Many RPGs pride themselves on an in-depth character creation system; whether it be molding your best cartoony self in Saints Row or adjusting every last facial detail in Dragon Age Inquisition. There’s something for every gaming enthusiast out there. Soulbound Studios’s upcoming MMORPG Chronicles of Elyria boasts more features in their character creation system than many of its modern-day counterparts. I’m about to take a look at a few that were discussed in an early design journal.
For those who haven’t been tracking the game’s progress, Chronicles of Elyria’s Kickstarter campaign is currently sitting at just over $1,020,000 with two weeks to go. Usually, Kickstarter campaigns have a major surge in funding in the first and last few days, with the middle stretch being quite stale. Chronicles of Elyria’s campaign seems to be no exception, but with the addition of multiple stretch goals about a week ago; I don’t doubt that their funding will continue to grow and maybe even surpass the $2 million dollar mark.
Numbers and estimates aside, in this article I’m going to delve into everything from surnames to how stocky or thin your character is going to look. Once again—as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve had a chance to peruse Cliqist’s Chronicles of Elyria series—Soulbound Studios seeks to take its game mechanics in an unorthodox direction, simultaneously defying convention and raising expectations. They’re planning to do exactly that with its character creation system. First off, you won’t be able to mold your character’s face from scratch; Soulbound Studios is intending to implement the “parents” mechanic similar to GTAV Online’s character creator.
For those who haven’t checked out GTAV Online, you’re able to choose a set of parents that will determine what your character’s face ends up looking like. In Chronicles of Elyria, when sculpting your facial features you’ll be constrained by restrictions set by the randomly sampled DNA from your parents. The facial features you’ll be able to play around with aren’t far from the norm: hair, eye, skin color, height etc. This ties in with the game’s family system, where traits are passed down from generation to generation so that members of a certain family tree resemble one another. This will also factor into the world as a whole, as Soulbound Studios has added in their design journal, “characters who hail from one region of the world will be easily identifiable by others”. For example, “noble Houses can become well-known for a specific set of physical traits, such as auburn hair and green eyes.”But what if you don’t like the restrictions set in place by the game? What if you want jet black hair and hazel eyes but all that won’t jive with your parents’ genetic code? You may have to take your chances on a one-time re-roll. The re-roll resets your parents’ DNA and gives you a “second set of constraints”, but that’s it. The second time is the only time, and you can’t go back to the first set of constraints either, so choose wisely. You may however be given the eyes of your dreams with certain mutations the second time around—for example, Soulbound Studios has suggested the possibility of albinism (red eyes and white hair).
I’m presuming there will be people en masse—myself included—who won’t be happy with the first set of DNA nor the second. For that reason, I’m even willing to bet that post-release, Soulbound Studios will implement some sort of face changing shop or at least the purchase of re-rolls.
Your character’s race will also affect the way you look. As Elyria is a vast world with varying climates and ways of life, there are inevitably a multitude of races that have adapted to the environments they reside in. As the environments vary, so do the “resistances and starting attributes” of different races.Soulbound Studios have provided the example of forest dwellers, “sheltered from the harsh rays of the sun” while the “constant climbing and the relentless noise of the jungle forced the inhabitants to become both strong and alert.” Desert dwellers, au contraire, “were frequently exposed to the harsh, unforgiving sun and had to survive long periods of time with little water. Large birds of prey didn’t differentiate between Mann and other food, and occupants of the world’s deserts were required to travel in and out of the open quickly.”
Thus, those born into a family of forest dwellers will start off with “higher than average strength and intuition”, while those born into a family of desert dwellers will instead have “increased agility and stamina.” There will be many other dynamic races that evolve as the game goes on and new families are created, as well as a bevy of starting attributes to shape your character’s abilities. Starting skills—which include smithing, combat skills and the like—are determined by your parents’ occupations. Soulbound Studios provides the example of someone growing up in the household of a blacksmith and a carpenter: he/she will most definitely be “handier with a hammer and chisel than say someone who grew up with two tailors.”
Of course, your character’s body type is a whole other can of worms. Not only will your overall size and musculature be influenced by your parents’ DNA, you’ll literally be shaped by the lifestyle you choose to lead in-game. This opens up a variety of possibilities: a blacksmith or a cook may end up on the “portly” side, due to a rather “stationary” lifestyle, while a warrior who engages in regular physical combat will look “lean and strong.” I doubt very many will end up playing as a “book worm, wandering bard, bartender or innkeeper”, but if you do, Soulbound Studios adds that “your character’s appearance will match [those] occupations as well.”You’re probably wondering right now; will there also be constraints when it comes to picking my character’s name? The answer is yes—and no. You’ll have a chance to change your “given name” once, if you are 18 years of age or lower (in-game, that is), but your surname comes directly from your family. Family ties and dynasty are important in Chronicles of Elyria and are closely intertwined with reputation and fame. You’ll have a few opportunities to change your surname: if you “develop a new village and in most cases when you’ve completed a server first or server-once achievement.” Soulbound Studios gave the example of being the first to slay a Daemon, your “line” may then change to House DaemonBane. They’re also planning to implement various other “crafting, adventuring and humorous achievements solely for the purpose of allowing you to take on new Surnames.”
Stay tuned for more on Chronicles of Elyria! You can track the game’s progress in our Campaign Calendar.