Sneaking a Peek at Strongholds Part Three

Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday I was talking about taking time off work to progress this system, and now I’m on the precipice of a new semester to start next week. Oh well – wherever the time went, it’s now time for part three of our stronghold sneak peeks!

Keeping a stable of stronghold NPCs is important for the security and safety of your possessions, but they come at a cost – you need to keep a steady supply of commodities if you want these little fellers to live and thrive within your demesnes. When you create your stronghold, you’ll be given a supply chest – that’s your drop-off point for anything you want to donate to the stronghold. It also serves as your first guaranteed bit of storage, which is what you use to hold the various things your stronghold needs. For example, in Vault 69 we’re a little bit flush at the moment:

> stronghold supplies
Supplies
Alcohol            55
Ammo               49
Armour             19
Cloth              25
Food               145
Luxury             3
Medical Supplies   28
Metal              37
Parts              50
Petrol             3
Stone              28
Water              51
Weapons            30
Wood               50

Each of the NPCs I have within my stronghold consumes food and water. If they are wounded they consume medical supplies. If they’re sad, they consume luxuries. The rest are a currency that I can use to fund stronghold missions – each of my NPCs is either a guard at home or off somewhere performing a mission that I set for them. When they’re out on a task they don’t consume resources (they take resources with them), and I supply them with whatever is needed to get the job done from our stronghold supplies. Here’s the current list of missions:

> stronghold list missions
* Armoursmithing
* Bandage Making
* Bandaging
* Brewing
* Foraging
* Fortify
* Lumberjacking
* Networking
* Patrolling
* Plumbing
* Prospecting
* Quarrying
* Reassurance
* Rewire
* Scavenging
* Siphoning
* Sniping
* Teambuilding
* Throw Party
* Weaponsmithing

Each of these comes with further details. Let’s say for example I want to investigate scavenging:

> stronghold mission description scavenging
Mission name Scavenging
Description   There is still gold in them thar hills - and by gold
              we mean the basic staples of survival, and by hills               we mean the houses, shops and supermarkets of the
              pre-apocalypse. Sending an NPC on this mission will               make an attempt to find some supplies for the                     stronghold. On success, a stronghold cache will be                added to your stronghold.

Location      Outside the stronghold
Time needed   6 ticks

Skill Checks
Scavenging    1 check

Required Resources
Food          6
Water         6

Here we can see what’s needed for the mission – it takes six ‘ticks’ to complete, and a tick is handled by the game’s reset timing. Six ticks is roughly three hours, so that’s a fairly time consuming mission. It will require a single check against my NPC’s scavenging skill, and if I send them out it’ll cost me six food and six water (the longer they’ll be out, the more they cost). It looks good though, so I look around for an NPC to send out for supplies. Pauline isn’t busy, so I send her off. I get to choose how difficult the mission will be, and that determines how tricky the skill checks are. When deciding on which NPC to send where, I need to find a good match between difficulty and the skill-set they possess. Unfortunately:

> stronghold view pauline
Scavenging Extremely Unskilled

She’s not great at this, so I need to set my horizons relatively low. I also need to accept the possibility that she won’t be coming back from this – no matter how easy the mission, there’s always a chance of damage to her health and well-being. Bearing all that in mind I’ll send her off on an incredibly easy mission:

> send pauline on incredibly easy scavenging mission
Nurse Pauline gets a mission assignment and sets off to perform it.
You assign an npc to a mission for your clan.

Now it’s a waiting game – at the end of the mission, we’ll be told whether or not she succeeded. We’ll get the rewards, or not, as appropriate. So let’s wait.

But tragedy! I hear on the stronghold grapevine that she hasn’t come back! Oh no!

Pauline fails to return from her mission. She is presumed dead.
 Pauline died associated with your stronghold!

Well… shit.

The location of the mission is important, because it determines whether or not the danger level of your stronghold is a factor in success. Remember we saw that ‘outside danger’ was a value in a previous post. My stronghold is… not very safe. We’ve really been letting things slide.

> stronghold
Outside Danger         Extremely Unsafe

I have missions I can send NPCs on to deal with this – we can have survivors patrol, or snipe from the safety of the stronghold. That takes a while though, so I don’t want to let my stronghold become too dangerous without my input[1]. For the sake of moving things on, let’s pretend I just hired a small army of survivors and got them to clean up the neighbourhood with patrolling and judicious sniping.

We’re short a useful NPC now, and so I hired Pauline2 onto the stronghold. I’m sure she won’t mind the sinister expendability implied by her new name. I’m going to send her on the same mission that her predecessor failed so completely:

> send pauline2 on incredibly easy scavenging mission
Pauline2 gets a mission assignment and sets off to perform it.
You assign an npc to a mission for your clan.

And again, we wait.


This time, the news is better. She returns like a triumphant hero, dragging a cache of supplies behind her:

Pauline2 returns, claiming great success in the scavenging mission - a stronghold cache is now available.

The ‘great success’ implies this was a critical success, and the rewards will be better than what might otherwise be expected from the difficulty of the mission. The cache she brought back with her is a thing that we can open whenever we have the time and storage space to benefit from it – the quality of the cache will depend on how difficult the mission was and the level of success our NPC had. This was an incredibly easy mission, so we shouldn’t get our hopes up even if it was a critical success.

With an appropriate sense of ‘whatever’, I go to my stronghold chest and:

> open cache in chest
1x petrol, and 1x armour collected from cache!
You open a cache.

That’s what we got from this mission – more supplies for the stronghold, which get added to our stores. You’ll notice, not unreasonably, that what we got back was considerably less than what we spent on it – them’s the breaks when sending NPCs on missions that are easy. If we want the big score, we need to roll the hard six on the mission difficulty. Scavenging is completely random in terms of what we get, but there are more directed missions we can use too – we can send NPCs out foraging for food if that’s what we need, or send them out siphoning petrol from nearby vehicles. However, stronghold caches also occasionally come with ‘rare’ items when you open them – these items might be special pieces of enhanced equipment, clan experience, stronghold knack points, money, or especially qualified applicants to the stronghold. As such, you take your chances – you can either go for the reliable return, or open what’s in the mystery box.

Missions award NPCs with a little experience, and the more they do them the greater the chance that they’ll level up the skills they used on it[2]. As NPCs gain XP, they’ll also level up (increasing their general abilities as NPCs in the game). However, they can also die on missions (as we’ve seen), and if sent on a mission too challenging for them they might end up doing more harm than good. NPC missions span a considerable spectrum, including missions to improve the stronghold by applying fortifications/barricades/electrical wiring or to tend to the woes of NPCs with bandages or kind words. You can thus offload a lot of the micromanagement of the stronghold onto your NPCs, provided you’re willing to sacrifice the security that their presence gives.

Each successful mission too earns the clan a certain amount of experience, as does the simple fact of having a functioning stronghold – the better your stronghold is, the more XP you’ll earn – and you’ll earn this every tick. My stronghold currently is earning my clan a fair chunk every 30 or so minutes:

> Your stronghold has generated 5301 xp for your clan.

You’ve probably already noticed the changes to the clan system that determine how much clan XP can be given out to clan members – basically, the better your stronghold does, the better your clan is rewarded. Missions are a non-trivial part of that equation.

The rare items that NPCs occasionally find when scavenging are always enhanced items, and they’ll be put into your stronghold shop if you have one[3] – thus, a good scavenging mission can make available a piece of loot that you yourself might very well want to use. That is, assuming you’re willing to buy it from your stronghold stores. At the moment, it’s not possible for you to draw on the supplies that you gain directly, but you gain indirect benefit by consuming them yourself when you’re in your stronghold (much as how it currently works for factions you have high reputation with)[4]. Keep those supplies coming if you want to be able to simply kick back and relax while in your own fortified in-game bunker.

As with everything, what you’re seeing here is a preview of a system that will be grown and expanded as time goes by – the sophistication and utility of missions will continue to evolve in line with development of the strongholds. I think though they’re in a pretty useful state right now – you’ll want your NPCs because they give you security when you’re not around to defend your stronghold, and you’ll want the missions because they’re an easy(ish) way to make sure your NPCs are supplied with the things they need. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of manually installing wiring and fortifications, you can make your NPCs do it. If you’re worried that they’re not well enough to contribute, get one of their colleagues to bandage them up or soothe their fears. In all cases, you need to balance between the benefits of a mission and the cost to stronghold security, but those kind of decisions are at the core of what makes for an interesting game experience.

Drakkos.

[1] The degree to which your stronghold is fortified determines how unsafe it gets every tick.
[2] It’s not quite like a TM – it works more like bucketted XP.
[3] If you don’t, you won’t get it. Sorry!
[4] You can turn off this drain if you prefer.

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