Encounters on the worldmap

To make travelling between settlements more interesting, fixed and random encounters can happen when moving on a new tile. For each kind of live form a different probability is defined, because on roads e.g. it is not common to find a lot of wildlife, but a lot of other, more civilised forms of life. The encounter maps grant the following possibilities:

  • Guide the player through the map (tiles with a higher encounter rate and encounter level are harder to navigate)
  • Make areas inaccessible, e.g. via special encounters that need a certain condition to be solved
  • Create safe paths through dangerous areas (aka only the player aware of them can cross certain areas)
  • Should create a sense of a dangerous world and roads could be a safer place to travel on then right through a dense forrest

In general encounters should always feel real and fit into the world as the crpg addict described:

My argument against having this kind of encounter in a game at all is that the encounter wouldn’t be based on simple game mechanics, but rather be artificial and scripted. I want the things that I deal with in a game to be an integral part of the game world and respond to the basic rules of the game. If I get a special item from one character just because the people who wrote the story of the game decided that that character should have a special item, then it doesn’t feel real.  An example of a good encounter would be the other pirates in Sid Meier’s Pirates, as far as I know (and what I don’t know doesn’t harm me), these competing pirates are sailing around on the see just like you. Struck by disaster or happening upon serendipity, and then when you encounter these other pirates the amount of gold they have would be determined by for how long they’ve been out there pillaging. Normally in rpgs though, the competing pirates would be scripted and the amount of gold they have, as well as everything else about them, would be determined by some hard coded script, and that doesn’t seem real.

Things to consider

  • (Random) encounters should be contextual, so you find spiders in a cave and not in the dessert
  • If encounters adjust to the players level:
    • Only maximum difficulty of random encounters should be adjusted, but still leave a wide range down to the easiest foes. The player should run across a rat once in a while even if she has godlike strength
    • The plot has to explain why encounters get tougher over time

Encounter probability maps

Each tile on the worldmap has

Life formTypeTile layer IDDescription
CivilisationRandomENCOUNTER_CIVILISATIONInclude soldiers of a faction, trading caravan, etc.
Dark OnesRandomENCOUNTER_DARK_ONESencounters with the remenants of the Dark Age.
SpecialFixedENCOUNTER_SPECIALSpecial hand crafted encounters. A json-file is generated with this data and it has to be filled with data manually. Each special encounter has an id and the encounter is defined in a seperate file at the location specialEncounter/.json
WildlifeSemi-randomENCOUNTER_WILDLIFEEncounter with the local wildlife. Which species depends on the biome of the tile. The level of the encounter is the probability multiplied with one to three. The idea is that more dangerous animals live only somewhere where a certain amount of other animals live.

Open Issues

  • Is it better to cap the amount of random encounters, so they don’t get a nuisance?

Implementation

Each life form encounter has it’s own layer in tiled and each tile represents the probability of the encounter with the life form. Probabilities have the range from 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,10,13,16,20,25,30,35,40,45,50,60,70,85,100.

Encounter table id maps

Life formName in Tiled
Civilisation???
Dark Ones???
Specialnone needed, defined in encounters.json
Wildlifenone needed

Process flow

  1. Movement on new tile
  2. Check for encounter (order: Special, Civilisation, Dark Ones, Wildlife) 3.1. Yes: Check if encounter is compatible with encounter conditions 3.2. No -> 5.
  3. Check if dialog or map
    4.1. Display dialog -> 5.
    4.2. Load and display new map
  4. Continue

Additions in future versions

  • If the encounter was a combat and the player won, the probability of future encounters is altered. Maybe reduced for wildlife, if a trade caravan was robbed, it maybe attracts more patrols in the future.
  • To complement the civilisation layer add a faction layer which connects a certain tile to a faction, e.g. you meet only soldiers from that faction on that tile.
  • The player could get missions to clear areas from Dark Ones => reduce encounter probability to 0.
  • Horses make fleeing from encounters easier. The chance raises with better breeds.
  • Encounters on sea: sea monsters, pirates, merchant ships, ships full of mercenaries who will join you, hapless men adrift on rafts who are alternately truly helpless and members of a pirate gang pulling a ruse, whirlpools, scurvy (you need to have stocked up on fruit), fog, and various calamities that damage your sails and require you to have brought replacement sails.

Ideas

  • Skills (e.g. scouting/hunting/sneaking) can affect certain probabilities or let the player evade the encounter completely.
  • A NPC could alter certain probabilities, e.g. if a local hunter joins the party the wildlife encounter probability is reduced by 25%.
  • If the encounter turns into combat certain skills could dertimine how close the enemy starts to the party, e.g. if scouting skill is high they are spotted earlier and thus srtart further away.
  • Areas can shift in faction / probability possession etc.
  • A skill could tell the player how dangerous the current area is, like what game Thief did with the stealth-meter.

Ideas from crpg addict

  • One unusual and fun feature of the game is that losing monsters will sometimes offer you a bribe to let them go.
  • At my current level, none of the options do much to avoid battle. A couple of times, the monsters have offered to let us go for a bribe, but once you do that the first time, you never regain your self-respect. Thus, although the encounter almost always ends in battle, it’s still an interesting set of options, and a definite step towards the more nuanced dialog and role-playing options available in later games. Plus, once the party levels up a few times, I think monsters become more willing to listen
  • Combat is only one potential outcome of an encounter. The other major possibilities are a conversation–the mechanics of which I’ll discuss next time–and just walking away. Aside from obvious rules, like you can’t talk to animals, the game draws a blurry line between “enemies” and “NPCs.” I routinely find that classes who are clearly primarily supposed to be enemies–robbers, thieves, padfoots, murderers, assassins, gral wizards, rain witches, and so on–are happy to occasionally have a chat instead. Some even offer hints or help one my characters increase an attribute. I rather like the approach and wish more games adopted it. It seem silly that literally every bandit or forsworn in Skyrim comes charging at you the moment he sees you.
  • That statement also goes for the NPC dialogue system, which is highly original and coincidentally mirrors Fate: Gates of Dawn, the game I happen to be playing at the same time, even though I don’t think the two titles have anything to do with each other. Both games feature encounters that could be combats or could be NPC dialogues, largely depending on your own attributes and the NPC’s disposition. In the case of Swords & Sorcery, a number of the “monsters” wandering the dungeon–mages, warriors, catmen, and so on–will happily converse with you instead depending at least in part on a hidden “villainy” score that largely depends on whether your character is in the habit of sucker-punching anything that moves or whether you wait and see what he does first. Hostility begets hostility.
  • It would also be nice if they could have balanced encounters with a better morale system. As your reputation improves and your party spreads a swath of broken assailants across the land, lower level nuisance attacks that serve to mostly waste your time should become less frequent, even as Thardan dispatches ever more powerful minions to neutralize the threat you increasingly pose
  • If you try to “evade,” your chances are based on the configuration of the surrounding walls, your dexterity, and your encumbrance.
  • The games takes the party’s average of each statistic and used it to tabulate the encounters. Example: A party with an attribute average of, say, 10, totaling 60 attribute points, may face five Orcs. A party jacked up to the max would have a total value of 108, or more if there are racial bonuses. This party might face twelve Orcs and two Orc Shamans, under the idea that they will have an easier time carving through the monsters.