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I recently binge-watched a show in which the protagonists discover that what seemed to be a single mysterious enemy organization was actually two diametrically opposed factions. When trapped by one faction, they were able to draw in the other one and escape in the ensuing chaos. It's an idea that's not actually uncommon in non-interactive media, and RTS games will also sometimes have 3+ sided battles, but I think it could work for RPGs as well.

 

There was a thread recently about keeping the enemies in the first Pillars of Eternity game low-level. This approach is probably the most sensible for the majority of combat situations, where the party encounters an enemy or group of enemies, has a hopefully challenging fight, but ultimately proves stronger and defeats the foe. In order to save some power progression for sequels, you have to limit the power level of the player party, which in turn means limiting the power of the enemies. But what if, occasionally, you encountered enemies that you weren't ever expected to beat outright?

 

These could be powerful beings or monsters such as dragons, or antagonistic adventuring parties at a significantly higher level and with better equipment, or small armies of powerful soldiers, or some combination of all three. If there is only one such group in an area, the objective could be to hold out against them just long enough to accomplish some task before escaping (or before being captured and having to escape later). If there are multiple groups from different factions that hate each other, an option could be to lure on group to blunder into a rival group, setting up a big messy scrum where everybody's attacking everybody.

 

This way, you can still have a game story that includes powerful, dangerous enemies while still ensuring that the player party don't have to become gods right from the start. Additionally, the same types of enemies could show up as beatable foes in sequels, demonstrating how the party has progressed.

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I always like the idea of tricking my opponents into wiping themselves out. 

 

Basic version.

The thieves guild want me dead for stealing something they had there eyes on. The city guard want whoever stole it behind bars.

The city guard have been given the location of a thieves guild den by an unknown source.

None of this is really happening. There is a man. With a typewriter. This is all part of his crazy imagination. 

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I think this is a splendid idea, as i've said before in more than one thread i'd be quite happy to have a quest where secrecy is paramount and upon discovery I am obligated to flee. However the foe can still be defeatable for those who wish to achieve that insanely difficult proposition. Twisted Rune, but with an option to show the better side of valour?

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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For classic CRPgs, I usually dislike boss-fight staggering, if that's what you call it. In ARPgs, that's fine, but in party-based strategic games it all feels weird when the boss suddenly gets rezzed and multiplied by four, all the while having evil gnomes stab at you. The finale of NWN2 OC, I'm looking at you. :)

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

 

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I always like the idea of tricking my opponents into wiping themselves out. 

 

Basic version.

The thieves guild want me dead for stealing something they had there eyes on. The city guard want whoever stole it behind bars.

The city guard have been given the location of a thieves guild den by an unknown source.

 

Your example seems like the type of thing that would resolve off-screen, right? Which is great too, and perhaps an easier way to provide additional reactivity. I was thinking of a scenario in which you directly see and get to participate in the battle.

 

 

For classic CRPgs, I usually dislike boss-fight staggering, if that's what you call it. In ARPgs, that's fine, but in party-based strategic games it all feels weird when the boss suddenly gets rezzed and multiplied by four, all the while having evil gnomes stab at you. The finale of NWN2 OC, I'm looking at you. :)

 

I think you're thinking of something else. You're still expected to beat what's-his-face at the end of NWN2. This is about enemies that are impossible or extremely difficult to beat normally, that you would have to work around instead.

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Heh, that was just me jumping the gun and almost just reading the thread title hastily. I've read your post thoroughly, as it derserves, and I'd like to see that kind of powerful enemies on occasion if it fits with the story, and especially considering future encounters during the campaign.

Edited by IndiraLightfoot

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

 

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might be an interesting way to introduce us to the sequel baddies/organisations as well.

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It's a fine line, though. I mean, I'm pretty tired of meeting main baddies in the game, and then you get to take a stab or two at them, and they dodge away via scripting, and then it just keeps on going. All the RPG-possibilities are lost, and it usually just becomes frustrating and annoying. like Nah, nah, nah, nah, naaaah! Irenicus in BG2 I actually pretty much sucked in this regard.

 

Ideally, I'd like to see the impossible being possible sometimes, so downing an all too powerful NPC too early should be possible, but not just for some big xp or loot boost. That D'rizzt fellow in BG1 was very bad in this way.

Edited by IndiraLightfoot

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

 

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Does the manipulation of Mr Parker to turn on Mr Marburg in Alpha Protocol count as this kind of thing? Personally I thought that was rather satisfying, and a nice bit of reactivity.

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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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 If there are multiple groups from different factions that hate each other, an option could be to lure on group to blunder into a rival group, setting up a big messy scrum where everybody's attacking everybody.

 

 This is a nice idea. The Alley of Dangerous Angles worked like this in PS:T. You could fight one or both groups, pay them to let you walk there or lead one faction into the other and let them kill each other (and maybe there were other solutions?).

Edited by Yonjuro
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 If there are multiple groups from different factions that hate each other, an option could be to lure on group to blunder into a rival group, setting up a big messy scrum where everybody's attacking everybody.

 

 This is a nice idea. The Alley of Dangerous Angles worked like this in PS:T. You could fight one or both groups, pay them to let you walk there or lead one faction into the other and let them kill each other (and maybe there were other solutions?).

 

 

I had forgotten about that! You're right that it's similar, although I think that there's room for improvement. In PS:T, you are expected to be able to defeat either of the gangs on your own if you're good enough or advanced enough and seeing them fight each other is more of a nice bonus. By making the enemies too powerful to defeat outright, you can introduce elements of fear, helplessness, and underdog status to occasionally puncture the standard RPG power fantasy.

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 If there are multiple groups from different factions that hate each other, an option could be to lure on group to blunder into a rival group, setting up a big messy scrum where everybody's attacking everybody.

 

 This is a nice idea. The Alley of Dangerous Angles worked like this in PS:T. You could fight one or both groups, pay them to let you walk there or lead one faction into the other and let them kill each other (and maybe there were other solutions?).

 

 

I had forgotten about that! You're right that it's similar, although I think that there's room for improvement. In PS:T, you are expected to be able to defeat either of the gangs on your own if you're good enough or advanced enough and seeing them fight each other is more of a nice bonus. By making the enemies too powerful to defeat outright, you can introduce elements of fear, helplessness, and underdog status to occasionally puncture the standard RPG power fantasy.

 

 

 Sounds good to me. Maybe we can call this 'strategic retreating' (or maybe it could be strategic negotiation in some cases) as opposed to tactical retreating.

 

 In the (very long and occasionally heated) thread about objective XP vs. kill XP, I was trying to come up with examples where the two should work differently. This is a good example - kill XP would be zero if you let your enemies kill each other - objective XP could be non-zero (assuming you had some agency in causing the encounter to happen).

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I'm always down for a 3-way.

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Great approach, one you don't even come up with after playing too many crpgs. Another way to deal with powerful enemies is to simply fight them with allies, or other neutral partys. In both cases you have to think about how to combine your abilities with the other party to be effective, just like you have to adapt your tactics to exploit three way battles.

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NWN2 had a nice episode where you were up against a huge dragon (IMO, the toughest fight in the game) and a bunch of giants. It was pretty much a given however, that you were supposed to help one side or another, or just fight the one left standing. No discovery or thinking necessary, which was a bit of a bummer.

 

Still good fun though.

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I suppose as well as quite a few ocassions in Torment one could mention the long drawn out duel between Betrayal, Hunger and Pain in the Sith Lord's?

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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Thinking about this some more, setting up a three-way battle may be too tricky to balance to be viable as the main/expected outcome of any in-game situation. Instead, it should be an alternative path to increase C&C.

 

If this were part of the main storyline (assuming there are at least two opposing main antagonists), the expected outcome would have to be something like capture and imprisonment or the sacrifice of a character or important item. Clever players, with some hinting from the game but nothing overt or obvious, could instead bypass the expected outcome by setting the opposing enemies against each other.

 

If it were separate from the main storyline, for example involving two factions that hate each other but don't necessarily hate the player unless you antagonize them, then the optional nature of the conflict means that the game doesn't need to provide other ways of continuing the story. The enemies can simply wipe out the party unless you think to instigate a three-way battle.

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