Surrender = lose talisman = game over?

19 posts / 0 new
Last post
Surrender = lose talisman = game over?

I'm sure this has come up before (happened to others) but I tend not to risk surrendering, so hadn't hit this before... but a Bad Mutha left me no choice in an early-game encounter today. Imagine my horror when - after he accepted the shirt off my back - the Merga Wraith promptly spawned and killed me! I can only assume that was because my "surrender" gave the Bad Mutha my talisman?

If that was the case, shouldn't it be immune to "surrendering" the way it is left out of quick recipes? I don't mind losing everything else and I like the game trying to trick you into giving it up, but IMO it should be something you directly choose to remove or hand over, not something auto-surrendered in battle.

My Mods:SaveMan|Fishing|Shouldered|Bottles

This has come up before, but I'm still on the fence about whether to change it or not.

On one hand, you're right that this is a severe penalty for an already disadvantaged player. And worse, the outcome is both unexpected and likely unintentional.

On the other hand, if you're stealing the shirt off an opponent's back at gunpoint, you're going to notice he has a shiny talisman around his neck. And when that opponent begs you not to take the talisman, you're not going to listen. Rather, you'll take that to mean the talisman is even more worth taking.

So realistically, that talisman is top priority loot to steal, and it'd strike me as odd if you were left naked with a valuable like that on your neck.

With that in mind, are there any ways to make the theft of the talisman more fair? Were you unable to escape the wraith afterward due to injuries? Did it spawn too close?

I think there's already code in place to make the AI looting sometimes only partial. I.e. they won't take the talisman all the time.

Is there anything else that could be done to make it both fair and realistic?

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

To be fair Dan, I think you really overestimate the potential value of that talisman. It is described as being small thing made of copper and not a golden pendant incrusted with jewels. I am pretty sure that thing like that would not be of any significant value to a robber who looks for either survival necessities or real high-value "treasures".

In my head, it presents itself more along the lines all the other stuff that people would wear (and do wear IRL) simply for fashion/good luck - animal fangs, key-ring pendants, fake rabbit feet, religious symbols made out of wire (including copper one), wood or ivory. Cheap, fairgrounds stuff basically.

So unless the robber is collecting those as a trophies or is really pissed off that he found nothing else of value - he would actually leave it behind as not worth his trouble.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

I agree that it's not a priceless treasure. Indeed, it would appear to be more decorative than valuable.

However, I still stand by my point about the player taking the talisman if they were in the aggressor's shoes. I challenge you to find me a player who, when presented with a surrendering AI, wouldn't take an amulet or talisman. Especially since it has a relatively high value/weight ratio, and fits in a slot where few other items compete for space.

Even if it didn't have a resale value, the Bad Mutha has no necklace, so he wants one. It'll be a reminder of this victory :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Maybe we need a tattoo instead of a talisman.

You are right, but I think that this is only due to the fact that player's talisman is the one of the only two necklaces in the whole game (second being the "copper beads on string" that ATN warriors sometimes wear, for those who don't know). That would also create a secondary matter - since it is so rare, people would just assume that it has some "special" properties.

In reality, (and when discussing NPCs motivations, I am assuming we are basing those on reality) a lot of people wear similar kinds of (usually cheap, sometimes hand-crafted) jewelery and I am pretty certain even more would, in case of any collapse of social norms (official dress-code not existing anymore).

Basically, give 70% of NPCs one of five different necklaces, that are all worth similarly little and do nothing "extra", and most players will stop looting them after acquiring the one that they deem as looking coolest (75% will chose animal fang on a string of course). On top of that, add one or two with the words "silver" or "gold" in their name, and no one will look twice after some copper trinket.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Just happened to me again! (thank goodness for backup saves)

To be honest, whenever it happens, it really feels like a bug more than an intended and fair consequence. "Okay, I surrender! take my stuff!" BAM! Wraith appears. I kept thinking, why even have the surrender mechanic when it almost certainly results in this? Getting killed by the wraith or killed by the enemy (if surrendering wasn't ever possible) has the same outcome.

Now, to be fair, the first time I discovered the talisman-wraith connection, I didn't really like it; I felt that it forced the player into the "main plot" in a way that the older builds of the game did not. Now, though, I don't mind it at all; removing the talisman (or trading it) provides a genuinely cool surprise for new players, introduces the "plot stuff" to those who've not been actively looking for it, and (aside from taking up one slot of neck gear) causes no real negatives to keep it on... EXCEPT when it comes to being looted and/or surrendering.

In short, I really do think since it's such a key piece (probably the ONLY such piece) of gear, it should be the one item that looters never ever take unless you give it to them.

In terms of "in-universe" explanation for doing this, I'd say previous posts suggesting that your talisman is just junk jewelry at best are spot on. In today's world, if someone robs you, they'll take stuff of value (money, wallet, phone, watch, etc.). They almost certainly won't take your shirt because why would they want it? In NeoScavenger's world, however, decent clothes are hard to come by, so YES, they are going to take your nice jeans or boots to increase their own chance of survival or status. But some worthless leather and wire trinket around your neck? That they wouldn't possibly even notice without strip-searching you? Why bother? To them, it's either worthless, some sort of "gang sign" or "too creepy" in a clearly supernatural world.

Now, should you meet someone who's AWARE of what that talisman DOES, on the other hand, I wouldn't mind them trying to steal it. :)

My Mods:SaveMan|Fishing|Shouldered|Bottles

What if the surrendering process drew more attention to the talisman? E.g. "that's an interesting talisman you have there. Hand it over."

This might help with the confusion aspect, and cement the connection for new players between the talisman and the wraith.

I'm reluctant to make the talisman worthless for a couple of reasons. First, it's made of bronze (which contains copper), and copper is actually a fairly valuable material. A scavenging society might value copper even more than gold, especially in the shadow of a technophilic society like DMC.

Also, copper has a long and culturally significant history in the Michigan region. There's a mythological reason for the talisman being copper, and changing it

That said, we've not really touched on my other question:

With that in mind, are there any ways to make the theft of the talisman more fair? Were you unable to escape the wraith afterward due to injuries? Did it spawn too close?

Is the real problem that the player cannot escape the wraith after surrender? If the wraith appeared, and you could scramble away, would that be better?

Originally, I imagined the game becoming much more exciting once the talisman was gone. First, the player would be constantly running from an unwavering pursuer. (a.k.a. "Terminator" style) Second, the player would have a reason to go hunt down their attacker to get the talisman back.

If that post-talisman scenario never happens in practice, maybe I need to tweak some things so it does?

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

I don't have much experience with the wraith since I avoid removing the necklace at all costs, but I would say it's dumb if surrendering to one enemy necessitates fighting an enemy that's probably the strongest in the game. The surrender option may as well not exist if it's not a viable way to survive a fight.

If escaping the wraith is actually feasible, then it's less of a concern. My understanding is that the wraith is very hard to escape from, though, unless you happen to be in a hex with a bunch of DMC guards.

Simply making the necklace not be lootable by NPCs would be an easy fix to this. Maybe it's slightly unrealistic, but there are many more glaring examples of unrealism in the game that players accept as a matter of course.

"I'm reluctant to make the talisman worthless for a couple of reasons. First, it's made of bronze (which contains copper), and copper is actually a fairly valuable material. A scavenging society might value copper even more than gold, especially in the shadow of a technophilic society like DMC.

Also, copper has a long and culturally significant history in the Michigan region. There's a mythological reason for the talisman being copper, and changing it"

I live in michigan, copper is common as hell. It's so common that we don't even mine it anymore. I had a huge stone on my mantle at my last house with a really cool looking copper vein in it that my dad found in the woods. It literally takes no effort to get copper if you want some. My area used to be full of copper mines but copper is so cheap that it is cheaper to recycle it than it is to mine it so all the mines are shut down.

Copper is in no way more valuable than gold. Gold is more malleable, and a better conductor, and more rare. Copper is only used instead of gold beacuse it is so much more cheap. Gold also doesn't rust, where copper rusts and becomes an ugly dull green.

Melting bronze to get the copper out of it would be extremely difficult. Copper melts at over 1000*C and bronze at about 950*C. That would take advanced furnaces and cooling techniques to get the tin out that melts at a mere 240*C. Likely dissolving the tin in an acid then precipitating it out would be the best way but would require access to chemicals and chemistry knowledge as well as furnaces in close vicinity.

Basically the looters should treat it as a piece of trash with no use, like the player treats a 80% shirt when they are already wearing 3 99% shirts. Why should he bother to steal it?

Once you have the wrath chasing you you can survive till you need to cook or sleep. Once you need to stop in a square to keep your regular needs then the game is over. Perhaps you could get lucky and get to ATN or DMC and have the warriors fight the wraith but they would probably not stand a chance or pay any interest in the wraith it's exceedingly difficult to get them to fight the wraith or dogmen while wearing the dog whistle. The only time I killed the wraith was a single shot from a hunting rifle on the first turn of combat that instantly killed it. Every other time it consistently dodges bullets and meele attacks or heals immediately after being hit.

If you expect new players to know that this creature is basically only killable by lucky super crits then that is really weird game design.

You guys may be right. Making the necklace ignored by AI when looting is probably the easiest solution to the problem with the least-jarring side-effects. So I'll make a note to look into that solution.

The wraith being inescapable may be another issue worth looking into. The appearance of the wraith isn't meant to be insta-death. Rather, it's meant to be the beginning of a new phase in the game. I.e. constantly on the run, and either seeking the lost talisman, or seeking answers/allies before the wraith gets you.

If the wraith cannot be escaped, that interesting gameplay change never happens. I just have to make sure whatever I do doesn't make the wraith a non-threat, either. (I seem to remember it being too easy to escape in the past, which is why it can charge instead of just advance in combat.)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

That is, I believe, another problem entirely. Escaping from the enemy is rather hard if he is constantly using aggressive moves (charge, attack). However, normal creatures/NPCs can screw the chase up by tripping and falling or choosing non-aggressive moves (walk, hide behind cover, etc.) - they do that cause they're stupid, but it does simulate reality quite well (one cannot run all the time, and needs to slow down and look around every once in a while).

The wraith however, do no such "humanly" things as tripping, and continues to close the distance tirelessly making it barely even possible to outrun him (especially without Athletic), which can be most frustrating for the more inexperienced players. Especially taking into consideration that the whole surrendering to the enemy and loosing the talisman most likely left the character already tired and bare-feet (and quite possible wounded) in the process, making the escape even more... unpleasant experience.

Then, on the other hand, is a fact that once escaped the "wright chase" can go two ways - either player lost a lot of equipment and is wounded/in pain and simply cannot outrun the monster and succumbs either to environment or the Merga, or player knows his way around and is in good shape and has no problem leaving wright far behind. Either way, the "man on the run" experience has a rather low chance to happen.


If I may suggest, maybe something more encounter-based could help. Wraith being relatively "escapable" but once activated, returning periodically via timed encounter, until killed or the talisman is worn again, resetting the whole sequence. Cause the way it is right now, the potential for such a fine adventure like you envisioned is there, but chance of this happening is extremal low. Making the talisman non-stealable will sort the frustrating problem, but kill the potential in the whole situation.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

I like the recurring encounter idea. The wraith is a cool part of the game, but unfortunately it means death for most players that encounter it. If it disappeared temporarily after you escape the initial encounter, then reappeared randomly at a later time it would be interesting as a constant threat to the player.

Perhaps the solution lies in the original concept somewhere? Vengeance spirits rarely want to simply kill their targets, they want to make them suffer.

Between that, the cryo stasis chamber, and the lost memories, it seems hardly satisfying to kill Philip off. Merga Wraith lost his trail for decades. now the chase is on again.

Some suggestions off the top of my head:

* First time the Wraith enters combat with you, it advances until it gets close enough to "see" that you don't have the memories you should in order to understand why Death Has Come. It disappears, giving you a brief respite to gear up and get your stuff back.

* The character dreams of the Wraith once the talisman is off, as it comes looking for you.

* If you go to sleep without the talisman on, you might wake up surrounded by animal skins and rotten meat. Especially creepy if you had weird dreams.

That sounds like a mighty cool story idea (which I may or may not use at some point :) but, somewhat sadly, it does not fit with the setting really - this is a deep into spoiler territory, but the Wraith is less of a spirit of vengeance and more like a guy with an agenda.

Still, some sort of an interaction like that would be much more satisfying than simply making the talisman non-stealable (which, on the other hand, is better than having, an almost un-killable, monster slaughtering the clueless noobs).

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

I like the tension and pacing of that suggestion, amul. Nice build-up to creep the player out :)

Spoiler: Highlight to view
As Kaaven points out, though, there may be some backstory reasons why this spirit does just want vengeance. It's more interested in stopping PK before he does more damage. If you're really not shy about spoilers:

I have, for now, made the talisman ignored when surrendering. It's the quickest way to solve the problem and there's a chance it'll be overlooked as unrealistic. Given more time, however, I should look into doing something like what you suggest. I.e. use plot devices to warn the player before endangering them.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Huh. That spoiler (while VERY spoiler-y) was fascinating and added some interesting depth to the experience. Thank you. :)

NEO Scavenger: FAQ
10 Ways (not) to Die - A beginner's guide

another idea:

Offer to talk to the Merga Wraith, and it starts a dialogue tree where you can try to convince it you're not the guy he's looking for. Or he offers to talk, and then gloats, or gives vague plot-foreshadowing threats, before his metaphysical equivalent to a pager goes off, and he has to take a call.

How about taking a bit of both ideas? Let the fight come to the point were the enemy asks for the talisman to be handed over. Then if the player decides to take it off, let the wraith be spawned. As far as I could read from all the posts when the player puts on the talisman again the wraith stays close by but does not attack.
So the story should evolve like following. The wraith spawns and attacks the enemy. Because as stated out it wants to kill the player himself and not let any other person kill it. In the same time as they both fight who gets to kill the player. He gets a shocking discovery and can try to run from it (either only as story thread or in real ingame fight). After and if he managed to run and the wraith most likely killed the other person. He gets the story thread pointing out to him, that this creature seems to be connected to the strange talisman he still has clutched in his hands. Then he can decide if to put it on again or throw it away. If he puts it on the wraith proceeds as was explained (stays close but does not attack).