You Must Be This High To Ride This Ride: Thresholds in Gaming
I was talking with a buddy of mine earlier about the wondrously beautiful thing that is Skyrim. For all it does well, there is always room for improvement and we’re going to discuss one little element which got us both about design in general. The element in question? Quest thresholds.
In Skyrim, you can pretty much follow any quest line whenever you want and you don’t necessarily have to be the best wizard to become the archmage. Certainly, this would be a value add if the game required certain thresholds before you move on, so what do you think? Should roleplaying games (be they tabletop or video) have something like that built in or not? Sound off, will ya?
Yes, I have more news to impart, but, hey, I gotta save something for tomorrow and this topic really has got me thinking. You respond today and I will totally respond with a follow up to this.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!
I think there are thresholds that are built into many games already, through prerequisites. So, for instance, in AoO, to take Master of Disguise, I need to be a Legendary Ranked character with Persuasion of d8+. To take Well Equipped, I need to be a Novice with Charismatic and Tradecraft d6+. I have no problems with these sorts of thresholds for abilities.
I don’t particularly like thresholds to move on with the story. Not knowing much about Skyrim, I am assuming that becoming the Archmage is an optional quest/result of your actions in the game. I would have no issues with the game requiring me to have X number of spells or a magic rating of XX or whatever to achieve this rank.
However, if I need to become the Archmage (and only the Archmage) to finish the game, that’s well, kind of poor design, for starters. But if I’m playing a non-wizard, I shouldn’t have to reach a certain plateau that’s OFF CHARACTER to finish the story.
Now, if instead, there are guilds for all the classes and you need to become the head of one of those to finish the story, that’s ok, because you can still play on-type (or, you’re forced to make a decision on a focus area, mister multi-class).
There are thresholds in some of the quests. Some you need to be a at a certain level before you can even find the quest giver. That said,Mr.Bazin said what I was going to say about needing to be a certain rank before taking an edge.
I think the difference between thresholds & prerequisites is prereqs are things the player have to meet to do something or learn something & Thresholds are things the players have to meet to GO somewhere, The whole “have to be this tall to ride” thing. I think thresholds work best when they are ‘invisible.’ More things the GM knows about then the player does. The GM knows that Novices can go to the Caves of Craziness & be able to have a good time & not die. But the GM also knows that they need to be Veterans to go the Swamp of Gasiness. Now the GM doesn’t want to tell the players they can’t go to the Swamp of Gasiness, so they have to be ready to smack them down or give them scary rumour to steer them clear of going there. Also you can just give them more compelling things to keep them busy. Look at Evernight – the players have to adventure until they think they have enough support to take on the Big Bad. This is like a Campaign Threshold.
Um… I just make stuff up on the fly, so I have to admit that I’ve never really thought about this. That said, I think the Rank requirements to hit specific plot points in Plot Point Campaigns like Rippers and 50 Fathoms make sense. They let the GM know how hard he can make it on the PCs.