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) 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.
The Next Steps
Once you're a bit more established and able to deal with at least the immediate threat of zombies, there are various routes you can begin to progress through. Building reputation with the ingame factions will start to open up further opportunities. The train gang for example make lockers available to those who have made themselves useful. Some of the faction NPCs will offer missions to those who ask for them, so check around.
Scavanging is an inexact art, and often fails to turn up that which you need. A good survivor is a survivor who is self-sufficient, and so being able to craft your own equipment opens up new routes for building good relations with other survivors and factions. Lumberjacking and mining are two crafts currently available - you can hunt up appropriate gatherable resources using the appropriate commands (survey and prospect), and then gather the resources if you have the appropriate skills. Most finished goods can also be 'salvaged' for their raw components if they are large enough. Books with useful schematics are valuable in the grim darkness of the zombie apocalypse - you need the schematic before you can actually construct an item.
Achievements, goals and quests are other things you can pursue for glory - both of these reward experience (which is hard to come by otherwise). As you accumulate experience, you'll be able to spend it on 'knacks' to improve your character in a range of ways. These will make survival easier in this dangerous new world of the dead.
You're your own person, a rugged individual in the world of the dead. It's your choice as to what you want to be. But what you can be sure of is that there are other survivors, and some of them may even known why the world that you and others had known for so long is suddenly gone...