Advancement and trainers

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Advancement and trainers

Postby youngneil1 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:23 am

The easiest approach here would be no trainers and automatic level up when reaching the required experience points. While this keeps things simple and allows advancing mid dungeon without any need to run back, it also omits some possibly nice enrichements for gameplay:

1. More adventure hooks: Trainers could have requirments to train, creating new incentives and adventure opprtunities: this can be as simple as requiring a certain sum of gold, but might go well beyond that like asking for specfifc item (e.g. some toem with knowledge, a buried kngiht's sword) or even trigger a whole new quest chain (e.g. from the past of the trainer or for the inetrest of his possible guild).

2. Class/guild lore: Trainers also can tell background stories, adding class and possibly guild lore. They can be sort of role models, too. Ideally they let a character feel a deeper connection to its class and might become friends in the long run.

3. Explore: Actually there could be hidden trainers for higher level (or even specific traits, feats, skills, spells... see below). Discovering them could be an extra incentice to explore remote parts of the world or hidden away corners of cities and underground systems. You never know...

4. Trainers for special skill verions (Might and Magic!): I really like it in the Migth & Magic cRPG series that there were trainers for specific skils/traits on various mastery levels, e.g. Apprenetcie, Expert, Master, Grandmaster). These were kind of cool and it felt like a little extra accomplishment to find them.

Perhaps levleling up itself oculd be automatic, (like normal D&D?), but it could be (optionally) made pre-requisite in the toolset that certain skill levels or certain traits/spells/feats are only attainable by finding a trainer and convincing him to train the character. This could be done in a way that a character in order to get a such a trait/skill level/spell has to be a certain class, a certain level and addtionally have the instructions from the trainer. Perhaps some trainers even have additional, very special extra skills/traits/feats, usuable by every class (but maybe can be gained only once, so the palyer has to decide which character should gain this knowledge)...
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby Pongo » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:22 pm

I quite like automatic levelling (I remember great frustration in PoR when I couldn't afford to train my characters!). It would be fun to be able to include specific skills / spells etc that could only be learned from specific trainers - that's a good idea.
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby youngneil1 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:22 am

Trainer cost would optimally be customizable as the need for at all visiting a trainer. I imagin it could be an optional check in the code for leveling up or raising a skill / picking a trait.
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby Lurking Grue » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:30 pm

This is a tough one. I'm undecided on how I would like it to go. At the moment, I'd go with automatic levelling (gain HP and feats, increase BAB and saves, and expend Skill Points immediately when you "ding"), but have new skills (ones you have no points in) and new spells require teachers, books, scrolls, etc., as well as have some special/rare ones be completely hidden from the player at start. These secret and/or rare skills or spells would need to be found by the player, instead of just purchased on character creation or level up. This creates a nice incentive for exploration and provides loot worth more than just money. Not exactly the same, but I remember how cool and exciting it was to find new rune stones in Ultima Underworld 1-2 (which were required for spell casting). Having something like this in IB, in the form of mysterious spell books or hard to find rare skill trainers, would be very, very cool.

There is merit in (and I'm fine with) the "get back to a training hall/teacher before you can level up" system, but I'm unsure how popular that would be in general. It might be seen as cumbersome and if there is a cost in money attached to training, some might even consider it as an MMO-like "jumping through hoops" exercise. I dunno.

Gotta go again (at work). Sry.
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby youngneil1 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:35 pm

Looks like we all like the idea of trainers (and scrolls, mystic places, etc.) in order to get very special traits, skills, spells...

Could indeed be a good way forward then to make the "normal" level up process trainer free and instant, but at least allow technically to have training (or reading scrolls, interacting with places, etc.) in order to get special permanent rewards in the from of new traits, skills, spells, perhaps even very rare (in the hands of the adventure author) attribute increases. This way inter alia guilds and (hidden) masters could maintain a desirable functionality (besides conveying lore and presumably allowing access to special equipment).

Technically this will probably at least require some sort of dialogue, informing that the player character learned something new (outside the normal level up dialogues). Perhaps that's even already possible with the current dialogue system (in Two Worlds 2 funnily the scripting language for the quests could assign free skill ponts, but not stat increases). Also in Two World 2 I did cut a part of the points for stats and skills on level up away from the level up process and redistributed them to very special permanent potions, hidden (and guarded) all over the world. The goal was to create more exploration incentive and corresponding rewards. If not overdone, this can be a very nice thing.
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby Baron » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:33 pm

Instant level up is the preference for competitive players who play for level/loot/putting-a-sword-through-someone-don't-care-who. Players who prefer the story/social side of the game probably the weapon trainer. I also like the suggestion above about finding objects for skills, to reward the Explorer type players.

As a player fond of story, dialogue options and character interaction I love using trainers, I was fond of games like Pool of Radiance, Knights of Legend, (Monkey Island... heh), and countless kung-fu movies, where you had to find trainers who considered you worthy of their time. It opens up a lot of character options; do you train with the kindly farmer who fought in the great war but who is usually drunk and slashes his sword at cornstalks? Or do you train with the skilled thug who demands in lieu of payment a rival suitor killed? It's not just about the pursuit of stat power, it's the journey of a novice who becomes a hero. A hero who sages might recall would occasionally cut a man's throat if it was advantageous at the time. Or a hero who was fiercely loyal to his ageing drunken master and defended him at every moment he got into trouble.

A slowly gameplay is often more rewarding and memorable. Many games today involve the bland routine of constant mouse-clicking on faceless enemies who you meet for the first time as they run out of the fog of war. It's total shit. There is no ebb and flow of gameplay, it's just clicking on shit. You don't even leave dungeons to sell spoils, the game is reduced to sprite clicking because there's now a magical space in your inventory sack where you can convert unwanted items into coins. Not even coins, a weightless credit account, because being forced to make a choice would be bad. These players just want to take everything from the dungeon. If there was a market for Pits of Depairs they would probably have that excavated and sold in town.

So yeah, I intend to use weapon masters for my project. And he's going to comment on the monster you just defeated, "I scarcely believe it! You slew [Abraham] the [Goatlegged] [Highwayman]! He and his men have been a thorn in our side for years..." not... "You killed [306] goblins for [3060] gold. Quest complete."
Last edited by Baron on Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby youngneil1 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:41 pm

Valid point, Baron. I will have such masters in my adventures, too, at elast for special skills (even in my first prologue adventure you'll find one, though he's not exactly a master for the characters in the party, at least for now ;-)). I intend to have no mandatory masters for level up right now though (the small scope of the prologue adventure wouldn't allow all potentially necccessary masters in the limited space anyway, or at least it would feel very strange).
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby Lurking Grue » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:42 pm

Baron wrote:As a player fond of story, dialogue options and character interaction I love using trainers {snip} It opens up a lot of character options; do you train with the kindly farmer who fought in the great war but who is usually drunk and slashes his sword at cornstalks? Or do you train with the skilled thug who demands in lieu of payment a rival suitor killed?

What an excellent example, Baron! That's a great way of handling training and character advancement. As I said above, I'm all for using trainers and training halls in IB, I was just hesitant on how the possible player base would take to it. The more that I think about it, the more I actually want to use non-instant levelling in my modules and require the characters to get to a training hall and/or trainer to advance. I do understand those who want to use instant levelling, however, and maybe this can be implemented so that it can be chosen by the module maker.

Baron wrote:A slowly gameplay is often more rewarding and memorable. Many games today involve the bland routine of constant mouse-clicking on faceless enemies who you meet for the first time as they run out of the fog of war. {snip} You don't even leave dungeons to sell spoils, the game is reduced to sprite clicking because there's now a magical space in your inventory sack where you can convert unwanted items into coins. Not even coins, a weightless credit account, because being forced to make a choice would be bad.

Aye, the action RPG way of doing things must be avoided at all costs. Streamlining and simplifying for a casual and thoughtless play experience have dumbed down CRPGs for too long. I've never understood the claim, for example, that numbers are bad and character stats should rather be shown as stars, diamonds or other nice/pretty icons instead and stats itself should be limited to few at most, as many stats = confusing. Wot?! Of course, one can over-complicate things too, but coming from the PnP world, most CRPGs are easy peasy (rules-wise). CRPGs hardly require higher degrees in math and computer science to figure out.

I'd like to have individual inventories on each character limited by carrying capacity (with no magical bags of holding), have shopkeepers be snooty and not buy e.g. crude goblin blades by the truckload from the party, have armor be non-lootable (have to buy it as it needs to be custom-fitted), include money weight in encumbrance, etc., etc.

Baron wrote:I intend to use weapon masters for my project. And he's going to comment on the monster you just defeated, "I scarcely believe it! You slew [Abraham] the [Goatlegged] [Highwayman]! He and his men have been a thorn in our side for years..." not... "You killed [306] goblins for [3060] gold. Quest complete."

Sounds good, looking forward to playing your modules.
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby Pongo » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:07 pm

Perhaps armour could be lootable but needs to be resized by a metal smith before a pc can wear it. That way, I still get the satisfaction of taking Azag the Orc's dragon plate armour after our epic battle, but I can't stick it straight on Boon the dwarf.
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Re: Advancement and trainers

Postby youngneil1 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:35 pm

Streamlining and simplifying for a casual and thoughtless play experience have dumbed down CRPGs for too long. I've never understood the claim, for example, that numbers are bad and character stats should rather be shown as stars, diamonds or other nice/pretty icons instead and stats itself should be limited to few at most, as many stats = confusing. Wot?!


Indeed - hiding away the numbers does the exact opposite thing for me: it makes it more difficult to play the game and also feel less rewarding as I have less control over what happens. There should be no secrets under the hood concerning game mechanics - if it looks too complicatd, then the mistake is in the too bloated calculations themselves and not in showing them.

Perhaps armour could be lootable but needs to be resized by a metal smith before a pc can wear it. That way, I still get the satisfaction of taking Azag the Orc's dragon plate armour after our epic battle, but I can't stick it straight on Boon the dwarf.


But Boon should be able to use Azag the Orc's dragon plate armour as siege tower immediatley! ;-)
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