Meaningful Dungeons

By on September 9, 2009 11:52:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Demiansky

Join Date 03/2008
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One thing that I was really hoping for in Elemental, but was generally lacking in games like Master of Magic, are "dungeons" that have a purpose.  What I mean is, classic dungeons (even in most D&D campaigns) are just convenient smash and grab adventures in which monsters sit around in rooms atop stacks of "treasure," waiting for adventurers to slay them and nab the goodies.  In a way, I'd like to see the classic idea of a "dungeon" be done away with entirely and replaced with more meaningful "hotspots.”  For instance, a tribe of trolls near a run of game; a drake's lair and jealously guarded territory; unhollowed grounds of a recently razed city where the dead now walk; a rogue necromantic channeler expands a tower with his growing army of undead; an abandoned mine, once in rigorous use by a sovereign, now infested with troglodytes.

What's more, I want to see these "dungeons" influence the landscape beyond their front door as well as “emerge” into the world throughout the game.  In a way, they would all be very simplistic AI opponents with simple behavioral algoriths.  So to use the examples above...

A tribe of trolls follows wild game in the wilderness.  Once a sovereigns kingdom expands into their territory, though, they develop a taste for the soft flesh and crunchy bones of pioneers and caravan workers.  If they are allowed to rampage long enough, their numbers may swell, creating splinter tribes and compounding the problem.  If defeated early, they will yield some exotic pelts.  If defeated later, they will yield many of the goodies that they looted themselves, as well as the pelts.  If your kingdom has enough food, you just might be able to feed them enough to sway their loyalty…

A fearsome drake rules over a vast wilderness territory (a territory that contains many sub-dungeons.)  While he may not notice a small party of adventurers sneaking through his territory, he will attack large armies passing through his territory, or budding settlements near his lair, on site.  He adds to his horde any treasure from defeated opponents or monsters in his domian, as well as jewels that he might discover in his expanding lair.  If he isn't dealt with, he will grow larger, bolder, and expand his territory (which may lead to him attacking a sovereign's city should it be in the way.)  If you can storm his lair and defeat him, a sovereign may move his armies throughout the drake's former territory as well as begin harnessing the resources within. 

A large, burgeoning city belonging to a sovereign is razed by another sovereign during a fearsome war.  Given the option to spend resources to give the dead proper burial rites, the channelers decline and leave the city in neglect.  Gradually, the restless dead arise and populate the ruins.  While it isn't a problem initially, by the time one of the sovereigns has won the war and has the opportunity to deal with the problem, the city ruins have become a terrifying necropolis, with undead ghouls carting away villagers from other cities and caravans regularly to swell their ranks.        

A necromantic channeler begins constructing a tower.  At first, he exerts little influence over the landscape, at if he is defeated swiftly, you might gain some mana, some tombs, and some treasure.  If he is left alone too long, peculiar cults begin springing up in nearby cities, and some citizens begin to go missing.  Coincidentally, the Necromancer’s army begins to grow…  

After a city is destroyed/ conquered in a fearsome war, a nearby mine falls into disrepair and disuse.  After a few years, troglodytes tunnel into the mine and set up residence.  If left alone, they may bore throughout the mountain into other mines and become more than mere pests.

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September 10, 2009 1:27:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, I think I heard we can enter dungeons now, so lets hope they have stories.  (And of course the ever popular answer: We will be able to mod dungeon types in! ..probably)

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September 10, 2009 3:00:56 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting SnallTrippin,
Well, I think I heard we can enter dungeons now, so lets hope they have stories.  (And of course the ever popular answer: We will be able to mod dungeon types in! ..probably)

 

But, as Demianske said, the idea is not only have stories linked to dungeons, but "living" dungeons. If you have just dungeons with stories, the first couple of games you will read them. The rest of games, you will pass the story an go to combat as fast as you can.

Demianske's idea is very interesting, because it contributes to create a living world in which you make decisions, and those decisions really affects the world in different ways.

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September 10, 2009 3:05:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah, I didn't read it all (Im at work so I peruse quickly) - I think his ideas are pretty awesome- Though I don't know if any will be able/ or be/ put in game, they would contribute a lot though.

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September 10, 2009 4:45:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A most splendid idea, but I can see some problems.

If these dungeons are so active, they compound the need for an early army, which I believe some players dislike.

Surely, as an optional choice when creating a new game(like MegaEvents in GC2), it would be splendid. Passive dungeons for those who prefer, and active ones for those who so wish.

It seems that it wouldn't even be too much work as such. A handful of units that are on top of the dungeon, and who sometimes move out to do things, a very similiar concept to Master of Magic, where(in the patched version), Raider-monsters would come out of the dungeons and attack your cities every now and then.

And even moreso, if these dungeons are generated reactively, it would be quite great. Such as, if you choose to burn down an enemy city, and the ruins lie for a while, an undead dungeon spawns in it's place. Or if your patrols or line of sight or whatever is low in a certain area, it's likelier that a bunch of trolls suddenly moves in.

But then again, this might cause meaningless micromanagement, where you must patrol around without any real meaning, and might open up abuses if you know for sure how the dungeon system works, burning a city here and there to make undead ruins.

You might also expound on the idea, so that you might negotiate with the drake who holds control over a part of the lands, to ally with it. But then, it might be too much like diplomacy with neutrals, which might or might not be a good thing. (I would find it glorious, but I'm sure some might dislike it.)

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September 10, 2009 4:55:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't see how burning the cities would be abuse, your channeler would know that it would create undead..so if they want to go for it.  And I think he means very slow expansion, at least in early game.

-Also dipo with neutrals is always good, like the one planet/system ppl in GalCiv.

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September 10, 2009 6:43:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tiavals,

But then again, this might cause meaningless micromanagement, where you must patrol around without any real meaning, and might open up abuses if you know for sure how the dungeon system works, burning a city here and there to make undead ruins.

Abuses are easy to avoid in this case: apply a random factor, so your action (in this example, burning a city/lair/dungeon) can have different consequences: create undead ruins, make other cities attack you in revenge, or even not cause anything at all

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September 10, 2009 11:24:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is exactly the sort of stuff I've been trying to type about in other discussions about wanting a building-block story layer (and not a linear campaign story in the sandbox). And I especially hope to see much more than simple dungeon-crawling in the final functionality.

Dungeons are just one type of encounter area, and I think they'd be much more fun if they were rare when compared to things like a camp of trolls or maybe even a mad necromancer's lonely tower. Not least because any dungeon complex needs to have a good explanation for why it was built in the first place. Those sorts of story chunks could have connections to specific magic items or other treasures, or they might simply help the dungeon or other encounter area make sense. Is it a true dungeon beneath a ruined castle, complete with torture chambers? Is it the remains of the sewer system from a pre-Cataclysm capital? Or perhaps the lost lair of a formerly very prosperous smuggling network?

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September 10, 2009 11:58:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Is it a true dungeon beneath a ruined castle, complete with torture chambers? Is it the remains of the sewer system from a pre-Cataclysm capital? Or perhaps the lost lair of a formerly very prosperous smuggling network?

...Or is it just a natural cave inhabited by big bad nasties that prefer the dark and dank?

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September 10, 2009 5:44:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GW Swicord,
This is exactly the sort of stuff I've been trying to type about in other discussions about wanting a building-block story layer (and not a linear campaign story in the sandbox). And I especially hope to see much more than simple dungeon-crawling in the final functionality.

Dungeons are just one type of encounter area, and I think they'd be much more fun if they were rare when compared to things like a camp of trolls or maybe even a mad necromancer's lonely tower. Not least because any dungeon complex needs to have a good explanation for why it was built in the first place. Those sorts of story chunks could have connections to specific magic items or other treasures, or they might simply help the dungeon or other encounter area make sense. Is it a true dungeon beneath a ruined castle, complete with torture chambers? Is it the remains of the sewer system from a pre-Cataclysm capital? Or perhaps the lost lair of a formerly very prosperous smuggling network?

Right, this is exactly what I want to see with Elemental.  By having numerous layered, interchangeable components in the game, you personally end up creating (rather than having it created for you) a unique story that reacts to your actions.  As for being able to negotiate with some dungeon AI's, I posted a topic awhile back that suggested that all opponent types shouldn't necessarily be civilized cities or channelers, but also powerful monsters, barbaric beast tribes, etc.  When you encounter them for the first time, you might get a little option menu like in Galactic Civilizations 2 in which you must make a choice that will refine your relationship with them in various ways.  Also, such an options menu might also spawn new minor opponents to deal with.  These opponents would have different, and generally more limited, parameters by which you could negotiate, but could still expand and grow (albiet, they would become severely stunted at a certain size).

GW Swicord made a lot of good points about the nature of dungeons too: in the rare event that there is an actual vast dungeon complex, there needs to be a darned good reason why its there, and I personally would also like them to be one of many types of encounter areas. 

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September 11, 2009 3:29:48 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Another fine idea, Demiansky.  Whether or not Stardock will actually be able to add it to the game is of course a big question mark, but I would love to see something like this make it in. 

 

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September 11, 2009 11:16:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like the ideas on this.

I was going to suggest something similar.  Basically, make the dungeons rich in Shards.  The reason that they are usually infested with monsters is due to magical radiation.  Supreme Kudos if you can make the monsters and dungeons reflect the shards they hold.

I thought about asking for a race of Insectile or reptillian monsters that would spawn a nest in the middle of the wilds.  They would create weak raiding parties hunting through the area and, say once a "year"; spawn new "queen" units to create new colonies.  After 20 years of weak parties, have them start producing larger, stronger units.  This could lead to some alliances against the strengthening hordes, a campaign against ever more dangerous foes, culminating in a large dungeon brawl for control over a massive supply of shards.

Also, what's wrong with requiring early military force?  One of the design notes is that an NPC hero's action can create problems for your kingdom by disturbing things better left alone.  Heck, one of the tropes of the modern fantasy is that miners can "dig too deep".   This adds a very tough, meaningful choice.  If you choose to invest in your people, you'll need to boost your army to protect them.  If you choose to invest in your avatar, you will find yourself only able of defending a smaller kingdom and will need to take risks to expand.

As for the "peaceniks" who want to rule the world without firing a shot, I suggest that they create a series of expensive spells to Enchant either the borders of the realm (block non friendly units from crossing getting more expensive as the borders expand), city (Maybe flight even allowing for moving the city for a cost), or even your people (People become automata and can't be killed.  They don't consume food but, must be maintained for a material cost.)

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September 11, 2009 1:19:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I was going to suggest something similar.  Basically, make the dungeons rich in Shards.  The reason that they are usually infested with monsters is due to magical radiation.  Supreme Kudos if you can make the monsters and dungeons reflect the shards they hold.

I'm not sure if that would really jive with their current implementation of shards (although I'm just guessing at that, all I really have to go on are the screenshots). Shards appear to be immovable tile objects. We've seen shards isolated, all alone, and we've also seen them within city walls. But having shards being permanent objects within dungeons... I dunno. It seems like having a shard in a dungeon, hidden from other playerss sight, would be too much of an advantage... Also, what would happen when the dungeons start to regenerate? Would you lose your shard? Would you have to maintain constant vigilance against the repopulation of the dungeon?

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September 11, 2009 4:03:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting pigeonpigeon,

I was going to suggest something similar.  Basically, make the dungeons rich in Shards.  The reason that they are usually infested with monsters is due to magical radiation.  Supreme Kudos if you can make the monsters and dungeons reflect the shards they hold.
I'm not sure if that would really jive with their current implementation of shards (although I'm just guessing at that, all I really have to go on are the screenshots). Shards appear to be immovable tile objects. We've seen shards isolated, all alone, and we've also seen them within city walls. But having shards being permanent objects within dungeons... I dunno. It seems like having a shard in a dungeon, hidden from other playerss sight, would be too much of an advantage... Also, what would happen when the dungeons start to regenerate? Would you lose your shard? Would you have to maintain constant vigilance against the repopulation of the dungeon?

Perhaps you'd need to completly clear and destroy the dungeon and a crater with the crystal appears (the dungeon would transform in some appropriate way to reveal the crystal).

Or you could just find a treasure map to the location of an (potentially) unclaimed crystal. Leading to fun times if the crystal is already claimed.

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September 13, 2009 12:57:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Goodmorning all. 

I was thinking of Diablo like caves.

where each level of the cave has it's own set of monsters, each just strong enough to keep the next layer down from barging up into the world.


In the game each cave would have a set number of levels to it. depth.  Which is unknowable till the cave is completely emptied.  (caves near starting points would probably be shallower, caves on mountain sides would be deeper.)  And only whatever is currently occupying the top level would emerge into the world to cause havic.   example,  so you've got a den of kolbalts that have been sparatically raiding your suply lines between your first two cities.  so you send out a few heros and clean them up,  little did you know that they were just the slave population of the goblin and hobgoblin society that where forced the kolbolts to go steal stuff, so that they could pay off the Drow living deeper still. Now that the kolbots have been cleared the goblins and hobgoblins emerge to keep up payments, And also if you don't clear them out quick enough they will breed in the extra space, making them more numerous, and hungrier.


Think the Mines of Moria,  The dwarves digged and mined, and probably faught local creatures on thier way down, till much to thier surprise and doom they unblocked the prison of the balrog.  I'd like to see the same sort of thing here,  Possibly with the option of NPC heros stiring up trouble from time to time by mistake,  Say Froto stealing that dragons goblet, the local town got all sorts of Smog Up in thier actions for something a hobbit did with only a nod and a wink to permission.


Anyway it's one AM, thems my thoughts, hopefull i can sleep now

Take care all.

Robbie Price

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September 15, 2009 6:52:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've had many of the same thoughts and ideas (though not the "layered cave" one which is quite insightful) - and summarized them as follows:

There is a living world of which we are simply a part.

There is no "re-spawning" - once the intial world is populated every subsequent state is the result of a "defined" process.

The real problem is where to start, and stop, with this "living world" layer from a programming and design standpoint - and thus where compromises (e.g., "spawning") should be made.

Early on, before your kingdom is fully established you, as powerful channeler, will need to provide defense - either personally or recruiting a local NPC hero to help.  There can/should be non-resource gifts you can promise these heros if they are more mercenary than altruistic in nature (e.g., your first born, land, IOUs, etc...).  As long as there are no super-monsters spawning nearby and rampaging over the countryside instant-death shouldn't be that common (but there should have a non-zero possibility of encountering a dungeon or raiders that can kill you (or at least your citizens) without much difficulty early on so that either caution or NPC interaction is necessary early on.

 

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September 15, 2009 8:32:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just did a double-take on the "layered monsters" thing: aside from massive numbers how can the "lower" dungeon levels contain stronger monsters while the upper levels contains lesser ones (though in somewhat greater numbers)? I guess the lower levels may not care about getting out into the world and instead happily guard their treasure from the weaker upper levels and thus to get to the treasure you have to "bypass" them but would you want to incorporate each individual layer defending against (or attacking) the surrounding layers?

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September 15, 2009 11:38:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My thougts where that each layer would have a story reason why it didn't bother going up to the next level,  perhaps the level above serves them and they prefer the safty of the lower level,  perhaps they are natually deeper dwelling species,  perhaps the top layers are herbavors, that occationnally go to the lower layer for water, or something and the lower layer lives off eating those who come down  . . . but rarely ventures up because they would be out numbered. 

The idea is that the top layer be easy,  each layer under would have better treasure, be harder to kill,  and be unknown till you emptied the layer above.

So you could kill off a infestation of troglodies only to find a gang of angry trolls below who were worshiped by the troglidies and now run rampent around the cave opening seaking revenge. and when you kill them finnanlly, you discoved that they where the staple food source for the basalic family deeper still.  The basiics having nothing left to eat start raiding the outskirts of your towns near the cave striking at night.  . .. .  story . . .

AT the bottom of these caves you would find cool treasurs, long lost,  or even passageways back up, threw easier monsters up to a differnt area of the map perhaps.  tunnle through a mountain.

Each layer has it's own reasons for staying sperate,  but perahaps you might also find in the previous example that when you spy on the troglodies there is a single troll with them, taking tribute,  the troll would leave when you start the battle, perhaps,  but you would have a chance (higher for higher level scouts) of learning if there is a layer below, and what it contains.


Take care all
 Price

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September 16, 2009 10:48:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The idea presented in this thread is absolutely fantastic, and definately fitting in with the theme of the game.  Lets modify it a little further along the cause and effect tree though.  Taking one example, if you raze a city killing all of its inhabitants, rather than just have a random chance of the dead rising from the city instead say the aforementioned necromancer (himself a part of the game world) came along and discovered this dead city.  He then decides to build his tower (assuming conditions are right... this can be decided by his goals and an element of randomness) with labor derived from the dead, and the city then acts as a sort of "death" shard which gradually feeds his magic and contributes to the ballooning of dead which was described.  He then attempts to achieve his character goals using his undead minions and unique source of power (much the same way that random heroes should be able to use money to found settlements and rule land if the conditions are right).

To add to that, the ability to create your own dungeons, not just inadvertently but to protect your own valuables against incursions by wandering heroes, competitors and other assorted individuals who would do you harm would be a great addition to the game also, and tie directly into the dynamic dungeon system described here.

Have some Karma.

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September 16, 2009 10:15:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Karma for all of us,   Your too kind.

I like the idea, but where would this necormancer come from, only channlers have magic, or those they give magic to...  so are you thinking of an opposing channler doing it, or it being some sort of neutral state?  If so how? 

The other option is to have the world populated with a small number of channlers, and then a larger number of 0 essence magic users.  who do not have and can gain esseance, but who can do some spell weilding.  Or a hero with a bone wand of basic necromancy, and a ritual for enhacing the wand in the pressence of much death/ decay
   I don't think this is part of the game's vission though, the latter could almost make it, perhaps.


Other then that i like it.

Robbie

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September 17, 2009 12:16:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Necromancer could just be a 'channeler' with very little essence.

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September 17, 2009 10:44:34 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm pretty sure that essence will remain a stat about magical strength, so a strong necromancer would have just as much as a strong channeler with a different speciality/style.

Also, I'm pretty sure I spotted a few tiny dev mentions of the idea that 'natural' channelers like the sovereigns are extremely rare, but not limited to just the sovereigns. Maybe that's a wish-fulfullment projection, but it does seem like a very good idea that would enable many things like a solitary necromancer's tower.

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September 17, 2009 2:10:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, it just doesn't make much sense that they would be as strong as a channeler.  The channelers are demi-gods basically and immortal because they have so much energy/essence.  It wouldn't even make sense for someone with as much power as them to only have black magic spells.  Rememeber we'll be able to get 'mages' etc who have much less power then a channeler, so a necromancer should probably have a good bit of an undead-ish army and 'archmage' type power level.

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September 17, 2009 3:06:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

... It wouldn't even make sense for someone with as much power as them to only have black magic spells. ...

We still don't even know if the game will have built-in 'necromancers' of some sort, and there's plenty of range in the concept for both the vanilla game and modders. The mode you seem to expect strikes me as having them be essentially tough 'monsters' in the D&D sense, but lots of the posts on the subject have made me think of a serious Elemental necromancer as a major arch-villain type, a 'rogue' channeler who could threaten any major faction, kingdoms or empires. Whether being a spell-caster to rival a sovereign can "make sense" depends on how the flavor text describes the underlying game functions.

Of course there's the whole bigger question I'm ducking: just where do any 'free-range' channelers get their mana?

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September 18, 2009 2:25:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, I don't see why they wouldn't set up shop on top of some kind of shard or mana source.  But then again, if a channeler is able to harness upwards of a dozen shards, a necromancer would pale in power in comparison.

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September 18, 2009 2:55:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OP - Great Idea.   This just reminded me of the days of playing Pen 'n Paper DnD.   That would be great if Elemental could capture that feeling.   Man....I wish I could find people that liked to play PnP RPGs anymore.

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