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Death

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In Chronicles of Elyria, death is a more complex process than in many other MMOs, and comes in three discrete stages: incapacitation, grievous wounds, and perma-death. In general, a character who reaches one of the first two stages is capable of recovery, and may not die outright. If the character reaches the third stage, however, they are permanently dead, and a new character must be created to carry on their legacy.[1]

An Overview of Spirit[edit | edit source]

Spirit is known as the connection of your body (physical character) to your soul, which is selected during "soul selection" phase. (See Character Creation) When you lose spirit, your soul loses connection to your body. The more spirit loss, the harder it will be for your character to see your silver cord in the Astral Plane when you die, and the harder it will be to leave the astral plane. If you cannot leave the astral plane, this will result in permadeath for your character.

Incapacitation[edit | edit source]

Incapacitation is similar to “killing” in other games and happens during any combat event where the person’s health is dropped to zero. The character goes unconscious for a short period of time where the screen is completely black with the exception of a small timer telling them how much longer it will take to regain consciousness. The player can’t see anything but they can still hear what’s going on around them. Incapacitation is still a crime and will typically come with a small amount of jail time if arrested.

While unconscious, other players can do things such as “Quick Loot” your body or tie you up for capture if they have a bounty token for you. Incapacitation does NOT result in any long term penalties: no spirit loss or reduced lifespan.

Grievous Wounds, Coups de Grâce, and Spirit Walking[edit | edit source]

Astral Plane Heavenly.jpg

The second stage of death is referred to as suffering grievous wounds. Most often, this occurs because another player has chosen to perform a coup de grâce on an already-incapacitated character, forcing their soul from their body and requiring them to undergo a spirit walk in order to survive. Typically, beasts and NPCs will not inflict grievous wounds upon a player character, and some players may choose to simply leave a foe incapacitated to avoid punishment for murder. When a character suffers grievous wounds, such as from a coup de grâce, the player will hear the unconscious character scream, and the screen will transition from black to a vision of the Astral Plane. Once the character's soul enters the Astral Plane, a small silver cord will appear, which leads from the soul to a highly-saturated version the character's mortal body that has manifested on the Plane some distance away, which the player must reach in order for their character to cling onto life.

Your connection to the physical world slowly deteriorates as time goes on. If enough time passes and you do not return to your mortal body, your body will become uninhabitable and your soul will be forced to make its way back to the Akashic Records; this is permadeath. When a player is young, this is relatively harmless and they will have a lot of time to get back to their body but as the player ages it might be harder and harder to get back to your body. It takes around 80–120 Elyrian years for a character to reach this point; one week before a character is destined to die of old age a black bar will appear on the vitality bar which slowly increases in size until the vitality bar is all black and the character is no longer able to get back to its body via Spirit Walking.

Death Toll Caps[edit | edit source]

Toll caps are limits on the amount of death toll you can pay in a specific period of time.

The first toll cap we're considering is limiting one toll per 1 Elyrian day. This means that if you're out in the wilds and get killed by someone twice (or more) in a short period of time, there's no additional Spirit Loss, even if you're forced to spirit walk more than once. We're doing this because we recognize that if you get put into a bad position, such as being camped by others, or getting trapped near an especially dangerous enemy, it could wrack up several deaths in a short period of time.

The second toll cap we're looking at is during wartime. If you're on a battlefield and get coup de graced you're likely to get killed again as soon as you wake up. I mean, it's a battlefield. So one thing we are doing is capping it to one toll per 10 hours. However, battlefields are dangerous places and we don't want people to take up arms frivolously. As a result, the first death on a battle field will likely come with a 4x multiplier. The end result is that people will try like hell not to die, but when they inevitably do (most likely more than once), it won't come with any additional penalties.[2]

Permadeath[edit | edit source]

Permadeath is when your character dies and their soul is unable to find its way back to their body. Permadeath has four main causes: old age, spirit loss through crime, drowning in deep ocean waters, and being killed by a soulmate of opposite affinity. Old age is fairly self explanatory and is when your character's life comes to an end by natural means. This normally takes 8-14 real-world months depending on how much spirit you lose from coup de graces and crime. Permadeath from spirit loss through crime is slightly more complicated. Every time you are found guilty of a crime, or someone inflicts a coup de grace upon you while you are a criminal, you will suffer varying degrees of spirit loss higher than if you were killed while innocent in the same position. For example, trying to kill a king and failing could potentially mean you lose months or in the case of your character, years of their life. This loss of time can end the life of your character permanently (note that you need to be caught or killed to suffer spirit loss this way). Drowning in the deep ocean is straight forward, if you drown far out in the ocean you will suffer permadeath. This distance has been said to be very far out as it is mainly to add an element of risk for those who venture in search of islands or other continents. If you are within sight of shore you should not need to worry about permadeath from drowning. The final way to experience permadeath is to be killed by your soulmate if their affinity is opposite yours. For more information on how this will work see Soulmates.

Permadeath may also be caused by special circumstances. One example that has been giving is dying in another plane such as Haven while traveling there due to a talent.

Looting[edit | edit source]

Quick Loot[edit | edit source]

While someone is incapacitated, players will only have time to grab a few quick things; specifically, any money in the player’s purse or items that had been in their hands (weapons, animals that they may have been riding or guiding including pack animals). You will not have time to unbuckle anything (belt & scabbard), remove any armor, or rummage their backpack.

Inventory Loot[edit | edit source]

When someone is Spirit Walking, you have a bit more time to grab items off their person. In addition to quick loot options, players may also unbuckle things (take their sword & scabbard), remove any rings or other jewelry or rummage through their backpack.

Corpse Loot[edit | edit source]

The final form of looting is called Corpse Looting. Whenever you come across a corpse, you can take all items from the corpse which is not just limited to the items the corpse is wearing, you can even take body parts if you wish.

The Price of Fame[edit | edit source]

Characters who are famous such as kings and heroes and the like are more susceptible to Spirit Loss upon death. This is to prevent famous or impactful characters from being able to die over and over again with little to no consequence. For example, without this system a king who was assassinated would just be able to Spirit Walk and respawn as if nothing happened. With this system, however, a king who died would only be able to survive a few assassination attempts before truly dying. Based on how famous a character is, a multiplier will be applied to determine how much spirit is lost.

Spirit Loss Multipliers From Fame
Fame Level Spirit Loss Multiplier Example
Unknown x1 Gentry
Notable x1.5 City Council
Prominent x2 Mayor
Famous x4 Magistrate/Baron
Renowned x8 Count
Exalted x16 Duke
Legendary x32 King

[2]

Permadeath is not the end[edit | edit source]

Early on it was said (not initially by Soulbound Studios) that Chronicles of Elyria is an MMORPG with permadeath. However, many people have become worried and put off by this. When most people think about permadeath, they think about games with a hardcore mode. In hardcore mode you continue to progress until you die and then you're forced to start over from nothing.

In Chronicles of Elyria, when your character dies, your soul becomes more powerful. In terms of material possesions, you can pass on titles, wealth and possessions to heirs who you can then play as provided you decide that beforehand. Your heir will gain access to Skill Ramps meaning that your new character isn't starting from scratch and may even have the potential to surpass your old one.

By reincarnating your soul (the part of your character that deals with progress) you're able to get back to where you were previously in a significantly shorter period of time. This time spent at less than your peak can be thought of as a death/XP penalty like in other MMOs. Except, instead of it happening each time you're incapacitated or you Spirit Walk, it happens all at once – when your character permadies[3].

Reasons for Character Death[edit | edit source]

1. Reduced barrier to entry for new players. While the period of time after reincarnation, when you're working to reach your previous skill level, is significantly shorter than the first time, it can still be a few weeks or months in length. During this time, there are, again, "low-skilled" characters in the world. The process of being reset for a couple weeks reduces the barrier to entry for other players. This helps to counter the EVE Syndrome, where players have difficulty breaking into the game due to the time-based XP system. While you're training to regain your previous skill as a Blacksmith, someone else may have become the primary smith in the region.

2. Players get the chance to experience something new each time they reincarnate. When you reincarnate you've got the chance to enter a new family, focus on different skills, be born in a different location, on a different continent, etc... This allows you to dramatically alter your playing experience each time you reincarnate.

3. Reincarnation creates an ever-changing world to make every life a unique experience. In contrast to #2, when your character resets to their younger age, they're able to play in the same areas they played in before. Because the world is dynamic, NPCs are aging & dying, buildings, towns, forests, etc... are destructible, each play-through is a unique experience. This prevents us from having to spend time and resources developing more and more "zones" for higher level content. We will introduce new cool, epic, monsters, etc... but they can be introduced where the players are, rather than forcing the players to travel to them.

4. The reset to a younger age and then the growth into later years adds a level of immersion to the world. Not everyone running around is a character in their 20's–30's. There will be a constant influx of young, middle-aged, and older characters, each dealing with their own challenges.

5. Increased risk with increased reward. While it may not seem like a big deal to lose your place in the story, to have to restart your skill ramps again, etc... when compared to losing 100% of your progress, it's still enough to add risk to everyday play. It's enough to make people think twice before being Heroic, if they know doing so could cause them to forfeit the non-skill progress they've made thus far. In a way, it allows us the ever-increasing risk factor, while being able to also increase reward, and without causing players to risk a full progress wipe.

6. Reincarnation can lead to new struggles for players to overcome. Chronicles of Elyria uses dynamic stories/quests rather than relying on the same set of quests for every character.  Each time your character is reincarnated they pick a new birthdate which generates, based on your choices, a completely new set of struggles for your character to encounter.

7. Character death creates the opportunity for a unique business model. CoE uses sophisticated AI, and programmable OPC (Offline Player Character) scripts. This means that while your character is "alive", they're in the world consuming CPU cycles. It makes sense that since your character never logs out, you pay for your CPU usage. The easiest way to do that is to pay per character. When your character dies, if you don't seed a new character with your soul, you don't pay any more. It also costs us nothing more.[3]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Caspian, Design Journal 4: Incapacitation, Spiritwalking and Permadeath 26 August, 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Caspian" The Weight and Measure of a Lifetime
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jeromy Walsh "Caspian" - Deep Dive on Death