Another important aspect that I would like to address in the development of RPGs is how characters cure damages and injuries. As mentioned in the previous post, in Lords of Xulima characters are not automatically healed after each battle, but instead must be cured by other means.
Traditionally, characters in RPGs are healed by resting for a period of time, through the use of potions, spells or by requesting help at a temple or from priests or clerics. In many RPGs, like Wizardry or Baldur’s Gate, the only drawback to resting was that there was a possibility of being ambushed by enemies, but it was a matter of chance, so you could always just save your game and load it in case your rest was interrupted, so in practice, rest and recuperation were practically worry free.
Ways to limit rest
- The characters age:
This mechanism was used in the first Might & Magic, the characters grew old and were penalized for their age and could even die of old age (depending on their race and other factors). This was original and realistic, but it can cheat the player in a way, forcing them to guess how their future actions will be affected by the aging mechanism. How many times can I safely rest? 20, 200, 2000 times? Will my party be made up of octogenarians by midgame?
- Time limits:
This is similar to the first mechanism but uses other rationales, like the 100 days that you were allotted to finish the first Fallout before the water at the Vault ran out. There can also be time limits set on missions within the game, which has been used in many different titles.
- Rest limited to specific places:
In other RPGs, like Final Fantasy, the option to rest has been limited to specific places like inns or other save points. This feature adds some tension to gameplay, but it also feels a little forced and artificial. Why can’t the group of hardened adventures rest wherever they want? They are able to rest at an inn and regain all of their hit points, but they are incapable of lying down to rest and recuperate in a forest or a field?
- Rest limited by resources:
Another option that eliminates the above problems is the one taken by Might & Magic VI. In that game, the group had a number of units of food (which could be purchased at village shops and was represented by apples) which were consumed when resting or traveling between regions. This method meant that when you needed to travel to a distant location you needed to decide where you would stop for rest and to replenish your stocks. This added a great strategic component to the game.
And in Lords of Xulima?
It’s a good idea to stock up on food before embarking on a dangerous journey…
We were inspired by Might & Magic VI and have adopted a similar mechanism. We have taken the idea a step further in order to adapt it to our game system. In Lords of Xulima, the fundamental component is Food Stocks. The food level is always displayed on the screen and lets you know how much time (in days, minutes and hours) of rest you can take before you run out of your food stocks.
How can your food stocks be used?
To recuperate all of your hit points and powers and to cure minor wounds, your party will need to rest for 8 hours. To cure the fatally wounded condition, they must rest for 24 hours. This will consume your food stocks if you rest in the wilderness, but not if you rest at an inn.
While your characters are traveling, time is passing and food stocks are being consumed. The rate at which they are consumed is affected by the type of terrain being traversed. For example, traveling through desert or snow consumes 5 times as much food as traveling over a grassy plain. An Explorer with the ability “Pathfinder” can reduce the rate of food consumed during travel. The more developed the ability the lower the rate will be. The exception to the traveling rule is that when your party is in a village or town no food will be consumed as they move.
- By certain actions:
For example, breaking a lock when you are out of picks takes time during which you consume food. The amount of time depends on the difficulty of the lock. Another example would be breaking through a barrier of ice, which could go a lot faster if only you had the right spell to melt the barrier instead.
- Other methods of consumption:
Some enemies, places and special situations can also cause you to use or lose food stocks.
How can you increase your food stocks?
- Buying food in villages:
You can visit food vendors in the towns and villages you visit, but these will only fill your reserves to a certain point. When buying from vendors the price for each day’s worth of stocks increases exponentially. For example, you can buy two days’ worth of food for 200, three days’ worth for 400, 4 days’ worth for 800, etc… If you already have 3 days worth of food, you would only be able to buy a fourth day’s worth for 800
- Finding Food:
You can find food stored in bags, chests, replenish at water fountains etc…
- Gathering food from the natural environment:
Fruits, seeds, nuts… These do not provide a lot of food, but they regenerate every few days.
An Explorer with the ability “Hunting” is able to collect food from the remains of enemies slain in battle. The amount that can be collected depends on the level of the ability and the type of enemy (don’t expect to find much food in the living dead you have just defeated, but you will be able to collect sustenance from your more palatable foes)
What happens when your food stocks hit zero?
If your food stocks are completely depleted the group will not be able to rest and you will have to find an alternative method to cure your party members or you will need to return to the nearest village to stock up. On top of this, your party members will be hungry and weak, which will cause them to take a penalty to attack and casting actions (amongst others penalties). The group will not die from hunger. (However, there will be a Hardcore Mode in which the party will die if they have no food.)
The food stocks mechanism in Lords of Xulima is a crucial component that adds a new strategic element to the gameplay system, one that gives it some aspects of an old Roguelike game.
The player decides when and how long to rest. Is it better to rest now to cure my one fatally wounded party member, or do I risk it and save my rest for later when I might have more wounded party members? Do I try to force open this door, or will that take too much time and consume too much food? The Explorer, a profession that usually is undervalued in most RPGs (at least in the video game format), has abilities that can really have a major influence on the success of your party. An Explorer who is leveled in “Pathfinder” can move the group at great speed across deserts and tundra while only consuming a minimum amount of food. An Explorer who is an expert at the “Hunting” skill can help the group to save a lot of money by collecting food from fallen enemies instead of buying it in villages.