ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 8:15 pm 
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Graphical God

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Since DarkGod wants to integrate the Beholders from the eponymous addon (te4.org page; forum thread) into the main game, and being it's co-creator along with ajfluffy (and now co-maintainer along with Nagyhal), for quite some time I've being thinking / drawing ideas how to re-imagine them and escape the copyright traps of WoTC :).

As all of us know that the Beholders are such iconic and cool monsters and reimagining their characteristics – a floating eyeball with toothy mouth and many laser-shooting eyestalks – turned out to be a formidable and slow task. Below you can see the evolution of the concept:
Image Image Image Image Image
(Original sizes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Along the way all three of us have gathered different suggestions from many good Eyal citizens that have influenced more or less the thing I'm about to “unveil” (in Nagyhal's dramatic wording). Without further ado, here it is:

The Watchers (or Void Watchers)
Opabinia Ithirni (or Garn-Ithirni)

(working title)


The Watchers in this current incarnation have been brought to life by the weird interaction of my drawings and Nagyhal's extensive knowledge of all things cryptic. When I showed him these:
Image Image
(Original sizes and variations: 1, 2, 3, 4)

he said “are they based on the opabinia?” As I've never heard of any such thing, a quick googling revealed to me the glory of nature's insanity :) (wikipedia; pic; pic; pic)

And so the de-beholdered beholder took shape.
Image
Image Image Image Image Image
(Original sizes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Disclaimer: Everything that follows are my ideas and aren't discussed in full either with Nagyhal, DarkGod or ajfluffy. As such their main role is to start the discussion rolling, so everyone is most welcome to comment, criticize, etc. :). Also, the name “watchers” and their out-worldly temporal traits have been suggested by SageAcrin. Most ideas are directly related with the existing lore (if there is any ;) ), intentions and mechanics of the Beholder addon.

The Name
It is still as hacked as hacking goes, containing our source of inspiration and some broken Sindarin, but generally they are referred to as the Watchers. Because they watch and don't behold.

Origins
Any lore regarding the watchers' origins is, to say the least, fuzzy. There are currently two schools of thought within the ranks of Eyal's sages. The first one claims that the watchers are an old race, inhabiting a distant world of our universe, who have discovered interstellar and interdimensional travel aeons ago. The other – that they are not of this world at all and are existing beyond the known universe and thus beyond space and time as we know them. Of course, both rivalling academic currents have no idea why the watchers are interested in the doings of Eyal's denizens and indulge themselves in wild and exotic speculations. On a different note, it is still considered a mystery how the fossilized remains of watchers' larvae have appeared on a distant planet, called Earth by it's clueless inhabitants.

Role, Ethics and Morality
The watchers appear to be beyond any conceptions of good or evil, but they do have their own goals and agendas (which are unknown to us). Usually their role is more of observers (and maybe chroniclers) and very seldom do they take direct coarse of action. Maybe the Spellblaze or the current events transpiring in Eyal have urged them to make a move...

Environment and Society
The watchers' society is hive-like, with distinct castes and strict hierarchy. Despite that, it appears that the individuals are still regarded and valued as such. They live in giant organic-like hives and use tools and 'machines' of organic origin, unknown if cultivated and grown or the product of advanced biotechnologies.
Image

Growth Stages
The growth stages if the watchers are considered to be five – egg, larva, nymph, young imago and mature imago. In the last stage – the mature imago – they retain the characteristic traits of their chosen caste.
Image
(Original size)

Morphology
The adult watchers have chitinous exoskeleton and soft, worm-like tentacles. Their specific traits are the cluster of five eyestalks located on the forehead, with a larger and taller central eye and the long proboscis, ending with a fanged mouth.

Castes
Not much is known about the exact role of the watchers' castes in their society, but to the external observer it appears that there are [EDIT]four such castes – mage-eyes fused with arcane energies, guardian eyes with spiked tentacles and pronounced jaws, mind-eyes with a huge central eye and underdeveloped body and limbs, chrono-eyes - the elite of the Watchers' society and masters of the time-space manipulations.[/EDIT]
Image Image Image Image
(Original sizes: 1, 2, 3, 4).

Levitation, Eyes and Lasers
As most things connected with the watchers, it is unknown how and why they are unaffected by gravity and appear to be effortlessly floating a meter or so above the ground. One theory suggests that their innards are filled with lighter gases, which produce the levitation-like effect, but it remains unproven as there aren't any documented vivi- or dissections made. A different view comes from the milieu of the defenders of the out-worldly origin of the watchers thesis, claiming that gravity doesn't affect them, because they do not fully exist in our universe, thus being completely or partially capable to circumvent the known laws of time and physics.
Same goes with their ability to produce at will what appears to the baffled beholder (pardon the pun) different energy beams from their five protruding eyes. Of course there are once again two rivalling theories – one claiming that the beams are really produced by the unknown physiology of their eyes, channelling different elemental energies; the other – that the entities that appear as beams to us are actually aimed space-time rifts, opening momentary linear, cone-shaped or auric breaches that fuse our space-time continuum with different elemental, energy, temporal or spacial dimensions, produced (yet again) by the extra-dimensional origin of the watcher.

Starting Quests
As a newly hatched watcher larva you will start your journey within the hive, competing with the other larvae to advance your growth stages, thus evolving from larva, nymph, young imago and finally into mature imago by the end of the first zone, culminating with the trials of the elders, which will determine the caste you will belong to and giving you the task to travel to Eyal and investigate what transpires there, for even the eyes of the watcher paragons have been veiled by unknown powers, originating from within the planet itself. Fused with a mental imaging matrix that project to the minds of all around you an image of the most common inhabitant of the planet (called 'Hew-Maan' or something similarly silly), you prepare the bio-pod, that will propel you between the worlds. The travel to Eyal is uneventful until you near the planet and quite unexpectedly land upon:

Normal and alternative versions:

1) The Unhallowed Morass and the nearby Point Zero, where you're 'greeted' by a bunch of angry natives that appear to have mastered the manipulation of temporal energies. Your attempts to reason with them are not quite successful (you can imagine that you do look somewhat alien to their underdeveloped minds and the initial difficulties to tune to their peculiar psychic wavelengths didn't help either) so you are forced to fight your way to the portal leading to the planet's surface, ending with a fight with a misguided temporal warden and some weird anomalies...

OR


2) The Abashed Expanse and the nearby newly established Orbital Observatory, where you're 'greeted' by a bunch of angry natives that appear to have mastered the manipulation of arcane energies. Your attempts to reason with them are not quite successful (you can imagine that you do look somewhat alien to their underdeveloped minds and the initial difficulties to tune to their peculiar psychic wavelengths didn't help either) so you are forced to fight your way to the portal leading to the planet's surface, ending with a fight with a misguided archmage and some weird anomalies...

... resulting in your physical devolution back to the larva stage (retaining your memories, your caste and some of your basic skills and abilities) and the crash landing in some humid forested area (which you'll discover later is called Trollmire). Your journey on Eyal and the the quest to reclaim your powers and unveil the foreboding presence that resonates within the very essence of the planet thus truly begins


End of story.

I'll send these ramblings also to ajfluffy.

The discussion is on :)

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Last edited by rexorcorum on Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:11 pm 
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Wyrmic

Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:01 am
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Yes, I'm ashamed to say we've had this delightful meatscape tileset for quite a long time now, and yet the unique Beholder™ starting experience is still yet to be anything more than just an idea. Sorry about that, folks...

Anyway, Rex, thanks for the forum summary—far in excess of what I expected!

See, I really wanted to get the community involved as I don't know whether such wholesale changes will disappoint Beholder fans, fans who like the inclusion of D&D content, and who gain satisfaction from playing as one of the most feared and formidable monsters in all of tabletop gaming. If we go ahead with this and hatch a wondrous and completely new race from our erstwhile Beholders, then there are so many more exciting places we can take the idea (that are not in any way faithful to the original source) that there's going to be strong incentive not to keep them in anything like their current form—and hence the classes are very quickly going to become unrecognizable.

For example, the very idea of "advanced civilization of hive-dwelling space creatures" suggests access to a level of technology unheard of in Eyal, specifically a kind of bio-technology, and a whole array of class abilities or even complete classes dedicated to the bio-technological manipulation of enemies, of items, and of the Beholder™ / Watcher itself.

And furthermore the prehistoric sea creature-inspired design suggests a culture, an aesthetic, and a menagerie of allied monsters based on Cambrian fossils and coral reef ecosystems, which would be a very strong source of original new content.

Now, I really like where the new developmental direction could go and especially the kind of iconic weirdness it would bring to ToME in the way that creatures like the beholder, the rust monster and the gelatinous cube have done for D&D itself. At the same time, though, I just really bloody like Beholders™ and I was really stuck on holding up the proverbial finger to the copyright-obsessors and just marching on.

So, I don't want to hit a deadlock over this. But I'm torn, I really am. And I need your guidance, wise people of the ToME community!


Last edited by Nagyhal on Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:15 pm 
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Sher'Tul Godslayer

Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:46 pm
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Your art is so good.

I have no useful feedback at this time.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:20 pm 
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Uruivellas

Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:56 am
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Very nice!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:26 pm 
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Graphical God

Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:05 am
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Doctornull wrote:
Your art is so good.

I have no useful feedback at this time.


Lol, I admit the post spiralled a bit in proportions, so I don't actually expect immediate discussions :) And thanks on the art part. And thanks, Marson.

We are having our discussions with Nagyhal over irc and I fully respect his position and reasoning on the matter. It is also a rather nice counterargument to have :). Thanks, Nag for keeping the eyes zap, zap, zapping 8)

Oh, one more thing that I haven't made clear is that I think the best course of action is that the Beholder addon stays as such and the new race/class becomes a separate and independent thing, thus both being not mutually exclusive.

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darkgod wrote:
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Last edited by rexorcorum on Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:54 pm 
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Wyrmic

Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:01 am
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rexorcorum wrote:
Oh, one more thing that I haven't made clear is that I think the best course of action is that the Beholder™ addon stays as such and the new race/class becomes a separate and independent thing, thus both being not mutually exclusive.

That's a really cool idea. From my point of view, I get to have my lovely, sinuous Opabinia-oids, and carry on giving copyright the finger at the same time (really, it's not like having Beholders as a free addon under the GPL is illegal in any way, I just get sick of hearing that it is.)

Off to sketch out techniques/proboscis!


Last edited by Nagyhal on Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:30 pm 
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Sher'Tul Godslayer

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rexorcorum wrote:
Oh, one more thing that I haven't made clear is that I think the best course of action is that the Beholder addon stays as such and the new race/class becomes a separate and independent thing, thus both being not mutually exclusive.
Maybe put both of them in a metaclass named "Aberration"?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:42 am 
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Perspiring Physicist

Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:43 am
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Not keen on the starting quest ideas. Mainly the reasoning for reverting to larval state is weird.

Perhaps something along the lines of being in hibernation during a long journey to Eyal, combined with reverting to the larval state as it is the easiest to mould to this new environment?

Put them in an Alien race type; Aberration is too DnD and not really applicable in this universe. The local equivalent to Aberration would be Corrupted Horror.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:58 am 
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Sher'Tul Godslayer

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HousePet wrote:
Aberration is too DnD and not really applicable in this universe.
You're saying something is "too DnD" in a thread about Be-frikin'-holders? Dude... :lol:

"Aberration" is an English word which is not anyone's claimed IP. Unlike, say, the actual monster named "Beholder".

HousePet wrote:
The local equivalent to Aberration would be Corrupted Horror.
Do they use Vim?
Are they of type Horror?

If so, you may have a point.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:59 am 
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Thalore

Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:11 pm
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what i can say... poor mirinda
she is supposed to fall in love with every adventurer


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:20 am 
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Graphical God

Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:05 am
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Ahahaha, yes, good point :) (Her name is Melinda, btw)

Maybe there should be one more dialogue option - just being friends, so that you can choose if you want to explore uncharted territories.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:38 am 
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Perspiring Physicist

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An Aberration is a mutated creature. (Let's ignore for a moment that DnD classify the Beholder race as Aberrations...)
Corrupted Horrors are mutated creatures, these Watchers are not.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:34 am 
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Sher'Tul Godslayer

Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:46 pm
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rexorcorum wrote:
Ahahaha, yes, good point :) (Her name is Melinda, btw)

Maybe there should be one more dialogue option - just being friends, so that you can choose if you want to explore uncharted territories.
I feel sadly confident that someone out there will make a tentacle-fetish addon for me to ignore.

HousePet wrote:
An Aberration is a mutated creature. (Let's ignore for a moment that DnD classify the Beholder race as Aberrations...)
Actually an Aberration is:
a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.
synonyms: anomaly, deviation, departure from the norm, divergence, abnormality, irregularity, variation, digression, freak, rogue, rarity, oddity, peculiarity, curiosity, quirk; mistake

HousePet wrote:
Corrupted Horrors are mutated creatures, these Watchers are not.
So, uh, you seem to dislike the term you came up with. That's cool because I also think Corrupted Horror is a poor name for this race.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:47 am 
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Uruivellas

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I'm ok with Aberration, but if you want to emphasize it's alien world origin, you could go with Outworlder, Outsider, Outlander, or the like. "Alien" would be too on the nose for me. I personally like "Outworlder" for alien races.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:49 pm 
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Higher

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Looks fairly interesting. The starting quest is a bit odd so maybe have it be an additional tutorial type module that unlocks the race on completion (if that's even possible)? Also maybe have a secret paradox using caste that actually works off of the extraplanar explanations. Also possibly have the warrior caste not have the inherent levitation of the others while gaining durability to make up for it (possibly give them some fatigue negation to represent that they're still lighter than they should be). Also what should the other Watchers do to gain growth? Perhaps have the psychics use the same general method as the mageyes replacing arcane with psionic while the warriors eat ingredients from rare monsters in exchange for set numbers of points depending on the ingredient. Warriors maybe in exchange for less ring slots have a couple of additional tentacle weapon slots that act sort of like telekinetic weapons (would it be possible to have it limited to daggers at start progressing to 2 handed weapons on max growth?).
The one major question I have is if extraplanar origin will be altered so that it is possible to become a zigur follower as a psychic or warrior Watcher while still maintaining it. Also might be interesting to have the image projector get a skill based around other uses of it. Low level could be a light like spell while the capstone might grant something along the lines of a skill that makes you invisible and spawns some allies with 1 hp no attack and taunt or similar. Effectively costly emergency escape button that throws up some chaff to distract enemies. The other thing to note is that channel mastery doesn't translate well to the warrior if he doesn't get eyebeams or something similar so it might be necessary to make a replacement skill.

I apologize for the wall of text. Was mostly just putting all my ideas up to see what sticks.


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