Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Thoughts on Permadeath

"You must pay for your mistakes and choices, sometimes at the cost of life. Restoring games is discouraged and only provided to allow continuing split games." - Roguetemple on Permadeath

As previously mentioned, one of the differences in this version of Kharne is that the game wil be balanced around the implementation of permadeath. However, I do want to extend to the player the possibility of getting around permadeath. Not as a buffer for gross stupidity (the penalty for that in a Roguelike should always be death) but rather as reward for additional preparation and careful play.

So what could be implemented that wouldn't be overpowered? Roguebasin lists many alternatives, but there are a few in particular I think could be easily implemented in Kharne. The first are powerful necromantic magical spells would give the player a chance of ressurecting. Of course, there would be a heavy price to pay for such twisting of fate (perhaps coming back as an undead, which would be a whole different game experience). Another is a powerful artifact (which should be unique, albeit randomly found) that allows a single resurrection under certain circumstances. Again, there should be a penalty associated with use.

What I haven't mentioned is resurrection by deity. The original Kharne had a half-implemented (and -arsed) deity system. Although I've not played it, the roguelike Incursion appears to have a textbook resurrection by deity system:

" Incursion...The basic theory is that if you're in good standing with your diety, he can ressurect you if you die, but (A) some of the gods don't do this, while others do it only at varying levels of favor, (B) you lose an experience level as well as a point of Constitution when you get raised, and move back to the start of the dungeon (or the local temple, when I get wilderness levels done), (C) you need to attain a certain minimum character level before being raised and (D) you have a ressurection survival chance that is nearly certain the first time, and grows worse and worse with each death -- so it's only "certain" the first time."

I'm not convinced about this, but perhaps if deities are implemented in the new Kharne, this sort of system might be worth considering. What do you think?


The Wicked Flea said...

One way you could leave in permadeath is to have a dynamic difficulty system. The idea would be deaths to wins as a ratio, and then lower the difficulty until it's more of a challenge. And if the player hits a winning streak, then you can up the difficulty significantly on their next game/dungeon.

I like the idea of penalized resurrection, as we're not talking about truly returning to life -- which I see as abused in 90% of all roguelikes and RPGs out there. I love the idea that the after-death continuation of gameplay results in an undead character. It would be great if that could also be used in the plot. (For instance, a vampire kills the character but finds their interest in necromancy interesting enough to "turn them", and so the player becomes a vampire with different intrinsics.)

There's no true right or wrong, but the avoidance of permadeath by diety gets boring. Case in point: POWDER. I had a recent game, dove way down ... but I had extreme favor with the warrior god and he wouldn't let me die. I finally found an unique critter, blue dragon actually, who managed to kill me 6+ times and THEN I died. It hit a point of monotony.

Dave said...

I've never actually played POWDER, but it seems that in the circumstances you're describing, death avoidance seems more like a chore than anything.

As for undead characters, I don't want to make them normally available (I think Undead characters in Crawl are somewhat broken), but they would give room for many interesting game effects. For example. lets say that our brave little '@' was resurrected (somehow) as an undead. He/she (or maybe even it - do undead have functional genitalia?) might not have any normal health regeneration (and would have to rely upon potions and wands and so on), but could become invulnerable or resistant to a wide swathe of magic that affects living creatures. Oblivion, for example) did the whole vampire thing very well, IMHO.

I think there are a great many possibilities for interesting gameplay for such a character in a Roguelike.