Project Eternity: non-combat abilities make the peaceful player powerful


Project Eternity’s Kickstarter ticker spins on bringing with it fresh new details from the depths of Obsidian’s vault. Today we learn of the design ethos behind the RPG’s non-combat abilities: stealth, lock picking, sly talk, and the rest.

Using my Persuasion score of 22 I’ll suggest that you look beyond the break for more details: go on, I’ll be your friend.

The best RPG’s of yesteryear struggled when it came to one fundamentalplayer choice: the non-lethal approach. Often you’re presented with many non-lethal skills and abilities only to find that if you invest too heavily in them you’re unable to pass a certain enemy *long and contrivedcough* Deus Ex: Human Revolution *cough*. Not Project Eternity, or so Obsidian claim in their latest project update.

They’ve laid out a number of design goals that aim to avoid the pitfalls of their forebears:

  • Non-combat skills are gained separately from combat skills.You shouldn’t have to choose between Magic Missile and Herbalism. They should be separate types of abilities, and you should spend different points to get each one.
  • Non-combat skills do not use the same resources as combat skills.You don’t spend the same stuff for a non-combat skill as you do for combat skills. Some don’t use anything at all to use, so you will never find yourself unable to blast an opponent if you get caught sneaking.
  • All non-combat skills are useful.If we add lockpicking to the game, we will make sure that there are locks to pick and worthwhile rewards for getting past them.
  • All non-combat skills can be used frequently.If you take disarm traps as a skill, you should expect more than two traps in the entire game world. Frequency of application has a large impact on how useful something is.
  • Combat can be avoided with non-combat skills.There will often be ways to avoid fighting. Yes, we will have the standard methods of talking your way out of a fight or sneaking around an encounter, but there will be other ways too. Perhaps you can re-sanctify a desecrated cemetery to prevent any further undead from rising, or maybe figuring out a way across a ruined bridge will always avoid the bandits on this side of the river.
  • Avoiding combat does not lead to less experience gain.You shouldn’t go up levels any slower by using your non-combat skills rather than your combat skills. We plan to reward you for your accomplishments, not for your body count.

They’re not suggesting that you’ll be able to complete the game without killing but by separating combat and non-combat they’re not penalising players for investing in the more pacifistic abilities.

As with many Kickstarters, this is still in a theory stage and so we can’t go congratulating Obsidian just yet, but this could potentially shift RPGs in a good direction. Emphasising the twoplay stylesin tandem instead of opposing disciplines.