So, after the cooldown thread(s), I thought I should breach the subject of what bothers me about them more broadly, instead of focusing in a simple mechanic or implementation. You see, one of the reason I dislike seeing PE move away from the importance of resting isn't that resting was well used in BG. Or IWD, or PS:T, or any of those titles. It is because I think it is a bit of a missed opportunity. By the way, I know we are getting resting after all, and that is great news, but I think resting can be made more interesting, by seizing an opportunity lost by these previous titles. Mr. Gygax used to say that tracking time in the dungeon was critically important. Things didn't stay static when you retreated or moved away. The reason resting is important is because few dungeons were supposed to be cleaned by the characters, much less so in a single go.
I think I made myself clear how I think time could be an important resource in other threads. How I think quests and encounters can respond t the party taking too long by changing and complicating. But time is not the only long term resource that can be used. There are many resources you guys can use to keep track of the party in the longer game, and give us players though choices to decide on. Here is a small enumeration:
- Money. Gold is a joke in many RPGs, and the infinity engine isn't much of an exception. People will usually complain the reason for this is that there is little control of how much money you can make in the game, but I think the real problem is that there is little options of where to use it. Give the players interesting possibilities during the game. Give him opportunities during quests that will make people try to actually build up money. Make sure a player has enough things to do with his gold he is very unlikely to be able to do everything he wants to.
- Fame. Reputation is something Obsidian did well in the past. But still, your reputation is something that is hardly "at stake", and very rarely something you can use to do things. Fame has mostly opened doors in other games, like New Vegas. But it could be built upon. Make certain options easier or harder to achieve depending on how well known you are. Having a reputation of being a merciless killer can make threatening others easier, but it can also mean people won't trust a more pacific deal you might propose sometime, or that people who you have helped fear you just as much as the people you delivered them from.
- Power. XP doesn't need to be a straight jacked formula. Give people incentives to both accumulate a lot of it and to try to avoid getting more of it than they need. Also, I always loved the level draining idea of undeads. Maybe they shouldn't be able to rain it directly like in D&D... Maybe they could drain a set XP amount instead (though this makes them less scary). But still, it was interesting that they made undeads scary in D&D by allowing them to hit where it hurts most for the players.
- Spell memorizations. This one seems to be, thankfully, in! Selecting what spells to bring in to a dungeon and how to use them. I would, of course, like it more if this aspect was more emphasized, but at least it is there, right now. The thing about spell memorization is that you want to make it a hard choice, to know what to bring to a dungeon and the how and when of its use.
- Stamina. Fighting all day in heavy armor, trudging through group after group of hostiles isn't easy. Everyone needs to rest eventually, and having trouble doing this can be a great source of conflict and tension. Also, knowing when to use your reserves of energy and when to take a more calm, if slower, approach can be fun. This really would work best if time is an actual resource too.
- Logistics. I think there is little hope of seeing this kind of concern here, but I thought I should bring it up anyway. Part of the fun in old D&D was planning an expedition to somewhere barren and dangerous. You brought in people to help you, vehicles to bring back all that loot with you, materials to renovate safe areas of the dungeon, people to put there so it would remain safe, food for everyone, climbing gear, and a lot more. I think it would be nice to at least have some use for old favorites, like door spikes, chalk, torches and food. Specially if, rather than simply being limitations, these things can actually be used intelligently. Like burning a jelly type of monster with lantern oil, but them not having enough to go around in the dark for much longer. Have the orcs in the dungeon be willing to trade the PCs for their rations, possibly paying a good price for anything that isn't yet more mushrooms.
- Time. I've talked enough about it, but make it matter! Make it matter in timed quests, in encounters that change, in combats that have consequences according to how early or late they end, etc. How time will affect each part of the game depends on that specific part. For some things, time matters little. To others, it is of essence.
- Reactions. Most CRPGs have character reactions to your PCs scripted in. So and so is a villain, and will try to rob you bling. So and so will be a stalwart helper, no matter who you are. It would be more interesting if reactions were more up to the situation at hand. I think Obsidian has done some nice work here, Raul and Dog come to mind here as examples of companions who will change a lot depending to how you treat them. But at the same time, I think this could be nice if it was done to smaller NPCs in some simpler ways. For example, any dragon might attack you on sight if you use dragon scale armor, while goblins who would otherwise attack you might welcome you if you have the head of a bugbear visible anywhere in your person. Likewise, allow this to be used as a resource. If the goblins like you, use their good will to get a favor that will solve a quest in a different way than if you had just slaughtered everyone.
- Many, many more. In a certain quest, the number of votes you have in a council might be crucial to the next quest. Manage to get enough votes and you will get to coordinate an attack. Don't and they will put a bumbling fool in charge, who will cause the death of several NPCs. In another quest, a cemetery may be haunted by troubled souls. Problem is that, in the coming equinox, they will be able to wreck chaos into the living world. So maybe you want to calm them down, so when the equinox arrives, nothing bad will happen. But then again, maybe you want them to suffer. It is the perfect opportunity to get a new necromancy spell! Maybe putting the souls to rest may cause problems to people you like in the city, or take away one of your contacts to jail.
All things I am talking about here I have seen in some manner in Obsidian's games. Mask of the Betrayer had a lot of this stuff. So did New Vegas. But frequently, it is done as part of a larger, more static, story line. I really would like to see as more part of the little things going on. Because, being so tied to the storyline, those things don't seem to be using resources. It feels more like I am just advancing the quest. Like they are the absolute exception and not the rule. I think it would maybe pay out to have more of these interesting choices to small things, like side quests and little encounters. The repercussions, of course, would need to be less drastic. But it would, I think, go a long way making the game feel more like the result of your actions rather than an arbitrary story written by someone else.