resting in his tunnel. All he's really good for, besides having an additional party member, is to test out the experimental Magma Cannon he designed. It only has 2 shots though, so use them wisely; when fired it spews magma chunks over a wide area. And don't stand too close to him when he fires it, "just in case."
  • Alexei (Dimensionally-challenged X-COM Soldier): Rescue him from the orcs who have him locked up in a cave for a hint about how to get your hands on some serious firepower: aside from standard X-COM gear, you may also find a sniper rifle, proton missile launcher, personal teleporter, remote motion scanner, light sabre, laser scythe, gatling laser, or even... a guided mininuke launcher. Make sure Victor stands next to Alexei to learn more about where he came from.
  • Lichborne: Anyone can become a lichborne by first reading the Necronomicon and... going insane. The insanity won't last forever, but during that period everyone else had better steer clear. Lichbornes are powerful, and even intuit new spells naturally over time, but they do come with both the benefits and drawbacks of being an undead creature. Note that if Victor himself becomes a lichborne there is obviously no hope of him returning home normally, since the transformation is permanent.


There are many kinds of enemies and I won't cover them all in detail here, just the interesting ones worth writing more about.

  • Bad Guys: Cultists (not really bad, just obsessed, but they'll kill you all the same), Tomb Raiders (not really bad, just greedy, but they'll kill you all the same), Bandits (okay, these guys are bad).
  • Druids: The druids aren't usually your enemy, unless of course you do something to piss them off... like disturb their ritual. They like to summon animals, hug trees... you know, druid stuff.
  • Goblins: Captains lead and fight, shamans heal, necromancers raise the dead, sappers toss incendiary flasks, and tricksters... are annoying as hell--if you're lucky, they'll only teleport you a short distance, otherwise you could end up on the other side of the map, flailing about in the air, or dealing with a swarm of insects, group of spiked frogs, or even a persistent cloud that follows you around raining fire.
  • Orcs: Fairly tough, but not that heavily armored. The Half-Orc Mage is not as much a pushover, but you'll have help when you meet him.
  • Kobolds: Unamazing, except when they have a trained Hydra in tow. Dragonkin on the other hand are tough and should be approached with caution, lest they breath [fire] on you.
  • Undead: Skeletons, Zombies, Mummies, Shades, Shadows, Ghosts, etc. Bloated Shamblers are definitely best killed from afar, unless you enjoy noxious gas, or know someone who does.
  • Mimic: Not all chests are what they seem. Mimics always leave behind nice treasure if you can manage to finish them off, but that can be difficult since they teleport away when overwhelmed (you can always search for them and try again).
  • Animals: While wolves can be taken down individually without too much difficulty, they always call their friends. Bears are resilient but have virtually no armor, so hack away.
  • Spiders: There are quite a few varieties, most with special attacks: Trap Door Spiders come out of nowhere and hit you when you least expect it, Giant Spiders poison you, Web Spiders tangle victims in sticky webs, Yellow Spiders shoot electrified strands of webbing, Blue Spiders breath frost that slows victims, Flame Spiders are tough and breath fire, Phase Spiders shift through the ethereal plane to avoid attacks, and Gas Spiders sacrifice themselves for the good of their kin--kill from afar when possible, but beware they close quickly.
  • Monsters: There are many kinds, most of which originate from other planes and are often tougher than what you would normally encounter in the world. It should be fairly obvious what each can do, like you don't want to get stung by a Colossal Centipede, or caught in an Inferno Spider's sticky web of fire. The Vampiric Abomination is less obvious, but if you are unlucky enough to be ambushed by one, or worse be near a group of weak creatures it's already overcome, you'll find that it continually grows stronger by draining victims, then splitting in two (which halves its HP, but does nothing to reduce its newfound strength). Greater Ameboids divide after taking enough damage, then divide again, each iteration becoming smaller and weaker but faster than the last.
  • Aliens: X-COM soldiers weren't the only ones warped through space-time, and you may also meet some of our familiar cast of aliens. Be careful, since one of them can actually use mind control!

  • Ogre: This big guy is nigh unstoppable since his thick skin repels just about everything, but he was recently injured and can be felled by strong attacks from his right side. Guerrilla tactics advised since anything'll be lucky to survive a single hit from the Ogre's massive fists or stone club.
  • Greater Lich: His enchanted robe makes him tough to kill, but healing attacks that bypass armor and seriously injure undead are one effective way to deal with him. Avoid his negative energy blasts if at all possible--meat shields recommended.
  • Dragons: Some foes are just not meant to be killed. Unless you're lucky enough to find an extremely powerful weapon, dragons are best avoided, for obvious reasons. If you have to, area effect attacks work well, though a Dragon Slayer would be preferred. Red Dragons breath fire, Green breath poison, Cyan breath frost that can freeze victims solid for a time, Azure breath columns of hot steam, and Gold shoot out numerous lightning bolts.
  • Bandit Warlord: All he's got going for him is his awesome armor; stab him in the back for the best effect. It's unlikely, but felling him before he has a chance to call his Head Advisor will save a bit of trouble, since his number one man can heal himself and others, as well as summon extra-planar help.
  • Goblin King: Though his armor is nice, unless he's carrying a Death-branded weapon he shouldn't be too difficult. It's his vast entourage you'll have to worry about.
  • Ivory Mage: Swarm him and don't let him start casting spells... or don't trespass in his tower in the first place and he won't bother you.
  • Tormentor: If you ever see the Tormentor, it's because you were either too curious, or too greedy. The safest way to deal with this guy is to Dismiss him and wave goodbye. Although from another plane, a Tormentor will not willingly return until all mortal creatures on its current plane are dead.
  • Forest Spirit: You'll only see this spirit if it's pissed off, and if it's pissed off, trust me you don't want to be in the area.


A full guide to all of the areas would be quite a lot to read (and write), so I'll just list some notes about a select few of them.
  • Warlord's Keep: Rescue Fiona where she's being interrogated on the first floor to add another rogue to the party.
  • Ancient Ruins: There are secrets all over this massive complex turned crypt. If you have a rogue, always send them first to spot possible danger, and be on the lookout for traps. If one path is/looks too dangerous, there is always another. The cult leader found one floor down will always carry a Book of Unlife, useful if you have a cleric. The lich in the main hall is not what he seems, so be prepared for the real fight after taking him down.
  • Dragon's Lair: Aside from the narrow tunnel entrance there is a giant hole above the main cave (otherwise how do you think that massive dragon gets in and out?), and a shaft that falls straight down into one of the dragon's treasure rooms. If you have no powerful weapon, I suggest you try sneaking past him into the small room behind him, though you'll need to have found a way to open a Sealed Portal in order to do that.
  • Goblin Camp: The Goblin King's invasion begins here. Find and collapse the tunnel entrance as soon as possible to cut off the majority of his reinforcements.
  • Glade: If you find a circle of trees surrounding a Sword in the Stone, you'll need someone with enough strength to pull it out (herbs/potions may help here). You'll definitely want to try, since it may be a Goblin Slayer, Dragon Slayer, Crucifier, or even the legendary Signum Mortis.
  • X.F. Armorwerks: Xanice the gnome can repair your armor in the blink of an eye, for free! If you're feeling intrusive, break down the wall behind the boxes on the second floor to reach a secret backroom containing one of Xanice's experiments. The Gnomish Mechasuit is especially awesome.
  • Cultist Cave: This place has a sizable amount of treasure stored away in the basement, but to get it you'll have to chance disturbing the Cocoon and releasing the Tormentor. If you must, get in and out as quickly as possible...
  • Kobold Den: Note that the hydras downstairs are neither friendly nor trained yet, so you could unleash their own pets on them. There's even a secret door in the cave wall through which you can enter from below.
  • Goblin Cave: Probably the only reason for coming here would be to seek out spell components and other randomly useful objects in their refuse piles.
  • Spider Nest: There are no obvious ways into the heart of this place, but if you approach the trapped adventurer atop the hill to recover his treasure you may just fall in. Not a good idea unless you're hunting spiders intentionally. Escaping the nest requires either magic (blink/teleport out) or a search of the walls for hidden exits. The longer you stay the more uncomfortable you'll be.
  • Crypt: There's not much here except a True Lich. Waking him is not advisable unless you really really want whatever tome he has on his lectern, and whatever he's carrying on him.
  • Ivory Tower: Here you can find the Necronomicon and other tomes; the Ivory Mage will not be happy if you take his stuff, though.
  • Obelisk: The druids are preparing for a ritual here, and you can interfere at your own risk. Check out the room below the obelisk for the proper implements, or just eat their Lifeseed and take off (but don't let the Great Druid see you afterward, since consuming Lifeseeds is a no-no). The only good reason to carry out the ritual would be to first lure enemies nearby, then release the Forest Spirit to ambush them, though you'll probably want a way to escape quickly before the Spirit makes that a rather difficult option.

Because there weren't any screenshots last time, I'll at least include a few here:

Lighting up the night with some chain lightning in defense of the keep.

A water elemental cooks a bear with a jet of hot steam.

Quentaficus throws a "questionable" fireball deeper into the forest.

Next up is probably a brainstorm post discussing some potential new features.
23 comments more...

Fantasy X-COM

by Kyzrati on 20130107 , under

Ever wanted to play a deep tactical fantasy game based on the great X-COM mechanics? Answer: Yes.

"A Rookie's Tale" is exactly that and much, much more.

Our protagonist, Victor Wade, alien-fighting soldier turned interdimensional traveler, suddenly finds himself in a world guided by magic rather than science. How he got here we've already seen, how he gets back is another story.

Not every story will be the same, though. To call this mod a single mission would be an understatement. Perhaps "epic single mission" or "game-in-a-mission" might be more appropriate. Making full use of the engine's greatly expanded and improved mod support, Rookie's Tale is a highly dynamic experience that shows much more of what the engine can really do--the R7 scenario Cataclysm was an interesting experimental introduction to the new dynamic content system, but barely touched the surface compared to the variety you'll see in this mod.

Victor is not alone, at least not for long. As he explores the world he can recruit party members from the local population (you control them this time around) and take them along on the search for a way home. There are seven standard character classes, each with class-based special abilities, and a host of other unique characters that may come to Victor's aid. On your travels, you'll talk to NPCs, recover artifacts, topple paranoid warlords, stop rampaging ogres, repel goblin invasions, uncover demon-worshipping cults, delve into ancient ruins, open interplanar gates, pilot gnomish inventions, loot treasure troves, face (or run in fear from) liches, demons, and dragons, and a whole lot more. Okay, maybe not all at once, but you'll definitely use magic from among 50+ arcane spells and holy incantations (mostly of the fun and interesting kind, not a bunch of cookie cutter direct damage stuff), along with 25+ special abilities. Under the right circumstances, your allies will even raise levels to gain better stats and more abilities. And be on the lookout for others, friendly or not, who may have made the dimensional jump as well...

The fantasy setting is obviously not original. It's D&D meets X-COM meets my imagination (that last one can be considered the glue--or crazy glue depending on your perspective). This is both intentional and necessary at this point because X@COM is still lacking UI support for providing detailed info about objects/units, so I'm trying to rely on your existing knowledge to help you get into the game, and [maybe] survive. Don't worry, there is plenty of unexpected content of my own design to catch you off guard, but having your traditional RPG hat on while you play won't hurt.

So this mod brings X@COM somewhat closer to a more traditional roguelike setting: fantasy RPG with lots of interaction. Thus you can:
  • quaff potions,
  • harvest herbs,
  • set and disarm traps,
  • use scrolls and magical artifacts,
  • read magic tomes and cast spells,
  • find secret doors/stairs...
There are a good number of emergent possibilities given the large number of utility spells, abilities, and items, some with side-effects you may or may not expect. In any case, there's usually more than one way to overcome (or circumvent) whatever obstacles you encounter, of which there will be many. Experiment. Depending on your circumstances, you could even be faced with what could be called a "get creative or die" scenario--this mod is not a hackfest, but if you're not on your toes it will become one, and Victor and company will be on the receiving end.

Unlike previous scenarios, the maps generated are a lot more organic: forests, sloping hills, caves and the occasional structure as opposed to roads and buildings on an obvious grid. Each one is generated from a large collection of possibilities, giving you many unique starting areas and different ways to accomplish Victor's goal. Even if one journey starts similar to another, I can guarantee you the similarity will end there as you explore the map.

So this is normally the part of the post where I show you screenshots of the diversity of maps, revealed in their entirety. But seeing as this mod is really about exploration (you even earn points for it), and there are quite a few secrets and surprises out there, screenshots could spoil some of the fun for those of you who are going to play. That said, a post without any screenshots just won't do, so here are some relatively innocuous and generic excerpts:

Checking out the local village for potential allies. Hint: They're all in the tavern.

Heading deeper into the forest.

Crashing a party. Definitely uninvited.

Spelunking. At night. With Giant Web Spiders. Oh, and about seven other kinds as well.

I'll also be posting an in-depth guide with gameplay details later. After all, unless you play a *lot*, you almost certainly won't see/find everything anyway, so it may be a fun read :). Because it will no doubt include some major spoilers, I'll wait on that until you've had a chance to explore the world yourself a bit first. EDIT: This guide is now available here.

Until then, here's a guide to the essentials (definitely read through this before playing!):
  • Most terrain/environment objects can be manipulated ('n')--i.e., almost everything is searchable/usable. (I was going to use the same feature to enable manual talking to NPCs as well, but decided to make conversation automatic on walking up to someone, if they have something to say.)
  • Most units have special abilities ('z'). Some may be passive and thus won't show up on the list--I'll tell you about those in the guide, others probably have restrictions on their use. Party members that raise levels also gain new abilities.
  • Lots of items are usable ('u'), especially those represented by '&' (no different from Cataclysm). Use them.
  • Special/magical armors may imbue the wearer with new abilities (some passive, some must be activated with 'z'). Remember you can remove/exchange your armor now! (Though note that party members are unlikely to be able to wear armors named for specific units, or those for non-Human anatomies.)
  • You start with only one unit, our hero Victor, and can always gain a few allies in your immediate vicinity; others can be found elsewhere--you generally just walk up to blue NPCs and they'll join you. Allies in the starting area can only be recruited by Wade himself.
  • Victor Wade must survive to "win," since this is his story, after all. Keep him safe. If he dies you can continue playing to explore the map and earn a better score, but won't be able to see the cool ending and learn what happens next.
  • Every map will have at least one area with a powerful enemy, which you should avoid until you've gained enough allies/weapons/spells/items to have a chance of defeating (warning: in some maps that enemy will leave their starting area).
  • Despite the lack of UI info to confirm your intuition, assume that weapons you'd expect to be better actually are.
  • If you have any non-controllable allies following you (like certain summons/servants), press/hold 'F' ("friendlies") to highlight them, even if outside your FOV. (This is a change from the 'C' key used in earlier versions to highlight only civilian followers in Cataclysm.)
  • Probably the most annoying thing about using spells/abilities is that if one is red on the list, it won't tell you why (instead giving you a stupid message saying you can't use any abilities at all, which may or may not even be true). If not because you lack sufficient TU/EN (which should be obvious because it shows the numbers), it's almost certainly because you're missing a spell component or focus required to cast that spell, or don't meet some other special condition like the cooldown wait time. Re-reading the tome(s)/book(s) you find to be sure you know the casting requirements for each spell will help clear that up.
  • If you have enough screen space (1280x960), you'll notice I included a new fantasy style text font which will be loaded by default, but you can always switch back to a different font or smaller window. There's actually a second fantasy font choice at that same size, but I don't think it looks nearly as good. Note that if you have a slower computer the larger window size can slow down the game as the engine is not yet optimized.

So get out there and come back with a tale for us! Share stories in the comments, Bay 12, or the forums, and if there are enough interesting ones I may highlight them in a future post.

Note: A Rookie's Tale does not come with the standard X@COM download. As a mod, you'll find it as a stand-alone program under the mods section of the files page.

Technical/Modding Addendum:

So to re-cap why I'm modding my own game (which may seem like an odd thing to do during alpha development): Rookie's Tale is an example of the wide variety of content you can include 100% by mod--every bit of content you see is scripted in text files that are parsed and run through the X@COM squad-based tactical simulator which sits on top of Rogue Engine X (the same engine that runs Cogmind, which kicked butt in this year's RotY poll, btw).

Because I know the engine best, it made sense that I create an extensive mod to both make sure everything actually does work (Cataclysm only used a subset), and provide examples for other modders to learn from. In fact I myself even learned a hell of a lot doing this, since it's a very generic system which can do things I never planned nor expected. (It's alive!) I'll be posting a lot of the tips and tricks I found on the forum so other modders can make their own missions more expressive, too.

On the coding side, the dynamic content system was fleshed out considerably as I encountered little things here and there (everywhere...) where adding just another setting or two could open up a whole new range of possibilities. This eventually resulted in a massive number of internal changes/improvements. My changelog since the last release (8.2) is crazy long--not much for the public changelog, though, and no major new features, so this isn't R9.

One of the more noteworthy non-technical improvements that came about as a result of this mod is different FOV shapes, set by race. Armors can also modify the wearer's FOV and sight range, such as restrictive medieval armor or high-tech armor with extra sensors that pass on more information about the surroundings. In Rookie's Tale, the few armors that do this will warn you with a message, and you can always check your FOV visualization ('f').

There's a heck of a lot more that could be done with this mod, and it could easily be expanded into a true full game given more map chunks (which would make for fewer chaotic maps due to a wider pool to choose from, thereby enabling finer control over what pieces are placed near what--I didn't actually use that feature) and even more interactivity with objects and NPCs, but I have to stop somewhere.

If you would like to make your own fantasy mod, you could always rip parts from Rookie's Tale, or just use all the data objects to create a different scenario by creating new areas (though that's probably the most annoying part until we have a proper map editor).

Also a heads up: There's a WH40k mod in the works now. Interested players can check it out on the forum and give it a run to provide the author with some pre-release feedback if so inclined.

Special thanks to all the forum members who helped playtest this mod prior to release, especially 10101, our resident binary German :) Seriously, without him I wouldn't have been able to both test and fix all the issues we resolved and still release on time. With so much content to play through, though, there could be some issues we didn't find. Report them and they shall be fixed. I'll even throw in some new areas in the update.

A Rookie's Tale is actually the first in a four-part series following Victor before he makes it back to Earth (the other three parts being sci-fi/alien), though I doubt I'll actually go through with the others. Anyway, Now that I've gotten my fantasy fix and made good use of it, next we're back to your [ir]regularly scheduled tactical sci-fi program[/game].
4 comments more...

Nerd Aesthetics

by Kyzrati on 20130101 , under

Work continues on the new mod, which is now mostly content-complete and soon to enter the playtesting/tweaking phase for a release sometime within the next week or so.

My own personal time sink (read: son) has been performing his role quite effectively, so I've been spending more time away from the computer in recent weeks. Seeing as how I'm still always home, and X@COM rarely leaves the screen so that I can type up new additions whenever I have a spare moment, while working on this mod I've had many a chance to gaze (longingly :)) at that this screen.

I love working with pretty data, lots and lots of pleasingly-colored data that lines up nicely and makes my eyes happy without killing them after staring at it for hours.* Maybe it's just nerd aesthetics getting the better of me, but seeing the data even from a distance is fun, so I've recreated the effect by taking screenshots during development and shrinking them down here. No need to read the content (which is too blurry, anyway), just enjoy the images. Of course you can always read the content when the mod is released, but that's not the point here (you also may not have as large a screen(s) as I do = less beautiful).

By percentage, coding has taken up far less of my time lately since this scenario (introduced in the previous post) is a mod, and therefore implemented entirely through text scripts.** So what you see here isn't source code, it's the scripts as they appear when viewed with X@COM-specific syntax highlighting.*** (My source is very organized and has some interesting shapes and color combinations to it as well, so I should put up shots of that some time.)

Here I'm designing props to be placed into the world. Their properties are listed on the top and some map pieces used in random generation can be seen at the bottom.

Entities (units) and their stats are listed at the top here while I work on defining the effects of their special abilities on the bottom.

Here I'm putting together the map pieces in earnest, placing objects and determining their behavior through the spawning scripts seen at the top.

Many new armor types here (since you can now swap out armor), some that enable special abilities.

All these new units (top), items, and abilities need cool new particle effects (bottom) to go with them. I've pretty much doubled the existing library of particle effects with this mod.

So barring the end of the world (I think we're past that now, right?), you should be able to play this soon.

*Less of a problem now, I must admit, since 15+ hour coding sessions died last year, sacrificed at the altar of awesome parenthood so that my son could be born into this world! Cogmind was essentially the sacrificial lamb, by the way, being perhaps the last such project I'll ever have the concentration of time to undertake in so short a time span. (FYI: Both he and Cogmind were born around the same time.)

**However, there has been a large number of small changes throughout the code responsible for handling object interaction, since that's what this mod is mostly about--increased interaction/dynamic content capable of expressing a greater range of roguelike/RPG features beyond your standard tactical squad simulator.

***And it's not just a few scripts, either. I've churned out a good 5,000 lines of content (hopefully equivalent to "5,000 lines of good content" ;p) in just a few weeks, half of those controlling abilities and interactive environments, in addition to hundreds of new units, many hundreds of items, etc.

Thanks to everyone who voted in the Roguelike of the Year 2012 poll. X@COM did better than last year (all I was hoping for) and we were still in the top 20 despite the inclusion of a greater number of commercial games this year. You can see a rundown of the poll results here as analyzed so nicely by Jo at Rogue Temple. (Cogmind did great, too!)
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