Dungeons with an "entry fee"?

WilsonE7

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Hey, everyone! I'm coming up with dungeons and was inspired by a concept in the DS/Switch game The World Ends With You. In the story, characters have to pay an "entry fee" to participate in a game with their lives at stake. That entry fee, selected for them, is what the character considers most precious to them (e.g. their memories, their appearance, their friends, their ambitions/dreams, etc.). They get it back by winning the game.

The theme of the dungeon I want to make is loss and insecurity (the character learns to deal with/overcome these things by the end of the story chapter). On entering the dungeon, it would collect the player's entry fee, something important that they'll have to do without for the remainder of the dungeon. I obviously can't have it be something extremely critical or else it would make the dungeon impossible. I want it to be something that adds a layer of challenge and forces the player to try new strategies.

I'm having trouble coming up with ideas on what to take away and how to make the dungeon manageable without it. I could block healing, but then how do I achieve that balance of challenge vs. impossibility? The problem is, there aren't many patterns of gameplay established yet; this is only the second dungeon. Any ideas?
 

Frostorm

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Well, what did you use as an "entry fee" for your 1st dungeon?
 
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Hmmmmmmmmm well the hard part with givin' ya ideas here is that I have no idea what I'm working with lol. What has your "party" been like up to this point? What tools/teams/items/skills (etc) have you already implemented and worked with? (Or are planning to work with?)


A few things that come to my mind automatically:

1) Taking away party member(s) who have a certain speciality.

For instance, in EarthBound, there's a segment where you have Ness, Paula, and Jeff. Suddenly, without any warning, Paula gets abducted during a Mall scene, and you won't be seeing her for a good while. The problem in that challenging instance is that Paula was the designated mage, so she had all the powerful magic-offensive skills you needed for more powerful foes. So you were left with Ness and Jeff...who were both terrible at fighting hoards of enemies without Paula's spells.

2) Restricting items/skills.

You already briefly mentioned this, but you should really expand on that if it's a good route in your game. Restricting something vital such as healing would be quite a challenge, but could be compensated if...Dungeon 2 was shorter than normal...if players had other means of healing like items, and maybe not necessarily spells...there could be an enemy in the dungeon that heals anyone in the party, their own enemy squad, and you'd have to rely on RNG for healing...Maybe the gang meet a new party member in this supposed Dungeon 2 that will grant them a 1-time heal...etc. There is soooooo much you could do with 1 simple concept like that.
That doesn't even begin to mention things such as setting a low limit for attack/armor stats, or restricting item usage....you could easily try something in that department.
Just be mindful of balancing whatever you choose to work with in your Dungeon 2.

3) Use special enemies that are never seen anywhere else in the game

In my opinion, one of the most fascinating things in games (especially ones with RNG) are stumbling upon rare chance. This could mean coming across a special enemy or a hidden dungeon boss...etc. Make me as the player have something note-worthy about that particular Dungeon.
(You could easily make this "entry fee" something story-wise like..."I will take your eyes so that you may not see everything correctly". (Hence, you stumble on unique enemies).


There is a LOT you could do, but it ultimately depends on what you deem is a viable challenge in your game.
 

WilsonE7

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@PoptartPresident These are interesting. You're right, I didn't give you much to work with, sorry. But that's because I'm still in the planning phase. I haven't created everything up to the second dungeon. There's not going to be a huge overworld to explore; it's more chapter-focused. I like your idea of non-traditional healing methods. Maybe to make it a little more fair than pure RNG, I could create enemies that on dying restore health to the one who dealt the final blow. I have plugins that can do that, actually. You've given me an interesting idea, thanks!

@Frostorm This would be the first one to use this mechanic. I wanted it to be unique to this dungeon.
 

Zerothedarklord

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well, let's say your characters are level 15, for example. have the dungeon entry check for this as the minimum level to entry, then you could have it remove a skill/skills from your party members, which will be returned upon completion. The reason for the level check would be to only pull and return skills the characters would already know by that level.

If you don't like that, or aren't using a traditional leveling and skill learning system, you could do a literal fee, maybe it costs 1000 gold to enter, and upon completion, your gold is returned to you?

Lastly, I would say you could run an equipment check and take away the character's weapon. This may not be SUPER impactful for your casters, but for a warrior, it might be quite devastating.
 

Asanti

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You might also consider "taking something away" by lowering the odds of success on certain abilities, rather than actually taking the ability away altogether.
That way, rather than losing an ability, they've lost the ability to rely on their abilities (if that makes sense)

For instance, you could lower the odds of magic working.
In a tough battle, how you use your turn can make all the difference, so if your players aren't sure whether or not their healing spell will work or just be a waste of a valuable turn... that could be pretty devastating all on its own.
Plus, they won't automatically know how many of their abilities have been impacted, so they'll be uncertain when using other abilities as well, never really knowing whether or not it will work until they've tried it.

Also, I really like PoptartPresident's idea about having something like your eyes get taken away and then the dungeon and its monsters look strange... that sounds like it's got a lot of potential.
 
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