Making the Epic of Sadko: Skills (Part 1)

Hello all. This post I’m going to discuss skills in The Epic of Sadko, which I said I would in the last post. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about skills for this game, and I’m still not done thinking about it yet. It is for this reason that this is Skills (Part 1), as I will need to update this later. Additionally, the skills for the game are one of the largest parts of the game, so there will be many updates down the road as skills become implemented. Before I get right into the skills, though, I’m going to give a brief update on the status of the game overall.

These past two weeks have been pretty slow in development. This is mostly due to school kicking it up a little bit, and my work has essentially doubled (for those who missed it, I’m now working for Phoenix Online Studios). For The Epic of Sadko, I need to have my first draft of the design document finished by next week, so I have been working on that (and it has filled out quite well). I haven’t gotten down into the code and started making things. I’m still making some structural decisions, and it quite frankly scares me to embark on this project. It’s frightening because I know this project is doable, but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to pull it off. Still, I have to start soon.

So skills. As I discussed last post, I originally was going to have each character have three field skills, and three battle skills. After much debate, I decided that battle skills were out of character for the playable characters. Instead I realized it would be much better if each skill had a field use and a “battle” use (battles are called performances from here out). I also wanted it so that the characters earned a skill each act, and for each character to start with a skill. Therefore, each character has four skills. The following is a description of the skills for each character.

Sadko’s Skills

Perform: Sadko’s starting skill. Sadko plays an instrument, tells a story or sings a song, to entertain a crowd and play to their sympathies. In the field, Perform allows the player to initiate a Perfomance with any NPC. Inside a Performance, it is Sadko’s basic move and makes a social attack against a single viewer’s ego. The amount of damage done is based on Sadko’s Wit.

Climb: Sadko gains the skill of climbing up where others are incapable, gaining access to new areas and astounding people in the process. In the field, Sadko climbs up the block in front of him or her, reaching higher ground. Sadko cannot bring along other characters. Climb will be used more than any other skill. During a Performance, Climb is a social attack against the audience’s ego, based on Sadko’s Agility.

Sleight of Hand: Sadko’s quick hands make it easy to snatch various articles of clothing from victims, which can be both tactical and a good show. In the field, this skill is used against dumb human obstacles to pull a piece of equipment off the human and throw it far away, duping people to leave their post. In a Performance, Sadko steals an item from a viewer, dealing social damage to the viewer, and causing the viewer to heckle Sadko for a few rounds. Sleight of Hand is based on Agility.

Leap: Sadko abandon’s all fear and takes mighty leaps off of whatever is available. In the field, Sadko leaps over a block, allowing access to new areas. In a Performance, Sadko leaps in place, dealing social damage to the audience’s ego, based on Agility. If Sadko used climb in the previous round, the damage is increased.

Alex’s Skills

Spirit of Guilt: Alex’s starting skill. Alex summons a spirit of guilt to pry into a person’s surface thoughts and discover the guilty thoughts amongst them. In the field, Alex extracts the most guilty thought from the NPC he is currently facing. During a Performance, Alex makes a viewer feel guilty, doing a single-target magic attack against the viewer’s ego. The attack is based on Alex’s Empathy.

Spirit of Insignificance: Alex calls up a spirit of insignificance and has it reduce significant things to a smaller size, the spirit is also capable of making things feel insignificant, reducing their egos. Essentially, if Alex is facing something that gives tiles an effective height, this skill reduces that effective height by 1 for as long as Alex remains facing that object. If an object simply makes the tile impassable (buildings, broken objects, etc.), Alex cannot do anything to it with this skill. During a Performance, Alex uses this skill to make a viewer to feel insignificant, making a magic attack against the viewer’s ego and doing damage based on Empathy. Additionally, the viewer attacks itself for a round.

Spirit of Past Misdeeds: Alex summons a spirit of reenactment that can create a solid illusion of an event in the past, before something bad happened. In the field, this is used to make broken objects whole again, allowing them to function normally (most often as blocks to walk on). In a Performance, Alex uses this spirit to make illusions of some past event of bad blood, doing a magic attack against ego based on History and causing the affected viewer to attack other viewers for a few rounds.

Spirit of Boring Tales: Alex summons a spirit that tells a long, droning tale, capable of putting to sleep anyone who really listens to the story. In the field, Alex uses this skill to put intelligent NPCs to sleep, allowing the player to move past unhindered. During a Performance, Alex uses this skill to make a magic attack against a viewer’s ego, doing damage based on History, and also causing the viewer to become drowsy and less effective at heckling.

Raisa’s Skills

Barter: Raisa’s starting skill. Raisa uses all of her mediocre skill at selling to sell somone one item. In the field, this attempts to sell an object to an NPC, possibly making money from the process. During a Performance, Raisa attempts to peddle random junk she has to a viewer, making a social attack against the viewer’s ego, based on Flattery. Additionally, Raisa takes a small amount of money from the viewer.

Streamer Cannon: Raisa aims the streamer cannon and fires, sending brightly colored streamers into the air, covering the area in crepe paper. In the field, this skill stuns most NPCs up to two tiles away. If the NPC is an animal, the skill scares the NPC away. During a Performance, this skill does a minimal social attack against ego to the audience, and causes the audience to miss their next turn. The attack is based on Tinkering.

Sparkle Hat: This erratic light source revolves while on Raisa’s head, sending glinting pinpoints of light out around the area. In the field, Raisa can use this skill to light up darkened places so that others may maneuver. During a Performance, Raisa makes a magic attack against a viewer’s ego, based on Tinkering. Viewers are less likely to attack Raisa the turn she is using the skill.

Mirror of Exchange: This mirror allows the holder to switch places with anyone else attuned to it and otherwise functions as a mirror shows people how they want to be. In the field, this skill allows Raisa to switch places with either Alex or Sadko. During a Performance, Raisa uses the mirror as a prop to appeal to the ego of a viewer. This is a very strong magic attack against the viewer’s ego, based on Flattery, but it can only be used once for each viewer during a Performance.


These entries were pulled directly from my design document. They are all in flux except a choice few that are iconic for the game. The italicized entries are skills that I think need to be changed. The skill definitely on the chopping block is the Sparkle Hat. The skill was one of the first ones I dreamed up, and when the project started it seemed like a good idea, but there’s an inherent problem with it. To be effective, there needs to be a lot of pitch black areas in the game, but there are only plans for two. As such, it isn’t a skill that will get used enough. In games with action-based skills like these, I’m always annoyed by skills that are used once or twice and then forgotten. So I need to change this skill to something I can use in any area.

The other skill, The Spirit of Past Misdeeds, I’m not sure if I like so much. I would prefer this to be some sort of movement skill for Alex, since he has none and there are few overall in the game. Originally, this skill was supposed to reveal hidden things, but I changed it so it repaired broken objects. This is fine thematically, but I don’t know how I would represent this to the player very well, especially with such simple art.

The other skills are generally good, in my opinion., and might only change in very minor ways. If anyone has any skills or skill effects they’d like to see, just leave a comment!


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