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Galen: Power Broker With Powerful Artifacts

Our Serials department is on hiatus. This week, we bring you a look at one of the shadowy power brokers of the Tolmiran Empire—Galen, the most successful of the rogue adepts.

Among the adepts of Argoniss, the official line is that only the island-dwellers wield significant magical powers. The cropsingers, the herbalists with a natural flair for healing, the Clever Folk whose knives never dull... their inborn talent is not denied, but (so say the adepts), true power comes from study and learning, and only among fellows on the Island of Argoniss can true power be obtained and maintained.

Although this makes for a compelling recruiting pitch to the pre-teens recruited into the ranks of the adepts, like many official truths it lacks accuracy. Some of those born with magical talents develop them further on their own and have abilities that would make even the island's adjutants envious. Not all Argoniss-trained mages return to the island, and a few have (quietly) set up training facilities of their own on the mainland. And then there is Galen.

Perhaps the most well known adept outside of Argoniss, Galen has made a name for himself as a developer and supplier of magical artifacts—generally with a martial slant. His true background is unknown, though many believe him to be a washout or defector from the island. First appearing ten years ago in Westgate, a port city in the northwest province of Nazashad, he gained a reputation as a man who could be relied on to deliver a unique product to anyone with the money to pay for it--be they adventurers or mercenaries, politicos or criminals. As his power, influence and wealth began to grow, so did the scope of his operation. Today his organization is large, well organized, and counts the Empire itself as one of its clients. He has trained a number of new mages to take over in the time-consuming production of magical weapons, who have in turn trained others to handle the mass production and controlled sale of lesser magical items.

Inside the Engine: Create a Joinable NPC

On the fourth Monday of each month, we explore the code underneath The Broken Hourglass, the game environment called "WeiNGINE." This month, we explore the creation of a new party member, and in the process introduce advanced dialogue scripting topics.

A variety of constraints force the developers of a party-based RPG to make certain difficult choices about the number and type of characters available as joinable NPCs. No matter the number (In The Broken Hourglass, we offer nine), some enterprising players will decide that a tenth character would really fit the bill. Adding a character to the game capable of joining the party requires very little in the way of extra preparation-at the most basic level, joining the party requires just a short, simple dialogue script action.

Understanding some of the earlier engine tutorials will come in very handy here-particularly the entries on creature creation and dialogue construction.

We will call our tutorial joinable NPC "Vondo." (It's tradition.) Vondo doesn't have scintillating dialogue-that's the modder's exercise. But we will show the basic concepts of how a joinable NPC is created, including the special dialogues we will want to use to allow him to be disbanded and re-joined to the party.

First, we will need a Vondo creature. Vondo will be a Cella Ilvari, with above-average swordsmanship. We will give him very basic equipment to start with. His CREATURE file, therefore, looks like this:

Rules and Mechanics: Tinkered Spells

Characters in The Broken Hourglass have an almost unlimited ability to customize their spellbooks through the use of the Tinker Spell interface. A "tinkered" spell is one defined by the player, selecting from a menu of spell sources and effects and given a player-defined mana strength.

Once one of your characters tinkers a spell, every member of the party may use it, if they have the necessary magic skills and mana to cast it. The entire party "learns" the customized spell. Tinkered spells are remembered with your saved games. You may, at your option, later delete a tinkered spell when you feel it has outlived its usefulness.

Tinkered spells may employ any number of the five elemental magic sources (Physical, Fire, Earth, Air, Water) and one or more of the following standard spell effects:

  • Heal.
  • Regenerate.
  • Armor.
  • Attribute Bonus.
  • Damage.
  • Repeating Damage.
  • Life Drain.
  • Lower Resistance.
  • Attribute Penalty.
  • Summon.







tinker interface
The Tinker Spell interface. This happens to be an Earth+Fire+Water Magic enchantment, causing Lower Resistance and Attribute Penalty effects, targeting all visible enemies.

The mana requirements for each spell effect are summed together, then multiplied by the target factor. In addition, a spell's base cost is multiplied by the number of distinct types of magic (e.g., Earth, Air) involved. Thus an Attribute Penalty spell with both Earth and Air costs twice as much mana as an Attribute Penalty spell with only Earth, but the first spell also inflicts twice as many penalties as the second one. Spells which affect an indiscriminate radius of targets are more expensive than those affecting just a single target, while spells which selectively affect all allies or all enemies have a still-higher multiplier. You may tinker a spell to use more mana than is strictly necessary, to create a spell with a greater potential effect.

Why tinker spells at all? Although your characters will start with a well-stocked spellbook containing many common and useful spells, there are so many different ways to combine these effects that we cannot possible account for them all. A character who specializes heavily in Air and Fire Magic may find it more beneficial to combine multiple damage sources into a single spell rather than alternating between airbolts and firebolts, for instance. Or such a character may wish to cast a single party-enhancing spell to boost strength and agility (from Fire and Air Magic, respectively) rather then split them up into separate casts. And as characters become more powerful, they may wish to devote more mana to a single spell than the default spells in the book specify.

Moonshine, Chapter 4

Moonshine concludes this month. Klavel, junior partner in one of Mal Nassrin's illicit pitfighting rackets, is trying to find out why his former business associate met a violent end. Missed the earlier chapters, or our earlier serial On the Fly? See our complete list of serials here.

By Sonja Littell-Trotter

Chapter 4

"I thought I'd find you here."

I look up and see Roye leaning two doorways down on the opposite side of the street. "Good for you, Roye. Keep earning that Watch stipend," I say. The rain has slowed to something like a mist. It beads on my hair and face, feeling unpleasantly like somebody else's sweat.

He laughs. "I came to tell you that you had a tail trailing after you, my friend. But I guess a smart man like you doesn't need someone like me to tell him that." He sounds genuine. But who knows? I don't trust a smiling man any more than I do a crying woman.

"I hadn't noticed," I admit. "I can handle myself just fine, but thanks for looking out for the cripple." I hate the defensiveness I can hear in my voice.

"In your line of work you should be more careful, my friend," he says.

"Gods, Roye, my own ma didn't scold like you do," I tell him and make my way down the street. "I don't make any man fight that doesn't want to."

Roye crosses the street, falls into step beside me. "You hold life cheap."

"I don't think life is cheap. I think sometimes life is cheap."

Broken Hourglass On iGame Radio
Macintosh-oriented gaming podcast iGame Radio this week introduces the first of a two-part audio interview about The Broken Hourglass. The program includes the debut of a new track of music featured in the game. Listen to Part One of the latest discussion about TBH here.
From the Journal of Theagnosia Dilakar, Aeromancer Adjutant

Halima is one of the characters who may join your party in The Broken Hourglass.

halima picI cannot put off nominating that new senior assistant any longer-that insufferably smug Badem remains the most qualified, although I fear I might shove him off a cliff as soon as entrust him with anything important. But the position must be filled, as my Chief Assistant, H. Phaenon, has decided to spread her wings and fly.

(Did I just write that? Age rears its ugly head in many forms, it would seem. I had not expected trite metaphor to be one of them.)

Yes. Halima is gone, leaving tomorrow for Mal Nassrin, wherever that is. Never to return? I doubt that. The same easily-given affection and near-depthless capacity for sentiment which urges her to her birth family will bring her back to us in time. Probably far less than is average for those on Tour.

They all have it difficult, these young men and women. No matter what they recall, or what word their correspondences bring from the mainland, they invariably have an impossible, distorted view of what Tour means for them. Halima, I suspect, will find it more trying than most. She will seek anyone and everyone who was a part of her life before her training here, and whether they find her over- or underwhelming, they will not, and cannot, be what she expected. And oh, how Halima hates unmet expectations, most of all her own failure to meet them. As many years as she has worked under my tutelage, it never ceases to amaze me how she can project such a calm air of rationality one moment and the next, explode, a ball of nerves and emotion. As if, unsure what the best response to a given problem would be, she decides to try them all, to show how earnestly engaged she is in the situation.

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