Thefirelion

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The rumors in the rpg

In a fantasy world, although monsters, demons, dragons, etc. exist, humans are obviously afraid of them (even more so when it is something new for the inhabitants of that world) and especially the oldest entities are those that are created numerous legends ("free drawing" for the developer).

And this is where the real and false rumors come from the NPC throughout the game:

Rumors, in my opinion, are good for rpg because they encourage the player to investigate what is true and lies at some point of the game based on their own curiosity.

But I think there is a problem with this, the balance between true and false:

Unfortunately many games suffer from the veracity of what the NPC say about something, example: it is said that "something is devouring humans at the peak of that mountain and therefore no one dares to step on it", then the hero arrives and it turns out that It is true or something completely false leaving the situation "without flavor".

How do you implement on you games ?, or simply not put them up ?, some tips for the audience in general ?.
 
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shockra

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Twists are a good way to make such rumors interesting. Using an example from Dragon Quest 11 (attempting to avoid too many spoilers), at a major town, you hear rumors of a "loud, brightly-colored group of demons" in a nearby gorge. When you actually go there, it's actually a group of humans wearing bright, flashy clothing.....led by an ally you got separated from. Their goal: entertain the world to make everyone happy. Such a twist makes the rumor have a stronger impression than simply being true or false.
 

AsuranFish

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Funny story: my mom once told me how when she was a kid, she was terrified of dragonflies, because she was told they'd sew your mouth and eyes shut if you misbehaved... So in my game, there's an NPC child who warns you about dragonflies doing those exact things... in the coming areas, they're a common enemy, and they're capable of inflicting silence and blind on your party.

There's also a series of major plot points in my game where there's something of a mystery surrounding the enemy, where the protagonists know someone here is the enemy, but there's a lot of whispering behind closed doors, rumors, and perhaps some misdirection. A lot of what is said is true, but some may be untrue.
 

Mystic_Enigma

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I haven't tried this in my own projects yet, but I think a method worth trying is to spread out the gossip a little farther out beyond the general area. What does that mean? Let's say one NPC discloses a rumor about a danger in one town. Then the player travels to a town farther on the map and meets an NPC who says that the same rumor is, without a doubt, untrue. The people in the first town will acknowledge it. (For a twist, you can also make the rumor true anyway, which throws everyone off guard!)

Another idea is to let folks dismiss the gossip as something very minor or a nonissue. Later when you're searching that forest/cave/whatever, that minor something ends up being something major! Then it's up to the player themselves to alert the neighborhood.

On the subject of mystery "monsters", maybe they don't have to be necessarily upsetting humans? For example Dragons and other mythical creatures are very much real, but are never a threat to the public (In my game, they count more like subspecies to more common animals). However if an individual is causing a ruckus or their actions are unusual, the locals will take notice, and THAT'S where the rumors start. For example, a Firebird/Phoenix who pays one village a visit frequently never showed up for a meeting: "Maybe something went down up on the mountain summit? Better check it out!" When you finally get up their, turns out they were so busy cleaning their room that hey forgot all about coming to town! (Silly example I know, but that's me in a nutshell...)

Aaanywho, I guess if the player is expecting a hint from gossip to be true, it's not as good as when you pull it out when they least expect it. At least that's how I feel.
 

ave36

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I use rumors as a plot advancement tool. For example, in the first part of the game, a Council of Wizards is preparing to rebel against the corrupt Church and is securing reputation. The Church is wary of this, and prepares for a crackdown The protagonist isn't aware of this politics, and no one in the quaint little starting town is. But one villager tells rumors of a dragon attacking a nearby fort and a wizard defeating the dragon, and the other villager spreads fearmongering that the wizards started the plague in a nearby city, claiming the local priest said that. No plot was directly force-fed into the player, but the player is now aware that the wizards exist, the church exists, they hate each other and indulge in a PR duel.
 

Kupotepo

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Theorum of RPG cliches is a phopercy is likely to be true and a rumor is likely to be false.:guffaw:

Anyway, Ms.Information is a great tool for a plot twist. How to that? Let's NPCs in a town say completely opposite of each others. People see and believe thing they want to see. Everyone has confirmation bias that why it is believable.

You could separate between official and unofficial facts to confuse the players. I am not a writer too so do not worried about the pitfall of a story too much. It will improvement with your experience.
 

Ksi

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NPCs and rumours are a great way of sharing gameplay information with the player without explicitly stating weaknesses, skills and the like. If you're going to use you're NPCs in this way, please don't actually do what Kupotepo recommends and lie to your player. Bad game dev! BAD! You could, of course, have them be a bit shifty instead - not necessarily wrong but a little vague.
For example:
"There's some sort of amphibian in the Erstwhile Forest that gulps in air and then explodies itself when it feels threatened!" - you may have multiple types of amphibious creatures in the forest and only one of them does a multi-turn self-destruction move.
"You'll want to take some antidotes with you if you're headed into the Bulgrave Swamp." - something poisonous lives there that you will have to battle.
"Those Cait Sith's are crafty little buggers! Just the other day one of them stole my lunch when I was looking the other way!" - Cait Sith might have a steal or mug ability

Personally I like to use rumours and the like to give foreshadowing into monsters in the next area or the like. I also like to use such things to make the world seem more real to the player, as having the people inside the world know about it and share details of it with you can help it come to life a bit more. So something like:
"My sister got bitten by a Bulbubug the other day and we had to rush her to the doctor for an antidote! You should be careful if you go too close to the nearby swamp, too, because there's tons of them down there!"
is a ton better than:
"Bulbubug's are poisonous so take some antidotes with you."

Giving the NPCs interactions with the world around them, knowing about the invironment in which they live and having a history with their world is a really good idea. If you want to get a good idea of how it should/would work, consider what you know about animals who live near you and how you go about sharing that information with people who don't know about them. Like, say, snakes.
In Australia we have a lot of the buggers, but they're generally not a problem unless you're in more rural areas. Just remember to wear boots if you're walking in high grass and you should be fine! <- Look at me being all NPC and giving information that is useful about the local fauna!
 

Kupotepo

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@Ksi, I think you misunderstand of what I am saying. It is not "lie to your player." It is confirmation bias. It encourages investigated. For example, an NCP thinks he sees the monster on a forest, but another NCP believes she sews it is a deer. Another NPC believes in it is just a shadow for the tree. (It is a mystery until the player go to see what it is)(Playing an investigator):kaoluv:
A real-life example, people see the same art piece but see different things.
Confirmation bias - the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories.

I think your example is a good idea to convey the information to the player in term of teaching the function of the game mechanic.
What I am talking about it is to create a mysterious atmosphere.

Ms.Information is just a joke from South Park cartoon lol.
 
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gstv87

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well, "that rumor" is quite a big part of my story, but I wanted to give it a half foundation in real facts, so I borrowed a couple of bits from movie tropes.
basically, there's "the legend" of the gods, that tell about "the forge" where all treasures are made, and the bad guy finds it by accident and goes full Saruman over it, and starts mining everything out, metals, coal, rock, etc.... and his people start thriving from the trading, but the miners start getting sick all of a sudden, and everyone thinks the place is cursed.
join that with Star Trek TNG's "Thine Own Self", where Data accidentally releases radioactive material in a village after suffering amnesia, and voila!, the Saruman expedition is now mining heavy metals that poison the water supply.
that, creates a problem, the problem creates the quest, and the quest makes the game.
like that, there's countless occurrences in real life that have an explanation, for instance, the Egyptian mummies: "We found the crypt!" -> everyone in the expedition dies -> "Oh the crypt is cursed!" -> no, it's not cursed, it's poisoned and you tripped a booby trap.
or, the Titanic: "It's unsinkable!" -> sinks on the first voyage -> "Oh you defied fate and it punished you!" -> no, it was just crappy engineering.

for "the rumor" to be believable, it has to have a true origin somewhere, FROM WHERE it progressively degenerates into a rumor.
if you start from the rumor and try to backtrack over to a plausible origin somewhere, it'll be harder to do than starting from a solid fact and then washing it down to a rumor.... which would be different to what you initially might have thought it would be, but would have a much more solid resolution once it is materialized.
it helps to have a solid universe lore to refer to when needed, because that's what would ultimately constrain the fact that gives origin to the rumor: "So, this guy led an army of 100.000 soldiers!" -> no village is larger than 20 people -> even with exaggeration, it doesn't add up.
 

Ksi

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@Kupotepo
I don't think confusing the player is a good idea, ever. Especially if you want to encourage them to talk to your NPCs. If you tell them via one that there's a frog monster that poisons you and then someone else goes "I saw a cute little frog what a cutie!" and makes out that it's not a danger, they might not talk to the other person and get screwed over by your Miss Information. Then they'll be all "Why bother talking to NPCs when they just give me bad information?" and not bother any more.

A lot of people are likely to ignore NPCs in any case, but to deliberately add something that makes them not trust the information they get if they do bother to talk to your NPCs isn't doing you any favours in encouraging them to interact with your world. Just... keep that in mind.

Of course, you could build a picture instead. Have a couple of people refer to the big boss of the next area in different ways like:
"I saw a strange shadow near the deepest part of the marsh when I went to collect mushrooms last week. I ran away!" - Herbologist at item shop
"Have you noticed there's not as many mushrooms to pick lately. It's almost like something's been eating them or something." - Chef at in
"My dog came back after being missing in the marsh a few days ago. He was poisoned. I'm sure something big got him, too, because he was pretty banged up." - Hunter at pub
"I've been looking into rumours of a beast in the marsh, but the only reference I've found was to a strange amphibious beast that used to live there over twenty years ago. It was hunted to extinction, though..." - Scholar in house

All of that would add up to a large amphibious creature that can be found deep in the marshes where mushrooms grow and seems to use poison attacks. After all, people are going to be inspecting and dealing with this kind of thing. They're not going to be going "OMG A GHOST BIT MY DOG!!!" - they're going to be logical and worried and try to figure out what's going on. Unless the town is full of idiots, of course.

I mean, it's a game with magic and magical items set in a magical world. It's not going to be 'realistic' all the time. It's a game.
 

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One thing I do in my game is I have some of the rumors be related to overall life in the game world. For instance, not everyone is going to care about the same thing the heroes do. For instance, in one town I got a group of NPC's who debate about sports. And they will do this even once war breaks out, mumbling all the time about a stupid war that has canceled their team's season. I also have a few that refer to areas not in the game world, like far away cities that you don't reach ever in this game.

I've also added some who dispute some rumors, like "How DARE they spread that rumor about x. They are just a bunch of liars". Now, by the time NPC's say this the player already knows the truth, so its no longer deceiving the player, but it goes to show that not everyone believes everything they hear.

General reactions to this in my demo have been positive so far. We'll see how it works out in the final game.
 

Kupotepo

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@Ksi, I think you are more a serious player than me. I just has a laugh with NPCs interaction and then forget it in the next hour. The key word is "I believe I see something." Is and believe does not mean the same thing. I agree when overused misinformation too much, it would be confusing to detail oriented players.

It is about perception of what humans see. Unless, their eyes is lying to them. However, humans'eyes cannot see the invisible lights. I agree it is your fantasy world. You can do whatever you want to.(It is just a joke: if you tell a player to jump into a death pit, your player will it).
 

Aoi Ninami

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It depends on the game. Right now, I'm in the middle of playing A Link to the Past (yes, never played it before). A big part of this game is working out where to go next by talking to NPCs and putting the pieces together. It's very enjoyable. I have to keep written notes to keep track of what's been said to me, which I haven't had to do in a game in a very long time.

And this only works because I was clued in, very early on, that this would be a big part of the gameplay, so that I knew I had to keep those notes. You don't have to go this route -- you could have a game where NPCs are just there for light-hearted flavour and the player never needs to pay attention to them. But you should choose one or the other and stick to it.
 

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I hate all of these things, unless I can answer one question as the player:"Why are you telling me this, of all people?"

I understand playing the hero and all, you probably have a reputation that precedes you. Perhaps the NPCs all heard about some heroic thing you did 40 miles away via their anachronistic Fantasy Radios™ set to 106.2, The Hero, and would line up in droves to tell you all about the interesting things they've heard about lately. Maybe you are a decorated war hero and your comrades-in-arms would happily by you a flagon and tell you local goings on. They know you. They're comfortable around you. Your hometown's residents might have a preexisting relationship with you; you've lived there for 20 years, so sharing some secret or another isn't a huge deal, right?

But...perhaps not. Perhaps, for once, a game can treat me like the random stranger I am when it's appropriate, and not have every NPC I come across offer to tell me their life story, up until the exact moment they ate some bread this morning. When I pass my apartment neighbor on the stairs in the morning, I don't inform him of the latest gossip going on at my office. I like rumors in games a means of hinting at things going on in the background. Things I'm not directly witnessing, but things I would be intrigued enough to go take a look at. But information is precious, and not everyone is going to be some cheerful parrot who just can't wait to exclaim to you, random outsider, what's been going on in town. The tone doesn't fit the mood. People are wary of strangers, especially in a time when dark happenings may be occurring and the rumor mill is spinning so fast it might take flight. If you haven't been established as a person someone can trust, or an NPC hasn't been established as a blabbermouth who can't stop talking, it just doesn't make a ton of sense to me. It makes your character a blank slate people feed random information to for no purpose other than to act as a device to advance the story or introduce a sidequest.

It's worse when a player character should know something already. Not the player, but the character they control. Going back to the example of nearby venomous creatures; if your character has lived on this planet/in this country/city/whatever for awhile, why wouldn't they know this until someone helpfully points it out? How do all the locals not know this? Is this a rare monster? Does everyone just wait until tragedy inevitably strikes before they put up some posters that read "Beware the Swamp-Thing"?

It's all about who knows what, why, and why they'd feel the need to share it. Character, not player driven interactions. It's also okay to let the player figure out the venomous monsters on their own sometimes.

So in summation, to me it's not a matter of true vs false information, deliberately misleading the player or otherwise(which can be effective if done correctly). It's about when its shared and how the player gets that information outside of just being spoonfed by everyone they walk by in the game, and what they decide to do with it at that point. I am in no way saying don't have rumors in your game, and don't have NPCs that tell the player things. But make it matter more. If you're heralded in every town as some incredible hero, cool. Fine. If not, breathe a little life into it.
 
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Elissiaro

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Perhaps, for once, a game can treat me like the random stranger I am when it's appropriate, and not have every NPC I come across offer to tell me their life story, up until the exact moment they ate some bread this morning. When I pass my apartment neighbor on the stairs in the morning, I don't inform him of the latest gossip going on at my office.

I mean... If you want to be that realistic you wouldn't have npcs talk to the player at all, beyond maybe an awkward "Um... Hi..." if they can't pretend they didn't notice the Hero. (At least if it's based on the way people interact where I live.) Well there's also "Do you want fries with that?" and "Excuse me, can I get past?".
Not the most thrilling conversations.
 

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I'm not asking for realism I'm just asking for some proper context in interactions. Certainly, let's have some conversations. But maybe when a city just got done dealing with a group of hooded figures performing mind magic rituals to manipulate the political landscape in their favor to stage a coup, don't have every NPC act like an open book who just can't wait to tell you everything they know. Like I said, tone matters. Maaaaybe there's a reason people won't be so ready to trust an outsider after that. Perhaps you'll need to bribe some folks or do them a favor, or otherwise earn their trust and establish some semblance of a reputation in town.
 

Elissiaro

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I'm not asking for realism I'm just asking for some proper context in interactions. Certainly, let's have some conversations. But maybe when a city just got done dealing with a group of hooded figures performing mind magic rituals to manipulate the political landscape in their favor to stage a coup, don't have every NPC act like an open book who just can't wait to tell you everything they know. Like I said, tone matters. Maaaaybe there's a reason people won't be so ready to trust an outsider after that. Perhaps you'll need to bribe some folks or do them a favor, or otherwise earn their trust and establish some semblance of a reputation in town.

Yeah that's fair. Though in a scenario like that I'd think the creator would spread out the rumor giving npcs a bit, drunken men in pubs and overheard gossip in quiet corners and stuff, maybe an inkeeper warning newcomers about the recent trouble. (Actually that's what Id expect for most rumors in games anyway.)
 

Maliki79

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I wouldn't use NPC to spread misinformation unless there was a point to it in the story.
Like if a crooked mayor pays off the shop owners to say the player should store a valuable story item there.
Or if there is a mechanics reason like the player can read minds and has to play a minigame to probe a part of an NPCs mind for the truth.

Besides that, NPCs shouldn't lie to the player.
 

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