A Newbie's Guide to Epitaph
So, just what am I supposed to do then?
The world of Epitaph is a dangerous place. Extremely dangerous. Look, I'm not even kidding - this isn't the usual spiel of 'you are a bright spark of light in a dangerous, unforgiving world'. You won't log into Epitaph and find yourself slaying bunnies. You'll log into Epitaph and find yourself being torn, limb from limb, by hordes of ravenous zombies. You are not Chuck Norris, you can't simply carve a path through your foes. Look at you, you dumb schmuck, you don't even have shoes. Your job, in the short term, is simply to STAY ALIVE.
The Newbie Tutorial
Epitaph doesn't have much of a newbie area. In fact, all the newbie area does is set the scene, teach you how to move, and then brings you into the game as soon as it can. By the time the 'tutorial' ends you will be familiar with the most basic of basic commands - all the ones that you'll need to be able to navigate and learn how to interact with the complex world in which you find yourself. If you know all of that, you can 'skip tutorial' to move on to the game proper, which begins in Alphabet Street.
Luckily enough, you start off in the closest thing this dark world has to a safe zone - Alphabet Street. Here, you can get a grip with various game systems, learn a few of the skills you will need to survive, and generally feel your way around. I can't emphasise enough how important it is that you get comfortable with the game there before you wander beyond the fences - explore the entirety of the area, because it contains quests, a faction, and opportunities for scavenging. By fully exploring Alphabet Street, you will learn how our quest system works, how our missions work, how factions work, how scavenging works, and how practise objects work. You'll also encounter opportunities for crafting. Some of the quests will ask you to leave the safe zone, but put those on the back burner until you're strong enough to venture out there. Seriously, it's bad stuff beyond the fences.
Your First Few Tasks
First of all, check out your 'wellbeing' - those numbers are the things that define your physical and emotional wellbeing. You need to keep those high, or bad things will happen to you. Food and water is a first priority.
There's only so far the game will hold your hand - what our tutorial and newbie areas are designed to do is get you to the stage where you can actually learn the rest for yourself. We know that you just want to play a game rather than read reams of explanatory text, so that's what we aim for. However, you're never going to know how to do everything - your first job then is learning about our extensive help systems.
First of all, you can type 'help' by itself to see a list of helpfiles in which you may be interested. There will be a lot of those, and most of them you can leave aside for a while. What's likely to be more pressing is the help for particular NPCs, rooms and objects. Our help system allows you to direct a query towards an object. If you type 'help shawn' while in the room with Shawn, you'll see something like the following:
Epitaph help found multiple matches, please choose one of: a) mission giver (Object) b) /doc/object/quest giver (Object) Choice:
This means that Shawn has two helpfiles associated with him - one as a mission giver, and one as a quest giver. You can select a or b to read the appropriate helpfile which will come complete with an explanation and an outline of any associated commands and syntax. Likewise, you can do the same with items you encounter (such as 'help phone') or rooms ('help here'). You can access any of the indicated files at any time through the help command, such as: 'help mission giver'.
Sometimes you don't need a help file, you just need a syntax clue. The 'syntax' command will tell you all the valid syntaxes for commands you have available. Old John, in the basement, is a trainer NPC and he will let you advance your skills through the 'advance' command. If you want to see a brief output of how that command works, you can type 'syntax advance', and you'll see something like:
Forms of syntax available for the command 'advance': advance <skill> advance <skill> by <number> advance <skill> to <number>
That's enough for a reminder, but if you want an explanation of what the syntax is for, you can use 'syntax advance verbose' to get the following:
Forms of syntax available for the command 'advance':  advance <skill> Advance the indicated skill by a single level.  advance <skill> by <number> Advance the indicated skill by the indicated number of levels.  advance <skill> to <number> Advance the indicated skill to the indicated level.
If none of our helpfiles or syntax cues give you the answers you need, you can always ask on the newbie channel - this is a channel especially for people with questions. If there's anyone online who can help you, you'll either receive an answer on that channel or through a tell. To chat, you just need to type 'newbie <message>'.
Food and Water
Now that you know how to get help, we need to talk about how to stay alive. Your hunger and your thirst tick downwards all the time - thirst ticks quicker than hunger, but both are constant pressures upon you. You will find some food on sale at various Faction quartermasters, but usually not enough to meet your needs. That means you need to go Scavenging in the hope that you strike it lucky. You won't be able to carry all the things that you find, so you must be selective in what you bring with you - if you find an apple, best to eat it right away because that thing will rot. If you find tinned food, you can keep that for more desperate circumstances. As part of your newbie equipment set, you'll have a backpack - you can use that to hold a few items, but bear in mind that you aren't going to be able to carry it all with you.
The equipment that you start with is pretty meager, but Scavenging will reveal much more to you as time goes on. For one thing, you're going to need a better weapon if you plan on surviving for long, and you're going to need to learn how to use it. Armour is available in the game, but is often rare (kevlar vests and such) or improvised (crafted by survivors). Useful items to acquire though are mobile phones (which have various capabilities), spare batteries (to power your electrical equipment) and a radio (which you'll be given as you enter Alphabet Street). Many other items exist too, but some of these are relics of an earlier time and are not necessarily very useful. Still scavenge everything you can, and Salvage all the furniture that is available. Raw components can be used to craft things, and those things are usually highly valuable to survivors.
In order to get anywhere, you need skills - typing 'skills' will show you all the skills in the game. The output has two pairs of four columns - the first column is the name of the skill, the second is your level, the third is your bonus, and the fourth is any equipment boosts you get to the skill (wearing climbing gear for example will increase your climbing skill). All of these skills are valuable in the post apocalyptic world in which you find yourself, but you will be unable to master all of them. Skills on Epitaph improve in three ways - through use (which will result in free skill levels under certain circumstances), through advancing (at a trainer in exchange for XP) or through practice (through a practice object). Some of the skills are used generally throughout the game (your ability to observe things is a generally useful skill), some are used only as a result of specialised tasks (such as manipulating metal). Generally, your goal is to acquire skill levels so as to make the task of survival more tractable, and to increase the amount of influence you can have in the game.
You start with a very small selection of 'free' special commands - this is the basic toolkit every survivor has. Typing 'commands' will list all the commands you have available to you. 'commands all' will show the full list of special commands. You get access to these by buying them with command points - you acquire command points through age, skill levels, and the completing of quests and achievements. You will never be able to buy more than a relatively small subset of these commands, so choose carefully (you will have later opportunities to undo your choices, albeit at a cost). You can't be all things to all people, but you can build a useful set of abilities that make you useful to others as well as make you a viable solo survivor.
You also acquire 'knack points' as time goes by, and you can spend these on Knacks through the 'knacks' command. Knacks are adjustments to your character's capabilities - you can use them to increase wellbeing, adjust the rate at which wellbeing ticks, add carrying capacity, increase XP rates, and more. As with commands, you will only ever be able to purchase a subset of these (although you can reset them later, at a cost), so you should be careful in how you pick them.
On Alphabet Street is a schematics trainer, and you coincidentally happen to have access to an 'assemble' command. If you speak to Jeff about schematics, he'll teach you a thing or two (dependent on your faction standing). Crafting is a big part of Epitaph, and it is worth becoming familiar with the process in the safety of Alphabet Street as opposed to out there in the grim dark streets. As time goes by, you'll gain access to many more schematics through trainers and schematic books - not all of the schematics will be available to you though, since each requires a different crafting command to make the item from the components. You can use the 'schematics' command to browse the components and description of schematics you learn from trainers, and 'memory' to see which schematics and recipes that you currently hold in your memory.
The Next Steps
Having dealt with the basics, you should start to build your character's capabilities - doing so will open up greater and more interesting challenges. Epitaph is full of quests, goals and achievements. Quests you will encounter as you go through the game (and Alphabet Street has a number of these) and while there is quest browser, you need to have obtained a certain amount of game age before you can access it. Achievements however are available to browse both through the webpage and through the in-game 'achievements' command. Goals are much like achievements, except they will be pushed on you from Upon High. Learn all that Alphabet Street has to offer, and then you might feel a little more comfortable in scaling the chain fences that surround the street and exploring beyond its confines. There's treasure everywhere, little buddy! You just need to go out and find it!
Dude, all I want is to chat to my friends. This is TOO MUCH PRESSURE
Shh, shh, it's okay. You can turn on 'social mode' through 'options game social_mode = on'. When social mode is active you don't earn XP, TMs and all your skills are set to 0. However, in return you also don't experience hunger or thirst. If all you want to do is log on and chat for a bit, you can switch in and out of this mode as desired - there is no penalty for doing this.