Monday, February 18, 2008

The Value of Pain

There you have Samron, the warrior. Samron is a tough guy; he will take hits from his foes all day and never feel the least bit of pain. He doesn't expect his foes to feel any, either. Why would anyone want to stop fighting to feel pain, anyway? That would just be silly.

Of course, Samron does have kind of a point. If players get hit all day, it doesn't make any sense to have them feel pain. A warrior who feels pain would fall to the ground after the hundredth stab (Or perhaps go insane and enjoy the pain, but that's another story). What we need is a game where hitting someone isn't so trivialized. Pirates of the Burning Sea had something like that; attacks aren't directed at the opponent's health, but at their balance. When the opponent's balance is lowered enough, you can start shoving pieces of metal through their bodies, with lots fewer chances of the opponent avoiding the attack somehow.

What happens, then, when people start feeling pain? Well, for one, players will have a much greater respect for willpower. Typically, those who have high willpower in role-playing games are the wizards and mages, who are expected to put lots of efforts towards their craft. Personally, I don't really see a wizard take a few punches and keep dishing them, which would be a pretty good standard for willpower if I ever saw one.

No, those who need willpower the most are the front line soldiers, people who are expected to stand between the squishies and the squishers, shields high, blocking and taking hits so that people who can't take care of themselves still get their share of the loot at the end of the day.

So what would pain do to those who aren't tough heroes of the front lines? Why, it sends them to their knee, of course. Few people could take a sword or a mace to the face and stand proud before their enemies. Since they are adventurers, however, we will assume that they are not totally unaware of pain, and have come somewhat prepared. For those who can take pain, however, it's not as if there is no penalty. Concentration, for one, suffers greatly. Tossing spells and shooting projectiles is not something you want to do when you have your mind preoccupied by the large, bloodied crack in your skull.

With concentration as a resource, players would be much warier of getting hit. The damage may be a few inconsequential, quickly healed hit points, but the loss of concentration from the hit and pain might mean the difference between a well-placed fireball and a misfired fire bolt.

So next time you stand behind your favorite tank, dishing out your favorite mass-murder incantations at unsuspecting mobs, take a moment to thank the warrior for taking the hits for you. He might be wearing thick armor with more spikes than a hedgehog on speeds, but no one likes to take a club across the face. He's doing it to protect you, so be nice to his still diminishing IQ points now, will ya?

No comments: