Video Game / Incursion

Not to be confused with That PnP Incursion.

Incursion: Halls of the Goblin King is a freeware (and newly open source) Rogue Like attempting to resemble a solo adventure in Dungeons & Dragons, third edition. Incursion is still developed by Julian Mensch for about 10 years. With mechanics strongly based on pen & paper and some unique design goals, Incursion offers a quite different experience than most roguelikes nowadays.

While most roguelike gameplay focuses on learning to beat many quirks and pitfalls, Incursion focuses more on player character design, diversity of choices your character can make in regards of development, anti-grinding philosophy not very different from Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and resource management.

Incursion is notable in several ways; in most roguelikes, resting has little downside, but in this game, it takes 8 hours, is often very dangerous, and causes new monsters to generate on your level, 8 hours worth. While treasure is randomly generated, an entire level's treasure is generated when you first enter it, and newly created monsters have little treasure; this obviates the strategy of camping in a particular level range to get an item you want as a random drop by just waiting for monsters to gen and killing them. Hit points are normally non-regenerating, which forces player to save resources and choose dungeon encounters carefully.

What's most interesting, however, are the degree to which skills and feats are essential; they are purposefully more powerful than most magic items, and choosing and using them effectively is vital. Thus, advancing your character isn't just a matter of leveling up plus some lucky magic finds, but is more a matter of consciously and strategically planning the route your character takes.

It's widely agreed that the game has a steep learning curve even for a roguelike, but is still honest (as opposed to early versions which would pit you on the very first level with enemies who you couldn't see, not to mention attack). Most of the difficulty stems from the need to read various in-game manuals, item and monster descriptions and knowing how to build your character. So, difficulty in Incursion is more Dwarf Fortress than NetHack.

Tabletop knowledge won't help you very much, since mechanics have been somewhat altered to be more fit for a roguelike.

Since it's a PnP adventure, Incursion places much more weight on the depth and believability of its fantasy world rather than your usual roguelike rescue-the-world plot; there are very few things expected from the player to do (just kill that goblin), and the game is a mix of Wide Open Sandbox and typical dungeon crawler. Very well written in-game descriptions help. In other words, use your imagination.

Incursion: Return of the Forsaken - the complete game - was stuck in Development Hell for several years before the developer released the last playable version of Incursion into open source. Get it here.

This game provides examples of:

  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Multitude are the only guys who are evil and who don't try to whitewash it.
  • Department of Redundancy Department
    • "The human paladin is thrown from his mount. The human paladin is thrown from his mount.
    • "The oak door opens. The door opens."
    • "Appraising the human cleric, you conclude that he is actually a human cleric!"
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Mara, the goddess of death, is one of the few good gods. She's also about resolving your issues before death, and is very happy to resurrect her followers. Also, she's a goddess of romantic love.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Kysul not only is a Lawful Good god, he's bent on saving Theyra from destruction. He's still on the multi-hued side of morals - he hates demons/devils and celestials alike.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Played straight when you're evil. When you're good, you can quell many enemies, ask them to join your band, to give you an item, to cast a spell at you, even to take watches with you for a rest.
  • Excuse Plot: A band of goblins gathers in a war party at the bottom of some cavern in the middle of nowhere. Perform regicide. Overlaps with Saving the World.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: You can be one, if you choose such personality
  • Glass Cannon: Mages die from getting poked with a toothpick from behind, rogues are lousy in fair combat until they gain a few levels, archer-oriented classes have problems when somebody shoots back at them... all three of these are some of the best damage dealers once you get going.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Buggy one. Moving, fighting etc. take time, but using healing kits, crafting or something like that gives you a message 'an hour passes', but time refused to change.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Rogues when they find some decent equipment and grab many levels, bumping their sneak attack damage and defense to ninja levels. Also shapeshifting druids.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: More like linear warriors and wizards, quadratic priests, geometric rogues and druids. Doing everything without meat shields breaks the class equilibrium.
  • Lizard Folk: They're big, strong, lethargic and think in alien ways compared to humans. They worship nature and benevolent eldritch abominations and aren't bent very much on individualism. They also have unconscious hive mind, are fond of saving all life from extinction (themselves first) and are perceived as ruthless by mammalian species. On the other hand, they think of us as extremely decadent and wasteful and have no strong emotional motivations like greed, ambition or compassion.
  • Luck Stat: More of it generates better equipment, affects some spells, saving throws of halflings and critical hit survivability.
  • One Size Fits All: Aversion with weapons - there are tiny, small, human-sized, large.. Everyone can also change size via spell for example, further complicating matters.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Justified to some extend - dwarves HAD to be over-the-top traditional and homogenous to survive harder times when monsters were everywhere. Their conservatism is going to bite them in the ass if they won't change, though.
  • Our Elves Are Better/Our Elves Are Different: Played straight and deconstructed. Ordinary elves are a mix of Fair Folk, tolkienesque elves and Servant Race - humans who got warped by magic and by signing pacts with the fae. Their society ultimately answers to Maeve, queen of the fairies. Since few of them actually like being her puppets, life in elven cities somewhat resembles big brother state. On the other half, drow were originally rebels who got sick of their queen and escaped underground. Too bad their had to take extreme measures to escape her wrath.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Played straight, though the dev notes that in future version, they'll be some difference, at least for drows.
  • Regenerating Health: Averted. You regain health only by resting, potions, necromancy, prayers or one specific feat.
  • Religion of Evil: The Multitude are basically a horde of trigger-happy ghosts who get nauseated from good done by their worshippers. Zurvash puts more philosophy for those worshiping him - he would classify under True Neutral if not for his sheer selfishness and no regard for consequences of his actions.
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Alienists are mages with many cool things that make mages more durable - fatigue regeneration for infinite metamagic, critical hit immunity, overpowered summons.. And they get penalty to Spot, Listen and Searching, one of the most useful skills in the game.
  • Servant Race: Elves. Drow can also be this, since they migrated from one swamp to another.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Show yourself to group of evil guys. Say hello, then let them follow you to that good aligned dragon
  • Space Compression: Aversion - creatures of size class Huge and larger occupy more than one tile. Still played straight with human-sized and smaller, infinite number of them can occupy the same tile.
  • Spoony Bard: A warrior, of all people, can be a better party leader than bard, provided he chooses the right feats (which he has too much of anyway) and has high charisma. The same for rogue. Both of them don't suck in combat.
  • Squishy Wizard: Problem with playing wizard are sneaking monsters and often inability to spot things you want to blast to oblivion.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Averted. Having high intimidation skill allows you to strike fear to enemies as you critically hit and kill their buddy.
  • The Fair Folk: Maeve. All mundane elves are effectively slaves to her. Even those with good standing with her can be screwed up anytime.
  • Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: Averted. You're on your own. Craft can reproduce your favorite weapon if it gets destroyed. Healing is almost essential. Quelling enemies with Diplomacy can give you more experience than killing them.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: Backstabbing rogues are one of the most powerful classes in the game. Notable fact that monsters frequently utilize stealth against you.
    • "From the shadows, a kobold! The kobold throws a set at bolas, brutalizing you. You die."
  • Weak, but Skilled: Rogues, who know every widely used skill in the game sans Concentration and maybe Swimming. They also get so many skill points that they can be more learned than mages, more philosophical than priests, and better performers than bards, at the same time.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Immotian is the definition of purity in Theyran pantheon, also the god with the most influence.
  • Veteran Unit: "Using your knowledge about cosmology, you conclude that the thiefling is really a elite thiefling bandit!".