Carl Von Clausewitz
According to the Creative Director for Ashes for Creation, the game is meant to be a “theme box.” What this means is inside of the game there is going to be crafting, questing, raids, dungeons, character development, religion, politics, housing, and a host of other systems.
One key theme of Ashes is that what you build, others can destroy. Player vs Player conflict is not just an inevitable result of player actions; it has been intentionally designed into the core systems. Certain features of the game only emerge when Nodes are in certain configurations. In order to change the face of the world, in order to get Nodes into the configuration you want, you are going to have to employ a wide range of tools. One of those tools will be violence, in the form of meaningful PvP.
Meaningful PvP is structured or organized activities developed by Intrepid Studios. These activities are:
The Siege Events (Castles and Nodes) take place during the prime-time range for the specific server, so no need to worry about an alarm clock operation to protect your home.
There is also another form of PvP in Ashes of Creation, non-consensual combat which can occur in the open world. While Intrepid Studios wants PvP in Ashes of Creation to be based around meaningful events, they do not want to entirely remove the threat that is open world combat. In order to ensure the game does not become a murder/gank box, they have introduced the Corruption Mechanic. As the corruption system differs from the other types of PvP combat, I am going to address Corruption first, as this mechanic may be enough to deter some people from playing. When that is finished, I will address the other types of PvP found in Ashes
What is the corruption system exactly? From a lore perspective, it is what causes the exodus from Verra and causes men to go mad during the Battle Royale chapter of Apocalypse. It is also partially responsible for the creation of the Tulnar. More on the lore behind corruption in a different section.
When it comes to the mechanics behind corruption, players must first understand the three flagging states for PvP. Players are categorized as Greens (Non-Combatants), Purples (Combatants) and Red (Corrupted).
Just like war in the real world, these titles come with designations and repercussions. When it comes to who you can attack, you can attack Combatants and Corrupted, as these are legal targets and will not cause you to incur corruption. Non-Combatants are illegal targets and while nothing prevents you from attacking them, killing a non-combatant will incur the corruption penalty.
The team at Ashes of Creation Community Wiki put together these three images to help explain the corruption system.
As you can see attacking a non-combatant is not what gives corruption, it is the actual killing of a non-combatant that gives corruption. If the person chooses to not fight back, you can always stop and not gain corruption. If you attack a combatant or another corrupted you are fine, no corruption gain. For the confines of this discussion I am going to use the word Murder to describe the art of killing a non-combatant and gaining corruption in order to not have to type out a lot of words every time.
What exactly does corruption do?
First, corruption lowers your PvP effectiveness. The more corruption you accumulate the harder it becomes to PvP. Eventually you will die to someone, even someone you vastly out level or out gear, simply because your combat effectiveness will have been degraded. It is important to note, some people believe this combat efficiency decrease is due to the negative experience mechanic. It is not. It is a separate mechanic that applies while you are corrupted.
UPDATE (21 JULY): There are special rules for combat between corrupted and bounty hunters. In order to ensure those rules are understood separately, Bounty Hunters have their own page with their own mechanics breakdowns. Next, while everyone who dies drops a percentage of their gatherables/raw materials, individuals who are suffering from corruption also have a percentage chance to drop their gear. The higher the corruption score, the greater the chance of dropping weapons and gear.
Finally, upon death all players will earn negative experience. This is important because players do not lose experience and as such, they cannot delevel. Instead, as they go deeper into negative experience, they begin to lose effectiveness with stats, skills, lower health, lower mana, lower gear proficiency.
When it comes to negative experience and the gatherable drop rate each flagged stat brings with it a penalty:
A non-combatant takes a full death penalty.
A combatant takes 50% of a full death penalty
The corrupted takes 300% to 400% of a normal death penalty.
Critics of the corruption system believe it is going to completely kill open world PvP. The only way this statement becomes true is if you discount all the events and do not include them in open world PvP. It is a fair and valid point to say the spirit of “open world” PvP is killed by the corruption system because there is a harsh penalty for it. It is important to remember, however, that corruption only comes into play if the other person does not fight back, there is no corruption if the other person fights back as they become a legal target.
Critics of the system also say all the time that people will not fight back and always stick the aggressors with corruption. This view of the system is flawed, due to a lack of clear understanding about the system, and why in some instances it is well worth fighting back.
We do not have any concrete examples of negative XP on death nor consumables drop rate. So, these are all my conceptual examples and should not be taken as anything official from Intrepid Studios.
For our example we are going to say that the normal death penalty is 10,000 negative experience and a 50% drop rate for any gatherables you have on you. That is the penalty upon death for a non-combatant. For a combatant this would be 5,000 negative experience and a 25% drop rate.
When you are in non-combatant status, anyone who attacks you runs the risk of corruption. The decision of if they get corruption or not is completely up to you as the defender.
In our first situation, you are out gathering wild Corn and you get attacked by someone who clearly outmatched you. It is easy to tell they are going to beat you as they out gear you out level you, or are playing a hard counter to your class. Since the only gatherable you have in your back is Corn, then it is highly likely in this scenario you will choose to not defend yourself and remain a non-combatant, thus sticking your attacker with Corruption. The defender’s goal in this situation is that the attacker will get corruption, be a legal target for everyone, get killed down the road by a bounty hunter and lose all the Corn they just stole.
What if we keep all the parameters of the scenario the same, but instead of having Corn in your bag, what if you had just finished mining out a Diamond node and you have 100 diamonds. The same guy attacks you; he still out gears or out levels you. You still have the choice to stand there and take it as a non-combatant and you still have the option to stick your attacker with corruption. If you do that, you will lose your gatherables at a 50% drop rate, which means you will lose 50 diamonds. If, however, you decide to defend yourself, you now become a combatant and you take 50% of a normal death penalty, which means when you die you are only going to drop 25 diamonds.
Remember this was a conceptual example. We have no hard figures from Intrepid yet on Negative Experience or death penalty.
The argument by people who are fans of Open World PvP saying everyone is just going to always hide behind the corruption system is a fallacy. As demonstrated by the example there are reasons to flag up and defend yourself. Besides, if you are 10,000 Gear Score and you are attacking a 5,000-gear score and they stick you with corruption, you are a griefer anyway and you deserve all that tasty corruption.
There has been a design change in the corruption system, and a fairly significant one as of 20 July 2020.
Previously the only two ways to work off corruption was to either
2. do a quest
Now they have changed it so that you can work off corruption by
2. grinding out mobs
However, they have also changed the corruption system so that the more people you have killed, the more corruption you get on each future kill. You basically have a kill count running on you which increases the penalty you get with each murder.
The way you reduce your kill count is by doing special quests.
Steven has made this design change in order to increase the games of cat and mouse between the Bounty Hunters and the Corrupted. In a sense, they have created a quasi-faction war between these two groups.
Hopefully I will get more on this later to help update everyone.
With the corruption system discussed, we will next discuss the all the different meaningful combat methods found in Ashes of Creation.
One of the few times PvP in Ashes of Creation will be restricted to instances is in the Arena system. Most MMORPG players should be familiar with the traditional Arena System. This is a situation where individuals, or small groups engaged in combat without an open-world tangible target at risk.
Arenas will come in 1v1, 3v3, 5v5 and potentially a 20-man free for all environment. Although there is not a guild vs guild mechanic or arena, the matchmaking system does allow teams to face other teams.
There will be rewards from arena ladders which will be revealed later. We do know that titles can be earned from succeeding in the arena.
What you cannot do is earn gear from the Arena system, that is currently not in the design and was just confirmed during the 30 Jan 2020 livestream.
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.
Castle Sieges will be the crown jewel of Guild Content in Ashes of Creation. To understand the importance of the five claimable castles in Ashes of Creation visit the Nodes and Castles sections of the webpage, as there is just too much information about castles to repeat here. The single most important take-away about the significance of castles is that 20% of the world falls under the control of each of the castles castles, and thus the guild leader of the guild owning the castle is the regional monarch.
When the game first begins the castles will be under the control of NPCs who players will have to wrestle control away from. After that, the guild who manages to do so will hold it until someone manages to take it away from them. Unlike other games where possession is just static, the guilds that own castles will be busy.
The siege system exists on a four-week cycle. During weeks one through three, the guild owning the castle will be responsible for leveling a specific military node to help increase the defense of the castle. During every fourth week the castle is vulnerable to sieging. To do that, someone will have to create a Siege Declaration Flag, and that task will not be easy, as it will require masters from all three Artisan Class (Gathering, Processing, Crafting).
Declaring a siege on a castle is only the first step in seizing it. There is still the mater of the actual fight that needs to take place. It is currently scheduled for these fights to be 250 vs 250; however, these may increase to up to 500 vs 500 depending on what Intrepid Studios is able to accomplish with their backend architecture. These fights will not be restricted to guild vs guild, both the castle owner and the attacker have the option to allow outside participants to improve their chances of success. There will also be NPCs fighting along both the attackers and the defenders in the siege. These NPCs function as commanders and serve as objectives for both armies. Eliminating the opposing sides NPCs is one path to ensure victory.
Another path to victory is to capture certain way points. Both sides will have locations they want to capture and hold which decreases their own respawn time and increases the enemy respawn time. Of course, time will be of the essence because castle sieges only last for ninety minutes and the defenders of course have the advantage. The defenders have the home court if you will and will be intimately familiar with the layout of their castle, but they also only have to hold and run the clock. It is the attackers who must breach not only the outer walls, but also the inner keep of the castle, with enough time on the clock to successfully run a three to five-minute channel to capture the ownership seal. Only the attacking guild leader or one designated officer may be the individual to perform the channel. Finally, let us not forget the defenders have a Monarch among their ranks, which means they have at least one Dragon at their disposal.
The siege itself is only one part of the PvP involving castles. As discussed earlier, each castle will have three military nodes attached to each. In each week leading up to the castle siege these Nodes will need to be developed. The more successful the guild is at developing these, the more options they will have when it comes to defending their castle. Development of these Nodes is a two-part process. One, they will need to generate the appropriate amount of experience points to level the Nodes from level 1 to level 3. Castle Nodes level at an increased rate. Secondly, they will require caravans to bring materials to the Nodes to help them level. These caravans moving back and forth across the region will be prime PvP targets, especially for anyone with an eye on trying to Siege the castle.
Secondly, at the end of each week when the Castle Node is leveling there is an event at the Node where attackers try to disrupt the node to reduce its effectiveness at supporting the Castle during the monthly Node Siege. This is another weekly opportunity for PvP and keeps Castles center stage instead of them being a monthly event and then forgotten about until the next cycle.
The Enemy of the State mechanic is the PvP event that we know the least about. What we know at this time is that the Mayor of a Node can declare an individual as an Enemy of the State and then that individual becomes a legal target for all citizens of that Node. Now, where combat can occur, just inside the Node’s ZOI or all over the world is something we are waiting on.
The Guild Wars mechanic for Ashes of Creation is still in active development, which means there is not any solid information for what the mechanics are going to be. What we do know is that Steven is adamantly against a scenario where the fights are meaningless and nothing more than whoever has the most kills at the end of a preset amount of time.
Everything else with PvP in Ashes is intended to be meaningful and objective based and Guild Wars are no different. We do know that Guild Halls and Guild Fortresses are going to come into play during Guild Wars. It may be an infiltration or capture of the enemy guild Hall, it may be making progress towards your own, it may be the destruction of your enemy’s Guild Fortress, which are in fact siegeable although we do not have any more details on these at the moment.
It is possible to be in a war against multiple guilds or alliances at one time, although we do not have a count as to what the maximum amount is. Additionally, while there are victory conditions for Guild Wars there are also surrender conditions, which will allow a guild to remove itself from a war at some price.
Nodes Sieges are a very complex system inside of the Node System. Since this is the PvP component of Node Sieges you will find all of the combat details here, however, to fully understand the Node System I highly recommend going over to the Node System pages and reading up on Nodes as information presented about Nodes, the government, the politics is presented there.
One of the biggest updates we have learned about, is that once a node is sieged, all gatherables and processed goods become locked in storage. Should the Siege defense fail, then a portion of those materials will drop as loot. The rest of them, it is a safe bet that they are destroyed, however, this is a question on the list to ask Intrepid at a later date. Also, another question that is on the list to ask is how will crafting be done in a node that is under siege. Will we be able to craft from storage? If so, is it like that all the time? The most important part about Node Sieges is that there has been a recent change in the outcome of Sieges. Previously, a Node could be deleveled or destroyed depending on how effective the attackers were. This has recently changed in March 2019 with the new Know your Nodes blog series. Now, when a Node Siege occurs it is an all or nothing scenario. Either the Node Survives or the Node is eliminated from the map, there are no half measures.
Unlike sieging a castle which requires the creation of a Siege Declaration Flag, to siege a Node a quest must be completed. The difficulty of the quest to obtain the declaration item for Nodes scales in difficulty with the level of the Node Attempting to be sieged.
Once the item is obtained and used, several mechanics go into effect.
The first is that there is a countdown from the time the siege is declared to the time that the siege occurs.
Second, once declared anyone can register to be an attacker or a defender of the Node, the only condition is that all citizens of the Nodes are automatically registered as a defender.
Next, is that the Siege itself is more than just a blitz in and destroy something. The Node will be divided up into districts. Inside each of these districts has a raid boss guard NPC there. Should the attackers defeat the boss, they gain that district as a respawn and they increase the respawn time of the defenders. Likewise, the defenders could push out to the outposts of the attackers.
Node Sieges are important because everything is on the line. Everything the players have built up is gone. In-node housing and instanced apartments are destroyed if the Node Siege is lost. Freeholds are vulnerable to looting for 2 hours after a siege, and then if they do not find themselves under a level 3 Zone of Influence within one week they are destroyed. Finally, with the Vassal System, taking one node off the board can radically shift and change the shape of quite literally the entire world.
If a Node survives a siege, it gains an immunity to further sieges for a period of ten times the declaration time.
Finally, it is possible for a Mayor of one Node to declare war on another node, putting all of the citizens of each Node into legal conflict with each other, which means they can PvP each other anytime without the corruption mechanic being a factor.
Previously, there was an unsubstantiated rumor that at the end of a Node vs Node war, the losing node was destroyed. This has recently been dismissed by Steven as incorrect. The only mechanic for destroying a Node is the Siege Mechanic.
What Node Wars can do is influence the effectiveness of other Nodes by destroying key NPCs and buildings. Destroying key buildings is also the victory condition for Node Wars. The victory condition will vary war to war depending on the participants, Node Type, level, history, etc. For example the victory condition in a Node War vs an Economic Node might be to destroy their market, while in a Node War vs a Node with the Scholar’s Academy there may be something to steal out of the building.
We also know that Citizenship is the highest relationship in the Hierarchy, so if your Guild happens to live in both Nodes A and B and the Mayor of Node A declares a war on Node B, then the members of the guild are legal combatants with each other. What ramifications this has in regards to grouping, raiding, running dungeons, etc, is not yet known.