Tabula Rasa (video game)

Tabula Rasa (video game)

Infobox VG
title = Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa

developer = Destination Games
publisher = NCsoft
distributor =
designer = Richard Garriott
engine = In-house, Proprietary
version = (May 19, 2008)
released = NA, EU November 2, 2007
genre = MMORPG
modes = Multiplayer
ratings = ESRB: T
PEGI: 16+
platforms = Microsoft Windows
media = DVD, Download
requirements = (Minimum)
Microsoft Windows XP
2.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent
5GB Available HDD Space
ATI Radeon 9600 or NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 series video card with 128MB of VRAM
16-bit sound card
Broadband Internet connection
DirectX 9.0C
Microsoft Windows Vista/XP
3.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent
5GB Available HDD Space
ATI Radeon x1800 or NVIDIA Geforce 7800 series video card
16-bit sound card
Broadband Internet connection
DirectX 9.0C
input = Keyboard and mouse

"Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa" is an MMORPG from NCsoft, designed in part by some of the creators of "Ultima Online" including Richard Garriott. The game is an RPG that blends certain shooter aspects into the combat system. It was officially released to retail on November 2, 2007, with customers that pre-ordered the game allowed access to the live servers from October 30, 2007. The game requires a monthly subscription.

"Tabula Rasa" is about humanity's last stand against a group of aliens called "The Bane". The story takes place in the near future on two planets, Arieki and Foreas, which will be in a state of constant conflict between the AFS (Allied Free Sentients) and The Bane. The term "tabula rasa" means "scraped tablet" or "clean slate" in Latin, referring to a fresh start, or starting over.

According to the developers, the game will include the ability for players to influence the outcome of a war between the player characters and the NPCs.

Development history

In the works since May 2001, the game underwent a major revamp two years into the project. Conflicts between developers and the vague direction of the game were said to be the causes of this dramatic change. 25% of the original team were replaced and 75% of the code had to be redone. [cite web|url=|title=Tabula Rasa: A Candid Look|accessdate=2007-03-05] Some staff working on other NCsoft projects were transferred to the "Tabula Rasa" development team, including "City of Heroes"' Community Coordinator April "CuppaJo" Burba. [cite web|url=|title=Welcome Recruits!|accessdate=2008-01-29] First re-shown at E3 2005, the game then transformed into the current science fiction setting and look.

Beta Test

NCsoft began offering invitations to sign up for a limited beta test of "Tabula Rasa" on January 5 2007 [cite web|url=|title=OMG Betaz!|accessdate=2008-01-29] which began running on May 2. [cite web|url=|title=Closed Beta Testing Starts!|accessdate=2007-05-06] Invitations were initially given out only as contest prizes, but beginning on August 8 several thousand additional invitations were distributed via the websites FilePlanet [ [ Limited Play Test] . Retrieved on 2007-08-10.] and Eurogamer. [ [ Closed beta keys] . Retrieved on 2007-08-10.] The non-disclosure agreement for the beta test was lifted on September 5 and the test ended on October 26 with a themed event in which players were invited to attempt to kill the character General British, played by game creator Richard Garriott. [cite web|url=|title=The Tabula Rasa End of Beta Event|accessdate=2008-01-29]

Bonus Items

Two pre-order bonus packs were available on NCSoft's PlayNC website, one for Europe and one for the United States. The European pack is sold for EUR€4.99, the US pack for USD$4.99 in addition to buying the full retail version of the game for $49.99. Other than currency and which pack goes with which retail version (the European preorder will only be valid with the European release of the game, similarly for the US version), the packs are functionally identical, containing:

* A serial code for unlocking bonus in-game content and beta access (once pre-order customers are able to enter into the beta)
* Exclusive Shell Bot or Pine-Ock non-combat pets, one per character
* Two exclusive character emotes
* Three day head-start on the live servers

For the retail release, a standard version and a collector's edition were released. Both contain the client and an account key with 30 days of included playtime, however the Collector's edition shipped with a number of bonus items including:

* A full colour game manual containing concept art
* A letter briefing from General British
* A map pack displaying the various game regions
* An AFS Challenge Coin and set of Tabula Rasa Dog Tags
* Fold out "Black Ops" poster
* "Making of" Tabula Rasa DVD
* 3 exclusive in-game items granted by the Collector's edition key only: The Boo Bot, a summonable non-combat pet; a set of 4 unique amour paints; and a unique character emote.


There once was an advanced alien species known as the Eloh. They freely shared the knowledge of Logos, the power to convert between matter and energy with just the mind, to less advanced races. One of these less advanced races, the Thrax, used this power to wage war against the Eloh, a war which the Eloh won but at a great cost. This led to a great divide in the Eloh. One faction wanted to keep on spreading the knowledge as they had before. The other, called the Neph, sought to control the development of "lesser races" as to ensure they, the Neph, would always be the superior species. This inner conflict led the Neph faction to leave the Eloh and seek other allies, among them the defeated Thrax, this species along with others joined to form the Bane, which now exists under the control of the Neph.

As one of their first acts, they attacked the Eloh world, the surviving Eloh fled and were scattered among the worlds they had previously visited. The Bane attacked Earth sometime in our near future. Humanity was hopelessly outmatched and the majority was completely wiped out. Luckily the Eloh had left behind some of their technology that had the ability to make wormholes to other worlds. There, humans found other species doing the same thing they had, fighting against the Bane just to survive. They banded together to form the Army of the Allied Free Sentients to fight against the Bane with their lives on the line. [cite web|url=|title=Backstory - Clean Slate|accessdate=2007-03-05] cite web|url=|title=Tabula Rasa Interview|accessdate=2007-03-05]

According to information from the game's manual, it's been roughly 5 years since Earth was attacked. While a high priority for the AFS to return and reclaim the planet, the current fate of Earth is unknown within the current storyline.

The female hero seen in the intro video and the boxshot is named Sarah Morrison.



The combat mixes in some aspects from shooters to add some real time action elements to the game. It still is not an outright shooter and features sticky targeting and has dice rolling based on character stats underneath. Stickiness can be adjusted to fit the preference of the player. Some weapons like the shotgun don't use the sticky targeting. [cite web|url=|title=Tabula Rasa Hands On|accessdate=2007-06-10] In addition to a hit-miss system, Tabula Rasa adjusts the damage based on the situation. Real-time factors like weapon type, ammo type, stance, cover, and movement are taken into account. The enemies are reported to have AI that will try to take advantage of the terrain, their numbers, and will try to flank the players. All this mix of system based combat and realtime movement and physics system creates a gameplay which encourages the player to think tactically; i.e. to take cover behind a pillar to get some time to reload the weapon while the enemies are getting into position again.w00t Radio CuppaJo Interview 2007-01-17]

Missions & storytelling

Missions will be given out by NPCs but will not be static. What missions are available and even the access to the NPCs themselves are subject to how the battlefield is going. Some may be specific to control points that the player will need to reclaim from the Bane to gain access again. Missions are also to have multiple options to take. One example is destroying a dam to stop Bane forces that will also demolish a local village. A player can choose to just destroy or try to warn the village beforehand risking further advances by the Bane. [cite web|url=|title=Tabula Rasa Hands-on|accessdate=2007-06-10] Referred to as "ethical parables" they are to make up about 20% of all missions.cite web|url=|title=Hands-On Preview, Interview with Richard Garriott|accessdate=2007-06-10] The missions the player chooses to do and the choices made during them will change the way certain NPCs treat the player's character.Some missions will deliver the player's character to private instanced spaces. One design goal of the game is to use instanced spaces to create in-depth storytelling, with puzzles, traps, and NPCs, that would be more difficult in shared spaces.Some missions will be ethically challenging. The players will have to chose from different points of view and it can alter their future progress. "Ethical and moral dilemmas are something we definitely wanted to incorporate into the design of Tabula Rasa from the very start. The entire goal is to give you pause and allow you to think about the choices that they make in order to accomplish a mission." [cite web|url=|title=An Audience with Lord British|accessdate=2007-03-05] [cite web|url=|title=Interview With Richard and Robert Garriott About Tabula Rasa, Massively Multiplayer Online Games, And Taking On World of Warcraft|accessdate=2007-03-05]


Logos is a pictographic language left behind by the Eloh to be understood by other races. As players go through the game, they will gain Logos symbols to add to their Logos tablet, a blank slate, and begin to learn the language found throughout the game and gain special powers. Logos can be considered the equivalent of magic for Tabula Rasa, inasmuch as magic allows for incredible, otherwise unexplained acts; however, the logos are shown to be an extension of a scientific process developed by the Eloh. [Taken from the Collector's edition version of the game manual.] Players can improve these abilities and the upgraded versions can add new tactical uses. Some are universal while others are class specific. Some examples range from lightning bolt attacks, sprinting, reinforcements, and poison type powers.cite web|url=|title=Tabula Rasa Almighty Preview|accessdate=2007-03-12] [cite web|url=|title=Interview: Richard "Lord British" Garriott|accessdate=2007-03-05] These are very hard to find, being hidden throughout Tabula Rasa.

Character creation

Tabula Rasa has a tree character class system. Everyone starts out as first "tier" (branch) Recruit and as they progress they will be able to branch out. The second "tier" includes the Soldier and Specialist, which in turn have two subclasses of their own each. There are currently a total of 4 tiers.

Tabula Rasa also has a cloning function at each tier. It works like a save function for characters at the branching point and allows the player to try out the other branch without having to repeat the first several levels.

Introduced in patch 1.4.6 were the hybrid characters. These are humans who have had their DNA blended with either Thrax, Forean or Brann DNA to produce different stats and bonuses to the character. Only full humans are available at the beginning, with the hybrid DNA becoming available via quest chains during play which in turn unlocks the ability to create hybrids on that server at the creation screen, or via cloning.

The tiers and their respective classes are as follows:

Tier 1


The starting class for all TR players, the recruit operates as a generalized form of all subsequent classes in the game, operating with the most basic skills utilizing rudimentary weaponry and armor. All recruits are introduced into the use of logos and receive a long-range lightning attack, receive basic training for use of rudimentary firearms, including shotguns, pistols, and rifles, and are trained in hand-to-hand combat.

Tier 2


The introductory class for the Combat Arm of the AFS, the soldier hones the elementary offensive skills of the recruit while developing combat techniques that will be used in later classes. Soldiers make use of reflective armor, machine guns, and shrapnel while developing a special "rage" technique.

Specialist The specialist is the starting class for the support line, and makes use of many tools and techniques that supplement the harder-hitting combat line of troops. Specialists receive the ability to heal and resuscitate allies while sapping life from the enemies with a leech gun. Specialists also make use of hazmat armor that allows them greater survivability against virulent, incendiary, cryogenic and energy attacks in comparison to soldiers.

Tier 3 (Soldier)


The heavy-hitter of the two Tier 3 Combat Classes, the Commando specializes in being able to dispense and absorb high amounts of damage in close-quarters combat through the use of specialized graviton armor and heavy duty weaponry, such as a rocket and grenade launchers.


The second of the two Tier 3 Combat Classes, the Ranger is adept in stealth and distance fighting, relying on more precise and subversive combat techniques rather than brute force. The Ranger utilizes stealth armor and a number of support based abilities, such as calling in for an airstrike.

Tier 3 (Specialist)


This Tier 3 Specialist Class leans towards mastering mechanics and robotics, and is capable of disarming or recalibrating enemy defenses in order to serve the AFS, as well as utilizing micromechanics to create explosives that can greatly turn the tide of battle. Sappers are trained in the use of heavy Mech armor. Their weapons training focuses on polarity guns, a somewhat unique weapon that builds up a charge while firing and delivers the stored charge when the trigger is released as a follow up attack.


Where the Sapper specializes in mechanics and robotics, the Biotechnician instead focuses on using powers, armor and weaponry suited to both combating and dispersing attacks of virulent, psychic and biological nature. The Biotechnician is also the first support class to gain use of a healing power. They are trained to use injector guns, which can bypass a targets armor and damage their health directly.

Tier 4 (Soldier - Commando)


One of the 2 sub-classes of the commando, the job of the grenadier is to inflict as much damage as possible onto the enemy and keep them on the run. Using several offensive logos abilities, grenadiers are trained in the use of propellant guns, which are essentially a type of flamethrower weapon, but come in several different varieties. Their signature ability is "Concussive Wave", an area of effect attack that throws hostile forces to the ground.


The second of the commando sub-classes, the guardian is similar to the grenadier in the role of dealing out damage, however their logos abilities focus on defense rather than attack. Their job is to go in first, dig in to a location, and hold the line against enemy forces. Guardians gain the ability to use staff weapons, which provide both powerful melee strikes and short ranged attacks. Their signature ability is "Shield Wave" that encases themselves and party members in an energy bubble for extra protection.

Tier 4 (Soldier - Ranger)


The first of the ranger sub-classes, spies gain the ability to change the allegiance of enemies and to infiltrate enemy forces without being detected. Used for a deception and espionage role, they are trained in the use of blades, making them along with the guardian, a strong close-quarters combatant. Their signature ability is "Cloak Wave", which decreases the distance at which hostile forces will notice spies and their nearby squadmates.


The second of the ranger sub-classes, the sniper is a long range combatant. They are used to assassinate and eliminate enemies before they can get near their position and to thin out the numbers for the more close-quarter classes. To achieve this, snipers are trained in the use of Torqueshell Rifles (TSRs). Their signature ability is "Crit Wave", which gives an increase to the chance of scoring a critical hit against a target.

Tier 4 (Specialist - Sapper)


One of the specializations of the sapper branch, the engineer is able to deploy turrets and traps, and can create robotic combat companions. The engineer focuses on versatility and defense. Engineers can also cause malfunctions in machines and jam weapons. Their signature ability is the "Base Wave", decreasing any damage taken and increasing the regeneration of body armor.


The ones that can damage many enemies at once, Demolitionists excel against large groups of enemies. They have access to bombs and launchers, and can self-destruct to damage a very wide area of enemies. Their controlled fission ability lets targets blow up, and with explosive nanites they augment other sources of damage. Their signature ability is the "Explosive Wave".

Tier 4 (Specialist - Biotechnician)


Being a pretty pure support class, the medic concentrates on augmenting and improving a group's capabilities. He can grant others or himself immunity from certain damage types, cause insanity among enemy ranks, leech an opponent's health (benefiting the whole group of the medic) and increase squadmates' regeneration and health with his signature ability, "Regeneration Wave".


A science fiction version of a necromancer, the Exobiologist concentrates on alien physiology. He can create battle-capable clones of himself, reanimate or explode corpses and use dead enemies as fertile ground for healing plants. His signature ability is the "Reanimation Wave", which reanimates all the enemy corpses in his vicinity.

Dynamic battlefield

AFS and Bane forces are in constant battle with NPC forces warring over control points and bases. Which side controls these areas greatly impacts the players. Losing one of these to the Bane means that the respawn hospital, waypoints, shops, NPCs access, and base defenses are lost and turned to the Bane's advantage. [GDC 2007 Tabula Rasa Demonstration 2007-01-17] Players are able to help NPC assaults to take over bases or defend ones under attack. Control of these points is meant to change back and forth commonly even without player involvement, although the current implementation rarely lets the Bane muster enough forces to invade a control point during peak player times. The Control Point System is one of the main gameplay features. Players that are fighting to defend or capture a CP get Prestige points which they can trade in for item-upgrades, experience boosters, a reset of either their attributes or their learned abilities or the purchase of superior or rare equipment at grey market vendors. Prestige can also be earned by defeating bosses, looting rare items, getting the max XP multiplier and by completing special missions. Later in the game, Control points become more and more important to the players, as they are necessary to be either in Bane or AFS hands to accept or complete certain missions and they become the centerpoint of most of the later maps.Hands-On Preview, Interview with Richard Garriott]

Wargames (PvP)

PvP (Player versus player) in Tabula Rasa is consensual. As it stands, there are two main modes of PvP combat.
*Wargame duels, commonly known as duels. These are initiated by challenging a player by targeting and using the radial menu. The challenged player must then consent. The wargame is over when one player dies, or when the two players are too far from each other, or one leaves the zone. These impromptu duels can be held between two players, two squads (groups), or a player against a squad.
*Wargame feuds, commonly known as clan wars. These can only be fought by clans who have chosen to be a PvP clan (done during clan creation). Only a clan's leader can initiate or cancel a clan feud, and the request must be accepted by the challenged clan's leader. A clan war lasts 7 real-time days, during which players can fight each other without requesting consent first. During the war, kills are tallied and displayed in the players' wargame trackers. The clan with the most kills at the end of the war wins the feud. Kills are only counted if the players are within 5 levels of each other, though players of any level can fight each other.

Upcoming features

*At level 40, characters will be able to train to use Personal Armor Units (PAUs), assistants which give the character improved characteristics such as movement or firepower. The PAU's exact bonuses depend on the character's Tier 4 class. [ Community News: Elder Game] ] [ Personal Armor Unit Q&A with Starr Long] ]
*Flashpoints, PvP instances with rewards.
*Several instance dungeons
**Howling Death Burrow, a ruins-themed area in Howling Maw; missions are already available.
**Section 5: Omega Labs, likely a research facility-themed area in Abyss; an early version of the map can be seen in the atlas.
*Command Opportunities will allow players to control a squad of customizable NPCs
*Clan Owned Control Points [ Official Tabula Rasa Feedback Friday] ]
*Wargame Control Point PvP in which players will side with either the Red or Blue team. On each side of the battlefield will stand a control point. The first team who loses their control point will be the losers of the match. The losers will then be imprisoned for a few moments of humlitation and ridicule before the next match begins. [ [ Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa® - Feedback Friday 5/30/2008 ] ]

Philosophical Implications

In addition to its advocacy of space exploration, "Tabula Rasa" is rich in science-related metaphors of transcendence. This is especially true in the Logos language, which is based on the hypothesis of Platonic idealism that physical reality is a reflection of a higher conceptual truth. Long before Plato developed this perspective, the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus employed the term Logos to refer to the fundamental order of the universe, which he considered to be a set of concepts that could be discerned by an enlightened human mind. Classical Greek thinking in this area blended scientific with mystical motivations, but we can see the beginnings of modern science in the view of Pythagoreanism that the ideas on which the universe was based are largely mathematical in nature. Thus it is revealing that whenever a character in "Tabula Rasa" gains a new Logos, the rotating image that traditionally represents the concept "phi" appears.

"Phi" is a mathematical concept, also called the Golden ratio, expressed as an irrational number, approximately 1.6180339887... but extending to an infinite number of decimal places. In some respects, therefore, it is comparable to the much better known irrational number, "pi" (3.14159265358979...). "Phi" can be generated mathematically in a number of ways, but among the most often cited is the ratio of two adjacent integers in a Fibonacci series, such as 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21... in which each later integer is the sum of its two prececessors. As the intergers get larger, the ratio approaches ever closer to "Phi", but can only equal "Phi" at infinity. "Phi" has been used extensively in both the arts and in mystical speculations for more than two thousand years. As a metaphor, it suggests that the universe may contain hidden meaning that harmonizes with human hopes, perceptions, and advanced philosophies.


Publications started to release reviews mainly after 15 November, 2007, 2 weeks after the game's launch, although over a dozen wrote previews based on betas and the 3-day head start for those who pre-ordered. [ [ Tabula Rasa Reviews ] ]

*GameSpy gave the game 4 stars out of 5. Outlining that the game's innovative combat system succeeded in redefining MMO combat, and regarded it as one of the most appealing features. Negatives were the obscure and often counterproductive crafting system, a lack of a central trading hub at the initial release and bugs involving general gameplay and reports of memory leaks. [ [ GameSpy: Tabula Rasa Review ] ] [ [ GameSpy: Tabula Rasa Pile-on ] ] [ [ Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa® ] ]

*Eurogamer gave the game 8 out of 10. The review gave praise to the daring to be different approach to combat and to the class/cloning system allowing players the opportunity for experimenting easily with which career path they choose. On the negative side, the crafting system and lack of an auction house were singled out. Though technical problems were also mentioned, the review notes that a recent patch corrected many of the problems they experienced with the game in that regards. [ [ Tabula Rasa Review // PC /// Eurogamer ] ]

It should be noted that the game has evolved since the initial reviews went to press. For example, an auction system known as Military Surplus (which functions as an ingame auction house) was introduced in a downloadable patch.

imilar Games

*Anarchy Online
*Eve Online
*Star Trek Online
*Star Wars Galaxies


External links

* [ Official "Tabula Rasa" website]
** [ List of fansites]
* [ "Tabula Rasa"] at NCsoft's main website
* [ "Tabula Rasa"] at NCsoft's PlayNC website, with option to purchase.
* [ "Tabula Rasa"'s official FTP server] , with game client, manual and some media.

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