We love giving players options: character build options, personality options, story options -- all the options you might want to play around with. We recognize that many players also want to play the game their way and have an experience that matches their particular RPG tastes. RPG fans share a lot of common ground, but on matters of visible mechanical feedback, complexity, and the overall level of punitive face-punching a game provides, there's a big spectrum of opinions. In a lot of cases, it's not too hard for us to provide options to turn an individual feature on or off, so we want to make that possible when resources permit us to do so.
Additionally, even among the ranks of RPG superfans, there exists a subset of players who can't get enough challenge. They want all of the difficulty features set to "I am pro." Collectively, we've worked on a bunch of these challenge modes in the past and enjoyed the results. Project Eternity seems like a very appropriate place to highlight suites of these difficulty options as distinct gameplay modes that players can opt-into at the beginning of any game. We've come up with three modes we'd like to support, which also includes the ability to turn many of their sub-features on and off on an individual level in an ordinary game: Expert Mode, Trial of Iron, and Path of the Damned.
Expert Mode will disable all of the common ease-of-use / in-case-you-missed it gameplay elements like the display of skill thresholds, influence/reputation modifiers, and similar "helper" information. In a fashion similar to Fallout: New Vegas' Hardcore Mode, Expert Mode will also enable more punitive and demanding gameplay elements, in and out of combat. We're not saying we're going to have weighty gold (for real, we're not saying that), but if we did, you can bet that would be automatically turned on by Expert Mode.
If you guessed that Trial of Iron is like Temple of Elemental Evil's Ironman Mode, you guessed right. When you start a Trial of Iron game, you have one save game that persists for the entire campaign... or until you die. And if you die, your save game is deleted. Enjoy!
Path of the Damned is a spiritual successor to Icewind Dale's Heart of Fury mode. In our encounters, we like to turn individual combatants on and off based on the level of difficulty. If you come into an area on Easy, maybe casters are replaced with weak melee enemies. If you come in on Hard, maybe the casters are augmented by a tough melee enemy or two. With Path of the Damned, that goes out the window. All enemies from all levels of difficulty are enabled and the combat mechanics are amplified to make battles much more brutal for everyone involved.
The first question you may have is, "Can I enable multiple challenge modes at once?" Yep, you sure can. They have to be selected at the beginning of the game, but if you want to play with two or all three at the same time, you can certainly can do so. If you're not quite sure you want all of the elements that come along with a given mode, this funding level will also cover implementing the ability to enable and disable the individual sub-features.
Along with these modes, we also want to introduce the Godlike races. These folks have been described previously as being similar to the humanoid "planetouched" in D&D: aasimar, tieflings, and genasi. That is a good high-level description of them, but they are viewed differently by various factions, faiths, and cultures in the world of Project Eternity. Godlike were "blessed" before birth by one or more of the meddling deities of this world. Though their appearances vary, they are unmistakeably otherworldly when anyone gets a clear look at them. Sometimes, the reaction they get is overwhelmingly positive. Many times, the reaction is overwhelmingly not. For better or worse, the physical "gifts" that mark them as Godlike always come with supernatural blessings (and curses) of their own.
The first question you may have after reading this may be, "Hey, what about the other races that have already been funded?" Those races are in the process of being fully designed and concepted -- and they can't be summarized quite as simply as "sort of like planetouched". We'll have more for you on those guys in the not-too-distant future. Thanks again for your support, your patience, and your questions.
Update from Josh Sawyer
In addition to today's update, we've got a few backer badges for you, including one for the fantastic Obsidian Order of Eternity!