View Full Version : Moving targets

Evil Knievel
11-28-2009, 10:18 AM
Drinking coffee and pushing really urgent work a little, I decided to write a stupid jade post first:

imagine a huge overworld, there might be non-stationary NPCs that are relevant. The player can try to find them (he needs the famous wizards advice or the traveling healer's help or its about tracking down a thief or a kidnapped person or just kill someone who you had a crossword with before) by tracking them. They'd have to leave some clues of their passing through, and with a certain skill, one could for example identify footprints and their age and follow them. Also persons on the way might have a chance of giving you clues about where and when someone was heading. If you are looking for a murderer, it is not necessary to ask for someone around, just notice a murder and ask the people around.

In the background, the stories of these NPC's seem to become frame-rate killingly complex, but it is not necessarily so. It is probably enough to store some very few positions and times and maybe something happening there (he's been wounded, a blood trace appearing and a corpse of a fellow he left behind - maybe some orcish spears lying around) and the details would only be filled in as soon as the player starts looking for them (like the exact path of footprints between a and b).

Tracks of course can be interrupted by wading through snow, rain and rivers, and tracking through busy cities requires an extremely high skill or other means (asking, magical exploration in various ways springs to mind).

And then, these traces can be used against yourself by someone hunting you...

12-02-2009, 10:00 PM
I've always enjoyed the idea of an RPG with a similar system to what you describe. The levels of complexity that it can add are boundless, which is probably why serious implementation of the concept has been surprisingly lackluster. For example, why stop at NPCs who are just wandering around waiting for you to find them? What about NPCs who can kill monsters, complete quests, acquire vital game items, kill each other or drive major story events?

As long as the game isn't trying to be real-time, I don't think moving the NPCs around would be a significant problem. Give each NPC a quest or objective, and, say a food/provision supply so they need to restock in a town every so often. Each turn the player takes, the NPCs also move about the world in the direction of their current objective. If the player and NPC happen to meet on the same square, or in the same town/dungeon level, then there is an encounter. Maybe plesant conversation, maybe combat. Maybe you hide in the bushes to avoid them. Tracking might be a harder issue, since it would require a prior knowledge of where the NPC had been previously. Maybe only the last few (2 or 3 squares on an ADOM worldmap, say) that the NPC has visited are trackable would be sufficient? After that tracks are too worn to be seen, say. Maybe you could have spells that detect the instantaneous locations of NPCs on the board, or seers that you could pay to tell you where someone is/where they're going so you can try to meet them there.