Hey there awesome modders!
So, I’ve been rambling on about wanting to start modding for a while, but as usual I don’t have time or energy to dive in yet. However, I’ve been thinking about how I would go about creating a mod for musicians and bards, and I think I’ve stumbled onto a workable idea.
So, rather than letting it bounce around in the ol’ noggin and gather dust, I figured I’d share it in the hopes someone can make use of it As such, this is officially me giving consent for anyone to take the idea and run with it – not that “copyright” really applies, but still I want there to be no confusion here. If someone makes a mod from this method, awesome, they have my full support to do so!
So, what is the idea anyway? well, it comes in two parts:
Part 1: the Minstrel
The minstrel is a wandering musician class, an entertainer who brightens up your town. Effectively they’re a walking happiness buff, but with a twist: the songs they play each have an emotional effect on the audience, whether it’s a stirring ballad which inspires hard work, or a soothing lullaby which makes your hearthlings tired but content.
To start with, a minstrel is promoted from a worker using a minstrel’s lute, crafted by a level 3 weaver. While it’s relatively simple to promote a minstrel, they can’t help with any construction, mining or crafting – all they can do is walk around, and help out with hauling, so you can’t easily just have a bunch of them wandering around town buffing everyone unless you can afford to feed them.
- With the flute equipped, the minstrel is now able to play one song: cheerful tune. This is their basic job skill, and it’s the simplest song they know – it gives a slight happiness boost, and that’s it.
- After the first level-up, they learn how to play faster, granting them happy ditty: a song with a quick tempo, which gets the audience’s blood pumping and gives them a minor speed boost on top of the same happiness buff they’d get from cheerful tune.
- Then, at second level, the minstrel learns how to play a frantic chorus – a song which inspires all hearthlings nearby to move at a frantic pace (i.e. significant speed buff and the same happiness boost) for an in-game hour, but leaves an after-effect which leaves them feeling a bit exhausted (slight speed debuff, about half of the amount that was originally buffed for) for the next in-game hour. The point of this song is not just to be a passive buff, but to get the hearthlings through their current task quickly at the cost of them taking a little longer to start their next task.
- At third level, the minstrel learns soothing lullaby – after a hard day’s work, the hearthlings need a good night’s rest to recover; and this song promotes that by slightly reducing speed and diligence, but significantly improving happiness and adding a slight health recovery boost. This song is a little trickier to work with, since it could actually cause serious negative consequences if played at the wrong time. However, it may be possible to ensure that it’s only triggered to play during certain conditions – such as when there’s a wounded hearthling nearby, or only during night/evening.
- The fourth-level song is inspiring melody which fills the hearthlings with pride in their community and a drive to push themselves to new heights. This is effectively an upgrade of happy ditty – it gives a significant happiness boost, a slight speed boost, a slight boost to diligence, and a slight boost to courage.
- At the fifth level, the minstrel has gained enough experience and expertise with both their instrument and their audience to give rousing concerts, and their repertoire has increased with new material for old tunes. There’s no new song at this level; instead the minstrel gets a cool-down reduction on all their songs, and they’re also able to craft song lyrics. These work like the herbalist’s potions, but their crafting is unusual: the minstrel doesn’t have a workbench and doesn’t use materials (I assume they keep a journal and quill handy for writing down lyrics), but does have a time cost. If possible, a chair should be used as a crafting station, so the minstrel literally sits down to write a new song. The lyrics can then be used at any time, the player chooses, and have increased potency compared to a regular song – after all, hearing the debut performance of a new song by the famous minstrel is a real event for the hearthlings.
- For the sixth level, the minstrel creates their magnum opus – a song so stirring that it can inspire the hearthlings who hear it for a whole day! The magnum opus gives a major happiness boost, a slight increase to diligence and courage, with a cooldown of a least a couple of days.
So, that’s the minstrel’s function – but, how to make it happen? Well, the first step is to get them to play the songs, and for that I figured the Cleric is the place to start looking. I’m specifically thinking of that buff they cast on hearthlings to inspire courage, since that’s basically an “idle” action. For crafting song lyrics, that’s simply a crafting action with nothing in the recipe, the item is a re-skin of the herbalist’s potions, and the chair idea is non-essential so if it proves difficult to implement there’s no damage from leaving it out.
Now, the second idea: the Bard
The bard is a direct inspiration from that trope you see everywhere in fantasy, particularly DnD. A battle support/leader character, they buff their allies with inspiring melodies and solos.
A bard is promoted from a level 2 minstrel using a Bard’s Horn, which is crafted by a level 4 carpenter. Now, they could be made from a simple log, but I like the idea of also using one of the broken flutes you get from goblin wolf tamers. After all, you only need 1 for Ogo’s lullaby windchimes, and I tend to collect several of them. This makes even getting a bard a more challenging prospect, but more importantly it pushes the bard back into the mid-late game rather than making it something you can rush to. This is important, because a high-level bard has the potential to be quite powerful (especially when part of a fully rounded team!)
- So, an apprentice bard has their pipes, and gains a skill: inspiring melody, which fills the hearthlings with pride in their community and a drive to… hang on, haven’t we heard this before? Well yes, this is the exact same skill that the minstrel gets at level 4 – and the reason the bard gets it at their first level (which is minstrel level 2) is that the bard won’t idle around town all day inspiring the hearthlings, they hang out with the soldiers all day getting them pumped for combat. The hearthlings will, of course, take some inspiration from the presence of a bard, but this is more of a beneficial side-effect than a reason to keep a bard around. This skill basically balances out the fact that you’re trading your minstrel’s powerful town assistance skills for a more specific and more powerful area of assistance.
- At first level, the bard learns to play a battle ballad, which buffs the strength/attack damage of nearby hearthlings as well as giving them a minor courage boost. Pretty straightfoward, but powerful when used either offensively or defensively.
- At second level, the bard learns to hear the flow of combat and the rising crescendo as the fight progresses, and so gains rhythms of battle. This skill is a passive buff which increases the bard’s dodge/protection from attacks, and gives all nearby hearthlings an attack speed buff. They also gain the ability to equip a bronze horn, crafted by a level 2 blacksmith, and the same bronze circlet which a cleric could equip. The bronze horn is a ranged weapon which has no damage, but it inflicts the debuff reluctant to fight which reduces affected enemies’ attack speed and damage.
- At their third level, the bard learns standfast solo, which significantly improves the courage and protection of hearthlings around them.
- At level 4, the bard learns symphony of battle, which improves nearby hearthlings’ attack speed, damage, and reduces the cooldowns of their abilities. They can now equip the iron horn (crafted by a level 3 blacksmith, gives the same debuff as the bronze horn) and iron circlet
- At level 5 the bard has become a master of reading the rhythms of battle, and inspiring their allies. The gain the cleric’s ability inspiring presence, and their cooldowns are reduced by 15%. They can also now wield a silver horn, which has an AoE effect – it still does no damage, but now instead of demoralising a single target it applies the same debuff to all enemies nearby, and also applies battle ballad to all allies within a very short range of the targeted enemy. This is a very powerful instrument/weapon, so it should be expensive; requiring perhaps not just a few silver bars but also a gold bar, a level 6 blacksmith, and a bolt of leather.
- At level 6, the bard composes their masterwork: epic ballad. Hearthlings who hear this song performed will have a serious boost to courage, attack speed, movement speed, damage, and happiness, and a minor health regen (even hearthlings on death’s door will find the will to hold on!) Even if a fight has been going poorly, friends have fallen and morale is plummeting, this song can turn things around – not only helping them win the fight, but reminding the hearthlings what they’re fighting for so the negative after-effects are reduced.
As for how to make the bard work mechanically: well, at its core this class is a re-skinned cleric, only using ranged attacks rather than melee combat. The buffs are mostly AoEs, so for balance reasons they should ideally only be triggered in combat, although I believe that the cleric has a buff which works like that anyway.
So, as far as I can tell, all of these ideas should be possible within the game’s current modding capabilities. Modifying cooldown times is the one I’m least sure about, but if it’s not possible I’m sure that particular part of the bard’s skill can be replaced with something equally powerful, such as a health regen. I think the most challenging aspect would be making sure that the two classes don’t play songs at inappropriate times, I’m not familiar enough with arguments and listeners and so on to be certain that I understand them correctly, but I believe it’s possible to make “active” skills listen out for specific events like the change from day to dusk, or combat happening nearby.
And that’s my idea. If it turns out to not be practical as a mod, or doesn’t strike a chord (heh, heh) with anyone, then of course it also stands as a suggestion for something the devs can look at later. However, I wanted to throw the idea out to modders first because it’s something which I believe can be done already, and it would be a great proof-of-concept.