Monomyth is a game that is in its last hour on kickstarter. To check out what the game is about, Farflame reached out to Rat Tower Software to learn a bit more about the game.
RPGWatch: Could you briefly compare the world of Monomyth with common fantasy worlds? For example, are there some of the usual fantasy races present? (and will they appear in the game?) Is it low / high fantasy? Do avatars of gods roam the realm?
Rat Tower: Monomyth is set in the world of Ariath. Unlike most fantasy worlds, Ariath is in the process of drawing its last, long-winded breath - at least, from a cosmological perspective. From a human perspective, there is still plenty of time to conquer a broken world that is slowly becoming more and more hostile to its inhabitants. The everlasting storms and ash rain make life on the surface very difficult. This forces people to live underground in isolated fortresses. Many of these fortresses form their own cultures and languages, even though they are just a few miles apart. Some fortresses are better connected than others - for example via extensive systems of caves and tunnels. This naturally makes them better equipped to deal with the dangers that lurk in the underground as well as on the surface - at least as long as they stick together. Conflict and intrigue are fairly common between allied fortresses and some have been wiped out for good as a result.
Demi-humans, are a rarity and often (voluntarily) live in separation. Due to historical reasons, their relationship with humans is quite strained. Nevertheless, some of them - most prominently the dwarvish varieties - act as mediators and messengers between human factions. You will encounter at least one of these individuals in Monomyth.
The gods play a major role in the world of Ariath. Just like languages and cultures, distinct religious sects form in almost every fortress. There are plenty of legends and rumors about deities revealing themselves to mortals or even speaking directly through them. It is a matter of speculation how much of this is true though.
RPGWatch: Is there some place with more NPCs? Or do you mostly go through deserted locations with few NPCs?
Rat Tower: Monomyth is set in the fortress of Lysandria, respectively in the underworld beneath it. The inner fortress will be inhabited by several NPCs, who will talk and trade with you, as long as you do not attack or threaten them. In the underworld, you will have a significantly harder time finding a civilized conversational partner. There are some non-hostile NPCs roaming the area - predominantly other adventurers. Not all of these individuals are trustworthy though.
RPGWatch: You mention "keyword-based conversations coupled with dialogue trees" in your KS page. What does it mean? Should we expect dialogue trees for main topics + an option to ask NPCs for other topics (words) that you need to manually type?
Rat Tower: There won’t be any manual typing but you will be able to question NPCs on different topics you heard about in the game world. These topics are represented through keywords you collect from conversations or documents.
In a similar way, you can ask an NPC about more specific things they just mentioned during the conversation. Asking an NPC about a certain thing may present you with a short bit of information or a full, branching dialogue tree.
RPGWatch: There are 8 atributes - Strength, Dexterity, Inteligence, Wisdom, Willpower, Vitality, Endurance and Focus, right? What does Focus do and what is the difference between Vitality and Endurance? Are attributes logically connected to skills? For example that Dexterity influences Lockpicking and so on.
Rat Tower: Focus determines the amount of mana and spellslots available to the player. The more spellslots you have, the more spells you will be able to memorize and use.
Vitality determines the player characters’ health and endurance determines their stamina.
Most attributes have an effect on different activities in the game. To stick with your example, dexterity does influence lockpicking. However, it merely represents a natural talent. To really pick all locks you encounter you have to train the respective skill, which then acts as a significant modifier on your natural talent.
RPGwatch: The combat system in Ultima Underworld was basically about stepping back/forth and striking fast or hard. Is it more complex in Monomyth? Do you need to block more or do enemies have some weak spots or something?
Rat Tower: A lot of the combat in Monomyth revolves around proper Stamina-management. Every attack uses up stamina. Once your stamina is depleted, your damage output will be significantly reduced and you can no longer dodge. Also, blocking or parrying attacks - which is done manually - will fail in this state and make you stagger for a moment. This will, of course, open you up for further attacks
Every melee weapon is more or less fit for one of three attack types (stabbing, bludgeoning, slashing). A weapon’s type corresponds to one of four weapon skills (Swords, Maces, Fencing Weapons, and Archery). All weapons have different range and weight values.
Contrary to many other RPGs only strength and dexterity act as requirements to carry a weapon efficiently. In the current demo, only strength is a hard requirement, whereas lacking dexterity merely penalizes damage output.
RPGWatch: There were few traps in Ultima Underworld and its not much better in some CRPGs. Should we expect more traps here and more complex or diverse?
Rat Tower: Yes. Monomyth will feature many different types of traps. In the demo you only saw the pressure plates triggering fireballs. The full game, however, will feature many more - from trapdoors to Kings Field's infamous swinging blades.
RPGWatch: What does "light and sound-based stealth system" mean? That each type of surface in Monomyth has some "noise value" if you walk on it? Do armors have noise value too (leather is more silent than plate armor)?
Rat Tower: In Monomyth a character’s visibility is dependent on surrounding light sources. You can douse torches to hide in the shadows but you will still be audible. Stepping on a marble floor or wading through water is significantly louder than sneaking over regular stone tiles. Enemies will pick up on this.
Your armor has a weight value that essentially determines how noisy you are. This can be slightly suppressed via the stealth skill
RPGWatch: How does magic work? Do you basically need to find magic scroll and if you have enough Intelligence, you can learn that spell?
Rat Tower: Magic spells are recorded on scrolls. These scrolls can be found throughout the world. Every spell corresponds to one of three schools of magic. There is the cosmic school, which largely focuses on harmful conjurations. The school of divine magic provides healing and the school of aura magic mostly provides support spells.
There is also the Arcane Connection skill which influences the potency of a spell. This can take many forms, ranging from increased damage output to longer spell durations and more efficient summonings.
RPGWatch: Do you always need to find an altair to upgrade your attributes and skills?
Rat Tower: There will be certain items that will permanently boost your attributes. For skills, you will have to visit an altair.
RPGWatch: One of the memorable moments of Ultima Underworld was the conversation with lizardmen where you needed to learn their language. Is there something similar in Monomyth?
Rat Tower: I don’t want to spoil anything in this regard yet, but Ariath’s setting is a good fit for something like this.
RPGWatch: The story mentions strong storms in the world above. I wonder if you plan to take advantage of that and use a storm as an obstacle. For example if these storms break the roof somewhere in the fortress, or you could create hazardous "windy section" as an obstacle or part of a puzzle.
Rat Tower: Most of the game is set underground, so at the moment the storms play a subordinate role in the game’s challenges. Perhaps in a future update.
RPGWatch: What do you think about grid-based dungeons? Do you think that an RPG dungeon like Monomyth with "normal" 3D movement is something that is missing now?
Definitely. That's actually the reason why I am making Monomyth. I am still having a lot of fun with Legend of Grimrock or Eye of the Beholder, but something like Ultima Underworld simply doesn’t exist in the current video game landscape. There have been some attempts to make something similar, but they either fell short in some regard or they changed focus during development.
This is surprising because we still see games that are at least influenced by Ultima Underworld’s legacy. I want to make a game that is more committed to the core ideas of that legacy.
RPGWatch: Would you like to create Monomyth 2 in the future or do you have other dream project that you would like to do?
Of course, I would love to develop Monomyth into a series. There is plenty of material both from a narrative and a mechanic perspective. As for the latter, I am always strongly concerned about feature creep so a lot of ideas land on the list of unrealized gameplay mechanics. That list alone could probably provide diverse feature sets for several sequels.
I also have a few other project ideas, ranging from different settings to even more involved simulation mechanics. I might want to try these things out in the future, but we will have to see.