Monday, 12 May 2008

Crafting and Economics

One of the most oft-praised things about Dungeon Crawl is the fact that you can't sell things you have found in your travels in the dungeons, and as a result cash is hoarded and treated like a precious resource where every gold coin counts, and where misbuying even a simple scroll is cringeworthy. This is in contrast to the typical 'band where, with the effective availability of unlimited dungeons, the modus-operandi in the early game (well, my early games at least) seems to involve repeated scum-delving carrying back armfuls of loot to the surface to built up funds in an inflationary fashion. This differing behaviour is an example of the differing economic models that have been implemented, and which affect gameplay to a large degree.

So which type of economy do I want in Kharne? My first instinct (and one my tabletop DnD players will definitely attest to) is to be parsimonius. In my opinion 'bands are the equivalent of a Monty Haul campaign - whilst it works for them and initially is enjoyable, after a while, money loses its value and becomes more of an annoyance, not an integral part of the gameplay. However, unlike Crawl, Kharne will have a town level (actually more of a root level where all the various different dungeon branches in the game can be accessed), and whilst I think the no-selling works for Crawl, I do not want to copy Crawl's economics wholesale.

I have come up with a third approach, one I don't think I've seen implemented much in Roguelikes, although it is de rigeur in most MMORPGs. Firstly, much like Crawl, I will have no shops that buy items from players. Players can spend their hard-earned gold on buying items, but over the course of a player's lifetime, I want the sums of gold they can get their hands on to be measured in the hundreds or thousands, not the tens of thousands you find in most 'bands. But there is an alternative method of item acquirement, and it involves one of my main long term aims of Kharne:

to introduce an item crafting system as an alternative method of facilitating character advancement

If anyone has played World of Warcraft (especially post-Level 60), they will know exactly what I mean (think of the Kharne system as a combination of Enchanting and Blacksmithing). My initial thoughts on how this could be implemented are as follows:

  • Items can be disenchanted into various ingredients.
  • New Items can be constructed from these ingredients, and other drops from the dungeons.
  • These items can be made at forges randomly located throughout the dungeons and in the town level.
  • Power levels of items constructed depend both on the ingredients used and the location of the forge that was used to build the item (for example, in the town you could only make less powerful items, to make the really powerful items would require a forge in the depths of the dungeon).
  • Some of these constructed magical items could be convenant items - they grow in power with the user in some fashion.
  • Recipes for magical item creation are available randomly in the dungeon and (for a few basic items) from the town level.
  • These recipes are randomised in some fashion so that each new game does not involve grinding repetatively for the same magical items.

What I want to ensure, however I implement this is that Magical Item Creation should never be obligatory, but rather is an alternative method of character advancement - it should be seen as another way of giving a character an additional edge.

Your thoughts on this are most welcome.

UPDATE: Just after I wrore this post, I found a very interesting (And extremely extensive) thread on r.g.r.d. from a while back discussing crafting systems and the following post by R. Dan Henry in that thread gets to the gist of what I'm trying to achieve (and avoid!):

This [item creation] can be balanced if the character that can make an uber-item has some weakness that makes up for it.

Maybe you are decked out in the finest gear Central-Earth has ever seen, but still have poorer odds of actually hitting with your Awesomeness War-Blade of Universal-Slaying than a fighter would with his simple Strong Long-Axe of Human-Hacking, not to mention hit points only the most specialized mages would consider respectable.

Or maybe you have to sacrifice for every uber-item you make. Your Horn of Artifactness may be able to shatter an ordinary dungeon level when you blow it and deflect spells of darkness 90% of the time, but your maximum character level is 29 instead of 30 and your (non-inflatable brawn and smarts stats are each one lower than you rolled.

If there is a hard clock to the game, the cost in creating items could just be in time and materials.


Mario Donick said...

In LambdaRogue, you can disassemble all kinds of items. At the moment, these resources only can be sold, but I once planned to make them more usable. One of my first ideas was to give the player the possibility to build his/her own house, another one would be of course to create his/her own items. I did not decide yet what to do :-)

Dave said...

Did you get my email about the FoV algorithm, by the way?

Mario Donick said...

Yes, thanks. I did not have so much time (enjoying the nice weather on the one hand and implementing mouse support in my game on the other took me the last two days O.o), but I'll send you an answer soon.