Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Dark Host pseudo prc

By making an in-game bargain with an lower plane power, you can gain access to the Dark Host pseudo prc. In return for a significant stat boost (but random as to whether physical or mental stats are boosted) and forced alignment change towards evil, the player loses some control over the pc due to the influence of the being they host. The idea is similar in concept to the story of one community member's adventure (I won't say who since it would kind of spoil if for players of that person's adventure), at least I can say I had the idea independently.

This is an entirely optional bargain, it is not necessary to complete anything in the game, it is not given anywhere the player must go, and the player is warned in-game of the unpredictable nature of the bargain. Lance Botelle has a poll up now on predestination versus free will. Is your pc's answer to the lines below predestined, or free will?

PC: So I become just an empty shell for something. Somehow, that does not sound appealing.
Lower plane power: You do not become an empty shell. You... share, though of course you are strong enough to remain in control.
PC: Of course. Somehow I doubt you are entirely telling the truth.
Lower plane power: How much is truth and how much is lies is for you to decide...

Here are some examples of the loss of control: one quest has the player try to convince some local ruffians to take care of something so the player doesn't. A normal player can use appraise, bluff, or taunt. The Dark Host forces the player to use intimidate, as the being they host overrides the pc and speaks through the character. Another quest sees the Dark Host forcing the player into a fight they'd most likely avoid otherwise. It's not all bad consequences, a murder investigation the player is asked to undertake is instantly solved because the Dark Host "sees" the evil of the murderer, allowing the pc to instantly identify them.

There are currently around 20-25 planned spots for the Dark Host to influence things, eight are implemented so far. Players will generally be given the Dark Host option late in the game, so they probably won't see them all. Exactly how many a player sees will depend on whether they get the physical Dark Host, or the mental one, as the respective beings have different approaches to their evilness. The physical one is more of an intimidating brute personality, while the mental one is more of a conniving knowledge dealer. The Dark Host dialog options are unique, so if a non Dark Host player can use intimidation during conversation, the Dark Host intimidation the player must choose has a different line. The Dark Host dialog lines are umm, appropriate to what happened to the pc. People may not like their lines, but they did make the choice that allowed it. I had complaints about how you could do and say evil things in Path of Evil (yes, I know, I warned people of that in the campaign description, I still had complaints), and Dark Host is worse

I'm torn about giving the player an opportunity to cure themselves of this state. One possibility, the player tries, but the cure automatically fails (predestination!), and the player is stuck with it.


  1. An enjoyable read ... very interesting! I like the way you think. And thanks for the blog link!

    I'm impressed that you already have 8 of the 20-25 planned events already done. This is certainly turning into another interesting project.

    I can't believe you had complaints! Predestined to I guess. ;)


  2. I guess I wasn't clear. The Dark Host doesn't get 20-25 new and unique quests/events, it's that existing ones just play out differently if the player has the Dark Host. Things like different conversation lines and different skill checks are pretty straightforward to implement. Outcomes that are normally only possible ones become forced on the player, with unique dialog.

    Dark Host gives about 8-10 unique things that will happen only for them, but these things are in existing quests/events. These range from the player refusing holy water to having a henchman they otherwise couldn't have for two areas. It's mostly like class specific content.

  3. Hi Kamal,

    Ah! I see. Thanks for clarifying that. I thought that seemed like exceptionally fast creativity! I still believe it adds a great element to what you are doing though!


  4. I like it!

    I am a fan of the player losing control of situations or having them directed in a different way then intended. I used the half-orc barbarian for this on occasion. He would initiate battles with NPCs that could have been avoided or would rush into a battle before the player was able to glean some information from their attackers.

    It is good that some decisions a player makes have long term consequences or effects, most unknown at the time of the decision.

    With the Dark Host will the normal conversation choices not be available (a whole new node in the conversation)? Also have you considered putting a will save to maintain control and then use the standard conversation choices with a successful save? The check may be easier on the physical vs the mental. With that instead of allowing the player to remove the demon, like you are considering, they could have some demonic training or lore. This would allow them easier will saves to better maintain control of themselves, while still receiving the demonic benefits. A trained player would then be able to restrain the demon or allow them to take control opening the bonus content.

  5. With Dark Host, normal conversation choices are not available, only the Dark Host choice. The dialog lines make it clear the being is speaking. I hadn't considered will save for control, I don't really want to minimize the amount of effects it will have.

    Being a thief focused mod, general murkiness of events is big in the plot. One thing that's developed is player choices having a large effect on the plot. The player can sharply change the plot, enemies, bosses, ending etc based on decisions they make. Its easier to do that in an "open world" setting like Crimmor. You can f*** things up, not receive any special feedback you did so, and not realize it until it's too late. I consider the "bad endings" just as valid storywise as the "good endings".

    I'm expecting some "how could you do that? That's not heroic!" feedback when I eventually release. But Crimmor isn't about being a hero, it's about being a Shadow Thief in the city. You could call it my neutral mod. You can do plenty of evil, and you can do plenty of good. In official lore, Crimmor's Shadow Thieves actively protect the city from threats, and that's something you can do in the module.