playing the game with ethical principles

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martin99
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playing the game with ethical principles

Post by martin99 »

Hi!

I found out about Wesnoth about some weeks ago and was fascinated by the atmosphere it creates by the good music, the storyline and the nice animations and graphics.

However I found myself playing the game in a way that I bet seems to be the opposite of what its developers designed into the game mechanics. I applied some ethical rules that I like to play this way:
  • I took care of my own people and tried not to let one die.
  • I let the enemy attack first.
  • When a enemy character was low on hit points I gave it a chance to flee.
  • I tried to accomplish the task of killing the enemy leader without killing all of its recruits.
In other words I wanted to treat the enemy fair even though I fight them. But the game didn´t let me play this way. I tried An Orcish Incursion and Heir to the Throne. Since my units only get experience on killing they did not advance quickly enough. And I lost some turns since I let the enemy attack first. Thus the AI had no problem smashing my people in later scenarios. Also I found it difficult to advance my healers enough. They have low hitpoints and are easily killed.

I first tried cheating by increasing hit points, but this was quite tedious work in the save game file and it didn´t work to well. Attacks of my unit where still weak and when a unit eventually advanced its hitpoints got reduced again.

Thus I went on implementing first one of the FPI. I just tried to implement it myself in actions.cpp cause I read that they won´t get implemented officially:
  • I added two extra experience points for fighting - normally a unit gets experience level of the enemy unit as hitpoints. Initially I had it get level * 2 hitpoints but that turned out to be quite much and once in the first scenario of An Orcish Incursion orks advanced like mad.
  • I also made the unit get the fight hitpoints on killing another unit and not the kill experience hitpoints, cause I didn´t understand why a unit just get experience points for killing at all.
I was able to quite play An Orcish Incursion in easy mode without loosing on of my units - using the reload autosaved game feature when I didn´t succeed. But I had issues with too less money, cause my way of playing required more turns. Thus I once cheated the money and then increased maximum turns for further scenarios.

And my healers did still advance very slowly. And I had to kill almost all of the enemy units nonetheless.

Thus I implenented another FPI: A healer gets one experience point for each healing. I also lowered experience point for fights to one per hitpoint + the two extra experience points mentioned above to have it more balanced.

I also changed scenario files to have a bit more turns.

Well then I got more experienced healers and playing was more fun.

But still its either I kill most of the enemy units or I do not accomplish the mission at all. And the healers didn´t advance when they got enough experience points for healing. Elfish shamens were noted as 35/32. I worked around this by having it attack once then.

Thus I thought that what I want to play is basically quite a different game and needed also scenarios with different max turns, different mission goals, and I think also adaption of the AI and other core mechanics. Some ideas that came to my mind were:
  • Have faction or a faction of factions like elves, humans, dwarfs do not like to fight and only fight if absolutely necessary and have attributes like high hitpoints and good defensive skills and possible weaker attacks.
  • Have some new mission goals like: owning a certain amount of villages or owning a certain amount of villages by the end of maximum turns.
  • Have units flew more easily.
  • Have the AI not always fight to the last unit but eventually give up when it finds that it has no chance to win anymore.
  • Have attack skills and activity of units be reduced when they have low hitpoints, i.e. are almost dead.
  • Have some new spells like stunning a unit.
  • Have a way to capture units by pulling a rope around them or whatnot or putting them into a prison instead of killing them.
  • Maybe even have a way that an enemy unit that finds that I treated it fair by not killing, by just capturing it, or if possible have it healed (while captured) skip sides at some probability.
  • Maybe have a way that enemy units that find out that their leaders just sends them into sure death desert and run away by some probability.
  • Probably do not have all hitpoints of a unit healed when it advanced, but maybe have it get half of the hitpoints between it currently has and the new maximum hitpoints.
  • And them some new campaigns, that put emphasis on reaching mission goals like reaching a place, owning a certain amount of villages instead of just killing, including story lines that match that the good ones really want to be the good ones.
Since I now think that it would require quite some more changes in order to be able to play the game I like it to play than patching three places in actions.cpp I thought I bring this up here. One way to go further about this I think could be to think about what of the hard core game mechanics need to be made adaptable by WML files and whether it would be a feasible idea to make stuff from core game config files like game_config.cfg available to be overriden by campaigns

I do not demand that someone implements it for me. I even do not know which of my ideas would make sense and would be playable. I do think that it would be good to split this into smaller ideas and go about them one by one.

Ok, so now I first watch out for feedback whether there is someone else here who would enjoy playing the game in a similar way. And play opencity or lincity-ng or some other less fight to the last man/woman standing game in the meanwhile.

In case you have a suggestion for addons that could go into the direction of what I am heading at, please tell me.

In case someone wants to try out the playability of the changes I made to the game, I attach the patch. You can also find an amd64 debian binary package plus all the patches I tried playing with and an experiment with the game_config.cfg at:

http://www.martin-steigerwald.de/tmp/wesnoth-fun/

(at least for now)

I can build a complete source package as well if you wish. I have also savegames for the two An Orcish Incursion attempts available. The replay ones the game creates automatically.
Attachments
change-experience-rules-3-incl-healxp.diff
third generation patch for more fight xp and heal xp
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Martin
Velensk
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by Velensk »

Speaking as one who does not regard killing as an inherant evil.

I think you have done a marvolous job of demonstrating why going into war with a 'be nice' additude is generally not a good idea unless you happen to be able to rewrite the rules of reality. If your units wern't bits of data I would feel rather sorry for them because the only reason that they could survive is because you cheat (which you couldn't do if they wern't bits of data). I'd sooner fight on the enemies side.
Have faction or a faction of factions like elves, humans, dwarfs do not like to fight and only fight if absolutely necessary and have attributes like high hitpoints and good defensive skills and possible weaker attacks.
Each campaign defines when and why sides fight. If you are combatting an enemy in a campaign it is because according to the plot of the campaign it is 'absolutely necessary' that you do unless the gameplay allows you to avoid.

I think that it's fairly clear from both in our world and in wesnoth that all races mentioned are quite willing to fight even when it isn't entirely necessary.
Have some new mission goals like: owning a certain amount of villages or owning a certain amount of villages by the end of maximum turns
That's already perfectly duable already but here's the point. What problem does 'owning a certain number of villages' solve other than perhaps financial? Are the orcs going to leave you alone because you have a lot of money and don't want to kill them, no most likely they'll try to kill you and take all that money while you graciously don't kill them. Solving that by having villages is a lot like saying you can solve the problem of shoplifting by having lots of wares while refusing to prosecute shoplifters because accusing people of shoplifting can get you sued even if it obvious that they were.
Have units flew more easily.
Flee maybe? This concept isn't really anything unless you describe how to impliment it. Planning your stratagy to allow for retreats is an important part of the gameplay already.
Have the AI not always fight to the last unit but eventually give up when it finds that it has no chance to win anymore.
Doesn't always make sense as a generic mechanic. Is already doable when you want it.
Have attack skills and activity of units be reduced when they have low hitpoints, i.e. are almost dead.
Doable but it contradicts the idea about fleeing easilly.
Have some new spells like stunning a unit.
Stun is already an ability in the game. It removes ZoC for a turn. You can add any ability you can make however you are not describing what this ability (or whatever hypothetical others you have) does and thus it's impossible to comment.
Have a way to capture units by pulling a rope around them or whatnot or putting them into a prison instead of killing them
Sure, just force the player to pay upkeep for and spend time guarding these captured units and see how popular an option it is. If you want this to be an in battle option rather than what happens to surviors at the end of a scenario you should probably require the target to be crippled and/or subdued first. Somehow I suspect that a few thousand crippled captives incapable of taking care of themselves would be a lot more trouble than almost as many dead for everyone involved including the captives themselves.
Maybe even have a way that an enemy unit that finds that I treated it fair by not killing, by just capturing it, or if possible have it healed (while captured) skip sides at some probability.
Leaving aside my opinion that I would not want you for my CO under any circumstance, you could do that, might make the captive option more popular but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me unless you believe that they secretly hated whatever group they were fighting so loyally for before to the point where they're willing to kill them for your sake.
Maybe have a way that enemy units that find out that their leaders just sends them into sure death desert and run away by some probability.
That's what eliminating the unit is; battering them until they break whether psychologically or through direct engagement. Remember UaPB (units are possibly battalions). I'm rather doubtful that you could manage to achieve 100% casualties unless you have them surrounded or they're fanatical.
Probably do not have all hitpoints of a unit healed when it advanced, but maybe have it get half of the hitpoints between it currently has and the new maximum hitpoints.
That's easily doable but I'm not sure what the point is.
And them some new campaigns, that put emphasis on reaching mission goals like reaching a place, owning a certain amount of villages instead of just killing, including story lines that match that the good ones really want to be the good ones.
I'd focus on this one were I you. You can do pretty much everything you wanted with this idea alone. I can't say that I'd play it personally but then we have a few rather obvious differences in philosophy and experiance.

Good and nice are not synonyms. While kindness is an important part of good there are times when it must give way and this is a game of war. You can modify everything to try to make it appear sweet and flowery, you could contrive circumstances to favor the overly merciful, and it could even be a decent game, but it would not feel honest nor experianced to me.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
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zookeeper
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by zookeeper »

Speaking as an omnicidal pacifist, the best way to implement more "peaceful" gameplay would probably be to create a SP/MP campaign or MP scenario which is specifically made to encourage such a playstyle. Trying to change the current campaigns to accommodate something like that frankly seems pretty pointless, but a new campaign where such a playstyle is actually rewarded (in a concrete sense; not just by telling the player that they're being nice) and makes some amount of sense would be nice.

For a simple example, you could have a competitive survival-type MP scenario where you lose when you've killed X enemy units (or die yourself, obviously) and win when you're the last one who hasn't. Faction balance would go out the window in that particular case, but you get the idea.
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by Velensk »

I'm curious, what is a omnicidal pacifist?
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by powershot »

Ok, martin99, I like your ideas but in the game when I kill a unit I consider it "seriously wounded" and is never heard of again but if you want to you could make it so that every time you kill a unit he goes to your side, I have a code to do that.
My new account is: Power_Pixel_Wannabe. Yea. Yea.... Why are you still reading this? What the heck m8? You have some kind of problem? Yea. I draw. NO I'M NOT 5 ANYMORE!!! Little brats.
The heck m8? I thought you left... No seriously... go... serious...
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by zookeeper »

Velensk wrote:I'm curious, what is a omnicidal pacifist?
Well, someone who opposes war and/or violence but still wants everyone to die. But for possible further questions or expressions of disapproval, another thread is needed. :whistle:
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by powershot »

zookeeper wrote:
Velensk wrote:I'm curious, what is a omnicidal pacifist?
Well, someone who opposes war and/or violence but still wants everyone to die.
What a man! :D
My new account is: Power_Pixel_Wannabe. Yea. Yea.... Why are you still reading this? What the heck m8? You have some kind of problem? Yea. I draw. NO I'M NOT 5 ANYMORE!!! Little brats.
The heck m8? I thought you left... No seriously... go... serious...
ok bye m8. I'm serious.
martin99
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by martin99 »

Velensk wrote:Speaking as one who does not regard killing as an inherant evil.

I think you have done a marvolous job of demonstrating why going into war with a 'be nice' additude is generally not a good idea unless you happen to be able to rewrite the rules of reality. If your units wern't bits of data I would feel rather sorry for them because the only reason that they could survive is because you cheat (which you couldn't do if they wern't bits of data). I'd sooner fight on the enemies side.
I didn´t know that the goal of the game was to be realistic regarding real world experiences. And then how you see the real world depends on how you look at it. I tend to believe that most warfares in reality are ended before all soldiers on one side are killed.

So or so, I didn´t care much about whether its realistic or not. Its a game. And as such at least for me it doesn´t have to be realistic. I will leave all further comparison with how you see real world uncommented, cause I do not want to engage in a philosophical debate here. I just described how I´d like to play the game and wanted to see whether there are others interested in similar game play.
Velensk wrote:
Have faction or a faction of factions like elves, humans, dwarfs do not like to fight and only fight if absolutely necessary and have attributes like high hitpoints and good defensive skills and possible weaker attacks.
Each campaign defines when and why sides fight. If you are combatting an enemy in a campaign it is because according to the plot of the campaign it is 'absolutely necessary' that you do unless the gameplay allows you to avoid..
Well maybe then its best to really make an own campaign. I am not so sure whether I want to engage that much, honestly. Even if one uses existing factions and graphics it would be quite much work.
Velensk wrote:
Have some new mission goals like: owning a certain amount of villages or owning a certain amount of villages by the end of maximum turns
That's already perfectly duable already but here's the point. What problem does 'owning a certain number of villages' solve other than perhaps financial? Are the orcs going to leave you alone because you have a lot of money and don't want to kill them, no most likely they'll try to kill you and take all that money while you graciously don't kill them. Solving that by having villages is a lot like saying you can solve the problem of shoplifting by having lots of wares while refusing to prosecute shoplifters because accusing people of shoplifting can get you sued even if it obvious that they were.
It would end the scenario before I had to kill all or almost all enemy people.
Velensk wrote:
Have units flew more easily.
Flee maybe? This concept isn't really anything unless you describe how to impliment it. Planning your stratagy to allow for retreats is an important part of the gameplay already.
I think my comment was more related to the AI side. Currently the AI sends units into sure death often enough. On rare cases units flee. I think I would like to adjust this a bit.
Velensk wrote:
Have the AI not always fight to the last unit but eventually give up when it finds that it has no chance to win anymore.
Doesn't always make sense as a generic mechanic. Is already doable when you want it.
Nothing of what I proposed was meant to be implemented as a generic mechanic - I posted to the experimental forum for a reason - I am not even sure of what of what I proposed as rough ideas would even work well in game play. So if its already doable, I could have an own campaign or probably change an existing one.
Velensk wrote:
Have attack skills and activity of units be reduced when they have low hitpoints, i.e. are almost dead.
Doable but it contradicts the idea about fleeing easilly.
Why? The unit could flee or be reduced in its ability. If its reduced in its ability - which I - as a side note I could not resist - tend to believe is rather realistic compared with real world - it might have even more motivation to flee. Its wounded, it probably can´t do serious attacks anymore. The other side of this, getting into rage and berserking around is implemented as I have seen.
Velensk wrote:
Have some new spells like stunning a unit.
Stun is already an ability in the game. It removes ZoC for a turn. You can add any ability you can make however you are not describing what this ability (or whatever hypothetical others you have) does and thus it's impossible to comment.
Ok, I understand my ideas are not concrete enough. Well, they are just initial ideas. I think I would have to play around with them and test different ideas before doing concrete proposals. So its helpful so read whats possible already.

I will be leaving some of my other suggestions aside, as my comment would be following the patttern of the comments I have made so far.
Velensk wrote:
And them some new campaigns, that put emphasis on reaching mission goals like reaching a place, owning a certain amount of villages instead of just killing, including story lines that match that the good ones really want to be the good ones.
I'd focus on this one were I you. You can do pretty much everything you wanted with this idea alone. I can't say that I'd play it personally but then we have a few rather obvious differences in philosophy and experiance.
Okay, thats an important information. Except that hard coded experience rules that I changed with my patch almost everything of what I proposed is doable in an own campaign. Or probably easier in the stage where I just experiment with ideas copy and existing campaign and change it.
Velensk wrote:Good and nice are not synonyms. While kindness is an important part of good there are times when it must give way and this is a game of war. You can modify everything to try to make it appear sweet and flowery, you could contrive circumstances to favor the overly merciful, and it could even be a decent game, but it would not feel honest nor experianced to me.
Well than thats the other option for me with dealing with it. I have a understanding that a battle could be fought in different ways. Maybe, just maybe, if Wesnoth is a battle of war, a war as you see and describe it, then its just not the right game for me.

Well, from the lack of feedback to my post up to know I gather that there are not many people who like to try out some of the experimental ideas I mentioned. Thats fine with me. Since there was no feedback for quite some time and I found that even going into supercheat mode didn´t much to change the game mechanics in a way I wanted to change them I looked further in the open source gaming mode. And for now I found something for me: Freedroid RPG, where I can talk to people, deal with people and do not have to kill people while I still can let my aggressions lose on robots *or* hack them. So I think I will be playing Freedroid RPG for now. But I might revisit my Wesnoth ideas at some time and then I will have in mind that much of the stuff I mentioned as ideas would be doable in an own compaign or by adapting an existing one.
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by martin99 »

powershot wrote:Ok, martin99, I like your ideas but in the game when I kill a unit I consider it "seriously wounded" and is never heard of again but if you want to you could make it so that every time you kill a unit he goes to your side, I have a code to do that.
Hmmm, your idea to consider a unit that you defeated, that has zero hitpoints or less, to be "seriously wounded" is an interesting view point. Well when I defeat the princess in the Heir of the Throne, bring her to 0 hitpoints or less and then let her flee as the story dictates - that points as zero hitpoints or less does not necessarily mean dead. It could make it easier for me to play the game as it is. I often imagined that enemies in space invader games were robot-driven. I do not want to argue over this - thats me. I do like to play out aggression, but I do not like to end lives, even when just in a game, I would only do this when its absolute necessary. And I do not like to be forced into that absolute necessarity by the game all the time. I am fully ready to accept that Wesnoth then is just not the right game for me. But I have seen the adaptability and maybe I can make a way to adapt it to how I like to play it.

I would be interested in trying out that code. But I think it should be a probability. I would be surprised when everyone switches side ;).

I think it probably would be best to find a handle on how to try out some of my ideas with small effort, before officially proposing something. Thus before creating a whole own campaign I might want to start by changing an existing one. I bet its really much, much work to create an own campaign.

I´d also interested in a possibility to adapt the hardcoded experience rules. I found it quite interesting to have healers gain experience when healing and fighters only gain experience on fighting, not killing - honestly what sort of experience should killing give me at all? - but my patch was incomplete. A healer´s level still only raised on combat, since the code in Wesnoth assumes that gaining experience is only happening during fighting. Would a proposal to put some configurability - in WML files, not in GUI game options - of the experience rules stand any chance being considered? The default can still be 8 experience points per kill. Well for beginning, I could try to extend my patch to read in some options from WML files - and just use it for my experiments, but I do not know much of C++ code and didn´t understand the iterator thing, thus I used a loop instead. Actually I was happy that I was able to get this far.

Well this could be splitted into two parts. For fighting my patch already did what it should. Its the healing side thats more complex to handle right.
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by martin99 »

powershot wrote:
zookeeper wrote: Well, someone who opposes war and/or violence but still wants everyone to die.
What a man! :D
Well dead usually is what every human or other living being here on earth experiences at the end of his or her life, but I am not sure whether that was what zookeeper meant.
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by Velensk »

I suspect there's little point in continuing but incase there is.

No I in no way pretend that the point of the game is to be realistic, Wesnoth is decidedly abstract. I was merely offended by the attitude and desire displayed on a principle level.
It would end the scenario before I had to kill all or almost all enemy people.
I might want to rephrase. How does it end the scenario before you have to kill them? Do they suddenly pack up and go away just because you're rich? Is the requirement going to be set to such that in order to get all their villages you practically already have had to slaughter them all or so little that you can grab them all without engaging, or balanced so that the battle will suddenly end once you reach the magic number? If your force is being routed but your village stealers are hard at work the enemy suddenly gives up?

It does not make a whole lot of narrative sense for a scenario requirement to be determined by village control except in rare situations like if you were doing a mass scale war and having it represent forcing a surrender (which is quite plausible but not the situation in the average wesnoth scenario. It would also be the sort of thing that happens after you've practically slaughtered them all anyway).
I think my comment was more related to the AI side. Currently the AI sends units into sure death often enough. On rare cases units flee. I think I would like to adjust this a bit.
The AI can already be adjusted to be more cautious. It just generally isn't for gameplay reasons.
Why? The unit could flee or be reduced in its ability. If its reduced in its ability - which I - as a side note I could not resist - tend to believe is rather realistic compared with real world - it might have even more motivation to flee. Its wounded, it probably can´t do serious attacks anymore. The other side of this, getting into rage and berserking around is implemented as I have seen.
Because, generally unless you are doing a mass retreat (which is not the same as fleeing), you only flee individual units if they are hurt. If they suddenly get slower, it becomes harder to get them away to healing. If they become weaker rather than slower then there's extra incentive to finish them off before they get to healing as they'll retaliate less.
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by Aethaeryn »

I think that zookeeper has the best idea here, in that it's probably best done as a custom scenario/campaign rather than rewriting the mechanics. Most (probably all) of the features to get the desired gameplay style are already possible with WML/Lua, including things like capturing and non-violent spells.
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by homunculus »

Afaik in medieval times in Europe there was an option to surrender, and go home.
However, I have also read this about captives: the captives were released if their relatives paid ransom.

Therefore, I suggest the following:

1. The simple solution with immediate rewards.
1.1.a Remove the death animation from the game in your computer and treat hitpoints dropping below 1 as surrender (it might be possible to remove all the death animations with some script).
1.1.b Put a full-heal into last breath event and do something fancy, or just kill the unit without death animation.
1.2 Reward, say, the unit's recruitment cost of gold for each enemy unit that was made to surrender.

2. More cumbersome solution with delayed rewards (I understand you might want more challenge?).
2.1. Only have the unit captured if its hitpoints drop below 1 while it cannot, say, move more than one hex because of your zone of control (it would just flee otherwise).
2.2 Transfer the unit to a side that is under your control but can be attacked both by your side and the enemy side.
If the captive gets attacked you will loose the captive.
2.3.a The captive needs to be transported to some location, say, your keep, so that you get the ransom money.
2.3.b The captive needs to be kept safe from the enemy until you win, so that you get the ransom money as additional starting cash in the beginning of next scenario.
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by Velensk »

Like everywhere else, the option for surrender was dependent on the situation. There was nothing which forced anyone to allow surrender but it was frequently a practical option.

If you're scuffling over some farmland (or something similar) and your foes decide they don't want to fight for it, it's perfectly reasonable to just allow them to go home.

If you are trying to eliminate a long term rival or satisfy a revenge you might allow a surrender but you'd probably kill all the members of the house you're attacking anyway. This tendancy is why the leaders would generally be much more reluctant to surrender than their vassals and minions who would be likely survive it without too much of a change to condition. I suspect that this is a large part of the reason why warrior pride was emphasized so much in the conditioning.

In general as long as you got the leader it would be customary to allow the rest of the army to simply surrender and go home as per the feudal system they have very little reason to fight on if the head leader is taken down (barring situations where loyalty to a cause was the driving force rather than loyalty to a leader, situations where they have reason to believe that the after effects of losing the battle will be extremely bad for themselves or their family, and situations where a desire for revenge was involved).

Random was an option but only for knights from wealthy houses . Yoemen, fyrdmen, and other varieties of common soldier generally couldn't afford enough to be worth the message and landless knights weren't much better (again generally). Depending on the war and situation these could have composed the vast majority of an army.

I generally get the impression that the politics of wesnoth tended to be closer to that of feudal Japan rather than Europe though and for all their similarities there are a number of differences in attitudes.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
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Re: playing the game with ethical principles

Post by martin99 »

homunculus wrote:Afaik in medieval times in Europe there was an option to surrender, and go home.
However, I have also read this about captives: the captives were released if their relatives paid ransom.

Therefore, I suggest the following:

1. The simple solution with immediate rewards.
Thanks a lot for your suggestions! They are more concrete than what I came up with. I will consider them should I return to this topic again. At the moment I am having fun with Freedroid RPG, but I am thinking about trying out some ideas for Wesnoth after that.
Martin
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