Sneaking a Peek at Strongholds Part One

While we’re working towards the release of strongholds, I thought I’d start giving a little tour of how some of the various interacting systems work – it’s reasonably complex, so a series of teasers might be useful in helping set the scene in terms of what you’ll need to do and why. I hope too that this will help show people why this system is significant enough to justify a leap up to version 1.2 for the game.

First thing is – strongholds are linked to clans. If you’re not part of a clan, you can’t have a stronghold. You don’t need to have a big clan – an army of one is fine. A clan is needed though, and the bigger it is the better because the size and prestige of your clan directly impacts on how big a stronghold you can build and maintain. The number of rooms you can claim is directly dependant on the number of clan members you have.

Your stronghold is located wherever you want to claim a room. To begin with, it’s likely that only the houses will be suitable stronghold locations, but gradually more and more of the game will be opened up for exploitation. The reason for the delayed release of this is that we’ll need to make sure we don’t let people take over quest locations or sites of particular game importance – the easiest way to do that to begin with is to permit it only in the rooms where none of that matters.

You begin by claiming a room – any room. Every suitable room will have a ‘claim’ command you can use – ‘claim here’ will say ‘This is my room, back off motherfu… motherlovers’. If it’s the first room of your stronghold, it can be anywhere. All subsequent rooms must be adjacent to an existing stronghold room. Now, if you have a large and unruly clan you might not like the idea of people claiming rooms willy nilly, so there is a reasonably granular permission system that comes along with it – you’ve already seen clan permissions, they’re already a game feature. All of the stronghold management elements will come with similar permissions. At the moment, we have:

Abandon A Stronghold Room    Officer
Add A Stronghold Visitor     Officer
Assign NPCs To Missions      Officer
Buy Stronghold Knack         Officer
Capture Rooms                Officer
Claim Rooms                  Officer
Donate Stronghold Supplies   Member
Fire NPCs                    Officer
Hire NPCs                    Officer
Improve Stronghold Rooms     Member
Install Stronghold Equipment Officer
Name A Stronghold            Clan Leader
Negotiate Trade Agreements   Officer
Provide Equipment To NPC     Member
Remove A Stronghold Visitor  Officer
Set Stronghold Info          Clan Leader
Setup Faction Shop           Clan Leader

More of these will make their way in to the game as we go along, but the key point is that you’ll have the power to manage this in whatever way you want. Claiming a room will remove it from the usual cycle of resets, refreshes and random generation – instead, every time it loads up it does so using your stronghold setup. A portion of the long description is used to set the scene, and the rest is generated from the equipment you have placed, the enhancements you have installed, and the name you’ve given the stronghold. For example, my stronghold is called Vault 69[1]:

Vault 69 (very brightly lit), claimed by Clan Wyrmstalker
 You can hear: Nothing.
 This is an underground vault, of the kind once used by the paranoid to give some sense of safety during the cold war era. The floor of the room has been covered in white plastic checkerboard tiles. The south wall has been picked out in linen woodchip wallpaper and the west wall has been covered in blue woodchip wallpaper. In the centre of the room is a pristine expensive claw-foot white fibreglass bathtub. Home comforts like the bathtub are in short supply these days. Someone has attempted to wire this room up so that electricity will flow. It might work, erratically and unreliably, but you shouldn't count on it. The area looks extremely insecure, with little effort having been expended in protecting it against the incursions of the dead.
 There is one obvious exit: south (closed door)

Bear in mind that this is still rough in terms of descriptive work, but the feature-set is largely in place. The first line of this is the long description, the rest comes from what I’ve been doing with my interior decoration.

All of the equipment and furniture I place in there is fully functional – I can put things into cupboards (which will save their contents), sit on sofas, fill bathtubs with water – the whole kit and caboodle. The furniture, as I’ve already said, will come from scavenge – all of the houses will get randomly generated sets of furniture, and you can choose between salvaging or scavenging the things you like. You can rip down wallpapers, rip up carpets, and bring the bits you fancy to your own little slice of heaven. There you can install them wherever you like, and regain the homely ambience that the post apocalypse has been missing to date.

The number of rooms you get is linked to the size of your clan – the bigger the clan, the more you can claim. Each room has a limit to how much furniture and equipment can be installed, so you’ll need to balance aesthetics with your actual requirements. Each of the items you install will have other qualities too – wall hangings will increase the aesthetic value of the room, beds and sofas increase the comfort, and so on. Some of the furniture has a function to go with it – you’ll need to install some form of power storage, for example, if you want to effectively store power for use in your various rooms. The stats come into play in various ways, but mostly they impact on your stronghold NPCs – we’ll get to those in another post.

Furniture is currently only available through scavenge, but eventually it’ll also be craftable. You find something you like, and you ‘remove’ it from its currentl lcoation – this might be skill-checked in some situations and failure will either leave it where it is or damage it[2]. Let’s say I’m in a room and I see this:

Leaning up against the north wall is a damaged futuristic black beech shelving unit.

Okay, it’s a bit damaged but I need that to hold my collection of shrunken doll heads. So, I remove it:

> remove unit
 You remove the futuristic black beech shelving unit from the stronghold.

Now I have the unit in my inventory. I take it back to Vault 69[1] and decide where I want it to go. I find a room that’s a little austere:

This is an underground vault, of the kind once used by the paranoid to give some sense of safety during the cold war era. A pristine large stronghold chest is in the centre of the room. It’s clear that the chest was placed there by a certifiable aesthetic genius. The area looks extremely insecure, with little effort having been expended in protecting it against the incursions of the dead.

I decide I want it to go there. I use the ‘place’ command to put it where I want:

> syntax place
 place <object> in the centre
 place <object> so it is {near|by|beside} the <direction> exit
 place <object> so it is {placed against|pushed against|nestled against|resting against|pressed against} the <wall> {wall|edge}
 place <object> so it is {nestled|positioned} under the <hanging>
 place <object> so it is {beside|near|opposite} the <furniture>

Those are my position options (more will appear later, and I also want to fix up the syntax a bit more). Let’s say I want to put it opposite the chest – so I do that:

> place unit so it is opposite the chest
 You install the futuristic black beech shelving unit in the room.
> look
 This is an underground vault, of the kind once used by the paranoid to give some sense of safety during the cold war era. A pristine large stronghold chest is in the centre of the room. It's clear that the chest was placed there by a certifiable aesthetic genius. Opposite the large stronghold chest is a damaged futuristic black beech shelving unit. Home comforts like the unit are in short supply these days. The area looks extremely insecure, with little effort having been expended in protecting it against the incursions of the dead.

The skill you have in aesthetics will determine how well you manage to position it, which gets reflected in the output of the long. So that’s what we have but nah, I don’t like it. So instead I’m going to put it by the west exit:

> place unit so it is beside the west exit
 You install the futuristic black beech shelving unit in the room.

I don’t have to remove it to do that, I just rearrange it within the room:

This is an underground vault, of the kind once used by the paranoid to give some sense of safety during the cold war era. In the centre of the room is a pristine large stronghold chest. It's clear that the chest was placed there by a certifiable aesthetic genius. A damaged futuristic black beech shelving unit is beside the west exit. Home comforts like the unit are in short supply these days. The area looks extremely insecure, with little effort having been expended in protecting it against the incursions of the dead.

Now, in doing this I’ve also impacted on the amount of storage capacity my stronghold has. The ‘stronghold’ command is the main interface to this. Before I installed the unit, I had zero available storage. Now, I have more:

> stronghold
Stronghold name            Vault 69
Outside Danger             Extremely Unsafe
Permitted visitors         Hugo
Stronghold rooms           16
Max stronghold size        99
Max equipment per room     99
Available Storage          26

Supplies
Alcohol                    0
Ammo                       16
Armour                     9
Cloth                      9
Food                       130
Luxury                     0
Medical Supplies           0
Metal                      14
Petrol                     15
Stone                      12
Water                      60
Weapons                    0
Wood                       10

Stats
Battery Storage            400
Bed                        5
Comfort                    2
Power                      0
Safety                     0
Supply Storage             295

Stronghold Information
Vault 69 is Drakkos' Fallout themed love bunker. M'lady.

So, I can put stuff on the unit within the stronghold, but it also has a wider impact in term of stronghold mechanics. As I supply things to the stronghold (more on that in another post) I use up my storage, so it’s good to use up some of my available equipment space for building up my storage capacity. Everything I gather has a use for the stronghold, so I want to make sure I don’t end up wasting things.

A stronghold room isn’t just a safe place for you – it’s subject to challenge. Anyone who is a member of another clan will be marked as being a faction playerkiller if they attempt to capture your room, and you’ll get an inform when it happens – but if they do that enough times you lose the room. The other clan doesn’t get it – it just gets taken away from you. The mechanics for this are on a per player and per room basis – each room can be captured once every <x> seconds, and each player can make a capture attempt every <y> seconds, provided they are not currently in combat. A stealthy enemy can wreck havoc on an undefended stronghold, but your own stronghold NPCs (more on that later) will fight off any enemies they can see – you can permit visitors to the stronghold, but everyone else is an intruder and must be dealt with. You’ll want to make sure you don’t expand your stronghold beyond your ability to meaningfully defend it.

In addition to these basic facilities, rooms can also be fitted with enhancements such as power cables, network cables, and plumbing. These are used to hook your room into the wider architecture of your stronghold – if you have a power generator in one room and a battery array in another, you won’t be able to siphon off the power until both rooms have been wired up. Similarly, if you have rain tanks installed, you’d better have plumbing available if you want them to be able to feed water into your garden boxes, and so on. Networking will come into play if you buy the internet access stronghold knack (yes, more on this TOO later). Other enhancements will appear as we go along, but they serve an important role in making sure everything is hunky dory within your safe areas. Barriacding too plays an important role in building up the safety of your rooms – when Maestro takes an interest in your stronghold, room security will be an important part of defending yourself.

That’s part one of our sneak peeks – next, we’ll probably talk about stronghold NPCs, and why you’ll want them around[1].

Drakkos.

[1] Ladies…
[2] Oh yes, all furniture now will be part of the breakable objects system, meaning you can just go nuts smashing everything you see into splinters.

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