Players play as souls that reincarnate into new bodies, while preserving a portion of the talent that the previous incarnation possessed. Chronicles of Elyria is notable for deliberately averting most of the tropes of the MMORPG genre, especially Perpetually Static and Death Is a Slap on the Wrist.
A player's character ages over time, eventually perishing and forcing the player's soul to reincarnate in another body. This can be hastened by the player's character suffering grievous injuries, forcing its soul to journey through the Astral Plane back to its body, its connection to said body becoming weaker every time a player is forced to "Spirit Walk." Non-player Characters, far from being glorified quest givers, live their own lives and contribute to the economy just like players, the only difference being them being controlled by an AI, and yes, they are just as killable as players.
Players can form families by marrying other players or NPCs, and can reincarnate as their offspring. Instead of fixed quests that only change with an update, the Soulborn Engine powering the game will generate tailored quests for each character that can be completed by the player, as well as one-time main quests that permanently advance the story in an aversion of sterotypical MMO stasis.
Chronicles of Elyria lacks a class system, instead using a flexible skill system, and, due to the game's soul mechanics, a character will receive bonuses to training skills that their previous incarnations trained.
In addition, the game will boast an economy more intricate than EVE Online, depending on resource collection and crafting. A flexible contract system will allow for unique professions that players could adopt, mirroring the flexibility of real life contracts. A player character does not have to be an adventurer, as activities such as farming, mining, crafting, trade, research, management, and invention are just as integral to keep the game world functioning.
The game world's starting continents or archipelagos will be hundreds of kilometers in length and width, featuring fully-fleshed out ecosystems and biomes that can change due to over-exploitation. The world is populated by twelve Tribes, divergent human subspecies that originated from the evolutionary pressures of the biome that they made home. While some Tribes are incarnations of standard fantasy races such as dwarves, gnomes, etc., others are unique to the game.
While these features seem to be sandbox-oriented, the game will have a scripted 10-year long story driven by player and NPC actions as well as detailed lore.
Finally, the world is divided into various political entities, from large kingdoms to the humble town or barony, and playing as a member of the nobility adds elements of Construction and Management Games to the gameplay. There also will exist independent player organizations such as guilds, schools, and associations, the former having a specific economic role rather than just being groups for organizing raids. The main website of Chronicles of Elyria can be found here.
Chronicles of Elyria contains examples of:
- Above Good and Evil: The Al'tifali religion, which follows the Two-Fold Queen, and is practiced by the Dras and Waerd, sees good and evil as just constructs made by Mann, and thus rejects them, instead seeking balance in all things.
- A.I.-Generated Economy: As 70% of the characters on a server will be NPCs, much of the economy will depend upon NPC crafting and resource gathering.
- And Man Grew Proud: Chronicles of Elyria takes place thousands of years after an enigmatic apocalypse split the world into three planes of existance: Haven, New Elyria, and Karcion. However, the details of said apocalypse are unknown, and the various religions of Elyria have different interpretations. The Qindred believe that Elyria was split in a magical conflagration known as The Burning, while the Vitori believe that the split occurred after a great war between the Gods that ended with both the Virtues (good deities) and Vices (evil deities) being sealed away in different planes, the former sealed in Haven, and the latter in Karcion.
- Anyone Can Die: Due to the constantly progressing story and evolving game world, NPCs and players are equally killable. PVP is possible anywhere, but unwarranted murder will have nasty consequences.
- Ascended Meme: A common joke/meme on the forums was about the elusive purebread horse (not a typo). Soulbound apparently noticed this and for their 2019 Kickstarterversary gave everyone who had bought a package before September 2018 one free purebread horse, complete with food puns, especially of the sandwich variety.No one really knows when the first Purebread horse came prancing out of an Elyrian oven but, ever since, the purebread horse has been a delicacy across all of the known world. Adorably tasty and great for sandwiches!
- The Beforetimes: The Qindred refer to the time before the splitting of Elyria as "antepyrovian," as they believe that the world was split in a great fire. This term is also extended to the inhabitants of pre-Burning Elyria.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: The Brudvir, due to their reduced poison tolerance, are much easier to get drunk than any other race.
- Command & Conquer Economy: Averted. While rulers can set broad-strokes policy such as tax laws, infrastructure investment, etc., the economy is mostly private and driven by commoners, both player and NPC.
- Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: The Dras have these naturally, adding to their already ghoulish appearance.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Dras have jet black hair and extremely pallid white skin, that gives them a zombie-esque appearance which, combined with their swamp homeland, gives them a creepy vibe. They're not particularly evil or aggressive, though, just creepy looking.
- Elective Monarchy: The Neran and the Dras, in cases where the ruler dies with no heirs, will hold an election amongst the aristocracy to determine their new ruler. With the Neran it's a straightforward election where whoever gets the most votes becomes king (or queen), but for the Dras, there's a twist. In their election, they vote for whoever they least want to become the new ruler and whoever gets the least votes becomes the new king/queen. This is to ensure that the most balanced and least partisan ruler is chosen.
- The Exile:
- Being exiled is entirely possible, though generally requires that you be an asshat, a griefer, or have rejected the area's cultural norms to an egregious degree.
- The Dras, an entire tribe, were exiled from their previous homes twice, first due to not developing the striping the Janoa, who they once were, did, then to preserve the limited food supply of the To'Resk after the latter took them in and a devastating drought hit their homeland.
- The Dras are also willing to exile some of their population from a settlement for a time, when there isn't enough prey to go around. Said exiles are free to join any other Drasean settlement, and return when prey levels reach their previous equilibrium again, though.
- Final Death: A game mechanic. Essentially, as long as you have spirit left you can spirit walk back to your body after being coup de graced (read: killed after being incapacitated) at the cost of some lifetime. However, once your character grows old enough (roughly 52 in game years of one real life year from the time you can inhabit their bodies), they will die and you will need to put your soul into someone else's body. Also NPCs will die permanently the first time they are coup de graced for story reasons.
- Fragile Speedster: The Kypiq. Highly agile and mobile, but due to their small size, any blunt impact will do a lot more damage to them, stemming from a disadvantage called "Glass Jaw."
- The Horseshoe Effect: Al'Tifali, the religion of the Two-Fold Queen, teaches that at the extremes, things become very similar, providing as an example that extremely bright light is just as blinding as pitch blackness.
- Humans by Any Other Name: The Neran, one of the Twelve Tribes, is almost identical to real-life humans.
- Human Subspecies: The playable races, called Tribes, are this. Each Tribe, with the exception of the Neran, are offshoots of Mann that evolved to adapt to their home biome, developing differing adaptations and physical proportions such as height.
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Justified with the Waerd. As they see themselves as part of one larger whole they take great pains to look alike, making it easier for them to disguise themselves as someone else of their tribe. Also, interestingly, when their king dies without an heir, whoever looks most like the deceased monarch becomes the new king, in order to create a sense of continuity.
- An Interior Designer Is You: Players will be able to decorate the interiors of their homes to their hearts' content.
- Looks Like Cesare: Their in-game concept model◊ make the Dras look like a tribe of Cesare clones, being tall, thin, and lanky (6'4" and 150 lbs) with long limbs, pale skin, sunken eyes, and scraggly, stringy black hair.
- The Magic Comes Back: Chronicles Of Elyria's plot is kicked off by the awakening of an Antepyrovian - an inhabitant of Old Elyria, before the apocalypse that split the world. The developers have also confirmed that magic, while currently a myth, will become more prevalent in the world over time.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: The Waerd, who are about as close as you can get to a hive mind while having everyone be an individual, heavily frown on romance and childbearing between one of their own and someone of another tribe, with the nobles and aristocracy outright calling it heresy.
- Massive Race Selection: There are twelve Tribes, human subspecies that act as races, to choose from, each with their own culture and traits: the Neran, Hrothi, Brudvir, Kypiq, Janoa, Dras, The Waerd, To'resk, Mydarri, Owem, Erishé, and Yoru. However, the last four Tribes will not be found on the starting continent and will have to discover or be discovered by the players before characters using them could be made.
- Medieval Stasis: Averted. While the game starts off at a Dark Age level of technology, players and NPC crafters will be able to contribute to research and discover new knowledge and patterns for items over time, and the developers have suggested that causing an industrial revolution and developing steam technology by the end of the ten-year story is entirely possible.
- The Migration:
- The Dras went through two! The first was after they left the Janoa due to being used as slave labor because of their lack of striping, at the end of which, they settled with the To'resk. However, they were kicked out and forced to go on another migration when a drought left the To'resk barely able to support themselves, let alone the Dras. This one ended when they occupied empty lands deep in the putrid, rotting swamps that even the To'resk wouldn't take, and forced them to develop their current advantages just to survive. Interestingly, they only pretend to have bad relations with the latter, so they (the To'resk) can appeal to the Janoa's ego.
- The Waerd also went through one. Tired of being nomads in the arid desert, they split off from the Erishé and migrated to the semi-arid desert and settled down there, though not without significant challenge, in the form of large dangerous beasts and difficulty finding water.
- Morality Kitchen Sink: Due to the realistic feel of the game, players could be paragons of virtue, exemplars of evil, or just in between. Most intriguingly with the Soulborn Engine, moral decisions made by the player early in the game may affect opportunities later, making a slippery slope into evil very possible.
- Never Gets Drunk: The Dras, due to their high resistance to poison and the fact that they can drink tainted water with no ill effect, are extremely hard to get drunk.
- North Is Cold, South Is Hot: The maps voted on by the player base all had taiga in the northern extreme, and warmer environments the further south you go, until you get to the hot rainforests of the far south.
- Organ Drops: The devs have explicitly said that if you kill and attempt to loot an animal, you will find things like the stomach, liver, bones, and muscles, rather than gauntlets or cash (unless the animal in question has eaten some coins recently).
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The Hrothi fit the stereotypical dwarf almost to a T — they are shorter than humans yet have large upper body muscle mass, live under or near mountains, and are master miners, blacksmiths, and masons. However, they are not especially bearded, and do not have a Norse or Germanic theme.
- Our Elves Are Better: The Janoa are examples of the Forest/Feral Elf archetype: tall, lanky tree climbers with a martial culture and cultural talent at hunting and ranging.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: While not much is known about the Yoru so far as they will not be discovered at launch, but it is known that they are blue-tinted giants with cold resistance due to a unique protein that their bodies produce.
- Our Gnomes Are Weirder: The Kypiq are simultaneously Forest Gnomes and Tinker Gnomes at the same time: they live in trees and revere nature, but also compete with the Neran for the title of being the most technologically advanced tribe, and are fond of mechanical devices.
- The Plague: The Searing Plague. An event from before the release of the game, where a plague sweeps through and the players try to find a cure.
- Player-Generated Economy: Just as in EVE Online, every good will have to be crafted from scratch. Occasionally Downplayed as NPCs will make up 70% of all characters on a server and therefore will do the majority of the work.
- Perpetually Static: Averted to hell and back. The game world is driven by the actions of the players and NPCs, each quest is uniquely generated by the game engine for a player and is only available once, and every character is killable.
- Reincarnation: A prominent part of the character progression mechanics, as characters will eventually succumb to either old age or a violent death. Their soul is then taken to the Soul Chamber of the Akashic Records, where they pick a new body to reincarnate in; most often, their offspring. A character will receive bonuses to training skills that their past lives trained, and these bonuses stack with each life. However, this will have diminishing returns for skills only trained in distant lives instead of more recently.
- Spirit World: The Astral Plane is a realm connecting the various other planes of existence. When a character experiences a coup de grace, their spirit is catapulted into the Astral Plane and is forced to navigate their way back to their body within a time limit, or their character dies for good and the spirit is forced to reincarnate.
- Weakened by the Light: The Dras are weak to sunlight, due to the fact that they are adapted to their homeland's poorly lit swamps. Being in direct sunlight too long causes sunburn that can quickly become wounds if they don't get out of the sun.
- Your Soul Is Mine: The Janoa believe all things have spirit within them, and that eating the things they kill, they can absorb their spirits and grow stronger.