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Winning "unwinnable" battles through roleplay and non-combat skills?


Winning "unwinnable" battles through non-combat skills and roleplaying  

61 members have voted

  1. 1. Would you like to see "unwinnable" scenarios where you can use non-combat skills and wits to win?

    • Yes, not all battles are won with blades and magic
    • No, battles should only be won with superior strength and tactics
    • Maybe/Unsure


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When it comes to RPGs, I see a lot of focus on things like stats, leveling up, and game mechanics surrounding combat, but in my opinion, one of the greatest aspects of traditional PnP RPGs is... Well, actual roleplaying, and the ability to come up with some rather unorthodox methods of solving a particular issue.

 

Now, obviously we can't have the same freedom in a CRPG, since computer games by their very nature can't adapt to unpredictable situations, or allow the use of skills in situations they weren't designed for, even if it should be physically possible. For example, without a physics engine capable of fully destructible environments, you can't "accidentally" blow up a house with a stray fireball, causing debris to knock out a tower, killing the ogre you were fleeing from. Similarly you can't have NPCs comment on this rather strange turn of events, since it wasn't in the script.

 

What we can have, however, are quests and scenarios designed around situations where these unorthodox methods of winning are possible. I think one of the developers touched upon this subject in one of the earlier updates, but reading through the "Unwinnable encounters" thread, I wanted to expand on the idea.

 

Scenario time:

 

Imagine a side quest involving two powerful creatures (e.g. dragons). You learn about these creatures from an inn keeper, who for whatever reason refers to them as Bob and Drake.

 

Now, Bob and Drake doesn't like each other very much. Maybe Bob moved into Drake's territory. Maybe Drake completely trashed Bob's lair during a new year's party. Maybe he stole Bob's toilet paper, and decided to decorate the trees... Or maybe the inn keeper is just bitter about some past event, and is confusing the stories. Who knows.

 

At any rate, you start hearing rumours about these two, their antics, and a legendary artifact which one of them currently has in their possession. You also hear about the numerous attempts at liberating this artifact from them; no one has succeeded. Indeed, it becomes abundantly clear that the only creature which could conceivably defeat them is another dragon.

 

So, what do you do? Start a fight? Sure, with a massive amount of luck and skill, and more grinding than you care to admit, you could potentially defeat them... Or, you could use your non-combat skills to deal with the situation; turns out that they are just as willing to talk as they are to fight. You learn that while they tolerate each other, there is quite a bit of tension between them, which opens up for some interesting possibilities. Should you plant seeds of distrust until they end up in a fight to the death? Maybe you can persuade one of them to take on the other with your help?

 

Whatever your choice, this quest can end in a number of ways: If you attack and somehow succeed, or if you manage to pit them against each other such that they both die, you get to loot both of their hoards. If you successfully befriend one of them and kill the other, you are forced to share the loot with the dragon you sided with, but you also gain access to his lair, and unlock additional conversations with your new scaled friend. Regardless of what you choose, you end up with the artifact you were looking for.

 

 

The idea with this scenario is that it offers different rewards for different type of play styles. If you like challenges and more tangible rewards, you get a tough battle and more loot. If you care more for the story and roleplaying aspect of the game, you get more interaction with an NPC, and a sense of accomplishment beyond a checkbox in your journal.

 

While the above is just an example, and not very fleshed out, I would like to hear people's opinion on the matter. Given a choice, how would you feel about scenarios where you can win battles way above your level by means of deception, diplomacy or other non-combat skills?

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There always has to ba an option "Put a blade through his eyesocket while he's talking".

 

However.

 

Ofcourse, nobody likes rampaging munchkins who prefer kill \ threaten(and kill later).

But a witty DM won't have a problem takin' them down without cheating. :devil:

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The poll seems to be missing a middleground option. Where's "many can be beaten either way?"

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"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."
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Isn't this kind of design, just saying, "hey guess what, there's only one way to solve this challenge?" That seems to violate the design philosophy Tim Cain laid out pretty early in the video updates.

 

EDIT:

 

That isn't to say that all options should be created equal. Certainly sometimes the non-violent path should be easier than the "Hulk smash!" route (and vice versa). Likewise, that doesn't mean that every encounter should be winnable at your given level -- it's fine to have challenges that you have to retreat from and come back to at a later time.

Edited by nikolokolus
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There's no doubt that Obsidian will include a significant number of encounters that, though confrontational, cannot be resolved via combat. This is for the good as the same ol', same ol', hack 'n' slash gets--*yawn*--quite stale if it's not broken up by other sorts of encounters. Stealth, trickery, political manuvering, divine intervention--all these and more should have a welcome place at the table.

 

Furthermore, not all scenarios need be winnable, period. A journey in which every obstacle can be overcome and, through meticulous planning and resource gathering, every adversary defeated is more fantastical than flaming swords and flying carpets. I have no problem with the idea of having the concept of opportunity cost come into play and limit our ability to pull together the necessary resources to defeat all 7 challenges in Chapter 2. Everyone can complete 4; most can complete 5; a few fanatics can complete 6; but no one can complete all 7 challenges because of limitations imposed by the world in which we are adventuring. Granted, this shouldn't happen too often, but having it happen at all will keep us on our toes and encourage wise play.

 

And, of course, I have no problem with one or two encounters being impossible to win at all, things best avoided by the wise and guaranteed to crush the foolish. Reference my thread on "Unwinnable Encounters". Let there be clear hints, markers, lore in books, and wise council from trustworthy NPCs to dissuade the foolish. Give the players a blatantly obvious scenario (party of 6 vs. 2 battalions of gnolls) that make it perfectly clear that this is an encounter to avoid or to run from post haste, but include one or two of them, please.

Edited by Tsuga C

http://cbrrescue.org/

 

Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

 

http://michigansaf.org/

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Isn't this kind of design, just saying, "hey guess what, there's only one way to solve this challenge?" That seems to violate the design philosophy Tim Cain laid out pretty early in the video updates.

 

EDIT:

 

That isn't to say that all options should be created equal. Certainly sometimes the non-violent path should be easier than the "Hulk smash!" route (and vice versa). Likewise, that doesn't mean that every encounter should be winnable at your given level -- it's fine to have challenges that you have to retreat from and come back to at a later time.

 

The entire point is to be able to solve the quest in multiple ways, resulting in different outcomes which rewards your play style differently. Basically, you can chose to do the quest later (grind levels and use tactics), but you are also able to complete it much, much earlier by being clever (with a different outcome). The idea is to reward players who think outside of the box while still allowing those who want a tough boss fight to have just that. So yes, the scenario could be designed in such a way as to encourage one set of solutions (in this case, not rushing into battle head first), but choosing to deal with the situation differently shouldn't make you feel as if you broke the quest, or that you somehow did something you weren't supposed to (in this case, winning by pure strength and combat skills still solves the quest).

 

Normally, the only way to solve a tough battle is to fight it head on until you succeed. The purpose of the poll was to see how many people would like to be able to solve impending battles in a more clever way. Perhaps by avoiding it entirely, or by turning the odds in your favour through a series of events, triggered by the player.

 

The poll seems to be missing a middleground option. Where's "many can be beaten either way?"

I included the difficulty level of the battle in order to provide contrast, but I guess the scenario could apply to "normal level" battles as well.

 

The "yes" option isn't to exclude winning by straight up fighting your way through, but rather to encourage the use of alternative methods. Something games often discourage due to too much focus on a given game mechanic. The problem for most games is, in the cases where you are able to avoid a fight, you often end up with cut content, or simply miss out on loot. That is, you are indirectly punished for avoiding the fight.

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Yes, I'd like not only the usual fast-talk scenarios, to avoid the fight altogether, but also being able to scare off henchmen in the midst of combat by killing one of their comrades in a most devious way, or stabbing their employer in the back. Other games had fleeing opponents, either by spell or lack of nerve, but usually it just was a delay, as they would always return to commit suicide at the point of your sword.

 

If you scare off Hrotgar the Fearless and his crew, and they want to restore their honor, they should wait for you in an ambush or visit your room in the inn in a couple of days, but not come back a couple of minutes after they fled in terror. And of course there usually is no incentive for the player to let them go: you'd just loose loot and XP.

"You are going to have to learn to think before you act, but never to regret your decisions, right or wrong. Otherwise, you will slowly begin to not make decisions at all."

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Isn't this kind of design, just saying, "hey guess what, there's only one way to solve this challenge?" That seems to violate the design philosophy Tim Cain laid out pretty early in the video updates.

 

EDIT:

 

That isn't to say that all options should be created equal. Certainly sometimes the non-violent path should be easier than the "Hulk smash!" route (and vice versa). Likewise, that doesn't mean that every encounter should be winnable at your given level -- it's fine to have challenges that you have to retreat from and come back to at a later time.

 

Agreed, and I think that the rewards of choosing one way or another could/should be different too.

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I must say that this was one of the reasons I love nwn hordes of the underdark!

 

SPOILER!

 

Being able to win the game without even fighting Mephy, and making him your slave forever is much more memorable than killing him. In my humble opinion :D

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Two points to make...

 

1. The poll is biased. There's no option for "Encounters should be approachable through either method", indicating the intent is to avoid the middle ground and try to turn it into a "Black and White" question.

 

2. The intent appears to be to force a playstyle upon people instead of letting the Player play in the style he prefers. The ideal resolution is to let the Player decide how he wants to approach situations, this is intended to try and dictate non-combat playstyle.

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I must say that this was one of the reasons I love nwn hordes of the underdark!

 

SPOILER!

 

Being able to win the game without even fighting Mephy, and making him your slave forever is much more memorable than killing him. In my humble opinion :D

 

Indeed, in "Hordes of the Underdark" there was lots of quests that had lots of ramifications that could lead to so many different outcomes...

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What I like is where you have to beat some challenges using a combination of dialogue and combat skills - take Sion in KotOR 2, who you could weaken significantly in conversation (eroding his will, a serious problem for a Sith Lord more or less held together by it) during the fight, and could be difficult if not impossible to beat otherwise.

`This is just the beginning, Citizens! Today we have boiled a pot who's steam shall be seen across the entire galaxy. The Tea Must Flow, and it shall! The banner of the British Space Empire will be unfurled across a thousand worlds, carried forth by the citizens of Urn, and before them the Tea shall flow like a steaming brown river of shi-*cough*- shimmering moral fibre!` - God Emperor of Didcot by Toby Frost.

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Two points to make...

 

1. The poll is biased. There's no option for "Encounters should be approachable through either method", indicating the intent is to avoid the middle ground and try to turn it into a "Black and White" question.

 

2. The intent appears to be to force a playstyle upon people instead of letting the Player play in the style he prefers. The ideal resolution is to let the Player decide how he wants to approach situations, this is intended to try and dictate non-combat playstyle.

 

I think that the option "Yes, not all battles are won with blades and magic" already implies that both methods would be available but, in some situations one would be more effective than the other.

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Whatever your choice, this quest can end in a number of ways: If you attack and somehow succeed, or if you manage to pit them against each other such that they both die, you get to loot both of their hoards. If you successfully befriend one of them and kill the other, you are forced to share the loot with the dragon you sided with, but you also gain access to his lair, and unlock additional conversations with your new scaled friend. Regardless of what you choose, you end up with the artifact you were looking for.

 

The entire point is to be able to solve the quest in multiple ways, resulting in different outcomes which rewards your play style differently. Basically, you can chose to do the quest later (grind levels and use tactics), but you are also able to complete it much, much earlier by being clever (with a different outcome). The idea is to reward players who think outside of the box while still allowing those who want a tough boss fight to have just that. So yes, the scenario could be designed in such a way as to encourage one set of solutions (in this case, not rushing into battle head first), but choosing to deal with the situation differently shouldn't make you feel as if you broke the quest, or that you somehow did something you weren't supposed to (in this case, winning by pure strength and combat skills still solves the quest).

 

Normally, the only way to solve a tough battle is to fight it head on until you succeed. The purpose of the poll was to see how many people would like to be able to solve impending battles in a more clever way. Perhaps by avoiding it entirely, or by turning the odds in your favour through a series of events, triggered by the player.

 

I don't think that the non-combat option should necessarily let you succeed earlier. For example, I would imaging persuading dragons would be difficult. I agree that it probably would not be as difficult as killing them.

 

With your scenario, I would add an additional outcome. The dragons realize what you are trying to do and kill you instead.

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Two points to make...

 

1. The poll is biased. There's no option for "Encounters should be approachable through either method", indicating the intent is to avoid the middle ground and try to turn it into a "Black and White" question.

 

2. The intent appears to be to force a playstyle upon people instead of letting the Player play in the style he prefers. The ideal resolution is to let the Player decide how he wants to approach situations, this is intended to try and dictate non-combat playstyle.

 

I think that the option "Yes, not all battles are won with blades and magic" already implies that both methods would be available but, in some situations one would be more effective than the other.

 

Indeed. I mean, sure, there could be encounters where you either have to be clever about it, or flee, because you for some reason are inadequately equipped to win in a straight fight. Although situations where fighting isn't an option at all could easily become frustrating and boring if not done right. Especially in subsequent playthroughs.

 

 

The entire point is to be able to solve the quest in multiple ways, resulting in different outcomes which rewards your play style differently. Basically, you can chose to do the quest later (grind levels and use tactics), but you are also able to complete it much, much earlier by being clever (with a different outcome). The idea is to reward players who think outside of the box while still allowing those who want a tough boss fight to have just that. So yes, the scenario could be designed in such a way as to encourage one set of solutions (in this case, not rushing into battle head first), but choosing to deal with the situation differently shouldn't make you feel as if you broke the quest, or that you somehow did something you weren't supposed to (in this case, winning by pure strength and combat skills still solves the quest).

 

Normally, the only way to solve a tough battle is to fight it head on until you succeed. The purpose of the poll was to see how many people would like to be able to solve impending battles in a more clever way. Perhaps by avoiding it entirely, or by turning the odds in your favour through a series of events, triggered by the player.

 

I don't think that the non-combat option should necessarily let you succeed earlier. For example, I would imaging persuading dragons would be difficult. I agree that it probably would not be as difficult as killing them.

 

With your scenario, I would add an additional outcome. The dragons realize what you are trying to do and kill you instead.

Sure, the scenario is rather bare bones. Succeeding or failing to persuade or deceive would depend on your character's level and other factors (reputation? Charisma? Maybe how you respond if "caught", etc.)

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