Challenge scaling and limited resting

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Challenge scaling and limited resting

Postby Tavis » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:11 am

I'd really like to have encounters become more difficult as your PCs gain in power. I enjoyed KotC most at the beginning, when every non-wandering-monster encounter had a significant chance of wiping me out. When I got to the slaver city (Taneriz?), though, I got obsessed with wiping out every last slaver instead of triggering the collapse of the city. As a result, I wound up with enough XP and gear to make subsequent encounters (like the fire giant citadel) a pushover, which made it a lot less fun for me. To be sure, this was my own fault and I've already started a new party that I'll consciously try not to let get too tough - but I think it'd be great to have the level of encounters scale up to keep you on the knife-edge of deadliness that KotC does so well.

I'm not sure the 3.5 D&D rules for ECL and scaling encounters are in the SRD, but the simplest way to do this would be to give the monsters extra HD or class levels in order to match the party's total ECL. Better still would be to also factor in the value of the gear the PCs are carrying, compare it against the expected value, and also magnify the threat if they're over-equipped. It ought to be possible to do this mathematically - i.e., to multiply each monster type's BAB, damage, saving throws, etc. by some percentage that roughly equates to what they'd get from added class levels.

A related thing I'd like to see is a change to the campfire system. Again, the most fun moments for me were when I didn't know when I'd be able to rest again - in situations where I could hit an encounter, go back and rest, and then hit the next one, I was torn between the desire to do so and the knowledge that I'd have more fun if I pushed it. Since this sets up an conflict in me as a player, I'd much rather have the game control the tension by limiting how often I can rest.

What if KotC 2 broke from the D&D paradigm of daily rests to recharge spells, hit points, etc., and instead said that you get these back by overcoming challenges? For example, maybe you get a "rest" when you earn enough experience to get a quarter or a third of the way to next level. Or (to avoid things like crafting items making it harder for you to rest, or scumming random encounters so you could rest) you could script a number of "achievement points" into each encounter, and when you earned enough you'd get spells and HP back. I think the d20 tabletop RPG FantasyCraft uses a similar system, and in my mind it's an elegant solution to something that's a problem in many editions of D&D and that gets worse in a cRPG version.
I play old-school D&D with the New York Red Box, blog about tabletop games at The Mule Abides, and write third-party and first-party stuff for D&D 4E.
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Challenge scaling and limited resting

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Re: Challenge scaling and limited resting

Postby BlueSalamander » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:40 pm

I'm surprised that you think that the fire king encounter was too easy, even with extra levels and gear.
Here's what I've been thinking on this topic:
- I don't like scaling and so will not use it in most cases. However, scripts can be used to add enemies if the PCs are too high level. The lizardman ambush in the demo has that, I think. If you try after gaining some levels there will be one extra enemy.
- random encounters are not all that interesting and they make it harder to determine the PCs' level, and so there will not be many instances of it.
- Limited resting will be used more often.
- Enemies won't drop all the banal gear (reducing PC gold).
'Say there is a chunk of meat. Pirates will have a banquet and eat it! But heroes will share it with other people. I want all the meat!!' - Luffy in One Piece
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Re: Challenge scaling and limited resting

Postby doufas » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:50 am

Just to add what to what the orginal poster mentioned. I too wiped out the whole slaver city, the first thing I did when entering a new area is try and find the campfire, once I found that the level was simple. I'd fight an encounter, cast my most powerful spells go back rest - rinse and repeat.

Maybe limiting resting to towns only would be a good idea or have certain rooms in dungeons where you can only get a few rests so you need to use them tactically maybe after the 3rd rest the room gets attacked or its no longer safe, but you wouldnt know this was going to happen and it punishes users who abuse game mechanics like I do :P

Also, as the original user mentioned once you get too high a level early on the game becomes very easy the fire giant encounter consisted of empowered/maxismised cones of cold, clear a room then go rest. I dont think this is a problem though because if you put in the extra effort to survive early on and level up you should be rewarded. I read other posts about users having issues with their magic user getting destroyed, once I got crafting feats this wassnt a problem - dex bracers + enchanted mithril leather (helps on touch attacks too). As for my fighters after they got magic gear they were dishing out 100damage a round on a full attack on average. I'm currently aroudn lvl 17 (18 on fighters) and half way through the fire pits encounter, is this normal?

I currently work for a software company that developes solutions for SharePoint as a tester, if you need another beta tester id be more than happy to - especially for any hard difficulty challenges.

Another suggestion crafting is extremly powerful maybe make it that you need to find certain items before you can perform the +5 enchants or craft adman armour/weapons, or give the option to create unique itmes using special items found off boss encounters other areas.

Apart from that I absolutely love this game, the spells are awesome my favourtie moment so far is dominating the Frost Giant leader and watching him slaugher his own team hahahahahah just awesome, what other game can you mind control a boss? Also the option to be Evil would be a +++ int he enxt version :D
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Re: Challenge scaling and limited resting

Postby Tavis » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:38 pm

I agree with doufas that the crafting system is a big part of what makes it possible to become powerful enough that you get out of the zone where the encounters are fun and challenging. For me, wands are the biggest problem. One of the key elements of D&D play is resource management. Spells and HP are two of the most essential resources, so being able to throw fireballs from a wand all through a fight, heal from a wand once the encounter is over, and then re-craft the wands if necessary before the next encounter greatly reduces the challenge of resources management.

In tabletop D&D resting and crafting, which work against the management of spells and HP, are balanced by the need to manage the resource of time. This is an imperfect solution because, unlike spells or HP, it's not always clear to the players how much time you have to work with and what will happen if you run out. But the change in KotC that you can craft without spending time is a major one, and for me at least it distorts my experience of the game so much that I've started a third play-through in which I'm not selecting any craft feats. (As of the underground, it's difficult in just the way I want - I had to fight the initial string of encounters in the slaver's stockade several times in order to figure out how I could manage my resources until I reached a campfire - and it makes going to different shops valuable, which makes me appreciate towns much more.) I miss the ability to customize my stuff, so I'm definitely not recommending no-crafting in future sequels - I just think it needs to be balanced within the management framework.

I can understand not wanting to track time on a moving-around level, but why not track rests and days spent crafting and make some or all of the consequences of doing too much of either explicit to the player so that spending time to craft or rest is part of a strategic choice with likely trade-offs?
I play old-school D&D with the New York Red Box, blog about tabletop games at The Mule Abides, and write third-party and first-party stuff for D&D 4E.
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Re: Challenge scaling and limited resting

Postby screeg » Wed Nov 25, 2009 5:29 pm

An improvement on crafting would be to only allow it in towns or civilized areas, period. It makes sense and would force a higher level of resource management. It's also an easier solution than time tracking, which would be a whole new system to implement.

An option for scaling that I think BS already mentioned was just tacking on a few extra enemy units, and/or bumping up the bosses level by 1 or 2, if your party is overpowered or facing a much lower level opponent. I would prefer that to having a cakewalk anyway. To me a combat that requires at least a little thought is always superior to just steamrolling my enemies.
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Re: Challenge scaling and limited resting

Postby TheGrapplingWolf » Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:21 pm

I dislike the amount of limited resting already. Sure if you level up a ton it won't be an issue but it's too easy to get trapped into something you can't get out of.
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