STEALING IN A GAME WHERE ENEMIES CANNOT BE REFOUGHT

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LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5478
Help me come up with ideas for a thief type character in a game where fights can only be fought once each, and some of them can be avoided! I don't want to overly punish players for not using the thief, or for avoiding battles, and I don't want to make them feel like they have to steal from every enemy in every battle. It's okay I guess if they are SLIGHTLY disadvantaged in the long run by avoiding fights, which is already the case because they're missing out on EXP and gold, but if possible I'd like to avoid making that worse.

Complicating this problem, I've limited the player's inventory so they can hold a maximum of three consumable items at a time. So stealing potions would be awkward, as it would often be impossible to carry any more. Maybe it would still be okay? Looking for other ideas, even if I do that one.

With the blue mage in this game, I encountered a similar issue, and solved the problem by making it so if you beat a dungeon that has blue magic without ever letting any enemy use the blue magic spell, you learn it automatically and get a bonus reward for being badass.
Sounds basically like stealing from bosses in final fantasy. You run the risk of either stealing not being worth it (e.g. potions, antidotes, other marginal items) or being too OP (upgraded equipment, stat boosters, overpowered battle items). My suggestion is to make the steal-able items somewhere in between, probably weak battle items like temporary battle boosters such as X Attack or Guard spec from pokemon, or moderately strong useable bomb items or something. Or you could go the rikku limit break route and have the character be centered on stealing craft items that can be combined in various ways to cast certain exclusive skills (but this can get grindy, and very difficult to balance in a limited encounters game)

You can put these enemies in groups, maybe similar to Monster Type (Human, Avian, Magical, etc.) and place the items in this sort of group category. Then, when you're stealing from a certain Type of enemy, you're actually dipping into a "box" that's shared by multiple existing enemies.

You can make the Unique items disappear from the "box" permanently the first time they are stolen.

Furthermore, you can make it so that every time you kill one of these types of enemies, the more rare items have a slightly increased chance of being stolen in subsequent enemies. This would hopefully make it more beneficial for the player to steal from only the later people in that group and not waste time on the first ones they encounter. (They have to gamble a bit mentally on how many they might think exist in a dungeon, but that's already a thought they would be fostering in your perma-dead-enemy style anyhow.))
yo I'mma solve this for you real quick:
Have the thief steal non-item tokens (like an alternate currency) that can be exchanged at a black market for various goods. Maybe bosses have boss tokens which can exchanged for more valuable/rare goods and some bosses have SUPER boss tokens et cetera.

You can also reward these tokens at the end of a dungeon as a reward for being speedy or a pacifist or something.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5478
author=Merlandese
when you're stealing from a certain Type of enemy, you're actually dipping into a "box" that's shared by multiple existing enemies
This seems to cause two major problems I can think of off the top of my head:

1) At the end of the game, if you used this character a lot, the thief's stealing will become useless for the last couple dungeons because the player will already have everything. This seems anticlimactic.

2) Mostly this seems to just delay the problem rather than solve it. If the player gets 3/4 of the way through the game without using the thief, then it will still become impossible to get everything. It probably makes it much less likely to occur, but it'll still occur for many players. And when it does, no matter which enemies they skipped, the items that the player misses will be guaranteed to be the last, best ones.

author=Kaempfer
Have the thief steal non-item tokens (like an alternate currency) that can be exchanged at a black market for various goods.
I don't hate this idea. It avoids problem #2 in Merlandese's solution by letting the player decide what items to get. And it avoids my original problem with the limited inventory of consumable items by letting the player delay getting their item until later when they have space. I guess in the final dungeon, I'd need a black market dude just standing around inside the dungeon, which is easy enough.

Honestly I wonder if all the stealable items should just be regular money though. Hrm. I mean that would be *easier* but I guess it's also way more boring.
LockeZ
I don't hate this idea.

My life is complete

Don't make the stealable items money. If you're going to do that there is no point in having stealing. At that point it's just a mechanic to punish people who don't want to use the thief because they get less money without really adding in any flavour for those who do use said thief.

With tokens you can have items that you can't purchase at the regular shop. That lets the player decide if she wants to use his tokens on cheap potions because she used them all too early, or save up tokens and buy that cool dagger. The other player doesn't need extra potions because they used the tank instead of the thief, but they know they won't get the dagger.

Alternatively you can make this alternate currency acquirable in other ways (perhaps a character can transmute low-health enemies into them, for instance) which means the thief isn't the ONLY way to get access to the black market. It's sort of like a reward for doing interesting things instead of just more money, which you get as a reward just for winning the fight.
Collect-a-thon strikes me as the most enticing motivation for using a thieving ability. Stealing to get more of something you can get through other means isn't very exciting. Stealing to get something you can't get through other means is better, but if it's something you can keep getting more and more of forever, it starts to feel pointless after a bit. Stealing to complete a collection gives it a goal to work toward.

Here's an idea inspired by Merlandese's one: give enemy groups a stealable item that represents them, like a totem. Once you collect enough of that item for a particular enemy group, they become easier to deal with in some way -- they're just plain weaker because they've lost their totem, or your heroes learn something about those enemies that increases their critical hit rate against them, etc. That way there's a definite, finishable goal, but you keep recycling that goal throughout the game. It could affect the bosses too. Maybe collecting all the totems for a dungeon gives you an advantage against the boss. Maybe the bosses themselves have totems, but you can't steal them unless you've collected enough of the other dungeon totems.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13829
i require more information

1) why are you using exp if you already know the player's power level within a margin? is there a catch-up mechanic should they need it? seems redundant and aligns with some of your stealing problems

2) is stealing mutually exclusive from winning the fight? i.e. do you need to postpone to steal, or is it built into a mug or some sort of debuff or w/e?

3) what do lava sharks drop
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5478
1) Some combination of inertia and stalling until I come up with a more interesting system, I guess. I'm totally on board with dropping exp like a sack of kittens in the river, but probably only if I can replace it with something better instead of just with nothing. If I have an epiphany I'll let you know. In the meantime exp has a built-in catch-up mechanic known as an exp curve.

2) I haven't decided yet. It does seem good to have some sort of secondary effect like damage though. The main thing I know for sure is that instead of having a fail chance, stealing will require building up energy first, and the skills that build up energy will have other useful effects also. Because I don't want it to randomly fail six times in a row, but I also don't want it to just be something you do for free in a single round and then start fighting. I want it to feel integrated into the fighting.

3) sunglasses
author=LockeZ
author=Merlandese
when you're stealing from a certain Type of enemy, you're actually dipping into a "box" that's shared by multiple existing enemies
This seems to cause two major problems I can think of off the top of my head:

1) At the end of the game, if you used this character a lot, the thief's stealing will become useless for the last couple dungeons because the player will already have everything. This seems anticlimactic.

2) Mostly this seems to just delay the problem rather than solve it. If the player gets 3/4 of the way through the game without using the thief, then it will still become impossible to get everything. It probably makes it much less likely to occur, but it'll still occur for many players. And when it does, no matter which enemies they skipped, the items that the player misses will be guaranteed to be the last, best ones.

That's a balancing problem. This problem only exists if you use the Monster Type example straight through the whole game, but that's just an easy example, not the heart of the "box" idea.

Even if you have goombas in every dungeon through the whole game, you don't need every goomba to share one box. Frame them by whatever arbitrary boxing you like (you already have arbitration in individuals, why not groups?) including area, element, or general difficulty. Your first issue that you mention could be reduced to a single area, rather than the whole game's scope, simply by grouping the boxes by (Enemy Type, Location).
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
13829
Merlandese, I like your idea for more gameified games (...) that are timed, grindy, whatever. I dunno if it fits something with a more narrative focus.

LockeZ, it sounds like you're on the right track with the buildup instead of fail rates. Consider encouraging it by building it into some fights (e.g. Rikku) and set the example that, say, boss fights have something cool whereas mooks just have money or a consumable.

From what I know of V&I, the mooks are probably not going to die instantly. Maybe give the thief a goalpost, sorta like what the blue mage would from townsfolk. "I hear the purple sharks have unique teeth deformations ," after all.
Red_Nova
The all around prick
7549
Random ideas off the top of my head. Each one not necessarily mutually exclusive:

1) What if items you could steal from enemies were items they would use in battle? Stealing the potion item from a soldier enemy would prevent the soldier from healing themselves.

2) Have the thief immediately use the item after stealing it.

3) Have the thief able to steal equipment to make them more vulnerable and/or giving party useful gear. For example: in a fire themed dungeon, enemies would have skills and armor centered around fire, so a thief stealing the fire-blocking armor would give the party the defenses they would need to survive.
author=Red_Nova
Random ideas off the top of my head. Each one not necessarily mutually exclusive:

1) What if items you could steal from enemies were items they would use in battle? Stealing the potion item from a soldier enemy would prevent the soldier from healing themselves.

2) Have the thief immediately use the item after stealing it.

3) Have the thief able to steal equipment to make them more vulnerable and/or giving party useful gear. For example: in a fire themed dungeon, enemies would have skills and armor centered around fire, so a thief stealing the fire-blocking armor would give the party the defenses they would need to survive.

I like all of these as ideas! Would definitely put a more active spin on the thief class. The first point reminds me of Paper Mario, where if an enemy has an item to steal you can not only see it, but they will use it (maybe) if you don't take it from them. In a way it's like a short-term Blue Mage. Cool ideas.

author=Craze
Merlandese, I like your idea for more gameified games (...) that are timed, grindy, whatever. I dunno if it fits something with a more narrative focus.

I have no idea if LockeZ's game has a narrative focus or not, but the template for JRPG thieves already uses this "box" idea for individual enemies. I don't think it makes it more "gameified" or less by extending that box to multiple individuals. In a way, JRPGs use this idea already, except only when applied to your Team. Most games don't allot inventory to each of your player characters, so when a thief hits you, they steal from your whole box. My idea is to just apply that logic to enemies and then make it so that they don't need to be in the same fight to share that inventory box. I think it curbs the need to steal from every enemy without removing it altogether. It also isn't such a massive system mechanic that it would ever need to be discussed; just keep it internal.
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
14503
Dammit, Red_Nova said all the stuff I was going to.

So...+1.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
20742
Steaming in a game where enemies cannot be hams
Well, Red_Nova basically covered... everything.

I guess it really boils down to the Thief's viability as a character outside of the stealing ability. If that's the thief's ONLY intended function and is a mediocre character (or near-useless like in FF5) otherwise then yeah, the stealing mechanic should have some weight to it. But if it's a secondary function then it shouldn't have to be terribly complex.
Red_Nova basically covered most of my points.

I have a thief-RPG prototype sitting around (although in mine fighting enemies is kinda discouraged by the fact you can sneak around them), and more or less how I approach the problem is:

Some items are "auto used" when stolen (like "half-empty potions" and stuff)

Some are equipment that causes a permanent stat debuff to the enemy when yoinked from them (Some is then usable by the hero, some is sell-fodder)

I also set it up so that one of his skills improves stealing chance on a target enemy and some passive skills you unlock can improve stealing chance as well.

That's more or less how I set it up.
The easiest way to go about it to make a Locke or a Zidane. If the main protagonist is a thief who is not too shabby in a fight, there's little reason for the player to not use him/her ability. The player will figure out themselves whether the "steal" command worth their time or not.

And that's the gist of it. The player needs to realize that the steal command is useful for this idea to be pulled off to begin with. From the look of things, you game is going to be all about stealing. Therefore, you may need to get this point across very quickly.

You can start by establishing the different items you can get from looting different enemies. For example, typical monsters will drop their body parts that can be sold for extra money to cover up the finance (FFXII), while the player can steal gears only from human or elemental enemies in order to make your character stronger without spending loads of money on the armory (FF Tactics). Since the player can't the same fight enemy group twice, things like monster roots will become very important because the player will have very tight pocket money without stealing.

Bosses are also a great way to hint the player the importance of steal. In FFIX, the player can get a weapon 1-2 stages ahead of the plot, which is not really a cheap tactic given that bosses are special one-time battle enemy that should give away special rewards to begin with. Bosses will also give away multiple items to steal if the player is willing to grind the command, since the only thing stopping the player to do so is the very low success rates. On a side note, FFVIII's "Draw" ability is technically a steal. You steal abilities you need from an enemy, which include rare magics and summon monsters from one-time battle bosses. These magics are not overpowered and the player doesn't need them to survive the game, but getting exclusive spells or ability batches are pretty great rewards for the player to power up the characters.

Basically, show and give the player a reason they want to use a steal, then it should be easier for you to set up your stealing paradigm.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5478
I kind of get the feeling you stopped reading halfway through the topic's title and never even looked at my post
1. Make only some monsters even have items that can be stolen and mark them with a special "Steal" icon next to their sprite.

2. Give players rewards for not stealing. Like for each battle in which you didn't steal, you get some hidden church points and then when you visit church next time you get something based on the points.
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