Jump to content
Cornguy

Stronger focus on permadeath?

Recommended Posts

Permadeath has always been somewhat unique to Fire Emblem, but does it really do that much for the series other than provide another reason to restart a chapter?

I was trying to come up with a legitimate way to incorporate permadeath into an FE game outside of forcing your hand to sacrifice a unit, or just being absurdly difficult.

So far, the only thing I've come up with is sidequest goals, that will essentially involve sending a unit or small group of units into an optional, dire section of the map that you could otherwise avoid by leaving the village/green unit/whatever to burn. 

However, it still feels like I'd be forcing players to pick and choose units to send to the wolves.

I'm really not sure if there's a viable option here, so I'd love to hear some thoughts on the subject.

I started to think about it after playing FE5. The way the map music changes after you lose a unit was such a cool feature, but you know, you'd probably just restart the chapter afterwards. I always wondered if there was a way to incentivize players to keep going after losing a unit outside of not wanting to play the chapter again. I struggle to think of a good one, hence the topic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, phineas81707 said:

Returning their stuff to the convoy might be a good one.

That could be pretty good, either send their items or have a way to retrieve them. Would be one less reason to restart, having a character go down holding a valuable item is sometimes more reason to restart than the character themself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, another idea that occurred to me- rewards for completing challenge runs. I've permitted Gilliam and Colm to die on a Sacred Stones run because I was doing an All-Girls challenge run at the time (Gilliam died in his recruitment chapter, Colm in the desert. Luckily, he hadn't done any salvaging yet). If the game offered some kind of incentive to do a run using a limited cast, you might feel OK about letting ineligible characters die.

Of course, how the game measures 'having fulfilled the challenge' might be a little suspect, but it's an idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea I had was similar to OPs. For a particular map, you would need to split up your forces to handle certain objectives and you wouldn't be able to regroup with them. One group would specifically be in an area designed for you to eventually fail (think a point you need to defend, with stronger and stronger reinforcements). The section would not easy so you need to actually commit some of your good soldiers.

Some other ideas:
-A gaiden or two that is unlocked by characters dying. Unlike Shadow Dragon, this would be 1-2 deaths, not killing half your army.
-An ironman mode with additional rewards for completion.
-Challenge modes where the game tells you which units you can continue with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pillars of Eternity had a mode in which the save file would get erased should you die. Maybe something similar could be done with Fire Emblem just to make sure you could never get a dead unit back. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the idea of a sort of ironman mode as NekoKnight said. Or at the very least, something along the lines of a different ending, or extra chapters if you don't restart chapters.

The save deletion sounds a little harsh, even though I personally would enjoy something similar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spoiler alert, if you haven't played conquest, and don't want spoilers, don't read on.

I think permadeath is needed for the series. It does change the strategy on how to keep everyone alive, but there could be an alternative. In conquest, the chapter that allowed one to get Gunter could provide such. He "died" by falling into the bottomless canyon. If a character died, and one could go into an underworld to save them, then that could be a way to save them. But, I think that would be avoided because of the opportunity for infinite grinding. So, maybe if there was some sort of item that allowed access into an underworld, to save someone, that would work.

I think if the game was to have children then this could be an alternative to their child's paralogue. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, phineas81707 said:

Returning their stuff to the convoy might be a good one.

Oddly enough, the DS remakes did that.

So it's been done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can confirm the DS games do that. The basis for the get Nagi and Tiki trick. 

 

I think a way way of doing it and making it worth continuing would be to have it alter the story. Like if a character dies his family will have their arc altered accordingly. Or maybe impact their stats as a way of saying they were impacted personally. Essentially make it more than a mention in the epilogue that they died. Show their death hit people. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, luigi bros said:

Or maybe impact their stats as a way of saying they were impacted personally. Essentially make it more than a mention in the epilogue that they died. Show their death hit people. 

Gaiden did that with the endings of each character.  Sadly, any character that was not recruited was not only left out of the epilogue sequence, but were also counted dead.  Example: if You never recruited est and palla, Catria would return home alone, burdened and saddened by her sister's deaths.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a topic that's on my mind quite often. Despite being a long time veteran of the series, the lack of incentive to keep going after losing a unit has led me to prefer casual mode over classic. I've been saying that Fire Emblem does not use permadeath, it merely has it, especially in the recent games where half your units won't even technically die at all. I'd really like to see some reasonable added incentive to actually continuing on after a unit dies, but it's hard in the given framework for a couple reasons:
-If the main character dies, you're forced to restart anyway, resetting any other deaths that might have occurred in the chapter. Deleting the save file is a workaround, but a bit too extreme imo. Maybe for a special mode, but not the main mode.
-If characters are actually going to die, it essentially means they can't be important to the story once they're on the battlefield since they could be dead at any time. This could actually make for a rather interesting game where the story changes drastically based on who is dead or alive, but it would be pretty different from what we currently know of FE.

I think the way FE currently works makes it better off without permadeath. You're supposed to feel bad about characters dying since they're not just generic soldiers, but it's kind of hard when they get their one death line and are never referenced again. Come on, it's hard for me to care when a parent doesn't even appear to care about their child dying right in front of them.

A Fire Emblem with permadeath that wants to actually make it matter would need to make every death have some sort of impact. These could be small for less important characters, but it's important to feel like the deaths actually mean something. It would probably also need a non-playable protagonist so that no one on the field would force a reset by dying. And it might still need some kind of extra incentive to prevent players from wanting to reset. I don't think auto-saving (aka iron man) everything is the best idea because then the choice is taken away from the player, but it could still record any deaths that happen and punish the player in some way when they reset. I don't know how this would work, but FE7 did have the character loss counter that showed how many times any individual unit died, so there's some precedence to the concept.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would give the player more options to work around permadeath rather than just resetting. Such as:

- When a PC's HP drops to 0, they collapse. They can't move or act, and will disappear unless you protect/stabilise them.

- A unit has three "lives". They don't permanently disappear until they die in three separate chapters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really only way to force people to lose people is to implement an Iron Man mode, even in XCOM a game that is perma-death crazy people save-scum to save units. Unless you absolutely force it on them people just will not give up units it's just how some people play.

Now onto the different side of this of making Perma-death feel like it matters. 

1.  Acknowledge that the person is dead show them missing from the story none of this being wounded crap (yes even plot important characters could be worked around with intelligent writing), FE 7 & 8 were pretty good at this if you didn't have certain characters their lack of appearance was noted. In FE 9 they would have a report after every battle to see if someone died and have a moment of silence or a little commentary on the person that died. But as far as they did go I think they can go even farther there should be people should be more into related and more character should be involved in the plot or least have things to say so when they die you can feel that they're missing. Or FE 9 route but flesh it out more.  

2. Unit utility make that unit valuable when that person dies you should feel the consequences of that death meaning there must be recruitable units that are recruited by someone other than the Lord or maybe a village or home that the only they can get something out of. There should be units that offer something unique this is why am usually a fan of smaller rosters cause when you're a thief dies and you're not getting another one for at least seven chapters it makes that loss feel a lot more palpable rather than saying whatever and just using your other one.  But imagine if they could go even further and offer units that have unique opportunities in maps how awesome would that be how much more effective with each unit would feel.

Edited by Locke087

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Baldrick said:

I would give the player more options to work around permadeath rather than just resetting. Such as:

- When a PC's HP drops to 0, they collapse. They can't move or act, and will disappear unless you protect/stabilise them.

- A unit has three "lives". They don't permanently disappear until they die in three separate chapters.

I actually had a very similar idea when my friends and I were putting together a table-top FE game. But instead of the 3 lives thing, we were going to have the player roll for a stat to go down, with different parameters depending on how much damage they took over their final HP value.

Also, Florete and Locke087, you reminded me of one of the cool things FE9 did. A lot of the early dialogue changes if you lose certain characters, in particular Boyd and Oscar. Makalov's support with Astrid is also a little bit different if Marcia died. I think there may have been more, but I've never read them in my own playthroughs.

This is pretty good stuff so far, puttin' a bit down in my notes(that I may or may not use one day >.>).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say implement something similar to what Xcom and Valkyria Chronicles had. When a character's hit points reach 0, they go down. And depending on how much damage they took (Xcom), or based on a preset number (VC), they are bleeding out for a few rounds (or instantly dead if they take enough in xcom's case.) This allows for the player to be able to reach them to get them back up.

This has more of an impact to me than Fire Emblem's instant death. Fire Emblem is one quick restart away from saving the character, in the other 2 I have time depending. It makes it more impactful, and if the character does die I actually tend to keep it. For example in Valkyria Chronicles, one of my characters went down in a boss fight. Getting to him was dangerous and I would lose more, so I ha do to make the strategic choice of letting him die. It was different than Fire Emblem where I would of just restarted. I think a system like this would work better.

EDIT: Clarifying the system that I think would work.

Once a character hits 0 hp, they drop. They are now bleeding out, and will go into a negative score based on Con. A character's con decides how far into the "negative" they can go before death. So using the example of Edward, lets say Edward has an 8 con. Edward is at 5 HP left, and gets hit by a mage. The mage does 10 points of damage. This causes Edward to drop, and is now in the bleeding out phase. Because the overkill damage was 5, it will put him at -5. Now the player only has 3 rounds to recover Edward before death. Only true healers can do it, as they would start with a skill Revive. So Laura, Rhys, and Elincia would have the ability in Radiant Dawn's this case, not characters that receive staff use upon promotion, so characters like Soren, Micaiah, and Bastian would not have this ability.

Death can still happen outright as well. Taking the same situation, lets say Edward took 15 points of damage instead of 10. This puts him at -10 hp when he drops. Because his con is only 8, this kills Edward as it goes past his limit.

I also think a very limited version of resurrecting that would be costly could work too. It would be limited, so you could only bring back 1 or 2 characters in a game, and as I said it would be costly. So lets say you are trying to bring back the same Edward I used as an example that died. Not just would their be a gold cost, somewhere around 10k-20k depending on the ease of gold in the game. Since we are going off of RD, probably around 10k. There would also be an HP sacrifice. In order to bring a character back, another character would need to permenantly sacrifice HP in order to raise Edward from the dead. Since Edward was at -10, raising him would require an HP sacrifice of 10 to get him back to 0. So you would have to choose another character to sacrifice those 10 HP. So in this case, lets say Nolan has 65 HP. Nolan is used for the resurrecting, so it permenantly lowers Nolan down to 55 HP, and now Edward is raised from the dead.

Since this could only be done maybe twice a game, and you can only resurrect 1 character per time, it would give an incentive to not restarting. You could potentially bring a character back, but with the limit on how many you won't be able to bring all of them back. So if you lost 5 characters throughout the game, and there is only one time you can revive one, you can only bring back one of them.

I think this could help Permadeath actually mean something in Fire Emblem other than a quick restart.

Edited by Tolvir

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Baldrick said:

- When a PC's HP drops to 0, they collapse. They can't move or act, and will disappear unless you protect/stabilise them.

This seems like the best solution to me. Not only does it give players a fighting chance of retrieving that unit (assuming they didn't stupidly send them solo against a pack of brigands), it also would add a nice diversion on maps and could make each individual playthrough more unique. I'd say you should be allowed to use Rescue staves on them too, in case they collapse right next to an enemy who you can't reach in time. I also think collapsed units would be left for dead if you complete a map without attending to them, though I can see situations in which that'd be annoying.

Personally, I'd add a kind of vengeance mechanic. If a unit dies on the battlefield, those who have Supports with them will get permanent stat boosts relevant to the Support Rank they achieved together, with the idea being that units push on and use their friend's/spouse's/sibling's/child's death as a way of motivating themselves to fight harder and avenge them. I think that has the potentially to be played a bit too melodramatically, though.

The main problem is that resetting just, well, resets everything. Your only punishment is having to redo the chapter, and I think that renders the whole permadeath mechanic meaningless when most people playing Classic Mode will just push L, R, Start and Select should a unit fall in battle. I've always toyed with the idea that the game "remembers" when a unit dies and makes them stay dead if you try to reset to save them, actively discouraging this kind of play and making Classic Mode a more tense challenge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my idea:

When a unit's HP reaches 0, they are not killed, but wounded heavily. This forces them to leave the battle, but they still remain on your roster. However, instead of recovering in time to be available for the next battle, it takes them several chapters to become usable again. In the interim, they spend their time at the "Infirmary", which you can access at the barracks or MyCastle or whatever it is for your game. Here you can see how long it will be before they are ready to fight again, potentially using special items to hasten their recovery. They gain menial EXP while they are abed, so they will be slightly disadvantaged upon rejoining the army.

This all switches around in the final battle, though. In the epilogue chapter, all deaths are permanent. The map can be designed in such a way that sacrificing some units may be necessary. Afterwards, characters that died in the final battle can get a special ending noting their courageous actions and how their loved ones have reacted to their death. 

This maintains the life-or-death mentality of Fire Emblem, but only in the endgame. Players wouldn't feel like having to restart the game anytime a unit was defeated because the unit would not be lost forever, but just for a few chapters. You wouldn't be forced to waste time defending units you didn't care about anyway (like FE6 Cecilia) because if they were overwhelmed, they wouldn't die and leave a black mark on your game record. However, unlike in Casual mode, character defeat would still be a big deal due to the disadvantages of lower levels and utility, making it something you would want to avoid in the long run.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the record, I don't think permadeath is a meaningless element in Fire Emblem currently. Reset on Death makes one choose their moves extra carefully and completely rules out lazy tactics like dog-piling a boss without care for if characters 'die' or not. It also creates wonderful tension when your character just barely escapes death. I'm not going to knock Casual players, but Classic is a unique experience.

6 hours ago, Tolvir said:

*snip*

The problem with this implementation is that it's going to be too severe or too light. If a character merely collapses and it's too easy to get to them, it's little different from Casual mode (permadeath is very rare in Valkyria Chronicles) and if a character dies, either from not rescuing them or them taking too critical damage, the player is still going to reset. Rather than try to make characters being defeated in battle less punishing, the devs should give you incentives to press on, either in new content or some other gameplay benefit.

4 hours ago, SullyMcGully said:

When a unit's HP reaches 0, they are not killed, but wounded heavily. This forces them to leave the battle, but they still remain on your roster. However, instead of recovering in time to be available for the next battle, it takes them several chapters to become usable again. In the interim, they spend their time at the "Infirmary", which you can access at the barracks or MyCastle or whatever it is for your game. Here you can see how long it will be before they are ready to fight again, potentially using special items to hasten their recovery. They gain menial EXP while they are abed, so they will be slightly disadvantaged upon rejoining the army.

This all switches around in the final battle, though. In the epilogue chapter, all deaths are permanent. The map can be designed in such a way that sacrificing some units may be necessary. Afterwards, characters that died in the final battle can get a special ending noting their courageous actions and how their loved ones have reacted to their death.

I could see this as a reasonable compromise if Ironman rules were enforced, but if a character is forced out of combat for several chapters, it's still going to be easier to reset. Also, this would mean no permadeath.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, I think the cleanest solution is to just have three modes: Casual, Classic, and Ironman, where the game is constantly recording the outcomes of battles and saving so you can't save-scum.

While the other solutions outlined above are interesting, they don't actually address the primary issue: when units die, I just want to turn off the game and try again, and I'll ALWAYS do that (unless I'm specifically doing an ironman run).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think alternate chapters is the best way to go. Not Gaidens, and certainly not Gaidens in the style of Shadow Dragon. If you straight up get something for losing a character then people will view it as needing to kill their character to access bonus content. However if it's something like an alternate chapter I don't think people would be so scathing. Since you're not actually missing out on anything strictly speaking if you play the game without casualty (of course you clearly are missing out on content and a lot of people will do a second playthrough to get those chapters, it just won't be perceived as such). And it should make sense. Don't just randomly change chapters like in the Gameboy Games. Have it so losing some plot important units actually changes how and why the lord is in certain places. And alternate idea to this would be to give the player a really good weapon if a really good unit dies. Like one of those plot important units that are not designed to be balanced with the rest of the cast. That way losing them is actually a trade off. I think if you do both these things it'll open the floodgates so to speak and people will be less hesitant to reset (as you'll never know exactly what kind of different experience it will lead to) and then things like the FE9 support convos will have an actual chance to shine.

Now some might complain that providing alternate experiences like this would lock off a large portion of the game when playing Casual Mode. This I actually view as a good thing. I have no issue with Casual and do play it myself on occasion but I think the game should provide incentives for players to 'upgrade' from casual to classic just so classic has a continued reason to exist. Because if the series does continue with casual as a permanent option (and I don't see why it wouldn't) and more players join the series only playing casual, then eventually nobody will play classic at all as older fans eventually are phased out. And if the series looses classic entirely then I think it will be to its detriment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/7/2017 at 5:15 PM, Fly_or_Die said:

Honestly, I think the cleanest solution is to just have three modes: Casual, Classic, and Ironman, where the game is constantly recording the outcomes of battles and saving so you can't save-scum.

While the other solutions outlined above are interesting, they don't actually address the primary issue: when units die, I just want to turn off the game and try again, and I'll ALWAYS do that (unless I'm specifically doing an ironman run).

Precisely. And I always get a chuckle when a character dialogue stresses "the will to move on" after a prominent death in the story, as I would never just move on.

I think the bifrost staff from fates is an excellent concept, and having them be regular staves in a Fire Emblem game can allow for harsher gameplay with competent enemies that capitalize on your mistakes. Primarily because it will only work within the same chapter where the death occurs. In a gameplay sense, the difference between a unit fighting at 100% full strength and deader than a door knob is their last hit point. Stabilizing an ally that's bleeding out or unconscious is really the one thing you can hope for in bringing a combat medic. The stabilized soldier can then survive long enough for a medical evacuation after the fighting is concluded. X-com plays with this concept by putting a bleed out timer on the dead ally. If you can finish the map within that timer, or move your medic to their position with the unlockable Stabilize skill, then you can save them. However, the bleed out timer does not always occur, say 30% of the time a dying ally can be saved. These are great mechanics to consider for classic mode in Fire Emblem.

We love moments where a unit dodges both 40% accuracy axes that would have killed them, allowing us to continue playing without a reset. Having to work your cleric over to a fallen unit with a time limit of 1, maybe 2 turns puts an unexpected twist on your gameplan up to that point. I think you can balance FE's mechanics around this. You can't rescue a dying unit since that's too easy of an answer and the sudden warp may kill them. Furthermore, if there's another enemy within range during enemy phase, their AI should prioritize a coup de grace move to finish off your ally. Also, bi frosted units should not be able to get up and continue fighting. I never used one in Fates to know if that happens, but if it does, that's kind of dumb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, Gustavos said:

Precisely. And I always get a chuckle when a character dialogue stresses "the will to move on" after a prominent death in the story, as I would never just move on.

I think the bifrost staff from fates is an excellent concept, and having them be regular staves in a Fire Emblem game can allow for harsher gameplay with competent enemies that capitalize on your mistakes. Primarily because it will only work within the same chapter where the death occurs. In a gameplay sense, the difference between a unit fighting at 100% full strength and deader than a door knob is their last hit point. Stabilizing an ally that's bleeding out or unconscious is really the one thing you can hope for in bringing a combat medic. The stabilized soldier can then survive long enough for a medical evacuation after the fighting is concluded. X-com plays with this concept by putting a bleed out timer on the dead ally. If you can finish the map within that timer, or move your medic to their position with the unlockable Stabilize skill, then you can save them. However, the bleed out timer does not always occur, say 30% of the time a dying ally can be saved. These are great mechanics to consider for classic mode in Fire Emblem.

We love moments where a unit dodges both 40% accuracy axes that would have killed them, allowing us to continue playing without a reset. Having to work your cleric over to a fallen unit with a time limit of 1, maybe 2 turns puts an unexpected twist on your gameplan up to that point. I think you can balance FE's mechanics around this. You can't rescue a dying unit since that's too easy of an answer and the sudden warp may kill them. Furthermore, if there's another enemy within range during enemy phase, their AI should prioritize a coup de grace move to finish off your ally. Also, bi frosted units should not be able to get up and continue fighting. I never used one in Fates to know if that happens, but if it does, that's kind of dumb.

I get making it difficult to save a unit but I feel that's going a slight bit too far. It's already slightly annoying that the enemies' in Fire Emblem dog pile your weakest units the first chance they get, but attacking someone that's bleeding on the ground is just immensely petty (and not actually all that sound a strategy in terms of actual combat). Prioritising the healer is a much wiser decision. Like why would an enemy go for the killing blow on someone who's effectively removed from combat? They'd have to be a needlessly blood thirsty person (which could work for an individual character but not generic enemies). A dead enemy removes 1 opponent from the battlefield, an injured enemy removes 1 plus however many people it takes to get them to safety.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Jotari said:

I get making it difficult to save a unit but I feel that's going a slight bit too far. It's already slightly annoying that the enemies' in Fire Emblem dog pile your weakest units the first chance they get, but attacking someone that's bleeding on the ground is just immensely petty (and not actually all that sound a strategy in terms of actual combat). Prioritising the healer is a much wiser decision. Like why would an enemy go for the killing blow on someone who's effectively removed from combat? They'd have to be a needlessly blood thirsty person (which could work for an individual character but not generic enemies). A dead enemy removes 1 opponent from the battlefield, an injured enemy removes 1 plus however many people it takes to get them to safety.

Well in Fire Emblem, morality is often in short supply. As most second and third acts pit you against mindless killing machines, monsters, or resurrected soldiers who have lost touch with their humanity. The basic brigand encounter is one where you might expect this behavior as well. Even our own units are portrayed as ruthless killers since there's no way of leaving units alive through Fire Emblem's mechanics. Even non Rout chapters will have you killing at least some to accomplish the goal. If previous games had mechanics revolving around mercy, disarming and capturing enemy combatants, and legitimately saving NPCs as opposed to killing the nearest enemies first, then I'd see where you're coming from.

As for whether it's cruel in a gameplay sense, that really depends on how you got your guy killed. Sending one guy to fight ten is insane, so the game would punish such a rash decision. 9/10 of my deaths occurred via the last possible enemy in range to land a lucky hit on one of my guys surrounded by several of my other units. A much more forgivable mistake that leaves no room for the enemy to perform the finishing blow. Of course, the coup de grace concept is just a suggestion of mine in order to make the threat of permadeath matter against a stabilization mechanic. A competent designer could balance stabilization in other ways to make this version of classic mode not feel like casual mode + spending money on bifrosts.

Edited by Gustavos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...