alt="Rift: Planes of Telara"
this fifth exclusive interview with Trion Worlds, Ten Ton Hammer
delves into the lore behind href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/rift"> style="font-style: italic;">Rift: Planes of Telara.
To get the inside information on how the world of Telara was shaped and
molded, we talked to Lindsay Morgan Lockhart, Defiant Lore Lead, and
Nicholas Taylor McDowell, Guardian Lore Lead. A great deal of the lore
Planes of Telara was
discussed, including factions, dragons, the Ascended, and the dangers
facing the citizens of Telara. If you have any questions you wish
answered in a future interview, please post them in our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=53660">official
It’s tremendous that each player faction has their own Lore
Lead. That way, each faction has a person who identifies themselves
with that faction and strives to make that faction as appealing and as
cool as possible. There should be no cries, as in other MMOGs, of one
faction being inherently more interesting or better than the other one.
style="height: 2px; width: 55%; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: auto;">
Ton Hammer: Can you explain what Telara’s main conflict is?
Taylor McDowell: The
elemental planes have invaded and are making Telara co-terminus with
them, and you must stop lest you be consumed.
Morgan Lockhart: The main
threat of all the planes is the Plane of Death. Regulos, the dragon
associated with the Plane of Death, is the most powerful of the Blood
Storm, which are these very powerful ancient gods that are aligned with
each of the planes and are the main threat behind each plane. While the
rest of the Blood Storm would subjugate Telara in different ways,
Regulos simply wants to eat it and destroy it entirely. Regulos is
really our main threat. The others are significant threats, and in some
way, I am more terrified of Crucia who has mind-controlling powers and
I find that having your mind controlled is terrifying. With Crucia,
things can turn around eventually, but Regulos wants to destroy
Ton Hammer: How many planes are there that are in conflict here?
Taylor McDowell: There are
six: Life, Death, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.
Ton Hammer: How do the Ascended play a role in this story?
Morgan Lockhart: The Ascended
mean a slightly different thing for each side. They are the heroes of
the world. They are the main forces of each side, even though the
Guardians and the Defiant both have members of their organizations that
are not Ascended. The player characters and a few significant NPCs in
the story are Ascended. On the Defiant side, Ascended are soldiers
created in the future on the last day of Telara and are sent back to
the point where this fail-safe device was constructed, so they could
change the course of events that led to the world’s
destruction at the hands of Regulos.
Taylor McDowell: The
Guardians are risen saints of the gods of Telara, who brought you back
to deal with this threat once the rifts came. We have the risen saints
of the past battling against the time-travelling uber-menschs of the
future, and they each have a very opposing viewpoint as to how save
Telara from the planes.
Ton Hammer: That’s an interesting point that you bring up.
Really, they’re both trying to accomplish the same thing and
you would think that the battle against the Blood Storm would be the
primary battle. So why are they conflicting against each other?
It’s kind of the age old argument of the means by which you
survive is more important than simply survival. Both sides view their
actions as necessary, and both sides believe that their way of doing
things is the right way of doing things. They do not believe that the
other side’s method could possibly succeed or a way that they
would live their life. I think that we have lots of examples of that in
our history where people can’t just work together.
Taylor McDowell: We also show
in the starting experience for both sides that the opposing faction is
not only evil, but also incompetent, so you wouldn’t trust
them to help you save the world. Nor would you think they were capable
of helping you.
Ton Hammer: Is there a good and evil when it comes to the Defiant and
Guardians or is that really up to the players to decide that?
Taylor McDowell: As Lore Lead
for the Guardians, I’m going to say that the Defiant are
completely evil! (laughs)
Morgan Lockhart: As Lore Lead
for the Defiant, I’m going to say that the Guardians are
completely incompetent. (laughs)
" style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman";"> style="font-style: italic;">The planes have numerous
peoples and places and not all of them are loyal to the Blood Storm.."
Taylor McDowell: I think that
one of the things that we’re striving to do is to make it so
that if you were to play through both sides, especially both opening
experiences to pick which side you most resonate with, you’re
going to come down really strongly on one side or the other and point
to the other side and say, “The side that I chose is much
better! The experience is better, the stories are better, everything
about it is better! This side is the good guys; the other side is the
bad guys.” That’s really the effect that we want to
get in a game where we have two factions competing against each other.
Morgan Lockhart: Yeah. As
much as the Holy Knight might sound like an un-blemishable archetype,
on the other hand, the Defiant see the Guardians as inquisitors who are
zealots and so fanatical that they would destroy anything that would
conflict with their worldview. Even though they’re trying to
save the world, they can seem pretty evil. On the other side, the
Guardians view the Defiant using technology as reckless and dangerous,
and it seems completely evil as well. Both sides have good reasons to
think the other side is wrong.
Taylor McDowell: And to
complicate this up, there are a lot of people who want to play the evil
side, so you have to provide them a path to choose your faction and be
the evil guy and love doing that. We’ve gone to great lengths
to allow you to find the character that you want to play on either
side, and it should come down to your personality or the type of
adventure you want to have.
Morgan Lockhart: Yeah, there
are definitely NPCs and organizations that are clearly defined within
the sub-groups of the Defiant and Guardians that have different methods
even within the organization. You might find on the Defiant side that
you like the Faithless Man and the Unseen who really do the dirty work
of the Defiant. Or you might want to follow the Eldritch Vanguard and
be more of the pure eldritch warrior.
Ton Hammer: That brings up another question as well. There’s
some sort of deity system that exists within the history of the world.
Does that deity play a role in the players’ lives at all?
Taylor McDowell: We
don’t have a mechanic for choosing a deity and getting
certain powers based upon that choice. We’ve concentrated all
our class building within the soul system and that is mirrored on both
sides. Role-play wise, we’ve given out examples of if you are
playing a cleric, who you might be worshipping. We have the gods of the
Vigil on the Guardian’s side and that is very predominantly
in your face.
Morgan Lockhart: Supported
mainly by quests and content. You do have a lot of situations on the
Guardian side where you’re seeking influence and insight from
Taylor McDowell: This is very
much an accessible MMOG, so we’re leaving that to be mostly
chosen by players who want to role-play it out rather than a mechanic
in the game.
Ton Hammer: Let’s go back a little bit to the Ascended. How
do the residents of the world of Telara view the Ascended? Is there any
kind of hostility towards them or do they kind of respect them?
Taylor McDowell: This has
been part of our evolution of making the game as we’ve gone
along. When we originally started out, we had a lot of quests that kind
of viewed you as just another adventurer. That kind of had deleterious
effects on a lot of quests. As we switched over to the Ascended system
and we polished up these quests, we really wanted to emphasize that
you, the player, was important. If someone is hostile to you,
that’s generally a story clue that that there’s
something wrong or sinister about them. We wanted to make it that when
people saw you, they would be really happy that this risen saint or
this time-travelling superman has showed up to help them with their
Morgan Lockhart: The bulk of
the population is extremely thankful and often in awe of the Ascended.
You don’t encounter people being outrightly hostile to people
who are there to save them.
Taylor McDowell: This is kind
of reinforced when you have rifts that send out invaders that take out
a quest hub. The NPCs have a reason to be very happy that
you’re there because you’ve seen that quest hub get
attacked by flaming Dragonians, who burned them all and set up a pyre
in the center of the hub. You can understand why they’re
happy when you show up. It kind of sells the point that these are
people who are under siege from the planes.
Occasionally, there are a few story places where you’ll
encounter one group or another who are more wary, and who the Ascended
have to win over. We kind of hint at the Defiant versus Guardian in
where you have both sides trying to convince some other firmly rooted
group in Telara that you are the side that they should pick to help
them. You’ll find that a lot, especially in the end game,
where you’ll find populations in Telara who are more reticent
to accept Ascended help. They’re not hostile. They just
don’t have reason to trust you.
Ton Hammer: Can you build up trust with these people? More
specifically, do a player’s actions impact the writing of the
history of Telara?
" style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman";"> style="font-style: italic;">It’s kind of
the age old argument of the means by which you survive is more
important than simply survival. Both sides view their actions as
necessary, and both sides believe that their way of doing things is the
right way of doing things.."
Morgan Lockhart: Certainly,
there are places where you build up trust with certain groups. To say
that they’re writing the history, it’s better to
say that they’re writing the present with our dynamic
content. In a lot of cases, you are changing the way a zone or multiple
zones look with your actions. There are different quest situations
where you are altering what’s going on there based on what
Ton Hammer: Let’s talk more about the Blood Storm. Who or
what are the Blood Storm and how has it influenced the world?
Taylor McDowell: The Blood
Storm are malevolent gods that appear as dragons that are attacking
Telara from the elemental planes. What exactly their true form is and
where exactly they’re from in there, we’re not
revealing until after launch. They are imprisoned on Telara, and now
the ward that protected Telara from the elements is cracked, their
minions and lieutenants are starting to assault through the rifts to
try to free their particular member of the Blood Storm. The goal for
them is to only get one of them out and kill or subjugate the rest.
While some of the cults and elemental forces may cooperate from time to
time, in general, they are very hostile to each other. The player can
definitely take advantage of this.
Specifically, the members of the Blood Storm are: the dragon of Air is
Crucia, the dragon of Water is Akylios, the dragon of Earth is Lapis,
the dragon of Fire is Maelforge, the dragon of Life is Greenscale, and
the dragon of Death is Regulos.
Ton Hammer: So, we’re talking about a whole bunch of factions
then. We have the Guardians, the Defiant, the residents of Telara with
their sub-factions, and we have the six different planes who are
hostile towards each other and Telara. That’s a lot of
factions and battling!
It’s a lot, but when you’re playing through,
it’s never overwhelming. As a player, unless you’re
trying to find a specific faction that you want to deal with or
there’s a very specific purpose you have, it’s the
enemies and you. One of our goals was to have a way of differentiating
the various planes and what kind of plots they were going to do, but
keeping it very broad and accessible. I often refer to it as our crayon
box of villainy. When you want to construct a story, you know what
color you’re going to draw everything in, but the various
zone and quest writers have the freedom to draw what they want. As a
player, if you’re not really interested in any kind of
political gameplay (our game isn’t a political game,
it’s a fighting monsters game), you can just fight monsters
and be fine. It’s not confusing. But if you’re
seeking a specific story, you know what color to look for and what
thread to follow.
Morgan Lockhart: We do have
some that are more predominant to begin with. For example, at launch,
you’re going to be dealing a lot with House Aelfwar, the
Plane of Life cult and Greenscale himself as his prison is going to
crack first. You’ll see a lot of them, and then
you’ll see a lot of the Endless Court, who are followers of
Regulos, as they are really the overriding threat. The others
you’ll see with roughly the same balance in the zone, but
it’s a large world. There are a lot of places to encounter
these groups. When it comes down to it, six doesn’t feel like
too many when you spread them out over an online, massive world.
Ton Hammer: It means that you’ll have plenty to do.
Taylor McDowell: Yes. When
you’re constructing a lore story for an MMOG,
you’re creating a framework for people to invent things for
you to do. I think that we’ve accomplished that with our six
groups. We should be able to tell any story and to have interesting
gameplay between all those factions.
Ton Hammer: I really like that the good and evil between players is
going to be up to the players to decide for themselves.
That’s a unique approach to it. Are there any other things
about the lore that you wish to tell our readers?
Morgan Lockhart: One thing
that I wanted to note is that not all the planes hate Telara. It is
specifically the people who follow the individual Blood Storm dragons
and are loyal to them. The planes have numerous peoples and places and
not all of them are loyal to the Blood Storm. While all six of the
planes that we’re dealing with are hostile, it’s
not to say that the entire plane itself is hostile.
Taylor McDowell: Some of the
pet classes have pets that come from various planes and are not meant
to be hostile. It’s more that since Telara is in the process
of being invaded, that’s who you end up seeing.
Our thanks to Lindsay Morgan Lockhart and Nicholas Taylor
McDowell. If you have any questions you wish answered in a future
interview, post them in our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=53660">official
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our RIFT Game Page.