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Ways to improve the game

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 6:09 pm
by Cirin Icerider
I've been playing NERO since July 1998, that's almost 9 years now. In that time I've played at WAR, NERO Kalamazoo, NERO Midwest, NERO Middle Tennessee and NERO Kentucky, and NERO Kentucky is definitely my favorite chapter and Ben and Kyle have consistently run events at a level of quality we could only dream of when we first started playing.

However, even good things can get better, and I thought we could have a thread for constructive criticism. Things we could suggest and discuss to improve how NERO Kentucky works.

Here are some of my suggestions:

Locks and Traps:
I think it would be a good thing to have more locks and traps in the game.
I'm not arguing this one out of self interest, and that's provable since Cirin doesn't have Pick Locks or Disarm Trap :) However, from what I've seen these "trap rogue" skills see very little, if any use at NERO Kentucky. When the chapter first opened, I donated two old-style locks. Coming on two years now, I've never seen a lock actually come up at a mod here at NKY, or a trap on a mod (there might have been one once I'm not recalling). I know the PC's usually act with caution around a chest just in case it's trapped, but I've never seen one actually go off or have to be disarmed. If they'd actually get used, I wouldn't mind donating another lock or two in case the first ones were lost, or building a few simple trap reps to put in chests or on mods.

NPC Spellcasters:
This is one thing I've seen far more often at NERO Kentucky than any other chapter, almost a signature of the chapter. Every group of NPCs out there will have a spellcaster. If you see two or three orcs, you can bet gold that one will be a shaman likely casting chaos. The problem with this is that NPC spellcasters can be a huge resource drain on PCs. Ever wonder why high-level PCs are loathe to go out and fight random monsters? When repopping chaos casters throwing Taint Blood and other takedown spells suck up much of the healing of the town in one encounter, that is considered bad.

I do understand that it is sound tactics that any intelligent race would understand to always go into battle with a healer, but from a balance perspective it is troublesome to be on the receiving end of seemingly endless waves of spellcasters throwing takeout spells.

NPCing for maxout:
I know the current policy at NERO Kentucky is against it, but I'd like to make an argument in favor of the "NPCing for maxout" that is sometimes done at some chapters.

For those who don't know, it's a system whereby if a PC goes out-of-game and spends a certain quota of time per event NPCing (typically something like 4 hours per game-day, maybe a little less if you schedule it at check-in so NPC shack knows they'll have NPCs available at a given time), they get free maxout. Thus, there is a very strong incentive for PCs to do part-time NPCing.

First, doing so puts more NPCs at plot disposal, allowing for modules or encounters that require a larger number of NPCs, including some that you just can't do with 3 or 4 NPCs like we often have. Want a halfway-decently repped goblin hoard or wave of zombies that doesn't come in 2 or 3 at a time? Want a carousing band of gypsies to pass through town? Like a fully-repped squad of Elite Guard, Rangers and Militia to come through escorting the Lord Regent on their way to battle with Tethrin's or Lannessa's forces? It would be a lot easier to get the manpower for it with this system.

Second, it lets certain groups of players be out-of-game at certain times and this helps plot send encounters that are more appropriate out. If the nobles and high-levels go NPC for a while, they can come back as a hoard of kobolds and challenge the low-levels. If the low-levels go NPC, they can come back as an encounter that would wipe the floor with their PC's, but it also helps get the low-levels OOG skills by giving them more practice at playing a wider variety of roles.

It encourages people to NPC, and very often people don't want to NPC for an entire event because NERO Kentucky often only has 3 or 4 events a year, and sitting out from PCing one of those is a big deal (especially for those who are deeply involved in plot, like the nobles and officials).

By making it easier to max-out and not requiring money, you are slightly increasing the character advancement rate, but with as few events as we have it's minor compared to some donations for goblin points, and I know there are some other things for PCs to spend money on, like estates and holdings, that are in the works.

Even if you don't want to do it for max-out, some kind of strong incentive (goblin points, draw from a grab-bag of LCO treasures like some LCO components or minor magic items or some production items) for doing a short NPC stint (like 2 or 3 hours during the event scheduled at check-in) might have some of the beneficial effects of increasing NPC availability and player skills I listed above.

En masse. monster attacks
Something I learned in my time at NERO Kalamazoo was that huge waves of small monsters attacking en masse even without spellcaster support can whittle down even very high level PC's. Combining the "Spellcaster" and "NPCing" ideas above, if you had a larger number of NPCs, sending a large number of something trivial in power like base goblins or skeletons to just keep coming on and on poses a whole new challenge. If most or all the high level veterans are NPCing this, and leaving this encounter to the newer players, it also gives them a big chance to shine and save the day. The monsters don't have much body, and aren't using big takedowns, but they surround PCs, wear them down, make them chew through healing and armor, and force them to use tactics (or above-average fighting skill) to survive.

I also saw it used to good effect at NERO Midwest when they were playing through the Drake Wars. Take a good chunk of the PC population and have them NPC, outfit them as an army on the march (scaled to be a challenge but not a wipeout for the remaining PCs), and with only fairly short notice from an NPC scout/lookout (like the Militia Checkpoints around Elmrisen) have them come in-game at the edge of the IG area and try to march through town on their way to elsewhere. Instead of having lots of repops happening individually, having them repop as a whole second column once the first one is defeated gives PC's a moment to regroup, and underscores the "military formation" style of the enemy. For the ongoing wars that are a part of NERO Kentucky plot, an encounter or two like this with could go a long way to building that "nation at war" feel.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:53 am
by sanguineburnflame
I like your ideas. I have had pretty much the same thoughts on these topics. I would definitely be interested in doing my part to help NPC if plot does decide to implement these suggestions.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:35 pm
by Layander
I will npc alot more in the next event if I can but I like dugeon type scene with traps, locks treasure chests, enemies exetera, it would be nice to break us into groups of 4-5 and run is through a dungeon or wilderness dungeon and have encounters scaled to the group a 4 on 4 or 6 on 6 fight would be great for entertaining people and inspire some roleplaying, comraderie ect. I could help write scenes or npc while scenes are going on in order to occupy those who are not currently on the adventures. something more typical to a adventure suppliment. what do you think?

My two silver's worth

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:04 am
by Skjaldbakka
Something that I like that I missed at the last event is townies. We did have things come into town, but with the exception of a few drunken orcs, nothing for the lowbies to hone their skills on. I like a few batches of low power baddies over the course of the weekend (random encounters as it were), to hone my OOG skill, and to taunt. You don't really have to worry about scaling with these, because they scale themselves. The high level people likely will ignore them because they aren't much threat, and nobody will want to expend spell resources, so it's really more like sparring with benefits.

Erik Schlintz
aka Camden Rose

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:03 pm
by Cirin Icerider
I've seen dungeons done in NERO, but it's hard to do, but very cool and very memorable when done properly.

We don't have a really good place at Camp McKee, even less so at Camp Cherokee to do this that I know of, but the best dungeons I've ever seen worked like this:

Take a big empty stretch of field, put poles in the ground at 10 foot intervals, creating a grid. String ropes from the tops of them to create a rope grid. Hang tarps from the ropes. The tarps can be pushed aside to create open areas, or closed to create walls. Cover the top with another tarp. The walls can be moved over and over to create many dungeon layouts, and with the roof over it, especially at night, it's very dark and quite possible to sneak around, load it with traps and hostile monsters. Roof collapses can be simulated by lowering the tarp (I've seen that done as an 80 point Massive Mechanical Trap, with a tripwire to bring down a pole that brings the whole ceiling down.)

At some campsites, they have very large cabins/lodges where they can move the bunks around and with creative draping of tarps and moving the bunks around they can create a small dungeon.

I think NERO Middle Tennessee has done dungeon crawls at their cave events, but that involves running an entire event inside a cave they rented, so that's really a special case.

It's rare, but I have been on a few full-up dungeon crawls at NERO but it does take work well above and beyond the normal NERO event to do it. If we wanted to set up a dungeon crawl at, say, the November Elmrisen event, we could start planning for it now somehow.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 10:22 pm
by Rhandhali
The first LARP I ever went to required you to put in a small quota of hours as an NPC. I believe it was like a total of two hours or so over the course of the weekend. It only really worked because there were so many people at the event. There were always monsters about and plenty of them and everyone had the opportunity to fight everyone else - you never had the chance to let your guard down because for all you knew some NPC was rolling the tavern while everyone was out huddled around the bonfire outside.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 4:22 am
by Skjaldbakka
Take a big empty stretch of field, put poles in the ground at 10 foot intervals, creating a grid. String ropes from the tops of them to create a rope grid. Hang tarps from the ropes. The tarps can be pushed aside to create open areas, or closed to create walls. Cover the top with another tarp. The walls can be moved over and over to create many dungeon layouts, and with the roof over it, especially at night, it's very dark and quite possible to sneak around, load it with traps and hostile monsters. Roof collapses can be simulated by lowering the tarp (I've seen that done as an 80 point Massive Mechanical Trap, with a tripwire to bring down a pole that brings the whole ceiling down.)


There are a few good places where you could set something like this up:
The field by the baden-powell lodge (the shelter near the mod where we rescued lord Teerik).
The field on the other side of the dam by the lake.
The field by the admin building.
The field by the scoutcraft shelter.
The field near the parking lot by the dam.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:27 pm
by Layander
I can spend some time saterday setting up a dungeon on saterday and i can spend some time writing some dungeon stories if there is a way to stock the dungeon with monsters and loot, if anyone else wants to help do this let me know i would realy like to see this idea go somewhere, what do you think? let me know and my email is sir_artor@hotmail.com.