"What is it you would like to know, mistress?"
I glanced down at my list and looked at the first question. "Can I add in visible area names that adventures can see?" This was a crucial question since it dedicated if I could do my story based domain or not.
His skeletal face remained impassive as he thought it over. "Yes, it should be doable since you are not adversely affecting the system. If it's just a simple visual, then yes." I nodded my head and quickly put a check by the question.
"What do you mean by adversely affect the system?" I asked as I began to write in a new section under the questions.
"Well, as a domain god, you have unparalleled control over what happens in here. You can change almost anything you please, as long as it doesn't affect the system's foundation. A good example would be stripping the class system away from people who visit or removing their ability to interact with it." His teeth clacked together as he explained it to me, causing the annoying sound to assault my ears.
I quickly penned that in. That was good to know. As long as I don't attempt to directly change the system, I could do it. "How would I do that exactly?"
"You can directly access that function through the map that is given to you." The large skeleton walked to the steps, and heavily sat down next to me, and watched the other undead as they worked. I opened up the menu and accessed the map, and tried to interact with it. I found that I could zoom in and interact with areas and rename them, and set them to be publicly visible for a few moments. I could take it further and change the graphics around, which would be nice. There was so much potential there. I scribbled that into my notebook and went to the next question.
"So, my next question is how do I create bosses, what is their function, and what other kinds of bosses exist?" Depending on the answer, I could do a lot with my idea. In fact, the thought made me salivate a little.
The skeleton made a sound akin to a thoughtful hum, though it sounded like bones being rattled. "Well, a boss's primary duty is to guard strategic areas or places where the domain shifts. Though they don't exactly have to fufill that role. It mostly comes down to expectations that adventures would have and if you want to stay inline with them. But you also have to realize that as a domain god, you have more freedom than a regular dungeon core would, so the choice is really yours."
I quickly shifted my pen to the free space under my notes as I listened along. "There are many variations of what bosses are and do. Some have restrictions on them that not even domain gods can lift, while others you can do with as you see fit." I forced my writing hand to follow along as he spoke since I didn't want to interrupt him. "The first variant is, as you know a basic boss. They are mighty and usually guard specific areas, or if you feel like it, you can have them roam or join mobs. The next is the optional boss. These can be even more powerful than a basic boss and are often marked with a skull next to the public name denoting them. Most adventures avoid fighting them since they are widely considered to be stronger than most creatures in the domain."
He thankfully paused for a moment to let me catch up. My wrist ached from how quickly I was trying to write, and my words looked a little sloppy, nothing a one over couldn't fix. Once I caught up, I turned my attention back to him. "After that, as you level, you begin to unlock more unique variants as well. There are currently zone bosses, mini-bosses, raid bosses, flag bosses, and a single world boss. However, if you manage to create a unique form of boss, the system will reward you." I let out a low whistle as I penned that in. There was a lot to work with, and it made this all the more enjoyable. I glanced up from the notebook and decided to drop the boss types talk for now and get back on track. There was too much to ask for right now and other more pressing questions that needed answers. I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
"Thank you, Kharon. Now how do I create them? Are there limits to it?" I flicked my pen around to give my fingers a small break from the fervent writing.
"Activate your domain screen, and select a mob you wish to alter. Currently, you are capped at three bosses and one optional for your size and level. As you grow, you can eventually add even more than that. The bright side is that there is no upper limit to the power they or the mobs can achieve." As he told me, I pulled up my domain screen and looked at one of the zombies, and a green outline surrounded it. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of the menus that opened up for me.
I could push essence into the target mob or immediately upgrade it to a boss with this screen. I also had the option to alter the drop chance for items. I selected the boss option, and a brand new screen appeared that would allow me to use my hands to alter the boss's appearance. That was actually glorious; this would make my job so much easier.
"Oh, thank you. That's really handy. This actually leads me to the next question. How do I create new mob templates?" I dismissed the screens and flipped open my notebook again, ready to write down what he was going to say.
"Well, since you have undead mobs, there are a few ways that are unique to them. Usually, dungeon cores or domain gods would breed mobs together or directly mess with their genetics and feed essence to force a change. However, in your case, you can feed them power and hope they evolve or kill off adventures or wildlife. That usually yields unique templates since they would fall under your jurisdiction." That would make sense. I could create zombies or ghosts with their bodies. But would that make me a murderer? I froze as the thought danced around my mind. I was going to be responsible for the deaths of innocent people. Could I live with myself after that fact? I mean, I've hurt people before but never tried to kill them.
"Are you alright, mistress?" The skeleton asked, which pulled me from my thoughts.
"Will I be a murderer? Killing innocents as they come into this domain?" The thoughts made me feel horrible. This new life seemed fantastic at first, but now that I was faced with the certainty of killing, I was starting to regret my choice.
"Is it really killing them, though? We are undead. We have already died and been reborn free from the mortal coil. You can't look at it from the perspective of a living being anymore. You, in essence, are one of us now. If you treat them kindly, they will try and kill you. Instead, try to look at it as if you are granting them a new life. One that is free from sickness and pain." For some reason, that brought a chuckle to my lips. I was human, but I am also a being who commands the undead. If I am weak, I will die. His words rang hollow, but I would have to swallow my hesitation. It's kill or be killed.
"Thank you, Kharon. That was oddly inspirational. I'll try and keep to that. Thank you." I brought my pen back to the notebook and pushed away those thoughts for now. I still had a few questions for now.
"Anytime. We are in this together. If you fall, I fall." I froze as the words struck me. That was true. If I died, then everything here would die too. I would have to be strong. If not for me, for them. Even if they are not truly alive. I would do my best to make sure they live, that I swear. "So back to my questions. Since we are on the topics of mobs, how do they get stronger?" As I asked that question, I checked off the questions that I had already asked.
"We as undead have three ways to gain power. The first two are to slay either the living or other undead and consume their essence. The final way is really hard depending on the mob in question, and that is to gain sentience." I quickly penned that into my rapidly growing notes. This was a lot to take in.
"What is sentience specifically? Isn't that being alive or something?" I asked as I brought the pen up and chewed on the back of it out of a horribly ingrained habit.
"That's not completely correct. For example, take that zombie over there." He extended a long bony finger out towards a random shambling zombie carrying a pile of wooden logs. "Yes, while it is undead, it is sentient. However, only partially. They are alive but to varying degrees. Now, the important question is, do you know what drives the zombie?" I stared at the zombie for a moment as I thought it over. From the knowledge bestowed upon me by mainstream media, I had a few ideas.
"Hunger, right? The desire to consume flesh." I glanced at Kharon to see if I was correct, but his face revealed nothing.
"That is only partially true. You see, as an undead, purpose is our driving factor. Superficially, we can assume that the zombie wants to consume flesh, but there is something more. What if it is searching for its long lost lover? We never truly know what drives most undead to do the things they do. Each and every one of us has something different that guides us. Even if we have no idea what it is. If we achieve that goal, then we are granted sentience. Which either brings back our memories or grants us a new life. However, the hard part is finding out what that goal is. For lower tier mobs, its a fleeting thought, one that lurks just beyond your grasp. While for the highest tier, their purpose defines their very existence, so its much easier to obtain their sentience." That was very sad. It also painted them in a different light. I always assumed them to be bloodthirsty monsters, but in reality, they were just shells, chasing after memories they had already forgotten. I felt terrible for them. I cleared my throat and set my pen on my notebook as I tried to get away from the topic.
"What makes the sentient undead dangerous?" I could potentially use this to my advantage later on. I already had a few ideas brewing with this new knowledge.
"Because they will be intelligent and have full access to the powers of the undead. While a mindless zombie can be tricked and staved off, one that is fully aware of what it is and what it is capable of is far more dangerous. That's a lower-tier example, but that's all the knowledge that I have access to on this topic." I pursed my lips and was slightly disappointed at that. I wanted more information, but I will take what I can get.
"What about you, Kharon? What is your driving purpose?" I was curious and wanted to get to know my companion. Primarily what drives him as an undead.
"Me? I exist to instruct. I am a companion; I guide the domain god on their path, to the best of my ability. I desire nothing more." I stared at him for a moment and wished that there was emotion in his voice. I can't really tell if there was anything more he wasn't telling me.
"I will do my best to learn," I replied as I looked back down to finish writing. I was learning a lot, and I was thankful for this. Now it was time to ask the questions that were brewing on my mind about gaining sentience.
"Can I impart a goal on a specific undead to awaken them?" This question made me feel weird since it made me feel like I would be altering my underlings' memories.
"That is difficult to answer. On a summoned mob, it should be fairly easy; the problem is making it stick. On a mob that was turned from a living being, it's near impossible. Why do you ask?" Kharon turned his skull towards me. His red eyes bored into me and made me squirm uncomfortably.
"Well. I had an idea about the domain that I wanted to try. Which I was about to explain to you." I cleared my throat and placed my pen in the notebook and closed it, and turned to look at him. He was deathly silent as he stared at me. Waiting for me to tell him. "So. Instead of just building a domain for adventures to plunder mindlessly. I wanted something a bit more unique. I wanted to create a story. I want every boss to have a reason to exist and every mob to play a role, then just to be test dummies for the adventurer. It will still retain its nature as a domain. But it will have a very personal touch and reward those who wish to do more than just mindlessly slaughter."
The skeleton looked at me for a moment before turning his head and resting back on his hands to stare out across the courtyard. "Existing for a purpose, huh. That sounds lovely. Undead, just wander in pursuit of ours. Most never really know what drives them. It exists just under the haziness, just out of reach. Granting them a purpose is the kindest thing you can do for them. That sounds lovely, Calixa." I swear I could hear the very faint touch of emotion in his voice, and I felt pride swell in my chest. I will give them all a reason to be if it's the last thing I do.