For too long have the NPCs (and the player, for that matter) in URR walked around without the appropriate protection required in the dangerous, unpredictable, sort-of-medieval and sort-of-Renaissance and sort-of-Industrial-Revolution world of Ultima Ratio Regum. But, no longer! The many new sets of items coming with this release include all kinds of melee weapons (and others I’ll show off later), shields, and armour (again, I’ll show these off later). 

Firstly, let’s start with “slashing” weapons! These have various categories, such as scimitars, rapiers, shortswords, longsowrds, and greatswords. All the weapon generators have the usual three quality levels for items of “low”, “medium” and “high” quality. In all the pictures the low-quality weapons will have nothing of note on the hilt or the handle; the medium-quality weapons will have a symbol on them appropriate to the aesthetic preference of their nation (square, circle, pentagon, whatever), and also some more lines on the blade itself; and the high-quality ones will have golden symbols on the handles, two-part tiles showing the colours of their nation (I just used two placeholders for this generator but of course these could be basically any pair of colours), and often some quite intricate designs on the blades themselves. The blades for the higher-quality weapons are also slightly lighter than those for the other two quality levels. I am extremely happy with how these all look; they have nice variation in their overall shapes, and there are  many hundreds of permutations for each one, not counting colours (which of course make the number of possibilities skyrocket). These can appear for feudal or nomadic civilizations, while tribal civilizations might generate with stone blades (which I haven’t yet made the generators for, but will soon).

Let’s now move onto shields! All three sorts of civilization in URR – “feudal” (which is my general term for “sedentary” civilizations, a la Europe or East Asia from 1500-1800 or so), nomadic, and tribal, and each naturally is going to have its own generation algorithm for shields. However, since the player is part of a feudal nation and these are most of the nations in the game, I wanted to make sure the feudal shields were particularly good. There are five kinds of shields that can appear for these civilizations, which are kite shields, heater shields, bucklers, pavises, and tower shields (I think it will be pretty clear from the below picture which of these is which). each of these can appear in many different sizes, and in three tiers of quality, shown here from highest-quality (very rare) to lowest (very common). I also wanted to make sure as ever that the aesthetics of each civilization were reflected, so you’ll see the cores and the central “cross” on each shield will reflect the aesthetic shape preference (square, circle, octagon, cross, diamond) of the nation that shield was constructed in, and each of these has a large number of different variations, which hopefully can be seen here. In turn, the colour of the metal changes from a dark grey for the low-quality shields to a lighter grey (maybe with a hint of being well-polished, or a bit of silver, perhaps?) for the medium-quality shields that most of the well-off soldiers might use, and then the top shields are of course brushed with (but not made from!) gold. You will also see the colours and a shape-appropriate design for each civilization shows up here as well; again, many many variations for “cross” patterns or “circle” patterns or whatever, and the patterns use the colours from that nation’s flag. On the low-quality shields there is none of this; on the medium-quality shields two of the four segments display appropriate colours and patterns; and, of course, on the best shields, the entire shield is intricately decorated. As with all of these in this blog post, the high-quality versions are going to be very rare, and very expensive.

Heavy weapons up next – these can be clubs, axes, maces, warhammers, and battleaxes, and you can see one of each here, again at a range of different qualities. I originally wanted to include flails, but I spent a disproportionate amount of time on these and I just could not get the flail to look good in the game’s ANSI art style. It is certainly possible that i will return to this again later and give it another shot, but for the time being, these are the five we get. Clubs, axes and maces are all possible for tribal civilizations, while the full set can be found in feudal and nomadic civilizations. I have to also add that I am particularly happy with the warhammer, I think, of this entire selection – that’s one of my favourites of all the generators here. Again, every one has a massive range of potential designs on the head of the weapon, and on the hilt. Whereas the swords will be sheathed when not used (I am not going to generate scabbards, it’ll just say “Sheathed” or “Drawn” or whatever in-game), these will be strapped to someone’s back.

Now let’s move onto nomadic shield. I wanted these two largely echo the style of the feudal shields but to also be distinct, evoke a different art style, maybe suggest different materials, and basically be similar enough (as parts of cultures that probably exchange a lot of information) but also different enough that one could not be mistaken for the other. I settled on these sorts of intricate designs for the nomadic shields since their flags very much have this kind of “lines” motif – so, I added a large range of variations, and then set it up so that the high-quality shields have these large chunks of intricate patterning on them, the medium-quality shields have two lines of patterning on them running from top to bottom, and the low-quality shields are devoid of these patterns but are still a different colour and (you will note) have a different internal generation of pieces and visuals from the low-quality feudal ones. These also spawn in different shapes – whereas feudal civilizations can generate both pavises and tower shields with the appropriate policies, for nomadic civilizations you will see heater, bucklers, and kites.

Now we come to short weapons. There are five types (four shown here) which are knives, sais, kamas, butterfly swords, and khopeshes. Knives are fairly mundane and I think we all know what those are, but I found some other more interesting short weapon variations that could also potentially later bring with them some interesting gameplay variety. As with all the others, these differ in qualities on their handles and on their blades, so for instance the knife is of a high quality here as you can tell from the golden shapes and the flag on its handle, as well as the intricate markings on its blade (showing it comes from a civilization with an “octagon” aesthetic preference); the butterfly sword is also of high quality although from a different civ, and the other two are both medium quality. As with all the weapons there are dozens of permutations for the handles and the blades and the colourings, and I’m overall really pleased with how these came out.

Next, tribal shields! Again I wanted these to be different, and I felt this was a good moment to integrate a lot more colour and some bolder designs than one might see on the more “professional army”-type shields one sees in other civilizations. There are two potential shield shapes here, the “tribal shield” shape (the long vertical one, inspired by the shield shape often associated with the Zulu Kingdom), and also bucklers. Here we again have examples of the three levels of quality, with the top ones having these two golden bars, the middle-quality ones having paler colourings and a silver bar, and the low-quality shields being most obviously made out of wood. (The wooden colourings will of course vary, but they don’t in this particular image since I was just using placeholder wood colours). The patterns then were a lot o fun to create and I’m really happy with how they came out, as there are quite a range of different patterns that can appear on these shields. I really like these and I think they’re bold, colourful, and distinctive, while also clearly demonstrating that these would nevertheless be functional items in a fight. (Also, more broadly it should be noted that “tribal” civilizations need a ton more effort, and I would like to rework them to be massively more varied and based on many more archetypes, e.g. a mesoamerican civilization, a north american civilization, a Cretan civilization, etc – but this is for the future). 

And this brings us last, but not least, to long weapons, which show us harpoons, spears, naginatas, ranseurs, and halberds. The implication here is that the shaft of the weapon continues off-screen (this will be made clearer) but of course the visible parts of the weapon’s shat, and its point, are the important part. There were many long weapons that didn’t make the cut here, such as distinguishing poleaxes from halberds, but I felt these five options were sufficiently visually distinctive to get the variation across, and (again) to suggest significant gameplay differences further down the line. As with all the above examples the designs on the shaft will demonstrate the quality of the weapon as will the patterns on the blade itself, so we we will note the spear here is of high quality, the ranseur, halberd and naginata are of middling quality, and the harpoon is of low quality. 

So, there we have it. All the melee weapons and all the shields are now generating correctly. Bows and crossbows of various types are also generating images now, and armour is partly done, but all of these I’ll be showing off in a later blog post. In 0.9 all guards, soldiers, mercenaries and so forth will be spawning with appropriate weapons, and we’ll have appropriate mechanics for carrying them, sheathing them, things of this sort. The player will probably start out with a weapon appropriate to their civilization, but since they cannot yet be used to, y’know, clobber people, I might not do this in order to avoid ambiguity. We’ll see. Either way, these should massively add to the detail that can be found in the NPCs moving around the game world, and also, of course, will serve as trade goods. I also – not in 0.9 – plan to have social consequences for the weapons, so for instance it should be almost always socially acceptable to carry a short weapon, sometimes acceptable to carry a slashing weapon, but rarely acceptable to just lug around a long or heavy weapon, unless you’re in a nation that prefers that weapon type. The trade-offs, of course, could be that the long/heavy weapons are generally stronger in combat, but carry social penalties if you take them around with you, and this will be something to strategise and balance.

And, of course, combat remains a goal for the future! Increasingly as I’ve developed these I’ve built up an idea of what a potential combat system for this game might look like (a kind of turn-based Sekiro?) and I think it has some fascinating potential – but that’s all further down the line, after 1.0 (which I am now trying to sprint towards at the fastest possible speed). As for other similar items, bows, crossbows, arrows, bolts, firearms, gunpowder bags, and musket balls will all be shown off in a later update. (There are also dozens of item categories I haven’t yet shown off, but I’ll try to keep the updates coming at a reasonable pace for the next few months). Thanks everyone, I do hope you enjoyed this post!

9 Comments

  • Nice work on these weapons! All of them look great and it’s obvious you did a lot of research into it to get them to look so good.

  • These look great! I particularly like the designs on the shields and how the heavy weapons have a three-dimensional look to them. Speaking of shields, coincidentally right before reading this blog post I was read an article on RPS (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/age-of-empires-4-devs-interview-bees-cheats-and-the-john-wick-of-medieval-cities) that introduced me to the word ‘pavise’.

    Regarding social consequences for carrying around inappropriate weapons, I wonder if there will be a way to talk your way out of it to the local constabulary. “This massive battleaxe is purely ceremonial! It’s an important part of my culture!”

    • Thanks crowbar! Haha, yes, that is pretty much exactly what I’m thinking; if you’re a heavy-weapons culture it’ll be fine to walk around with one, and maybe you can make excuses elsewhere, or pay dispensations, or…?

  • Amazing update, Mark, thanks for a very detailed descriptions!
    Are you going to make the items perishable/destructable and have some kind of condition status, like a sword or an armor will get damaged after a battle or even break without proper maintenance? I mean in a game based around aesthetics it would be cool to have also a generator that will visually show completely new items and items that are rusty, missing some parts (like you did with tombstones?), broken and just really old and antique, like artifacts maybe.

  • Man, these look great (as always lol)!
    Also, I love interesting combat systems so a turn-based Sekiro sounds awesome! I’ve never been a big fan of the “move into the enemy to attack” combat system…

    • Thanks Taylor! Yes, I quite agree. I’m really happy with what I have scribbled out here on paper, so we’ll see how it goes when I actually put it in the game…!

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