Monday, July 14, 2014

Items, Items and More Items

We all know that Bloodhunt is a story-driven game, meaning that the story drives most of the player experience. So my first task right now is defining a first quest (the astrolite quest for Mercurio) and the first game boards (the beach house exterior and interior). However, I don't want to end up with a linear storytelling RPG where there's no point in replaying the game since there's no surprises to discover after your first playthrough. And here is where item interactions come into place. Even thou the specific story in the quest is predefined by the quest objectives and sub-goals, you can progress in the quest using these generic interactions. Also, I've sketched a quick drawing to illustrate the items a bit more:

  • Shovel. Most exterior locations have some spots where you can use the shovel to dig holes in the ground. These holes act as containers for any kind of item or character that you want to hide underground. For instance, I can dig a hole on the beach house exterior to throw the dead body of the surfer guard that I have accidentally killed during the quest. This helps me to prevent a Masquerade violation, since dead bodies underground are far more difficult to find by mortals. Another use of the digging mechanic is sleeping through the day in an improvised grave. 
  • Butcher's Knife. This item can be used as a regular weapon during combat, but the most interesting interaction is cutting down "big things". I know it's a bit of a macabre theme, but decapitation has a seminal importance in the vampire universe since it's one of the very specific ways to permanently kill a vampire. When a vampire character reaches 0 health points he falls uncouncious (incapacitated in VtM terms). In this precise moment you can chop his head off with the butcher's knife. Of course, this action requires a Humanity roll. Going a bit deeper into the macabre, you can use the butcher's knife again, removing a limb off the victim (and making another Humanity roll). Repeating this process, you can take all parts of your victim and throw them somewhere else, preventing a Masquerade violation but suffering a severe Humanity loss.
  • Lockpick & Screwdiver. These items can be used to unlock different kinds of locks. I've explained lockpicking in detail, and you can download the lockpicking mini-game to see this system at play.
  • Rat poison. Following with the macabre path, there are times when you need to get rid of a mortal in a subtle way. Maybe you can't get pass the medical clinic receptionist, or maybe it's a police officer guarding the art gallery. In any case, all mortals are vulnerable to food poisoning. Using rat poison with any beverage or food, you will instantly kill any mortal ingesting the poisoned meal. Poisoning a mortal does not trigger a Masquerade violation or even a criminal violation, since noone can guess who is responsible for the sudden death of the victim. However, you'll have to perform a Humanity roll since you're killing an innocent.
  • Beer (bottle and jar). As a common beverage, beer can be used to poison mortals as previously explained. Also, beer can be used to bribe police officers. "You seem extremely tired, officer. Here, have a drink on me". While the guard chills out for a moment, you can pass through or something.
  • Bucket of Black Paint. Using the black paint, you can tint the windows of an interior location to prevent daylight, making your haven more confortable during your sleep time. Of course, some windows have blinds or shutters so you don't have to carry the bucket of paint all along.
  • Lighter. A common zippo lighter can be very useful for setting things on fire. Of course, each time you start a fire you have to roll Humanity to control the Rötschreck, the primitive fear of vampires to fire.
  • Can of Gasoline. This is the perfect match for your lighter. If you pour some gasoline at any item or character, you can set it on fire with diverse consequences. First, not all items or characters are subject to being set on fire. For instance, there's no point in setting fire to a table or a lamp. In the same sense, you can't throw gasoline on a living character (unless he is immobilized first, we'll talk about it in a another post, when we dig into interrogations). So what can you do with fire? For instance, you can pour gasoline to a garbage container or a car to create a big distraction. Also, you can burn a bed or coffin (a quick invitation to a morning barbeque for the vampire sleeping inside). And of course, you can pour gasoline into any door to start a fire on the room. Just be careful to have an exit or you'll die devoured by flames.
  • Dinamite. Using your lighter with the dinamite you can create massive damage to all enemies inside a specific location. Also, it's a great way to blow up doors and call the attention of the authorities.
  • Stake. Stakes are also central to the vampire myth. If you manage to stake a vampire, he's automatically incapacitated remaining in torpor until you remove the stake. Awesome.
  • Money. What can I say about money? It allows you to purchase different things in the stores. Also, it's pretty useful for bribing the local authorities.
  • Pills. Throwing some pills into a beverage allows you to get rid of a mortal.
  • Coffee cup. A common drink (sometimes accompanied by a donut). Both are very useful for bribing police officers.
  • Woods. This simple set of woods can be used along with the hammer and nails to block doors or windows. Blocked doors prevent characters to enter or exit a room (depending on the side that you block). Blocked windows prevent the light of the day to enter a room.
  • Hammer and nails.
  • Hamburger. A common meal. Meals can be used to bribe the hobos.
  • Crowbar. Half-Life's favorite weapon. Also, it can be used to retrieve the woods from a blocked door or window. I have to make a bit of criminal research, but I think they can be used to break into a car too.
Conclusions. Item interactions are fairly simple in essence but allow a great deal of variation. Each item offers a systemic mechanic that can be applied anytime, anywhere. When I'm laying out the quest objectives and scenarios I can only anticipate some specific uses of these interactions, but I'm sure lots of clever solutions will come up during gameplay. Also, working on the "linear" story and the "non-linear" interactions gives me plenty of opportunities to add real value to the game.
Just as an example, in the beach house courtyard there's a van that you can set on fire to create a big distraction while all the surfers rush to the van trying to stop the fire. Now let's say I have blocked the main entrance from the outside. Did the surfers hear my hammer nailing the woods? Let's roll a Perception roll to find out. And how about a fire in the blocked door instead of the van? Or why not both? The difficulty of the Humanity roll to resist the Red Fear grows linearly with the number of fires. One fire diffiultly 6, two fires difficulty 7, three fires difficulty 8, etc. And that's how all rules are falling into place.

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