Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is a high fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Sigil Games Online. The game has been co-published by Sony Online Entertainment(SOE), and the company producing it, Sigil Games Online. The game was released on January 30, 2007, with an early access date of January 26, 2007 for pre-order customers.
Vanguard offers three primary areas of play: Adventuring, Crafting and Diplomacy. Each of these 'spheres' can be played independently of each other, although there are many points of potential interaction where it will be greatly to a player's advantage to be grounded in more than one of the spheres.
There are no restrictions to any combinations between spheres, making each character unique.
This sphere contains what will be most recognizable as a traditional set of MMORPG classes, with some notable additions. Classes are broken into four basic categories, protective fighter ("tank"), offensive fighter (melee damage dealer), defensive caster (healer), and offensive caster (magic damage dealer).
Characters in this sphere will be encouraged to group up, and advancement will come mainly through combat. Solo and casual advancement will be possible throughout the levels, but the quickest advancement and best rewards will come from group play. Within each class will be a system of skill points that will allow a player to further customize their character and differentiate themselves even from other players of the same adventuring class.
The second 'sphere' of Vanguard, Crafting, could be considered one of the most complex and detailed crafting systems of MMOGs to date. Crafting recipes are each made up of a different set of actions you have to perform in a particular order. Each of these actions cost and take from a pool that is known as the action pool. The maximum amount of action points available vary with each recipe. While you are crafting and performing these actions you will have problems arise that can affect many aspects of the process. You can have up to three of these on you at a time and which ones will occur is based on the crafting station you are using, its quality, the recipe and the material you are using. Through experimentation, players will be able to discover new recipes and formulas.
As a sphere, crafting will have its own set of classes and levels. Your character will level up and advance within the crafting sphere independent of the other spheres.
The work order system is an important factor when considering Vanguard Crafting. In many games, levelling as a crafter involved spending a good deal of time and resources on obtaining the components with which to craft. Vanguard offers NPC 'work orders' as the means of progression. An NPC will commission a work order, and provide the raw materials, and the crafter can produce the requested items, receiving skill and monetary rewards in return.
The diplomacy gameboard. The bottom half represents you. The top half represents your opponent. To the right is the Dialogue Point Marker. To the left is the Statement play area. In the centre are the available Expression types.
The diplomacy gameboard.
The bottom half represents you.
The top half represents your opponent.
To the right is the Dialogue Point Marker.
To the left is the Statement play area.
In the centre are the available Expression types.
The third "sphere" of Vanguard, diplomacy, allows players to influence their faction and to gain benefits for themselves or other players by means other than simply killing large numbers of enemies. As well as obtaining faction, gear and money, one major reward of diplomacy is Civic Benefits, which are usually in the form of city-wide buffs triggered by city diplomats for the benefit of the crafting, adventuring or harvesting spheres. Diplomats are also expected to play a primary role in Player City Management at a later stage of Vanguard's development.
The diplomacy encounter is known as a parley. At the beginning of a parley, both you and your opponent will start with a pool of Dialogue Points (the number depending on the encounter difficulty and your relative diplomatic skill). Your goal is to use Statements to Influence the diplomacy marker, controlling it so that your Dialogue Point total is reduced to zero before your opponent. As you progress toward this goal, you will be rewarded with lines of dialogue.
You will use this parley mechanism in all the fields of diplomacy, which include:
* Early Diplomacy
* Civic Diplomacy
* Regional Trade
* Writs (Embassies)
* Consular Embassies
While you advance through diplomacy you will earn titles which you may display on the front of your character name, eg. 'Messenger' or 'Ambassador'. These titles represent skill levels, not classes. Unlike other spheres of Vanguard, Diplomacy Classes are not a mandatory part of the sphere. You will have a number of opportunities to specialise during the course of your career as a diplomat, but there is no requirement to do so.
As of this time, there is no PVP element to Diplomacy, but it has been stated that the system was designed with players being able to 'duel' diplomatically with each other. What, if any, benefits or consequences this will have is unknown.
Game World: Telon
Vanguard is set in a high fantasy world called Telon. Most of the known playable races are from traditional fantasy: goblins, humans, halflings, dwarves, elves, barbarians, and half-giants. Less traditional is the vulmane, a race of intelligent bipedal wolf-men (unlike werewolves).
There are four confirmed continents in the world of Telon.
* Thestra – A European type continent with mountains, wetlands, and forests. Thestrans, High Elves, Dwarves, Lesser Giants, Varanjar, Halflings, and Vulmane inhabit Thestra.
* Kojan – An Asian themed continent with jungles. Kojani, Half-Elves, Wood Elves, Raki, Goblins, and Orcs inhabit Kojan.
* Qalia - Middle-eastern type continent with mountains and deserts. Qaliathari, Mordebi, Dark Elves, Gnomes, Kurashasa, and Varathari inhabit Qalia.
The fourth continent, Lothenland, is not immediately accessible to all levels. Not much is known about Lothenland. What is known is it is surrounded by icy weather created by a magic force. Lothenland is no longer planned to be in the game at release, and will most likely show up in an expansion.
The dungeons range broadly in size and theme. From the smaller introductory caves infested with Ksaravi ratmen to the zone-spanning Premier dungeons such as the Ruins of Trengal Keep or the Lost Mordebi Empire, different varieties are found everywhere. Although most of the dungeon content is aimed at the 'full-group' encounter (six players) there are numerous areas, particularly at the lower, introductory levels, purposefully designed for solo and 'small-group' (2-3 players) encounters.
It has been stated, by Sigil, that there will be no instancing.
"Dungeons simply exist within the world. Walk over a hill and you might find a human castle taken over by orcs, delve into a chasm and you might find the cavernous entrance to a mini dungeon or play area. There is no loading – you simply enter and leave. Of course, many monsters have “leashes” which stop them from being “trained” too far from their dungeon of origin."1
Partial List of Dungeons in Order of Level
Vault of Heroes
- Khegor`s End
- Fallen Lyceum
- Hilsbury Manor
- Ruins of Trengal Keep
Ruins of Vol Tuniel
- Spire Keep
- Dargun`s Tomb
- Thelaseen: Lair of the Drake Riders
- Stonefist Scarp
- Den of the Varru
- Dojaa's Stronghold
- Old Targonor
- Blood Seeker Den
- Retreat of the Unseeing Eye
- Poisonous Caverns
- Ancient Port Warehouse
Housing has been confirmed to be included with the release of the game. There are three types of buildings that are crafted by players and sold to players.
* Residential Buildings – Player owned homes.
* Industrial Buildings – Crafting player owned buildings.
* Commercial Buildings – Commercial shops and stores owned and run by players.
Placement of the crafted building is limited. Developers have divided areas up into zones. If a player wants to build a house in a certain area of a continent he/she will have to find a near by appropriate zone to place the building. Player owned cities have been confirmed, although not much is known.
It was stated that player constructed buildings would not be instanced. So when a player builds at a location all other players in the game will see their building and be able to interact with it, with any limitations the owner has imposed. So only one player will own a building plot in the game. Buildings can be damaged and destroyed, so logging off for months on end and having your building still standing when you return is unlikely.
Characters in Vanguard: Saga of Heroes are made via a valid Vanguard account. It is currently unknown how many characters may be created on each account (though it may be eight). When a character is created the player will start off in one of the three main continents depending on the race s/he chose. The player will then advance through traditional MMORPG leveling. Unlike traditional MMORPGs Vanguard breaks up different leveling types and puts them into different leveling spheres.
Each race inhabits one of the three main continents. Players can eventually leave the continent they originated from when they advance in level.
* Thestrans (Human sub race - European Inspired)
* High Elves (Elf sub race)
* Lesser Giants
* Varanjar (Barbarian sub race)
* Vulmanes (Beast Race - Lupine)
* Qaliathari (Human sub race - Middle-Eastern Inspired)
* Mordebi (Human sub race - African Inspired)
* Dark Elves (Elf sub race)
* Kurashasa (Beast Race - Feline)
* Varathari (Barbarian sub race)
* Kojani (Human sub race - Asian Inspired)
* Half-Elves (Elf sub race)
* Wood Elves (Elf sub race)
* Raki (Beast Race - Vulpine)
* Warrior - The Warrior, a mighty defensive fighter, uses strength, skill, and tactical mastery to eliminate enemies.
* Paladin - The Paladin is a righteous defensive fighter with divine powers.
* Dread Knight - The Dread Knight is a terrifying defensive fighter with dark magic used to demoralize enemies.
* Inquisitor - The Inquisitor is a dominating defensive fighter capable of turning psionic power against foes. The Inquisitor will not be playable at release.
* Bard - The Bard, a musical offensive fighter, blends the arts of music and swordplay.
* Rogue - The Rogue is a deceptive offensive fighter, master of poisons, and exploiter of weaknesses.
* Ranger - The Ranger is a skilled offensive fighter, capable of studying opponents to gain the advantage.
* Monk - The Monk is a disciplined offensive fighter with martial stances to approach every situation.
* Berserker - The Berserker is an offensive fighter that thrives on taking damage. The more damage he takes, the more damage he can dish out. The Berserker will not be playable at release.
* Cleric - The Cleric, a divine defensive caster, is a servant of the gods capable of incredible healing and destruction.
* Blood Mage - The Blood Mage, an arcane defensive caster, uses mastery of the blood to heal or destroy.
* Shaman - The Shaman, a spiritual defensive caster, bonds with animal spirits to provide healing and melee support.
* Disciple - The Disciple is a harmonic defensive caster with the inner strength to heal allies and martial prowess to decimate foes.
* Psionicist - The Psionicist is a psionic offensive caster with the power to control the minds of enemies, unleash mental blasts, and provide some support to allies.
* Necromancer - The Necromancer is an offensive caster with dominion over unlife and the power to animate terrible undead allies.
* Sorcerer - The Sorcerer, an arcane offensive caster, has mastery over fire and ice and the greatest power in defense against enemy spells.
* Druid - The Druid, a natural offensive caster, uses nature to break enemies apart with the elements of earth and sky.
Currently there are twelve unique races. Barbarian, Elf, and Human have their own sub races. There are seventeen unique adventuring classes. When creating a character the player must pick a race and then pick a class. However, not every race can pick every class. Each class is limited to a certain number of races.
Note: The Inquisitor and Berserker classes will not be in the game on release, but it has been noted that they will be patched in at a later date. This is why no race specific info is available at this time.
There are two server types which are Player versus Environment (PvE) and Player versus Player (PvP). Of the PvP servers, Tharridon is Free-for-All, and Varking is Team-based.
The server names, and their locations and types, are:
* Thunderaxe (US/PvE)
* Florendyl (US/Roleplaying Preferred/PvE)
* Woefeather (US/PvE)
* Gulgrethor (US/PvE)
* Targonor (US/PvE) (unofficial oceanic) 
* Hilsbury (US/PvE)
* Shidreth (US/PvE)
* Flamehammer (US/PvE) (unofficial french / français - francophone non-officiel)
* Tharridon (US/FFA PvP)
* Varking (US/Team PvP)
* Gelenia (EU/PvE)
* Frengrot (EU/PvP)
* Infinium (EU/PvE) (Added between pre-launch and full launch to handle high EU load)
Woefeather was originally going to be named Woefather after one of the Thestran Giants. However it was typoed on the announcement and so far the typoed name has stuck.
Sigil's Vanguard team is notable for being composed of many EverQuest developers, including designer Development began in early 2002 and the publishing deal with Microsoft was announced in April 2002. The game's title was announced on March 16, 2004 — exactly five years after EverQuest was released. Sigil displayed the game's first screenshots in April and announced that Vanguard uses the Unreal engine 2.0 in May 2004. As of May 2006 Sigil has announced that they have become the co-publishers of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes due to a mutual separation with Microsoft based on company interest. Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has been named to assist Sigil in co-publishing and distribution.
In May 2006 Sigil acquired marketing rights from former publisher Microsoft and hired Sony Online Entertainment for the job. Sigil maintains full control of development, funding, intellectual property rights, and in-game customer service (GM and Guide programs). Although SOE is responsible chiefly for marketing, publication, distribution, subscription services and maintenance of game servers, some of the SOE's game designers and artists did participate directly in the Vanguard's development. Sigil will have back-up systems in place at all times to reduce risk of unscheduled downtime on SOE's part.
It is notable that this partnership represents a homecoming of sorts for Sigil CEO Brad McQuaid who was--along with Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley, Bill Trost and Steve Clover-- one of the four original developers of Everquest for SISA (Sony Interactive Studios America renamed Verant Interactive in 1999).
Many of the fans have followed the development, recognizing the team's EQ heritage. The team also realized very early on how important community is, and opened their official forums long before even releasing a name, in July of 2003. Sigil has been periodically revealing concept art, screenshots, and the setting's history and lore. Some of the artwork was created by well-known fantasy artists such as Brom and Don Maitz and the late Keith Parkinson.
Much of the community has formed around the website's forums, but there have also been events such as fans visiting Sigil, IRC chats, and contests. A "Community Summit" was held on October 7, 2004 that showed Vanguard to a larger audience from the game's own community.
Vanguard was also the first game to implement a community affiliation program to support the fan sites that support Vanguard. Through this program affiliates are granted exclusive content to display on their Fan sites as well as exclusive interviews with development and artistic staff. The community fan sites are made of both old and new community based web sites dedicated to not only Vanguard but many other MMORPGs.