After two years of absence, two years of waiting for an eventual release of Mount & Blade: Bannerlord, we are proud to officially announce that the Chronicles of Middle Earth mod is back in development. This is a brand new chapter for our development team, where a new journey begins for both us and our player base.
Most of our fans will likely know by now that our development process on Warband during the past few years has been quite difficult in several aspects. We have never been able to reach certain goals, either due to the game not allowing it or because some modders not believing in what we wanted to offer to Warband. But that time is over. Now we will move forward, and progress with you, the community! We want to accomplish great things with the latest game in the Mount & Blade franchise, Bannerlord. We wish to offer you a brand new gaming experience with all our innovative features that were brought to the table through COME. And it all starts now!
Every month, we will be attempting to release articles named “Development Update”. With these articles, we intend to show you the progress of development regarding Chronicles of Middle Earth with a focus on three subjects: two subjects relating to the mod’s gameplay or details on the elements of the roleplaying mechanics that will be proposed in the future, and a third part which will outline what we have produced in the past few weeks in terms of props, models, and other miscellaneous things.
For this first article, we will simply introduce an overview of our main features that will be offered in the mod. The second part will be about a feature that we are eager to present to you, and will be something completely exclusive and innovative to Bannerlord: playable creatures. Lastly, the article will conclude with a third and final part: an overview of what we have achieved in the past weeks.
Before we start the dev update, we are proud to introduce our little dev team for this new adventure:
- LeGenD - Co-founder, Lead Developer, Game Designer, Scripter
- Drachentoter - Co-founder, Lore Master, Game Designer
- SirApple - Coder
- KEYforce - 3D Artist, Mapper (Go check his ArtStation)
- Dirtrock - 3D Artist, Animator (Go check his ArtStation)
- Ole Gunnar Isagar - 3D Artist (Go check his ArtStation)
- Phyrexian - Level Designer, Mapper (Go check his ArtStation)
WE WANT YOU!
We are looking for all forms of help. If you are a 3D Artist, Coder, 2D Artist, Mapper, Lore Master, or something of the like, and you are interested in helping us, please contact us on our Discord. We are looking for all positions!
I. Features Overview
Chronicles of Middle Earth is a Mount & Blade: Bannerlord multiplayer role-playing mod which will introduce the first working Open World system into the game. COME puts forward a particular role-playing perspective: the Community Role-playing (CRP), a type of role-playing based entirely around interactions and communications within the community, all of which goes through the creation/management of community factions, the organization of community events and especially through the development of rules & strict codes of conduct regarding character/faction role play.
Open World System
COME will offer the first working Open World system ever implemented on a Mount & Blade game. This feature is the heart of our whole project, the gameplay element which makes it unique and perfect. But concretely, how does it work? How is it possible to set up an entire massive open world on our favorite game. The answer goes through a specific thing: the Server Travelling feature. This system will allow players to travel between servers which will constitute the whole open world, aka. Middle Earth; a single server, therefore, being a specific region of Middle Earth. As an analogy, it would be very similar to the traveling system implemented in the famous Last Oasis game, where players can travel from oasis to oasis by switching servers. Chronicles of Middle Earth will offer the same process.
Chronicles of Middle Earth will offer an immersive Middle Earth. It will be an international server. We plan to instaurate an ingenious system that will allow us to switch instantly whole servers locations according to schedule and of course time zones. For example, during the European prime time: evening for European time zones, all the servers would be hosted in Europe. But when the night will arrive in Europe, all the European servers will shut down instantly and the game will migrate towards American servers. This system will assure you have one huge immersive Open World and only one International community around the mod.
Since for the moment we have very little information on the future functionalities of private multiplayer servers, we, unfortunately, don’t have any plan yet about which regions will be offered, and how many regions will constitute our virtual Middle Earth. This element will be decided when Bannerlord creators release more details about the technicalities of multiplayer servers, especially the maximum slot number available per server.
It’s good to have a huge open world, but it is better to have an immersive one! Chronicles of Middle Earth mod will be totally persistent in all its features. This means that like any MMO, players will be able to create a character, join the open world and evolve, progress in it. That will actually be the players who will make the virtual world evolve through their actions, their interactions. All player progressions will be automatically saved even after they leave one of the servers.
The economic aspect will, therefore, be very important at this level. Depending on which faction they are in, players will be able to raise money, valuable resources, trades, own property and territory, etc. Any economic or material possession will be instantly saved in the open world.
All features which were offered in the iconic Persistent World and Persistent World mods will also be implemented in COME. We will, therefore, add some others very unique features of our own: way more jobs for worker type of players, a detailed hobby system (knitting, card games, astronomy, wood carving, juggling, signing, medieval-type puzzling, meditation, writing poetry and songs, painting and some others, which allow players to improve their character stats or earn money) and the possibility to make “Journeys” some amazing open quests will be available and sometimes hidden into the open world (ie. find a treasure, find a unique weapon in a specific area, kill a specific creature to obtain a rare organic object, etc.)
Community Role Playing
If the Open World system is the heart of the mod, the Community Role Playing (CRP) aspect is, on the other hand, the blood-soaked veins that feed the hearth. As we said earlier, the CRP is a very specific kind of role-playing that focuses on one thing: community interactions. So the community is at the center of everything.
Players will first have to create their own RP characters. Since COME is a full-RP mod, they will have to choose a name and a character story before they join the open world. The mod will offer players to personalize all iconic characters of Middle Earth: for this, an election will be carried out every three months to choose the players who will embody the iconic characters, which everyone will have the possibility to postulate. In other hand, COME will offer a truly unique RP feature: the Creature-Roleplaying which allows some selected players to RP creatures in Middle Earth (more information about this feature in the second part of the article).
Once the character is created, it is at this point that the players must choose the faction in which they wish to evolve. These community factions will be self-managed by masses of players, whether solo players or groups of closed players who will form what will be called: organizations. Each faction will have a different level of role-playing which will be determined depending on their history, their level of complexity in the universe of Tolkien. One faction can, therefore, be more difficult to play than another. For example, the lowest level of RP will be perceptible in all the Orc factions while the most difficult level of RP will be perceptible in the Ents faction. Here is the list of all faction role-playing levels that will be available in the mod:
- Low - ie. Isengard and Mordor: The general RP of the faction will be oriented towards fighting, PVP. Perfect for semi-RP type of players.
- Medium - ie. Gondor and Rohan: The difficulty of this level is normal, not too easy, not too hard to handle. Semi-RP is tolerated but has to be limited by players.
- High - Imladris: This RP level is way more complex and especially less flexible than the other levels above. Semi-RP is no longer tolerated. The players must incarnate their role in-game by following the established RP rules as much as possible, either RP communications, RP actions, etc.
- Hardcore - Ents: This is a hardcore role-playing, simply. Only experienced roleplayers will be able to access these factions.
Each faction has 4 decision-making pillars: political, economic, civil and military. Four players will be at the head of these pillars, at the rank of leaders. As with the iconic characters, it is the members of each faction who elect their different leaders. Thus, their primary role will be to manage the different aspects of the faction, but this whole process will be done almost exclusively via the proposal of measures, laws and actions, which will then be voted on by the four leaders AND by the players from the faction (the public opinion concretely constitutes the last vote). So, the players from the faction will always have a say, have their right to vote for each commune decision.
All the previous RP features will be centralized and functional on the official COME Discord. Every faction in addition to some internal groups like the staff or creature-roleplayers will have their own section into the Discord, which they will be able to communicate together. Players will be able to only see the Discord section of its faction and in no case the others. Players will also have the possibility to leave their faction anytime and join another. But, they will have to wait 7 days if they want to rejoin their ex-faction.
Diplomacy and War system
Diplomacy between factions will certainly be one of the most important, central elements of the mod. It will be concretely the geopolitical relations between the different factions that will forge the immersive universe, which will determine the course of the history of Middle Earth. And all this will go through alliances, periods of war, but also periods of peace... Diplomacy will be effective not only in-game but especially off-game; most decisions regarding faction relations will be handled through the official COME Discord. Communications between faction representatives, decisions to forge alliances, to go to war, to make peace or the organization of perilous political operations like RP assassinations or espionage will all be made officially via our Discord server. Everything will, of course, be regulated and monitored by the mod staff in order to avoid certain situations of non-compliance with community rules or abuse of any kind.
The war process will be almost entirely based on community events. War is declared via a community vote within the faction concerned; faction leaders can decide to declare war on one or more other factions, or simply join an ongoing war. Just like the faction voting process introduced earlier, the four leaders must vote to accept or not the war measure. A fifth vote is allocated by members of the faction; there is a tie vote between the faction leaders, the one who must decide.
When a war is declared, the factions involved in the war automatically become hostile in the immersive open world. This implies that these players, therefore, have the possibility of killing each other on sight on the servers. Wars govern in two ways: publicly and privately during closed events (officially the "battles") For the first way, in public, factions can carry out, according to their wish and their faction strategy, skirmishes in a "public" way, that is to say among the other players. They also have the ability to attack and capture enemy territories in order to capture them. These territories will be land hidden everywhere in the open world, which can be, for example, production zones (farms, mines, etc.), small villages belonging to the factions, or even small cities belonging to a lord. During a declaration of war, these territories must immediately be captured by enemy factions. And the capture will be extremely important since it will have a considerable impact on the second phase of the war: the battle’s events.
A war officially remains a succession of battles, which are actually carried out during closed events of the same stature as the famous "Line Battle" on Napoleonics Wars (here is an example for those who don't know what it is). The battles are therefore closed events that are organized on a certain date and time; the factions involved in the war having to show up at the event to carry out the battle. As previously specified, the conditions of these battles, such as the location of the battlefield, war bonuses, etc. are largely determined by the capture of territory in the open world. A faction or allied factions having obtained the possession of a greater number of enemy territories will thus be favored during Battles event, being able for example to choose the battlefield on which to fight, having more resources to spend on its provisions soldiers during the battle and other advantages.
When a Battle event is organized, the two belligerents automatically pledge resources; in case of loss of one of the parties, this one must give the resources to bet on the other party. A war can last a maximum of 13 battles; it takes the form of a competitive format of BO13, ie "Best of 13". This means that to officially win a war, without a peace treaty or abandonment, a faction or an alliance must win 7 battles out of 13. The majority of battles of war is what we call: “Battlefield battle”, so will be done on different battlefields. However, when the second win comes, the faction will have the possibility to do what we call a “Siege event” for the next battle, so besiege one location of the other party which could be concluded - if succeed - by the capture of this location. This siege will be unlocked or not according to the capture of territories in the open world, outside of battle events. If the faction is able to capture a few territories and reach the doors of a main city/location and especially hold the conquered territories, the siege of the city/location will be unlocked for the next battle event. When the fifth win is reached for one party, a last major Siege event will be automatically organized on a main and important location, preselected at the beginning of the war. Indeed, war can last less long since both parties have the possibility at all times to negotiate to end hostilities: they have the choice between a peace treaty (agreement under certain conditions, including the obligation for the losing party not to declare war within 30 days) or an abandonment (leads in particular to a loss of territory and main locations in the hands of the winners, but less breakage than a total defeat). A total defeat can be devastating for a faction since it leads to the loss of almost all of its territories, in addition to suffering a colossal financial loss. This is why it will always be better for a faction to negotiate peace or to withdraw from an alliance in the case of military obstinacy, rather than to suffer a total defeat.