Rubies Of Eventide  

This review was originally written in September of 2006. Although the author no longer plays the game, Rubies of Eventide's developers continue to support it, adding both content and updates.

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For the past four or five nights, I've been exploring the free MMORPG world of Rubies of Eventide. Without going into too much history, RoE was released in 2003 but quickly suffered from low subscription numbers. It got a temporary cash infusion but couldn't substain itself and was scheduled to close. Another company bought the game and put it on a donation system; you can play for free but those who donate receive preference for servers, exclusive zones and some in-game goodies for the high rollers who donate $50. The game is, however, fully playable for free -- it's not a gimped 'trial' game.

Playing the game, I could appreciate why it never took off but I also see some fairly unique things to it that made me wish it enjoyed more success. There's also some unique things that annoy the hell out of me. This post is a quick overview, not necessarily to entice the reader in playing or to laud the game but because I found it interesting. My own MMORPG history includes Everquest, FFXI, WoW and City of Heroes. It's entirely possible that I may cite a feature as 'unique' which was implemented in another, smaller, MMORPG. If so, it's my error.


Yikes! A player character ogre
Yikes! A player character ogre
One of the first things you notice about a game is the visuals. In this, RoE has a split personality. The game world is based off a decent graphics engine which may be a bit dated but I found acceptable for a smaller, less-well funded game than EQ2 or WoW. Mobs range from "Pretty neat" to "Ugh" with the "Ugh" ones being based off the character models. And that's the big problem -- the character models are terrible. For a game made in 2003, there's little excuse for a commercial game to have been developed with the blocky, ill textured messes that make up the character models. Heads are square, faces are painted on, the limbs are proportioned funny and the movements are clunky. I know all about "It's the gameplay, not the graphics" but, to be honest, the poorly done models really detract from the game immersion (especially against the background) which in turn affects the fun.


Races in RoE are all allied and called the "civilized" races. So there is no immediate conflict between your orc and a town of humans or vice versa. The races are the humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs and ogres. All are pretty standard examples of their type in fantasy literature and games. The unique race is the Leshy, a magical elven-type race that hovers rather than walks. Racial benefits are about what you'd expect: leshy, elves and gnomes are better at magic; dwarves, orcs and ogres are better at hitting things and humans are the middleground. There are no restrictions, however, on professions so you can have a floating leshy warrior -- you'll just struggle at it.


Professions are a place where RoE shines. There are around fifty different skills ranging from Axes to Hunting to Tailoring to First Aid to Illusion Magic to Languages to Bargining to... well, there's a lot. There's also 90+ different class templates to help you pre-determine your profession. Armsmen, Dark Paladins, Hunters, knife-weilding Zealots, Necromancers, Skalds, Barbers (yes, barbers; as in medieval doctors), Warders, and so on. Some are almost entirely unsuited to combat such as Seers and political Sycophants and it's too bad there's not more of a game population to make playing a Linguist worthwhile. Some professions are further subdivided so if you choose a Barbarian, it'll ask if you're a hammer weilding barbarian or an axe weilding barbarian. You can still use hammers if you choose axes but your initial points will be weighted to using axes. There's also a blank "Adventurer" template just in case none of the other 90 appeal to you and you wish to build your own from scratch.

After selecting a profession, you can assign 'development points' to raise up basic skills or even choose new ones. New skills and things outside your professional or racial spheres has a heavier cost though so you may be better off selecting a Ranger style template than loading your Pikeman up with druidic magic spheres. Likewise, it costs more to teach your leshy the art of swordplay than it does an orc. Skills are raisable as you go which I'll talk about later.

So you've stomached the character models and made yourself a new soul to inhabit the world of Rubies of Eventide. What's next? Upon entering the world, you start off in a training guild where you meet up with melee, spellcasting and ranged weapon tutors. Each has you 'kill' talking training dummies who lead you through the ins and outs of combat and, upon graduation, you receive some minor magical gee-jaws to start you on your journey.


Shooting kobolds in the mines
Shooting kobolds in the mines
If there's an initial turn-off in RoE (besides the models), it's the combat system. The system is a hybrid of real-time combat like most MMORPGs and a turn-based model like old CRPGs. Basically, you select a mob, then select to attack it in some way, you have a "preperation" period of delay, make the attack, then a "recovery" phase. The delay periods depend on the type of weapon/spell you use and (I believe) on your skill. What's worse is the game is plagued by unaccountable lag even where there's a mere 15-20 people on the server. So you select attack, wait, hit it again, and again, then it says the mob is dead and THEN you see a flurry of lagged combat including the half dozen times the mob hit you while you were clicking "Attack" and saying "WTF?" Worse is using ranged combat because you don't know if the mob is actually on you while you're spamming the button to fire an arrow and waiting on a result.

Combat and the interface
Combat and the interface
An interesting aspect of combat is that weapon types matter. You (and the mobs) have both hitpoints and bloodpoints as well as spirit points. Losing all of any of these will kill you. Blunted weapons do more hitpoints, piercing/thrusting weapons such as daggers and quarrels do bloodpoints and slashing weapons do moderate amounts of both. Mobs might be more suspectible to certain weapons such as skeletons who have no bloodpoints at all and so maces are very effective against them but arrows do a scant 1 hitpoint of damage. Few mobs or weapons take away spirit points although spells may.

Healing is in the form of magic, potions, the first-aid skill or downtime. Downtime can be made more effective with the camping skill in which one person makes a 'camp' and the entire party begins to heal at an increased rate.


There are six schools of magic, the four light schools (Bardic, Druidic, Illusion and Shamanic) and the four dark schools (Necromancy, Sorcery, Summoning and Conjuring) although nothing stops you from training in multiple or even opposite schools. In general, the light schools have more buffs and heals and the dark arts are where the big explosions are at. Also, and here's another thing that seems needlessly complicated, the time of day will influence the power of your spells. Add to this that the game keeps its own obscure method of telling time and it just doesn't seem worth the hassle. I suppose it's a nice bonus to have your necromatic magic do more damage at midnight but it's not as though your party is going to hold off on hunting until the moon is out.

Spells are cast in combat much the same way that melee attacks are executed. You select your target, hit the spell and there's a casting time and a recovery. Spells use mana points and you can set your spells to use more or less mana to further enhance their effect (although this also makes them more difficult to cast). There are spellcraft and focus skills as well to make your spells more effective. You have to purchase your spells (your beginning ones are free when you're created) and are limited to the skill in your school of magic. However, a brand new character with 35 points in Illusion magic may have more spells than a brand new character who only has 10 points in Illusion. So, even at level one, the skill system makes a difference between characters and even those of the same profession.

Levelling & Skills

There's two means of advancement in RoE. When you earn enough experience, you go up a level in the standard way. You gain additional hitpoints and also skill development points. As well, when you are fighting, you may gain skill development points in the course of defeating enemies. So you don't have to wait to go up a level before you can buy new skills although you do gain a healthy sum of DP from hitting a new level. This is as good a place as any to mention that character stats can be raised the same as skills. There's only four of them: Strength, Constitution, Intelligence and Dexterity.


Because of the skill system, just about any character can potentially make use of any object. It does you little good to buy spells if you don't have magical skills and, likewise, it does little good to buy a sword if your sword skill is 0 but you could always start dropping points in the appropriate skill.

Weapons and armor are not restricted by level but rather by skills. A weapon may say that it's optimal strength is 60. Unless your character has a strength of 60+, the weapon will not be effective. Likewise, armor has a required skill before you can use it at all. So a brand new character can not wear heavy plate armor and may even struggle to wear leather before you spend some DP in the Armor skill. Giving a brand new character a full set of the best armors simply means he has a lot of dead weight in his packs for a long time.

Casters are able to wear armor, even plate armors, but if a character is wearing armor whose value exceeds 50% of his armor skill, he takes a penalty in his chance to successfully cast a spell. A sorcerer potentially could spend enough DP in the armor skill to wear chainmail but, given the penalties for a mage-type learning melee skills and the ramping cost of skills as they increase, the points required would hardly be worth it (as opposed to spending them in much cheaper magic skills).


I mention levelling and equipment before death because both are tied into RoE's death system. Each MMORPG tries to come up with a new way to approach dying from corpse runs to graveyards to xp loss to equipment decay, etc. RoE has managed to tie almost all of those together into a unique system which is both frustrating but also quite innovative.

When a character over level 6 dies, he has the option of waiting for a party member to ressurrect him or else to return to the Temple, a building by the starting city. If rez'd, the character takes a death penalty (explained in a minute) but that's about it. Should you be soloing though and choose to return to the Temple, then you really feel the hit. You see, when you are rez'd at the temple, all of your gear remains where you died. You have five (yes, five) minutes to recover it. If you were fighting several zones away, consider it lost.

Yikes, huh? Well, there's a safety net. There are NPCs who can bind your gear to you so it travels with your spirit when you are Temple rez'd. The problem is that if you're out in the boondocks collecting treasure to sell and you die, you lost your treasure. But getting gear bound does at least ensure that you won't lose your armor and weapons if you die in the field. Oh, and any gear you have on you when you hit lvl 6 is automatically bound.

What do you get for this hassle? That's where we get back to levelling. Any gear you have (including things in your packs) is considered "risked". The more risked gear you have, the greater an experience bonus you gain when you fight. So, with full packs, you might get an extra 12xp on a 50xp kill. Or an extra 120xp on a 500xp kill as the case may be. Gear that you have bound does not count towards this risk bonus.

Oh, and the death penalty. I suppose that losing your swag was harsh enough that the death penalty is fairly minor. Until you gain back a certain amount of experience, you take a hit to your stats.


Like the death system, each MMORPG tries to reinvent the system for creating player-made goods. RoE uses a system which isn't too hard to get into and rewards risk but also lets you make lesser items safely.

In RoE, like most any game, the first task is collecting components. You can buy much of the leather, wood, metal, etc you need from some NPCs or else collect it as you adventure. There are also "Collection" skills such as mining and herbalism which assist in collecting components. Once you have your goods, you return to a town and find a crafting station (multiple people can use one station) such as a loom or anvil. There, you get started.

To describe this easily, let me use tailoring as my example. When you open the crafting menu, you have several drop down menus -- one for material, one for quality and one for the item itself. You can you select plain cloth gloves, crude leather gloves, quilted leather gloves, etc. You next drop the required materials into the menu (it says what you need). Here, again, the materials matter and soft leather gloves made of snakeskin are inferior to soft leather gloves made of bear hide but they are also easier to make. Once you drop your materials in, the menu displays a percentage chance to make the most inferior version of that item, given the materials you picked. You hit the Craft button and wait a few seconds while the game mades some tradeskilling sounds and, hopefully, you get your item. If you fail, some material is salvaged.

When the item appears in your inventory, it is shaded out. The first round of crafting an item provides an item equal to what the NPC merchants sell with medium materials. However, as a tradesperson, you have the option of working your items further. The chance to succeed drops some and you have the option of hitting Craft again or to finish. If you craft it again, you raise the quality of the item slightly. This doesn't use extra materials but, if you fail, the item is ruined and you only get your salavaged materials. If you're content with the item, you hit the other button and turn the item into a finished product, ready to be worn or sold. The range of quality goes from a base 75 up to 125.


Rubies of Eventide was a game that didn't last long compared to the large commercial ventures of Everquest, WoW, FFXI, etc. Rather it languished in that second tier with Horizons, Shadowrealms and Anarchy Online. I wasn't playing the game in 2003 so I'm not qualified to say exactly what troubles it faced that kept it from obtaining any success; I imagine that the poor character models, unorthodox combat system and death system kept people from connecting with it the same way they had with other MMORPGs. When I first started it, I laughed at the game and felt that it might be funny for a lark but would ultimately suck. So I'm a little suprised to say that it doesn't suck and, while it has some major flaws and clunkiness, it also has some charm as a lesser funded MMORPG world with some solid and innovative concepts.

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This page last modified 2007-11-08 10:26:32.