Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

Created by Ceres Games

A classic single-player RPG featuring a party-based character system and tactical turn-based combat evolved from the SRD 3.5e ruleset.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Reactive Dialogues (and new screenshots!)
4 months ago – Tue, Jun 04, 2019 at 11:14:18 PM

In the weeks since the last update, we’ve been hard at work designing quests and locations. And to make sure that our quests are as good as they can be and offer the highest possible degree of reactivity towards the player character, we’ve also improved our dialogue system and added a handful of new features to it.

In this update, we’re going to show you the new features of the dialogue system, as well as screenshots of some beautiful new locations we’ve added to the world of Argea. The section of the update that shows off the dialogue tool will contain minor spoilers for early content in the game, as well as a side quest later in the game. If you wish to avoid such spoilers, please take note of the warnings and skip ahead.

In an RPG, it is important that the game recognizes the player’s character build. And since Realms Beyond allows the player to create (or to recruit) a party of six characters, a diverse party should mean that NPCs react differently to each of them. Different characters should also be able to react differently to NPC statements. While most characters might agree with the assessment that orcs are savage barbarians, a half-orc character might object to such a statement.

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Click to enlarge

Dialogue options can depend on many things: the player character’s gender, race, class, ability scores, skills, equipment, current status effects, faction reputation, and more. If you want to find a peaceful solution with the orcs, letting your half-orc do the talking might be a good idea. Similarly, in a village where everyone is prejudiced towards elves because of an old grudge that has never been forgotten, an elven or half-elven character will have a harder time winning the sympathies of the populace.

Warning: minor spoilers for early content ahead!
To skip any spoiler, please jump to the screenshot section at the end.

 In the following example, the player is attempting to escape from prison and spotted by a group of card-playing guards. In the ensuing dialogue, the player can choose to surrender and allow them to drag him into the dungeon cells, ready his weapon and fight, or convince them to play a game of cards with his freedom as the wager. 

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Click to enlarge

Each yellow dialogue option is associated with a certain precondition. If the player has recruited a certain companion into the party, he or she can offer the companion’s knowledge of secret hallways in the fortress to the guards. If the player is a wizard, he can offer to cast a spell of their choosing for them. If he’s a priest, he can offer them a blessing. And if the player’s character is female and has sufficiently high charisma, she can flirt with the guards.

You may also notice that some of the dialogue options, and the dialogue spoken by the NPCs, contain some conditions in themselves. Things like the player’s gender, race and class will be referenced by NPCs when appropriate, and rather than writing the entire sentence anew, the scripting capabilities of Realms Beyond allow us to just set a condition around certain words of the sentence.

A simple greeting text with conditional parts
A simple greeting text with conditional parts

We shall look at a side quest the player will encounter later in the game to see how these conditions can be used in practice.

Warning: spoilers for a mid-game side quest ahead!

During your travels through Argea, you will come upon several wizards living in solitary towers, dedicated to their research. One of these wizards, a man named Obalor, tells you about his rivalry with a fellow sorceress named Jeralis. Many years ago, she lost her eyes in an accident, and went on to craft a pair of enchanted emeralds to return her sight. Wizards all across the realm have wondered how she fashioned that enchantment, and Obalor is determined to find it out. He hires the player party to take Jeralis’ emerald eyes and bring them to him, so he can examine the enchantment and learn his rival’s technique.

If the player accepts the quest, he must travel to Jeralis’ tower and get his hands on her emerald eyes. One way to do this is to engage her in dialogue and convince her that he himself is an arcane researcher and interested in studying the enchantment. Jeralis isn’t opposed to borrowing her eyes to someone interested in the workings of their enchantment, but the player’s character doesn’t quite strike her as a magical researcher.

This is where more complex conditions come in. If the player’s character is a highly intelligent wizard, he (or she) can easily convince her of being a researcher himself. If the player’s character is a wizard, but has only average rather than exceptional intelligence for his class, he’ll have to bluff a little to make her believe him. And if the player’s character is not a wizard, he’ll have to bluff a lot.

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Click to enlarge

As you can see, rather than adding several different conditions to the dialogue choice (our editor allows for up to two conditions to be attached to a dialogue choice at once, so adding three or more individual conditions would be logistically impossible, anyway), we have created a new local condition simply named MAG_RESEARCH, which checks whether the player’s character can successfully convince Jeralis of being a researcher of the arcane or not. The custom condition looks like this: 

As you can see from these lines of code, the character will succeed the check if he has a bluff skill of  6; if he is a wizard, he will succeed with a bluff skill of 3; if he is a wizard with INT greater than 18, he will succeed automatically.
As you can see from these lines of code, the character will succeed the check if he has a bluff skill of 6; if he is a wizard, he will succeed with a bluff skill of 3; if he is a wizard with INT greater than 18, he will succeed automatically.

Our scripting system allows us to make dialogue checks as complex as we need them to be for any given quest situation. We can check the player character’s gender, race and class. We can check the player character’s attributes and skills. We can check the player’s equipment, and whether she’s wearing something on an equipment slot at all: a guard might demand your character take her helmet off before she enters the throne room, as it would be rude to enter the royal chambers with a covered head. It is as simple as checking for the condition of BAREHEADED being false.

We can even add dialogue choices based on temporary conditions the player is effected by. When Obalor offers the player the quest to fetch Jeralis’ eyes for him, maybe an insane and hungry character might react like this?

This powerful scripting system allows us to recognize any state a player character may be in, and have NPCs acknowledge everything that is appropriate for them to comment on (like a dwarf reacting favorably toward a fellow dwarf and skeptically toward an elf, a priestess mentioning you should take your boots off before you enter the inner sanctum, a merchant greeting you as a colleague because your character is a member of the merchants’ guild, etc). It also allows for creative quest solutions. Let’s imagine a magic mirror that guards a magically locked door. You can interact with it, but looking into it doesn’t do anything. In another chamber of the dungeon you find out that the door only opens for those who stare into the mirror with blinded eyes – you can cast a spell of blinding upon your character, interact with the mirror while the BLIND condition is true, and the door will open!

As for the quest to get Jeralis’ emerald eyes – there are approaches other than asking her and bluffing, such as intimidation, combat and stealth, but how exactly those can be pulled off is up to you to find out when you play the game! Our quests generally offer at least two possible solutions, usually more. Every player will have a different party and follow a different playstyle, so we try to add multiple solutions and decisions to each quest to offer a large amount of choice to the player – and, of course, a high degree of replayability.

 Quest spoilers over. You may continue reading from here if you wanted to avoid them.

Finally, we’re going to show you some screenshots of a cozy village on the remote island in the Northern sea. Enjoy the scenes of tranquil village life!

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Click to enlarge
The chopping block, where prisoners condemned to death meet their end. You can sit down in the  tavern next door and watch the execution through the windows, comfortably seated with a mug of ale in your hands. The pinnacle of entertainment in a sleepy little village like this.
The chopping block, where prisoners condemned to death meet their end. You can sit down in the tavern next door and watch the execution through the windows, comfortably seated with a mug of ale in your hands. The pinnacle of entertainment in a sleepy little village like this.
The local physician’s house. He cares for the sick and also serves as the local coroner. His cat is doing its best at keeping the village rat-free.
The local physician’s house. He cares for the sick and also serves as the local coroner. His cat is doing its best at keeping the village rat-free.
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Click to enlarge
He’s not drinking on duty! He’s merely sampling the ale to make sure it is of high enough quality. A diligent guard would never let his officers taste sub-par ale. He’s just doing his duty. Besides, it’s not like these prisoners need much guarding. They’re locked behind bars, tight and secure, with no way to escape.
He’s not drinking on duty! He’s merely sampling the ale to make sure it is of high enough quality. A diligent guard would never let his officers taste sub-par ale. He’s just doing his duty. Besides, it’s not like these prisoners need much guarding. They’re locked behind bars, tight and secure, with no way to escape.

 And that’s it for today! We’ve given you a more thorough look into how our dialogue system works, along with a glimpse of one of the game’s many side quests – and keep in mind, this is the very same dialogue tool you will be able to use to create new modules for Realms Beyond, so all the power of setting custom conditions for dialogue checks and writing quests with multiple solutions and outcomes will be in your hands! 

Bavarian Support and a new Senior Team Member
7 months ago – Thu, Mar 28, 2019 at 12:30:37 AM

We are happy to announce that Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen has received additional funding from the FilmFernsehFonds Bayern!


The additional funds of 100.000 EUR are flowing directly into development, translating into more high quality content for you to experience.

Senior Level DesignerJanos Toth joins our team to fill our world with dangerous dungeons and tranquil villages for the player to explore. He has formerly worked on games like Battle Isle, History Line, Sacred Underworld, Sacred 2, The Settlers 5 and Spellforce 3, bringing plenty of experience with the RPG and RTS genres with him. You can check out his portfolio here.

Soon, we will also post another development update about the game. We have been hard at work optimizing our tools, especially the dialogue tool, in order to allow for heavy branching in quests and conversations, and to give player decisions as heavy an impact as possible. In our next update we will show off the capabilities of our dialogue tool in detail, along with some example dialogues.


Stay tuned!

Development Update #1: AI for Turn-based Combat Systems
8 months ago – Wed, Feb 20, 2019 at 12:57:31 AM

When we started out working on the combat system we had a lot to do to lay the basic foundations. We had to get our character animation system running and implement stuff like combat logic, hexboard generation from level topology, or hexboard queries for paths and floodings at runtime.

That left little time to care about something as high level as AI (Artificial Intelligence). As a consequence our first prototype for AI ‘grew’ with time. At first, all it could do were melee attacks. Then we added ranged attacks. Then we implemented an enemy spell AI for intelligent placing of area spells (trying to maximize hits on enemies and minimize hits on allies). Finally we included rather specific routines (like fleeing) for characters that suffered from spells like fear. We realized that AI has to be able to deal with script spells that are loaded at runtime (a feature that could be interesting for future modifications). To allow for that we coded routines that simulate spell executions and judge their effects in a more general way.

Thus our prototype grew and grew until we were sure that we covered every capability that could possibly be required. Then we started to build it from scratch to make it more flexible and debugable. And now we feel like we can finally talk about AI.

Combat AI Debug Visualization in Realms Beyond
Combat AI Debug Visualization in Realms Beyond

The paradigm we had in mind for development has always been: What do we expect from a turn based AI?

Well, technically, we expect a lot! A demon wizard that fails to choose his fireball spell over a magic missile, or who fails to place the fireball in a way that maximizes damage on the player party is a no-go. An assassin who simply attacks her closest target instead of trying to stab your wizard in the back is not only little immersive – it also obliterates strategic bottlenecks like doors. And a human NPC ally that is not able to plan his path avoiding enemy attacks of opportunity is an annoyance. So when we talk about expectations from a ‘technical’ point of view, one can say that we expect ‘a lot’. A proper (3.5e based) combat AI has to be able to perform a lot of intelligent choices for enemies that we expect to behave intelligent.

Assuming that we built an AI that is able to live up to those expectations, it is time to consider a different connotation: What do we expect from AI not in terms of quality but in terms of personality?

If every enemy behaved optimally the challenge would be maximized – and immersion would be all but gone. We want goblins to horde around their closest enemy. We want orcs to ignore attacks of opportunity. And an ogre might even be too stupid to leave an area that is affected by a damage-over-time spell. Even beyond ‘intelligence’ enemies should show personality in every decision that gameplay offers: While most races ignore unconscious or otherwise helpless enemies on the battle field and proceed to face those player characters that can still fight, certain foul creatures like goblins or gnolls should be known for finishing off their helpless foes. It’s those little twists that make combats immersive.

We hope that – apart from the challenge of making our AI capable of  ‘good’ decisions – we also do a good job to diversify enemy behaviours enough to allow you to detect patterns and become especially hateful of one enemy or the other.

A combat scene from 'Knights of the Chalice'
A combat scene from 'Knights of the Chalice'

Once again, allow us to mention Knights of the Chalice here (btw, the developer Pierre Begue will launch a Kickstarter campaign for the sequel very soon) . It is owing to that game that we had a very precise idea about what we had to do when we first started prototyping our CPU-controlled opponents. The AI of KotC (and, of course, its excellent encounter design) made almost all combats interesting. It may be prone to crowd in bottlenecks (a fact can be exploited a lot once you get the stone wall spell) but hey – weaknesses are something you also expect from an AI to have fun, another fact that we are well aware of.

Hopefully, we can soon present you some more combat vids that display various AI behaviours. Until then, feel invited to write us (here in the comments or in our forum) what you think about our ideas and what you consider important for a turn-based AI. And if you have a memorable story to tell about a combat against an especially cunning AI: please share it with us.

A Happy New Year - BackerKit surveys are coming!
9 months ago – Tue, Jan 08, 2019 at 12:55:44 AM

We wish you all a healthy, happy, prosperous and spectacular New Year! 

Soon, you’ll receive an email from us with a special link to your BackerKit survey. 

You don’t need to create a BackerKit account to fill out your survey. When you receive the email with the survey, click the survey link to respond. Answer the questions about your reward preferences, provide shipping information, and purchase add-on items if you like. You don’t have access to this survey link yet, but it will be available soon via email!

After you respond to your survey, you can go back later and change your responses at any time before we close the surveys and get our final counts.

If you need to review your information or pledge status, you can return to your survey by clicking the link in your survey email or requesting your survey link under "Lost your survey?" on our BackerKit project page at https://realms-beyond.backerkit.com.

If you used your Facebook credentials to log in to your Kickstarter account, the BackerKit survey is sent to the email address you use for your Facebook account. If you have another email address that you prefer to use, please contact support at https://realms-beyond.backerkit.com/faq.

Due to the request of some backers, we created some add-ons like additional digital versions, the digital soundtrack, the digital world map and others.

For late backers, we added the option to support us by PayPal and other payment types through our pre-order store

Your Ceres Games Team

We brought it home. Thanks to all of you!
11 months ago – Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 01:28:05 AM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.