The available classes—
"Wait, first explain what classes actually are."
As Stoni asked she glanced back along the narrow path between the palm trees. There was not much to see, as the trees were close on both sides. While there was a little light from the sky, she could not see far through the forest on her left. Her vision to the right was as bad as ever, and it seemed more distracting in the dark.
You clearly know—
"I get that there are abilities associated with each class, and they have prerequisites, and the concept seems familiar from games I don't actually remember playing, but I figure it's important to know precisely how they function and what they're meant for."
Classes exist to limit the abilities available to individual characters. Limitations require players to make choices, provide focus, and allow for greater variety in practice. If all abilities were available to all characters, either all abilities and combinations would need to be equally powerful, or else the most powerful abilities would see the vast majority of use and the others would be neglected. Each class provides five abilities to a character. These are thematically related and tend to have functional synergy, or provided a varied toolkit to assist in a variety of relevant situations.
"Makes sense so far. If everyone could do anything we'd probably all end up as... I dunno, stealthy archers or something like that. So, how do the prerequisites work?"
A class requires minimum values of some or all of the three stats: Mind, Muscle and Mystique. A new character has a total of four stat points, thus classes with four or less stat prerequisites are considered starter classes. Obtaining additional stat points without a class is not technically impossible, but is not considered practical or worthwhile.
"Why's that? How can players get more stat points?"
There are two typical methods of obtaining stat points. The most common one is allocation. If a character trains one skill and two abilities up to Outstanding rank, these can be allocated to one stat point. Skills and abilities each have one or more associated categories, which must match the chosen stat. A skill or ability can only be allocated once.
"And obviously that can't be done without a class. No class, no abilities, no allocation. What's the second method?"
Stat medallions can be won in challenges. The challenges require characters to prove themselves worthy of being counted as having a higher level in a stat. Medallions can be sold, but their prices run extremely high as players typically do not wish to part with them. A stat medallion will only raise a stat from a specific value, which of course is appropriate for the character it is awarded to. Stat medallions cannot be stolen, looted or used by characters hostile to their originator, and cease to exist upon the final death of their originator.
"Yeah if players could be killed or extorted for stat gains, or could keep passing them on forever... that would be a mess. Now, don't think I didn't notice that you said 'typical methods'. What are the atypical methods?"
A patron deity might bestow a stat medallion to a champion of their cause. Developers can also give them out as gifts or prizes.
Stoni halted at the former revelation, her mind stewing over the implications.
"Did you say a deity? There are deities in VIVID?"
Stoni tried to let out a long sign, but Granny V was short of breath.
"Well? Spill the details!"
The patron deities each oversee an aspect of VIVID, ensuring fair play and a good experience for players. Players who contribute positively are blessed, while those who attempt to take advantage of VIVID's limitations or peculiarities find that ill fortune catches up to them before long.
"Huh, that's interesting. And is it my imagination or do you find the prospect of punishing cheaters amusing?"
Commenting on players' imaginations is outside the purview of the Ares computing cluster. However, maintaining proper order in VIVID is considered to be a significant value. The pursuasive value of a potential transgrssor's imagination aided by specific disclaimers is considered to be more efficient than intervention and repair after an infraction.
"I... think I follow that. Well, the end of this track isn't in sight so you might as well tell me who all these patrons are."
Jagenta is the deity of item duplication. Hossup is the deity of accessing inaccessible locations. Wollix is the deity of sensing what should be blocked.
"Those names make me feel a lot better about being named 'Stoni'. And now I'm curious what a deity of item duplication does to offenders. Got any good stories?"
Multiple players have been crushed under piles of their duplicated items, or slain by an army of replicating foes. Some relatively minor offenders have been shamed by forcing them to wear a purple party hat.
"That's... oddly specific. Alright, on with the list. But make it a bit less dry, would you?"
Rabid Spike is—
Stoni tripped over nothing and fell in a laughing heap.
"There's a deity named Rabid Spike?" she said out loud between fits of mirth. "How does anyone take this seriously?"
Rabid Spike is the deity over movement speed exploits, known to curse offenders to only walk sideways. Arwei judges those who take advantage of safe zones, typically by turning them into danger zones. Ping—
Stoni had almost struggled back to her feet, but flopped down again at that name. "Ping! Sorry, that just sounds too cute for a deity. Ping!"
A few seconds of thick silence passed.
"Alright, I'll try not to interrupt. What does Ping do?" Despite her promise, Stoni trailed off into giggles.
Ping watches for players who attempt to create and exploit system lag, and times them out. Lo Teermawn judges those who attempt to manipulate where or whether attacks hit, often by making them easy to hit or giving them poor accuracy. Players who find ways of attacking that indirectly or rapidly such that response is impossible will draw judgement from Lorf Degarom. Sandoti is the deity of lore and backstory, favouring those who respect the lore but punishing those who attempt to twist it to their advantage. Mathematical exploits causes beings from the Celestial Plane to be unleashed. Disruption and exploitation of character balance in general is detected and penalised by the VIVID system. Manipulation of random number generator draws the ire of Susan.
"Oooooh, Susan! How positively frightening!" Stoni snarked.
Susan governs loot drops and sometimes blesses characters who are down on their luck.
Stoni quickly decided she did not want to be on Susan's bad side. "That's very respectable and admirable."
Players who attempt extreme and lazy farming of loot or gains to skills or abilities will have their efforts fail pitifully or spectacularly due to the influence of Shkrrrr. Ymoo punishes players who cause pointless harm to other players, and blesses those who help others significantly.
"Punishes them how?"
Fast degradation of items is a typical punishment from Ymoo, and the reverse as a blessing. Players who lie in wait at respawn anchors or login locations to slay the vulnerable may find themselves put in a sudden stupor by Varch. Hallummist is the protector of new players, bringing pestilence upon those who take advantage of their ignorance with scams and bad deals. Mima pushes players who neglect a stat and leave weaknesses in their party composition to maximise their strenths into situations where their weaknesses might lead to their downfall. Thawk watches for players who find risk-free circumstances to repeatedly train up skills or abilities and introduces them to significant unexpected risk. Conversely, Thawk sometimes rewards those who seek out novel and risky adventures with new skills.
"There sure are a lot of these," Stoni commented. "And it looks like I'm coming up to a break in the forest. Good thing too, it's a real drag walking in all these blankets, and I'm starting to worry what else might be out here. I'm sure I can hear something alive moving about."
The final two patron deities are Berrentan and Beve. Berrentan helps weird but pointless plots find players who refuse to act in character or who bring too many of their real life issues into VIVID. Beve rewards players who kill off long-lived characters who have become too powerful.
Stoni lurched into the clearing, breathing heavily. A small wooden cabin waited in the centre. No light came from the windows, nor was there any smoke coming from the chimney.
"I'll try to keep all that in mind. But for now I've got a house to explore. I think this is my son's. I mean it's Granny V's son's. Yeah, it's Raphael's place, where she entered VIVID. We'll have to pick up this conversation later. I haven't forgotten I want that list of classes!"
And with that silent thought complete, she crept forward and slowly circled the house.