A short time in the future, Earth is attacked by a hostile alien alliance known as the Bane, for apparently no reason. The best, brightest, and strongest are evacuated by wormholes, while the Bane take over, pollute, and strip-mine Earth. The player is a Receptive, able to learn, invoke, and wield logos, for the Allied Free Sentients—a loose coalition of species discovered and led by humanity through the series of wormholes discovered by the fleeing humans. Of course, the Bane outnumber the AFS a hundred to one, and the Receptives might just be all that stand between the AFS and annihilation.
Tabula Rasa had a short run compared to other MMORPGs, closing down just fifteen months after its release on March 1, 2009 . In its wake, everyone from gaming websites to bloggers to former NCSoft employees and managers weighed in on why it failed, usually blaming it on confused game mechanics, poor sales, low subscription numbers, and a long development cycle. In the end, it turned out that it was really NCSoft killing the relatively healthy MMO to prevent Garriott from earning a windfall in stocks, going as far as to fake his resignation letter in order to let him take the inevitable heat.
This game has examples of:
- Attack Reflector: The Guardian Reflection power lets them reflect 50% of a particular damage type back at whoever inflicted it.
- Beehive Barrier: Guardians again, with their class power.
- Conlang: The Eloh's ideographic writing system is used for Logos. The actual spoken component of the Eloh language is never heard, but appears to be an Argot, as sentence construction is generally similar to English.
- Breakable Weapons: Your weapon can reach 0% durability, but that just means it's got a chronic jam and you need to go get it fixed—it doesn't disappear. As your weapon gets used, it degrades both in condition and performance (meaning damage and heating rate), and doing things it wasn't designed to do (No, bashing in someone's skull with a rocket launcher is not how it was designed to be used. Doing that with a staff, on the other hand...) causes it to degrade faster.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Resuscitation—either through respawning at a hospital or in the field with the help of squadmates—causes Resuscitation Trauma; 10% equipment damage and all attributes reduced by 20% for 5 minutes. This condition gets worse with subsequent deaths, reducing stats by 60% for 15 minutes.
- Downer Ending: The game ended with a massive Bane attack that lasted until the servers shut down at midnight, making it seem like the Bane won the war.
- Fanservice: There were quite a few playboy partially nude (and one fully nude) pictures of Sarah Morrison from the game in, aptly, an issue of Play Boy.
- Flash Step: The Commando's Rushing Blow, sort of.
- Functional Magic: Really, the only way to describe Logos. The proper combination of them allows the player to do stuff like Force Laser Blast, or telekinetically propel themselves into an enemy. The very first ability you learn has the Fan Nickname of Force Lightning.
- Guns Akimbo: Series 3 Laser Pistols.
- Lord British Postulate:
- The trope-naming incident from Ultima Online was Lampshaded here, with a special event where the Bane sent clones of General British to attack the AFS.
- NCSoft also apparently decided that the postulate needs to apply to Richard Garriott's actual career as well, considering they waited until Richard was off-planet before pulling the plug and faking his resignation.
- Magic Knight: Every player character in the game is some flavor of this. On one hand, every Receptive is a fully-trained combat soldier with access to a wide variety of conventional (and unconventional) firearms, grenades, and body armor. On the other, every Receptive has Logos Abilities at their disposal, no matter what class they are. Different classes have different powers; everyone has access to Lightning, for example, but only Biotechnicans, Medics, and Exobiologists get access to proper healing powers, and only the combat classes get access to the major damage-dealing powers.
- Magic Genetics: Deconstructed. Receptives owe their ability to use Logos from their genes, but this is only because those specific genes act as a "password" to access shrines left behind by the Eloh and receive Logos Element information from them. This was a system deliberately set up by the Eloh, because the Eloh had modified early humans in the past to express those genes.
- Several missions describe the AFS' ongoing attempts to give non-Receptives the genetic ability to receive Logos Elements. These experiments have led to horrific ends such as fast-growing cancerous tumors.
- Money Spider: Justified by the AFS giving out bounties for taking out hostile wildlife and Bane targets. Credits are a purely electronic currency; rather than looting them from corpses, they're automatically wired for making the kill.
- More Dakka: First, there were Chainguns. Then there was the Type 2 Cbaingun, which hoses down a cone of fire. After that came the Type 3 Chaingun, which is a man-portable minigun.
- Precursors: The Eloh are Benevolent Precursors that are forced into behaving Neglectful. They try to help other races, but they can't show their face without getting it smashed in by the Bane.
- Prestige Class: The AFS has four tiers of classes, with each tier having twice as many classes as the previous one. At each point, when a Receptive is ready to advance into the next tier, they have a choice between two classes in the next tier.
- Rainbow Pimp Gear: Averted, actually. Paint is readily available for anyone that wants it. (Unless you like black or white.)
- Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Maximum range on any targeting is 100m.
- Spiritual Successor: Basically a science fiction Ultima, right down to mysterious entities called Logos based on virtues.
- Standard FPS Guns: Pistols, shotguns, and semi-automatic rifles are available to Receptives of all classes. Classes under the Soldier's half of the class tree also get access to chainguns, RPG and rocket launchers, sniper rifles, and propellant guns (the fire damage-type one being a good ol' flamethrower).
- Uncoffee: Coffite, a brew produced by the Cormans billed by the AFS Post Exchange as "something like coffee that's better than no coffee at all." Justified in that the fall of Earth to the Bane forced surviving humans to find substitutes for most of their food and drink. Most AFS soldiers (both among roleplayers and those in-setting) find it a poor substitute.
- Warp Whistle: Portable wormholes, that patch into the teleportation network, letting you get back to town instantly!
- The War Sequence: The last few hours of the game had every player online at the time going at each other in a massive final battle against a Bane offensive. At midnight the game shut down and everyone was thanked for playing.