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Accomodating spheres of influence and NPCs onto the game board; A possible approach.

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    Accomodating spheres of influence and NPCs onto the game board; A possible approach.

    I made the google doc above to give people a sense of how we can visually represent

    1) The game board being progressively taken over by the player
    2) How shrines can potentially project "seats of power"
    3) What "upgrading" these shrines might mean in practice
    4) How competing cults could potentially be interacted with
    5) How do deal with narrative "edge cases"

    First of all, to explain what we're thinking about right now;

    A game world populated by multiple clickable NPCs that you can recruit and utilize to control other NPCs. SotU was fairly similar, but one of the issues with SotU was that it didn't really do a very good job communicating to the player HOW MUCH of the board they control. That would be the board w/o the circles and buildings. You click on those, get scenes, work them to 100% control, and move on. Maybe the icon changes color to let you know you've completed it. Not very compelling from a "conquest" PoV.

    Enter "shrines/places of worship". These are "structures" in the game world that the PC can acquire through various means. Maybe a dying widow can be convinced to cede her house to the cause in exchange for the promise of salvation. Maybe a historic building can be bought and re-purposed... list goes on.
    For now, focus on the left side of the diagram: When you first acquire a shrine (the church like icon), you are given a small radius of influence. You will now get a small bonus for all interactions with NPCs in that radius (say, 5%). As you upgrade your "shrine" tenets, you will be able to expend resources to upgrade the shrine to up to two higher tiers, expanding that radius, and the bonus % change to all NPCs in the radius. If you have a relic, you can put it on display in shrines of certain tier (thinking tier 2), raising the %bonus to 10%. While that not might feel like a lot, I'm playing with the idea of "shrine actions" that you can use to exert pressure on NPCs, raising your chances of success. E.g. a "preach" action, which will increase your chances of success across the board by 5%. This shrine action could also be leveraged after the fact to raise Wealth/Faith/Charisma based on the number of controlled NPCs in the control radius.

    Next, let's look at how shrines can help us implement competing faiths.
    Focusing on the right of the diagram, you'll see two churches with overlapping spheres of influence. Now imagine if the player wanted control of that NPC; he could just try to grab that NPC w/o bothering with shrines, but the odds of him succeeding would be low on account of the NPC being in the sphere of influence of a rival faction. What he could do would be to buy the nearby shrine, upgrade it, and then try to soften the NPC up so he can grab it easier. Alternatively, you could, say, attack the rival shrine, shrinking their sphere of influence, and making the NPC more accessible that way.

    Now, how would be include, say, a murderous rabble of thief in the picture? Consider the clump of NPCs between both groups with it's own sphere of influence. There is no way for the PC to leverage a shrine to grab them. That being said, the group itself represents a potential three followers, and there's two more followers out there; however, taking over this gang is going to be an event, in and of itself, but it's also going to be distinct from say, leveraging shrines to control PCs; by deliberately positioning these NPC clumps outside of the radius of Shrines, we can mechanically and narratively turn them into bubbles unto themselves.

    Quite a unique take-- you've outdone yourself here in terms of visualisation! Perfect timing too-- I have a candidate to commission the map-- a professional cartographer/illustrator-- ready to go.

    I was thinking the progression would be: get a convert; convert turns into a cell-- cell can then be upgraded via structure (compound is 1st level)

    so once a NPC is converted, they can then collect a group of followers depending on how high up in the cult they are-- their power then gets boosted by their structure (starting w/ a compound).

    alternately the NPCs can be converted into specialists as well

    in locations with multiple NPCs, you could have multiple groupings too, so a cell, a sect, a diocese, etc and/or a combination of groups and specialists

    your idea to have a radius is interesting-- I was envisioning a big map, with mini-maps like your example for the bigger towns/cities; I think your map suggests different levels/hidden locations/etc sitting within them as possibilities too
    Always working behind the scenes


      Diagram updated; but before i get to that


      On convert progression: The issue i have with that; can EVERY convert be potentially upgraded to full blown shrine tier? Honestly, i don't like this idea much, not because it's NOT a cool concept; it actually is. The problem is more one of implementation; if ANY convert can potentially be upgraded this then posits a lot of complications in terms of scripting interactions for each one of them, and the issues of having multiple states for NPCs that overlap each other... That's not even going into the degree of visual clutter each one of them potentially having a sphere of influence is going to have.
      There's a narrative argument (and a mechanical one too) to be made for not all followers being equal; even though we can narrativelly describe ALL of them as followers, some of them will go on to become Priests, while others will just be rank and file.
      As such I would argue that the "shrines" i'm proposing will be nominally led by a "special" follower that can be recruited; This follower will have his/her own narrative arc as they become more deeply involved with the cult, and their sphere of influence will grow accordingly. Depending on your choices in the progression, they'll gain access to actions unique to each shrine/region and/or influence specific bonuses.
      This allows us to enact the fantasy of "using followers to attract followers" without having to manage the complexity of "anyone can be a follower". This also makes clear NPC tiers, and in turn allows us to have key NPCs on which we can lavish narrative depth and art assets. For example, we can get spicy and have one such NPC/Leader you can approach an ageing prostitute; you can convert her into a saucy nun with a racy past, or you can be a bit more... exotic, with the kind of spiritual leadership she advocates.

      On Cells: I like the idea, but I really feel that, in the spirit of not all followers being equal, Cells should be NPC groups predisposed to be specialists, and, again, have their own story arcs to go with it. These are the "FRINGE" groups i was referring to in my Keyword list. While the notion of "anyone can become a fanatical assassin", for example, a mass shooting would require... guns... and, when you think about it, the world has, sadly, no shortage of people who will undertake this kind of wholesale slaughter for little to no reason. As such, the determining factor shouldn't be getting someone to do it, but having access to a gun smuggling cell to enable it. This is not to say you should not have to expend a follower to stage a mass shooting event, but i think the Cell shoot be the thing that enables the mass shooting, not necessarily it's perpetrator
      Proposal: Essentially, instead of having one generic type of follower that is "infinitely up-gradable", differentiate NPCs into
      (a) "generic NPCs" that grant token bonuses and generally count towards granting access to other stuff (e.g. gain an influence bonus every X followers, or X followers are required to reach a higher influence tier) and/or multiply the effectiveness of other NPC types.
      (b) "NPC/Leaders" which will start/grow/apply actions to spheres of influence when recruited
      (c) NPC cells, which are special types of NPCs that grant unique actions/possibilities

      On the new stuff in the diagram: Radio towers, which broadcast your message. Maybe even a radio station you could take over. Point is, they over a wide area bonus to your effectiveness when you climb to the top and hack the... oops, wrong game. Anyway, however you take control of them.
      The big ol' bag of gold on the left; pursuant to what SC was saying, this is an event/area that won't be selectable/visible until you reach that level of influence. This can apply to any number of things, including say, a Factory (influence over it meaning that its workers are now followers). i've differentiated cells; some will have a criminal, others a financial slant. For example, the cell near the radio tower could be a small financial cabal eager to flex a financial muscle, or maybe with beef with the owner of the nearby radio station... you get the idea.


        I like where you're going. And I've been thinking about the story arch... tbc in that thread
        Always working behind the scenes


        • mackaie
          mackaie commented
          Editing a comment
          Like Selectacorp, I like the map idea and the proposals Le_Wang