Scholars, warriors, nomads, poets, giants - these are just a few words that describe the life and times of one of TERA's most colorful races, the Baraka. After reading the Baraka race reveal dev diary, we had a number of questions about the origins, lore, special abilities, and role in the TERA story - not to mention what's up with that single-gender thing - for En Masse. Forunately TERA Writer / Designer Bridget McKenna was available to answer our questions in our latest TERA interview: TERA's Gentle Giants - A Baraka Race Reveal Q&A.
Ten Ton Hammer: Is it unfair to think of Baraka as the "Tauren" of TERA? Besides a bevy of beeflike characteristics, what are the character similarities and differences?
Bridget McKenna, Writer, Designer, Baraka Race Shephard: The “Tauren” comparison isn’t entirely off the mark. Baraka are large and imposing, but gentle in nature (until you start pushing their friends around, that is). I sometimes liken them to Sikhs, who live peacefully, but are sworn to fight against injustice.
TTH: How was this race named? Does its popularity deserve to rise and fall based on the approval rating of the current US President?
Bridget: The name “baraka” came to us from the development team at Bluehole Studios. It seemed to fit, so we saw no reason to change it. It carries a meaning of “spiritual wisdom” in Arabic and related languages, and we liked that for this race.
TTH: Contradictions always make for colorful characters. How do you reflect the perception of Baraka being "gentle giants" in how you write race-specific quests and dialogue for the class?
Bridget: The baraka see themselves as keepers of the world’s knowledge—“keeping safe the light” as a baraka might put it. They maintain libraries and schools in many places throughout the world of TERA, since they have no homeland of their own. So their gentle, scholarly nature is better-known to most people than their fighting prowess. But one central baraka value is balance, so in addition to pursuing careers in science and academics, the baraka also train to excel in the fighting arts, including magic. We like that seeming contradiction between their imposing physicality and their peaceful natures.
Baraka speech is careful and considered, and a bit wordy as befits the popular image of scholars. We keep these things in mind when writing them. But their wordiness isn’t cold or distant; they express interest and concern for others in their speech and actions, and they are careful not to offend anyone.
TTH: What sort of character customizations will help make Baraka characters unique?
Bridget: Other than their racial skills, which are mentioned below, all player characters in TERA will differ from one another in playing style, particularly when they begin to use glyphs to customize their skills in many different directions.
TTH: Will Baraka have an area or perhaps a starting location to call their own? If so, how will their traditions and heritage be manifested by the architecture and surroundings in this area?
Bridget: The baraka lost their homeland long ago, when the gods punished the giants. Although they were spared, their cities and lands were not. Since that time it has been part of their culture to gather knowledge from all the races of the world into great libraries, and to establish schools and academies wherever they settled.
TTH: What classes and roles are the Baraka race’s forte? Are Baraka particularly suited to melee / tank classes, and will they receive any kind of racial bonuses?
Bridget: The skills that are unique to baraka aid their health and stamina, as might be expected, and help them to resist immobility. They also have a speed advantage in crafting magical weapons. Although the popular image of the baraka priest has led many to suppose that as their preferred class, they can excel in whatever class they find themselves, including standing fast behind a lancer’s shield or performing a warrior’s sword dance.
TTH: For all of us that had fun in EverQuest clogging the bank doorway with ogres and trolls, how does collision enter in, in terms of how this race plays? Could players' set a "pick" or a shelf wall with Baraka, with squishier classes casting or using ranged attacks behind them?
Bridget: While they do have a larger collision area than smaller races, I wouldn’t bet my life on setting a baraka pick. You’re welcome to be the first to try, though.
TTH: In other MMOGs, females for larger races always seem to be a tough sell except perhaps for die-hard roleplayers. TERA skirts this problem since Baraka have no gender. So, for those who might be interested, how do you roleplay a genderless race? Put another way, what's Baraka nightlife like? :)
Bridget: Many baraka are still somewhat bemused by the subject of multiple genders, since they don’t require two distinct body types in order to reproduce. That much said, they express no curiosity about the mating habits of other races and reserve the right to keep private matters private. They do mate, have children—usually twins—and enjoy family life much the same as members of other races do.
TTH: Being the last of the giant kind, are there any quests or story arcs related to reclaiming or preserving Baraka or giant heritage, or are they pretty ensconced in the core conflict of the game?
Bridget: The baraka make no secret of their longing for a homeland in the fullness of time, but they live their heritage every day by embodying the ethics and values of their society. They don’t consider themselves victims or refugees, but rather wandering keepers of knowledge’s light.
TTH: Optional lightning round question: Would the average Baraka like cake or pie? And why?
Bridget: Pie. The variety of tastes and textures in a pie appeal to the baraka love of balance.
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