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Dust Off the Moon and Let's Begin

We're happy and sad this week to announce some staff lineup changes.

First, our hats are off to Rich Baker, who has decided that spending 10% of every day in a car driving to and from the Goblinworks offices is an (understandably) suboptimal allocation of his waking hours. Rich is going to be pursuing his writing, his freelance game design, and of course projects like Primeval Thule. He's wrapped up the work he was doing on the Emerald Spire superadventure, and has agreed to be on call if we need him as that product goes into the editing and polishing process within Paizo. Rich helped us through one of the pivotal challenging points of our short history, and our second Kickstarter would not have been successful without his dedication. And he's taken a huge load off my plate by coordinating all the following Kickstarter related project management, while at the same time making sure the blogs got written and edited, and brainstorming regularly with Lee, Stephen and Tork on game design. He'll be greatly missed.

While we're sad to see Rich exit, we're also excited to announce that we're adding a new Goblin, Seth Frolich, who is coming aboard as a technical artist. Seth is not only going to be helping us make great visuals, but he's going to be a primary interface between art and programming, making our pipeline work more smoothly and adding lots of new capabilities to the art tool suite.

As the clock winds down on Milestone 3, the team has been pulling some longer than normal hours. Since I don't get to see most of this work until it's all integrated into the near-final builds, it feels a lot like Christmas—the presents are starting to appear, mysteriously wrapped, promising wonders and joy in the near future!

Okay, on to the design and development stuff. This week, designer Stephen Cheney looks at some of our latest thinking about the various systems by which raw materials enter the game—as loot and from nodes. This blog updates some of the information in If I Had a Hammer.

Salvage

We've simplified the salvage items concept since our earlier post on this topic. We may still eventually add a system to salvage crafted items, but that has some hard-to-predict effects on the economy, in addition to requiring a fairly complex system to figure out what you should get out of an item (since they're made out of a lot of variable-quality refined items). So, that's going to come a little later.

In the meantime, salvage items are very similar to a raw material: You can give them to someone with the appropriate refining skill and they can use them just like a unit of raw goods. A refiner might throw a goblin's armor scraps in with a bunch of ore to get enough to make an ingot. Unlike raw materials, salvage items are more likely to count as two different components (for example, those armor scraps might count as ore for the smelter but leather for the tanner).

Harvesting

All wilderness and monster hexes in the game constantly generate harvest nodes: Objects that represent small groups of resources such as an outcropping spur of ore, an especially healthy tree, a clutch of herbs, or so on. These harvest nodes appear procedurally throughout a hex, so they won't be in totally predictable spots. A central process in the hex controls how many harvest nodes appear, based on an overall supply of each potential resource in that hex. If you've been over-harvesting a resource in a hex, harvest nodes will be fewer for that resource, and may output more impure (heavier and less efficient) variants of the resource.

When you find a harvest node, your ranks in the related Profession skill determine if you can access it at all. For example, you only need one rank in Miner to harvest iron, but you need fourteen ranks to harvest adamantine. The speed at which you harvest the resource is based on your skill total; you won't ever spend more than a few seconds per item at a harvest node, but reducing that time might still be a big help if you're worried about attacks.

You have one item slot on your character for a harvesting tool (you can thread this tool if you want to). This is your standard pick for mining, axe for logging, and so on. You don't need the tool to harvest, but it adds dramatically to your effective skill total, letting you harvest even faster.

Each harvest node is only good for a very few items before it gets used up and you have to move on. However, based on the current resource totals in the hex, there's a chance that any particular harvest node might have hidden wealth: harvesting it reveals that it is, in fact, a gathering node.

Gathering

Gathering nodes are no longer large, freestanding sites that you might happen upon; as noted above, they're something you find in the course of harvesting. The chance of discovering a gathering node is based on the total supply of the resource in the hex, so they'll usually have a much greater chance of appearing deep in the wilderness in hexes (particularly monster hexes) that aren't regularly harvested. Finding a gathering node is like discovering a "gusher" or "mother lode" in prospecting slang—the harvest node was just the evidence of a much richer supply of the resource in the immediate vicinity.

Once you discover a gathering node, you'll have exclusive rights to it for a limited amount of time, after which the chance to haul in the resources from the gathering node disappears. You can't pass these rights off or have them stolen from you, either directly or by showing another player the site; if you find the gathering spot, you are the primary character that must be involved in a gathering operation there. This should keep lower-level harvesters from having their claims jumped by bandits or their own allies; if you find the node, you get to be integral to the gathering process. The window of time in which you can set up a gathering operation is fairly narrow, but usually it's enough time to run back to a nearby base and get a gathering kit, or have one brought to your location by an ally.

Once you've activated the gathering kit, all bets are off. The speed of the gathering operation is pegged to your own Profession rating, but the output goes into a nearby storage object. Not only will monsters attack in waves while you're gathering, enemy players will be able to take the items from the storage if you don't fight them off as well. Your allies won't want to force you off your find, but you'll certainly want them to help stand guard.

Gathering operations generate many more items than a harvest node, and there may be so many that you need several people to carry it all away. The upper limit to what you can gather from a single operation is based on the total resources in the hex. Like harvest nodes, gathering nodes start running on fumes when the hex as a whole has been heavily harvested or gathered.

Gathering nodes represent the highest-volume insertion point of raw materials into the game, but harvest nodes make up a much steadier supply.

Outposts

Certain materials make sense coming from more established structures as opposed to being discovered unmanaged in the wilderness. For example, cotton is easier to farm than to find. The primary source for these sorts of materials is outposts: semi-permanent structures in wilderness hexes, linked to a holding in that hex. (Check out the art images included with this blog—that's what the outpost structures might look like in the game.) Holdings are permanent player-owned structures that establish ownership over a hex, while outposts produce a steady supply of bulk goods every hour they are in operation.


Bulk goods represent large quantities of food, wood more suitable to boards and beams than hafts and bows, low-quality metals for use in nails and other supports, any kind of stone for raising walls and building towers, and so on. They are very heavy and probably require a caravan to transport with any efficiency. (We'll get around to talking about caravans in one of these posts...)

Bulk goods don't interact with the gear crafting system, but are instead used for settlement construction and upkeep. This is both for in-story reasons—for example, stone isn't useful for gear crafting but makes perfect sense as a key material needed for structures—and practical reasons of economy management. For example, we don't want the vast amount of wood that makes sense for making buildings to distort the materials available for the crafting of wooden weapon components. The availability of bulk goods in a hex is heavily dependent on terrain, so you won't be able to generate bulk wood in the middle of a grassland. Since settlements will only have easy access to a couple of terrain types in their immediate surroundings, the need for bulk goods of all types should encourage settlement leaders to establish trade relationships with (or demand tribute from) other cities.

The outposts themselves are often close to the edge of the hex, located some distance from the central holding in that hex. This should make it desirable to subcontract companies to watch your outposts: they're far enough away that they may be hard to protect against raiders all by yourself. But we'll talk about raiding in a later PvP post.

Discuss this blog on paizo.com.