Click on a topic to learn more.

I. General

II. Gameplay

III. Combat engine

IV. Player characters

V. Non-Player characters

VI. Magic

I. General

What is Prelude to Darkness?
Prelude to Darkness is a computer role playing game (CRPG) which was released for the PC in 2002. 'Prelude' is the brainchild of the Zero Sum development team. Since its release it has developed a very loyal following and received much praise for its dark setting, intricate quests, and turn-based combat system.

What sets it apart from other RPGs?
Prelude's main strengths are its setting and story. The game takes place in a huge world brimming with hundreds of well-developed characters. The fantasy setting is original, complex and dark - and completely unlike the Tolkien and D+D inspired fantasy games of the past. Prelude's combat system is also turn-based, which partly explains its appeal to gamers who grew up on the great RPG titles of the early 90's.

What are the game's requirements?
Prelude was originally slated for release in 2001, so it was designed with windows 98 and ME in mind. Obviously, many changes have occurred in the world of PC operating systems since that time. However, fans of the game have reported that it runs on Windows XP and Windows 2000. If your hardware is not supported, you can send us an email. The game is parsimonious with resources. (The original requirements called for a 300Mhz processor with 64 megs of ram, an 8 MB 3D graphics card, and 40 MB of free disk space). Even the cheapest currently available desktop will satisfy these requirements.

Is Prelude free? What are the license terms of the download?
Prelude to darkness is being released for FREE for use by the general public. You may play the game to your heart's content, but all game artifacts such as art resources, script files, configuration settings and source code remain the property of Zero Sum Software.

What engine does Prelude use?
Prelude uses Microsoft’s direct X libraries, as well as a library for playing audio. Apart from those third party products, the game components and graphics engine were developed exclusively by Zero Sum.

Can I hack the script files?
You are free to modify the script files for your own use, but you are expressly prohibited from passing on modifications to third parties without notifying them that the script files have been altered. (Basically, we don't want to get the rap for 'customized' script files that wreck people's games).

Are there plans for a sequel?
It would not be hard to make an add-on or sequel, but we need your support. So if you like the game, make sure to tell your friends about it! After all, they have nothing to lose... it's free!

II. Gameplay

What is the perspective? Is Prelude game 3D?
Prelude is a fully animated 3D game, with an isometric perspective and rotatable camera. See art on the web for more info.

How do I move around the world?
Prelude uses a point and click interface.

Do I have to walk full distances between towns?
Autotravel is available, as there is a map of the entire world which can be used to walk between towns and markers the player may place. You are free to walk between towns and explore the wilderness as you wish.

How big is the world? Only one Valley????
The Valley is huge and incredibly detailed. At 3200 by 3200 tiles it is the largest contiguous environment to be found in any single player CRPG! It can take over an hour real-time to walk across it (days in game-time). And there is an underground cavern system almost as large.

What kind of inventory system does the game use?
The player has a limited inventory, but may carry containers to expand it.

Are there keyboard shortcuts?
Yes, for all important commands.

Is there a multiplayer aspect?
Currently Prelude does not support multiplayer combat or co-op multiplay.

III. Combat Engine

Is this real-time combat?
No. All combat is turn based, the players and the monsters moving one at a time in an order based on their speeds.

Do I have control over individual party members?
Yes, but only during combat. Outside combat they move as a group under the control of a selectable leader.

Are there several types of attacks/defenses?
Yes. Characters will have a variety of attack and defense styles depending on their attributes, skills and weapons.

How does encumbrance and morale affect combat?
Encumbrance does not affect combat. Morale may affect actions in some cases.

IV. Player Characters

How many characters can I have in my party?
The player will create three party members. There is a maximum of six party members.

How will I create them?
Character creation will involve distributing points for each of the four members of the player's party in order to increase skills, bloodlines, and attributes. Click here to see a screenshot of the character creation screen

What kind of classes and races are available?
Class is not appropriate for this system, the player may or may not choose a background for the character, but the character is defined by his skills and attributes, not a class.

There are three races available, all of which are human: Flame, River and Mixed. The racial composition of the player's party can have a huge affect on gameplay, influencing the magics available to a character, the items and skills he can learn and the people he can interact with.

How do characters develop in the course of play?
Characters gain improve based on how they use their skills within the game and when they complete
quests. There is no simple experience point system, rather it is based entirely upon skill use with occassional opportunites to assign points as the player sees fit.

How do their characteristics affect gameplay?
Both combat and non-combat skills play very important roles and the characters react differently to the player depending on the racial and sexual composition of the party.

Will I have to feed them? What about rest?
Food is not necessary, resting is.

V. Non-Player Characters

How do I interact with NPC's?
Conversations will be menu driven and topic based. The players skills and attributes and their previous actions within the game will determine the options available to them.

Can they join my party?

How many are there?
There are over 500 unique, individually scripted NPCs for the player to interact with.

What kind of creatures are there?
Prelude has a large variety of unique creatures. Creatures vary widely in size and scale. The smallest creature hardly reaches the waist of a person, and the largest creature towers far above all. Each creature has its strengths and weaknesses, and many new creatures are introduced as the game proceeds, keeping combat interesting at all times.

VI. Magic

What kind of magic system will the game use?
There game has three distinct varieties of magic -- River Witchcraft ("Gifts of Goddess"), Power of Flame, and Thaumaturgy. Each works in a different way. There are no Magic Points per se within the game. Each type of magic require different abilities and bloodlines and draws on different items and aspects of the characters. Visit RPGCodex for more information on the Gifst .

How will I learn new spells?
Spells are gained through quests and NPC interaction.