Before we can begin with the caravan section, we must first establish some key terms.
Those key terms are:
Dropped Items: Upon death a normal player only drops gatherable items, processed goods, and redemption certificates. Only corrupted individual ever have a RNG chance to drop finished goods, including gear (weapons and armor), potions, food, and other crafted items.
Gatherable: Things that you harvest from the world via the Gathering profession, or things that are dropped from monsters (pelts, furs, tails, bones, etc)
Raw Material: Synonymous with gatherable, and often used interchangeably
Processed Good: An item made from a Processing Profession in the Artisan System
Redemption Certificate: The recovered loot from a destroyed caravan. Redeemable back at the point of origin.
What are caravans?
Caravans are open world rolling PvP Zones that allow players to move large quantities of goods from one-location to another. Caravans do not fall under the purview of the corruption mechanic, meaning that anyone can attack a caravan without suffering from any negative consequences applied by the game. This does not mean there aren’t any consequences for being a known brigand, but those consequences will come from player driven decisions not from the game itself.
Player Carrying Capacity
The world of Ashes of Creation is intended to be large. Not only is the world deliberately set to be 480 km² with an additional 100 km² of Underrealm, but the travel time between any two points on the map is intentionally long. With the exception of some options at the Scientific Metropolis Nodes, there is no fast travel in Ashes of Creation. Even with the limited fast travel available, the distance the size of the world mechanic is not circumvented because the carrying capacity of individual players is limited. Where in other games you can head out into the wild and mine for hours and come back with 50,000 Iron Ore in your backpack this will not be occurring in Ashes of Creation.
We do not have any concrete example of what the carrying capacity of an individual character are, but the x10 and x100 numbers are confirmed and accurate. So, these are all my conceptual examples and should not be taken as anything official from Intrepid Studios.
An individual player may have a carrying capacity of 100 Ore. With a specialized Mining Backpack this could be increased to say 150 Ore. Needless to say this is a small amount of ore.
A player while out in the wild will be able to spawn a mule and load it up with Iron Ore and increase his base carrying capacity by a factor of ten, so this means the player would be able to go out and gather 1,000 ore. While this is much better than only being able to farm 100 per trip it comes with certain risks. That mule is now a walking target that can be killed for the gatherables it holds inside. While the individual killing the mule would still be subject to the corruption mechanic, the mule’s owner would be in a situation where his haul is now laying on the road available for looting.
A mule works for working out in the wilds and bringing the materials back to a point of storage, however, in order to move large quantities of goods across the world you will want to move things with a caravan. Caravans hold ten times the amount what a mule can hold which is 100 times what a player can hold. So in this case, the caravan would hold 10,000 Iron Ore, which is quite a haul considering that you can move in one caravan trip what it would take 100 manual trips or 10 mule trips to move.
Why would you use a caravan?
As stated, the biggest reason you would use a caravan is as a time saver. Unless you really want to spend the time making 100 trips back and forth manually or 10 trips back and forth with your mule you are going to want to use Caravans as a time saver. There is also the added security that comes with Caravans given that NPC guards can be hired to escort the caravan and players can be rewarded for escorting and defending the caravan to its final destination.
NOTE: As it stands right now guards can be included with personal caravans (rolled into the certificate) as well as Node driven Caravans (hired). As we learn more details about this mechanic this will be more refined.
As discussed in the Nodes section, when a Mayor of a town is trying to construct a building project, raw materials are going to be needed in bulk. These will, no doubt, require caravans.
Types of Caravans
Caravans come in two types, Node Driven Caravans and Personal Caravans.
Node Caravan - These travel along selectable (but pre-set) routes from one Node to another
Personal Caravans - These travel along free-form routes from any point of storage to any point of storage.
Both types of Caravans have a level associated with them.
Node Driven caravans have their level determined by the Node they are launched from. The higher level the Node the more options there are for the Caravans. We do not know if the caravans launched are all identical, or if you have a selection option, or if you order a Caravan off the menu and pay for the services you want.
Personal caravans on the other hand are constructed from player crafted parts. Players get to choose what wheels, chassis, steeds and other parts they include when they go to get their Caravan Certificate stamped. These components affect the speed of the Caravan, the capacity, the hit points the armor rating and what guards are included. An interesting, yet relatively unknown part, of the Caravan system is that when launching a personal caravan, the individual’s hitpoints and the caravan’s hitpoints become one, and the player assumes the defense mitigation and mobility of the caravan. How this is going to play out in deployment is still yet to be demonstrated.
How Caravans Function
Both Node Driven and Personal Launched Caravans operate under the Attack/Defend/Ignore mechanic for PvP. What this means is when you encounter a Caravan in the world you will be presented with a choice of if you want to attack the caravan (without corruption penalty),if you want to help defend the caravan (and earn a reward) or if you want to simply ignore it and go on your way.
When and if a Caravan is destroyed it does not drop the items loaded into the caravan, instead, it drops redeemable certificates which can be redeemed for the items on the caravan. Originally, these certificates were to be taken to the point of origin for redemption, however, since a personal caravan can be launched from the storage at a freehold, we have learned the certificates can be taken to any node inside the same economic region the “origin” freehold is in for redemption.
When it comes to rewards, there are two types. One is generated by the system, including on personal caravans as they are in fact caravans. The other is a reward that is offered by the person who is shipping the caravan.
Intrepid Studios is still working on the mechanics for what happens when a caravan is destroyed. One option is the components of the caravan will drop into the wreckage and become lootable by anyone. Another option is that the components can only be recovered by the owner of the caravan.
The caravan system in Ashes of Creation is as much a part of the PvP aspect of the game as it is the Node development portion of the game, as it is the economic portion of the game. The description here about Caravans is only going to be in regards to the PvP portion. Here is a much more detailed and in-depth guide that covers all aspects of the Caravan system.
The important part about the Caravan system for PvP purposes is the number of caravans that you will see out in the world. As discussed in the Nodes section these are necessary to develop Nodes, mainly the projects on the plots that the mayor choose to develop buildings on. The reason Caravans will be so common is that there is a fixed amount of gatherables that a player can carry in their inventory. After they cap out on their limit, they can choose to use a Mule to carry ten times that number, or a Caravan to carry ten times that of a mule or 100 times more than a person. You will not have players running around with 50,000 ore in their bag. To move that quantity of raw materials they are going to have to employ Caravans.
Caravans are rolling PvP Zones and are not subject to the corruption mechanic. When you encounter a Caravan, you will have the option to Attack, Defend, or Ignore it. If you attack the Caravan and are successful in destroying it, it will drop a percentage of its cargo as certificates that are redeemable at the point of origin. We also know there is a reward for joining in on the defense of the Caravan, although it is the responsibility of the person launching the caravan to ensure the caravan is properly guarded. One should not rely on the kindness of strangers.
Finally, we know there will be progression trees for both being a highwayman and being a caravan guard. We are waiting on more details for these systems.
Economic Regions are static geographic boundaries that overlap the Castle Region boundaries, and do not move or shift like the Zones of Influence do. More information on Economic Regions on the World of Verra page.
Brigands/Highwaymen and Defender Trees
It has always been known that when encountering a Caravan, players would receive a reward if they helped to defend it. What we have recently learned is that there will be Brigand/Highwaymen and Defender progression trees. There will be advancement in these, similar to what we heard about the seamanship skills. These will increase the rewards and give access to additional quests. As this is new material, we have very little information about it.