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On combat - item swapping and armor deterioration


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Having read update #39 and several other topics on combat, I have a few concerns that have grown on me.

 

1) The very combat experience itself

 

Will there be lots of glances and chipping away at opponents in PE? And in what regard is that an improvement from all the misses in BG/IWD/NWN1-2?

It seems like it, and perhaps this isn't rectified by the systems proposed. In NWN2, especially at higher levels, you could get into long, long fights where neither you nor the opponent(s) managed to finsih the other one off. Especially cleric builds I rolled could get into almost funny situations. Do we want re-runs of that kind of combat?

 

And another thing that sorta confuses me: Surely, the combat experience must almost per definition become something very similar to turn-based and with lots of pauses being activated. I mean, all the party-based RPGs just mentioned, which PE builds upon (that's why many of us are excited, after all), has combat that plays out that way. So. basically, if you opt to have a party you will have a six-, five-,  four-, or whatever-headed chimera with quite different heads, a hydra that has all sorts of combat abilities, spells and defenses at its disposal, so combat will be a matter of approaching the enemies with your heads positioned wisely and in a classic manner: tank pawns, protecting vulnerable casters and intermediary clerics and thieves doing their bits of high one-on-one damage or some CC or healing. I have no trouble this being so, but several comments seem to be discussing combat with single-player RPGs in mind, and I'm not sure how much their combat systems apply here, that's all.

 

2) Item swapping becoming the name of the game

 

Many RPGs allow for a lot of item swapping during encounters and combat. Often it's rather absurd. Then again, so are the overly generous inventories with loads of potions and what not expendables, extra weapons and extra armour. Often we do get to change them in-combat! Then soon there will appear tactics that seem very far off from the setting of the game: In Diablo 3, people swapped out all armour for Magic Find and Gold Find armour in order to cash in from dying opponents. In my world, item swapping should be rare and have reasons that make you break out from the character you've made. Your barbarian with her beloved double axe will drop it and use a silver dagger when confronted with a pack of werewolves. It shouldn't be part of some mini-game of combat floating on top of the adventurous characters in the encounter. Ideally, combat should feel in tune with your party and the characters various roles in it. The combat system should never be more central than the pc and her/his companions. That is one reason why Diablo 3 feels so arcade-gamey - it is in fact no RPG at all. And for PE I'm dying for a RPG! :)

 

My sketch of some sort of solution:

-Let stamina exhaust your characters and the enenmies after a few "rounds" in combat, making them weaker, tired and ready for painful mistakes or just flight

-Let the first couple of rounds of hits take its toll on armour, and that a lot! Like Runequest, give the various body-protecting parts of armour (natural and artifical armour) appropriate absorption values, and when these values are superceded, let huge damage begin to roll in. Bludgeoning and slashing attacks that hit should wear armour down fast (and after an encounter you need to patch armour up - there canl be skills and perks for this), while piercing as a damage type doesn't as much. Same goes for elemental damage and energy damage of certain kinds. Other attacks simply by-pass armour completely

 

The advantages are several:

-no more deadlock melee

- faster and more urgent combat

- decently deep tactics such as positioning and choices of spells really matter, the first "rounds" will be critical

- and if there will be some kind of "initiative", encounter speed, or at least different speeds of weapons and spells, the tactics will grow even more complex

-few opportunities for potion swigging and lame item swapping

 

The drawbacks:

-This will only work if pause is used frequently and for each character's move

-There won't be an arcade game flow to melee like say Diablo 3, more something like VATS in FNV and Runequest's system of armour absorption, weapon type choices and aiming at body parts.

 

This is just me thinking aloud, and the ideas haven't really coagulated yet. Do you share my concerns? And what would your solutions be to avoid combat that just seems to be swish-swashing and going on forever, and where item swapping and inventory rummaging occur on a far too regular basis?

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*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Like the idea, i've always felt that too much weapon swapping mid melee undermined certain characters, for instance a heavily armed and armoured veteran fighter might realistically carry a half dozen weapons on his person, from brass knuckles to a longsword, and change as the moment dictates. However that barbarian or ranger may not have the benefit of training with all those items, or wish to enter combat without their sacred weapon, and thus they're rendered somewhat ineffectual.

 

I'm hoping that combat is short, dirty and nasty as you suggest, with the health mechanic being able to be targeted directly by various means. So that even the toughest bag of hit points must be wary of certain weapons, poisons, spells, critical hits, backstabs and prone/sleeping states. If well prepared and well armed, thanks to thorough scouting, divination or what have you, I wish to carve through all but the toughest of enemies sharply. Not without the chance of harm or reversals however. If in the position of being ambushed rather than the ambusher, then i'd ideally wish to be just as vulnerable.

 

Making armour more vulnerable, and subject to damage over time is something i'd love, with a sliding scale of effectiveness that necessitated the attention of a skilled armourer or maybe a powerful spell of mending by a mage. Gives combat a further cost and makes us all the more wary.

 

Thinking about it could we in a pinch also use the armoured rim or boss of a shield to make bludgeoning strikes? Might be a nice little desperate gambit by the fighter who finds his sword is just not cutting the mustard.

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I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

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I wouldn't want combat to be so short that tactics don't matter; heck, they could just run a RNG to determine the outcome of an encounter... and where's the fun in that? Combat roughly comparable to what we had in the IE games would be fine for me. Some battles will be short; others should be longer and tax the party to the limit.

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I do not want to see armor deterioration of any kind.  I hate games where you have to repair your gear.  It's like paying rent.  I already paid real money to buy the game, now I have to pay game-money to repair my gear and continue playing.  It may be more realistic, but this is a game, reality sucks.  As for weapon swapping, how about we take a lesson from Icewind Dale II.  You have four weapon sets and you can switch between them in combat.  Those are the only weapons you can access in a fight.  Maybe fighters and similar classes have more weapon sets than others.  I kinda like the "top of the pack" idea for gear storing and access, but what about bags of holding?  You can immediately grab any item you're thinking about as long as you know it's in there (at least that's how we handled them in my DnD games).  I don't think there should be any armor swapping in combat, baldur's gate had that right, but rings and belts and such should be swappable.  No boot-swapping, that would be dumb.  WHat about gear summoning like in Oblivion.  You could create a spell to summon a full set of armor and a weapon.  I would love to see a spell creating system in PE, at least in some small way.  Like maybe just altering existing spells, like making a fireball deal cold damage, or making it a touch spell, or have it centered on the caster without hurting him, stuff like that.  And lastly, maybe it's just me, but I care A LOT about the look of a game.  I want cool combat animations, even coller animations for critical hits (like in TOEE)  I want customizable gear like you could make with the Neverwinter Nights toolset.  I want cool and unique animations for every power, special ability, and spell.  Maybe not unique animations for every single spell, but at least different ones for touch spells than ranged spells.  I want to see the caster shaking as the power rushes through him like Guild Wars, I want to see heads flying off like Vampire: Redemption.  I could keep going, but I think I've said more than enough. 

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I do not want to see armor deterioration of any kind.  I hate games where you have to repair your gear.  It's like paying rent.  I already paid real money to buy the game, now I have to pay game-money to repair my gear and continue playing.  It may be more realistic, but this is a game, reality sucks.  As for weapon swapping, how about we take a lesson from Icewind Dale II.  You have four weapon sets and you can switch between them in combat.  Those are the only weapons you can access in a fight.  Maybe fighters and similar classes have more weapon sets than others.  I kinda like the "top of the pack" idea for gear storing and access, but what about bags of holding?  You can immediately grab any item you're thinking about as long as you know it's in there (at least that's how we handled them in my DnD games).  I don't think there should be any armor swapping in combat, baldur's gate had that right, but rings and belts and such should be swappable.  No boot-swapping, that would be dumb.  WHat about gear summoning like in Oblivion.  You could create a spell to summon a full set of armor and a weapon.  I would love to see a spell creating system in PE, at least in some small way.  Like maybe just altering existing spells, like making a fireball deal cold damage, or making it a touch spell, or have it centered on the caster without hurting him, stuff like that.  And lastly, maybe it's just me, but I care A LOT about the look of a game.  I want cool combat animations, even coller animations for critical hits (like in TOEE)  I want customizable gear like you could make with the Neverwinter Nights toolset.  I want cool and unique animations for every power, special ability, and spell.  Maybe not unique animations for every single spell, but at least different ones for touch spells than ranged spells.  I want to see the caster shaking as the power rushes through him like Guild Wars, I want to see heads flying off like Vampire: Redemption.  I could keep going, but I think I've said more than enough. 

Ginsu23: Welcome to the forums! :)

As for repairing gear, I certainly see where you're coming from. I mean Diablo 3, for instance, had an awful item repair system that felt like regulatory taxes. A good repair system should'nt feel like a boring chore. If you've played Fallout New Vegas, you know that repairs can be something easy and intuitive (however, there you can do it in-combat, and that is perhaps my main point: you shouldn't be able to do extreme item swappings in the fray of battle). Your ideas of limitations to item swapping are good and reasonable: a few slots for weapon swapping (a few classes can have more weapons, wand or what not there. And I, too, really like the "top of the pack" idea. Armour swapping should simply be prohibited, and for me, that should include belts, but certain sashes could perhaps be swapped? And yea, some powerful spell could perhaps not only summon an armour, but equip it as well. Bags of holding are neat wonders I'd love to see make a come back. Nice thinking there.  I just fear that item swapping can become a major player in the very experience of combat, and that I think is over the top - the system eating up adventurous RPG melee. Finally, my basic idea is: Since stamina is in, and thus exhaustion, I think challenging combat doesn't have to be dummies smacking each other til some hp sum finally dropped to 0 after several minutes, and a key to that I think lies in the way we regard armour and damage tolerance. Just like the characters and the critters have stamina and get exhausted, so should armour, but never in a boring, too time-consuming and "Is this a job?"-kind of way.

 

And Rjshae: Too short combat would make for poor tactics, so yeah, it still has to tick quite a number of sec on the clock.

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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FNV's repair system was the definition of an obnoxious as **** in a "is this a job?" kind of way mechanic.

 

Just saying.

 

Hehe, and here I was thinking I've played most RPGs the last decades, and thought it was really sleek. I mean, you saw the degree of wear by number and by graphics (a bar). You basically took stuff and clicked twice and then you had repaired the item a bit. Rinse and repeat. It became second nature, and since you'll have to check the map, swap ammo and take some drugs or stimpaks now and then anyways, you are already there in the invo all the time. Heck, in my last playthru now I even gladly kill those repair peeps. I don't need to pay them anything, repairs work like a charm anyways. I think the Pipboy was user-friendly too, as I've posted a topic about earlier, one of the best in fact. But then again, I like those inventory lists as opposed to icon-based inventories. And I do realise that there are lots of people who simply hate repair systems altogether, and that's fine. It's not that I love them or anything. In this case, I want it in the opposite end of the business end of combat: armor deterioration. Hopefully, it could make combat interesting and more urgent.

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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You shouldn't be able to swap any items while locked in combat - not even items in quickslots - not without opening yourself to an enemy attack.

The enemy isn't going to polietly wait while you sheat your sword and whip out your mace.

 

If you want to switch weapon safely, you have to disengage first.

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If you want to swap weapons or drink a potion during battle, you should just "lose a turn", so you're taking a gamble the enemy won't hit you.

 

I think this is already true for potions, because I've been hit whilst quaffing a healing potion before.

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Armor and weapon wear probably works better in single-character systems; particularly Dungeon Crawls and Sandbox games. Regular maintenance of gear is probably something that belongs in the Expert mode. Otherwise it may get tiresome for more casual players.

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Agree with TrashMan....hopefully they will implement a disengage/ attack of opportunity system for swapping and potion chugging (if there is any).  Although this opens the door to the mechanics of using "soul powers" while in combat and any penalties that might be levied for such actions.

 

As for armor damage, if there is any, it should be specifically related to spells or potions (like Acid Fog, etc.) that targets armor and reduces quality to lower resistance thresholds.  This sort of damage should either be non-reparable or only via blacksmith in town/ stronghold.

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Personally i'm hoping there are no healing potions, ridiculous concept that should have been jettisoned a long time ago. I agree that item degradation should probably be a choice in expert mode, it seems to hinder a lot of the more "casual" crowds enjoyment.

Edited by Nonek

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Okay, so to sum up:

-We seem to be in agreement that frequent item swapping with no penalties is not desirable at all

-Perhaps item swapping should be rare, and no MMO-switching systems appears to be welcome

-Armour deterioration/wear is not a very popular idea

 

That leaves one issue for me, though: How to avoid Punch and Judy fests that never seem to end?

This is not me saying I want melee to be over after a few hits, it's me saying I'd love to see a clever system where tactics count so much that after awhile you begin to take critical damage fast, or perhaps bleeding accelerates, fire takes hold, electrocution sets in, etc.

 

EDIT: I just saw Nunek's post: If healing potions are in, they should be very/extremely rare and really get you up and running again (which sounds a bit like an ability that is planned for PE's paladin). If you find a potion you would be wise to hold on to it and give it to a character that might have good use for it when caught between a rock and a hard place.

Although my idea in this thread, if armor deterioration is perceived as boring and repairs a chore, OEI is better off scrapping it for all difficulty levels. I'd much rather have a good combat system with damage and armour worked out to the very best of systems.

Edited by IndiraLightfoot

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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With regards to healing potions; let's remember that there are 2 types of damage and if there are any potions, they will only effect stamina.  I think that we will likely have the option to heal stamina through our "soul powers"  as certain classes develop.  Some amount of potions might still be warranted, but it should be a dangerous proposition to chug one in combat  (or impossible without disengaging).  

 

With regard to combat becoming a whittling exercise;  I have a feeling that this will have a lot to do with gameplay balance and design...

 

At low levels, armor types, available feats/ powers and hit points will be balanced for fairly straightforward combat; in other words, at levels 1-3 you're not likely to face an enemy that is highly resistant to certain types of damage.  At higher levels, the types of damage as modified by magic, feats, and powers will allow for greater tactical flexibility e.g., we may develop a power that allows us to convert slashing damage into crushing damage (or vice versa).  It may also be possible to enchant weapons to deliver more than one type of damage.     there may also be spells that corrupt armor or lower certain types of damage resistance, etc.  

 

Either way, I think that this is a systemic issue and one has to consider the myriad combinations the developers can come with in a system like this to make combat fun vs tedious.

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Good points, Curryinahurry!

 

For low levels, I suspect your right: As long as we don't stand there fanning a rat with a dagger of ours (my latest start at BGEE, it took ages to make a bleedin rat go belly-up), I'm content.

For intermediate levels and higher: It will be the true test of the system. I mean in BG2, if you did not have a magic user with you that shielded against certain spells or removed barriers, you were almost done for. While fun in the beginning, it soon forced you into make a certain party. With 3rd ed D&D, and especially 3.5, much of that was gone. I could make a myriad of different characters valid beyond level 20, and it was great fun. I loved it! I'm talking here about computer-adapted 3.5 D&D, but that goes without saying. One of the few things that were bad was the whittling away for minutes on end, and somehow I think the key could lie in the stamina factor or perhaps some dire effects following crits, perhaps?

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Might be an interesting idea to have some nonmagical items, especially shields, get damaged or even destroyed as a result of critical hits, but probably not so fun gameplaywise.

It was really annoying having your weapon turn to scrap in Baldur's Gate.
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I have no problem with item degradation, as long as the notion of durability is reasonable. I played a little of Dead Island recently, and in that game you'd pick up a weapon and I swear after killing 6-10 zombies, it was almost broken. Coupled with a very tiny backpack so you were hard pressed to keep enough spares on hand, that was taking it a bit far, imo. It's not that one couldn't deal with it, but it was extremely annoying and doesn't add anything to the gameplay but irritation.

 

Item-swapping - don't really care. That's one of those things that if I feel like swapping weapons cheapens my combat, I just don't swap weapons, even if I can.

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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Weapon swapping doesn't bother me, but it should cost you an attack.  Item degradation I can live without.  I don't see the appeal of having ones shield come apart when you're off in the hinterlands and are thus forced to do without it or trudge back to town so an armorer can fix it.  *yawn*  Thanks, but no thanks, to item degradation.

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I keep thinking that there must be some way to manage all of the logistics and upkeep/maintenance of the party without it becoming onerous.

 

Your typical adventuring party is going to be taking along a bunch of gear and supplies for each expedition, as well as possibly collecting low-value loot. In an IE game, much of that was abstracted, but what if there was some way to handle it through a higher-level logistics interface? For example: you go into a town, search out vendors who will contract with you to sell supplies of various general type, quality, weight and lifetime. That could consist of three or four types of camp supplies, and those in turn would provide various benefits at your camp. Those show up in your logistics interface as a stack of packages, with columns for each type and color codes for the quality.

 

Maybe low quality armory repair gear gives a slight (~5%) benefit to simple weapon and armor performance, which can then be lost through combat (until you return to camp) as a random outcome. The higher quality gear gives a benefit to increasingly better weapons and armor; while the benefit lasts longer on the lower quality gear. Other gear can give improvements to recovery from poison/disease, endurance of the elements, travel rate, and so forth.

 

If nothing else, it would give you a reason to talk to different vendors besides the armor/weaponsmiths. :)

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Weapon Swapping:

 

As long as it's a properly weighty choice (as many have suggested/addressed already), I don't see it as a problem. I think if something's not actively "locked in combat" with you at the time, you should be able to dance around the battlefield, continuously sheathing one weapon and unsheating/drawing another, if you'd like. If an enemy starts charging a Ranger, who's firing his bow at it, I don't see the need to penalize him for drawing his longsword before/as it reaches him. But, it should be a problem if you swap whilst engaged by a foe. Whether it's the extra attacks damage due to the time it takes you to swap weapons, or additional bonuses to the enemy's attack(s) during the weapon swap... doesn't matter to me. That's getting back into the realm of balancing, rather than actual system design.

 

Equipment Degradation:

 

I think the problem isn't actually inherent to the existence of any form of durability system. I think it's that the realism achieved by the state of your equipment being permanent (never improving until you manually fix it, but always declining with every added combat engagement) is outweighed by the amount of work the player puts in.

 

I mean, you first either have to spend your time and effort (with combat, lockpicking/skill-builds, exploration, gathering enough money/selling enough loot for money, etc.) just to obtain necessary equipment. Then, your stuff inevitably gets damaged mid-combat, and you suffer the penalties there. THEN, you have to go all the way back to a repair person (sometimes when you could've otherwise pressed on) AND pay money to have your stuff repaired, or to purchase repair supplies for the road again.

 

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the spetrum, what's the incentive for doing all this? Being able to actually progress and play the game. One side of that scale's a bit heavy, methinks.

 

The possible solution? Abstract the degradation a bit so that it's a temporary effect, similar to (but not quite the same thing as) a typical de-buff in many RPGs. AND, perhaps, allow for some control over the likelihood or frequency of degradation. A perfect example would be with the weapon types. Maybe, since crushing is so effective against heavy, plate armor, a maul would be the only thing with a chance of damaging the armor itself. And maybe, if a sword is least effective against heavy, plate armor, using a sword against plate would have a chance to damage the sword (Hey! We're creating synergy between degradation AND weapon-swapping! 8D).

 

Heh. Either way, going along with their per-rest/per-encounter system for many durations/limitations for things, at the very LEAST I'd say your stuff should "automagically" get repaired when you rest (an abstraction of the assumption that if you're a seasoned warrior who relies on his gear all the time, you know how to repair it when you get some down time and/or the assumption that you're going to go somewhere to get it repaired anyway.) Another potential layer to such a system would be actual honing/improvements (re-temporing/forging/sharpening/armor reinforcements) that could be optionally purchased and applied to equipment to reduce the likelihood of even short-term armor/weapon durability penalties.

 

Part of that just comes back down to balancing, of course. Okay, they're temporary now, and don't just happen inevitably when you get damaged or attack things (only certain weapon/armor combos). Should you have to put up with them for multiple combat encounters (until next rest area)? Or should they go away at the end of the encounter? Etc.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I have no problem with item degradation, as long as the notion of durability is reasonable. I played a little of Dead Island recently, and in that game you'd pick up a weapon and I swear after killing 6-10 zombies, it was almost broken. Coupled with a very tiny backpack so you were hard pressed to keep enough spares on hand, that was taking it a bit far, imo. It's not that one couldn't deal with it, but it was extremely annoying and doesn't add anything to the gameplay but irritation.

 

Item-swapping - don't really care. That's one of those things that if I feel like swapping weapons cheapens my combat, I just don't swap weapons, even if I can.

LadyCrimson, like several others in this thread, you emphasize the risk of armor deterioration getting annoying, and you also underline the same annoyance that comes with a tiny inventory. I humbly acknowledge that it would probably annoy more than it would make for enjoyable gameplay, which always must come first, me reckon. The only way to have item degradation in is in an abstract and temprorary format that only punishes you while in combat. Finally, yea, I do what you do in other games with weapon swapping. If it doesn't feel right, I just refrain from doing it.

 

 

Weapon swapping doesn't bother me, but it should cost you an attack.  Item degradation I can live without.  I don't see the appeal of having ones shield come apart when you're off in the hinterlands and are thus forced to do without it or trudge back to town so an armorer can fix it.  *yawn*  Thanks, but no thanks, to item degradation.

Hehe, Tsuga, I really do think you speak for the majority here!  :)  (I almost feel like a RPG masochist, lol)

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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