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Article - High Level Scenarios


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Article: High Level Scenarios


In BoA, characters can keep gaining levels until a little past level 100. That means that we, the designers, have the option to make scenarios designed for high levels. This can range from moderately high level scenarios (30-35 or 40-50) to extremely high level scenarios (70-80 or even higher). Certain aspects of scenario design, such as puzzles or dialogue, don't change much as the party gains levels. Other aspects change significantly, and these aspects are the focus of this article.



First, consider including a party-maker or a recommended party to use. Making a High Level Party Maker is not hard. I made one in a few hours, and if you want it, e-mail me and I will send it to you. A viable alternative is to supply a party that the player should use. Here you run into your first choice, with its accompanying trade-offs.


A pre-made party gives you, the designer, much more control over what kind of skills and therefore what kind of strategies the player has available. However, certain playing styles may conflict with the pre-made party that you've given. Also, some players balk at having to RP a party in whose creation they had no say. You have to decide which is more important, designer control or player freedom, in your scenario.


The point is broader than this, too. Players may have developed their parties along completely different lines, and at high levels, this makes a difference. A level 50 party composed of a fighter, an archer, a priest, and a mage will probably be able to use any item that you give it. A level 50 party composed of four priests, one of whom has the Melee Weapons skill at high enough level to fight hand-to-hand, will not be able to use a spear. A level 50 party composed of two fighters, a priest, and a mage will not be able to use a bow. Therefore you have to be careful when you hand the party rewards: if they've been training up Blademaster and Lethal Blow to level 15 and you give them a Fiery Bow of Doom, they'll be annoyed. The same goes if the reward for a tough quest is Arcane Blow at level 3 and the party doesn't have any mages.


Supplying a pre-made party is one way to get around this. Another way is to make your rewards multi-faceted. Give Arcane Blow at level 3 and 1000 gold, for example. Or you can even script to check the party's abilities: if the party contains a character whose Mage Spells is greater than or equal to 15, give Arcane Blow at level 3, and if not, give a Glowing Sword of Monstrous Damage. You could run through a series of If calls checking the party's abilities.


Another option is to let the party choose its reward, as Morog does in the Za-Khazi Run. Or you could inform the party beforehand what the reward for the quest will be, as the Dispel Barrier quests in A2 and A3 do. Basically, you just have to be aware and then use your best judgment.



Shops provide an odd dilemma. On the one hand, a level 90 party will hardly care about such trivial items as a Crude Dagger, so it's kind of pointless from a gameplay standpoint for your scenario to include them in shops. On the other hand, if all the shops sell Inferno Broadswords suitable to a level 90 party, your scenario might lose some realism, depending on the setting. You have to strike a balance between the two. On the one hand, a level 50 party really should be able to buy a third level of Healing, but on the other hand, would an itinerant sage on the edge of the Empire really know the spell that well? My recommendation: your high level scenario should take place in a setting suitable to a high level party, and then you can manipulate the plot as necessary to include realistic and gameplay-necessary shops. If you can't justify it, though, don't include it.



Combat design changes at high levels, too. You can reasonably assume that a level 50 party has some special skills at high levels. The fighters probably have Lethal Blow, and the magic-users probably have Magical Efficiency, so they can kill weaker monsters with one hit and their spells cost significantly less than usual spell points to cast. They probably have Resistance, too, so spells on them won't be as damaging. If you put in regular old monsters and just increase the level, the party will obliterate them without trouble. A level 80 mutant lizard is still a mutant lizard, and a level 70 party should be able to dispatch it with no trouble. A level 40 party might be different, so in moderately high level scenarios, you can just throw in level-modified monsters, but this is not much fun.


So what should you do? You have a few options. You can give the monster special abilities in your scenario's custom objects script. If a level 35 party encounters twelve unmodified level 25 drakes, the party can just cast Control Foes and charm half the drakes. Then the combat becomes trivially easy. But if you add the call cr_immunities 3 = 100 to the creature, making all of them immune to mental effects, the whole complexion of the battle changes. Giving the creature immunities can accomplish a lot. Giving the creature an item (say, an Invulnerability Potion, as the Giant Chiefs of A3 had) can change things, too.


But if you want even more power, you can script. A level 70-80 scenario will probably scare off newbies, so you can assume that the player is pretty wilely. So go ahead. Stick them inside an erupting volcano and do 150 damage to them every turn while they're fighting a level 100 dragon that's immune to fire, cold, and mental effects and that just quaffed an Invulnerability Elixir. Give the dragon the ability to heal itself by half its health points every three turns. Give it the ability to teleport away from the party when it gets too damaged. Strip away the party's items so that they have to fight with their bare hands. (With high enough Assassination and Lethal Blow, this might not even matter.) Obviously, you should play-test the combat so that you're sure that it is beatable, but it should not be easy.


It is important to remember that difficulty does not necessarily equate to amount of fun. Other articles describe how to make combat fun. But the point is that a high level scenario can and should include complicated tactical challenges, because a high level party has a great variety of abilities that it can bring to bear.



And the plot of the scenario should suit the party that is playing it. A level 60 party is incredibly strong; where did they get this kind of power? Have they been adventuring for a long time, and if so, are they well-known? Are they even human, or are they some kind of gods? And in high level scenarios, the question why the party has decided to get involved in this particular mission or region of the world is even more important. A level 90 party could go anywhere it wanted, and it must've chosen this place and this quest. Why? As a related point, the monsters in the scenario are presumably EXTREMELY powerful. How have they not run amok and slaughtered everything in the near vicinity?


Also, the party won't be gaining in power over the course of a high level scenario the same way that it would in a low level scenario. The change from level 55 to 60 is less significant than the change from 1 to 6. Thus the scenario must present some other way of being fun: a gripping plot, flashy special effects and cut scenes, or something else cool.


High level scenarios have great potential. You can do many more different things with level 50 monsters than with level 3 one. You just have to be careful to keep in mind the experience of playing your scenario as you design it, and the rest will follow.




I haven't e-mailed this to SW yet. I wanted to get some comments and maybe revise it a bit. So... discuss.

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Well, sorry my post was a bit short. So about the PARTY part:


1 - You advise a Party maker or a pre-made party (party the player should use). I don't like the idea of plenty authors doing the choice of pre-made party. The character editor could perhaps do the job but ok for your advice of a clean party maker.


2 - You quote plenty problems about the usage of a high level party but few solutions appart to provide a pre-made party.


It's ok that some authors use that but that would be frustrating for me if I cannot use another high-level party in mostly all high-level scenario.

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Suggestion: The most part is about fights. Maybe you could add something about the levels of spells you can buy in the scen (not the rewards).
2 - You quote plenty problems about the usage of a high level party but few solutions appart to provide a pre-made party.
So I take it that neither of you would object to this article being even longer? :p

Well, I'll look into these two additions tomorrow. And by the way, Vent, just for future reference: I think you mean "apart from," rather than "appart to," which as far as I know is not English.
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Note : If your party is prefab, don't bother giving any rewards at the end. It's highly unlikely that party will ever be used again.


Note 2 : I really wouldn't mind getting a reward I couldn't use unless the reward was obnoxious. (based on, oh, Nature Lore for damage?)

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About changes to the article, cool.


About reward, even when you can't use them it's better to get one. But I agree that to give some rewards at the end of the scenario to a pre-made party could irritate a bit a player who didn't enjoyed to be forced to use it. It could be nice anyway, because you could want use the pre-made party in another scenario that doesn't need one.


About pre-made party, I have a suggestion that could be added in the article (or could be another?):


EDIT : Part about roughly pre-made party removed. Just read in next post the Kelandon "translation".


Thanks to him, even for me, his version is better to read!


One thing, he censored a smiley, So I'd like mention that the newbie comment is a sort of joke. laugh

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If I may be so bold... I edited your comments so that they were in more idiomatic English. You could post this as an article and e-mail it to Jeff, if you like. I tried to be as faithful to your meaning as I could, but if you don't like anything, it is yours and you can change it however you like. I kept the European-style punctuation, because we have enough British people on these boards that I think it's fine.


Oh, and one other thing: I think that with the new calls that Jeff is providing for the next version of BoA, we can check the names of the PCs, so this won't be as big a deal as it is now.


My edit:


It is true that using pre-made party offers plenty of possibilities for scenarios. But for a game like BoA that allows sophisticated character developement, many players won't like that very much. (I could develop the reasons, but that's another subject).


If your scenario is good, they'll play it anyway, but if you put in the effort to use only a "roughly pre-made party", they could be very thankful.


A roughly pre-made party is a party with rough specifications, instead of a fully built party.


For a pre-made party to be useful, you don't need to know all the attributes and the exact strengths of all the PCs in the party, so this roughly pre-made party could be a powerful tool anyway for your scenario.


A roughly pre-made party could work as follows:

1 - You describe the rough main characteristics of each PC and give them names. You could be very vague like "Halagic, the best fighter of the party" or a bit more precise like "A powerful woman wizard named Karadia", "Azlit, a non-human shaman that likes to use his weapons" or even "Fendoren, a thief with a Tool Use skill of at least 20 required".


2 - You provide three very different examples of parties that adequately fit the description in order to function in the scenario.


3 - You provide a readme that explains that the player could use PCs that roughly fit the description but it's important to change their name for playing the scenario.


The newbies will become fascinated with having to choose among the three different parties and will play your scenario at least three times in order to try them all.


Veterans will read carefully the specs and the readme, will check the different examples and will get from their parties a set that roughly fits your description.


For example, the "Fighter" doesn't need to be a fighter: he could be a barbarian, a thief with fighting tendencies, or even a shaman with sword skills. It doesn't matter; he will play the role of a strong fighter and all those rough choices will function well in the scenario.


Some of the strong reasons to not use a fully pre-made party for a scenario:

- If you provide a high level enough scenario, a player could greatly dislike not being able to use some of the parties he had already raised to this level.

- If you provide a level 1 party, a player could dislike not being able to use your scenario in order to raise a party to a level required for another scenario.

- You greatly decrease the replay value of your scenario.

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Thanks a lot Kelandon, that's very nice. Otherwise I agree I could use it to submit a small article.


I regreat to have delete so fast my version, it could have been interesting for me to do a detailled comparison to quote some flaws I do and possible corrections.

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