The Secret World TTRPG

Take me back to Agartha.

I’ve been  lurking in the Star Anvil Discord (Twitter) since February keeping my eyes peeled for some further RPG details. yesterday we finally got something concreate.

Kickstarter coming in October.


Still not much to go on and I think we aren’t likely to get much more before the Launch, we already know that it’s going to built on 5e and feature the 3 factions from the FunCom MMO, not completely sure where it sits on the timeline

There has been snippets of artwork shared over the last few months in the discord and I am really looking forward to seeing what the product looks like.

I was always a big fan of The Secret World concept, world and lore, mostly getting on board via the Tørnquist link and staying after play testing as the game and story were really good fun. I always loved that TSW never shied away from it’s mature rating aiming for a purely adult audience from the start, many MMO games frequently earn a high rating that originates from strong violence and adult topics, such as Elder Scrolls Online.

I know strong language is not everyone’s cup of tea and may had led some folks to avoid or leave the Secret World. However for me the fact characters swore in cutscenes and voice lines was a breath of fresh air, felt more immersive and made them feel more true to life. Terrible things were happening and the NPCs vented that anger, rather than using substitute words or fricking phrases.

Hidden in plain sight

The Secret World still remains one of my favourite MMO games, of course as with many titles games I’ve not played it in time but given the chance I’d return to the Secret World concealed within this one. I played from launch and even though there were a large number of us initially, the familiar faces soon diverted their attention to something more shiny.

Belghast recently posted how it’s one of the games that he considers great that’s he’s just not playing, and I can understand why as the games open class system doesn’t actually cut the ties between roles and skills. I’ve been back a number of of times and have enjoyed going back to the earlier missions to get a feel for my characters powers. My alerts on my phone all use a combination of the mission noises from TSW so I get reminded of it quite often (a modern day equivalent of harp music?).

revenant_thumb.jpgIn the recent Game Director Letter, Funcom are planning some quality of life changes that I’m rather surprised weren’t considered before now given that the game is 2 and half years old now and they may have been part of the player drop off.

Some of the highlights mentioned are:

  • changes to the overland enemies pre-Tokyo reducing the time to kill
  • Adjustment of the irritating populations “mobstacles” ie Ak’ab
  • Free teleport to any anima well for quick travel, which is a nice touch and could make those planned evening run a little faster.
  • Improved early game rewards to avoid player gimping themselves
  • Updated starter deck builds

I recently received an offering me the Grand Master (flash) pack with some additional bolt ons such as 6000 funcom points, 5 Deep Mystery Boxes and a free copy of the game (key). I’d consider it but it’s too soon after Christmas to start buying lifetime memberships.

Now just to get another ragtag assortment of players to blast through some more content or since it’s now I a little smoother maybe spend some time completing things in Egypt myself.


Mobs you respect

Dusty over at Of Course I’ll Play It posted a great top ten of MMOs mobs that have earnt his respect.
There are some simple rules: no bosses, elites or named mobs, so without further ado here is my list.

10. All of the Birds (Lord of the Rings Online)
I really disliked all of the birds enemies in LotRO, I would always miss them when scouting ahead and end up with 3 or 4 attacking me, a pain when you were just starting out and could be overwhelming for less hardy characters.
Easy to under-estimate as you’d often end up aggroing another group in the process.

9. Sappers (City of Heroes/Villains)
I have to agree with Dusty on sappers, when they teamed up with Malta Gun Slingers you were usually in for a rough time.
As all powers in the game required endurance to activate, having an enemy that could drain it could lead to devastating results for a group when the healer was targeted. The gunslingers would follow up while an attack that slowed your regen and attack speed. Nasty duo.

Caretaker8. Caretaker (Tabula Rasa)
The healer is usually the first to die, but the caretakers often blended into the background and were only noticed when the Thrax you were trying to kill didn’t seem to be loosing health. For this 8th slot it was a choice between the Caretaker and the Thrax technician.

7. Blade Dancers (Fallen Earth)
The enemy group had so many different suffixes (Butcher, Scalpel, Dagger, ripper) it maybe wrong to add a whole group but they really were annoyingly tricky. It maybe more down to the lack of player Vs mobs balance that made them tough to take down but of all of my deaths in Fallen Earth I’d say more than half had to be at the hands of this group. With there high respawn rate and odd placement, I’d be very unlucky and end up aggroing 2 mobs.

Illusionist6 .Carnival Illusionists (City of Heroes/Villains)
I much as the fun colours and theme of the carnies made them look a push over they really weren’t. The trickiest of these was the illusionists, with a arsenal of psychic abilities the presence of these in a group meant it was going to be a fight to remember. The tricky part was when the phase shifted and couldn’t be hit for some time, you’d have to refocus your attacks then once more when they returned.

5. Iron Fortress Defender (Rift)
There are probably more mobs of this type in Rift but this one stood out the most for me in my original play-through. Questing around the Iron Fortress was generally tough at the right level but these were hard little beasts and if you pulled more than one could easily end badly for you.

Centurion14. Centurion (City of Heroes/Villains)
The Cimeroran mobs required a rethink of our whole attack strategy, the shield defence was no laughing matter when used by multiple enemies in a group. However the toughest of all was the Centurion whose alpha strike could take huge chunks of a players health in one go, a tough job for the tank and more so for the healer.

3. Ak’ab (The Secret World)
Despite their telegraphed charge Ak’abs are a nasty pain the ass, they are the personification of mobstacle. I used to believe it was just that I was soloing and if I was part of a team things would be better, but they weren’t and encountering Ak’abs still causes a commotion.

209px-Mursaat_caster2. Mursaat (Guild Wars)
Ah the Mursaat’s ability “Spectral Agony” was an utterly horrid debuff that effected skill speed and applied a DoT along with a health regeneration debuff.
Of course there was a defense against it, namely Infusion, but it was a pain if one member of the team didn’t have it.

1. PPD SWAT Equalizer (City of Heroes/Villains)
Playing as a villain mean you got to experience fights against the Paragon Police Department, who between level 1 and 50 continued to gain in strength and abilities.
The PPD Equalizer was one of the most irritating mob members, with a powerset that focused on debuffing and crowd control you ignored these at your own risk.

#Blaugust #CityOfVillains

Respecification, or how I learned to love my build

Single player games often have many avenues if approach, if you play the game in a certain way you get an achievement, for example not killing any enemies, not losing any team members or completing on a certainly difficulty. What to play in a different fashion then you just head to the main menu and click New Game and try your hand at a different path, making the polar opposite choices to your last play through and most of the time this will earn a different achievement.

Torchlight 2 Achievements

Massive Multi-player Online games are strange as this re-rolling only happens at the players choice and generally not to try something slightly different on the same class. This is where Classes come in as being unique in that they offer a different wedge of the skill pie, but players don’t generally want to roll a new character to make a different skill selection.

Of course the investment of time can’t be compared to your usual single player title in the same manner.

The danger with skill selection is that’s it’s easy to pick a power that doesn’t work well for your build or perhaps in a group that power becomes obsolete. In Single player games your next skill point is just around the corner, yet with MMO games it could be a day or so away.

Enter the Respec.

This is achieved differently depending on the MMO, for some it’s an externally purchasable item using real world money or some cash-shop equivalent, certain games may not even offer the service.

I tend to prefer the respecs that are done in in the game doesn’t tend to break the immersion.

The Elder Scrolls Online lets you undo all skill points that have been spent, which depending on your level and how many skills you have, it costs 100gp for each skill, so 50 skill points will cost you 5000gp.

The City of Heroes\ Villains games achieved this in-game, Terra Volta Re-specification Trial for heroes, or Tree of Thorns Re-specification Trial for villains. These Trails could only be used to earn a respec 3 times. But they were also handed out after power set changes and you earnt them via the Veteran Rewards program. In a much later update you could be bought from the market ingame.

Star Wars The Old Republic allowed you to respec once a week for free, more could cost you credits.

Planetside allowed you to unlearn a skill once every 24 hours, additionally if the skill selected had any dependant skills those were also unlearned and the points freed up. After major skill changes full respecs were given out to player for use at any time.

For reference their are games that I have played that don’t offer a respec, The Secret World, Eve Online, Planetside 2 and Guild Wars stand out as being games that never really needed the functionality or it would undermine the mechanics of the game if implemented.

#Respecification #ElderScrollsOnline #SecretWorld #OldRepublic

Ability void

Secret World is a tough beast to wrestle, its open and welcoming skill system doesn’t hinder you or your progress when you start the game but as you progress the underlying system becomes apparent and your choices are almost funnelled towards a cookie cutter skills and builds.

This is frustrating as the skill system is a big selling point of the game and it does offer a lot of tweaking that can extend your powers in additional ways, such as more splash damage, extended chain attacks, healing boosts, inflicting conditions on enemies.

AbilityWheelIn our weekly group everyone has more or less finished the Blue Mountain area and has a build that they find comfortable playing in the group, even my healing build has a little damage output now as the team’s gear and skills are working well together.
However last night we took the plunge and pushed into the 3rd dungeon, this is where the choices made months ago at the start of your character really can hinder your options as the trinity role are needed and if you’re fun build isn’t quite right you’ll know about it.

The hike in trash mob toughness was the first thing that was noticeable. In the other 2 dungeons the trash mobs were nothing to write home about. In The Darkness War we soon found that we all needed to tweak our builds to counter the new threats. For me this was still well within normal operational parameters of a dungeon run.

  • We falter on the first hurdle as on the first wave hitting us @VanHemlock discovers his taunt isn’t in the ability bar, regardless of this we manage to reduce Batab Crusher’s health down before getting swamped with adds
  • A quick amendment to skill bars and we are off to the 2nd boss, only a “trash” mob aggros from the side of the path and the team take a nasty beating as we were very unprepared
  • We proceed to the next boss, Xibalban Bloodhound, a new mechanic is experienced but we find that a lack of DPS means that boss consumes more Mayans than we’d like. We defeat the boss on the second attempt, by this time it’s very clear that the dungeon isn’t very forgiving on the tank and by proxy the healers.
  • A quick respite and we are onto the 3rd boss Dark House Sorcerer, he hits hard but also has a lot of attacks that need the players to move a lot. We complete this first time with only the faint sound of the magic roundabout in our ears
  • Then we hit the wall with the Unbound Ak’ab boss, we took 1 run to learn the mechanics and adjust our builds.
    The 2nd run we attempted to draw the Ak’ab Hatchlings towards the edges but this didn’t end well.
    The Final runs we attempted to keep the boss and Ak’ab Hatchlings taunted in a group to one side, this wasn’t too bad other than keeping up the tanks health up, we didn’t lucky with some of the Ak’ab Hatchlings and they exploded near the support group and started chasing them.
  • At this point the set toppled and we wiped for the final time.

The biggest issue is that in TSW there is no respec, you can just earn more points, however that takes time and doesn’t undo the fact you spent 40 points on Chaos Magic only to never use it again.

This is fine for players who want to spend extra time grinding more ability points but for a static group with players that pop on 1 or 2 times a week this isn’t really a good place to be in.

In the future we shall run it again, with everyone in the right gear and with the skills needed to win, then we shall wonder why last time it hurt so much.

here is the final deck build that I was using on the last attempt [TSW Builder]

#TheSecretWorld #Dungeon #TSW