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Thread: DoM Gameplay Mechanics and Features Overview (upd: 24/12/2013)

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    Default DoM Gameplay Mechanics and Features Overview (upd: 24/12/2013)

    Fourth Age: Total War - Dominion of Men
    ~
    Gameplay Mechanics and Features Overview



    Preamble

    Ever since we set out to create the Dominion of Men, one of our main goals has been to create a unique experience for the player. What we perceive as a major shortcoming of most mods is that, if one takes away the different visuals and text, what remains is essentially the same, vanilla RTW experience in terms of how the game plays out. Our approach with DoM therefore has been to make its gameplay as unique and challenging as the engine we are working on allows. And although RTW is a 10-year-old game that most consider "finished" and fully explored, we believe that we have pushed its limits into new territory by including features in the mod that had been considered impossible. Apart from core features that take advantage of the engine's "hidden" capabilities, DoM also includes a plethora of other gameplay-related features and mechanics that aim to provide players with a challenging experience that feels both immersive and realistic. All these features are implemented without using background scripts, therefore being an intrinsic part of the game that does not cause either stability or performance issues and is dynamically used by the AI as well.


    Below follows a list of the features you can expect to see in Dominion of Men, divided in categories. Please note that some graphical elements in the accompanying screenshots are still WIP.

    Contents

    Core Changes & Balance - features that affect core game mechanics
    AI Improvements - while the AI itself cannot be edited, there are certain mechanisms that allow us to better guide it
    General Gameplay - major gameplay features, mainly centred around settlement-, building- and faction-related mechanics
    Traits & Ancillaries - character-based mechanics
    Miscellaneous - what it says on the tin




    Population-independent Provincial Development

    The game's AI cannot handle population effectively. It tends to recruit constantly when it can afford it, which leads to depopulated settlements that never reach the population thresholds required for settlement level upgrades, and as a result the AI has trouble getting access to better buildings and units as the campaign goes on. For that reason settlement development in DoM has been disassociated from population. All settlements start at their maximum possible level (large or huge cities), so that they are capable of eventually becoming fully developed regardless of their population. The role of measuring the development of a settlement and its surrounding province has been assigned to a new building line, called "Provincial Development", which of course is neither cheap nor fast to create. The different levels of that building line function as requirements for other buildings' upgrades, much in the way that government buildings and settlement levels do in vanilla, i.e. a building that was available only in large cities and above now requires level-4 Provincial Development.


    Image 1: Major Province, the last tier of provincial development for all settlements except Chief Cities, is expensive in terms of both time and money. Its requirement, the last tier of government building, exists at game start in all settlements (3rd building icon from the left, top row).




    Manpower and Population Control

    In order to increase the importance of "available manpower" as a factional resource - and tying in with the implementation of population-independent provincial development - population growth rates and limits in DoM have been carefully readjusted and are much more tight and controlled. Population booms and unrest caused by overpopulation are extremely rare and population growth is generally relatively low, so that endless recruitment is not feasible, as provinces require time to replenish their pools of "available population". Negative growth is now a very real possibility as well, especially during transitional periods where provinces change ownership, increase their development level without having created the necessary infrastructure, etc.


    Image 1: A newly conquered province suffering from decline of the able-bodied population available to the new owners as a result of the power transition and the lack of proper control.



    Merged Military Development

    In order to help the AI produce more balanced armies, Barracks and Stables have been merged into a single building line called "Military Development" (MD), which simulates the entire process of organising and maintaining a military presence in a province. Having most units recruited from a single building line alleviates the problem of the AI frequently recruiting inappropriately infantry-heavy or cavalry-heavy armies due to lacking infrastructure, especially during the early game, making its armies more formidable.


    Image 1: The first level of Rohan's Military Development, Control Posts, making available both foot and mounted militias.



    Advanced Unit Balance

    The stats of every single unit in DoM are automatically created using EDUmatic, a system developed by FATW that is now also used for other major mods, such as EB2. The system takes into account all kinds of information, ranging from armour materials, weapon types and animation speeds to unit recruitment classes, cultures and specializations, and combines them all in order to generate a balanced unit stats structure, based on the team's extensive research and discoveries around the workings of unit attributes in RTW. The result is a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get approach, where unit stats accurately reflect the unit's appearance and role, unit costs reflect their way of recruitment and equipment, and culture- or faction-specific variations are supported and guided by lore. Even more importantly, this system guarantees that all units' stats are consistent with each other, consistency being the key to giving players the feeling of well-balanced gameplay.



    Auto-resolve Balance

    The majority of battles during a campaign (all AI vs AI, and some AI vs player) is auto-resolved, making the particular mechanic very important. In its vanilla form the mechanic produces skewed results, because it underestimates the strength of certain unit types (e.g. cavalry or ranged) and overestimates the strength of others (e.g. multiple-HP units). In order to deal with this flaw, DoM uses an autoresolve-balance system, also present in TNS, which affects only the auto-resolve performance of units without affecting their behaviour on the battle-map. The auto-resolve performance of each unit can therefore be calibrated individually, to ensure auto-resolved battles with outcomes that reflect much more accurately what would happen on the battle-map.



    Income Balance

    The formulas used by RTW to calculate tax, trade and mining income have been deciphered and a new system has been created for DoM based on this knowledge and a bit of statistics. Trade resources have been carefully priced and placed on the map, trade-related building effects have been calibrated and appropriate universal effects implemented, in order to achieve our desired balance between tax-, sea trade-, land-trade-, and land-generated income. Campaign costs from construction costs to army upkeep are tailored to the new income levels to provide a much more balanced financial aspect of the campaign, without inescapable debt or infinite wealth.



    Functional Building-based Conditionals

    DoM features fully-functional building conditionals that do not cause CTDs or visual bugs. This allows us to have buildings with both effects and recruitment capabilities that automatically change depending on the current status of other buildings, instead of just simple requirements evaluated only when a building's construction begins. For example, let's take "Military Development lvl3", which requires the presence of the "Military Policy" building in order to be constructed. The way it usually works is that, if MD lvl3 is built and Mil. Policy is destroyed afterwards, the effects/units made available by MD lvl3 will remain available. In DoM, if Mil. Policy is destroyed, the capabilities introduced by MD lvl3 are automatically disabled and the building is essentially "downgraded" to "MD lvl2", i.e. the last level of the "Military Development" building line that can exist without Military Policy. This is of course expanded into other areas of gameplay and makes possible other mechanics that require dynamic updating of building capabilities.







    AI Destroys Useless Buildings

    A major shortcoming of RTW's campaign AI is that it does not destroy buildings. If a faction captures a settlement that has buildings which are useless or even damaging to it and beneficial to the previous owner, it simply lets them be. This is a big advantage for the player especially, who essentially suffers no long-term consequences for losing a settlement to the AI, as all his faction's buildings will be there when he takes it again. In order to counter this limitation, a new system has been implemented in DoM which makes the AI destroy any buildings it does not benefit from as soon as a province is stabilised (its official culture is not a minority). This has a very powerful impact, because losing a settlement even briefly can result in expensive, time-consuming buildings being destroyed and lots of money and time having to be invested again in order to rebuild.


    Images 1-2: The existing buildings upon capturing a province of the Empire of Harad with the Reunited Kingdom. The ones marked with red are useless/damaging to RK (Empire of Harad's Provincial Control, Empire of Harad's Military Development, Execution Square and Haradrian Culture Conversion).
    Image 3: Upon activating "Local Governance" (which lets the AI manage the settlement for the player), the buildings marked in red have been destroyed. No other buildings have been touched (Markets, etc.) as they provide bonuses for RK as well.
    Image 4: Reunited Kingdom builds some of its own faction- and culture-specific buildings, which are the three visible on the second slide of the building panel (Provincial Control, Military Development and Cultural Conversion).
    Image 5: The Empire of Harad retakes the settlement and immediately destroys only those three buildings.




    "Invisible" Provinces

    The AI in RTW occasionally has trouble "understanding" where actual borders are, which affects some of its diplomatic and strategic decisions (e.g. if it detects extensive borders with the player's faction, it is more likely to be aggressive and use its armies as patrols there). In order to deal with this issue, certain parts of the map, such as the Misty Mountains, Forodwaith, Wetwang, etc. have been turned into separate provinces that not owned by any active faction. The way those provinces are coded makes them essentially invisible to the AI, and helps it understand the map better. For instance, the regions of Rohan and Gondor no longer share a border along the White Mountains, which are now a province of their own. Their only border is Anórien/Eastfold, so the AI knows where it must defend and can make correct calculations when it comes to evaluating its relations with other factions. Furthermore, since the "White Mountains" province is invisible to the AI, it does not try to set "guard armies" or build watchtowers alongside it, but correctly spends its resources elsewhere.



    Impassable Areas

    Partially tying in with the invisible provinces mechanic, certain areas of the map have been made impassable without having impassable ground-types (mountains, dense forest), that distort its accuracy. This has been done in order to block access to areas of the map where the AI can get stuck on (e.g. small islands) or cannot navigate without getting "lost" (e.g. Forodwaith), but also to increase realism by blocking areas that would be unreasonable to see armies marching through (e.g. Dead Marshes).


    Image 1: A captain of the Reunited Kingdom unable to move into the marshland of the Dead Marshes or the Wetwang, even though swamp is normally an accessible ground-type. Dead Marshes and Wetwang are also two of the "invisible" provinces described above, so the AI does not try to interact with them in any way.



    Emergent and Horde Faction Targeting

    DoM features horde-capable factions. In vanilla the "desired" settlements that hordes target are relatively few and spread across the map in a way that results in most hordes either settling in an inaccurate location or being reduced to a few units before reaching their destination and being destroyed soon afterwards. In DoM specific, high-value settlements have been set as targets for hordes and spread across the map in such a way that a horde will have at least 2-3 desirable targets in relative proximity regardless of where it is formed. The exact target that each horde goes after, however, depends heavily on what happens in-game at the moment, thus adding a dynamic element into the equation.



    AI-specific Bonuses / Custom-tailored Campaigns

    Despite any manipulation of game features in order to help the AI, it remains a fact that it can not fully cope with the complexity of the game or be a match for the player, both on the campaign- and on the battle-map. For that reason AI factions in DoM receive small bonuses here and there, such as bonuses to public order and income or decreases in construction costs, which are tailored to the faction the player controls. For example, if the player controls the Reunited Kingdom, then Adûnabâr (as their arch-nemesis) will receive higher bonuses than the "default" ones, whereas Rohan (RK's ally) will receive slightly decreased bonuses. If the player controls Dunland, then it's Rohan that receives higher bonuses and so on. The starting conditions (treasury, armies, buildings, etc.) of the campaign will also differ based on which faction the player controls, with an aim to make the campaign more challenging for the player.







    Provincial Control

    When a province is conquered, it is not particularly beneficial to the new owner right away. Tax and trade income, public order and population growth are very low, recruitment is impossible and construction is either impossible or slow and expensive. In order to turn the newly conquered province into a useful part of the realm, the new owners must first establish a firm rule over it, by developing "Provincial Control" (PC), which is a new building line simulating the process of pacifying a province after its conquest, driving the remaining enemies away, stabilising it and establishing a loyal government. There are three types of PC buildings (Homeland Dominion, Fiefdom Dominion and Outland Dominion), each available to the faction's homelands/fiefdoms/outlands respectively. If another faction has already established PC in a province, then the new owners will need to destroy it before they can establish their own, but the transition period until the new PC is ready will not be entirely smooth; population growth, trade, taxation and public order will suffer. Expansion for both the player and the AI becomes slower as a result, and steam-rolling is curbed, since there is a delay between the time a province is conquered and the time it is both stable in terms of public order and productive in terms of recruitment and income.


    Image 1: A province without Provincial Control. Nothing is available for construction, public order is relatively low and population is declining
    Image 2: A province with the first level of Provincial Control, called Provincial Pacification. Income levels have dropped (maintaining the peace is costly), public order is better and the population decline is smaller.
    Image 3: Provincial Control has been established. Income levels have increased a bit, public order has improved and population levels have stabilised. Various development options have now become available.




    Over-extension

    While a faction controls a province where it does not have established Provincial Control, there is a mild drop in public order and income levels across its lands. These penalties increase with every such province, simulating the unrest caused by over-extension, i.e. controlling lands that have not yet been properly integrated into the realm. As soon as the faction establishes Provincial Control in a province, then the province stops generating those penalties and over-extension decreases. This simple system will slow down both the player and the AI, since rapid expansion can cause massive unrest.



    Empire Maintenance

    To simulate the increasing difficulty of efficiently managing a large kingdom, DoM features an "empire maintenance" cost, whereby each province held by a faction generates a small faction-wide penalty to tax income, the degree of the penalty depending on whether the province is a homeland, fiefdom or outland. Furthermore, every province where Provincial Control exists increases the time and cost required in order to establish Provincial Control in all other provinces. Therefore the more provinces a faction controls, the less money each one makes individually and the slower and more expensive integration of new territory becomes. As a result factions will be making less and less profit per province and expand with greater difficulty as they grow larger, therefore becoming less invincible and likely to steamroll smaller ones.



    Building Maintenance

    Most buildings in DoM have maintenance costs, meaning that every turn they are active, a certain amount is deducted from the province's total income. This is meant to simulate the expenses required for the upkeep of infrastructure and developments in a settlement, in contrast to vanilla, where once a building is paid for, it creates only profit. This system also provides balance during the province development cycle, in that a province slowly trades away some of its income in order to maintain buildings that produce other capabilities, such as public order, recruitment, higher growth or other forms of (usually higher) income. That way a fully developed province enjoys the benefits of having every available building constructed, but pays a hefty amount of money towards maintaining those benefits, so it can actually become less profitable than a less developed province from a financial perspective (unless it's a trading centre).



    Provincial Policies

    When it comes to developing their provinces, only Elves and Dwarves can develop all their provinces fully. Mannish factions must follow one out of three different policies, each one allowing certain buildings while restricting others. The available policies are Military, Administrative (only for Dúnedain and Haradrim) and Financial, while chief-cities have a special policy, Open, which allows full development. For example, a military-oriented province can have high-level Military Development, but can not upgrade its Markets or Places of Lore beyond the basic levels; financial settlements can have high-level Markets but low-level MD and Places of Lore; administrative settlements get high-level Places of Lore but low-level MD and Markets; and chief-cities can build everything. Allowing provinces to follow different paths gives each of them a distinct purpose and "personality", while creating the possibility for a variety of strategic and development plans. For example, a faction may have Military Policy provinces only on its borders, in order to increase the financial output of its interior, but if an enemy breaks through the border, the interior might not be able to raise strong enough armies for the defence. A faction that chooses a more military-oriented approach might find itself out-spent by the enemy or suffer by low public order, and so on.


    Image 1: The province has been developed as much as possible without a Policy established, and there are now 3 options.
    Image 2: The province opts for Military Policy and further upgrades to the Military Development and Places of Healing lines become available.
    Image 3: The province opts for Financial Policy and further upgrades to the Markets, Trade Ports and Places of Mirth lines become available.
    Image 4: The province opts for Administrative Policy and further upgrades to the Places of Healing, Places of Mirth, Places of Lore and Courts & Gardens lines become available.




    Culture as Religion

    The 3 alignments ("religions") of previous FATW instalments (Men of the West/Men of Darkness/Shadow Cult) have been replaced in DoM by 9 new alignments (local, cultic, elven, dwarven, dúnedanic, haradrian, northmen, barbarian, other), each one indicating a different culture - and, in the case of "local", creating unrest. Apart from being able to capture and represent the finer details of the cultural differences between provinces, the new alignment system is also tailored to create more balanced unrest levels, unlike the previous configuration. Instead of memorials, factions now have "Cultural Conversion" buildings, which not only increase the influence of their culture in a province, but in many cases function as prerequisites for the development of certain projects, such as Military Development.



    Cultic Domination Reforms

    The factions of Adûnabâr, Harad, Rhûn, and Dunland have the option to build shrines and temples of the Shadow Cult in their provinces, instead of their respective "cultural conversion" buildings, increasing its local conversion power and defining provinces as being "cultic". As long as the presence of the Cult within a faction is above a certain threshold (currently that is half of the faction's provinces), then the faction is considered to be under "cultic domination", losing access to its "regular" unit roster and gaining access to a cultic roster instead. Adûnabâr replaces all its units with cultic ones, while the other three factions maintain a core of native units, framed by cultic levies and elites. Depending on the faction, the replacement of units can change battle-map strengths, weaknesses and tactics to varying degrees. If the cultic presence within a faction diminishes (new non-cultic provinces are captured, temples in existing provinces are destroyed, etc.) then the faction returns to its native roster.



    Permanent "Forts"

    A number of settlements have been created around the map with very low population and no buildings available, but where high-level fortifications already exist, representing forts and strongholds. They usually control important areas, such as mountain passes, and also serve as retraining centres for local mercenaries, as long as their population allows it. Some of them have small villages in their vicinity, which provide a bit of income. A special case are the orkish strongholds, where Adûnabâr and Dunland can develop buildings that allow the recruitment of orkish troops, as well as Wargs and/or Trolls, where those are available. Provinces with such strongholds can be cleansed of Orcs and turned into "regular" mannish forts, which is an irreversible, expensive and time-consuming process.



    Resource-specific Industries

    In order to simulate that the successful exploitation of a resource is a gradual progress that requires a certain degree of know-how and infrastructure, DoM includes 11 different industry building lines, grouped into 4 categories depending on the type of goods they process. Each trade resource on the map can be fully exploited by developing and upgrading one of those industries and has an appropriate effect: some will increase income from trade, others will increase income from taxes and others will decrease the cost of construction or the cost of fortifications. Some developed industries will offer faction-wide benefits as well, making them particularly lucrative.


    Image 1: The province of East Lebennin and its city of Pelargir have abundant fish and timber, so the relevant branch of either the Animal Husbandry & Fishing or the Construction industry can be developed. Here tier-1 Carpenters have been developed.



    Trade-Harbour/War-Harbour Division

    A relatively minor change, ports in DoM have been split into trade- and war-harbours, the war-harbours being military expansions to the trade ones. Trade-harbours increase trade and make light ships available, but anything better than that will require a War-harbour. Those are available only in provinces with the timber resource and require Military Policy, so they are relatively rare.



    Province Specialization

    When a province reaches the final stage of Provincial Development, it can be specialized along one of various possible paths, the availability of which depends on available resources, existing infrastructure and active Policy. This provides greater diversification for the settlements within each faction and it enhances their role in specific areas. As an example, the Chiefdom of Rhûn may develop a Thrall Stockade in order to have a province rely upon cheap slave labour for farming the land and the construction of buildings, Fighting Pits in order to increase public order and gain access to Berserkers, Tributary Camps in order to bolster local manpower and gain access to local specialized units, and so on.



    Regional Buildings

    Every province on the map is considered part of a larger group of provinces called a region (e.g. Lamedon is one of the provinces of the region of Gondor). In each province there is an indestructible building identifying the region it belongs to, providing information about its geography and climate, its history, its inhabitants and their affiliations, as well as a list of the provinces/settlements that comprise it. Apart from providing lore-related information, the regional building, in combination with hidden resources, marks the identity of the province's native population and determines its core cultural alignment, faction loyalty and population growth regardless of the actual owner. So, for example, provinces belonging to the Harondor region will lean mainly towards the haradrian culture and to a lesser extent the dúnedanic one, they will be most loyal to the Principality of Harondor and the Empire of Harad and they will have the relatively high base population growth typical of Haradrim even if controlled by the Elves.


    Image 1: The Regional Information building of Barad-eden in the province of Gorgoroth, providing details about the region of Northwest Mordor.



    Non-mannish Homeland Scattering

    Provinces inhabited by Elves, Dwarves or Hobbits can be converted to mannish, simulating the withdrawal/removal of the native population and its replacement with mannish settlers, eventually and quite literally resulting in the Dominion of Men. For example, the Imladris province can be converted from "Elven Lands" to "Eriador Outlands". This is an expensive, time-consuming and irreversible process that will radically change the characteristics of the province: it will disable the recruitment of native units, increase population growth, unlock certain buildings, capabilities and units that are available only with mannish population (e.g. Farms) and change the populace-related effects (loyalty to certain factions, cultural conversion, etc.). Orkish strongholds, as explained in a previous section, can also be "cleansed" and turned into mannish.



    Non-mannish Factions Characteristics

    Non-mannish factions (Elves, Dwarves, Shire) are set in a "passive mode" and have certain distinguishing characteristics, in order to have a more lore-accurate behaviour. When controlled by the AI, they do not expand, they guard their provinces quite well, they focus on developing their settlements and they are not aggressive to other factions. They also do not suffer from revolts and can survive without family members. Those "perks", however, are offset by a number of other restrictions, such as limited recruitment, restricted access to certain buildings and very low population growth.



    Mannish Factions Characteristics

    All mannish factions in DoM have loyalty activated, but without having shadow factions. Settlements will become independent if they revolt, and generals can also go rogue along with their armies. If left unchecked, governors with enough power and not enough loyalty can also drive entire provinces to rebellion, while inept or disliked rulers can suffer from wide-spread, organised rebellions that can tear realms apart and cost them their thrones and lives. Losing a throne is not necessarily the end for a mannish ruler though, as every mannish faction can horde and survive without settlements. Rhûn and Khand can form large hordes of many armies multiple times, while other factions can form a one-army horde just once, simulating the ruler mustering all the loyal forces he can and escaping into exile, looking for an opportunity to re-establish his dynasty.



    Middle-earth Zones of Recruitment

    DoM features its own complex and immersive "zone of recruitment" system, whereby different areas provide access to different local units and the recruitment options available in a province vary depending on the owner. Factions have access to their own roster straight away only in their homelands. In all other provinces they initially have to rely on local levies, who are less than eager to serve in foreign armies, becoming able to train units from their own roster only if they build up their Military Development to a sufficient level, which is higher in outlands than in fiefdoms. For example, a level-2 Military Development in Gondor allows the Reunited Kingdom to recruit mid-tier units such as Gondorian Swordsmen and Bowmen, while the same building gives access only to Rohan Levies and Dúnedanic Militia in Rohan, and only to Footmen Levies and Skirmisher Levies in Near Harad. As a result, factions expanding further away from their own homelands need more and more time and money to recruit and retrain their own units and become increasingly reliant on weak, disloyal levies for their first-line defence. Additionally to the regular levies however, certain factions have access to special levies, called Assimilation Units, if they own and sufficiently develop militarily a chief-city belonging to a faction of a similar culture. Those units, who are loyal to their new masters, fight in the manner of their native people, providing a useful advantage on the battlefield by fulfilling roles that other units can not. For example, well armoured Retainer Longbowmen become available for Rohan in Minas Anor and sturdy Vassal Pikemen in Dunhold for Harad.



    Seven Cultures

    The extra culture slot of RTW has been incorporated and utilised in DoM, in order to allow us to enhance and complement a number of other mechanics. Not only does this seventh culture serve as the in-game culture of Hobbits, allowing us to give them their own culture-appropriate text, models and interface elements, it is also used as the generic catch-all culture of our "rebels", allowing us to determine effects, mechanics, construction and recruitment capabilities that apply only to them, in contrast to the usual practice. Furthermore, the implementation of the extra culture slot made available a number of slots for models, portraits and other bits and bytes of the game, which we have used to increase the mod's detail in various areas, such as adding more unique-looking settlement models, etc.



    Permanent Alliances

    Near-permanent alliances have been set up between RK-Rohan and Dale-Dwarves in DoM, in order to increase DoM's levels of lore-adherence. They are not completely permanent, as the player is allowed to break them at any time and the AI allowed to break them under very specific circumstances (e.g. Rohan might break alliance with RK, if RK attacks Elves), but other than that they are permanent and binding. While those alliances are active, one party will always declare war on the enemies of the other party and will even send military aid or request it. For example, Dwarves will automatically declare war on the enemies of Dale (and get a ceasefire with them when Dale does) and march armies through other factions' lands in order to help Dale, while Rohan will send reinforcements to assist RK in battle, if it has an army nearby, even if that army is not inside the battle-zone area.


    Image 1: Reunited Kingdom requesting the assistance of Rohan's heir, Baldor, in a battle against Adûnabâr even though his army is outside the zone of battle (RK is attacking Adûnabâr).
    Image 2: RK is at war with Harad, Dunland and Adûnabâr, and shares a special alliance with Rohan, who only fight against Dunland. If Rohan is not controlled by the player, it joins RK in all its wars the very next turn.




    Prohibited Alliances

    As another step towards increasing DoM's lore-accuracy, certain alliances are prohibited by default for AI factions. Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits will never ally themselves to Adûnabâr or any haradrian or barbarian faction while they remain on peaceful terms with the rest of the "Free Folk" (Elves, Dwarves, Shire, RK, Rohan and Dale). If there is a war between those factions and the "Free Folk" pact breaks down, then Elves, Dwarves and Shire are free to choose their diplomatic relations at will. The player is not bound by those limitations and can form alliances with anyone at any point when he controls Elves or Dwarves.







    Compact, Meaningful Character Profiles

    There are two main principles behind character traits and ancillaries in DoM: Firstly, that they should be meaningful and have an appreciable impact on the campaign, so that the whole aspect of characters is an integral part of the game experience and not peripheral to it. Secondly, that they should be relatively few in number, so that a quick overview can give the player the information needed in order to utilise each character correctly. Instead of cluttering a character's profile with a hundred trivial traits, we have opted for a depth-based approach, where there are relatively few traits on-screen for the player to see, but each one of them is based on a number of other, hidden traits and extensive monitoring of in-game conditions. This results in characters with tangibly different skills/deficiencies and "personalities" who are not interchangeable and increases the significance of how each one is utilised during the campaign.


    Image 1: A typical profile of a character, in this case being offered for adoption. The top 8 traits provide essential info at a glance: the character's skills at governing and commanding, as well as his personal attitude towards their various aspects. The next grouping of traits provides information on the character's background, and then follow other important traits such as his opinion of his liege and his supplies levels (not visible here).



    Origins System & Surnames

    As soon as a character enters the game, he is assigned a "province of origin", marking the province where he supposedly grew up. In the case of characters born into the faction origin is determined by the last settlement their father stayed in before their coming of age, while in the case of married/adopted characters a settlement is picked randomly amongst those owned by their faction at that time. Agents' origins are associated with the settlement/province they are recruited from. A character's origin plays an important role, as it effects the acquisition of various other traits down the line. Furthermore, in order to increase immersion, character surnames are no longer picked randomly from a list, like in RTW, but reflect their province of origin. So, for example, a character from Belfalas will have a faction-appropriate surname, such as "of Dol Amroth", "of Belfalas", "of Tirith Aear" (if an Elf) or "of the Sea-ward Tower" (if not an Elf), etc.


    Image 1: An agent has just been recruited from the settlement of Mornan in the province of Blackroot Vale. His surname accurately reflects his origins.



    Subcultures

    Each faction in the mod is divided into a number of subcultures, representing different ethnicities within it, and each of those subcultures is associated with various characteristics, which are generally typical of its members although they do not always apply. For example, some subcultures traditionally produce charismatic diplomats but poor commanders, others capable but xenophobic administrators, while others brave, but naive warriors. As soon as a character enters the game, he is assigned one of his faction's subcultures in one of two ways: if he is born into the faction, he inherits his father's; if he is married or adopted into it, his subculture depends on his origin, as each province has different probabilities of producing different subcultures for different factions. So, for example, Adûnabâr adoptees or sons-in-law with origin from the province of Lithlad have a high chance to be "Men of Nurn", a lower chance to be "Men of Gondor", even lower chances of being "Men of Arnor" and so on. This system means that the settlements controlled by a faction at various points during the campaign directly affect the kind of leaders and nobles in it. If, for example, the Reunited Kingdom loses her possessions in Eriador, then Men of Bree and Men of Arnor will become a rarity and so will their special characteristics.



    Subfactions

    Similarly to the subculture system, each faction also has a number of major and minor subfactions (houses/tribes) within it. Those are rarely associated with specific characteristics, but the subfaction a character belongs to plays an important role when it comes to prestige, loyalty, rebellions and succession. Characters born into the faction inherit their fathers' subfaction, while characters adopted/married into the family are assigned to one randomly depending on their subculture, though such characters usually belong to minor, unnamed subfactions. Additionally, children of adopted characters can also inherit the subfaction of their father's benefactor.


    Image 1: Background information of nobleman of the Reunited Kingdom, a Man of Gondor (subculture) and a member of the House of Belechtor (subfaction).
    Image 2: Background information of nobleman of Rohan, an Eorling (subculture) of the House of Elfhelm (subfaction).




    Consistent and Realistic Character Profiles

    In order to avoid the RTW shortcoming of characters often having a number of mutually conflicting traits, when a character enters the game in DoM, he is semi-randomly assigned values to a small number of core identity traits, influenced by his parents' traits, his race and subculture, and in some cases his cultural alignment or subfaction. Based on those core traits he is also assigned a number of primary personality traits. The combination of those "core" and "personality" traits is used for the acquisition of most other traits down the line, ensuring a rational, consistent and realistic profile for each character, without mutually incompatible or inappropriate traits.



    Provincial Lordship Titles

    In DoM each province on the map is associated with its own lordship title, which can be granted to a noble, naming him its lord. In order to be efficiently controlled and governed, a province requires its appointed lord to reside in its chief settlement and oversee its affairs. While this is the case he receives a number of benefits, such as bonuses to public order, income levels, unit recruitment, project development and protection against enemy agents, thus increasing the province's value as a part of the realm. A province still offers benefits to its owners without an appointed lord or if he is absent from his settlement, but it does not contribute to the faction's power at its full capacity, so it is a substantial, cumulative benefit for a faction if all its provinces have appointed lords who remain in their titled settlements. Children of noblemen with lordship titles have a claim to their father's title and if he dies holding it, the eldest amongst them without a title of his own inherits it. Characters with claims that are not satisfied tend to look less favourably upon their liege, especially if it is the liege who usurps their rightful title, which can have dire consequences.


    Image 1: A nobleman of Rohan who has been appointed Lord of the Westfold residing in his province's chief settlement.



    Succession Priority

    A new, immersive system has been implemented in DoM, to ensure that succession is neither random nor it depends on the acquisition of irrelevant traits and ancillaries, but that it follows realistic rules that fit the setting of the mod and each faction's "personality". For every character except the faction leader the role of the Influence attribute is to measure and determine his Succession Priority, which depends on three different factors. The first one is the character's parentage: the sons of the current heir, the sons of the current leader, the brothers of the current leader and the sons of the former leader have stronger claims (in descending order) to becoming the next heir in comparison to all other characters. The second factor is the character's subfaction affiliation: in certain factions there are houses/tribes that are viewed as traditionally ruling or traditionally high-ranking and characters from them have higher priority for succession, while in other factions there are no such traditions and the characters with higher priority are those belonging to the house/tribe currently in power. The third factor is the personal prestige of a character, which is divided into military and civic and depends on their skills as commanders and governors respectively. Finally, it is important to note that the significance of these three factors varies per faction. There are factions where one's military skills play little role in the succession, others where the subfaction one belongs to is unimportant, etc. This system results in succession that is both lore-friendly and adaptive to the game. For example, as long as there are characters of the Telcontar house in RK, then the throne will most probably go to the one amongst them that has the closest relation to the former king or else to the eldest male of the house. If the line is extinct, then the houses of Húrin (Princes of Ithilien) and Galador (Princes of Dol Amroth) will probably contend for the throne, since subfaction affiliation plays a major role in RK. In factions like the Chiefdom of North Rhûn, where military prestige is very important and only the current ruler matters, it is likely that the next heir will be a capable war-chief, possibly from the same house as the current ruler.



    Ruler Authority

    Another system has been introduced in DoM, in order to ensure that the fortunes of a faction during the campaign are intimately tied to and directly affect its ruler's authority. For the faction-leader the role of the Influence attribute is to measure and determine his Authority, which directly and significantly affects the effectiveness of his rule. A ruler's Authority generally mirrors how well his faction is doing and is affected by four different factors. Firstly, the length of his reign: the longer he sits on the throne, the more his rule will be accepted. Secondly, the status of his faction with regards to provinces: expanding his lands and controlling his faction's core settlements or other major settlements across the map boosts Authority, while losing territory and core settlements or having settlements under siege diminishes it. Another factor is the faction's finances: implementing low taxation, having a full treasury, and wise spending on infrastructure and military development are beneficial to Authority, while heavy taxation, empty coffers and spending only for army maintenance are harmful. The fourth factor is the diplomatic status of the faction: the more allies and the fewer enemies a faction has, the better for the ruler and vice versa, while relations that are viewed as inappropriate by the people (e.g. RK being at war with the Elves) will also damage Authority. Finally, rulers of factions with special relations will suffer Authority penalties if their ally/protectorate is long under siege, has lost core provinces or is destroyed during their reign. As with Succession Priority, different factions assign varying significance to each of those factors, meaning that attacking every neighbour in order to expand will boost the Chieftain of Rhûn's Authority, whereas it the same tactic will have the opposite effects for the Elven King, whose subjects care more about diplomatic relations than expansion.



    Liege Opinion

    One of our goals in DoM that has to do with both immersion and gameplay is to make the player feel less like an omnipotent god and more like the leader of a faction, ruling over various subjects who are not mere puppets mindlessly carrying out orders, but have desires and needs of their own. Every subject character in DoM has an opinion about his liege, which is influenced by a variety of factors, which include: the leader's Authority and his diplomatic skill, whether he belongs to a subfaction viewed as unfit to rule, the character's relations to him and the previous ruler (children like their father, royal princes like their brothers, sons of ex-leaders dislike new leaders), whether they share subculture, subfaction and alignment, whether they have similar or different personalities, as well as random positive/negative events between them, which sometimes result in rivalries or friendships. A subject character's opinion is also affected by his possession of a lordship title and the actual ownership of the respective settlement, the revocation of a lordship title, the leader's holding of a title the character feels entitled to and, if he is a lord, by the length of time he is kept away from his titled settlement and whether or not he is allowed to determine the taxation in his lands (and in case he is not, the tax level the leader sets). The system results in subjects who, on one hand lead their ruler's armies and govern his provinces, but on the other hand need to be taken care of and not constantly exploited as mere pawns. Managing one's vassals is not enough though. The ruler's authority plays a very important role too, meaning that problems can also arise due to territorial losses, financial trouble, diplomatic isolation or simply the succession of a new ruler to the throne, especially if he belongs to a subfaction viewed as unfit to rule. Ensuring that vassals have a high opinion of him is therefore a non-trivial task for the ruler, but it is also crucial. Vassals with high opinions can prove invaluable by encouraging soldiers to fight for their ruler and making sure their lands contribute generously to the royal coffers and armies, while displeased vassals tend to behave in the opposite way, making it harder to develop provinces, raise armies and convince soldiers to give their lives in battle.



    Functional Military Hierarchy

    Unlike RTW, where the command of an army with multiple characters always goes to the character with the highest command skill (or the faction leader, if present), a new system has been implemented in DoM that enforces a functional military hierarchy. Being the ruler or the heir, holding a provincial lordship title, holding a military office or some combination of the aforementioned awards characters with a specific military rank. When there are multiple characters in an army, the highest-ranking one will always assume command (and therefore affect the army with his particular skills or incompetencies) regardless of his actual skill. So, for example, if a provincial lord and a landless-lord who is the Captain of the Hosts are in the same army, the Captain of the Hosts will be the commander, even if he has inferior military skill. If the heir to the throne joins the army, then he will be the ranking officer and assume command, and so on.


    Image 1: A nobleman of RK holding the office of the Captain of the Hosts, giving him a high military rank and making him the commander of the army he is in, even though he is apparently a "Poor Commander".
    Image 2: His actual military skill, which can be seen on the pre-battle scroll, will matter in battle.








    Wonders & Marvels

    All 9 wonder slots of RTW are used in DoM to represent major landmarks on the map, such as the Argonath or the White Towers. Capturing a province with a wonder will not grant any bonuses immediately though. The two steps of establishing Provincial Control will each bring a small benefit to the faction, but in order to reap the wonder's benefits in full and beyond the local province, the owning faction will have to Exploit it. In addition to the 9 Wonders, there are various other lesser landmarks and structures in Middle-earth, such as the White Tree of Gondor or the Carrock, which usually exist in or nearby settlements and are thus considered captured as soon as a province is taken. These are called Marvels and may offer local or faction-wide bonuses to the factions associated with them - and in some cases to other factions as well.


    Image 1: The Pillar of Pharazôn, one of Middle-earth's 9 wonders, in the province of Umbar.
    Image 2: The renowned Beacon-hills of Gondor in Anórien, as a marvel in the settlement of Calenhad.




    Treasure Hoards

    Dwarven settlements have treasure hoards amassed, their size depending on the settlement's importance and wealth. Those can either be sold (destroyed) outright for a large price, or they can be left intact, generating a small amount of income over time, but also corruption if owned by people unaccustomed to dwarven riches. There is also a chance of finding smaller Troll-hoards in orkish strongholds. Rare and precious artefacts might come to light within hoards, as long as those remain intact.



    Unique Units

    At the beginning of the campaign certain factions have at their disposal a very limited number of unique and powerful units, which are retrainable, but not recruitable. If they are taken care of and their casualties in battle replenished, they can be a valuable asset during the course of a campaign. However, if such a unit is destroyed, it cannot be raised ever again. Mannish factions may train a non-unique, "lesser" version of their unit instead, but unique units of other factions can never be replaced in any way.



    Restricted Fleet Embarking

    In order to increase the strategic importance of ports and their locations on the campaign map, the player's armies are allowed to embark fleets only when these are docked in a haven, while disembarking is allowed everywhere. Having ports blockaded or destroyed can now seriously affect not only income, but also strategic movement on the map. This feature does not apply to factions controlled by the AI.


    Image 1: A captain of the Reunited Kingdom unable to embark a fleet while it is not docked in a haven
    Image 2: As soon as the fleet docks in Pelargir, the army can embark.




    Landmark Markers

    Every known mountain, river, forest, swamp, island or other feature of Middle-earth that is not otherwise represented is marked on the map with a special feature marker. Only the feature's name is visible on the map by default, but activating the marker opens a brief description with geographical and historical information about the particular feature; a sort of in-game encyclopaedia for those eager to sharpen their knowledge of Middle-earth's geography.


    Image 1: Information about the landmark of Gladden Fields.
    Image 1: Information about the landmark of Dol Tarlang.




    "Force Diplomacy" Script

    A "force diplomacy" script has been implemented in the mod, which allows the player to force the AI to accept his very next diplomatic proposal. This is customarily used by players to make the AI accept beneficial proposals that would normally be rejected due to flaws in RTW's diplomatic system (e.g. when the player offers a ceasefire to an enemy that's being obliterated, and the AI rejects it). Every time the script is used, a randomly varying amount cash is removed from the player's treasury as a cost for this action, simulating "oiling the wheels" of the target faction's diplomacy. Usage of the script is completely optional and at the player's discretion.



    "Peace with the Dead" Script

    A "peace with the dead" script has been implemented in the mod, which resets the diplomatic relations between dead and alive factions to "neutral", since the game does not do this on its own. For example, if faction A is allied to faction B and at war with faction C, then B cannot ally itself with C. If A dies, there should be nothing preventing B and C from being able to ally, but the game forgets to "cancel" the alliance between B and the now dead A, which results in B and C being unable to ally for the remainder of the campaign. The script, the activation of which is requested from the player whenever a faction dies, fixes exactly this issue. Using the script is completely optional and at the player's discretion, but it is encouraged, as its function improves an important aspect of campaign gameplay.


    Last edited by Aradan; December 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Aikanár's Avatar Darth Moped
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Gooorn I say, pretty woody old chap!


    Son of Louis Lux, brother of MaxMazi, father of Squeaks and Makrell, house of Siblesz

    Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

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    Beorn's Avatar Equites Alares
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Very interesting read, Aradan! Looking even more forward to the actual release

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    Thangaror's Avatar Princeps
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Woah, that's so awesome stuff! We will get a whole new mod!

    Quote Originally Posted by Aradan View Post

    Provincial Control

    Before any construction or recruitment can take place, a form of provincial control must be established by the province owner, simulating pacifying the province after its conquest, driving the remaining enemies away, stabilising it and establishing a government. In order to do that the previous owners' provincial control must be destroyed. Don't expect the transition period to be entirely smooth; population growth, trade, taxation and public order will suffer during it.
    Seriously, can you read my mind? Similar system I've implemented in my mod.

    Treasure Hoards

    Dwarven settlements have treasure hoards amassed, their number/size depending on the settlement's size and wealth. Those can either be destroyed/sold for a large price, or they can be left in tact, generating a small amount of income over time. There is also a chance of finding smaller Troll-hoards in orkish strongholds.


    Permanent Forts

    There are several settlements around the map with very low population and no buildings available, but where fortifications (usually high level) already exist. Those 'forts' usually guard important areas/passages, and also serve as retraining centres for local mercenaries (as long as their very low population allows that). Some of them have small villages in their vicinity, which provide a bit of income.


    Landmark Markers

    Every known mountain, mountain-range, river, forest, swamp, island or other feature of the map has a marker on it with its name, which you can either see when you mouse-over the model or is visible all the time, depending on the preferences settings. Just a visual treat for those eager to sharpen their knowledge about Middle-earth's geography.
    Love that!

    Although I don't need Landmark Markers, for sure!


    Fiefs

    Each region may be organised into one or more fiefs (eg Gondor has the fiefs of Pelennor, Lebennin, Lamedon, Belfalas, etc), each fief including one or more provinces. There is a lordship title for each province and for each fief, with appropriate benefits. Lords that stay in their fiefs will receive
    Will receive?


    Quote Originally Posted by Aikanár View Post
    Gooorn I say, pretty woody old chap!
    No Python quoting!
    Last edited by Thangaror; April 01, 2012 at 02:26 PM.
    I would rather have a memory that is fair but unfinished than one that goes on to a grievous end.

    Middle-earth: Total War - Hérë Pelarcíryarwa - WIP Second Age mod


  5. #5
    Bull3pr00f de Bodemloze's Avatar Occasio mihi fertur
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Very intriguing. It'll definitely add more "flavour" to the campaign; can't wait to play!

    Of a lot of these things I can think of the mechanics behind those features, of some I simply can't and will have to wait until release

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    Aradan's Avatar Flame Imperishable
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Thangaror View Post
    Woah, that's so awesome stuff! We will get a whole new mod!
    That's the goal.

    Seriously, can you read my mind? Similar system I've implemented in my mod.
    Well, it's not *such* an original concept. The implementation is what makes it original, because it's faction-specific, with 3 variants per faction, and still only takes up 1 building tree and displays fine on the browser. No player will of course care for any of that, but I do, plus it's such a satisfaction to have more buildings in DoM than TNS and yet still have a dozen unused EDB slots.

    Most of these ideas had been concepts in my mind for a long while now, but thinking about them and implementing them in the best way possible and without any bugs/kinks are two quite different things.


    Will receive?
    Fixed.



    If someone wants a feature that's not on the list, please share, cheers.

  7. #7
    Stark1's Avatar Cornicularius
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    These new features sound revolutionary! I've never seen anything similar in a RTW mod.

    I was slowly getting bored with EB and wanted to return to Middle-earth, but now I really can't wait for release.

  8. #8
    Blatta Optima Maxima's Avatar Definitely banned
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    EPIC!

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    Agent007's Avatar Vexillifer
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Very-really-mega awesome. Job well done!

  10. #10
    Jagmodo's Avatar Hastatus
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Wow! I’ll have to learn playing this mod from the beginning. Difference will be astonishing! When the DoM is released, I will be condemned to life only between university, and my laptop. Good bye sunshine... gollum. Provided shock from seen doesn’t kill me. And I am sure Aradan something spectacular kept as a surprise. I hope I will survive inevitable heart attack.

    Or, maybe this all new features are well planed and wicked first April joke.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aradan View Post
    Non-mannish Faction Characteristics
    ...can survive without family members...
    Hmm, will this be the solution for the aging problem? There will be no elven, dwarven and maybe hobbiten family members?
    Last edited by Jagmodo; April 02, 2012 at 04:16 AM.





  11. #11
    Aradan's Avatar Flame Imperishable
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Nah, we're still going to have elven and dwarven FMs. Would be boring without, I think.

  12. #12
    Jagmodo's Avatar Hastatus
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Hahaha, you could not make this mod boring even if you remove half of the announced new features. But you are right, family members give to gameplay interesting flavour, and would be less fun without. And the interesting “thingies/retinues” too.





  13. #13
    Beorn's Avatar Equites Alares
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Strange day it seems that was chosen for the announcement of the "features", isn't it

  14. #14
    Gen. Chris's Avatar I'm watching you...
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Yeah...Better not be an April Fools prank...

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    Aikanár's Avatar Darth Moped
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    Strange day it seems that was chosen for the announcement of the "features", isn't it
    Quote Originally Posted by Gen. Chris View Post
    Yeah...Better not be an April Fools prank...
    Darn they figured it out Aradan, now you've to reveal what your WIP Feature progress really is like:

    Last edited by Aikanár; April 02, 2012 at 06:36 AM.


    Son of Louis Lux, brother of MaxMazi, father of Squeaks and Makrell, house of Siblesz

    Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

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    Aradan's Avatar Flame Imperishable
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Damn...

  17. #17
    Éorl's Avatar 42
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    No April Fool's - that'd be an even worse one than the one they pulled (or botched, kinda) on TWC a few days ago. Nice preview, Aradan (and I finally don't have to allude anymore to the devilries Aradan has hatched in his coding dungeon during the past months).
    I read this so called Bible, and found it to be a third rate story in which this so called 'jesus' is nothing more than a shameless lampooning of Brian, which has inspired joy and laughter in millions.
    -unknown YouTube user

  18. #18
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    C'mon, Eorl, I watrying to pesuade Aradan telling that's an April Fool's joke for a while; I dunno how the others would react, but I would laugh to death

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    Éorl's Avatar 42
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    Ah, well, you should've communicated with me, too, then .

    Also, I think no one would've believed it was a joke...
    I read this so called Bible, and found it to be a third rate story in which this so called 'jesus' is nothing more than a shameless lampooning of Brian, which has inspired joy and laughter in millions.
    -unknown YouTube user

  20. #20
    Beorn's Avatar Equites Alares
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    Default Re: The Official WIP Features Thread

    C'mon, they believed what "happened" to TWC, which was the worst-made-prank-ever

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