The Dark Eye - Blackguards is based on a slightly modified version of the 4th edition of The Dark Eye (Das Schwarze Auge) ruleset, a German pen & paper RPG. This guide will in depth explain the mechanics behind the game.
Creating your Character
When starting the game there are 3 professions to choose from: Warrior, Hunter and Mage.
Blackguards employs a classless system, where anyone can learn any skill or use any weapon; the exception is that only the Mage can learn and cast spells. There are no character levels, you simply gain AP (Adventure Points) as experience and use them to improve your character.
The game presents 8 basics attributes: Courage (CO), Cleverness (CL), Intuition (IN), Charisma (CH), Dexterity (DE), Agility (AG), Constitution (CN) and Strength (ST).
These can be directly upgraded by spending APs and affect secondary stats, such as Speed, Initiative and Attack, among others. These are well displayed in-game:
On the image above we can see that increasing the character's Agility would cost 380 AP and affect my Attack Value (AV), Parry Value (PV), Dodge Value (DV), Initiative (INI) and Speed (SD). The blue bars show how close those values are to increasing; so on the image above increasing my Agility in 1 point would boost my Parry and Dodge values, but I would need two Agility points to increase my Attack Value.
You can also use your APs to directly increase your Vitality, Astral Energy and Resistance to Magic. The cost of upgrading any stat increases with the stat level, so your first extra Vitality point will cost only 16 APs at first, but a fifth extra Vitality point will cost 110 APs.
Base Combat Values
Each character has an Attack, Parry, Dodge, and Ranged Combat Value (AV, PV, DV and RC, respectively). These are determined by different attributes;
Attack Value (AV) = (Courage + Agility + Strength)/5 Parry Value (PV) = (Intuition + Agility + Strength)/5 Dodge Value (DV) = (Inutition + Agility + Strength)/5 Ranged Combat Value (RC) = (Intuition + Dexterity + Strength)/5
To those you add your current weapon talent bonus; note here that you can distribute your weapon talent points between AV and PV using the slider (no more than 5 points may be allocated this way). For example:
In the image above the character has 16 points in Axes and Maces, with 9 points allocated to Attack Value and 7 to Parry Value. Since he can distribute 5 points however he wants, he could go full offensive with 10 Attack Value/6 Parry Value, full defensive with 6 Attack Value/10 Parry Value, or anything in between.
Note that a character with a ranged weapon equipped cannot parry, so there's no Parry Value slider; every Talent Point in Ranged Weapons goes to the Ranged Combat Value.
At the start of combat, each character rolls a 1d6, the result is added to their Base Initiative Value (INI), and that's their Initiative for this battle. All characters INI then are ordered from highest to lowest, whoever has the current highest INI goes first, and the lowest go last.
This means that even if Capitu has a INI of 12 and Naurim only 8, there's a chance that Naurim might go first. Be aware that the Initiative Value is always checked during battle, so if something like a wound, poison or spell causes a character's INI to drop, the character's turn order will be adjusted.
Blackguards uses a modified "The Dark Eye 4" combat system, which incorporates all values from the original pen & paper game, but changes the interplay of those values to achieve a probability distribution that is optimal for Blackguards.
Close combat attacks in Blackguards have a base hit chance of 60%. The actual test is executed with a simulated 20 sided die roll, where each die equals 5% chance. So for a 60% attack, you have to roll 12 (12 x 5% = 60%) or less.
This chance is modified by the difference of the attacker's Attack value and the defender's Parry value. That means if both the Attack and Parry values are the same, the hit chance would stay at 60%. An Attack Value of 18 and Parry value of 12 would raise the hit chance by 30% (6 x 5%) to a total of 90%. An Attack value of 9 and Parry value of 12 would lower the hit chance by 15% (-3 x 5%) to a total of 45 %.
A result of 1 is a critical hit and always succeeds, while a roll of 20 means automatic failure, no matter what the Attack and Parry values are. That's why your chances will never be lower than 5%, nor higher than 95%.
The Attack value of the Attacker is made up of the following:
- Base Attack Value (derived from the attributes) - Weapon Talent Attack Value - Weapon Bonus - Bonus or Malus of the chosen maneuver - Malus due to encumbrance of the armor or too heavy load in the backpack
In general special maneuvers make attacks more difficult. One exception to this rule is the Feint maneuver which lowers the parry value of the defender and therefore deals less damage.
Ranged attacks work almost the same, except that the base chance to hit is only 50% and that rolls of 20 and 19 result in automatic failure.
The Ranged Attack value is made up of the following:
- Ranged Attack Base Value (derived from the attributes) - Weapon Talent Value (note that in the case of Ranged Weapon talents, the value is not split between Attack and Parry, like it is in Melee Weapon talents. Here the full value goes into Attack) - Weapon Bonus - Bonus or Malus of the chosen maneuver - Malus due to encumbrance of the armor or too heavy load in the backpack
Ranged Weapons have three distance classes: Close, Medium, Far. Every ranged weapon has different modifiers depending on the range. So be careful, a longbow is not the best choice for short distances.
One should also keep in mind that characters are not able to parry while they have a ranged weapon equipped, they can only dodge.
Blackguards also includes an injury system. Some attacks can wound characters (leaving scratches on their portraits), decreasing their stats and applying negative modifiers to skill checks. These wounds stack and can only be healed by visiting a healer, with bandages and a high enough wound healing talent, or with the spell Balsam Salabunde at level 3. Causing wounds is especially useful when fighting against powerful foes, but can also be a huge problem when you’re hurt during a long fight or while in a dungeon.
The talent "Will Power" helps against wounds, increasing the chance that the character may ignore a wound modifier.
Here's a quick guide of all the melee weapon types in the game, their strengths and weakness:
Swords: - average damage - good parry modifiers - deals Slashing Damage - offers a lot of special abilities - no Hammer Blow possible
Fencing Weapons: - low damage - good attack and parry modifiers - deals Piercing Damage - Initiative bonus
Daggers: - very low damage - good attack modifiers - deals Piercing Damage - high Initiative bonus
Axes & Maces: - high damage - below average parry modifiers - low variety of special abilities - deals Blunt Damage
Staffs: - two-handed - low damage - good parry modifiers - low variety of special abilities - Blunt Damage
Spears: - two-handed, medium damage - reach (two hexes) - low variety of special abilities - deals Piercing Damage
Two-Handed Swords: - high damage - deals Slashing Damage - above average special ability variety - hammer blow possible - two-handed Two-Handed Axes & Maces: - highest possible damage - low variety of special abilities - Hammer Blow possible - two-handed
Remember, the talent points spent in favor of attack or defense can be altered at any time (out of combat). If your character keeps missing, adjust the slider more towards attack. If your character keeps screwing up his parries, adjust the slider towards defense.
Ranged Weapons - Bow or Crossbow?
Bows do relatively low damage, but they feature way more special attacks, making them pretty versatile and any bit as powerful as a crossbow. Crossbows are the weapon of choice if you don't want to dump loads of Adventure Points in special attacks but rather want to deal a solid amount of ranged damage if there is need to do exactly that.
A throwing weapon can be used for a ranged attack without swapping weapons.
Armor Rating and Resistances
The game uses a clever armor system, that has both an absolute global value and a % value for each kind of damage. So, if you have Armor Rating 1 and resistance to Slashing Damage 30%, that means that any blade damage will be reduced by 1 (Armor Rating), and then by 30% (resistance to Slashing Damage).
Here's an example:
Naurim is hit by a Rapier (1d6 + 4, Piercing Damage). The enemy rolls 5 on the dice, so he hits for 9 (5+4). Naurim has Armor Rating of 1, so the damage is reduced to 8, and a Resistance to Piercing Damage of 25, so the damage is reduced by 2 (8/25%), resulting in Naurim receiving 6 damage.
Equipping full armor sets will give a bonus to Armor Rating and/or specific damage resistances, depending on the armor set.
Blackguards simplifies the encumbrance system from The Dark Eye ruleset, removing the Effective Encumbrance stats. In the game, Encumbrance simply reduces your stats in the following way:
So every EC level reduces your Dodge Value, Ranged Combat and Initiative, every odd level reduces your Parry Value and every even level reduces your Attack value.
Remember that you can only parry once per turn, but can dodge at will, so having a really low Dodge value can be a problem even for heavily armored characters. Also, each level of the Special Ability "Armor Use" reduces your Encumbrance by 1.
Be aware that there's also a party encumbrance. If your group is carrying too much weight, all characters will get a EC penalty, and that makes a HUGE difference:
The game has 9 Talents that can be learned and improved; Body Control, Willpower, Perception, Traps, Streetwise, Survival, Animal Lore, Warcraft and Treat Wounds. Each class starts knowing a couple of them, but can only learn others by finding a proper trainer.
Most talents also have four threshold points: 0, 8, 13 and 18. At each one of these you'll unlock some advantages. For example, on Warcraft:
Lv 0 shows you weak enemy's Vitality, Astral Points and Speed, plus the % chance to hit the enemy.
Lv 8 shows you an experienced enemy's Vitality, Astral Points and Speed, plus your % chance to hit them.
Lv 13 shows you a veteran enemy's Vitality, Astral Points, Magic Resistance and Speed, if they have the "Attack of Opportunity" ability, and your % chance to hit them.
Lv 18 shows you any enemy's Vitality, Astral Points, Magic Resistance and Speed, if they have the "Attack of Opportunity" ability, what weapon abilities they have and your % chance to hit them. And it also allows you to swap weapons without losing a turn.
The exception to this tier progression is Body Control, that simply increases your chance to resist a knockdown, or a negative environmental effect, such as slipping on a wet floor and falling down.
Testing against a talent in The Dark Eye involves 3 rolls, one for each Attribute that controls the talent, and then using the Talent Points to adjust these values. Here's an example:
Anhanguera walks over a wet stone, so he has to test his Body Control talent to resist slipping and falling down. Body Control attributes are Courage (CO), Intuition (IN) and Agility (AG), so he rolls 3 d20 dices against his stats. He needs all rolls to be at least even to his attribute values; if any of them are higher, he fails the test.
He rolls 11 for Courage, 8 for Intuition and 12 for Agility. Since his stats are Courage 13, Intuition 13 and Agility 10, he passes on both CO and IN, but fails on AG by 2 points. However, since he has 2 points in the Body Control talent, he can use these points to reduce the AG roll by 2, turning it into a success and passing the Talent test.
Some talent checks can have an extra difficulty modifier, either increasing or decreasing the rolls. So a hard test would add 3 points to each roll, while an easy test would subtract 3 points.
There are 24 spells available in Blackguards, divided into four categories:
- Damage - Protection - Weaken - Strengthen
Spells can only be learned at trainers or by buying expensive and rare spell books (the same spell book can be used to teach various characters, but loses sale value each time). And again, only mages can learn spells.
You spend AP to level up a spell, making its casting less probable to fail and unlocking 4 casting levels; the higher the level, the more expensive and powerful the spell is. As with talents, the spell levels are unlocked at Spell Value 0, 8, 13 and 18.
For example, here are the 4 levels of Ignifaxius Burst of Flame:
Casting spells is very similar to Talent checks; you roll 3 dices against your character attributes, and can use the Spell Value to adjust if necessary. Note that each spell uses a different set of attributes, so Attributes such as Constitution and Dexterity may also be important for mages.
Spells are extremely effective as they cannot be blocked or dodged, and some of them always do the same damage, so there's no need to worry about unlucky damage rolls.
However, be aware that mages suffer severe casting penalties and are unable to regenerate Astral Points if they are equipped with metal armor.
Resistance to Magic
The Resistance to Magic (RM) is used to resist spell effects by increasing the caster's fail chance. So, if you have 6 points in the "Karnifilo Frenzy" spell and try to cast it on an enemy that has a RM of 4, you'll only have 2 spell points.
Capitu wants to cast "Cold Shock" on an enemy archer. The ruling attributes of that spell are Charisma (CH), Agility (AG) and Constitution (CO), so she rolls 3 d20 dices. She needs all rolls to be lower than her attributes; if any of them are higher, she fails the test.
She rolls 8 for CH, 11 for AG and 14 for CO. Since her stats are 10 CH, 12 AG and 11 CO, she passes on both CH and AG, but fails on CO by 3 points. She has 5 ranks in "Cold Shock", so she would be able to use those points to compensate the bad roll, BUT the enemy archer has a Resistance to Magic of 3, reducing her effective rank in "Cold Shock" to 2, which leaves her one point short and causes the casting to fail.
Remember that you can see an enemy's RM if you have a high Warcraft talent level. Naurim has a higher RM than average, since he's a dwarf.
Class Guide - Warrior
Focus: Melee, Damage Dealer, Tank
A warrior should at least have one weapon talent at the maximum level of 18 at some point during his journey.
A combination of several weapon talents makes a warrior more versatile. If you have to fight skeletons which are immune to Piercing Damage, a warrior can bypass this immunity by simply switching to a blunt or slashing weapon.
Other reasonable combinations are, for example, weapon talents tied to weapons with high damage frequency (like two handed weapons) and a secondary talent focusing on a weapon/shield combo providing good defense.
Shields feature a parry bonus like no weapon could, but they also lower your Initiative and your Attack Value. These penalties, however, can be countered with the special ability 'Shield Fighting I-III'
If a warrior raises three weapon talents to 16 or more, he can learn the special ability 'Weaponsmaster Melee'. This provides a bonus to attack, parry and damage.
Apart from the weapons talents, certain attributes are extremely important for a successful warrior. First and foremost, there is strength, influencing almost all combat relevant stats (attack, parry, dodge, vitality) and also, as it reaches a certain value, your melee damage. Agility, Courage, Intuition and Constitution are also a good pick.
Attributes are also important for special abilities: in order to learn new abilities from a trainer, a character needs to meet certain requirements. These can be minimum attribute values, talent ratings, or another required special ability.
For example: Hammer Blow, probably the most powerful attack in the game, has the following prequisites: Courage 15 Strength 15 Constitution 14 the prequisite is the special ability 'Knockdown'.
Choosing a special ability should always be in synergy with a warrior's weapon talents and their tactical role in combat. A nimble damage dealer with a high agility should probably go for 'Dodge III' 'Armor Use I' and wear a good leather armor. A true, battle hardened tank should pick 'Armor Use III' and also 'Shield Fighting I+II'
'Attack of Opportunity' is a solid choice for any melee fighter, since it's a free attack against the first opponent passing them.
Body Control, Willpower, Warcraft and Animal Lore, in descending order, are the most important talents for a warrior.
Body Control lets a character resist knockdown effects or lets him stay on their feet if tripped by environmental effects or traps. This is especially important for a warrior build to charge into enemy lines.
Willpower lowers the chances of suffering a wound. A proper, steel-clad tank with a shield and a good defense is probably doing fine without much willpower.
At least one fighter in the party should have a decent Warcraft and Animal Lore talent. This is the only way of getting readings on to-hit chances against opponents. If your best fighter has only a 40% hit chance with a Power Blow against a seasoned bounty hunter, you shouldn't even attempt any special attacks with weaker melee characters. A talent rating of 18 enables a character to swap weapons without losing an action.
Class Guide - Hunter
Focus: Ranged Combat, Traps, Support
Like the warrior, a hunter should have at least one weapon talent leveled to 18. In this case, of course, ranged weapon.
As far as melee is concerned, we recommend weapons with strong defensive stats. Solid choices are swords, staffs, spears or daggers.
When playing a hunter with a support build, you need talents with synergy to this build. To spot traps, you need a good Perception talent. To disarm and set traps, the Traps talent. Traps have 4 levels. A character can only set or disarm traps if the talent level equals or surpasses the trap level. Same goes for spotting traps with Perception.
Treat Wounds, Survival, and Streetwise are also typical hunter/supporter talents. Body Control is also a solid choice, but a hunter's typical high Agility should make sure he'll stay on his feet.
Intuition and Dexterity are bread and butter for a proper hunter. They directly affect the Ranged Combat Value, as well as Traps and Perception.
Since heavy armor impairs a hunter's ranged combat capabilities, light armor and a good Dodge Value must suffice. That's why next to Dexterity a good Agility stat is the most important attribute for a hunter. They also are the requirement for most typical hunter special abilities.
For crossbows, we recommend 'Targeted Shot' and 'Marksman', for bows also 'Triple Shot' and 'Arrow Storm'
'Triple Shot' lowers your hit chance significantly, but it deals so much damage it can neutralize an enemy instantly,
'Arrow Storm' is unique in its own ways: This attack needs no line of sight and it covers 7 hexes. It still uses up multiple arrows, though.
Dodge I-III are a must have to bolster your defenses. For hunters who like to melee, 'Vigilance', 'Battle Intuition' and 'Blade Dancer' are very good choices, since their attribute requirements are hunter attributes anyway.
For offensive ranged combat we strongly recommend 'Master Archer'. This special ability becomes available if you increase a ranged combat talent to 16 or more.
Class Guide - Mage
Focus: Damage, Weaken, Support, Healing
Mages are a great asset to every party, especially due to their versatility. However, one should be careful and not branch into learning too many different spells at the same time. In the end the Adventure Points might not suffice.
When choosing spells it pays off to plan ahead carefully. Because spells work just like talents, each spellcast requires three dice rolls against the three attributes linked with the spell. This should be considered when choosing spells:
For example if you want to decide between the two single target damage spells "Ignifaxius" and "Fulminictus", you should first take a look at the spells' properties: Ignifaxius does fire damage, making it useful to set objects on fire, while Fulminictus does magical damage that ignores barriers like magic walls and can penetrate even petrified enemies. When casting Ignifaxius you roll against Intuition, Agility and Constitution, when casting Fulminictus you test against Cleverness, Dexterity and Constitution. All this should be considered for the decision making and planning of a wizard career.
Also, beginners tend to focus on damage spells and often underestimate how powerful strengthen spells are, if utilized correctly.
As already mentioned in the section above, the relation between attributes and choice of spells is of great significance. In addition, a mage should try to raise his Astral points. In order to achieve this, Adventure Points should be spend for Intuition, Charisma or Courage. Prerequisites for the most important special abilities for mages are Intuition and Charisma. Directly raising Astral Points can make sense, if the current budget of Astral Points is insufficient for certain combinations of Spells during battles.
The classic weapon choice for mages are staffs. There are a few of those around in south Aventuria which possess magical abilities that add bonuses to attributes or astral points. They also make good defensive weapons.
Other types of weapons can work for certain types of mages as well. Specializing in ranged weapons is another interesting choice.
Unsurprisingly, the special abilities in the magical category are predestined for mages.
"Astral Regeneration" is of great value to any mage who wants to cast a spell every turn.
"Ranged Casting" is important if the mage prefers to stay out of melee range.
"Steady Casting" is a good choice for Jack-Of-All-Trade mages that dabble in a lot of spells while mastering none.
"Aura Shield" protects the wizard from magical attacks.
"Astral Mastery" is another great tool for mages who cast a lot.
Apart from the magic Special Abilities "Dodge 1-3" is essential for mages. Since they can not equip metal armor they rely heavily on dodging in order to avoid damage.
Talents are not essential for mages. However, a few points in Body- and Self Control are recommended, so they don't slip in every mud puddle and receive fewer wounds in battle.
Controls and shortcuts
Lastly, here are the controls and shortcuts of Blackguards:
W, A, S, D or Arrow Keys - Move Camera Mouse Wheel - Change Camera Angle Left Mouse Button - Standard Actions, Basic Attack/Use interactive Object Right Mouse Button - Open the Ring Menu Space - Hold Action Return - End Turn F1 - F4 - Use Belt Items (Slot 1-4) F5 - Quicksave F6 - F8 - Swap Weapons F9 - Quickload 1 – 10, Q, E - Hotkey-Shortcuts V - Highlight Interactive Objects B - Show/Hide Combat Log F - Switch between simple and full hexfield view H - Show/Hide Hotkey-bar U - Use Interactive Object C - Open Character Sheet L - Open Questlog I - Open Inventory Escape - Pause Game/Open Menu
World and Detail Maps
W, A, S, D or Arrow Keys - Move Camera Left Mouse Button - Enter Town C, F1 - Character Sheet I, F2 - Inventory L, F3 - Questlog F5 - Quicksave F9 - Quickload 1 – 5 - Open Character Inventories R - Rules Guide/Shortcuts T - Rest (Needs Provisions) X - Jump to Active Quest Y - Jump to Current Location Escape - Pause Game/ Open Menu/ Skip Tutorial Page
Left Mouse Button - Interact C - Character Sheet I - Inventory L - Questlog V - Hide/ Show Symbols F5 - Quicksave F9 - Quickload 1 – 5 - Open Character Inventories Return - Leave Town Escape - Pause Game/Open Menu
Shift + Left Mouse Button (on item) - Buy Item Without Confirmation Pop-up Shift + Left Mouse Button (on item) - Sell Item Without Confirmation Pop-up Escape - Leave Shop
Tab - Switch Character Escape/ C - Leave Character Sheet