The Temple of Elemental Evil Impressions

We take an up-close look at Troika's upcoming PC role-playing game based on the classic tabletop adventure.

We were able to get a firsthand look at Greyhawk: The Temple of Elemental Evil at this year's E3. The game will be powered by a fully 3D engine that will render 3D environments, character models, and a variety of good-looking special effects, including flame and smoke effects on torches and magic spells, as well as day and night cycles.

Greyhawk will be a lengthy single-player role-playing game that will let you create up to five characters for your initial adventuring party, though over the course of the game, you'll have an additional three character slots that you can use to recruit hirelings who will join your cause for various reasons, not all of them noble. When you start the game, you'll choose your party's alignment (good, neutral, or evil), which will determine your party's motives in its quest. As in the classic Dungeons & Dragons tabletop adventure, your party will begin its journey in a small, peaceful hamlet on the outskirts of an ancient temple, which is rumored to house the imprisoned spirit of an evil queen and her army of monsters. The townspeople have observed an outbreak of monster attacks, and your party visits to investigate; if you play as a good-aligned party, you might seek to put an end to the source of monsters, though if you play as an evil party, you might instead seek to profit from the situation or even attempt to release the entrapped evil spirits for your own ends.

Greyhawk will feature fully turn-based combat based on the revised "3.5 edition" Dungeons & Dragons rules, which were recently released by tabletop game company Wizards of the Coast. The game will use a radial menu for your characters and their actions and will helpfully color-code your various magic spells, special abilities, and heroic feats to not only keep them separate, but also to indicate whether or not you'll be able to complete the action that turn. Greyhawk will let you chart out movement paths for your characters before you decide to move them on the battlefield and will indicate, with a meter on the left side of the screen, exactly how many time segments your selected action will require and whether or not it'll provoke an attack of opportunity if you retreat from a nearby enemy. We watched a turn-based battle against a group of giant frogs--not particularly menacing enemies, but they do have the ability to swallow your party members whole (causing acid damage over time until your character can break free). Over the course of the adventure, you'll fight much more-threatening monsters, such as vrock (large, vulture-like creatures native to the Gray Wastes, one of the most dangerous and evil planes of existence) and air elementals, and you'll actually travel among four different planes of existence, meeting about 140 different characters (40 of which you'll be able to recruit for your cause). You'll also have the opportunity to use more than 230 different spells, as well as canonical skills and heroic feats from the Dungeons & Dragons rules.

Greyhawk will attempt to remain as true to the 3.5 edition rules as possible without overwhelming you with numbers. Your characters' initiative in combat is determined automatically, and icon portraits will be displayed at the top of the screen indicating in which order your party and its enemies will take their actions. If you wish, you'll be able to uncover all the die rolls and hard data that determine initiative, saving throws, and attacks in combat by pulling them up from a side menu. Greyhawk: The Temple of Elemental Evil is scheduled for release this September.

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