We spoke at great length about the Warhammer setting. Two books from the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay series were specifically mentioned - Karak Azgal: Adventures in the Dragonscrag and Ashes of Middenheim: Paths of the Damned. The material in Karak Azgal was a great inspiration for the design and look of the Dwarvish race and classes while Ashes of Middenheim helped inspire the Imperial race. For fans of WFRP there are plans for an implemented fate points system and insanity point system. No details on the insanity point system were available at this time other than a confirmation of the existence and implementation. Fate points will be used to save yourself from death and can be used in certain "movie moments", such as jumping across a giant ravine. One way of gaining fate points is through "community quests" - more on that in a bit.
Warhammer Online implements several different kinds of quests. There are the standard "Kill Monster X", "Fetch Item Y" type quests. After that there are what's called "community" or "public" quests. These quests are available to anybody of your faction that wanders into a particular area. For example, in the demo I played, players were guided to an area near a large giant. When in the area or within a certain radius of the giant everyone received a quest flag in the upper right hand corner stating that the giant needed beer. Twenty barrels of beer in fact. Anyone receiving the quest message could participate by finding and clicking on the beer barrels in the area.
Once all the players in the area have scrounged the requisite twenty barrels the quest is considered complete. In our case a second community quest opened up. This time the objective was to kill the twenty squigs that were harassing the Giant who, not surprisingly, was too drunk to defend himself. Layering community quests like this is one way the developers at Mythic hope to help foster the development of a community. When players participate in and help complete community quests they will be rewarded with a variety of rewards such as money, experience and fate points. The rewards will be given on a sliding scale which is to say that rewards will be commensurate with the player's participation.
The quest journal, long a staple of MMORPGs to help players keep track of in game missions has been given a wonderful addition. In addition to the standard quest information the journal will also have a bestiary of sorts listing the various monsters and mobs that they would encounter in the game. Players will start off with a basic bestiary that includes a concept art sketch of the monster. If told, for example, to go hunt Squigs in game, players can simply open the bestiary to see that squigs are little rubbery ball things with lots of teeth as well as some basic information about squigs. The journal will also have a killboard function showing how many of each type of monster the player has killed. As players encounter more and more monsters their entries in the book will expand to include more details on the monsters they encounter.
In the design and layout of the non-community quests I was told that there will be three basic types. Green quests are the basic newbie town quests that don't require players to enter into direct conflict with the other factions. Yellow type quests may involve moving into the fringes of enemy territory or border zones. If you're following along you might surmise that the next type of quest is Red and they involve direct entrance into RVR or enemy territory, raiding enemy territory for example.
Since we're talking about direcly with "enemy" factions I would like to move into a little bit of detail about these factions. There are going to be a total of six possible races. Goblins/Orcs and Dwarves, Dark Elves and High Elves and Humans and Chaos. Every race has a paired enemy, a sort of default enemy for the beginning of the game. These pairings are not a limitation to the game however, there is nothing at all preventing, say Dwarves, Elves and Humans to throw their lot in with each other to defend their city from a Greenskin/Chaos incursion.
I was unable to get complete details on each of the faction but here is a quick rundown on what I did find. Careers, the terminology for Warhammer Online instead of classes, for the Dwarves include Ironbreaker, Hammerer Runepriest, and Engineer. Goblins will have a "pet class" - the Squig Herder. Squig Herders are goblins that are followed around by their pet squig, a sort of semi-intelligent fungus with lots of sharp and pointy teeth. Squig Herders will have the ability to order their squig to swallow them whole and control the squig from the inside, becoming a massive killing machine. When the ability expires the squig herder will be spat out, along with the remains of anything else the squig happened to swallow.
Each race will have a mixture of direct combat and spellcasting careers but the ratio of combat to magic may not be the same for every race. For example Greenskins will have two magic and two direct combat careers while Dwarves will have one spellcasting class (Runepriest) and three direct combat careers. Careers will be faction specific and will each fit into the Warhammer universe.
PvP is the heart of Warhammer Online. It is referred to Realm versus Realm combat, or RvR. Unlike other MMORPGs there aren't any seperate areas for RvR combat - RvR combat will take place on the same maps that the rest of the game takes place on. RvR areas will still be demarcated from the rest of the map however. I was shown a reddish fog that, when crossed, initiated a countdown timer letting me know that I was in an RvR area. This means that there aren't any special gates or entrances to seperate battlefields for RvR combat. Inter-faction fighting will go on very close to home and players will have to deal with large disputed areas of territory in the game.
The ultimate goal of Warhammer Online is to have an effect on your faction's standing in the world. When logging on you can see how your faction is doing before you jump into the action. I was told that the design philosophy of the game is bent towards allowing even new players to have an effect on their faction's standing. The example I was given was the community quest with the alcoholic giant - if the community quest is completed the giant will fight for your faction and help improve your faction's standing.
Death in Warhammer Online will take place on very generous terms. I was told that there will be no "resurrection sickness". Players will not lose equipment or items when they die. The only punishment will be a mild time sink. In RvR combat the victor will receive a bounty for killing members of the enemy faction but those who are killed will not be subject to having their corpses looted.
On accessory features, specifically crafting and mounts, I was told that there would be a crafting system and that mounts will be in the game. However, there is no further information on them at this time.
Individual players will have an incredible array of possibility of customization for characters. I was told that if ten or fifteen Ironbreakers were lined up next to each other each would be unique and discernible. However they would all still be recognizable as Ironbreakers, a necessity in RvR combat. Players will also be able to add trophies to their characters as they engage in combat with monsters and with other players in RvR, allowing further customization.
Given that this is Warhammer the combat system is extremely robust. A system of morale has been implemented. Morale is boosted by nearby victories, your faction's stance on the field and special magic effects. As it increases you will have the option of executing spectacular combat moves or effects. Players will also have the option of setting tactics before or while they are in combat. For example a fighting character may have a "+1 damage vs. Stunties" tactic, a wise addition when entering into battle with dwarves. Characters will have a set number of slots to equip different tactics with and each tactic will take up different numbers of slots. Despite the dark, gritty and violent feel of the Warhammer universe the developers are aiming for a "Teen" rating.
Finally, I would like to conclude by saying that we will have female dwarves. However, I was unable to receive a confirmation as to whether or not they would be bearded. Mythic is still working that out with Games Workshop.