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Debate/Discussion as a Combat System (Mages/Intellectual PC)


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Hi All,

 

I know there has been several games where a debate or discussion was used to instead of a big bad batte finale, must notably with the Transcendent One in PST and with Letho in Witcher 2. But these were just one off instances rather than permeating throughout the game.

 

I was just wondering whether there has been any cRPG where debate/discussion acted as a combat system in itself. Not too sure whether this is workable or not since it might need to be in the form of a card game or something similar to be practical.

 

There are times when playing as a wizard/mage - where I start thinking. Here we are, two powerful archmages standing toe to toe with a major difference of opinion. And all we can do to settle our differences is to start hurling fireballs at each other? How about a civilized discussion or debate? The loser can leave and reassess his position. The winner can proceed with his objectives and get some cool loot. A win-win situation.

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I like this idea. The only real exposure I have to debates in games, as a form of combat, comes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, where you can Debate with people to get your way (or they can debate with you to force you into doing things their way).

Do you like hardcore realistic survival simulations? Take a gander at this.

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I like this idea, while I'm not against combat by any means, I like when persuasion is in the form of a whole conversation and not just a singular do-you-have-enough-points-in-charisma stat check. I'd like it where you have to navigate the conversation by yourself, to varying degrees of success rather than a binomial pass/fail. Charisma/Persuasion skills could open up more dialogue options but these aren't necessarily instant win options and should NOT even be highlighted so you know which are which.

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Herald of the Obsidian Order

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Hi all,

 

Yes, I prefer if the game allowed an option to try to solve conflicts through debate, intimidation or charisma. The problem with most non-combat options implemented in CRPGs is that it's like in Shardbearer's words "a singular do-you-have-enough-points-in-charisma stat check."

 

My thoughts are whether it's possible to have a mechanic or mini-game that actually replaces combat with a duel or debate system. This should only be possible with civilized enemy NPCs with a certain level of intellect.

 

I like this idea. The only real exposure I have to debates in games, as a form of combat, comes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, where you can Debate with people to get your way (or they can debate with you to force you into doing things their way).

 

Hey, a fellow ROTK player. I'm surprised to see one in this forum. Yes, I was thinking amongst the same lines. The intellectual strategist/general used a debate system to determine who was better insead of a straight up duel.

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Well, I remember a run through in Fallout 2 where my kill list after winning the game showed something like...

  • 9 radscorpions
  • 3 giant rats
  • 1 mutant
  • 1 human

I think being able to do something like would be pretty cool. Of course, in Fallout 2 I had to skip a ton of quests to do that (like the entirety of New Reno) but I think that's fine, you can't fix every solution with just words after all.

 

Hey, a fellow ROTK player. I'm surprised to see one in this forum. Yes, I was thinking amongst the same lines. The intellectual strategist/general used a debate system to determine who was better insead of a straight up duel.

 

The debate thing was just a silly mini game, and you couldn't take cities or anything with them. At least from my experiences with RTK XI.

. Well I was involved anyway. The dude who can't dance. 
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A non-violent approach to Fallout 2, eh... I like. Sort of like Deus Ex where one could try to win the game by using tranquilizer darts.

 

Yeah, the RTK XI mini-game was a bit lame. Still, in my personal experience, I have not seen a debate system implemented in any cRPGs, so it's just an example. Has there been any such debate/non-combat system implemented in any cRPGs? Deus-Ex/Thief was one where a non-violent approach is possible but no debate/argument, though.

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I like that idea. Still, if I am loosing discussion i would still like to have option to hurl firballs, you know just to show my point.

 

Of course... I would definitely want an option to attack open, as well as if you anger the NPC enough they may attack you.

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Herald of the Obsidian Order

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I keep thinking of the trial in Kotor on Manaan, and the trial in NWN2... (although the latter does end up in combat). But the steps you take, having different preperations/people you talk to and investigate shaping how the big trial goes.. Shaping up your conversation options, and whether various NPC's will take part, or what they'll end up saying. Having all of that come together to provide different results and consequences. Having a few moments like that would be rather damn good.

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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I don't think that I've ever played a game that actually implemented a wizard's duel.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

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I felt like spell-casters in BG 2 were so much fun that every encounter with a lich felt like one.

We definitely need to see that kind of scripting and encounter design.

 

But on-topic, not every fight should be avoidable- that's why you bring the big guy with his huge sword along, after all. But if many situations can be resolved with the correct skill or words that's more than fine; that's a good thing.

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Some interesting points here.

 

1. Definitely agree not every fight should be avoidable. That's why I presume you can only skip combat if the NPC are civilized (i.e. non monsters) people/race with a reasonable amount of intellect. That would include wizards, of course. I mean a big bad barbarian or bear wouldn't have any inclination to debate, right.... :devil:

 

2. Oblivion's speech mini-game was pretty horrible. Definitely not how I would want it to be implemented. Not too sure how it could be well implemented though.

 

3. Manaan quest in KOTOR, Court debate in NWN2 and debate with Loghain in DAO are great examples of non-combat. Unfortunately, these are all highly scripted events. I just wish this could be extended to normal encounters through a debate mechanic, where it makes sense, that's all. :w00t:

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Intellect and charm should play a bigger role and open up additional avenues to solve conflicts, but also to make situations much worse when confronting irrational and unstable characters.

 

On the subject of magery and intelligence, I do not think they should be strictly tied together like in other games. A smart man does not make a powerful mage, and a stupid orc (insert any Eternity beast race here) can make a dangerous shaman.

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On the subject of magery and intelligence, I do not think they should be strictly tied together like in other games. A smart man does not make a powerful mage, and a stupid orc (insert any Eternity beast race here) can make a dangerous shaman.

 

I'd say that depends on the magic system of the world, in The Kingkiller Chronicles books, a more intellectually-gifted person DOES make a more powerful mage.

Herald of the Obsidian Order

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I'd say that depends on the magic system of the world, in The Kingkiller Chronicles books, a more intellectually-gifted person DOES make a more powerful mage.

 

In Eternity it is drawn directly from ones soul and it has been stated that magic is not uncommon. I have a feeling one would not need to be smart but just capable of it, still, we will have to wait and see what they say.

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Intellect and charm should play a bigger role and open up additional avenues to solve conflicts, but also to make situations much worse when confronting irrational and unstable characters.

 

On the subject of magery and intelligence, I do not think they should be strictly tied together like in other games. A smart man does not make a powerful mage, and a stupid orc (insert any Eternity beast race here) can make a dangerous shaman.

 

Well, it really depends on the system they're planning to use. A mage/wizard need not be intelligent but that needs to be explained in the lore. Generally, it's just assumed (or rather I just assume) that a higher level of intelligence would assist in making a mage/wizard more powerful.

 

Hmmm... I like the idea that intelligence/charm may actually work to the detriment of the PC when dealing with non-standard characters. Throws a kink in the works so to speak.

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Well, it really depends on the system they're planning to use. A mage/wizard need not be intelligent but that needs to be explained in the lore.

 

You are right, it does need explained in the lore as you said, but being smart means more power would also need explained also. As I said above, it is information we have to wait to be filled in on.

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There are times when playing as a wizard/mage - where I start thinking. Here we are, two powerful archmages standing toe to toe with a major difference of opinion. And all we can do to settle our differences is to start hurling fireballs at each other? How about a civilized discussion or debate? The loser can leave and reassess his position. The winner can proceed with his objectives and get some cool loot. A win-win situation.

 

Maybe for a weaker character, but there is a fundamental flaw in this thinking when it comes to the antagonist...

 

Unfortunately there can be plenty of instances where 2 sides simply can't see eye to eye. Debates themselves don't change people's opinions, perspective and knowledge previously unconsidered by the opposition does. If in this case a "Powerful Archmage" (basically the intelligent opponent) has come to a major difference of opinion with you the protagonist and is a major opposing character of the archetype your suggesting, it is unreasonable to assume that you can simply convince them that they are wrong solely by discussion alone. Let us assume that this "Powerful Archmage" is NOT purely motivated by evil and instead has come to their own conclusion on the situation and has put forth all of these plots and machinations in order to solve a major problem that the world (both yours and theirs) must solve. Now all of a sudden you decide to come in and what? Talk him/her down? Somehow make them see that their viewpoint is wholly wrong? They, who have probably had just as much if not more time, energy and resources to study this problem. Do you not think they may have not already seen your point of view, that they have only come to their conclusion without first considering the repercussions of their drastic actions?

 

But no you want to be a hero, your viewpoint is clearly superior. Your talking skill superior...

Spoiler alert! and wake up call...

http://www.youtube.c...ed/BpGMjpOpNE0"

 

Convincing the antagonist to lay down their arms simply because you came by and talked them down (whether its by gameplay or rolling dice), devalues the weight of the antagonist. A good Antagonist would only bend if there was something they did not know and could have in no way foreseen; that which would fundamentally change the conclusion they had drawn previously and acted upon.

 

Examples:

-This is why the Master in Fallout killing himself works because there is a flaw in his Super Mutants; its somewhat weak to assume the Master could not have acquired that knowledge himself but it is still plausible.

-This is why Letho's actions in the Witcher 2 can not be changed by Geralt. It is Letho who shows the player a reason not to fight him. The player can only decide whether to fight him or let him go.

-This is why assuming that Lanius would abandon his attack on the Hoover Dam in Fallout: Las Vegas because he had not considered "losing the East if he took the West" (when if anything Lanius would have more knowledge than the player on that subject) is a poor ending. It makes Lanius look weak willed, unfit to be Legate and creates an unlikely conclusion (thats why people make fun of that ending).

-Thats why convincing Hugh Darrow (in Deus Ex: HR) to help you stop what he started without using that pheromone thing to alter his thinking is there only for player agency.

-Convincing the Transcendent One that they must join with you works, since the antagonist is part of you, the protagonist. Your journey has changed your own previous conclusion because it has given you a new perspective.

 

if done right it can be done, but sometimes you can only end conflict the hard way...

 

I don't think that I've ever played a game that actually implemented a wizard's duel.

 

Far too true....

 

Edit: long day messed up the wording there a bit

Edited by Critical

"I have yet to meet an Obstacle that I can't overcome with Guns and Fireballs"

-Teldarin the Critical, Gun Mage

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Dear Critical,

 

You have made some excellent points here. Still, if the Antagonist is NOT a stereotypical villain who wants to destroy the world (ala Archdemon in DA:O), I would like to have a chance to talk to him.

 

This needs to be done earlier in the game rather than at the final conflict. At example like you've given would Lanius in Fallout New Vegas. As the PC grows in power, he'll most likely oppose the Antagonist or his lackeys during certain quests. At this time, I would like to:

 

1. Find out why they're doing these specific tasks that seem to be to the detriment of the common good;

2. Whether it's possible to have a compromise between two factions rather than taking extreme actions;

3. Maybe even join him, if I change my views. After all, a discussion/debate isn't always a one way street;

4. If after numerous attempts at discussions (over the course of several quests), reconciliation is impossible, then there's no choice but to resort to battle....

 

Even then, perhaps rather than having an all-out faction conflict, the PC and antagonist could limit the needless deaths by having a single one-on-one duel to the death?

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Oh whole heartily agree the Antagonist should explain themselves. If they never do it will prevent closure to the story.

 

I just don't want them to undervalue the Antagonist and ruin the ending (*cough* like some other unspoken games) simply to give the player a sense of agency. If it works and it can be done then sure! Absolutely! I also applaud the chance to side with the Antagonist. But if it ruins the story by creating an implausible conclusion, then it shouldn't be in there.

"I have yet to meet an Obstacle that I can't overcome with Guns and Fireballs"

-Teldarin the Critical, Gun Mage

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If there is an option to join the antagonist, there should be a whole different endgame, not the same endgame with different bosses.

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The area between the balls and the butt is a hotbed of terrorist activity.

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Oh whole heartily agree the Antagonist should explain themselves. If they never do it will prevent closure to the story.

 

I just don't want them to undervalue the Antagonist and ruin the ending (*cough* like some other unspoken games) simply to give the player a sense of agency. If it works and it can be done then sure! Absolutely! I also applaud the chance to side with the Antagonist. But if it ruins the story by creating an implausible conclusion, then it shouldn't be in there.

I really dislike that kind of exposition; is too cheap and lazy for my taste, like they didn't know how to portray the bad guy through his actions so now they need him to be explicit and explain his evil plan word for word like you're "special". It's lazy at its best patronizing at its worst, best we find out by ourselves what we want to do rather than be swayed by pretty arguments. I mean how hard can it be to write some scenes where both points of view are expressed through acts rather than words.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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