Lost Pages of Taborea: Chapter 4 roundup and speculation

I feel a little bit about RoM like Eliot does about Final Fantasy XI right now. News seems a tad sparse for Runes of Magic this week. We've had a few updates about Chapter 4, which is still on its way; I've recently gotten the RoM event-guild going (in spite of a rocky start); and Frogster gave us a sneak-peek of a major class rebalance. But most everything it still on the horizon.

It allows for lots of fun speculation, as new updates always do. Will Dwarves be a playable race? Are Scouts getting nerfed or made even stronger? This week I put together a roundup of Chapter 4 news with a healthy dose of speculation thrown in. As you'll see after the break, we've actually been shown a lot, but no doubt there's even more we haven't seen at all. And that leaves us all with questions.

Fireboots, Kalons and storytelling

Recently we were teased with a video showing off the as-yet-unreleased Redhill Mountains, home of the Fireboot Dwarves and the large Rhino Kalons. We've also just been shown a reveal of Sismond, the nasty guy behind all the zombifications of the locals, the reason for the war between the Fireboots and the Kalons, and the reason both Annelia and her father, King Grafu, have turned to evil ways. I guess replacing Grafu's heart with a magically imbued runestone could make a guy more than a little surly.

There's been a fair dose of storytelling in the news lately. I'm a self-proclaimed word-nerd, so I'm always up for more story. And since all those words originated in Taiwan, got laundered through a German-speaking publishing company, and finally were translated into English, I have to give all the wordsmiths credit. That's a lot of translating, and for the most part, it all comes across fairly well. My biggest beef has always been that there's not enough official lore within or without RoM. I really like a lot of what the game has, but it's a basic skeleton that needs to be fleshed out. I rambled on about it a little when I showed off the closed beta of the new starting zone.

To be fair, it probably is unreasonable to expect more story at this time. It must be hard enough to have a main developer so cut-off by distance and language barriers to begin with. Frogster has to tightly coordinate large amounts of data and information with multiple small branch offices dotted all over the world. While a bunch of great art and creativity can still make it through, money is the ultimate objective in any business. There are priorities: concentrating on the current atmosphere of what gamers want the most in MMOs; answering to other investors; and trying to grow a company so Runewaker can actually start building RoM to be bigger more quickly.

Lore-junkies like yours truly aren't totally left out in the cold. I'll be bringing more news about two RoM novels that have already been published. Yes. RoM has novels.

Class balancing

A long time ago on the European forum, Frogster held questionnaires for players. The team wanted to hear what players thought about rebalancing all the classes. News went silent for awhile, but here and there came rumors and hints that we may see a large balancing-act take place during the release of Chapter 4. The cat hissed and clawed its way out of the bag, and we now have a sneak-peek at some of the skill changes.

I'm typically defensive about class balancing. From my viewpoint, I don't see a major problem between the classes to begin with. Even the claim that Scouts are overpowered is still met with some players who disagree. If it's so obvious, I wouldn't be constantly answering questions from players who ask the hows and whys of what exactly players think are overpowered about them. If Scouts were really that overpowered, even new players would see it in only a short time of playing. Still, I think Scouts need some tweaking. Fortunately, Frogster has announced that the new balancing will roll out throughout Chapter 4, with two classes getting a balance pass during each new chunk of content that is released. We also know that Scouts and Mages are the first two to get tweaks.

The cynical part of me thinks this is less a balancing-act and more a shuffling of the pieces in play. Class balancing is more productive and better suited to small incremental tweaks instead of a large overhaul. Throwing a giant, class-wide rebalance is like simply recreating all the classes from scratch as though it were a brand-new game. I also slightly fear that the devs won't be looking at balance as much as trying to appease the majority of players. That's an imbalance in priorities, if you ask me.

Questions

Frogster has been ramping up the excitement with all of these teasers into Chapter 4, but it's likely we've only touched the surface. Big questions remain about whether we will have a new playable class, whether new gear will replace the attractiveness of the level-55 sets, and whether we'll see a return of a mana nerf. There's so much to wonder about. We know the last two Chapters were much larger than what we've seen in the teasers so far. It just might be the unknown that has me most interested. I love the many systems Runewaker has thrown into the game, so I'm wondering what, if any, will we see in Chapter 4? Will we get some new minigames? Will there be flying mounts? Or maybe player-created quests?

I want to throw in one last little bit of speculation. I was cruising the RoM Database and found two items that sounded very intriguing to me. Both items say they are NPC summoning books. What's really interesting are the descriptions that say they summon a customization-quest NPC and a customization-event NPC. Does this mean we'll be able to summon NPCs during events or in the wild when we need repairs or when we need to refill on vendor items? Is it just a convenience item that will most likely be sold in the cash shop? Or is it a hint at new player-created features to make our own quests and events? Let the speculations begin.

Each Monday, Jeremy Stratton delivers Lost Pages of Taborea, a column filled with guides, news, and opinions for Runes of Magic. Whether it's a community roundup for new players or an in-depth look at the Rogue/Priest combo, you'll find it all here. Send your questions to jeremy@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.