SotSB: Confusion

I’ve been encountering a lot of Umber Hulks lately — there aren’t a lot of different monster types in the mines, so what types there are, I’ve been seeing a lot. Umber Hulks have a gaze attack that produces effects equivalent to the Confusion spell. It seems to be broken.

Confusion is supposed to make characters act at random — there’s a table to roll on for the effects. One of the possible effects is attacking your allies instead of your enemies. This never happens to the PCs. It almost happens, though. At one point, when I directed a confused character to attack the enemy, I received the same confirmation prompt that I normally get when I accidentally try to attack an ally. Clearly, the game considered that character to be on the enemy’s side — but I was still in control of the character’s actions. And control seems to be the nub of it. Perhaps the testers were always leaving their characters on autopilot during combat, in which case they’d attack whoever the computer thinks they should be attacking.

As if to confirm this, I found and freed a captive NPC who joined my party. (This is something that happens fairly frequently in this series. Generally speaking, they stay with you only while you remain in the dungeon where you found them.) Being an NPC, her actions weren’t under my control, and when she became confused, she started hitting the PCs — and hitting them rather too well. I had to cast Hold Person on her to restrain her, and then faced the problem that, as long as she was still considered an enemy by the combat engine, the combat wouldn’t end. I really botched things here. I wanted to take her down and then heal her, but wound up just killing her instead. Dead NPCs, it turns out, are removed from the party, rather than kept around for resurrection like PCs. But — and here the whole situation started feeling really unclean — I got her equipment as loot from the encounter. And it’s really good loot.

You want to talk about moral dilemmas in games? This one was a humdinger. I start to suspect that the key to making a good moral dilemma is to make it unexpected and, if possible, unplanned.

1 Comment so far

  1. Bryan on 17 Aug 2011

    Vala is a very important npc. She will stay with you for the entire game if you don’t kill her off.

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