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Consumables as ability modifiers rather than one-off effect items

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I've been on the fence for a while about how I feel about consumables in games. There's been some debate about potions which I mostly agreed with: Either you have an overpowered effect and the consumables become game breaking, or they fulfil a use which you can otherwise get using abilities of your characters, in which case they get unused.

Consumables tend to be wasted if the intended effect is either useless, underpowered, or not applicable; or if combat is likely to resolve successfully without the use of consumables.

 

Many consumables will either be too specific in application to be used broadly, or the intended effect is not certain to be worthwhile using a one-off.

 

So here's an idea (but feel free to post your own):

How about the consumables in this game, rather than having their own effects, boost the effects of specific abilities you have. Soul abilities affected by food or potions for instance, while class tools affect (class)skills.

 

And I'm not talking about just buffing the effect, but possibly changing it.

 

For example: say a "Day potion" will have different effect if you consume it for your defensive fighter, who's engagement ability now also deals damage over time to undead, your offensive fighter whose attack target can no longer use stealth, or your rogue whose attack temporarily blinds his target, if his target was in the dark.

 

A player would be able to tell which abilities could be affected by the consumable using a colour scheme for skills/abilities and potions. For instance a purple coloured potion can affect any ability which has a purple icon.

 

There'd be broader use for consumables and they'd be tactically interesting because of the different effects on different class builds.

Consumables which boost or alter abilities which you already possess rather than give you something completely new and separate. Something which has nothing to do with your playstyle. (Currently consumables will always have only one type of use)

 

thoughts?

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I likes. ^_^

 

I'd just like to pitch this into the mix:

 

Starting back at standard potions as a basis, what if they actually shifted your capabilities rather than just boosting a single thing? I mean, a Potion of Extra Armor is NEVER a bad thing. The only bad thing is that you don't have infinite potions, basically. So, what if it magically boosted your armor while lowering your magic resistance? Or if a Potion of Truesight boosted your accuracy while lowering your attack speed?

 

It would almost be like temporary modals. Converting one thing into another. This way, it's not ALWAYS a good thing. More armor is good, but less magic resistance is not good, especially in a fight with magicky folk. Of course, that potion could STILL be useful, in such a fight, so long as there was at least one combatant against which extra armor would be useful, and you could keep the magicky folk distracted with other targets to keep their fire off the potion-user.

 

*shrug*

 

I like how well this coincides with the recent suggestion in the Wands and Scrolls thread, :)

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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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yeah, effect trade-offs could be an interesting idea, although it would make consumables more situational again.

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True. Not necessarily a bad thing, though. Even if it doesn't handle all facets of consumables, it would, at the very least, be quite nice to have a reason to use them other than "I happen to possess potions, and a bonus would be better than no bonus right now." I mean, there're already different circumstances that affect just how effective the bonus will be, but it's always a bonus.

 

Use the wrong weapon type against the wrong armor type, and it loses effectiveness, rather than just gaining less effectiveness. So, there are times when it's actually a BAD idea to attack with a sword, rather than just "not quite as good of an idea to attack with a sword." Sort of. I really should think of a better example, but they're all escaping me at the moment.

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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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given that having a different effect for each class means that in effect you have 11 different potions that need to be made and balanced at each place you put them, as well as any time after, as well as combinations of different class/potion combos, the dev resources to pull this off and have lots of potions is pretty high.  if you don't have lots of potions then you don't have to worry as much about them being overpowered.  in BG a healing potion costs the same as chainmail armour, at low levels the chainmail is a better investment if you are fighting conventional enemies, but the potion is good for unconventional enemies, though you will probably will need more than 1.

 

so really the issue is the cost, yet in games like diablo where they are so cheap you drink health potions instead of water they become mundane and worse than boring (annoying sense you really need an IV strapped to you with the stuff so you don't have to keep spamming the same key over and over).  in BG they are weighted so that you should hold on to them for specific tough encounters.  in pathfinder PnP you don't get to keep them, either use them in the session or not at all (and no selling them for more money either).  it would seem you are right in that consumables are problematic, i really should offer a solution after pointing out the faults with yours, but i just don't know of any that are easy to implement, aside from cutting consumables entirely from the game, which isn't exactly a good solution.

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given that having a different effect for each class means that in effect you have 11 different potions that need to be made and balanced at each place you put them, as well as any time after, as well as combinations of different class/potion combos, the dev resources to pull this off and have lots of potions is pretty high.  if you don't have lots of potions then you don't have to worry as much about them being overpowered.  in BG a healing potion costs the same as chainmail armour, at low levels the chainmail is a better investment if you are fighting conventional enemies, but the potion is good for unconventional enemies, though you will probably will need more than 1.

Maybe if you had something like a stat effect difference between classes, then that potion could simply affect that stat, which already generates different specific effects for different characters? Of course, that would mean you're limited to just stat-affecting potions (for the desired affect), which isn't exactly an appealing limitation.

 

I dunno... I kind of think a redesign on the typical potions thing would be good. What if, instead of potions, you still had consumables, but they were simply toggled things? So, instead of a potion that boosts your attack speed for 20 seconds, you could have some trinket or jewel or something that you could activate to boost your attack speed, then deactivate after so many seconds (probably some sort of minimum... maybe 3 or 5 seconds or something). But, that way, you've still got 15 seconds of use left in it, whenever you'd like to activate it again. OR, you can just use the whole 20 seconds in one go (just like a potion), if you need to.

 

Also, while the expense balancing of potions is good for some factors (a la BG), the problem I run into with that is that it both amplifies my "Hmmm... maybe I should wait to use this when I REALLLY need it" sense of caution, AND encourages me to utilize potions mainly to sell rather than to actually drink. Maybe that's just me, though.

 

There's just something about the valuableness-to-finiteness/temporariness ratio that makes potions kinda fit in weirdly in a CRPG. And I'm not sure exactly how to address that.

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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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My main beef with consumables in the IE games and their successors is that they're either unnecessary or a chore. You only actually need them if you're intentionally gimping your party -- for example, playing as a rogue or bard, or without a cleric or druid. The upshot is that I'm just hauling around a massive load of scrolls, potions, and wands "just in case" and never end up using them, or alternatively just treat them as vendor trash.

 

Oh, and, arrows. Isn't it so much fun to run out at the wrong time because you forgot to spend small change the last time you dropped by a shop?

 

To make consumables worthwhile, the game system has to design them in. They have to be an integral and critical part of the gameplay. It can most certainly be done – NetHack, for example, makes massive use of them. Trying to play without scrolls, potions, wands, or comestibles makes the game much, much harder, and a big part of the challenge is figuring out what each of the consumables do and finding or making the ones you want.

 

I thought Shadowrun Returns gets it almost right too -- fetishes and grenades make a really big difference and don't cost all that much. The trouble with that is, again, that the game is too damn easy. Why would I use an 800 nuyen fetish if I don't have to?

 

I like the Numenera system's approach of basically building the mechanics around single-use cyphers and limited-use artifacts, even if the carry limitations strike me as a bit heavy-handed -- surely there would have been better ways to stop players from hoarding them?

 

In other words, putting a lot of effort into consumables is, IMO, a bit of a waste of effort unless you change the gameplay simultaneously, so you really need them. It would be cool if P:E did this, but I kinda doubt it. Making consumables worthwhile means making the game hard enough that they matter, which would probably make way too many players ragequit when attempting to play the way they're used to in IE and NWN -- it would be a legitimate complaint too, as it would be a material departure from the "IE feel." Perhaps in one of the harder modes?

Edited by PrimeJunta
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I'm another that hoards potions for a rainy day (I expect I'll finish PE with 20 health-potions on each party member).

IF the rest+recover spells thing is limited though, we may end up needing to use more potions for healing.

I like the idea of potions being ability-modifiers - maybe a health-type potion could increase the potency of the cure-wounds spell.

As suggested though, it'd take a lot of potions to do that thoroughly for each class.

 

Perhaps generic potions of:

'extend ability time' (for time-limited abilities/spells)

'increase yield' (for damage abilities/spells)

'faster recovery' for cool-down spells.

 

It might help to include potion-usage in the tutorial section (be it in-game or separate) - put the player up against a tough group of foes and talk them through using potions to overcome the odds - gets the player into the mindset of using those potions rather than waiting.

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Always hoarding them, practically using none but health and mana potions, the others being too specific.

One NWN module actually sold health potions in 6-packs, which was neat but i digress.

 

Actually I have nothing to add on subject, but I thought to mention I hate how potions so often come in pint size.

I'd rather smaller light vials or bigger multi-use bottles, doesn't even make sense to gulp down a gallon of tiger-juice

and expect to be so very agile after that.

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Several great posts here on consumables! :)

 

If the potions are rare and non-situational, perhaps one could take the whole thing one step further:

Perhaps only a few classes, cultures and/or races can stomach certain kinds of potions (based on certain ingredients). In essence, only a few PCs can quash several kinds of potions, and some PCs can't even sip on any of them. I realize it would be a bit tricky, but it would make character creation even more interesting.

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I have mixed feelings about consumables, most of the time I end up never using them and packing them in my stock just in case. One cool and different way to do them for a change would be to make them unique so you can't get the same effect from anything else. Of course to make that even more fun, you should be able to craft them, let's think of them as a magic effect you need to prepare. Since there is a cost (ingredients) the effects should last longer than conventional spells. 

 

I think that if consumables exists, it should be something of it's own nature. As much different as Wizard magic is from Cleric. 

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Also, I don't know how to feel about boost ''effects'', I think it's a generic and dull aproach. What I like the most are special effects, becoming invisible, flying, shape changing.

 

A good example, you drink a potion of giant strenght, okay this may get in a few extra damage, but it also send your enemies flying a few feets in the air and fall on their back when you strike them even when they block.  THIS is a true effect, it's way more interesting than say, I can attack with more precision.  

 

A potion of clairvoyance might reveal the whole map, An elixir of love might make an NPC fall in love with you (of course if you can get them to drink it). A potion of eterealness might make you pass throught a wall. Again, there are endless possibilities. 

 

Sorry for the double post. I had to share.

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Several great posts here on consumables! :)

 

If the potions are rare and non-situational, perhaps one could take the whole thing one step further:

Perhaps only a few classes, cultures and/or races can stomach certain kinds of potions (based on certain ingredients). In essence, only a few PCs can quash several kinds of potions, and some PCs can't even sip on any of them. I realize it would be a bit tricky, but it would make character creation even more interesting.

I like playing with this idea. It could be a class or class specialisation. Perhaps getting accustomed to potions requires a character to also be able to handle his or her alcohol, finally a reason to get drunk in games! More booze, bigger potion 'acceptance'

 

Or perhaps all potions come with ill effects negated by specific class skills/abilities in the same vein. (now flowing with alcohol instead of blood)

Finally a reason for the dwarf racial stereotype of being mead/ale quaffers.

Anyway, that deals with potions, but not all consumables.

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Also, I don't know how to feel about boost ''effects'', I think it's a generic and dull aproach. What I like the most are special effects, becoming invisible, flying, shape changing.

 

A good example, you drink a potion of giant strenght, okay this may get in a few extra damage, but it also send your enemies flying a few feets in the air and fall on their back when you strike them even when they block.  THIS is a true effect, it's way more interesting than say, I can attack with more precision.  

 

A potion of clairvoyance might reveal the whole map, An elixir of love might make an NPC fall in love with you (of course if you can get them to drink it). A potion of eterealness might make you pass throught a wall. Again, there are endless possibilities. 

 

Sorry for the double post. I had to share.

specific effects for some consumables, making them unite limited-use items could be an interesting way for players to find creative solutions to some of their obstacles. I love the wall passing potion, for instance. Especially if it is rare. Do I keep it on me so I can walk out of prison, do I use it to break into a nobleman's house without taking the quest for the key, Do I get behind the barricade and position my character for better damage?

 

I think one of the problems with consumables is that you never know how common or rare they will be (at least until you've had one play-through)

So I like the idea of crafting your own.


Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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I think part of the problem with consumables might be the mystery of their rarity. You find a Potion of Invisibility, and you think "Hmm... what if I don't find another one of these the entire game?" So, then you keep running into situations when it might be useful, but thinking "I'd better wait to use it in a more dire situation."

 

Conveying their rarity, at least in the context of character knowledge, might be helpful, even if it doesn't solve everything. Just "common - frequently sold by apothecaries/carried by travelers," etc. So you don't have to guess the likelihood that more will be available, just by the potion's effect and monetary value.

 

Maybe there are some concoctions that are pretty much only brewed by goblins. Maybe no one even knows the recipe. That way, if you're running around in goblin territory, and fighting goblins, you'll know that you can pretty much find lots of those potions on corpses and such, and that you'll probably not find many again until you run into some more goblins. I think that might help me. "Oh hey, goblins! They're likely to be carrying one or two of this such-and-such potion, so I'll feel free to utilize some of my existing stock in this fight! ^_^"

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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 think part of the problem with consumables might be the mystery of their rarity. You find a Potion of Invisibility, and you think "Hmm... what if I don't find another one of these the entire game?" So, then you keep running into situations when it might be useful, but thinking "I'd better wait to use it in a more dire situation."

 

Conveying their rarity, at least in the context of character knowledge, might be helpful, even if it doesn't solve everything. Just "common - frequently sold by apothecaries/carried by travelers," etc. So you don't have to guess the likelihood that more will be available, just by the potion's effect and monetary value.

 

Maybe there are some concoctions that are pretty much only brewed by goblins. Maybe no one even knows the recipe. That way, if you're running around in goblin territory, and fighting goblins, you'll know that you can pretty much find lots of those potions on corpses and such, and that you'll probably not find many again until you run into some more goblins. I think that might help me. "Oh hey, goblins! They're likely to be carrying one or two of this such-and-such potion, so I'll feel free to utilize some of my existing stock in this fight! ^_^"

 

This is a very good idea, and maybe someday you can learn the recipe from a goblin shaman you managed to capture and torture  until he tells you. Of course you had to hire someone who does speak gobelin beforehand. 

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This is a very good idea, and maybe someday you can learn the recipe from a goblin shaman you managed to capture and torture  until he tells you. Of course you had to hire someone who does speak gobelin beforehand.

Yup. And at the point at which you can make the potion yourself, it comes down to crafting, and decisions on how to use your herbs and substances. "Do I make a stock of those goblin potions (whatever they do) for my party, or do I instead convert my finite resources into some kobold potion (that does something different from the goblin one)?"

 

Not that all potions need to come from things like goblins and kobolds. I was main thinking of specific factions/cultural groups, and imagining little packs of things like goblins and kobolds is just easy to do, for example's sake. 8P

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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 to tell you Lephys, I do like the discussions we have, you share some good insights and thinking. We may have different views on some subjects but it always lead to some good. Most of the time I do think our different views are more of a ''it's hard to explain everything'' than actual so much different opinions. 

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@Silent Winter: PE won't have health potions, so that's unlikely.

Ah, fair enough then.

Assuming there isn't an equivalent "Apples of HP restoration" or something then I may end up not hoarding potions.

 

The invisibility potions were another one I hoarded in BG, for the reasons mentioned - don't know when I'll get another one and I 'might' need it more later.

It'd be great if we were encouraged to use consumables (not just potions) more, either by tough gameplay or situational rewards (like the 'walk through walls' suggestion - good idea).


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*Casts Nature's Terror* :aiee: , *Casts Firebug* :fdevil: , *Casts Rot-Skulls* :skull: , *Casts Garden of Life* :luck: *Spirit-shifts to cat form* :cat:

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I like the idea but it sounds a little micro-managery. It woudl help if the game presented ability boosters as actionable icons on top of the activation button. That is, if you have a button to activate a specific ability, and if you have a consumable that can impact that ability, then the consumable would appear as, say, a small pic in the corner of the button. You click on the pic to prep it as a chained action, then click on the button to launch.

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I like that idea - would actually encourage potion usage too (sometimes I forget about certain potions until it's too late).


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*Casts Nature's Terror* :aiee: , *Casts Firebug* :fdevil: , *Casts Rot-Skulls* :skull: , *Casts Garden of Life* :luck: *Spirit-shifts to cat form* :cat:

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How about making use of AI for consumables? What if each character portrait had a toggle that let you switch consumable use on, after which they'd make their own decisions about it? It could be off by default as combat begins so you don't accidentally forget it on and lose all of 'em.

 

I know there's an option to control this in most other games of this type, but it's usually buried pretty deep in the behavior adjustment UI.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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How about making use of AI for consumables? What if each character portrait had a toggle that let you switch consumable use on, after which they'd make their own decisions about it? It could be off by default as combat begins so you don't accidentally forget it on and lose all of 'em.

 

I know there's an option to control this in most other games of this type, but it's usually buried pretty deep in the behavior adjustment UI.

Ahh yes. Memories spring to mind of giant leaps between "use things sparingly (aka 1 out of every 10 times you actually NEEDED to use something)," and "use everything literally as often as you possibly can." Battle? INVISIBILITY POTION! "Umm... they already couldn't see you... we're behind trees... we're ambushing them..." :)

 

But, you know, it could just be implemented well, instead of poorly, and is a good idea, methinks.

 

You could probably somewhat group potions by tiers, roughly, according to their usefulness. So, when the AI checks for "Do I use something?", it has to hit a lot more red flags (enemy has craptons of HP, enemy does a billion damage, my health is low, etc.) before using, say, an invisibility potion, but much fewer to use a potion of Attack +1. You could also work in the quantity of potions currently possessed.

 

Want Steve the Archer to use those Aim potions more often? Give him like 10 of them. The more you give him, the less he'll worry about conserving them. Of course, with the "should I use a potion?" checks, he still wouldn't see a single, mildly challenging foe and pop a potion with no questions asked. But, maybe every time you run into 6-or-more enemies, he'll pop one ('cause he has so many). But then, if he's down to 3 potions, maybe he won't use them until you run into 8 of the same challenge-level of foe, instead of 6. *Shrug*

 

@rjshae:

 

I think that's a pretty darned excellent idea. The more I think about it, the more-so I think that. If it were readily available information, in the heat of battle, right there next to my spell icon, that I had a potion of increased AOE range or something, the decision of whether or not to use that potion would be much better integrated with combat, itself, rather than being kind of a separate preparatory/reactive decision ("Oh no, I'm low on health... where's that Quick-Potion bar?! Okay, now which potion's the healing one and which one's the Extra Damage one?", etc.)

Edited by Lephys

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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