I’ve been somewhat preoccupied and away from this site, but I haven’t forgotten about it! My portfolio has just needed a complete rework and I have other work to do, namely two ecommerce websites built from the ground up. So, yeah, I’ve been pretty busy with that.. and I’ve been playing this neat little game called Blackguards by Daedalic Entertainment in my spare time. It was released late last month, but we’ve been able to play it since sometime last year through early access on Steam. Now that the entire game has been released, however, and a couple of large patches have made the game extremely playable, I thought I’d introduce it to you.
What is Blackguards?
What happens when the only hope of a threatened world lies not with heroes in shining armor, but is placed in the hands of a band of misfits and criminals? Blackguards, the new turn-based RPG by Daedalic Entertainment, explores this very question. The player takes on the role of a convicted murderer who must use the help of a team of more than questionable characters to save the world from a dark menace. Through this wild chase throughout the South of Aventuria, the world of The Dark Eye, there is more to fight than vicious creatures. Chapter by chapter you’ll encounter a story full of intrigue and surprising twists. Time and time again, the moral compass of the player will be tested. One does not beat Blackguards without getting their hands dirty. But when life and death are in the player’s hands, how far will they go to reach their goals?
Alright, alright. Exciting developer-written description out of the way, the first thing you need to know is that your experience in this game is a currency known as Adventure Points (AP). These AP are used for everything relating to your character including increases to your Base Values, Weapon Talents, Talents, Spells, and Special Abilities, all of which will be explained briefly below. Following that, we’ll have a look at your Inventory, including what Armour does for your character. Finally, we’ll get into Combat and you’ll see how attacks and damage is calculated for both melee and ranged weapons.
These are your primary stats, namely, Vitality, Attack, Parry, Dodge, Ranged Combat, Initiative, Resistance to Magic, Astral Energy, and Speed . These are modified by AP-bought increases to your Attributes, which are Courage, Cleverness, Intuition, Charisma, Dexterity, Agility, Constitution, and Strength. You can also directly increase your Vitality, Astral Energy, and Resistance to Magic with AP.
Each of your Attributes usually increases more than one of your Base Values by one block, and each Base Value needs a certain number of blocks before it will go up by one point. However, these Attributes can get very expensive, so you need to consider whether the pay-off will be worth it earlier in the game before you start earning a heap of AP.
This regards your proficiency with the following weapons: Daggers, Swords/Sabres, Axes & Maces, Fencing Weapons, Bows, Crossbows, Throwing Weapons, Staves, Spears, Two-Handed Swords, and Two-Handed Bashing Weapons. An increase in one of these impacts on your ability to use that weapon by giving you more points that you can assign towards Attack (the sword icon) and Parry (the shield icon), the amount of which you focus on either can be changed using the slider under each weapon type. How this affects your attack in battle will be explained later, but nevertheless, it’s usually worth ensuring your proficiency with your select weapon(s) is at least decent so that your chances of hitting with and deflecting attacks are greater.
These include Body Control, Willpower, Perception, Traps, Streetwise, Survival, Animal Lore, Warcraft, and Treat Wounds. Each of these has its own associated Attributes and effects, such as Body Control helping you resist knock-downs and negative environment effects, Willpower helping you resist wounds and enchantments, Streetwise giving you speed bonuses and increased earnings in urban areas, as well as discounts on inn prices, Animal Lore allowing you to see information about beasts such as their Vitality, Astral Points, Magic Resistance, Special Abilities, and increasing your chance to crit against them, etc.
When a Talent comes into effect during a match, it is tested by having the character roll three d20 dice, one for each Attribute associated with the Talent. The number of ranks a character has in the Talent is then added to each of the rolls, and if the total on each of the dice rolls is less than or equal to the stats that each dice is being associated with, then they succeed the test. In addition to this, there are some tests which are naturally easier or harder and those have three points subtracted or added to their rolls, respectively.
An example of a normal Talent test in game might be a character walking over some particularly difficult terrain and having to do a Body Control test to see whether they fall over or not. The Attributes associated with Body Control are Courage, Intuition, and Agility, so they roll three d20 dice, resulting in a 11 for Courage, 8 for Intuition, and 12 for Agility. They have two ranks in Body Control however, and so they subtract two from each of their rolls to get a total of 9 for Courage, 6 for Intuition, and 10 for Agility. This is then checked against their stats, which for this example are 13 Courage, 13 Intuition, and 10 Agility, and we find that they have passed the test.
Spells can be learnt by Mages from Tomes by spending an amount of AP when the Spell Book is read. All Spells have associated Attributes and varying effects, areas, durations, Astral Spell Points (ASP) cost, and the like, that can change as you rank the Spell up (information about Spells in Combat will be explained further below). However, you need to remember that when you create a character, you must specify whether they are capable of learning magic or not. As a result, if you choose to not invest the 500 AP in Expert Character Creation mode (or pick Mage in Basic Mode) to enable your character to use Spells, Astral Energy, all Spells, and all Spell related Special Abilities are locked and cannot be learnt regardless of whether you meet the AP requirements and have the Spell Book for them.
As a side note, the latest patch increased the value of some Spells, including the the Fulminictus, Ignifaxius and Ignisphaero ones.
These are broken down in four groups: Melee, Ranged, Magic, and Passive. Each of these groups has a number of abilities that can be taught by a trainer for a certain amount of AP, and they usually have Attribute and other ability requirements which must be met before they can be taught.
As an example I’ll talk you through the progression of one of the passive abilities trees, Dodge, which gives incremental bonuses to, guess what? Dodge. Dodge 1, requires an Agility score of 10 and costs 200 AP. Dodge 2 then requires both Dodge 1, an Agility score of 12, and costs 300 AP. In order to learn Dodge 3, you must first learn Battle Reflexes (which requires an Initiative score of 10 and costs 300 AP), have Dodge 2, an Agility score of 15, and 400 AP to spare. Attributes and Base Values aren’t the only requirement for using Special Abilities however, as quite a number of active abilities can only be used with certain weapons.
This is where you’ll find all of your Weapons, Armour, and Items to equip or use on your characters. In order to have a character bring an item like a Healing Potion into battle, they must have some type of Belt equipped, such as a Shabby Belt, and put that item into one of the slots that the belt provides. Belts can have between one and four slots for items, and each slot can only have one of each item, such as one Astral Potion or one Throwing Knife. Additionally, an item such as the Bandage requires some ranks in Treat Wounds in order to successfully heal Health and Wounds in or out of battle.
There is also space for three different Weapon Sets to be equipped on the character, and they can change to a different set in battle by using an action (unless they have enough ranks in Warcraft which allows them to swap weapons and still act on their turn).
One last thing to note is that Load will affect the Encumbrance of the entire party and most armours (see below) will affect the Encumbrance of the individual character that they’re equipped on. Party-wide Encumbrance will add to an individual character’s Encumbrance, and Encumbrance itself will affect a character’s Base Values (Initiative, Dodge, Ranged, Parry, and Attack) in battle.
An example of a piece of Armour can be seen above where we have Naurim equipped with a full set of Kuslikan Lamellar, giving him an extra completion bonus to his Armour Rating and Encumbrance. When it comes to being attacked, there are two values for Armour that are used, an Armour Rating and a specific Resistance. The Armour Rating is taken into account first and then the Resistance, which is a percentage.
For example, an attack by a Rapier that does 1d6 + 4 Piercing damage to a character will roll the 1d6 and then add their bonus, which in this case is a 4. Let’s assume they rolled a 5, the total damage at this point is 9 (5 + 4). Let’s also assume that their target has an Armour Rating of 1, so that 9 damage is reduced to 8, and a Resistance to Piercing damage of 25%, reducing the damage by 2 (8/25%). The final damage is now 6.
The first thing that is calculated when a battle begins is the Turn Order. This is done by a roll of a 1d6 + the Initiative value for each character, where the character with the highest result will go first and the one with the lowest will go last.
The characters will then move about the field where the distance they can travel is based upon their Speed. The light blue area shows where they can move and still take an action, whilst the white area shows areas they have to forfeit an action to move to.
During battle, all characters can suffer from Wounds which decrease stats and apply negative modifiers to skill checks. These can only be removed by a healer, bandages and enough points in Treat Wounds, or Balm of Healing ranked up to level 3.
Attacking and Defending
This is where it can get complicated. Note that your stats for fighting are calculated as seen below, and I will be referring to them in the near future.
- Attack Value = (Courage + Agility + Strength)/5 + (Weapon Talent Attack value) + (Weapon Bonus, if any) + (Bonus/penalty from Special Ability, if used) + (Penalty from Encumbrance)
- Parry Value = (Intuition + Agility + Strength)/5 + (Weapon Talent Parry value)
- Dodge Value = (Intuition + Agility + Strength)/5
- Ranged Combat Value = (Intuition + Dexterity + Strength)/5 + (Weapon Talent value) + (Weapon Bonus, if any) + (Bonus/penalty from Special Ability, if used) + (Penalty from Encumbrance)
Also, as I mentioned earlier, Encumbrance will affect a range of stats. The exact reductions can be seen in the table below:
|Encumbrance||Attack Value||Parry Value||Dodge Value||Ranged Combat||Initiative|
Close Combat Attacks
Close combat attacks have a base hit chance of 60%. The difference between the attacker’s Attack value and the defender’s Parry value is multiplied by 5 and the resulting number is added to the percentage to calculate the attack chance. However, a d20 is rolled as well, with a 1 resulting in a critical hit and a 20 causing an automatic failure in the attack.
An example of this is an attacker with an Attack value of 18 trying to hit a defender with a Parry value of 12 will result in an attack with a 90% chance to hit as 60% + (6 × 5) adds 30% to the attack chance. Meanwhile, an attacker with an Attack value of 9 trying to hit a defender with a Parry value of 12 would have a 45% chance to hit as 60% + (-3 × 5) subtracts 15% from the attack chance.
These are similar to the above, however, the base hit chance is 50%, rolls of 19-20 will result in an automatic failure, and characters using a ranged weapon cannot Parry, but they can Dodge incoming attacks.
Also, ranged weapons are grouped by distance (Close, Medium, Far) and when used to shoot a target that is outside of their preferred range, they all receive a penalty, usually a -10 to Attack. For instance, a Shortbow takes an Attack penalty outside of 4-12 tiles, and a Longbow takes an Attack penalty outside of 5-17 tiles.
As mentioned earlier, Spells have a set of Attributes and they work much like the Talent checks explained earlier. This means that in order to cast a Spell, a character will have to roll three d20 dice and they will need all of those three dice to be lower than or equal to their associated Attributes once they add their bonus from having ranks in the Spell. This might sound quite challenging, but one reason why Spells are rather effective is because they cannot be blocked or dodged, and their damage or effects are whatever is written for the rank of the Spell that you’re using.
Resistance to Magic on the other hand, is what characters use to increase the Spell Failure chance of the caster who is directing a Spell at them. For instance, if a character casting a spell has already rolled their three d20, they then subtract the ranks they have of their Spell to the resulting rolls, and then add the Magic Resistance value that their target has from each of their three total rolls.
Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to apply this information when creating or improving a character and in battle, making your playthrough that much easier.
Anyway, that’s all for this guide and I hope you have fun playing Blackguards. Visit the Blackguards Official Website if you’re looking for where you can get a copy of the game or just to check it out.