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That One NPC

ace Well-Done Seasons in an RPG

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Since late last year I have resolved to put well-done seasons in an RPG. I wanted to talk a bit about ideas surrounding the use of a year calendar, and seasons.

 

 

Using a Year Calendar script, weather/climate script, and a tile switcher script, I plan to incorporate a few features.

 

  • Calendar menu feature that displays major annual holidays and events, as well as allows the player to set dates and reminders, and doing time skip stuff where you take an entire season (or what's left of it) and do a generic action to 1) skip time, 2) gain loot, XP, and potentially other stuff. Examples would be adventuring, exploring, going to war, working as a local lawman, doing an apprenticeship with the Order of Magic. Or you can do seasonal actions. Examples are farming  in the summer, hunting in the winter or fall, fishing in the spring, etc. These would skip chunks of time and provide me with options for rewards, risks (random stat drop risks depending on action, and proportionate to average rewards), etc.
  • Seasonal changes on maps which aren't tropical or polar in nature. Using carefully edited tile sheets that all match, but change based on season, the maps will go from lush green to white-capped as the climate and weather patterns change.
  • Seasonal holidays and quests/events. Each season will offer some unique buzz in the world from holidays stuff, seasonal quests & NPCS, etc.
  • Resource changes will take place, meaning during the winter months, certain plants won't be able to be harvested, etc.
  • Items will change in some stores to reflect what's going on, and prices may change, so that items found only in winter, will be worth more in the summer time, and vice versa.
  • I have more ideas but these are the main ones.

 

 

I'm interested in what people think of these, and what ideas you have seen or maybe have of your own.

Edited by That One NPC

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I had the idea of having seasons in my game project at one time, mostly affecting what enemies show up in dungeons. I was also fiddling with making a fairly complex lunisolar calendar based on old runic calendars for special events and such. I don't think I actually will use those ideas in my final game though, bit too much of a bother.

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It's too much of a bother for a few features, I agree. That's why I'm trying to make that bother and workload impact many features and aspects of the game, Especially changing the mid-climate region tiles. That is so key. I've taken steps to make this easier by eliminating the overworld map, which makes seasonal changes so much easier.

 

I sort of want do to this for my Bound-like. I really, really think it will work well for it. The core seasons and tile shifting/holidays, and the calendar, not so much the time skip actions, which were for a high fantasy concept.

 

 

Edited by That One NPC

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I love all things cyclic. I can't think of many games where I've encountered seasons, but day night cycles are always fun. The game "Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP" had a 1 month lunar cycle that you had to abide by in order to complete the game. I remember walking with my girlfriend under a waxing moon and her commenting that we'd get to play the next chapter of SB:S&S EP soon. Pokemon Black & White had seasons, or so I'm told. Seasonal pokemon seems like such a no brainer, but maybe it wasn't marketable? I'm running a minecraft server with a custom modpack that includes seasons: plants and weather are all seasonal, and the seasons are 1 week long.

 

Another cyclic thing that I just "discovered" recently is the tide. Tides are wild, they don't just go up and down... there are extremes and the whole thing is cyclic in a very fun way. During the early part of the pandemic I would take my toddler down to the beach to throw stones. 1 hour a day every day for 3 months. I got to experience all kinds of wild tides. Sometimes it was astonishing. It felt very much like the kind of feature I'd like to see in an open world rpg... imagine returning to a coastal area after a few weeks and finding a super low tide, mud flats that stretch on as far as the eye can see, previously inaccessible islands now walkable. I think it'd be cool.

 

In the tabletop RPG Legend of the Five Rings the seasons played a huge role because the seasons were so harsh. Winters were so cold that you had to stay put, travel was almost impossible. So the characters would choose a town or be invited to a court in autumn, and they'd stay there all through winter. Court intrigue, duels, tensions, the occasional adventure involving braving the elements to deal with something sinister... and then Spring! After being cooped up for a whole season making back-room deals and such spring was a season of travel, pastoral adventures, border skirmishes, and festivities. Summer was so hot that waging war was basically impossible, so it was a season of important troop movements, some travel, some diplomacy. Autumn you'd get all out war, we'd do whole sessions on the battlefield where players would be put face to face with NPCs they had met in the previous seasons, friends suddenly forced to face one another on the field of battle due to this or that court intrigue. And then back to winter! It gave the game a very cool texture. Players needed to be thinking ahead, they knew what was coming. In tabletop RPGs it is often very arbitrary what will happen next, but when you have cycles that repeat you can tell your players "hey, 1 month until winter and you know what that means".

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