Author Topic: need some input on design issues  (Read 949 times)

Offline mickeyk

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need some input on design issues
« on: October 19, 2015, 01:40:33 AM »
So I've been working slowly on my very first ever FRUA module, a little 2-map thingie that would be maybe 2 hours of playing time. I managed to finish the maps, the zones, the map events, the step events and the rest events...but while testing it I ran into some problems:

1) The wizard-locked doors are easy for even a character with a 15 strength to bash open. That lets the party completely bypass significant parts ot the adventure and go straight to the boss (I had intended those doors to be used for easy return to the starting point, as they are the bosses' private direct routes to that point).

2) The boss fights are way too easy. (a) the customized 5th-level fighter gets decimated by my party of six 1st-level characters; (b) the 10t-level magic user with the bracers ac4 who has memorized _only_ 6 Slay Living doesn't have a chance to cast even one of them because she gets taken down too quickly; (c) the 10th-level cleric with the bajillion Hold Person spells doesn't have a chance to cast any becuase _he_ keeps getting hammered by the party.

3) The xp awards caused by treasure are completely out of whack. I want the party to have some platinum, but if I have the combat encounters drop reasonable levels of platinum then the party ends up being like 4th level by the end of the two maps.

There are other issues but those are the biggies. Any thoughts?

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: need some input on design issues
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2015, 04:51:01 AM »
I haven't tinkered with the editor for a long time and I was never an expert on combat, so you'll get better insights from someone else, but let me start off with the most basic of advice.

1) If you want to lock the party out of specific areas before they reach a certain goal, don't use locked or wizard-locked doors (which can be bashed or opened with a spell at any time). Instead, use doors with keys which give you control over when the party will gain access to them by finding the required keys. Or events that make the party take a step back until they've met a certain condition. I've hardly ever used simple locked doors and never used wizard-locked doors. They're quite useless for obstructing the players' path, IMO they're only good for show, making the players feel strong or smart for memorizing the right spell. You also get unlimited tries on bashing them, if you step away and then come back again to try again.

2) I'm not good at designing combat events, but my first thoughts here are: Have you tried letting the opponents start from further away and surprise the party? If the party gets to make the first move and the spellcasters are in close range, of course they won't get a chance to do their magic. Also, did you put the fighters and the spellcasters in the same combat event or were those two different ones? Spellcasters need tanks to distract the party, single casters won't stand a chance on their own against a party with melee fighters. And how many 5th level fighters did you let the party fight at once? Even if the PCs are weaker in a direct one-on-one comparison, there is power in numbers. (That being said, "Slay Living" used against a party of low level characters doesn't sound like much fun from a player's perspective, but maybe that's just me.)

3) No clue, sorry. I've never worried about this much, but I bet it is a pet peeves of many design authors, so hopefully someone else will step in here.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2015, 04:57:14 AM by Olivier Leroux »

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: need some input on design issues
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2015, 08:18:04 AM »
1) The wizard-locked doors are easy for even a character with a 15 strength to bash open. That lets the party completely bypass significant parts ot the adventure and go straight to the boss (I had intended those doors to be used for easy return to the starting point, as they are the bosses' private direct routes to that point).

What Olivier said.  Quest-important doors should be locked using keys or events.  I can count on zero fingers the number of times I have used a wizard-locked door in the past 22 years.  There's a good reason for that.

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2) The boss fights are way too easy. (a) the customized 5th-level fighter gets decimated by my party of six 1st-level characters; (b) the 10t-level magic user with the bracers ac4 who has memorized _only_ 6 Slay Living doesn't have a chance to cast even one of them because she gets taken down too quickly; (c) the 10th-level cleric with the bajillion Hold Person spells doesn't have a chance to cast any becuase _he_ keeps getting hammered by the party.

If these are fights where the party takes on one of these enemies, it's no wonder they're losing.  A 5th level fighter versus six 1st level characters means that the fighter goes once, and they go six times.  He may hit better, but they swing more often.  In the case of the spellcasters, if the party can hit them before they complete their spellcasting, they'll lock them down by breaking their concentration and forcing them to lose their spells.  Olivier is right, they need low-level guards to intercept.

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3) The xp awards caused by treasure are completely out of whack. I want the party to have some platinum, but if I have the combat encounters drop reasonable levels of platinum then the party ends up being like 4th level by the end of the two maps.

Either reduce the amount of platinum the monsters drop or reduce the amount of monsters.  If they're gaining that much XP from platinum, you either have the money set to high or too many monsters (in which case, they should earn the right to reach that level).

One option you could attempt is to remove all money from low-level monsters, and provide a fixed amount via the "Combat Treasure" event, or boss treasure hordes.  I don't recommend never giving any money, though.
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Offline Dorateen

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Re: need some input on design issues
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2015, 08:27:58 AM »
I agree with Olivier and ProphetSword about the doors. The best way to block a party's progress is to use special item keys. Or at least put a text driven event that pushes the party back a step, until meeting a certain condition.

I am interested to hear about your encounter design, especially the 5th level fighter. Did you check his AC as it shows in game? If it's low enough, then it should be a challenge for 1st level characters to land successful hits. Likewise, your enemy's THAC0 should be reduced accordingly to make him more of a threat to hit the characters. Also, consider upping his magic resistance in the monster editor. This way, a lowly 1st level wizard won't get off a sleep spell easily and automatically incapacitate the fighter.

The only thing for the excess XP granted by awarding platinum is to give out less platinum. I know its hard to balance an economy for a module. What about giving gems instead, that the player then converts to platinum. Not sure if there is a big XP difference there.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2015, 08:50:11 AM by Dorateen »
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Offline ProphetSword

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Re: need some input on design issues
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2015, 09:21:02 AM »
The only thing for the excess XP granted by awarding platinum is to give out less platinum. I know its hard to balance an economy for a module. What about giving gems instead, that the player then converts to platinum. Not sure if there is a big XP difference there.

Actually, that would likely be worse, given that gems have a randomized value that the designer has no control over.
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Offline mickeyk

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Re: need some input on design issues
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2015, 10:03:10 AM »
In response to the question, these are fights of the party against three separate, single bosses.

The first thing I'd like to try is to balance the ACs and thac0s of the bosses and the party. Where can I find a discussion of the math involved?

One specific comment on one specific design issue:

(That being said, "Slay Living" used against a party of low level characters doesn't sound like much fun from a player's perspective, but maybe that's just me.)

This was intended to make the situation tense. The party has to finish her off before she gets them all. Maybe Stinking Cloud and even Charm Person would be a better idea (I have a horror of giving opposing casters Sleep because it's so unbalancing no matter who has it).

Offline Platinum Bearer

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Re: need some input on design issues
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2015, 03:17:20 PM »
Download OSRIC. It lists all the thaco and saving throws for the classes at all the levels. I used it to make my monsters right. Cheers to ProphetSword pointing me to that. For hit points you can work out the range they should be in up to at least level 9. Fighters and paladins it's 1D10 per level, clerics 1D8, thieves 1D6 and mages 1D4, but then they can have a bonus on top if their constitution is 17 or higher. Higher levels get a set increase.

For doors you can use stair events to move them back one square as soon as the try to move through the door and attach text to say the door is locked, and then when a condition is met give them a quest special item that sops the stair from activating. If I remember right if you use text with back one step they'll move noticeably through the door but I could be wrong. That would be easier.

Couldn't you just up the level of the fighter bosses? For the casters what others have said, they'll rarely get to cast if they're the only enemy because you can't cast if you've been hit in that round. Not sure how initiative works? Maybe dexterity, so you could max that out and then they'll tend get their turn earlier in the rounds and be able to cast more often.
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Offline PetrusOctavianus

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Re: need some input on design issues
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2015, 07:25:28 PM »
Give the Cleric with Hold Person spells Plate Armour and Shield, and 1st level punks will have a very hard time hitting him.
18 Dex should also more or less guarantee he gets the initiavie, and gets even lower AC, but that may be overdoing it.