February Newsletter (2019)

It’s Groundhog Day… again.. and that must mean it will soon be time for February’s News Letter! Visionary Realms has bestowed a belated Valentine’s day gift upon us all to enjoy!

In the Under Wraps section, Ben Dean (Producer, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen) unwraps some of the efforts underway with animation, art, and programming.

.. Project Faerthale is busy, visually speaking. So even though we’ve roughly blocked out the zone for pre-alpha builds, we have a lot of refinement happening. You can see in some of the concepts here how Faerthale is really taking on a life of its own..

Next Joppa takes us for another tour Behind The Design of Pantheon. This month we get to lean a little bit more about Atmospheres which players will experience in the game. We’ve already seen one of these Atmospheres called Gloom in some of the streams and it’s one which Joppa discusses in the newsletter.


The Gloom atmosphere can be found permeating most Undead ruins, crypts, graveyards… places with a high concentration of Undead. This particular Atmosphere impacts players negatively and Undead non-player characters (NPCs) positively while in its area of effect.

Negative Effects on Players

    • Drains Mana over time

    • Reduces healing effectiveness

    • Increases damage inflicted by Undead enemies

Positive Effects on Undead

    • Bonus to all stats

    • Increases Aggro and Assist radius

We also learn about something cool called The Artifacts..

By seeking and acquiring Artifacts. Artifacts are legendary rare items players can discover that offer unique utility. They are necessary to explore and overcome areas of the game where Atmospheres exist.

In the Gloom example above, players would need to acquire and equip the Bone-Woven Veil to mitigate Gloom’s negative effects.

The combination of Atmospheres and Artifacts really adds some great depth to this already rich and extremely well thought out game. It’s definitely not going to be a simple decision to go to a zone and fight what’s there. Knowledge of the potential Atmospheres encountered and how to mitigate them becomes a big factor requiring much exploration to gain the upper hand. But wait, there’s more! In a future Behind the Design, Joppa plans to discuss additional challenges adventurers will face.. The Climate! We’ve already seen some of this in previous streams involving a very windy, snow-covered bridge which required additional items to help deal with the extreme cold.

Lastly, we are treated with a Q&A session with the big man himself, Brad (Aradune) McQuaid! The very first question contained something which is always reassuring. Aradune is in this for the long haul and has a lot of great plans and ideas to roll out for Pantheon.

There are so many mechanics, systems, and ideas to try out but don’t necessarily make sense to until post-launch. In the past I’ve not been able to stay on these projects as long as I would have liked, but I’m all-in on Pantheon; here for the long haul and having a blast!


In addition to learning about the origins of the name Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen and Terminus (quite interesting), Aradune covers a lot of ground around his role in overseeing the games development. He is certainly busy and dedicated to ensuring that “The Vision” is followed but he has also been very busy promoting the game and supporting the Pantheon community.

..but what comes to mind right now is just how important the community is. And more specifically, how incredibly impactful community support and faith in us has been. I know the team receives this all the time on forums, in direct messages, etc. I kept my Facebook account open and dedicated to the game and community, and the number of private messages I get that are full of support, kind words, and encouragement is amazing. We love working on Pantheon, but at times it gets tough. Making an MMO is not the easiest genre to tackle — in fact, it may arguably be the toughest. It’s so nice to see a new Youtube video pop up supporting the game and promoting the game when you’re feeling some of that pressure. Getting a PM on FB or Discord or Twitter has an incredibly positive effect on our morale, and we are very, very grateful.

We are treated to quite a bit of game mechanics philosophy from XP bonuses for grouping, PvP, to power leveling (it’s ain’t gonna happen in Pantheon!) and it’s all something everyone should check out!

I like to say that Pantheon is putting the E back into PvE. Traditionally, PvE simply means fighting NPCs. Pantheon is going beyond that in a big way. Our Perception System is crucial to all of this. You’ll be able to start quests and obtain critical information while exploring. In fact, you’ll need to explore and adventure in order to take part in many aspects of the game. Some MMOs are all about power leveling to the endgame. Why? There is either a perception or a reality that the real fun is at the higher levels. What do many players do in response to all of this? They sit in one or a few spots and power level, often with a higher level friend accelerating the process. This just isn’t going to work in Pantheon. Adventure and exploration are both rewarded and essential.

I could go on and on about the fascinating stuff which Aradune discussed. It’s incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to get my hands on this game! I’ve already warned my wife to expect the following response to anything she asks me which requires that I stop playing.. “Okay, I’ll be there in 5 minutes..” Sigh, famous last words..

November Newsletter

Time to give thanks for another eagerly awaited Pantheon Newsletter! This month they are serving up heaping portions of information starting with news about Pre-Alpha 4 and a new team member. Pre-Alpha 4 starts on November 25th and ends December 20th. That’s some great early Christmas presents for the Pre-Alpha testers! Ahh, Pre-Alpha, where you get to do more than watch a stream of someone playing Pantheon (you ACTUALLY GET TO PLAY!! .. I mean help test). Do you feel that you’ve missed out on the opportunity to help out with Pantheon? Fret not because for a limited time, pledges are open which will allow you to participate in Pre-Alpha.

Linda “The Brasse” Carlson has also started consulting Visionary Realms on Community Relations so we will see her around. Hi Linda!! Also, more team members will be joining up in the coming months. You can help accelerate the new additions by heading on over to pledge some money during the November 2018 Pledge Drive.

Oh, and check out these awesome new in-game models!!

This month’s newsletter also includes a lengthly segment called “Behind the Design” where the Perception System is discussed in nice detail. You will have heard of and seen some aspects of the Perception System during streams and other discussions online. In short, it’s a unique and intriguing method of handling quests without following the usual linear fashion of MMQ quest engines.

And to be truly immersive and expansive, the system would need to work with simple, mundane things as much as it did with grand points of interest. To make the game world feel like more than a line connecting two points, players need to always know that just over that little hill or around that tree could be a discovery that makes it worth looking.

Lastly, there’s a taste of the lore of Pantheon written by Justin Gerhart titled “Tales from the Fire”. Give it a read! It’s a great appetizer for the coming main course!

October Newsletter

You just knew it was going to be a fun newsletter in October! Spooky news awaits those brave enough to enter! Pre-Alpha 4 is on the horizon which is great news to those in the Pre-Alpha testing group but also for all of us who can’t wait for Pantheon to be released (and hey, there WILL be streams of the new Pre-Alpha content)! The devs are busy putting the finishing touches on the next build which will introduce us all to Faerthale!

Other great news is that Visionary Realms is hiring. Make sure you check out the Newsletter to see if you or anyone you know meets the requirements. Now, on with the rest of the Newsletter already!

Harvesting Update! Yes, harvesting is discussed in some great detail this month! We learn about the concepts behind how harvesting will be done and why. It looks like there will be plenty to do for players in the world with these various harvesting methods..

Right now we’re looking at Fishing, Gathering, Mining, Salvaging, Scavenging, Skinning, and Woodcutting. If we find a need or a niche that can’t be filled for material acquisition using those skills we may consider additional ones

Part of harvesting are the new concepts of Salvaging and Scavenging. These are explained in some additional detail in the newsletter..

Simply put, scavenging is finding things, and salvaging is breaking things. That’s overly simplistic though, so let’s touch on a few points for each.

What Halloween, er I mean October newsletter would be complete without some spooky content?! Pantheon delivers with a Rogues Gallery article on none other than Lycanthropes (aka Werewolves!).. Here we learn of the deep roots of how these wretched beings came to be and how they are hated by the people of Terminus. Who knew that werewolves were just a subset of Lycanthropes?

Today, Lycandrell, Nightwolves (and the subsequent, less intelligent werewolf) all have similarly poor reputation amongst most people groups. They are hated and hunted, most often due to the vile deeds of the Nightwolves and animalistic morality of werewolves. Yet the hardness of Lycandrell hearts toward common mortals has not given fearful outsiders a reason to treat each lineage of Lycanthrope as distinct from one another. A wolf is a wolf. This has created a survivalist mindset in all Lycanthrope, which suits their reclusive preferences and has kept Lycandrell encounters to a minimum.

Lastly, we are treated to some Under Wraps content! (save the juicy stuff for last of course!). We get a summary of the previously stated efforts around class development up to level 40 but we also got an interesting tidbit regarding the Summoner class and pets..


The past month of September the team has continued work on Faerthale, class implementation up to level 40 and several development tools. Earlier this week we finished up another review of the Summoner and its connected pet system. We had identified a potential implementation challenge with the design and born from the search of a resolution was a new idea that is both relatively easy to implement and makes the Summoner’s relationship with their pets even cooler.

This expanded into general design philosophy and efforts which happen daily around each class and the associated spells and abilities specific to that class. I always knew that it was a difficult balancing act and it’s present big-time in Pantheon’s development.

This sort of thing has happened routinely throughout production but it has seemed to be particularly present during this past month while we’re implementing all 12 classes with a more complete spell and ability arsenal. These tweaks and adjustments are exciting but are still very much subject to close scrutiny. How will this affect other classes? How can this ability be abused? Is this spell needed? Will the player be more or less desired in a group? Will they be able to solo effectively when they desire? Every attempt is made to be thorough when we are plotting out the classes but inevitably we won’t fully understand its implication until we get it in front of QA and even more so once the pre-alpha testers give it a go..

So there you have it folks! October’s newsletter is out and we have a month of discussion about what was revealed to look forward to! This halloween season, enjoy your pumpkin spice drinks and be careful on October 31. The night roads will be packed with little future Pantheon players!


September Newsletter

Things have been quite around here, too quiet! My cave creeper sense has been tingling in anticipation of a newsletter release.. and here it is!

Pre-Alpha 3 was wrapped up last month and the team is hard at work to have all classes are ready up to level 40 for Pre-Alpha 4 later this fall. We are treated to a Q and A around a redesign of one of the playable races, The Skar.

We were never satisfied with the initial rendering of the Skar, from an artistic or mechanical perspective. Those two areas of consideration are actually what prompted us to go back to the drawing board.

The first attempt was a “shot in the dusk”, not total darkness.

I love this quote from Jared Pullen..

From the get go we knew that the Skar were by far our most chaotic player race, given over to pursuits of violence and carnage the likes of which most other Terminus races wouldn’t even dream of. The catch cry of the Skar is not “Prepare to die!”... it’s more “I like your face, I want to wear it as a helmet...” 

There is also discussion around Skargol, the starting city of the Skar. This (like so much of Pantheon) is an area I am very eager to check out! It sounds like an amazingly cool and creepy place to start out a new character or to visit as a tourist. ;-)

.. the Dead Sheer; a towering spear head of splintered rock on the scale of a mountain peak, erupting upwards like the withering digit of a fell and angry devil. A grizzly monument to torment and despair it stands, adorned with the shrivelled remnants of past victims whose blackened bones cry out from the very rocks. All this amidst an acrid wasteland pocked by fetid acid pools and barren rock stained by chemically unstable mineral compounds that leach upwards from the very bowls of Terminus. It is a vile place, a hazardous place. One does not simply walk into Skargol…

Lastly we get the opportunity to see more of what’s under wraps with Pantheon’s development. This month’s focus is on one of the new, not yet seen city zones, Faerthale. The city is coming along and will be available during Pre-Alpha 4 testing. I really love the thought being put into developing this zone..

There are several unique experiences you’ll discover in the zone and each of them are expansive enough that it doesn’t make your adventures feel like micro-adventures. They’re also not so large that they feel empty. On top of it we need to ensure that all of the experiences in the zone fit into the overall zone thematically and practically.

Speaking of Pre-Alpha 4, the team is hard at work finishing off all of the playable classes to level 40. This is a large order to fill when you consider what needs to be done around spells and abilities. It’s an iterative process and needs balancing against everything else in the game.

An even larger portion of the design comes down to the spell and ability matrix. This is the heart of every Class as it defines what those Classes can do. A lot of time is spent going through these spells and abilities one by one and bouncing them off of each other. They need to work as a conceptional design but they also need to be realistic in terms of programming and they need to stay true to the overall style of the game. A lot of check and balance discussions happen over the spell and ability matrices.

It’s an iterative process and needs balancing against everything else in the game. This is where testers come in and eventually post-launch players. It’s a process which never really ends!

We’ll then test the classes with all of their new abilities internally in different scenarios and fix bugs and tweak balancing issues. We catch and fix a lot in this stage but it’s nothing like having hundreds of live testers trying thousands of things we could not account for. For that we are forever grateful to our PA testers. This balancing is a lifelong process as new players and new scenarios arise. So Classes are far from a fire-and-forget approach. Their growth and evolution will continue through Pre-Alpha, Alpha, Beta and well past launch.

Miss The Streams from Wednesday?

The battles have been fought, train tracks laid and the Ph4t L3wtz have been ninja'd. If you didn't catch the stream or want to relive it through one of the other perspectives, have a look at the following links. If you have comments for the streams, head on over to the Pantheon forums and drop them a comment in this thread.

Live Community Stream Airing Wednesday August 22 at 11 PM EDT

The first (hopefully of many) Community Program Streams will start rolling on Wednesday August 22 at 11 PM EDT. This will involve streams from 6 members of the Pantheon community each of which will play a different class! The following are the players as well as the links to their streams. Gratz on this great opportunity all!

Live Q&A With Aradune and Joppa Friday 17th!


The Gamespace Game Show has scored a 2 hour interview with Aradune and Joppa this Friday (August 17). MMORPG is taking questions to ask them.

Do you want to know more about a class that’s recently been revealed like the Wizard, Summoner or Enchanter?  Are zones a personal interest you have that you yearn for information on?  Let’s get hyped with your in-depth questions that we will pose to our distinguished guests this Friday evening on The GameSpace Game Show!

Here's your chance to put a bug in their ear to add something to Pantheon or to try to get some information not yet revealed to the public from them! Head on over and drop your suggestion at MMORPG.com

Wizard Conversation with Joppa

Joppa hopped into the Wizard forum to add to a discussion around the Wizard reveal recently made in the August newsletter. His post is definitely worth a read because it shows us how much thought is going into the game and how each class (such as the wizard) is not a mundane activity for players. There's so much more depth and more ways to play than the days of old..

The idea here is to answer the age-old problem of Wizards unloading a spell or two, then sitting down for the rest of the fight to keep Mana up. Now, Wizard's can stay meaningfully involved in combat through their Arcane school (damage, roots, stuns, etc.) and actually generateMana while doing so, building back up to another "burn" phase.

Even cooler though, is the type of progression players can anticipate for their class as revealed through Joppa's next comment. I'm including the whole quote here because it's an awesome read. Definitely great to see this level of detail being put forth by the team on the Pantheon Forums!

Let me put it in the context of a "player story":
As a Wizard, I learn Smolder at level 1, let's say. Then let's say at level 14 I'm fighting the Wraiths in Halnir Cave and the Wraith boss Tyrassura drops Scroll Fragment: Char! I win the roll against another Wizard, loot the fragment and then open my Living Codex. I notice I can't scribe Scroll Fragment: Char in a normal slot like other spells, so I read the description on the Fragment:
"Woven from Smolder to inflict increased Fire damage to your target with an X% bonus to critically land."
I remember that this Fragment is connected to smolder, so I flip to the Smolder icon in my codex. I notice that it's different from the other icons (this is not currently implemented, but will be soon). Instead of being a complete icon like the others, it appears to be torn in half. In the space where the missing half of the icon should be, there are two small, empty squares. I click one of those small squares with the Fragment on my cursor and it begins scribing. When the scribing is complete, I get a message saying, "You have learned how to weave Smolder into Char."
Now how does this work? My group pulls the next Wraith and we begin combat. I stand and cast Smolder which casts and fires as it normally does. But now, as soon as Smolder fires, the Smolder icon on my bar flashes and there is a new icon instantly in its place: Char! I activate Char which immediately fires on my enemy (instant cast, mana free) doing significantly more damage than Smolder. Once Char fires, the icon returns to the Smolder icon and begins Smolder's cooldown.
It's also worth noting that Animation, Audio and Visual effects will play a big role in "selling" this mechanic and making it feel like actual spell weaving. But trust me, it will be an awesome, visceral feeling when it's all said and done :)

August Newsletter

The wizard finally got his mana up enough to teleport the August Newsletter to the Pantheon MMO forums! This month's news letter includes three more class reveals, focusing on the pure casters of Terminus! The Summoner, The Wizard and The Enchanter! In fact, ALL launch classes are up and available for reading and drooling over! Definitely excited for these details and reading about them, it certainly makes choosing one too start with a difficult decision because they all have such cool abilities and spells.

This month's rogue's gallery covers a very cool looking NPC, the Banshee!

OF HOWL AND CHAIN. The banshee enters our world in a window of time that mirrors their own heart: the dead of night. In the past banshee portended coming misfortune or death, often in areas close to their own passing and with a mournful keening or wail. But as they’ve grown in power and attained a loose organizational structure, their role shifted from harbinger to assailant. Today banshee use their abilities to sow ruin by their own hand, rather than serving as a sympathetic horn.

Next, we are treated with a glimpse into the behind the scenes stuff in the 'Under Wraps' section. This focuses on the Pre-Alpha testing which has been going on with Pre-Alpha 3 sessions currently underway.

As mentioned, it’s the first time that testers are experiencing the world in an “as-intended” manner by connecting the zones together. It seems like such a small thing, but it’s surprising how much a simple thing like a zone line can heighten your immersion. The first time I zoned from Thronefast to Avendyr’s Pass by following the road I told Joppa that it was that instant that Pantheon first felt like a world to me. That’s a pretty big moment.

Pre-Alpha 3 is discussed, covering what the focus was and then the announcement of what Pre-Alpha 4 will entail is revealed. It looks like things are shaping up nicely and it will include harvesting.

PA4 will have all 12 classes implemented up to level 40 and a lot of attention is being given to the combat experience. Abilities, spells and skills are being fleshed out and, in some cases, replaced. Every action and interaction are being audited and polished. PA3 testers are already seeing some of this work being reflected in the latest builds. By PA4 testers should see a combat system that is more involved, more intricate, more acutely balanced, more shiny and plainly just more fun.

Finally, PA4 will include our first pass at harvesting.

Finally it's QA time with Senior Programmer Robert Crane. There is plenty of interesting bits of information to read up on, giving us a glimpse into the team members and the role they play working on Pantheon.

What’s been the most interesting part of working on Pantheon so far?

I will always have a fond place in my heart for fishing, and while it’s something that is only in its early stages right now, we have big plans to make it even better as the project evolves. I would have to say though that the real innovation is our perception system, which I helped write. We are still discovering different paths to take perception in, to immerse the player even further.

Gear Stats Philosophy

There's a great discussion on the Pantheon forums concerning the stats on gear which will be obtained within Pantheon. VR staff have weighed in several times with their take.

Kilsin mentioned in his initial response..

I think stats are important, it allows diversity between classes and creates a feeling of freedom when choosing what gear you want your character to wear, what I really do not like after learning a valuable lesson in VG is Equipped Effects (EEs) they are game breakers and pretty much swallow the Devs into a never ending gear sink, this is bad for everyone involved and harms the game in my opinion.

Joppa weighed in to explain what kind of gear viewers saw on Cohh during the stream and went on to discuss the current thoughts around stat caps..

Regarding the actual stat amount, I can say this: the current plan is for a soft cap of 50/hard cap of 60, including worn items and buffs, in a given stat at level 50. And this will not be easy to attain. You will have to make the decision and a concious effort to focus any of the attributes to raise them that high

Make sure you check out the thread in its entirety as it gives us all a good look at what to expect in game!

News Letter This week!

During the stream yesterday, it was mentioned that August's newsletter would be released on Wednesday 8th. We will post a link and summary when it goes live. Apparently it was also mentioned that the newsletter will have some Pre-Alpha-4 information. Good to see that testing is making progress!

To Pull or Not To Pull..

Kilsin once again has people talking with another question posted to the official Pantheon Forums. He is looking for thoughts around what class a group would get to pull in the absence of a dedicated pulling class. (I'm biased as I like playing my monk and the challenges of pulling and splitting mobs is why).

Community Debate - Who should pull mobs for the group if there is no dedicated pulling class - Crowd Control, DPS with aggro drop ability (Smoke bomb, FD etc.), the main tank or another option? #PRF #MMORPG #MMO #communitymatters

Head on over to the forums and weigh in!

It's On!

Make sure you hit up Cohh's stream happening today! The stream was delayed slightly but will be up and on the air soon! Expect to see the Dire Lord in play in some jaw-droppingly gorgeous zones!

Updated August 05 - The stream is over and you can find a copy linked below on the Tube..


The Dire Lord is one of Pantheon's tank classes. In this stream with CohhCarnage he learns about the intricacies of tanking, the importance of hate management and group interdependencies. The group explores a bit of Black Rose Keep and some all-new areas of the freshly updated Avendyr's Pass. https://pantheonmmo.com

Pantheon Stream August 6th

The Hive Leader has apparently landed another stream of Pantheon slated to take place on August 6th at 9:30 PM EDT. You can tune in and catch it live on Twitch.

UDATED August 02 - The second stream this month features an "All-Star" lineup of MMO streamers.  5 of the top MMO Streamers are playing Pantheon Monday at 6pm PDT in a first-ever All-Star Stream. @ Docgotgame  , @ fevirgaming  , @ ForceStrategy  , @ TheHiveLeader  and @ vressgames  explore Terminus.

UDATED August 02 - The second stream this month features an "All-Star" lineup of MMO streamers.

5 of the top MMO Streamers are playing Pantheon Monday at 6pm PDT in a first-ever All-Star Stream. @Docgotgame , @fevirgaming , @ForceStrategy , @TheHiveLeader and @vressgames explore Terminus.

Question From Kilsin - Visuals or Performance?

Kilsin posted a question concerning what you as a player look for when playing a game. Are you about performance or high quality visuals / realism?

Do you crank the graphics up to max in the games you play for the best visual experience or are you more of a performance type of player with low to medium settings? #PRF #MMORPG #MMO #communitymatters

Personally, I have always been about visual quality. Back in the days of GLQuake, I bought Monster 3D accelerator cards in SLI to get the very best look and performance out of the game. Currently I have a 1080Ti in my system and will upgrade when the next gen. comes out.

VR - Fad or Future?

A new question is up for comment on the official Pantheon forums.. These questions are often interesting as they can show us some of the thoughts which the developers are thinking through

Virtual Reality - Which side of the fence are you on, do you think Virtual Reality is the future of gaming or will it be a passing trend? #PRF #MMORPG #MMO #communitymatters

Personally, I think VR will be a major factor in future gaming. Prior to getting a VR headset, I viewed VR as something of a neat interest which I should check out some day. Then, once I experienced games inside of my new Vive, I was blown away and knew I'd have a tough time going back to flat screen games (I guess I'll have to "suffer" through Pantheon though..)  ;-)