It was born in fire.
It was born, like so many *bands, because someone was bored and wanted to do this one thing different (*bands/bands are what the call the many offshoots of Angband, an ancient rogue like. It was an interesting roguelike because it was a pretty good game, and because it had so many noteworthy progeny).
It was born in spite, when in a long forgotten corner of the internet, a person uttered “I just want to make a rogue like where there’s a class that can make it’s own randarts. It’ll be balanced for reasons x, y, and z”, and then he was called a fool.
It was born from ice. From the cold void of space.
It was born. . . oh fuck it.
Seriously, long history. Twas Pernband (I think it got the artificer class which made randarts back then). Then it was Tales of Middle Earth (tome!). Then it was sort of Post-Tome but still Tome (which is to say, Tome As It Was, or Tome of Yore). Then it forked again and became the precursor to what is Tome as it would be known, which is different from Tome as it was known, you know? I missed some steps and I might have gotten one of them out of order. But, this shit started going down back when Grimoire was in it’s first beta, give or take a year. Long time ago.
It wasn’t until Tome - that is, Tome that will be, Tome that Cometh, the Never Once but now Future Tome - that it got the elaborate character building mechanics. Many rogue likes have tried out variants on skill systems. Cthulhuband had what was probably the most exotic of them all, being one of the few that was not actually classed based. But the rest stuck to that tried and true formula for the most part: classes had bundles of powers, you got them as you leveled.
As such Tome - not Tome that Came Before, mind you, but the Tome That Was Prophesied ,The Tome to Come, and such - is in a pretty unique position. It has ditched it’s entire code base like 3 or 4 times (oh, hey, that’s as much as Grimoire) at this point.
Things you don’t know. . . the Tales of Msomething Ewhatever is a campaign that uses the t-4 engine. Other people have done mods (new races, new classes, new items, new quests, etc) and there’s user campaigns in the works. It goes without saying but you cannot max every skill your character has access to. And you aren’t supposed to. Each class has differnet paths to real ultimate power. Some have many. There are in-campaign things that can flesh out or radically alter your builds. There are a bunch of skill trees waiting for you to unlock them (not to mention races and classes).
The class variety and build variety is quite impressive. I’ve said it in other threads here, and in this thread, but this is a great game to add to the catalog for people who like this sort of thing.