Chronicles of Middle Earth (COME) is a multiplayer Open World mod for Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. This mod takes place in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe, and puts forth a fully community-oriented gameplay with an active Community Role Playing system.

RSS DEVELOPMENT UPDATE #1: A Fresh Start (Part II)

The First Part of the Development Update #1 for Chronicles of Middle Earth mod. In this part: (II) Playable Creatures.

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II. Playable Creatures, First batch


Here we are at the most interesting part of the article! We are proud to present a feature that is very close to our hearts, a feature that has never been offered on in the Mount & Blade series until now: the playable creatures.

In the immersive world of Chronicles of Middle Earth, the creatures that you come across will be embodied by real players at all times. So there will be strictly speaking no NPCs scattered on the map, all living things evolving in the open world will be played by real people. Who will personalize the creatures? These will be what we call the “creatures-roleplayers”: there are selected players whose involvement in the mod will be dedicated to the embodiment of creatures, to their role-playing. Indeed, each creature will have a strict and very difficult RP to handle. It is for this reason that the selection of creature-roleplayers for the mod will be made according to demanding criteria which will be based in particular on their past experience in role-playing games, motivation, and determination. Creature-roleplayers will not be affiliated with a faction but will be an integral part of the staff team. They will form small closed groups, which will be divided according to the breed of creature played. For example, one group will be devoted to the RP of spiders, another to that of trolls, etc. Each of the creature-roleplayers will embody their own beast and will have to accomplish their RP objectives: ie. defend their territory, hunt for food, hide or flee from danger, etc. Creature-roleplayer will thus, through his RP, react and evolve like a real creature.

In theory, creatures will be in reality very rare to come across. Indeed, we prefer to limit their presence on playable maps, since for us, creatures are mystical, rare and dangerous; the fact of limiting their presence will considerably increase these peculiarities which we want at all costs to put forward (we do not want to fall into a classic MMORPG in which we come across a monster to fight every 2 meters). From an RP point of view, as it was mentioned before, creature-roleplayers will be limited in number and are very oriented on realistic role-playing, which inevitably will limit interactions with other players. Therefore, falling face to face with a creature will be something for everyone; either fight it or run away!

Here we come to the interesting part: the introduction of the first batch of creatures. Today, we have 6 amazing creatures to introduce you. Whole creature 3D models have been made by our two 3D Artists: Dirtrock and Ole Gunnar. Don’t forget to have a look at their amazing work on their ArtStation pages!

Shelob

Type: Iconic Creature

Story:Shelob was a Great Spider and the greatest offspring of Ungoliant, the primordial spider. In the Third Age, she lived in Mordor and was known to feed indiscriminately, preying on the inhabitants. She was encountered by Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in their quest to destroy the One Ring.

Location: Minas Morgul / Mordor

Characteristics: Shelob is classified as part spider, part demon. The creature has the form of a giant and terrifying spider. Shelob is ravenously hungry; she is constantly looking for prey. To achieve its ends - like the majority of spiders - she has within its territory gigantic webs to catch its victims. When she is about to devour her prey, she usually immobilizes it with her paralyzing sting that enabled her to feed on her victims at her leisure, but could also crush her prey to death by swiftly dropping on them. Shelob has a great weakness: she fears light. It is for this reason that she is most often buried in caves, deep in the dark.

RP information: Shelob will be played by two selected creature-roleplayers, who will take turns with each other according to their availability. Shelob has a very particular type of role-playing since its central aim is to hunt all that she can find. So, its RP will be especially oriented towards attacking players which come in its territory. If she does not find food, Shelob will have some disadvantageous penalties like less endurance, less strength. The big particularity of Shelob is that she will always be connected to Sauron, and will have the possibility to communicate with him (on the Discord).

Status of the 3D model: The first version model is completed. Rigging and animations are in progress: it will be released on ModDB in a few days, patience! Improvement of the model will be made gradually over the next few weeks. The model has been realized by our 3D Artist Dirtrock.

Just take into consideration that we are aware that adding non-humanoid creatures is a big question at the moment, with the absence of tools mods. But it goes without saying that we are very confident that we will be able to add them, animate them, and above all allow players to embody them. We will do everything to make them alive in the game, and this includes the complete realization of the rig and, in the near future, animations for our non-human models. This also goes without saying for all of our 3D creature models.

Pictures:



Here you can see some progression of rigging and animating the Shelob model.


Güldür War Troll

Type: Faction Creature / Battle Creature

Location: Dol Guldur

Characteristics: “The Guldur War Trolls, also known as Misty Mountain Trolls, lived most of their lives near the High Pass in the Misty Mountains. With their outstanding bulk they tower over normal Trolls, and yet they have some visual qualities of Orcs.” For COME, we chose to portray the Guldur War Troll version from Peter Jackson The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies movie. So, this version is especially used as a war weapon, having a catapult on their back.

When they appear on the battlefield, Battle trolls will have the particularity to have a random head. Like for the Ents, Battle trolls will be made, during their spawning, of two body segments, two different model modules. This will allow a diversified-looking troll to appear; they will never be physically the same.

RP information: Battle trolls on the mod will be different from other creatures from a role-playing perspective. Indeed, Battle troll will not be played by creature-roleplayers but by standard players from Orc factions. The particularity of Battle trolls is that they can only appear during Battle events during faction war. Orc factions, according to their military resources, can choose to invest in some Battle trolls for an upcoming battle event. So, when the event starts, there are only high-level players from the army who can RP Battle trolls. Obviously, playing as a troll on the battlefield will be highly regulated by some strict role-playing rules.

Guldur War troll will actually be a giant functional catapult. It will be the player who plays the troll who will be able to position itself to use the catapult and shoot. The Guldur War troll will also be able to fight but will have a restricted maneuver area, which will be behind the battlefield at all times (to prevent power imbalance)

Status of the 3D model: The first version model is completed and rigged. Demo animations have been done for you guys but will be improved in the next few weeks since it is not a priority for now. Improvement of the model will be made gradually over the next few weeks. The model has been realized by our 3D Artist Dirtrock.

Pictures:



Animations Demo:


Ents

Type: Faction Creature

Location: Fangorn & Treegarth forests, Eriador

Characteristics: “Ents were envisioned as "Shepherds" of the trees, to protect the forests from orcs and other perils. The Elves had tales of teaching the trees and the Ents to talk: although the Ents were sentient beings at the time, they did not know how to speak until the Elves taught them. [...] Ents are tree-like creatures, becoming gradually more and more like the trees they herded. They varied in traits of height, size, coloring, and the number of fingers and toes. An individual Ent usually resembled the species of tree they guarded.” In-game, Ents will be extraordinarily powerful. They will be able to strongly hit opponents, but also take them in their ends and throw them away. Ents will be however very vulnerable against fire.

Ents will have a very unique character which we are pretty enthusiastic to present to you: Ents character will be randomly constituted during the character creation process. Indeed, COME will include a special system that allows creating unique Ent characters from 3D models body segments, so from pre-made 3D modules. The system will choose between a huge selection of segments: respectively one for the left upper body, one for the right upper body, one for head and one last for lower body (so, the legs), and the fusion of these 3D modules will create the unique Ent character attribute to the players, In addition to this modular Ent-character constitution system, size and weight will be randomly assigned to the character. In the long-term period, we plan to have approximately a dozen full body Ent models which will be divided into 4 body segments, so mathematically it will come down to the possibility of creating close to 100,000 unique Ent characters!

RP information: Having Ents is one of our greatest ambitions. The ents will be part of a very closed type of faction, centered on a very hardcore-type of role-playing. Depending on their location in the open world, the Ents present in Middle-earth will be subdivided into 2 distinct factions: Ents of Fangorn and Ents of Eriador. It will nevertheless be the faction of Ents of Fangorn which will be available first, from the first version of the mod. The second will follow according to the releases and later versions; they will almost be unlocked when the Eriador region is added to the open world. Each faction of Ents will welcome a few dozen individuals at most; that is to say that joining this faction will be very difficult. Indeed, players will have the possibility to apply, but only those meeting the imposed criteria can be selected: just like for creatures-roleplayers, this implies a huge experience in hardcore role-playing on other games as well as huge availability and flawless motivation.

From an in-game RP perspective, the Ents factions will have a very strict and very controlled RP situation. In particular, they must remain neutral in the War of the Ring conflict, until a military or political situation forces them to choose a side. And yes, indeed, it will be possible for the Ents to join the dark side, but it will obviously be very difficult to reach as a role-playing perspective. Whatever it is, just like creatures, Ents players will really have to turn into the game as an Ent, they will have to embody their character in everything there: this is the element that makes this role-playing very hardcore. The Ents will, in particular, and the vast majority of the time, defend their territory against intruders, threats, but also make patrols on their territory (there will be pre-configured objectives in-game to be achieved in exchange of faction rewards, organize faction meetings but also inter-factions meetings, and of course look for female Ents! As previously introduced, the Ents will be able to go to war, but from an RP perspective, it will be enormously difficult to convince them to join an alliance and participate in a war. However, the Ents will have the possibility of starting wars by themselves, but that will necessarily require an extraordinary geopolitical situation.

Status of the 3D model: The first version model is completed. Rigging and animations are still in work on progress. Improvement of the model will be made gradually over the next few weeks. The model has been realized by our 3D Artist Dirtrock.

Pictures:




Mordor Olog-hai Troll

Type: Faction Creature / Battle Creature

Location: Mordor

Characteristics: “The Olog-hai are described as being taller than a man, covered in spiky scales, carrying war hammers, large swords, or spiked maces, and bucklers, and having claws and, on occasion, tusks.” in-game, Olog-hai will be extremely powerful, as much in strength as in vitality. Kill Olog-hai will be a real challenge; that will imply real strategy by the opponent army to kill them because otherwise, the course of the battle could become fatal. Olog-hai will, however, have some penalties during fighting, like for example the “focusing penalty” which will oblige him in 30% of the case, when he receives a hit, to focus towards the hit received. Technically speaking, the troll will just topple over and focus on the hit he received. These little penalties will be there to bring a certain balance during the fights; the trolls will be powerful certainly, but not invincible and they will have big gaps of intelligence that will be able to harm them during their fight (penalty are there for that).

RP information: As said earlier, battle trolls on the mod will be different from other creatures from a role-playing perspective: they will not be played by creature-roleplayers but by standard players from Orc factions. The particularity of Battle trolls is that they can only appear during Battle events during faction war. Orc factions, according to their military resources, can choose to invest in some Battle trolls for an upcoming battle event. So, when the event starts, there are only high-level players from the army who can RP Battle trolls. Obviously, play as a troll on the battlefield will be highly regulated by some strict role-playing rules.rules.

Mordor Olog-hai will be probably the only battle troll race that will allow fighting in the battlefield during battle events. Players will be able to do anything with their troll, unlike other types of battle troll whose rules of use will be more respective.

Status of the 3D model: The first version model is completed and rigged. Animations are in work in progress. Improvement of the model will be made gradually over the next few weeks. The model has been realized by our 3D Artist Ole Gunnar.

Pictures:





Giant Spiders

Type: Wild Creature

Location: Mordor, Mirkwood, Dol Guldur

Characteristics: “Giant, sapient spiders, also known as the Children of Ungoliant, lived in particularly in dark and perilous places (affected by the power of evil) in Middle-earth. Those who spoke were vicious and malevolent creatures, and their presence was typically seen as a blight.” Giant spiders are very fast creatures and will have the capacity to soar through the air with canvases (like a grapevine). However, it probably won't be able to climb trees in the first versions of the mod, since it would be an element of gameplay that would be too difficult to implement. Like Shelob, the spiders will have the ability to poison their prey thanks to their sting. The sting utilization will, of course, have a cooldown before it would be possible to reuse it again. This poisoning feature will be quite interesting in-game. When a player is bitten by a spider, he will have venom in him and this will cause him to gradually lose life until he dies. Only a few rare remedies will be available in-game. Death by poisoning will be punitive enough for the player because it will first cause a temporary RP death which will prevent the player from connecting to the open world for 3 consecutive hours, but also 50% of chance to lose a few points to his character stats, which will be very hard to reach. The players will, therefore, have to be very careful when they meet the giant spiders

RP information: Like Shelob, giant spiders will be played by selected creature-roleplayers, who will, however, embody their own spider character. Spiders will be especially oriented towards attacking players which come in its territory but also have to ensure the appearance of their reproduction by laying eggs (a feature will be done for that aspect). Spiders will have an enormous advantage to gain some bonus in character statistics if they play, evolve in groups in the open world. So, it will be not uncommon to come across more than one spider at a time.

Status of the 3D model: The first version model is completed. Rigging and animations are in work on progress: it will be released on ModDB in a few days, little after Shelob ones! Improvement of the model will be made gradually over the next few weeks: both little arms across the spider face need to be added for example. The model has been realized by our 3D Artist Dirtrock.

Just take into consideration that we are aware that adding non-humanoid creatures is a big question at the moment, with the absence of tools mods. But it goes without saying that we are very confident that we will be able to add them, animate them, and above all allow players to embody them. We will do everything to make them alive in the game, and this includes the complete realization of the rig and, in the near future, animations for our non-human models. This also goes without saying for all of our 3D creature models.

Picture:



1

Cave-troll

Type: Faction Creature / Battle Creature

Location: Moria

Characteristics: “Cave-trolls are usually found with small groups of orcs. They are too unintelligent to hunt food for themselves, often consuming whatever hapless creature they come across, so food is an advantage they get from working with the Orcs. Their fingernails extend to most of their fingers, and were allegedly used to dig holes into the rock itself.”.This type of troll can be only found underground. Like goblins, they fear lights. Cave-trolls are generally used during battle, but despite its battle power, it will have enormous penalties during the fight, these ones being due to his weak intelligence. These penalties will be like the ones which will be linked to the Olog-hai for example, so preconfigured penalties which appear during battles and that players have to manage with. But in the case of the cave-troll, penalties will be twice as bad.

When they appear on the battlefield, Battle trolls will have the particularity to have a random head. Like for the Ents, Battle trolls will be made, during their spawning, of two body segments, two different model modules. This will allow a diversified-looking troll to appear; they will never be physically the same.

RP information: Cave-troll is way different than all other battle trolls available in COME. Indeed, unlike other battle trolls that can only appear during battle events, cave-trolls will be controlled by creature-roleplayers and will also be linked to an orc faction, specifically that of the Orcs of Moria. State of the beings is not very intelligent, the creatures-roleplayers who will incarnate the cave-trolls will have to take at all times these characteristics to the letter: they will have by their actions, their decisions, to reflect this specific characteristic. Unable to hunt by themselves, cave-trolls will, for example, be fed by Orcs, and will, therefore, be subject to the Goblin factions; following them wherever they go and participating in their conflicts if necessary. Cave-trolls will, however, have the possibility of rebelling and leaving on their side if the situation requires it, but this RP possibility will be very rare and it will be necessary to reach certain RP literary to be possible. Cave-trolls will also be allowed in battle events, but their number will be fixed, limited according to the size of the armies.

Status of the 3D model: The first version model is work in progress. The model has been realized by our 3D Artist Ole Gunnar Isager.

Pictures:





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