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Video Game / Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

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Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is Richard "Lord British" Garriott's Spiritual Successor both to his own cult RPG series Ultima and to its MMORPG offshoot, Ultima Online, created by his new studio Portalarium.

The game is set in a Wide-Open Sandbox of the Constructed World of New Britannia, which is still recovering from the massive Cataclysm that destroyed the old civilization several generations ago. Furthermore, the population of the world is under constant threat from the monsters spawned by the Cataclysm, and the prophecies tell about the impending End of an Age, which many fear will be much like the Cataclysm itself. You, as the Avatar, return to New Britannia and are tasked with following the eponymous Virtues (Truth, Courage, and Love), facing the Hidden Villain, and ultimately restoring peace and harmony to the world. While the game is playable offline, the devs actively promoted its "Selective Multi-Player" mode, which aims to be the middle-ground between small-scale Co-Op Multiplayer and a full-blown MMORPG. In short, it works by allowing you to select which other players (if any) you want to play with, so that no others can join your game. Offline characters are not playable online and vice versa.

Originally envisioned as the first installment of the Shroud of the Avatar pentalogy, Forsaken Virtues was funded on Kickstarter, collecting over $1.9 million in pledges. It entered early access in November 2014 and was finally released in March 2018, but following a lukewarm-to-negative reception, went Free-to-Play in October of the same year. In October 2019, Portalarium sold off all of the game's assets to Catnip Games and presumably shut down. While Catnip Games has maintained Forsaken Virtues ever since, SotA as a brand appears to be a Stillborn Franchise at this point.

The game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • After the End: The world of SotA is seeded with the remains of the old civilizations destroyed by the Cataclysm. The modern civilization is basically built upon the ruins of old.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Downplayed. If your hometown falls under siege, you will not be able to access any facilities in it (including your own house) until you lift the siege.
  • Allegedly Free Game: During the open beta phase of development, one of the main sources of revenue for the company was selling real estate in their game for real money (and pretty steep sums, too). While it was possible to just grind enough gold in-game, it would take years to purchase even a simple homestead, to say nothing about more fancy structures.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: You can loot or craft various non-functional enhancements and place them on the walls and floor of a house you own.
  • Arc Number: SotA seems to have inherited the Arc Number 8 from Ultima: there are eight magic schools, eight combat schools, etc.
  • Artificial Script: Like Ultima, all in-game inscriptions are made using an invented alphabet (despite being technically in English).
  • Bag of Holding: Driven to rather ridiculous lengths in order to avoid Bag of Spilling: if you lose the land lot you built your house on, your entire house (including all decorations) is put into your inventory, to be redeployed once you purchase enough land again.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: The "great Cataclysm 400 years ago" alluded to by Arabella.
  • Character Class System: Averted. The closest it comes to a class is the "Avatar archetypes" (warrior-melee, warrior-ranged, wizard-offensive, wizard-defensive), which seem to be just appearance templates rather than traditional classes.
  • Character Level: The Avatar has two independent levels: Adventuring and Crafting, increased by gaining the respective kind of XP from appropriate activities.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: The artists asked female community members to submit photos of their faces to base the female Avatar models upon.
  • Constructed World: New Britannia, the successor to Britannia and Sosaria of old.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Garriot claimed that the word "shroud" has multiple meanings in the context of the story.
  • Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer: If you play online, you can switch between visibility modes (not seeing other players, seeing only friends, and seeing anyone of comparable level) anytime you are in a town.
  • Elemental Crafting: Light Armor is made from cloth or leather; Medium Armor, of chain or scales; and Heavy Armor is steel plate. There are also shields, which are considered armor.
  • Elemental Powers: There are eight elemental schools of magic in the game: Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Sun, Moon, Life, and Death. There is also Chaos, which is not an element in itself but stands in the middle of everything else.
  • Expy: Conrad Dupre, Knight of Norgard, is a pretty transparent one of Dupre The Paladin from the old Ultima series, while Fiona Fitzowen is essentially a gender-flipped Iolo FitzOwen, down to wielding a crossbow as her signature weapon. Ariel Rosehaven may be an incarnation of Mariah the Mage, another of the Avatar's old companions.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Avatar.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: While the game imposes no such restrictions on the Avatar gender, the first created male Avatar model belonged to the warrior-melee archetype, while the first female Avatar was warrior-ranged.
  • Hidden Villain: The Avatar is destined to face the "hidden ruler of this world" at the end of their journey.
  • A Home Owner Is You: When playing online, you can own a house in one of the major settlements of the world, though you have to pay in-game currency monthly for the land it stands upon and you lose your land after half a year of inactivity. Offline, you don't have to pay anything and your land and houses always remain yours.
  • Item Crafting: Just as in the Ultima series, crafting is an essential part of the gameplay. An early demo showcased an Avatar chopping down a tree, sawing the logs into planks, making a chair, putting it on the roof of his house, and sitting on it. Crafting is divided into three stages, and each has five skills that form a chain from raw resource to final product:
    • Gathering: Mining, Forestry, Agriculture, Field Dressing, and Foraging
    • Refining: Smelting, Milling, Textiles, Tanning, and Butchery
    • Production: Blacksmithing, Carpentry, Tailoring, Cooking, and Alchemy
  • Keywords Conversation: The game deliberately uses the same system as its Ultima forebears.
  • Lord British Postulate: You can kill Lord British in SotA, but it's still very, very hard.
  • Multi-Melee Master: The Avatar can specialize in Blades (swords, axes), Polearms (halberds, spears), Bludgeons (hammers, clubs), or Ranged weapons (bows, crossbows).
  • Non-Player Companion: NPC companions can only be hired in the single-player offline mode to avoid multiple players running around with the same NPC in tow. The first episode (Forsaken Virtues) will feature three companions: the Old Soldier Conrad Dupre on the Path of Courage, the Wandering Minstrel Fiona Fitzowen on the Path of Love, and the stern scholar Ariel Rosehaven on the Path of Truth.
  • No Stat Atrophy: Averted since the switch to the Stat Grinding skill system, as the unused skills are now decaying at a very slow rate with the progression of the in-game time.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The "seekers of truth, the elvenfolk of legend" are said to be lost in the mists of their own illusions.
  • Ouroboros: Part of the Combat Sigil.
  • Overworld Not to Scale: This has caused a lot of contention among the backers, but the devs have defended their vision, as it allows them to create fewer but more detailed locations (that can be accessed from every tile of the world map) than in a completely continuous world.
  • The Paladin: Conrad Dupre, while not explicitly called a paladin like his old Ultima counterpart, is an honorable knight who fights with a sword and a shield and wields healing magic in combat.
  • Player Personality Quiz: The game uses a simplified version of the Ultima IV personality quiz during character creation.
  • The Prophecy: One of the ancient legends foretells the End of an Age in the same year that the Avatar enters the game world.
  • Random Encounters: While traveling on the world map, you can be interrupted by a random enemy attack. Except dragons—them, you see coming from afar.
  • Respawning Enemies: Par of course in the online modes, but downplayed offline: enemies in some locations never respawn, others do but only at certain plot points (like sieges), and yet others (like wildlife) respawn regularly to provide a constant source of crafting materials.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: Skill points were originally gained with character levels (Adventure and Crafting levels give points for respective skills) and could be spend on Active and Innate (passive) perks. With Release 21, however, the game switched to Stat Grinding instead. Perks form a skill tree and new ones have to be unlocked by visiting a trainer after clearing all the prerequisites. Multiple points can be invested into said perks, increasing the passives' effect and giving the Avatar more "copies" of actives, so they can be used more often.
  • Steampunk: Some elements of it are mixed into the Standard Fantasy Setting.
  • Trapped in Another World: The Avatar comes to New Britannia from Earth, Lord British's homeworld.
  • The Undead: The undead in New Britannia are creatures of Spite, the antithesis to Love.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Just like in Ultima, the players are free to go wherever they want and do whatever suits them.

Alternative Title(s): Shroud Of The Avatar