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Old September 25, 2020, 13:20   #1
Dean Anderson
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Feedback wanted on new feature

I'm thinking of adding gods to Cthangband, and here's my idea of how I'd do it.

Since priests in Cthangband get two realms of magic (either Life or Death, plus either Chaos, Corporeal, Folk, Nature, or Tarot) my thought was that there would be five gods in the game (with names taken from the names of Great Ones in Lovecraft's Dreamlands, of course), corresponding to the five realms.
  • Nath-Horthath - god of war, gives Chaos magic
  • Lobon - god of youth and healing, gives Corporeal magic
  • Zo-Kalar - god of birth and death, gives Folk magic
  • Oukranos - god of the rivers, gives Nature magic
  • Tamash - god of magic and illusion, gives Tarot magic

The player will have a Favour score for each god, and this will go up and down as the game progresses. Each god will have a certain type of creature that it hates, and killing those will gain you favour with that god; and a type of creature that it likes, and killing those will lose you favour with that god. Additionally there will be altars dotted around and you can sacrifice items at these to gain favour with one of the gods based on the value of the item you sacrifice. I'm thinking that it should be balanced so keeping all the gods happy without sacrificing is going to be pretty hard, since you are going to be killing things they like as well as things they hate.

For most characters, the gods are all pretty equal in that you start with a baseline of zero favour with all of them and they all increase and decrease at similar rates. However, if you're a cleric then you choose your god/realm at the same time so you will have a special tie to one of them. Not only will you start with favour from your patron god, any favour gains and losses for that god will be multiplied - so pleasing them and refraining from annoying them is more important.

I've not decided yet whether there should be separate altars for the different gods or whether altars should be generic and you can sacrifice to any god at one. I've also not yet decided whether they should be found in towns or in wilderness shrines or in the dungeon or some combination of the above. I'm thinking that maybe I could make the temple work as a global altar so you could sacrifice to any god there, but then have altars to individual gods elsewhere.

The big thing I need to think about is what use favour is. Should it give you a passive bonus or should you spend it? And what sort of bonus/ability/whatever should it provide?

Also, should there be penalties if your favour with a god gets too low? Should they smite or inconvenience you in some way? I'm tempted to say no, since that way you can simply ignore the whole system if you're not interested in it, but it might be interesting if they do punish you for too many misdeeds.

Thoughts, anyone?
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Old September 25, 2020, 21:23   #2
archolewa
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Sounds kind of reminiscient of TOME2's god system. I'm assuming you're drawing a lot of inspiration from that? A few thoughts:

1. I think having gods lose favor when you kill things is going to be a giant PITA unless you're really careful with how you implement it. Bands involve killing lots of things. And just avoiding enemies unless you teleport them away is *really* annoying since they hound you relentlessly. For this reason, Yavanna is a kind of terrible god in TOME2 because she doesn't like it when you kill animals, and there are a lot of animals in the early game. To mitigate this, one of the first benefits you get at a certain piety level could be that the monster that god likes becomes neutral to you, or is just less likely to spawn.

What you *could* have instead of gods not liking it when you kill things is that there are certain sacrifices that gods don't like. So, the god of war doesn't like it when you sacrifice weapons (he wants you to use those to fight), but he does like it when you sacrifice scrolls of teleportation or other escape items (since then you're basically saying "I commit to fighting my enemies, not running away"). Then a part of learning the gods is learning what each god likes and dislikes. It also adds some tactical considerations based on your playstyle, and which items you can most afford to sacrifice.

2. It might make sense to have the god you're worshiping punish you for misdeeds, but other gods punishing you just feels like it would be more unfun than fun. For one thing, pissing off some gods is going to be unavoidable, so you'll have to be very careful to balance things so that they don't become a random "you're dead now" event. For another, if pissing off one or more gods does eventually lead to a "you're dead now" event, then that's going to encourage tedious sacrifice scumming.

A mix of passives and abilities probably makes the most sense, with each god getting different bonuses. You can look at DCSS' god system to see what they do. DCSS actually has a very interesting and deep religion system with a variety of different gods with different abilities.
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Old September 26, 2020, 12:30   #3
Dean Anderson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archolewa View Post
Sounds kind of reminiscient of TOME2's god system. I'm assuming you're drawing a lot of inspiration from that?
Actually, I've never played TOME2 (or TOME for that matter), so any similarity is coincidence.

Quote:
1. I think having gods lose favor when you kill things is going to be a giant PITA unless you're really careful with how you implement it. Bands involve killing lots of things. And just avoiding enemies unless you teleport them away is *really* annoying since they hound you relentlessly. For this reason, Yavanna is a kind of terrible god in TOME2 because she doesn't like it when you kill animals, and there are a lot of animals in the early game. To mitigate this, one of the first benefits you get at a certain piety level could be that the monster that god likes becomes neutral to you, or is just less likely to spawn.
Good point. The thing that I'm trying to achieve is that you can't simply have all the gods liking you. There must be some kind of mechanism that will slowly push gods into disliking you to make you want to seek out ways to mitigate that - I don't want it to be all carrot and no stick.

One thing I'm thinking is that perhaps favour could be a zero sum game, in that your total favour always stays the same - when you gain favour with one god you lose it with their rivals. That way there don't have to be creature types that will specifically annoy one god if you kill them, but if you keep killing the creature types that a particular god hates and gain lots of favour with that god your favour with all the other gods will slowly decrease as they get jealous.

There could also be a default where over time the favour of all gods slowly reverts back to a default neutral resting state.

Quote:
What you *could* have instead of gods not liking it when you kill things is that there are certain sacrifices that gods don't like. So, the god of war doesn't like it when you sacrifice weapons (he wants you to use those to fight), but he does like it when you sacrifice scrolls of teleportation or other escape items (since then you're basically saying "I commit to fighting my enemies, not running away"). Then a part of learning the gods is learning what each god likes and dislikes. It also adds some tactical considerations based on your playstyle, and which items you can most afford to sacrifice.
That might work if you generically sacrificed items to the gods in general - so a sacrifice might please one god but annoy another - but I think that if you're sacrificing items to a specific god then you'd only ever sacrifice the things they like and you'd never lose favour.

Quote:
2. It might make sense to have the god you're worshiping punish you for misdeeds, but other gods punishing you just feels like it would be more unfun than fun. For one thing, pissing off some gods is going to be unavoidable, so you'll have to be very careful to balance things so that they don't become a random "you're dead now" event. For another, if pissing off one or more gods does eventually lead to a "you're dead now" event, then that's going to encourage tedious sacrifice scumming.
Yeah, the effects of gods disliking you need to be quite low-key. They should be nowhere near the "smite you dead" level.

Quote:
A mix of passives and abilities probably makes the most sense, with each god getting different bonuses. You can look at DCSS' god system to see what they do. DCSS actually has a very interesting and deep religion system with a variety of different gods with different abilities.
A number of favour thresholds, some of which give passives and some of which give actives is probably best.
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Old September 26, 2020, 15:11   #4
CyclopsSlayer
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Look at the Pos/Frog/Com Virtue systems. These are basically what you are talking about.
AND they tend to be hated by many as they restrict and force gameplay.
Hit a sleeping foe? Ding lose virtue. So much for the value and benefits of stealth and surprise attacks.
Eat too much, lose virtue. Hit a mob first, lose virtue, fail a spell cast, lose virtue. Breathe and stand still, lose virtue... Okay maybe not the last one, but you get the point.
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Old September 26, 2020, 21:57   #5
Dean Anderson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclopsSlayer View Post
Look at the Pos/Frog/Com Virtue systems. These are basically what you are talking about.
AND they tend to be hated by many as they restrict and force gameplay.
Hit a sleeping foe? Ding lose virtue. So much for the value and benefits of stealth and surprise attacks.
Eat too much, lose virtue. Hit a mob first, lose virtue, fail a spell cast, lose virtue. Breathe and stand still, lose virtue... Okay maybe not the last one, but you get the point.
I certainly don't want to have anything like that.

The more I think about it, the more I want it to be zero sum - nothing you do will ever just lose you favour, the only time you will ever lose favour with a god is by gaining favour with a different god.

Given that there are five gods, I'll make sure the gains are in multiples of 4 points, so for example if you do something that pleases Lobon, you'll gain 4 favour with Lobon and lose 1 favour with each of Nath-Horthath, Zo-Kalar, Oukranos, and Tamash.

So your total favour will always stay the same, and you're going to lose favour more slowly than you gain it because the gain will be concentrated on the one god you pleased but the loss will be spread out amongst the four other gods.
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Old September 26, 2020, 23:55   #6
CyclopsSlayer
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MITZE - has an excellent thread on Virtues. Detailing the what/how/why of them. Most of them at least.

MITZE - Extolling Virtues
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Old October 7, 2020, 22:23   #7
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another option is to have it so that at some stage, whether creation or later at an altar, you choose a good to follow and your actions really only matter to that god. that does run the risk of just being a global player side power boost so you'd have to have ways to make it challenging to raise/keep favor up. The old T.O.M.E 2 system worked well for the most part, with gods that had generally more powerful boosts being harder to maintain favor with or costing more favor to use their active powers.
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Old October 12, 2020, 13:58   #8
Dean Anderson
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You'll definitely choose a god at character creation if you're a priest - but it will be tied into your choice of realms.

Your basic Life/Death choice won't affect it, but your second realm will determine your god:
  • Chaos = Nath-Horthath, god of war
  • Corporeal = Lobon, god of youth
  • Folk = Zo-Kalar, god of birth and death
  • Nature = Oukranos, god of the river
  • Tarot = Tamash, god of illusion and magic

(Priests can't choose Sorcery, so there's no god for that one.)

I'm less sure that I want other characters to choose a patron god. There are already patron Great Old Ones that you can have if you're a Cultist or Fanatic, and I want the gods to be different if possible rather than just having a single one that gives you gifts or punishes you. Rather than having a single patron you should be balancing your devotion to all of them.
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Old October 13, 2020, 19:26   #9
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That makes sense, especially as that way they're not competing with the old ones on those classes. Will priests be only have to worry about their patron? or in some way get extra benefits from them in some way perhaps similar to the old ones or in the form of enhanced boons for keeping them happy?
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