Campfires

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Campfires

Postby Narsham » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:35 am

OK, KotC faced the same issue just about every cRPG has to face--resting and its implications. To summarize the situation:
1. If you allow resting at any location, players can simply rest after every fight and resources become meaningless between fights. Attrition just doesn't work at all. The "solution" of allowing PCs to be attacked while resting *encourages* you to rest after each encounter, while you're still strong enough to deal with a random encounter; if you wait until the party REALLY needs to rest, a random encounter will kill you.

2. If you disallow resting over an extended period, encounters become progressively harder as the PCs use their resources. While there are work-arounds (especially with Enchant Wand), the attrition can be a real problem, especially if it leads up to a major end battle with the party lacking needed resources to win and unable to rest to regain them. Potentially a save-game killer, too.

3. If you limit resting somewhat, as KotC does, then 1 or 2 apply alternately with the additional sting that after every fight, the PCs have to travel to the nearest rest site to recover. KotC discourages this practice somewhat through spawning random encounters after the rest which must be fought for the PCs to get back to where they started. It's possible (and more fun) to play through multiple fights before resting. But since the party could POTENTIALLY rest after every encounter in most game areas, once a campfire is available to them, encounter design has to take that into account in order to be challenging. That discourages simply pressing on and not resting as often, because if the encounters are calibrated to a fully rested party and not an attrited party, the party that doesn't rest will be harder-pressed (fewer resources and up against a harder encounter).

There's a potential work-around available by adding timed events to the game (you have X days to get back to save the town from giant attack), but these events tend to screw players who dawdle despite the urgency. Allowing resting once every "8 hours" is useless as the player can simply "pass time" or, in worst cases, let the game sit for a few hours or walk back and forth in an explored area. Boring and unhelpful.

So, I'd like to propose a change to the resting procedure for KotC 2. Introduce the idea that campsites can only be used a limited number of times. Make the limit known immediately. For example, a secure chamber in a fortress might work as a resting spot for 3 rests, after which time enemies break down the door and the campsite is no longer safe (removed from the map). A site could have a limit of 0, meaning that it can always be used. A site with a limit of 3 rests, for instance, would discourage the "rest after every fight" syndrome and reward players who can win fights without burning lots of resources, while still allowing resource recovery if sorely needed. This change would allow adventure designers to plan for a certain amount of resource usage over the course of an adventure and would add another strategic consideration to challenge players.
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Campfires

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Re: Campfires

Postby Darthcast » Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:59 pm

Nice explanation of pro and cons of resting... But, I have to say that I really like how it is done in KotC. I didn't like the random encounters, but I managed to avoid them by always leaving a monster in every dungeon.

I really liked that you were trapped in a dungeon without being able to rest at all, until you find a way out or a new campsite. IIRC you could only rest in two dungeons whenever you wanted...?

Your idea to allow only a limited time of resting is good, but it could turn out to be really frustrating. BTW, I've already thought of a similar approach some time ago: The party has to use an item (tent or something) to rest, but this item cannot be bought and only be found. The difference would be that the party has to ration their tents over the whole game... could be even more frustrating though. :D

But I think resting is perfect just as it is now.
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Re: Campfires

Postby screeg » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:31 pm

I also think the current campsite system is just about flawless, including the ones that only appear after you clear a certain cave or area.

Narsham wrote:3. If you limit resting somewhat, as KotC does, then 1 or 2 apply alternately with the additional sting that after every fight, the PCs have to travel to the nearest rest site to recover.

Huh, what? Who goes to rest after every fight? No wonder you find it tedious. The idea is to plan ahead. If anything, I think the game is too easy on you in that you can avoid random wilderness encounters whenever you want. Being weary and near death, and trekking back to town loaded down with loot, to get ambushes just outside the gates would be awesome. Those sorts of stressful situations are what make the combat so much fun.
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Re: Campfires

Postby BlueSalamander » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:22 am

Narsham wrote:A site could have a limit of 0, meaning that it can always be used. A site with a limit of 3 rests, for instance, would discourage the "rest after every fight" syndrome.
I like your idea. It's easy to implement and can make things more strategic. Only (minor) problem is that the player may wonder why a campfire would disappear after a few uses.
In KotC, it's used once, in the Undead Tower. Do you think the campfire in the frost giant rift should be "one use only" too?
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Re: Campfires

Postby Narsham » Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:00 pm

screeg wrote:Huh, what? Who goes to rest after every fight? No wonder you find it tedious. The idea is to plan ahead. If anything, I think the game is too easy on you in that you can avoid random wilderness encounters whenever you want. Being weary and near death, and trekking back to town loaded down with loot, to get ambushes just outside the gates would be awesome. Those sorts of stressful situations are what make the combat so much fun.


Tedious if you do it. I did it during the early levels (where the party was out of spells after one encounter). By the Giants, I was often running 6-7 encounters or more before going back to rest.

The problem was that pushing in that way meant sometimes hitting a major encounter (or THE major encounter) with depleted resources. In a few spots (especially the Fire Giant area and the encounter under the Old Temple at endgame), being depleted means losing and reloading.

For that matter, I didn't realize the "rescue the princess" quest would be the finale, as I expect the Tower stuff would come afterward, so I blithely went under the temple, forward far enough to get trapped before I saved. As a result, my cleric in the climactic combat had 0 9th-level spell slots. Reverting to my previous save (back in the Fire Giant area) would have been very tedious indeed.

I managed to beat the combat after 5 attempts. But it was a "challenge" I only encountered because I wasn't being tedious.

For that matter, I find using a wand to heal up after every combat to be pretty tedious, too. Sometimes I went back to a campsite, if one was nearby, just to save time.

My main point is that the game rewards doing the tedious thing, and sometimes punishes you if you don't do it. In most cRPGs, "planning ahead" really means reloading. Part of what I found so admirable about the combat balance in KotC was that the fights were often challenging but only two or three called for multiple reloads in order to beat.

BlueSalamander wrote:I like your idea. It's easy to implement and can make things more strategic. Only (minor) problem is that the player may wonder why a campfire would disappear after a few uses.
In KotC, it's used once, in the Undead Tower. Do you think the campfire in the frost giant rift should be "one use only" too?


I liked the Undead Tower one-shot campfire, especially as I was backtracking to use it again before the "boss" battle. The rift seemed about right to me. I'd be tempted to suggest you make the entry campfire in the Fire Giant area a once-only and perhaps introduce another one-only campfire later on.

As for justification, just document the "vanishing campfire" phenomenon as an indication that a once-safe place to rest is no longer safe. Or perhaps have some other condition change (like a cave-in underground, for example), which cuts off the resting spot.

I'm just kicking myself for not having had this idea back when I was designing FRUA gold-box adventures...
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Re: Campfires

Postby getter77 » Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:37 am

BlueSalamander wrote:
Narsham wrote:A site could have a limit of 0, meaning that it can always be used. A site with a limit of 3 rests, for instance, would discourage the "rest after every fight" syndrome.
I like your idea. It's easy to implement and can make things more strategic. Only (minor) problem is that the player may wonder why a campfire would disappear after a few uses.
In KotC, it's used once, in the Undead Tower. Do you think the campfire in the frost giant rift should be "one use only" too?


Perhaps some flavor text after each rest showing the reduction of kindling down to embers and such? Or even something about gusting winds getting stronger or some other environ centric caveat.
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Re: Campfires

Postby VentilatorOfDoom » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:44 pm

I like the idea that campfires can only be used a couple of times. An NWN2 module Subtlety of Thay used something similar. It didn't have campfires but you would for instance enter a room and get a popup saying "This room looks safe for rest." This would indicate that you could rest here. If you tried to rest a second time you would get a message "This place is no longer safe.". Sure you could try to rest but you'd be ambushed. Or maybe you couldn't even try to rest I don't remember. I'm sure something like that could be used in KotC2. I'll even support a 1 rest per campfire rule. Makes just for more adrenalin inducing fun. But true, it could lead to situation where a player that did not plan ahead well could be in some desperate predicament. Hence another idea: Do you remember the alarm stones of NWN2 SoZ? An item that would allow you to rest anywhere if no enemies are nearby. If you limit the number of alarm stones you'll find - say you'll find 2 or 3 of them throughout the whole game - it would be a nice way to enable you to rest up in some crucial situation.
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Re: Campfires

Postby Narsham » Mon Sep 14, 2009 5:31 pm

VentilatorOfDoom wrote:I'll even support a 1 rest per campfire rule. Makes just for more adrenalin inducing fun. But true, it could lead to situation where a player that did not plan ahead well could be in some desperate predicament. Hence another idea: Do you remember the alarm stones of NWN2 SoZ? An item that would allow you to rest anywhere if no enemies are nearby. If you limit the number of alarm stones you'll find - say you'll find 2 or 3 of them throughout the whole game - it would be a nice way to enable you to rest up in some crucial situation.


That would be a reasonable option, although it still doesn't help retrieve a foolish player from his own foolishness.

Maybe have an autosave that kicks in immediately before the game triggers one of its "you can't get out or rest" challenges? So in KotC 1, the game would generate an autosave immediately before entering the Undead Tower, for example. If the player discovers it's unwinnable and doesn't have any alarm stones or the like, and didn't happen to save right before getting stuck, the autosave would provide an out.
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Re: Campfires

Postby screeg » Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:37 pm

How does limiting the number of rests at a campfire combat the tediousness of running to rest at campfires before/after major battles? With limited term campfires, once you use up the one near the extensive dungeon complex, you have to travel farther to another one to rest. I personally don't call micromanaging campfires "adrenalin inducing fun". This all sounds like messing with a system that works fine. Since KotC was released, only a small minority of people have had any kind of issue with the current system.
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Re: Campfires

Postby Narsham » Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:55 pm

screeg wrote:How does limiting the number of rests at a campfire combat the tediousness of running to rest at campfires before/after major battles? With limited term campfires, once you use up the one near the extensive dungeon complex, you have to travel farther to another one to rest. I personally don't call micromanaging campfires "adrenalin inducing fun". This all sounds like messing with a system that works fine. Since KotC was released, only a small minority of people have had any kind of issue with the current system.


I'm not in favor of limited campfire usage in an area where the party can freely leave. I am, for example, a bit annoyed at the fire in Corinth which can only be used once the town is cleared. All it does in effect is make me hike back to the Knight's tower to use the fire there. By the time I can use the closer fire, I don't really need it any more. If there's a distinguishable penalty to leaving and returning (maybe if you don't clear Corinth before leaving the map, say, there's some reinforcements to deal with or the encounters otherwise ramp up in difficulty) then having limited-use fires in a location might make sense.

I'm mostly thinking about adventure areas which lock you in. Offering limited-use campfires instead of offering infinite use fires means the designer can make them available earlier, while rewarding players who don't need to rest that often. A cRPG doesn't really support the other reasonable solution to encourage players to fight several fights before resting--limiting rests to once in a 24 hour period--because you can simply sit and wait for time to cycle.

Adrenalin? In a cRPG? Is it the resource management or the turn-based combat tactics which offer adrenalin rushes? If anything, limiting campfire usage should crank up the tension as you'd have fewer resources to accomplish the same task.

The adrenalin option would be to trigger in-game events every time a campfire is used. If the princess was kidnapped and is still in town, resting might mean she's been moved to another location. Game-logic reasons to press on instead of resting make good sense, so long as they're signaled correctly.
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