By Tim Cain, Senior Code Wizard and Systems Designer
Hello! I have spent much of my time for the last few weeks devoted to making the game’s stronghold system, which was one of our Kickstarter project’s biggest stretch goals, into one of the best systems in the game. Josh has created an amazing and detailed stronghold design, with lots of upgrades and activities and random events that really make owning a stronghold fun and exciting. I want to spend this update explaining what we have made in the game, but first, let’s talk about the stronghold itself.
First, a caveat: I am going to describe the stronghold as it is currently designed. This design is mostly programmed already too, but as with all development, it might change as we finish the art and audio, fix any bugs, and tune the game play. So please view this as a snapshot of the stronghold development as it exists today.
You will be offered the stronghold early in the game, before you finish Act 1. But the stronghold itself is old and dilapidated, and you will want to upgrade it as soon as you can. These upgrades will, in turn, open up new activities and events that can happen, which will make the stronghold a dynamic and fun place to own.
So let’s go through the many reasons why you will want to have a stronghold.
There are five bonuses you will receive for getting and upgrading your stronghold.
- Resting bonuses. Some of the upgrades to your stronghold will grant temporary bonuses to your attributes or non-combat skills when you rest there. As examples, you can build Training Grounds to improve your Strength or a Library to improve your Lore skill. Some of these upgrades are expensive, but you’re worth it.
- Adventures for idle companions. You will eventually have more companions than will fit in your party, so you will have leave some of them behind. While they are idling away at the stronghold, they can take part in their own adventures, earning additional experience for themselves and extra money, items and reputation bonuses for you!
- Ingredients. Many of the stronghold upgrades will generate ingredients used by non-combat skills. For example, Botanical Gardens create Survival ingredients over time, and a Curio Shop produces ingredients for use by both Lore and Mechanics.
- Special offers. Sometimes visitors to your stronghold will have rare items for sale, or perhaps they will offer you items in return for something else. Pay attention to these visitors. Some of these items may be nearly impossible to find any other way!
- Wealth. Don’t forget that by owning a stronghold, you also own all of the surrounding lands and impose a tax on all of the inhabitants. It will feel nice for a change to have someone recognize your high standing and give you the money that you so richly deserve.
These bonuses all sound great, right? Well, they are great, but they are just the passive benefits from owning and upgrading a stronghold. There are a lot of activities you can do too, once you take possession of your stronghold.
Tim in his typical Stronghold creation attire.
First and foremost, when you get your stronghold, you are going to want to upgrade it. Upgrades are improvements to various parts of the castle, usually to add to the security or prestige of the place. Security affects how much taxes you collect as well as helps reduce the number of “bad” random events, while prestige increases the number of “good” random events as well as increasing tax collections, too. Upgrades can also serve as prerequisites for other upgrades. For example, you cannot build your Training Grounds (and get your Strength bonus after resting at the stronghold) until you have repaired the inner bailey of the stronghold.
Every upgrade costs money and takes time to build, but as long as you have the prerequisites completed, you can have as many upgrades building simultaneously as you can afford. And you don’t have to wait at the stronghold while they are built, either. You can continue adventuring, and you will be notified when they are built.
You can begin collecting taxes from your populace as soon as you gain the stronghold. The amount of taxes you collect increases with your prestige (because people know of you and like you), but the amount also increases with higher security, since some taxes are lost to banditry. You will want to keep both of those values high.
You can also employ hirelings to stay at your stronghold. These people will provide bonuses to your prestige and security, but they cost money to employ. Some will leave your castle if you stop paying them, but others will wait around to get paid again (but not provide any bonuses until they are).
If you have cleared the dungeon and built a prison under your stronghold, then when you are fighting some of the named NPC’s in the game, you will be given an option to take them prisoner instead of killing them. Prisoners are kept in a cell in your prison, where you can visit them and talk to them, and occasionally use them as leverage later in the game. But you will need to keep your security level high, or you might suffer from a prison break!
Finally, several upgrades will produce ingredients used by non-combat skills. This feature, along with upgrades that can improve your skills, makes your stronghold a great place to craft and store items. You can stop by your castle occasionally and make food, potions, scrolls, armors and weapons, and any that you don’t need immediately can be stored in chests and other containers in a variety of places around the stronghold. You know, in case of an emergency.
Which brings us to random stronghold events.
As you play the game after getting the stronghold, whether or not you are physically there, you will be told if a random event happens at the stronghold. Sometimes, you will need to deal with the event immediately, but usually you are given some time to decide what to do.
The most common event at your stronghold is having a visitor arrive. There are all kinds of visitors, but they all share one thing. They can adjust your prestige and/or security just by being at your stronghold. Some visitors are wonderful and give good bonuses, and you will want them to stay as long as possible. Some of these visitors can even be employed as hirelings and will stay on as long as you pay them. Others are not so great, and you will want to offer them one of your companions to act as an escort to their next location, or perhaps simply pay them to leave. Some visitors will offer rare items for sale, and some might even offer a very rare item in exchange for one of the prisoners in your dungeon. As you can see, visitors require some decision making on your part.
As mentioned above, your idle companions can take part in adventures as those events arise. You will be informed of what adventures are available, how long they will last, and what the rewards will be (in general terms). If you send a companion on an adventure, he or she is unavailable until they complete it and return with the rewards. You can recall any companions early, but then they earn nothing. Why would you ever want to recall them then? Because your stronghold can get attacked!
Attacks are the most potentially dangerous of all stronghold events. Occasionally troublemakers (of various sorts) will decide to attack your castle. You will be warned ahead of time of any such attack, so you can return to the stronghold and take part in it directly, if you want. Otherwise, the attack is simulated and you are told the results. A well-defended stronghold can repel any but the most concerted attacks, but there is always a chance of damage which can destroy upgrades, kill hirelings, and cost money. The threat of attacks is the most important reason to keep your security level as high as you can afford.
I hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek into the world of Project Eternity and the role your stronghold will play in the game. No matter how you play the game, your stronghold is certain to provide many benefits and also be a lot fun too!