Level One Dad
About This Show
My name is Phil. I'm a new dad. Once a week I geek out on games, movies, music, TV shows, books and other smatterings of science fiction and fantasy. Level One Dad is a show about pop culture viewed through the lens of parenthood and finding free time to pursue nerdly interests.
Most Recent Episode
Arcanum: Of Memories and Retro Gaming Nostalgia
Whoops! Baldur’s Gate II came out in 2000; I get this wrong in several places. Throne of Bhaal came out in 2001.
Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
We’re talking Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura. Troika, a short-lived studio founded by Fallout veterans, published Arcanum in 2001 to critical acclaim. I take a look back at this role playing classic for the PC and discuss the world, soundtrack and depth of character development. I also take a swim through a sea of nostalgic admiration for the game and point out a few warts for balance.
The Continent of Arcanum
The game takes place in a sword and sorcery world going through an industrial revolution. Wizards and knights spurn technology as a fad while technologists decry sorcery as stale tradition. It’s a world of strife as the old guard clings to power.
There’s a cool alternate history thing happening with the game; the tech enthusiasm echoes the industrial revolutions in Britain and the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. I never saw mention of magic in my textbooks, but I imagine if wizards were around during the time of James Watt the setting would be eerily similar to the fantastical world of Arcanum.
I talk about the game’s setting and tone circa 06:58.
Pick Your Poison
The player character in Arcanum can be almost anything. The world is filled with schematics and materials to craft contraptions if tech is your thing. There are 16 colleges of magic, each with 5 spells to master if you’re into the arcane. There are thieving skills, and melee skills, and healing skills and gunslinger skills, too.
You can play as any of seven races: Humans, Elves, Dwarfs, Gnomes, Halflings, Half-Orcs and Half-Ogres. Each race has its unique history and place in society and the world reacts differently to charismatic Elves than low-intelligence Half-Ogres. You also pick a backstory during character creation for additional flavor and stat bonuses or penalties.
The sheer number of character build combinations and variations in how NPCs react to you makes replays an absolute treat.
I talk about replayability and character creation circa 11:48.
One of my favorite things about this game is the