The Dead Keep Dev Diary #3: Items Design

1. How many unique items are there?

I count 158 for the core box design, only including equipment. That reminds me of a Jurassic Park quote.

Each of them is unique, with its own artwork. Sometimes, a number is worth a hundred words.

2. Any favorite or least favorite items in the set?

Gameplay-wise, any item is my favorite as long as it is in the right hands. Some items are more potent than others, and/or more difficult to obtain. During the design and test phases, we used to trade items to the best-suited adventurers. The stronger the friend, the stronger the team.

3. Any gameplay-defining items?

We took inspiration from Paul Bonner’s illustrations to create the adventurers’ equipment. Talismans, for example, are items adventurers can earn and keep from one quest to the next. Most character concepts show trinkets, medals, and suiting trophies we could use as a gameplay element.

These concepts were also used to create necromantic equipment. Game-wise, these magical items are quite weak on their own, as they are damaged or broken weapons. Fuelled with mana, the mystical energy found in the Dead Keep’s green mist, they become potent weapons. A wise adventurer will look for a mana source and manage their mana reserve accordingly!

4. Design philosophy around the items?

The sheer amount of equipment requires creativity and a variety of in-game effects. The gameplay experience can greatly vary according to the equipment the adventurers may find.

However, we kept a couple of simple rules while designing equipment cards: melee equipment has a higher burst potential, as the adventurer takes more risk coming in hand-to-hand combat with their enemies. Ranged equipment strikes the farthest, but cannot be used at point-blank. Magic equipment can be used at point-blank or short range but requires careful positioning to be used, as the user is still exposed without the raw potential of melee weapons.

Of course, there are exceptions, especially with necromantic artifacts, the most potent weapons in the game. These are quite difficult to obtain and always require mana to be used, but can prove to be game-changers when used at the right moment, especially against the boss!

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