Censer and Aggravation Rework

The idea of censers/meditations was to introduce a new build archetype for more healer-type characters that can use protective and healing chants while giving up on sharp weapons and have a little of a conduct. I still like the idea, but the implementation didn’t work out great. Here are some problems:

  • It is very easy to unequip your sharp weapon and still benefit from instant meditations. Sure, you’ll have to pay the Ep cost when re-equipping the sharp weapon, but that’s often low price to pay, and it also leads to tedious gameplay.
  • Similarly, it is trivial (but tedious) to use a healer’s services by just unequipping your sharp weapon(s) temporarily.
  • The aggravation penalty for stealing doesn’t really prevent you from using meditations since you can just rest it off, and the aggravation penalty is really not that bad.

The largest problem here is that optimal play leads to tedium, but it also kind of defeats the roleplaying/character archetype aspect since you can easily play around it. So, I’ve scraped this system in favour of a reputation system.

The Healer’s Guild

In the next version, censers are devices created by a mysterious underground faction called the Healer’s guild (which you will learn more about when playing). The healers live by certain rules which are basically the same as before: they don’t like sharp weapons, and they hate stealing and attacking helpless monsters etc. The game will track your reputation with this faction. Breaking their rules will reduce your reputation with them, while doing things they like (donating money to them, killing undead) will increase your reputation with them. A positive reputation means that you are on friendly terms with them, and a negative reputation means that you are not.

Your reputation with the healers is persistent and does not reset on rest. For example: attacking living monsters with a sharp weapon will have a chance to reduce your reputation (if positive). This loss of reputation cannot be undone by just unequipping the sharp weapon; the damage is already done. However, you can donate money to the healer’s guild to increase your reputation again. This means that it is not impossible to have sharp weapons while being on good terms with the guild, but it is expensive…

Healer NPCs are now members of the Healer’s guild and will now only cooperate with you if your reputation with the guild is positive and refuse service otherwise. If your reputation is very low, you’ll have to do more than just unequipping your sharp weapon to get them to help you.

Censers

I’ve made a great deal of changes to how censers work:

  • They are known when you find them, you don’t need to identify them.
  • You can now have several censers active simultaneously, they are not limited to one at a time.
  • You no longer directly pay gold to use them (see below, you pay in advance)

You pay with reputation points to use censers. This means that you have to have a positive reputation with the Healer’s guild in order to use them. Reputation points essentially work like magic points for censers except they don’t regenerate on rest. This means that you have to earn enough reputation with the Healer’s guild in order to use censers. The most effective way of gaining reputation is to donate gold to the Healer’s guild. The game now spawns donation boxes all over the place so you can donate when you need to (they are slighlty more common than campfires and are guaranteed to appear in the castle).

In other words, instead of paying gold every time you use the censer, you now instead pay gold in advance to earn reputation points (or raising your reputation in other ways). In this way, the idea of paying money to charity in order to use censers is still there (although the gold now goes to the Healer’s guild instead of charity…).

No More Aggravation

The aggravation mechanic is now completely gone (I never really liked that mechanic anyway). Everything that used to incur aggravation now instead reduces your reputation points. I also feel that this makes much more sense for in-game logic and for flavour: the Healer’s guild have spies everywhere that register your actions, and it is them who have a problem with sharp weapons etc (there is no longer some magical thing that prevents you from using a censer if your weapon happens to be sharp…). It also means that Healer NPCs are a bit more reasonable: they are willing to accept you holding a sharp weapon if you have proven yourself to them in other ways, but may refuse service to you if you’ve been using them a lot in the past, even if you don’t wield one now.

Being on (very) bad terms with the Healer’s guild can be dangerous. They are quite resourceful (thanks to all the donations..), and if your reputation get particularly low, they might just send out someone to do something about it…

Comments

  1. “Breaking their rules will reduce your reputation with them, while doing things they like (donating money to them, killing undead) will increase your reputation with them”

    This sounds great, only thing might be that you kill undead enemies kind of a lot in this game normally so the increases should probably be pretty low per kill.

    I like the reputation and rep. points a lot, however question: Is you exact reputation with the Healer’s Guild made known to the player or is it something more like “Favorable / Neutral / Despised”? I ask because if you’re dealing in hard points for censer costs seeing a general tag like “Neutral” might not really inform the player on his exact point total with them.

    “and if your reputation get particularly low, they might just send out someone to do something about it…”

    Yeah this is really cool, an avenging angel of sorts.

    Now for the real burning question: Will helmets, iron boots and stuff take away your martial attacks? I’m playing with an older build where they do but I always kind of never wear helmets or non-body armor because of this. Aaaand because finding a weapon in the game is for sure not a guarantee!

    Great work, regardless!

    1. Hey del_duio! Glad you like the changes!

      Answer to your questions:

      Yes, killing an undead monster will grant 1 rep, which is not much. If you are using censers, you usually have to donate gold as well.

      Reputation points are represented by a number in the attribute window together with hp/mp/ep, so it is not hidden.

      I don’t plan to do any changes to martial combat in this release. I know it is still a bit unintuitive with things like helmets reducing martial, but I’d rather wait until I have a complete idea on how to deal with it before making changes.

  2. Some comments/questions/suggestions:

    Overall, this sounds like a great idea! I like that instead of being something you completely build your character around (like stealth), it’s something that sort of nudges you in a general direction, while still having enough flexibility to accommodate multiple types of character builds.

    A couple questions:

    Am I correct that some actions (like using a sharp weapon) only drain your reputation to zero, while others (stealing, attacking helpless monsters, attacking neutral monsters) can put it *below* zero? And am I also correct that the Healer’s Guild won’t send anyone to attack you until your reputation is (presumably well) below zero?

    Also, does stealing only count if you’re caught, as it currently does with aggravation?

    Finally, a suggestion:

    Make deliberate attacks against unconscious monsters invariably fatal. Assume the character carries a small pocketknife to slit the creature’s throat, or something. Adjust the average reputation damage from doing so upwards by something like 2 or 3x.

    My reasoning is this: now that the reputation damage from attacking helpless monsters is permanent, I feel there’s no need to restrict the ability to do so – and having the ability to instakill unconscious monsters in melee will save the player having to manually target said monsters with rocks up to 5+ times.

    Given the possibility of an avenging angel (or however it’s flavored), I think players will quickly learn that slitting every unconscious monster’s throat isn’t a viable strategy, but knocking out a few key high-threat monsters (like lamplights) or high-reward monsters (like guard dogs) just might be worth it, as it currently is.

    Thanks again for making this game, and it’s great to see it back in active development!

    1. Hey ion_frigate, thank you very much for your input!

      First, your questions:
      Yes, I tried to make it as similar to how it was. So you have understood it exactly right: sharp weapons will never alone take you to the negatives. The guild is only concerned if followers are using sharp weapons. Stealing and attacking unconscious is what will take you to the negatives (which is exactly what used to incur aggravation). Reputation will only drop if you are caught stealing, again, similar to how it is now (actually, there’s a little change, you now will get a minor penality even if you get a close call, there’s more room for nuance).

      Your suggestion to instakill unconscious monsters makes a lot of sense, at least from melee distance. It would also reduce some frustration and remove the quite weird fact that attacking several times and miss would give a higher penalty than to hit immediately… I will certainly consider this.

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