Choose Your Language

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Better The .... Items (Bane/Boon)

This week, I continue to write about some of those gaming aspects that you can expect to find in Better The Demon. This week covers those items certain PCs may like, while other may not: The Bane or Boon item! And because I cannot show you any pictures of such items (so as not to give "spoilers"), I will also touch upon something I am working on, so there will be at least one image in this week's blog. After all, we all like pictures!

The Bane/Boon Item

When it comes to cursed items, I decided I wanted to take a different slant to normal. For while I accept that there may be certain items that are simply cursed for everybody, I also wanted to consider items that may be a curse (bane) to some creatures, while being a boon to another. Hence, the introduction of the bane/boon item.

The governing factor on whether an item is a boon or a bane for a PC is based according to an item's alignment compared to the alignment of the PC who acquires it: If a "good" aligned PC picks up an "evil" object, they may well find the item a bane to them, and act as a cursed item; whereas an "evil" aligned PC can pick up the same item and find it a boon to them in some way. Therefore, a player may wish to think twice before picking up a Holy Dagger of Slaying if they are playing a PC with an evil alignment.

But, what value does a bane item have in an environment where a player can just reload a game and ignore the bane item and never pick it up in the first place? The answer (and I am sure many of my regular readers will know where this is leading to) is that even reloading will NOT remove the cursed bane item from a PC. Here is what the item description has to say about a bane item: "Cursed items have been known to travel time to become bound with a person they were destined to be with. (i.e. Reloading won't help you.)" In other words, if you have picked up the item and it is a bane to you, the cursed item will remain with you (even between reloads) until the curse is properly removed. Here is what the item description says about removing a cursed item: "Cursed items bond with its carrier and require a "Remove Curse" cast directly onto the item or the application of some "Oil of Unbinding" to enable it to be removed." You have been warned! UPDATE: To clarify this point, a bane item does not return to a PC on a reload if it has been properly removed within the game.

The Sequence Puzzle

This is where I give an excuse to post an image. I have been working on another puzzle, which involves memorising a simple sequence. It's a straight forward enough puzzle that does not require any real explanation, but I have used it and the player's interaction with it in such a way that gives it a different twist. I won't go into more details, but you can discover it when you play it. (Although eagle-eyed readers will spot a clue.) Here is an image of an instance of the puzzle in play:

POLL RESULTS: Predestination v Freewill

The final results to this poll are now in, and I include them here for the record. I have to confess that I am surprised that the "freewill" option took the final lead. However, one thing I realised about my own definition during the time this poll was up, is that it is easy to confuse the concept of having a "will" (in general) with the term "freewill", as if the two meant the same thing, which, of course, they do not. i.e. We all have a "will", but, personally, I do not believe that will is "free" in the context of life. Therefore, by deduction, I believe in predestination. Furthermore, I would be interested to hear how people "qualify" freewill with respect to the laws of physics and such things as "cause and effect". Anyway, that's just me, and I leave this discussion for now ... unless somebody wishes to continue it further.

Scripting Away

Lastly, just a quick note to say that I am continuing to tidy scripts and conversations. I have managed to tighten some of the code by moving functions into more include files. Along the way, I found some things I cannot do as I hoped (broken OC functions), but, overall, I am making progress, even if it is slow due to health issues. If you can keep your patience waiting for this module, then I hope it will be worth the wait.


Kamal said...

I'm not a big puzzle fan, but I have to admit seeing your puzzles makes me want to use them.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Kamal,

Again, I have tried to use this puzzle in a way that is NOT required by the player, but gives a benefit if they do try to do it.

Still, its good to hear you are encouraged to try after seeing them. I look forward to hearing how you get on with them when it comes to it.


Master Changer said...

Hi Lance,

Your bane/boon items sound very interesting. Like many of your systems, it reinforces the idea that many of the solutions to problems or questions the PC may face can be found within the game environment itself. This, in some ways, is the definition of immersion!

Having said that, I have mixed feelings about the idea of persistence over game saves. I don't like reloading much at all because it is a huge immersion breaker (especially because loading takes so ridiculously long in NWN2). I'd rather reserve reloading for when I find myself in really dire straits and can't progress without going backwards.

To put this back in terms of immersion, I'd rather find the solution to my predicament within the game. Your Remove Curse spells or items are a good example of this. What Would Your Character Do if cursed? Perhaps visit a temple, perhaps something else. If there are in-game clues to the item's power (for example, if there is a hint in the Unidentified description) or other ways that the item is tied to the plot or themes going on, the player should get loss of a "gotcha!" feeling from the module author.

I reinforce these issues partly because I know that you're receptive to the ideas of context and immersion. I would encourage you to keep those ideas in mind when thinking about issues of gameplay.

I am certainly much happier accepting restrictions on what my character can and can't do if there's a tie-in to the adventure itself. Restrictions just to make things more challenging have their place, but it's better if there's a reason for them.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi MC,

I'm glad you like the sound of the system. :) I am not sure what you are trying to say in relation to the "persistency" though. For example, a player is never forced any item on them ... ever, but if they pick one up without care, or examining it closer first, then they may inadvertantly pick up a bane item and have it "tied" to their PC until they have it removed by the spell or oil.

i.e. They can't just reload because they "accidentally" picked up an item. I hope that it will be obvious when an item may be a "threat" to a PC, and so they will have (in that sense) a warning not to just pick it up without care. In this way, I hope to make the player more conascious of their actions and provide greater immersion (as you say).

Does that help explain it some more?

If and when the cursed item is removed from the player, it does not "return" on a reload. It only "returns" if the player has not removed the cursed item in an appropriate way in the game.

I will update the blog to stress this distinction, as it may be what you thought.

Let me know.



Master Changer said...

Hi Lance,

I understand that the item persists over reloads but that you can get rid of it by oil or spell; there wasn't any confusion about that.

I was just bringing in my perspective about reloading in general. I prefer to only reload if there's almost no way forward. If my party got wiped out, or I spent all my gold on an item that (for reasons external to the story/setting such as insufficient info) turns out to be totally worthless.

I would generally not reload, for example, if one of my characters dies (in a campaign SoZ-style death) as long as I can work towards bringing them back.

For people who reload more easily, I can see that they might do so to avoid a bane item. If I'm reloading and there's a bane item involved, it would be only in the most dire of situations. Like, Infernal Dire. ;^)

Given this, I wouldn't say I'm against the way you're designing the system, but I'm not sure how much it adds, either.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi MC,

I think I have done it purely as a way of adding an element of "apprehension". Not in a bad way, but as in the module cannot be approached with any "meta-gaming" allowances in mind. (i.e. A reload if one did not like an outcome.)

For somebody like you (and me), it sounds like we would simply accept the game result and see it as a challenge. However, for those that may have once simply considered relaoding to get out of a situation, I am hoping that this level of "immersion" will give the game a new angle for them.

Imagine if you were used to simply reloading, but the game did not allow you to do this. I am hoping for a "Ooooh What should I do now?" kind of game. That's going to cost me gold to have that removed, unless I hire a cleric ... or shall I just go with it for now?

Bottom line, it was a design consideration that may help a player experience the game how I hoped they would play it. Leaving in potential exploits to get around certain puzzles and problems feels too much of a "get out of jail free card" to me. ;)


Shaughn said...

Lance this is an interesting development to cursed items, and I like the time traveling part. It gives them a bit more danger. When the item travels and spawns on the player does the original instance disappear? If not this could be exploited.

I have played around a bit with cursed items, but nothing to the extent you have done. My main approach has been to have an item have both bonuses and penalties so a play must accept the cost of using a more powerful item.

I have 2 questions with this system.

1. You mentioned there will be a hint about these items how will this be done?
Will it rely on the players intuitions? Either an identified item or an unidentified item with a more specific non-generic description. The player looks at the item reads what they can and makes a decision: My LG character may not get along with The Battleaxe of Unrelenting Corruption.
Or will the player receive feedback based on their class and skills. A lore skill to identify an item or a paladin detecting the corruption of an item.
Building off of this will the items be a centerpiece by themselves or will they be group in with other treasure and how will that be handled. Will the individual item be hinted at or the treasure chest in general?

2. Is there a save once the item is acquired?
Will my holy cleric with the assistance of his god be able to initially resist the item, removing it from the players inventory?

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Hi Shaughn,

Yes, the original bane/boon item does disappear so that it cannot be exploited. :)

To answer your questions:

1) It is pretty much as you initially describe. However, most (if not all) of my bane/boon items will be first met as a "placeable object". (I may also add items within loots, but this is not yet the case.) So, a player will "see" the item ahead of time and can "examine" it as normal. So, the initial description of the item will be "neutral" and rely on a player's "common sense" and "involvement" with the game. E.g. If they are playing a chaotic "evil" PC and they come across a "holy relic of pure goodness" and pick it up without any thought or consideration, then they may well be penalised if it is designed as a bane/boon item. If it is designed as such, it will be a "bane" item to them and they will not be able to get rid of it without the appropriate spell or "Oil of Unbinding" item.

2) Hehe! Nice idea. :) However, such "holy clerics" must be conscious of the items they pick up and if they take hold of such an evil object without much thought, then their god will let them either pray (for a Remove Curse spell if possible) to remove it, or expect them to "quest" (geas) for an Oil of Unbinding to have it removed.