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DescriptionThe luxury zeppelin IFS Zephyr begins her maiden voyage from Caladon in the Kingdom of Arland to Tarant, one of the largest cities in the technologically advanced Unified Kingdom. Suddenly, while the zeppelin is cruising over mountains, two monoplanes attack it and eventually shoot it down. The two half-ogre attackers die in flames along with all their victims except two who miraculously survived. However, one of them, an old gnome, is mortally wounded. Just before he dies, he gives a silver ring to the other survivor and tells him to "find the boy". The witness of the crash, a man named Virgil, declares that the now only survivor is "The Living One", a reincarnation of a deity, and offers to follow him wherever he goes. The hero begins a long and perilous search for the mysterious boy, the origins of the silver ring, and the unknown enemy who was behind the attack on the zeppelin.
Arcanum is a role-playing game similar in concept and many gameplay principles to Fallout. It is set in a unique world, which can be described as mixture between Tolkienesque fantasy, steampunk technology and elements of British and North American culture of the 19th century: dwarves may carry molotov cocktails, and a half-orc protagonist can travel by train between Victorian-like cities. Magic and technology are opposed to each other; most humans and dwarves embrace technology, while some elf clans stick to the old ways and consider scientific progress evil.
In the beginning of the game the player creates the main character, choosing from a variety of races, attributes, magical or technological disciplines, social skills, backgrounds, etc. When the character levels up, the player can increase his main parameters as well as any available skills. Like in Fallout games, the player directly controls only one character; however, companions who join the party may be given orders, and their inventory can be managed by the player.
The game is open-ended: the player is free to explore the vast world from the onset, undertaking a large amount of side quests or following the main story. Social interaction plays a significant role: depending on the player character's charisma and intelligence attributes, as well as persuasion skill, many problems can be solved in a non-violent way. The amount of companions willing to follow the protagonist also depends on the latter's charisma rating; companions may also leave the party if they disagree with the hero's behavior.
The player can select one of the three combat modes for the game: real-time, turn-based, and fast-paced turn-based. Turn-based mode is similar to the combat in Fallout games: characters require action points to move, attack, or cast spells.
The game includes an editor called WorldEdit, which allows players to create their own maps, campaigns, and non-playable characters. Objects from the base game can be carried across to the player-created scenario. The scenery editor allows players to create their own objects. It is also possible to set and change game variables, i.e. the amount of skill points required to perform a specific task.
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ManualFollowing on the tradition started in the Fallout manuals, Arcanum's manual includes an actual cooking recipe! This time it's Grandma Cookhill's Three Bowl Bread.
Mod PackOn January 7th, 2002, the development team released a free "Mod pack" containing six new and exclusive adventures. It can be downloaded here.
ModsChris Beddoes has produced a mod for this game that addresses some balance issues, makes it overall a little more challenging, and replaces the entire opening area and quests. This latter is important because the opening area was used in the demo, and many players have just seen it too many times to want to start a new character any more, despite the near-infinite possibilities for character design. It can be found here.
GraveyardsA hidden graveyard, containing tombstones of Arcanum's most diehard fans, can be found at the location W: 1060 S : 809 on the world map. Another graveyard has lots of humorous epitaphs written on the graves. However, many of them are taken directly from Baldur's Gate.
Server shutdownThe official Sierra game servers were shut down on 1st November 2008.
SoundtrackThe soundtrack to Arcanum was composed by Ben Houge for string quartet and was provided in its entirety on Computer Gaming World's May 2001 demo CD.
Both the soundtrack and its sheet music are available as a free download.
Stillwater giantDespite the result of the associated quest, the Stillwater giant DOES exist. It can be found on a random encounter between Stillwater and the pass to the elven city.
Information also contributed by Rambutaan, Sciere, Terrence Bosky, uclafalcon, Unicorn Lynx, weregamer, Wojit and Zovni
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YID YANG (164496) added Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura (Windows) on Jul 12, 2001
David Bragg, Mark Harrison, Chris Jones, Michael McCarthy, Chad Moore, Steve Moret, Yong Park, Jesse Reynolds, Sharon ShellmanDesign: