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View Full Version : Idea: Separate Renown into "Experience" and "Plunder"



Blarg_the_Viking
01-23-2014, 08:35 PM
My biggest complaint about The Banner Saga (one that I have seen expressed a few times on these forums), is that leveling characters is made needlessly difficult by the kill-count-based Promotions that also have a cost in Renown.

There are actually several closely connected issues here:
1. Not every character excels at racking up kills. Shieldwalls and armor-breaking specialists in particular tend to contribute a lot to fights, but don't actually do a lot of STR damage.
2. Renown is scarce. Even if you get into every fight you can and win them all, you won't have enough renown to level everyone and also buy food. And don't get me started on buying treasure items at the markets.
3. "Renown" is kind of a strange abstraction of what seems like several distinct resources. You get it by doing things that would make you famous (killing stuff, making speeches, impressing people), but you spend it like money (for food and goods) and also like Experience Points for leveling.

I think there might be a simple way to resolve 1, 2, and 3. Renown can be split into two other things: "Experience" and "Plunder."

Experience is a reward that is issued to all characters that survive a battle, calculated based on the number and strength of the enemies they killed. All participants get the same amount of experience, regardless of what their role in the battle was. Once a character reaches a certain amount of experience, they become eligible for Promotion at no cost.

Plunder is a reward that is given to the caravan/player when the story events (including battles) are resolved in certain ways - generally, ways that enable looting. Plunder acts like money, and can be traded for Supplies or Treasure at markets. Plunder can also be acquired by selling treasure.

"Renown" could still exist under the same name, and even be acquired in the same way, but serve a different purpose - as an actual measure of fame/infamy, Renown cannot be spent or traded, but can instead unlock new options for resolving story events. For example, a group of bandits that can only be bribed or fought if a caravan has low Renown might instead be intimidated or pressed into joining a caravan with high Renown. Or, possibly, Renown could be used as a cap on how high a character can be promoted - perhaps you can't have any Rank 5 characters unless you have a minimum of 150 renown, or something. It might not sound reasonable on paper ("What does collective fame have to do with an individual person's ability to swing an axe?" "I got nuthin'."), but the metagame purpose of that would be to maintain a certain level of challenge for the player, and prevent them from quickly growing a party of super-vikings that effortlessly thrash everything before they're halfway through the game.

The only reason I can think of to keep Renown as it is now (and all-purpose spendable resource) would be to force the player to make hard decisions about how their very limited one resource can be spent. If you really have to decide whether to Promote Rook or buy food for the caravan for a week, that's a significant decision in-universe. However, from a metagame standpoint, that decision is made trivial because the survival of your caravan doesn't actually impact your ability to proceed through the game, while character ranks do.

What do you think?

roder
01-23-2014, 09:07 PM
why not just earn food supplies from winning fights; killing bands of humans, varls etc. also nets you some supplies. I think dredge carries them as well, you saw the dredge with the deer at the beginning and it also attacked the food cart, meaning they want/eat supplies as well.

i do agree that it is somewhat weird that renown buys you food :P but there are similar things in other games. just earning "points" and buying things with "points" in other games is weird as well

Blarg_the_Viking
01-23-2014, 09:24 PM
why not just earn food supplies from winning fights; killing bands of humans, varls etc. also nets you some supplies. I think dredge carries them as well, you saw the dredge with the deer at the beginning and it also attacked the food cart, meaning they want/eat supplies as well.

i do agree that it is somewhat weird that renown buys you food :P but there are similar things in other games. just earning "points" and buying things with "points" in other games is weird as well

Eh, you could do it that way. It would be simpler. But keep in mind that most of the people you fight are, like you, armed refugees who support themselves by looting. I think it would make more narrative sense for there to be a divide between loot you can eat and loot you can trade for things to eat. Also, having "Plunder" (because I don't want to just call it GP) as battle loot instead of actual supplies would make the game slightly harder (because you can't solve your "starving caravan" problem just by picking fights), and reduce the incentive to just murder everything in sight (because you always need supplies, but plunder isn't necessarily useful).

Zekram Bogg
01-23-2014, 09:40 PM
The one thing I like about the Renown as money system is that it's forced me to consider that the society in The Banner Saga is truly different from our own.

As in, it's a non-capitalist, yet also a non-communist society. The value that you trade is effectively heroism.

It's a strange concept, but I think an interesting one that actually does convey a sort of "viking" spirit to the world. I mean, I have to imaging buying supplies goes something like this:

MERCHANT: Yes, I have dried fish and roots, enough perhaps to fill your stores. But why should I give them to you?

ROOK: For I, humble merchant . . . am ROOK OF SKOGR! (dramatic gesture)

MERCHANT: Who . . .?

ROOK: Have you heard of the band of clansmen that escaped the destruction of Skogr? How they fled for their lives to Frostvellr, and slew all who stood in their path, whether they be bandit, fighter or dredge? Who crossed the icy wastes to the ancient Varl capitol? Who destroyed the stone bridge of Einartoft with a Mender at his side? Who slew entire armies of dredge at Old Father's pass?

MERCHANT: Aye, I have heard of they that stand against the blighted dredge!

ROOK: Have you heard of their leader, then? The simple woodsman who saw his chieftain killed before his eyes, and took up his banner?

MERCHANT: Aye . . .

ROOK: Notice, dear merchant, the banner my daughter carries with her? That is our banner. For I . . . Rook of Skogr, AM that leader. (dramatic gesture)

MERCHANT: Take it all great hero! (goes prostrate)

____________________________________

And that's how imagine shopping goes in The Banner Saga.

Must make buying groceries a lot of fun.

Blarg_the_Viking
01-23-2014, 09:54 PM
The one thing I like about the Renown as money system is that it's forced me to consider that the society in The Banner Saga is truly different from our own.

As in, it's a non-capitalist, yet also a non-communist society. The value that you trade is effectively heroism.
....

Must make buying groceries a lot of fun.
Ok, but if you're going down that route, why is it that the first reaction that anyone important has when they meet Rook is "who the faen are you?" If renown is directly connected to notability, how can it be "spent?" I suppose that you could lower your personal reputation if you spent a lot of time claiming you're a hero and demanding that people give you stuff, but that shouldn't make you less famous for killing Dredge.

Also, while I don't mind the idea of a reputation-based trading system, it makes a little less sense in an apocalyptic, every-man-for-himself situation like the men and Varl of Banner Saga find themselves in. Ever notice that the villages in the direst circumstances (like Sigrholm) have the worst supply/renown exchange rates?

Aleonymous
01-24-2014, 11:36 AM
I like this "experience" idea you outlined.

It also got me thinking that this could serve as a means to "equalize" the contribution of armor-breaking units with respect to damage-dealing ones.

I am gonna move it a little forward. So, the XP earned could be the total damage (ARM and STR) that a unit suffers from enemies and inflicts on them... We'd need some data-harvesting to see how this scales for various units, but I believe it might prove like a really good measure of how "well used" a unit was, during each fight. Apart from those in-battle figures, some fixed XP could be given (a) per participation, (b) per survival, (c) per kill and (d) per special-ability use. How all these numbers are gonna be balanced needs some discussion, but I believe it could supply a very good metric for the performance of both the unit and the player controlling them. Now, some example for two "standard" units...

Example#1: A Raidmaster gets killed after taking 3 turns. He started at 10ARM/10STR and died with 5ARM. During the battle, he did a rank-2 StoneWall at turn#1, then attempted two ARM-break attacks at 4AB each. The XP-gained for this battle is:

Participation: 5
Survived: 0
Kills: 0
Ability use: 2 (for the rank-2 SW)
ARM-damage sustained: 5
ARM-damage inflicted: 8
STR-damage sustained: 10
STR-damage inflicted: 0
TOTAL XP --> 30


Example#2: A Warhawk survives a battle won. He started at 10ARM/16STR and ended the match with 5ARM/12STR. During the battle, he mostly waited back, and then came in to finish off two half-dead raiders (say at 7ARM/6STR each) with a rank-1 Tempest (total damage 2x6=12STR) and then one-shoot an archer (damage 7STR). The XP-gained for this battle is:

Participation: 5
Survived: 5
Kills: 3
Ability use: 1 (for the rank-1 Tempest)
ARM-damage sustained: 5
ARM-damage inflicted: 0
STR-damage sustained: 4
STR-damage inflicted: 19
TOTAL XP --> 42


You get the idea. Now, doing some calculations for typical Shieldbanger and especially Archer unit could be used to "equalize" the XP-gaining system. As these figures turn out, it seems like level-ups could happen at 50/100/200/400XP, for 5-rank system.

Eurydice
01-24-2014, 12:09 PM
Very interesting suggestions, it's true that the 'kills' requirement is tougher for some characters than for others. Fantastic number crunching there, Aleonymous!

Personally, the scarcity of reknown made me focus on leveling up only the characters I thought (sometimes mistakenly) I could keep with me the whole way through, to the detriment of other characters that I either liked more personality-wise (Ekkil, say) or might have wanted to try out (like the Siege Archer) but didn't feel I could invest the reknown to make them worthwhile vis--vis my main dudes.

How much of this is intentional from Stoic though? Maybe they want people to froth at the mouth when the reknown they had sunk into a charismatic ginger Varl goes plummeting down the side of a cliff with a cartful of gold because of some very random Dredge encounter? Quien sabe?

Rensei
01-24-2014, 12:25 PM
I actually liked the kills requirement both here and in Factions - leveling a fresh character from 0 to 14 kills during a single fight gave a bit more challenge to it and was sorta fun.

Aleonymous
01-25-2014, 05:38 AM
Eurydice & Rensei look like twin-sisters, with that blonde-Alette avatar :) That's confusing... One of you could use the new-Alette look:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/99633386/TBS_alette.icon.party.png

Blarg_the_Viking
01-26-2014, 03:37 PM
Very interesting suggestions, it's true that the 'kills' requirement is tougher for some characters than for others. Fantastic number crunching there, Aleonymous!

Personally, the scarcity of reknown made me focus on leveling up only the characters I thought (sometimes mistakenly) I could keep with me the whole way through, to the detriment of other characters that I either liked more personality-wise (Ekkil, say) or might have wanted to try out (like the Siege Archer) but didn't feel I could invest the reknown to make them worthwhile vis--vis my main dudes.

How much of this is intentional from Stoic though? Maybe they want people to froth at the mouth when the reknown they had sunk into a charismatic ginger Varl goes plummeting down the side of a cliff with a cartful of gold because of some very random Dredge encounter? Quien sabe?
It's possible, but that's also a common complaint I see about the game.

It's kind of a tricky balance to strike - any good survival-oriented game should include the potential for painful, irreparable mistakes, but no gamer enjoys the feeling of failure that comes from making too many of those. This is another thing I think breaking up Renown into smaller pieces and changing the leveling system could help, I feel - losing a high-level character would be painful enough if the investment made didn't already cripple your caravan economically.

Corvino
01-26-2014, 06:15 PM
You could manage it by having the (admittedly a bit generic) solution of having a total kill-count for the group. Once the group hits a certain number - BAM - everyone levels up (or has the potential to level up automatically). This means you can still have your show-off archers puncturing anything that moves, but your lumbering, armor-breaking tanks still get to advance. Having everyone advance equally would remove some of the frustration of spending renown building up a character only for them to die as part of an unavoidable plot event. If you choose to invest in the wrong person (which you have no way of knowing, really) then it shouldn't totally screw you at the end of the game.

A straight kill-count could also replace the renown per kill aspect of things. You have your kill-count to detemine levelling but get no renown for individual kills. You get renown for winning the overall combat and from non-combat actions which can be spent on gear and supplies. This way you still need to make the choice between gearing up and buying food, but you don't accidentally cripple your party doing it.

Blarg_the_Viking
01-27-2014, 05:54 PM
You could manage it by having the (admittedly a bit generic) solution of having a total kill-count for the group. Once the group hits a certain number - BAM - everyone levels up (or has the potential to level up automatically). This means you can still have your show-off archers puncturing anything that moves, but your lumbering, armor-breaking tanks still get to advance. Having everyone advance equally would remove some of the frustration of spending renown building up a character only for them to die as part of an unavoidable plot event. If you choose to invest in the wrong person (which you have no way of knowing, really) then it shouldn't totally screw you at the end of the game.

A straight kill-count could also replace the renown per kill aspect of things. You have your kill-count to detemine levelling but get no renown for individual kills. You get renown for winning the overall combat and from non-combat actions which can be spent on gear and supplies. This way you still need to make the choice between gearing up and buying food, but you don't accidentally cripple your party doing it. Nice idea, but how would it apply to characters who you get later in the game, such as Nid?

Corvino
01-28-2014, 07:49 AM
Nice idea, but how would it apply to characters who you get later in the game, such as Nid?

This is a bit of a tricky one, but only really applies to Nid who appears very late-game. Sigbjorn is the only character to appear later and he's already level 5. In truth I don't have a particularly smart answer to that one, and I'm not sure that the current chapter of TBS is going to have an extensive rework of the Levelling & Renown system.

One of the Devs under the username Chewbot has been posting on the Something Awful thread about the game. I'm not sure if there are any comments specifically about the renown system but he did ask how combat could be changed, specifically: "For people who found the combat too repetitive over time or not to their liking, what would you change?". I'll have a look through that now lengthy thread to see if anything about Renown comes up.

CSRosewood
01-28-2014, 03:36 PM
I do agree that tank type characters are harder to level due to their roll and that participation should attribute to something but I would not implement that something that would 'automatically' level the character for free. I think spending renown is part of the challenge of the game. And really, you don't need to level any character pass lv 3 to beat every battle in the game. Sure you can pour a tone of renown into a few characters to rock the battlefield but it isn't really cost effective as higher level cost more renown for the same amount of stat boosts. So switching out characters between fights is more plausible and level up to level 2 for the crippling 5 renown is more beneficial than just have a string of front lines-men all at level 5. Sure you can't have every character at level 5 at the end of the game but by then you should have enough renown to raise your favorite 6 to level 5, assuming those 6 are the ones that compliment your preferred tactical disposition.

I just finish a run through where I stayed out of Frostvlr walls, so I didn't loot the supply house. Still was able to buy just -enough- supplies to make it to Wyrmtoe, level up important characters and make it to the very end of the game without losing a single clansman to starvation. Really, if you're trying to go with the Egil survival storyline, you should have accumulated enough renown at the end of chapter 2 and the start of chapter 4 to buy the supplies needed to get across the waste. Think 6 days worth was what I went with. Which if I recall correctly was enough to level a rank 4 character to 5.

Anyways, Nid is a tough character to get to level 5 but it is achievable, that I can assure you.

Eurydice
01-28-2014, 06:09 PM
Eurydice & Rensei look like twin-sisters, with that blonde-Alette avatar :) That's confusing... One of you could use the new-Alette look:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/99633386/TBS_alette.icon.party.png

Your wish is my command!

Rensei
01-28-2014, 06:50 PM
http://i.imgur.com/efeP52B.jpg?1
For some reason I was sure she needed 24 kills not 14 for level 5 and well... those all wen't for her :)
She ended up with over 50 total and boy was I happy she was available for the final fight.
Feeding units kills is a fun mini game on its own. I'd hate to see it disappear.

@Eurydice lets troll Aleo some more, what say You? :)

Aleonymous
01-29-2014, 04:41 AM
http://i.imgur.com/efeP52B.jpg?1

Snow littered with Dredge corpses... tsk tsk tsk... No ecological conscience there! :) Do Dredge bury their dead?


@Eurydice lets troll Aleo some more, what say You? :)

Women... :confused: