Fungeons And Dragons: Project Eternity’s Strongholds

By Nathan Grayson on September 5th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

Are you ready for a painfully tired joke? Oh man, you’d better sit down for this one. That way, you won’t be able to throw your chair at me. OK, here goes: we haven’t heard anything substantial about Project Eternity… in an eternity. Urgh. I told you it would be painful. It really has been a while, though, so let us excitedly giggle and wriggle over Obsidian’s breakdown of the modern hopefully-classic’s stronghold system. You can tax people! And imprison them! And somehow still be a “hero” I guess! Videogames!

In short, the stronghold is your main base of operations, and you can refurbish and upgrade it to grant you all sorts of special options and abilities. Resting stat bonuses, crafting ingredients, special offers from rare visitors, bonus adventures for idle party members, and wealth via taxation of surrounding lands are just a few of the bullet points. Also, you can cram your enemies in dungeons, thus making Project Eternity probably the only game ever to use dungeons as they were actually intended.

“If you have cleared the dungeon and built a prison under your stronghold, then when you are fighting some of the named NPC’s in the game, you will be given an option to take them prisoner instead of killing them. Prisoners are kept in a cell in your prison, where you can visit them and talk to them, and occasionally use them as leverage later in the game. But you will need to keep your security level high, or you might suffer from a prison break.”

Your stronghold can also come under attack, at which point you can rush back and hold down the fort or rely on pre-prepared defenses and hope for the best. That might leave your troops dead/on fire/with a series of uncomfortable bruises, however, so it’s not always the best option. It really depends on the size and level of the attacking force, though.

Sounds like a neat addition to me – at least, so long as there’s not too much micromanagement involved. I mean, sure, adventuring is great, but it’s like they say: home is where your captive-overstuffed underground prison is. What do you think, though?

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71 Comments »

  1. Squirly says:

    I really like the idea and it’s a first for the genre, from what I can tell. But yeah, like Nathan says, if it results in a bunch of micromanagement that detracts from my adventuring I’ll probably get annoyed sooner or later. Here’s hoping that they either give us an option for letting the AI handle it resulting in no special bonuses (and no horrible penalties forcing us to handle it personally ALL THE TIME) and maybe a little bonus if you DO handle it personally. That could work.

    • RedViv says:

      Not quite a first, as they are taking the basics of NWN2′s keep and expanding them greatly. Doesn’t detract from the size of the endeavour though.

    • Orvidos says:

      Baldur’s Gate 2 had strongholds somewhat like this, though in-depth in other fashions.

      • mouton says:

        Yup, and it was one of the best elements of that game. Especially when they were different kinds for different kinds of characters, coming with their own dedicated quest lines. I mean, teleporting your Magical Sphere Castle of Magic to Baator? Yes please!

    • iridescence says:

      Personally, I welcome the micromanagement. Hell, if they do it well this might be my favorite part of the game. Castle sim within a larger RPG? Yes please!

      Would be fine if they let you hire an NPC to do it if you don’t want to but doing it yourself should still give some advantage.

    • satsui says:

      There’s a pretty decent game called Hinterland that does this. It’s a shame that the game is so limited because it has a lot of potential.

  2. BTAxis says:

    But can you romance the characters you imprison?

    • HighlordKiwi says:

      That’d be Crusader Kings… if by romance I mean ‘take as concubine’. I do wonder if that’s the evillest button I’ve ever pressed in a computer game?

      • Sorbicol says:

        Nah the evilest button ever pressed is still the ‘launch Nuclear Missile’ button in Civ. That never ends well.

        • GiantPotato says:

          Is that worse than the “nerve staple” button in Alpha Centauri?

        • morgofborg says:

          Master of Orion 2 has a destroy planet button.

      • Jonfon says:

        “Glathaax the Impaler* is now your concubine”
        I believe the Princess Leia style bikini will be available as DLC.

        *Steady, get your mind out of the gutter.

      • Shieldmaiden says:

        Nah, it’s not even the evillest button in CK2. I say this as someone who once murdered babies to ensure that her grandson would be king of Norway.

        • RedViv says:

          That. Eudocia III., having reconquered almost the entirety of glorious Rome’s empire, turned very, very Cersei in her later years.

        • soulblur says:

          Were the babies you killed your own grandchildren as well? Cause that’s how things played out in my playing of the Shiate Caliphate. I think by the time I stopped playing, I’d killed between 200-300 male members of my own family.

          What I do, I do for the good of the state.

        • mouton says:

          Murdering babies is quite normal in CK2. I mean, hello? They got titles you want.

      • Orvidos says:

        Oh you mean the “Monday Morning” button.

      • MarkB says:

        Crusader Kings II turns people into monsters. If we were to make a top 5 evilest videogame buttons it would make a very strong showing.

      • GernauMorat says:

        What about ‘execute prisoners’ in Medieval 1? It had a lovely throat slashing and tumbling body sound effect

    • lanelor says:

      A good RPG should allow the PC to be him/herself. Why be a chaotic evil if the worst thing you can do is to demand payment for services rendered.

      So. Romance? In my stronghold? Bah! The questions for me is, can it be skipped, or this is another “me good paladin” game?

      • The Random One says:

        A good RPG is an RPG that is enjoyable and engaging. Some manage that by allowing great character customization and letting the player write their own story. Some manage that by having a strong story with a strong character the player controls, as if one was playing a role in the story. And some walk the middle path. But all of them are real Scotsmen.

      • Psykhe says:

        I kinda doubt that the purpose of a Role Playing Game is to play as yourself. The whole point of them is to *not* be yourself.

        I agree with you though in that extend that a good RPG should allow for a wide variety of player actions, including the evil overlord one.

  3. Dariune says:

    I really like the idea. I don’t even mind a bit of micromanagement as long as it is done well.

    I would like there to be choices involved now. Not just a “You can build it all if you have the gold” but to be limited by space or time or something. So that if I built my mage tower I wouldn’t be able to build my exploding goblin workshop or something to that effect.

    All in all. This game does look to be shaping up really nicely so far (Touch wood)

    Edit: Apparently I get Their and there unknowingly mixed up

    • soulblur says:

      On the other hand, I always find artificial upgrade choices like “mages tower or goblin lair” a little frustrating. It’s my castle, right? It’s not like the castle planning inspectorate is going to come after me. If they want to constrain castle development, they should just make it very expensive, as opposed to somewhat expensive. After all, castles do cost a lot to build and run. Fable 3 had the worst implementation of this model, where all difficult choices can be solved by having lots of money (and it’s incredibly easy to make lots of money), but it doesn’t need to be like this.

      I think it’s exciting. Possibly the thing I am most looking forward to in Project Eternity. I loved NWN2′s stronghold-related game. And DA:O Awakening’s as well. Those were really well implemented. You could massively upgrade everything, but only if you were really willing to commit to fully exploring the gameworld – which I was happy to do anyway.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Yeah but then it starts to feel meaningless. “Should I build the dwarf friendly lavatory or the mage’s torture chamber? Oh who cares I’ll build the rest later!”

        It’s not a choice if you get it all.

        • Volcanu says:

          Clearly the bespoke toilet every time. Unless you want to run the risk of having to wade through dwarven effluence every time your human character wants to use the garderobe.

          Speaking from personal experience, nothing makes one feel less lordly quite like scraping pancaked dwarf stool off one’s boots with one’s bastard sword+2.

          • soulblur says:

            It’s still a choice if you have to work for it. Like fully upgrading the Normandy and crew in ME2: it took some doing, and some people couldn’t be bothered. But if you invested, getting a perfect survival rate was possible. And that felt like an accomplishment.

      • xsikal says:

        In my opinion, the better way to create an either/or building scenario is to tie it to rare resources that make sense in the context of the game. So, instead of each building just being really expensive, they could both require a rare element or resource that you’re unlikely to get more than one of (until very late in the game, if at all).

        It still allows for the same branched progression, but ties it a little more into the world itself, rather than a system that says ‘you can only build a tower or a stables in that spot, and you cannot build the other one elsewhere, despite all the obviously available level ground surrounding your stronghold.’

        Edited to fix typo of stringhold back to stronghold, although the idea of a player base made entirely out of string does have merit.

  4. Zekiel says:

    I don’t think I can quite take the idea of people surrendering in combat. Surely enemies inevitably fight to the death? What kind of nonsense is this?!

    • Sandepande says:

      It is obvious that Project Eternity isn’t big on realism. I mean, dungeons being used as prisons? Humbug, I say.

  5. Anthile says:

    The stronghold system in Baldur’s Gate 2 (Bioware) was oddly elaborate. Almost every class got its own unique one, including the bard and the ranger. Clerics even got three slightly different ones, depending on alignment. Fighter-types got the castle and yes, you got taxes from it so that’s not exactly new.
    In Neverwinter Nights 2 (Obsidian) you got some old castle in disrepair and you’re supposed to fix it for the incoming invasion. It’s oddly elaborate in its own way because it’s almost a game in itself. You’ve got taxation, securing your lands, drilling your troops, equipment, fortifications, random events and occasionally you got to choose between two buildings. There’s a lot of numbers and it’s quite the time as well as money sink. Ultimately the actual effects on the gameplay and story are dubious at best and the only thing that really seems to matter is getting more vendors.
    Dragon Age: Awakening (Bioware) almost entirely adopted the stronghold system from NWN2. Generally less fiddling with numbers and a bit more rewarding but in the end it really mostly affects the epilogue.
    I think the oldest example might be the classic Might & Magic IV: Clouds of Xeen from 1992. The plot basically revolves around your party trying to get your hands on the only weapon that can harm the villain but it has been buried under the ruins of Newcastle (I wonder if the developers ever realized it’s actual name?) and you spend most of the game hunting after so called “mega credits” which allow you to restore parts of the castle. There are actually more mega credits in the game than you need which means you can skip entire dungeons if you feel like it. It’s all very basic and there isn’t much to do with the castle beyond having all the best vendors in one place.

    • Zekiel says:

      I am seriously worried that Project Eternity is going to be:
      a) An awesome spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate 2
      b) Far too big for me to ever play properly now that I am an Adult with Responsibilities

      :-(

      • iridescence says:

        Play it an hour or 2 a day for a few months? Not like you have to finish every game in a week.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          But when we were younger whippersnappers playing Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 they consumed our thoughts throughout the day. An hour or two? Sure, but when we shut the game off it’s onto other, more important priorities. It’s just never going to be like BGII because of that.

          • Jonfon says:

            It’s never going to be like BG2 for me because I actually know about this game beforehand. Somehow with BG2 I managed to buy it without knowing anything about it whatsoever (other than it was an AD&D game), which was completely brilliant. I managed to sort of stumble across one of the finest games ever made by accident. I’d never played BG1 or heard of Bioware or Black Isle.

          • Zekiel says:

            Absolutely this. I was (unhealthily) obsessed with BG2 for ages. It was a game with so many possibilities…

            Also my Adult Responsibilities preclude me playing even an hour or two a day. Even if I managed to put in 6 hours a week, I wouldn’t have time to play anything else.

            (Sorry I appear to be being a grumpy old man. With a lot of nostalgia for BG2!)

          • InternetBatman says:

            @Jonfon Pretty much this. The first game I ever bought was Thief the Dark Project, then Unreal Tournament and Fallout 1 in the same trip. Next came Fallout 2. It was really a letdown when I found out that all games aren’t like that.

          • Volcanu says:

            @ Internet Batman

            Im with you there. I started PC gaming around that time and there were just so many fantastic games coming out that I assumed that would be the state of PC gaming forevermore. It really was the PC’s golden age as far as I’m concerned.

            Unfortunately my expectations have been set unrealistically high as a result. The quality & quantity of decent major PC releases just seemed to fall off a cliff after Half Life 2.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            “InternetBatman says:

            @Jonfon Pretty much this. The first game I ever bought was Thief the Dark Project, then Unreal Tournament and Fallout 1 in the same trip. ”

            Jesus christ, I feel old after reading that!

    • MasterDex says:

      Newcastle is actually a very common name for towns around Europe. Obviously, Newcastle-on-Tyne is the most well known but here in Ireland we have several.

      • Jake says:

        I imagine it’s a similar situation to when you make a new folder in windows and forget to rename it. You have Newcastle and then later Newcastle (2) and so forth. Eventually you just need to think of a more original name for your castles.

  6. enyv says:

    If Project Eternity ends up being even half as good as promised, it will be the messiah of modern gaming for me. That said, this particular topic is one where I was hoping for something different. This game prides itself as being a spiritual successor to the BG games, and frankly, I think the stronghold system in BG2 was better conceived. (Although I haven’t actually played PE yet, so my opinion might change in the future.)

    As it stands, it sounds like the stronghold feature in PE will be elaborate and highly detailed, requiring much attention on the player’s part. However, there’s only one of it, meaning that by your third playthrough you will have managed your stronghold so much that you’re probably going to be pretty much sick of it. On the other hand, in BG2 strongholds were simple, easy to “manage”, and you had a good couple of them to choose from (depending on your class/classes). You see where I’m going with this?

    In case not: replay value.

    • Zekiel says:

      I thought the BG2 strongholds were actually hit or miss. If you were single-classed you had no choice about which one you got, and some of them were rubbish – the thief one in particular was really dull, and the paladin one was just a trio of extra quests, no stronghold (I know, lore reasons.. but still, it was disappointing). I think the cleric ones were just extra quests too if I recall. The druid grove one required you to walk across an entire wilderness map every time you visited it. Cripes.

      What it did have was replayability. I think there were eight different strongholds – enough to keep you going for a LOT of replays!

      It sounds like PE might have some differences – e.g. whether you build an add-on that increases your Strength or your Lore. Plus there’s the possibility that if you choose not to increase your security you’ll get different (bad) events to have if you do. So I wouldn’t rule out replayability – just obviously not as much as BG2.

      But I’ve never played a game that had the replayability of BG2.

      • Jonfon says:

        Honestly I don’t remember once scoring a stronghold in BG2, even after a few replays.

        Which is pretty cool I guess. I played hundreds of hours of that game and yet still didn’t mange to plumb all of its depths.

  7. The Dark One says:

    Josh Sawyer has said that the strongholds will be optional, so I guess you can skip them if you’ve got fulfilling life experiences eating into your game playing time.

  8. dolgion1 says:

    Dungeon Keeper was a fine game where you use dungeons as…dungeons. Yes. Don’t forget!

    • RedViv says:

      Dungeons that had to have prisons installed inside of them. [Insert meme here]

      • Horg says:

        Yo dawg we heard you like dungeons so we put a dungeon in your dungeon so you can detain while you restrain.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Nooo. In that game you use dungeons as everything.

  9. gunny1993 says:

    Can I put people in my dungeon … then tax them for dungeon upkeep, Goblin rent, ect,ect?

    • Jonfon says:

      You’re planning to rent out Goblins?

      I’m scared to ask why.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Contract work, they’re terrible carpenters but damn are they fast.

    • BTAxis says:

      I’m told this was actually how prisons used to be run back in the day. Prisoners had to pay for their stay, and those who could not ended up in debtor’s prisons.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Typical, I come up with a hideous thing to do to a human being and it’s already been done.

  10. golem09 says:

    This sounds like what DA3 has been teasing as the camp replacement.

    • Jonfon says:

      In DA3s case it’ll probably (sadly) be “To build the Mage Tower please enter your Credit Card Number now”

      I enjoyed DA:O but after the way they handled Wardens Keep I’m incredibly wary of any promises they make about castles or strongholds.

  11. Kein says:

    Fungeons?

  12. Deano2099 says:

    Huh? They’ve been updating every fortnight, and unlike most Kickstarters those updates are public, not backer-only.

    • xsikal says:

      Yes. It was not just a ‘tired joke’, it was an entirely incorrect one.

  13. strangeloup says:

    I think the most important question is if the dungeon can be equipped with a dragon.

    Y’know, in case you run out of room for new prisoners or something, feed a few to the big scaly lizard. Also saves on heating costs!

  14. Drake Sigar says:

    This was my favourite part of NWN 2.

  15. Morte66 says:

    In BG2, I thought a bag of holding made a pretty good stronghold, with the table outside Adventurer’s Mart for spillover.

    But the theatre and planar sphere certainly had something going for them.