Author Topic: Exploring the World #2: Camp and Survival


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#146 January 01, 2018, Monday, 09:01 pm
You’re an adventurer. For most of the time, that means, being a traveler. And you can’t just keep walking all day long and then on through the night. So what do you do when you reach a clearing in the woods at dusk and have no idea how much longer you will have to walk until you may reach another city? Camping is what you do. You pitch a tent for the night and you try to get some rest.

Camping in Pool of RadianceFor most D&D-based games, resting was an extremely important feature because it enabled you to recharge your spells. Aside from the elementary feature of memorizing spells or powers, in Realms Beyond, your party members will be able to use the time during an encampment to cook, eat, hunt, collect food, cure wounds or to identify items.

But encampments don’t come for free. There is always an inherent danger in staying out in the open at night, such as surprise attacks. As a result, setting up camp will become this balancing act because the longer you travel, the more it tires out your party members. Eventually, they will be exhausted, and once they are exhausted, they will become easy prey for a horde of Goblins that they would otherwise take with one arm tied behind their backs.

Camp in Bard's TaleThe key feature that is at play here can be called Resource Management. You have to weigh the dangers of resting in an unknown area (and risking a random encounter) against the downsides of forcing your party to press on. It adds just one more consideration to the list of things you have to contemplate before leaving a town and setting off into unknown territory.

Camp in Realms of ArkaniaAs mentioned above, setting up camp can be a risky undertaking. You are never alone in the woods and whatever monsters are roaming the dark, just outside the circle of light from your campfire, might consider you easy prey. But not all dangers come with the falling of darkness, even during the day, a camp may find itself the target of a surprise attack by roaming monsters.

In certain areas, it might make more sense to rest at night, since humanoids like Orcs and Goblins prefer to sleep during those nighttime hours. But there are others. Creatures of the night, and it might be safer for you to travel under the cover of darkness when the air carries sound better and you can hear every noise. It may just save your life when something awful decides to leave its lair where it hides during the day in search of prey.
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Andronius The Druid

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#320 July 06, 2018, Friday, 11:34 pm
So glad to read you’ve been giving so much thought to Camping mechanics (such an important part of RPGs and D&D!), taking inspiration from the best features found in those beloved cRPGs of yore, and perhaps adding also newer ideas and things to do while camping. It’s always such a shame, and such a wasted opportunity, when resting mechanics and camping systems become trivial, meaningless and spammable in games. Here’s a couple more ideas (some of which I didn't see mentioned yet on the forums) hoping to give you much inspiration to make this game’s camping system PERFECT.

I’m elated to read you’re building a camping system in which we’ll be able to cook, eat, hunt, collect food, do some fishing, cure wounds, read books, study maps, learn spells and identify items, as well as some minor crafting for consumables (potion brewing, healing items, etc.). I really hope we’ll also have nice engaging conversations, jokes, small talk and other interactions between our party members, including petting and feeding our Animal Companions and horses.

I’m also glad to read elsewhere (I think I did but now I’m not sure) that you’re really going deep into Resource Management within the camping system (not just generic “rations”, but adding torches, blankets, sleeping bags, tents and perhaps also cutlery? asking because I think I saw an inventory preview with some forks and spoons).

You already know I’m a big fan of all sorts of extra activities (besides just fighting from point A to point B) in cRPGs, like crafting, solving puzzles and mysteries, playing mini-games! (cards, dice, rat races, drinking contests, archery competitions, singing competitions for Bards, arm wrestling, fight clubs outside taverns… brothels) because they really contribute so much to the immersion and realism, and to that feeling of freedom and awe and wonderment these vast fantasy worlds can give us! But Camping is really crucial, fundamental, and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being able to actually SEE, in “real time”, what is ACTIVELY happening during camp (yes, even sleeping or just reading a spellbook if we so choose too).

Master Sensei and Gamedev Supreme George Kamitani (also a D&D player and diligent student of cRPGs evolution, who participated in the creation of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Hillsfar, Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom for arcade, and made such famous masterpieces as Dragon's Crown paying homage to his RPG and D&D background) always gave a lot of attention to cooking and food sequences in his games. According to him, this is because “eating is one of the three human desires, and if someone eats, he is happy”, so he tries to capture that sentiment. There's wisdom there: indeed, cooking and eating is something so deeply human, because we’re all part of the great Food Family, regardless of our race, class, faction or alignment.

Therefore, it makes me so glad to think that during camp will be able to ACTIVELY do things as cooking, tending wounds, treat afflictions, craft potions, and have all sorts of different character interactions and conversations. Camping has always been such a missed opportunity for most of games, and here’s hoping this one will FINALLY give us a really wonderful camping system. I hope and pray cooking in this game won’t be just pressing a button and that’s it, and instead we’ll be able to ACTIVELY cook while in camp, ACTIVELY craft potions, and see what’s ACTIVELY happening during all these activities (including seeing our dwarf barbarian snoring while our cleric tries to concentrate and memorize her spells, while our druid is petting his Dire Wolf or feeding carrots and apples to the horses). Yes, it takes energy, code, time and some new animations and dialogue, but it’s not so expensive after all, and would be really worth the effort! Nobody has done it yet. This is the opportunity to craft, for the first time ever, the PERFECT camping system.

Dragon Age Origins had really great ideas regarding camping, and I loved to speak to each character (including those wonderful “dog conversations” with our Mabari and, of course, the “romantic scenes”... but mostly I wished for much more possible interactions and conversations with my beloved Animal Companion, to be able to play with him, train him, teach him tricks [as in D&D 3.5], feed him, talk with him, tend to his wounds, give him water, etc. ). Most unfortunately, we couldn’t tell each character what to do in the meanwhile, like reading a spellbook to learn new spells, crafting some potions and ACTIVELY help them do it, or watch them cooking as we ACTIVELY put ingredients in the pot –besides the campsite always looking exactly the same, regardless where on the worldmap we’d camp. Nevertheless, there were a lot of good ideas there to take inspiration from.

More recently, Darkest Dungeon and Pathfinder Kingmaker brought awesome camping systems, filled with good ideas to analyze carefully. Besides de “food phase”, I really like the “skill phase” in Darkest Dungeon camps, where we see dialogue between companions tied to both their sanity/stress levels and their specific Camping Skills. How wonderful would it be to have some dialogue lines while in camp tied to, for instance, buffs, debuffs, wounds, race and class (having specific camping dialogues tied to quests and the world's current events would be too difficult, really over the top, but just writing some random dialogue pools and tie them to those variables I mentioned shouldn't be too difficult at all...).

How wonderful would it be to add some extra activities in RB’s camping system, besides all those mentiones before, similar or equivalent to DD’s “Camping Skills” ( ), related to our heroes’ classes, stats and races: e.g. the Halfling Bard could sing a song around the bonfire to lift everyone’s spirits, the Human Cleric could pray to her deity to boost everyone's morale, and so forth with each class/race.

Most unfortunately, camping in Darkest Dungeon is timed, linked to a timer and to torches fading, which I hate because I don’t want to be hurried by any game while camping, I want to enjoy it! I want to spend as much time in camp as I want, even if only to repeat the same dialogue lines, try to cook better meals for longer-lasting effects, or simply watch everyone sleeping and snoring if so I choose to! If I'm not mistaken, there’s Day/Night cycle and Weather System in Realms Beyond, so timers and rushing the player shouldn’t hopefully be an issue here: if a player wants to stay camping until it rains and they all get wet, or until all his water, food and rations are finished and everyone dies of thirst, hunger and boredom, or until a group of Orcs finds them, it should really be the player’s choice. If another player just wants to camp quickly, put the heroes to sleep and skip everything and wake them in haste to go on with his adventure ASAP, it should also be he's own choice.   

Finally there’s the more recent Pathfinder Kingmaker's camping system, a very good one that also deserves to be analyzed ( ). It’s wonderful that the few (too few) activities you can do while camping (hunting, camp camouflage, cook, heal and guard) are tied to stats, perception rolls, world knowledge, etc. It’s lovely to actually SEE when a character goes to the cooking station to prepare something while others set camp and so on. However, most regrettably we don’t ACTIVELY participate in any of those activities, not even in cooking (like we can in Dragon's Crown) nor brewing potions (like in Kingdom Come: Deliverance). That system would’ve been PERFECT if we just had a few much more things to do, specific Camping Skills, more dialogues and possible interactions between party members (linked to those things I mentioned above, or like DAO tried to do), being able to ACTIVELY participate in cooking etc, but above all being able to remain camping without being rushed nor pushed by the game.

Here’s just adding my two copper :cp: :cp: as always, and sharing some brain food. Cheers!
Last edited: July 07, 2018, Saturday, 11:28 pm by Andronius The Druid