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This isn't a major problem, but it is one that sometimes kind of bothers me when I look at the NPCs working with my character in a game. Often I don't think their level of power makes very much sense.

 

So, in Baldur's Gate 2, you have party members from BG, who should be as powerful as you. You have a few local heroes/mercenaries who have proven their worth through their great struggles. Then you have characters like Aerie and Nalia, who should not even be anywhere close to your power. Aerie is just a former circus slave with a bit of teaching in clerical arts and magic, but who has never adventured. Nalia is just another slumming noble. Neither character should be even close to the strength of the hero of Baldur's Gate, even if you fudge it.

 

Another example is Anders in DA2. Anders was a party member of the hero of DAO in a quest that happened after that hero killed the archdemon, presumably one of the most powerful creatures in the world; defeated Loghain, one of the most powerful warriors in Fereldan; and possibly defeated Flemith, a legendary witch, so Anders should be about as powerful as needed to do these things. Even more so, he's merged with a spirit who is about as powerful as all of these things. Now remember, that Connor, a barely trained apostate who became an abomination due to a much weaker spirit than Justice was able to siege and possibly destroy Redcliffe. Combining Anders with Justice should result in an abomination able to perhaps level cities or something like that, one of the most powerful beings in the DA universe, not a being that has much to really fear involving templars, certainly not one with a lot to gain from your barely tested hero.

 

And again, ME1 has the same issue with Liara. Your character is one of the best commandos in the galaxy at the start of the game, that's why he/she's joining the most elite commando squad in the galaxy, the Spectres. Ashley, a random grunt found on a backwater planet, is stretching things to have as a companion, however Liara, a scientist without any significant martial background is really stretching it to the point of question. Shepard, along with all other members of his team, have had to push themselves to the limits to get the experience they have, and despite being at the top, have gained more practice in recent events as well. Then they're joined by Liara who has no reason to really be at the top, and especially not the top of the top, and yet she can jump in and carry her weight.

 

Once again, this isn't a game-breaker to me. I'll live on, even if my party is comprised of novices who can somehow jump into the action against god-slaying abominations. Sometimes some fudging is even for the best. It does bother me though to have this inconsistency.

Edited by gglorious
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Character power levels in virtually all cRPG make absolutely no sense at all. They rise from near peasant status up to some of the most powerful figures in all the land within the effective time span of a few short months. I usually just accept it as a core element of the genre.

Edited by rjshae

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Character power levels in virtually all cRPG make absolutely no sense at all. They rise from near peasant status up to some of the most powerful figures in all the land within the effective time span of a few short months. I usually just accept it as a core element of the genre.

I'm not opposing the leveling up. I'm opposing the character background inconsistency.

 

I'm fine with rapid leveling to glory. I'm not as fine with a novice joining an elite team and carrying their own weight or an expert joining a novice team and being just as incompetent. The problem is internal consistency, and rising to power quickly isn't internally inconsistent, but Anders/Justice being so weak, and Liara being so strong are inconsistent.

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Hit points, weapon damage, fixed stat for all characters, fixed number of skill points per level are only some of the other illustrious examples of such inconsistencies. So I would say that uniform character levels aren't really a good place to start.

 

What I would say is leave mechanics out of it as much as possible. I don't want "consistency" interfering with my choice of companions.

Edited by Heresiarch
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I think in terms of most character you mention here I don't think it especially matters - you can't presume to know the intimate life story of ever character you meet and the degree to which they are trained, Nalia for instance might have had loads of tutors bought in to get her doing magic. Similarly, Ashley may be a random grunt, but theres nothing stopping her being in the 5% best of random grunts, after all, she'd survived a hard combat situation longer than everyone else on the planet... There's also the possibility that because the protagonist is such a natural at killing things, people around them learn at an accelerated pace from watching you at work.

 

The one I will agree with you on is Anders, generally speaking the whole RPG mechanic of "theoretically godlike, joins your team, becomes an average member" mechanic does break the suspension of belief a little. Perhaps a better approach would be to leave them all powerful but give them some enormous glaring weakness to counterbalance? Or just not include them at all.

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Character power levels in virtually all cRPG make absolutely no sense at all. They rise from near peasant status up to some of the most powerful figures in all the land within the effective time span of a few short months. I usually just accept it as a core element of the genre.

I'm not opposing the leveling up. I'm opposing the character background inconsistency.

 

I'm fine with rapid leveling to glory. I'm not as fine with a novice joining an elite team and carrying their own weight or an expert joining a novice team and being just as incompetent. The problem is internal consistency, and rising to power quickly isn't internally inconsistent, but Anders/Justice being so weak, and Liara being so strong are inconsistent.

 

If background is what matters then what's the questing and experience for? Shouldn't it just be a tactical game with unchanging characters who start with a pre-defined set of unchanging skills and stats, then?

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The problem I see with this is that you either have to restrict the developers to create characters with fairly even backgrounds, which in turn can lead to uniform characters or they would have to create completely useless/overpowered characters. If Nalia really was that bad, how many people would take her? If Anders really was that OP, would he be fun to have in the party when he completely overshadow and outdoes everyone else? The majority would probably answer "no" to both questions.

 

If we take this approach then the player in BG should also be completely useless compared to Khalid and Jahiera (and most other characters for that matter). They have experience (years worth in some cases), the player just has a bit of training. That could easily lead to a seriously boring game if the protagonist basically is junk.

 

It is fine to create a realistic game and I agree that as far as possible it should be realistic. However if realism gets to the point where it breaks gameplay or makes the game bland/boring, the devs have made a mistake.

If the characters in BG/DA/ME should be balanced according to this I would say they should have their background made to fit this, not made completely useless/OP. That however might in some cases be too restrictive for storytelling/gameplay.

Edited by Nerei
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Companions should abide by the same rules that characters from the Adventurer's Hall go by. They shouldn't have weirdly high skills or attributes, and no shpeshul personal equipment (like Edwin's Amulet in BG2). Don't punish the player for creating his own party.

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I am not saying "Anders should join your party and be godlike". I'm simply saying that in as much as a character has a background, it would be better for it to make sense. I'm not saying "realism should trump gameplay". I'm not even really that mad about Anders being a party member, he would just be better if he made more sense.

 

Secondly, these consistencies "inconsistencies", aren't.

Hit points, weapon damage, fixed stat for all characters, fixed number of skill points per level are only some of the other illustrious examples of such inconsistencies. So I would say that uniform character levels aren't really a good place to start.

Aren't actually inconsistent AT ALL. They may not fit reality, but they are insanely consistent within the game. I'm fine with a world with it's own internal logic.

 

What I would say is leave mechanics out of it as much as possible. I don't want "consistency" interfering with my choice of companions.

I'm not talking about mechanics, I'm talking about story. A character's supposed background means nothing in terms of the mechanics. It is very relevant to the story.

 

 

I think in terms of most character you mention here I don't think it especially matters - you can't presume to know the intimate life story of ever character you meet and the degree to which they are trained, Nalia for instance might have had loads of tutors bought in to get her doing magic.

I'm not presuming very much. Even if you can justify Nalia(which I am not granting because the anti-magic Amnish nobility aren't going to train heavily in magic), it still won't really solve the problem in all cases.

 

Similarly, Ashley may be a random grunt, but theres nothing stopping her being in the 5% best of random grunts, after all, she'd survived a hard combat situation longer than everyone else on the planet...

Oh, she definitely is in the top 5%, it's just that Shepard is in the top .01% of all soldiers(or even higher), even admired by Miranda as being a super-soldier, and if you know your statistics that means that the difference in ability between just the top 5% and the top .01% is enormous, it's a matter of a few standard deviations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_deviation

 

That being said, you picked the easier to justify cases while ignoring the harder ones. So, let's take Aerie. We know Aerie's background, she's a former circus slave who was taught magic and clerical powers by Quayle. Quayle is not as powerful as Aerie though, and the amount of training time he could have used would have been very limited as Quayle had to be VERY available to travel with you for BG(He'll pretend he's going the same direction as you regardless of what direction you say you're going, which he wouldn't if he had a circus apprentice already). She'd also have circus duties which wouldn't allow for the same intense training that your PC is getting, even if she was learning at an accelerated rate. Your PC is risking his/her life on a daily basis and training until outright exhaustion, and your PC is usually also probably the fastest possible learner.

 

There's also the possibility that because the protagonist is such a natural at killing things, people around them learn at an accelerated pace from watching you at work.

I'm not going to say that's impossible, but I do think it's a highly questionable answer.

 

 

The one I will agree with you on is Anders, generally speaking the whole RPG mechanic of "theoretically godlike, joins your team, becomes an average member" mechanic does break the suspension of belief a little. Perhaps a better approach would be to leave them all powerful but give them some enormous glaring weakness to counterbalance? Or just not include them at all.

My answer would really be not to include them and instead write a character that makes more sense. The writers could presumably write any character. The glaring weakness issue would cause more problems than it solves.

 

Also, I am not trying to be super-duper-nitpicky, it's just a question of suspension of belief. By picking out certain party members, I'm acknowledging the rest isn't a problem. So, ME2 did this well, ME3 did this well, BG did reasonably well, I can accept DAO, etc, etc. This is not a game-breaking thing, just something it would be nice to take into account. If your party is one of novices, try to make sure the party members that join are novices. If they're elite veterans, make sure that the characters that join are elite veterans.

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Hit points, weapon damage, fixed stat for all characters, fixed number of skill points per level are only some of the other illustrious examples of such inconsistencies. So I would say that uniform character levels aren't really a good place to start.

Aren't actually inconsistent AT ALL. They may not fit reality, but they are insanely consistent within the game. I'm fine with a world with it's own internal logic.

Well, no?

 

If you had a smart and charming character to start with and he became a warrior and trained a lot, surely he'll have more attribute points overall, than a very smart mage, who has absolutely no incentive to train his physical abilities? No consistency there.

 

Hit points? You were a weakling and couldn't take a blow to the head and five levels later you can take a dozen of them without paying any attention. What sort of internal logic dictates that leveling up transforms your skull to a piece of adamantine?

 

Sure it is game mechanics, so it inviolable. But same goes for uniform power, if some party members are weaker than others by design, why would you ever pick them, again?

Edited by Heresiarch
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Makes me think of KOTOR1. Power level was about right there... and thus, all party members not Jedi generally where useless.

KOTOR2 fixed that by making non-Jedi as powerful as Jedi (or just plain Jedi), except for the droids. T3 has super overpowered gear to compensate.

 

So yeah, I think it shouldn't be taken into account. Leave story and character power seperate.

^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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