Seasons, Mare Stellarum, and Somnium Redesign

Feb. 12, 2024

There are many things to talk about this month. Progress has been great, and there are even more plans for the future of both Librum and Somnium. This time we will focus on three things: the rework of seasons in Librum and how this will affect the mechanics of the game, like hunting and alchemy; an in-depth analysis of the brand new Frontiersman skill from Mare Stellarum; and some details about a few reworked mechanics for Somnium, relating to combat, Arcane Fever, and night mechanics, along with some future plans and ideas. For any questions that you may have, feel free to ask in the relevant Discord channels, and also, feel free to ping The Blue Templar there.

Seasons Overhaul

Seasons in Librum 4.0 will get a complete revamp, both aesthetically and mechanically. The main idea is that whenever the season changes, the player will notice a big visual difference in the environment around them; snow will cover many landscapes in winter, spring will be full of life, autumn full of brown leaves, and so on. 

Of course, the changes will not only be visual, but will rather have a large impact on game mechanics. Alchemy, hunting, economy, and overall survival difficulty will be affected, among other things. During winter, for example, the player will find much less availability of alchemical materials, like flowers and butterflies. Many animals will also hibernate, making hunting a more difficult endeavor, and survival will also be far more difficult in some areas that otherwise have a comfortable temperature. Generally speaking, these changes in seasons are not only limiting though, as the player will have access to different resources during different seasons. This serves as a good example of how gameplay can be affected, as an alchemist will now have to take note of the current season and stock up on supplies appropriately, or be at the mercy of Skyrim’s merchants. The same can be said about hunters, frequent travelers, and all other players.

Before we provide some screenshots from our internal testing build, here are some of the mods that we are using. Remember that this is an early testing build, so the combination of the mods used, and the resulting screenshots are still WIP and everything is subject to change, so any feedback is greatly appreciated. This list is also far from exhaustive!

Mods Included: Seasons of Skyrim, Seasonal Landscapes, Enhanced Landscapes, Azurite Weathers, Mists of Tamriel, Azurite Fogs, Obsidian Mountain Fogs, Clouds over Morthal Swamp, Ethereal Clouds, Nature of the Wild Lands, Mostly Treeless Tundra, Seasonal Aspen Trees, Bent Pines, Waterplants, Massive Outstandingly Insane Swamp Tree, Depths of Skyrim, Prettier Roads, Really Blended Roads, Seasonal Alchemy, CACO Farm Overhaul, and more!

Another important note about these screenshots: What you can see here is without any ENB, ReShade, or Community Shaders preset! The final product will certainly involve some combination of these.

Mare Stellarum 

Progress has also been steady on developing Librum’s new perk framework. In this blog, we will mainly focus on a brand new skill in Mare Stellarum: Frontiersman. This new skill will take the place of the old Lockpicking skill (which will be merged with Pickpocket into Sleight of Hand), and it is focused on crafting, cooking, camping, and survival in general. 

Our intention with this skill is to integrate the perk and skill systems from various survival mods—notably, Campfire, Hunterborn, CACO, and Frostfall—into a single system, and to add some other perks and skills. Another goal is to reduce the bloat of different powers and abilities at the start of the game, so the player does not have to learn and constantly juggle several powers. Many of those powers and their effects will be combined and worked into the Frontiersman skill; a good example here is the Scrimshaw power from Hunterborn, which allows you to craft objects out of bones in the wilderness, and will now be locked behind a Frontiersman perk. It should also be noted that each of the Campfire perks will be overhauled (or scrapped) and turned into Frontiersman perks, making each one more interesting and impactful.

Increasing the Frontiersman skill will work much like any other—the player will have to practice it or find a trainer.. In essence, all of the XP progress of Hunterborn, Campfire, Frostfall, and CACO will be combined into this skill tree, and in return, Frontiersman will passively improve the player’s capabilities when skinning animals, surviving in the cold, building campfires, and more.

To highlight a particular cluster, we are going to integrate the mod Rainmaker, and of course, overhaul it as necessary to fit in with Librum. This perk cluster will allow the player to change the weather to rain, and to benefit from rain in various ways. These effects will not negate the downsides of rain in Librum, such as the increased exposure in Frostfall, but they may create new incentives for working through these consequences.

Coming back to a previous point, we are combining the Lockpicking and Pickpocket skills into a brand new skill: Sleight of Hand. This is being done partially to make room for Frontiersman, but also to improve upon the somewhat-underwhelming quality of Skyrim’s original stealth skills. We’ll expand more on Sleight of Hand in future discussions, but we hope that this change makes stealth-based builds and characters more worthwhile.

Somnium’s Redesign 

In light of Somnium’s 2.0.5 update, and after extensive player feedback, we have decided upon some changes that will overhaul some of the core systems of Somnium. Our aim is to overhaul combat, arcane fever, and nighttime gameplay. Also, we have a few more details to share about new Somnium versions.

The Combat Overhaul

Although we retain our original vision for Somnium’s combat, as something fast, mobile, and altogether distinct from Librum, we have decided to remove some of its more cumbersome Souls-like elements. For one, we've found a way to partially recreate the MCO-esque approach to combat with clever use of vanilla mechanics. There's still a light form of attack commitment (your speed is very heavily reduced, you can barely turn, and you can't easily cancel your attacks), but unlike our previous setups with SkySA and MCO, you will have a lot more freedom in your movement. Furthermore, other key combat mechanics will be retained: the focus on gunplay, the differentiation of sword types, and the integration of Valhalla systems. Even though there won’t be as many attack combos (though you still have plenty of different moves, through directional power attacks), the combat loop is fun and dynamic, as Valhalla encourages a smart combination of light, heavy, and directional attacks. So, even without MCO or SkySA, it's very far from being the "spam LMB" system that vanilla is!

Night Gameplay and AF Overhaul

We are also brainstorming night-time mechanics, and particularly, how to make them more fun to engage with without sacrificing Somnium’s vision. Here is one proposal we’ve been kicking around: the Somnium Bucks system (SB). It's a design philosophy (but not an actual in-game name!) that we might be using in 2.1, where the player will have to complete a certain number (or variety) of gameplay activities before midnight in order to skip safely to morning, or perhaps, just to have an easier night than usual. Perhaps these activities will include dungeon-delving, questing, killing opponents, or successfully dealing with Anomalies. In our minds, these reward systems would create a greater sense of anxiety and achievement throughout the game (in the style of Pikmin, for instance), and they would give the player something to aim towards as night approaches, but they wouldn’t lean as heavily on our more-explicit horror elements. 

One new mechanic we’ve already implemented is the “Stargazer” skill. If the player performs it, they temporarily unlock the compass in the UI—but the cost is, if they use it during the daytime, the power winds the clock forward to dusk. All of this is accompanied with a beautiful animation, which you can watch either in the Captain’s Log channel in our Discord or on our YouTube channel.

On top of this, we are heavily changing up Anomalies, making them far rarer, but also far more impactful. We are also increasing their variety, adding ~50 new Anomalies in total. 

Before we finish up the blog, a few more announcements about the future of Somnium. Firstly, with the removal of the Souls-like combat systems, we are working hard on re-enabling first person mode throughout the game. Also, to address the frequent questions we get about it, VR is NOT coming for Somnium in the near future. We may think about it after we implement all of the new changes, assuming that they work as intended, but no VR plans are in the works at the moment.

And with that, that’s the end of this blog. We hope you are all as excited as we are about these upcoming updates and, as mentioned earlier, any feedback is greatly appreciated. See you next month!