Sung Slavers should devise a coordinated response to player attacks. If a lone ship destroyed multiple stations, there would realistically be some kind of response. What should that response be?

Core Principles

A few basic principles:

  • The response should make gameplay more interesting not just harder.
  • The player should have choices to deal with the response, even if it just means avoiding Sung stations.
  • There should be commensurate rewards. Befriending the Huari is one benefit; perhaps there can be others (or we can increase the benefits from the Huari).

Ideas

Here are some ideas for responses:

  • Building defenses: Perhaps Sung stations get more defenses. The Sung could build additional defense turrets, gunships, etc. Maybe after destroying a certain number of stations, Dragon slavers start appearing to guard stations.
  • Timed hunting parties: When the player destroys a Sung station in a system, we send an alert to other stations in the system. After a certain period of time, other Sung stations send out a hunting party to kill the player. Of course, if the player destroys other stations first, no hunting party gets sent out. But messages get sent to other systems (again, based on a timer), and Sung stations in other systems will eventually send out hunting parties. The player must keep traveling forwards to stay ahead of the alert messages.
  • Diplomatic efforts: Perhaps the Sung Slavers contact the Commonwealth and threaten to go to war unless the Commonwealth reins in the player. The Commonwealth could then impose penalties on the player (no docking with Commonwealth stations, or something). The player would get a warning the next time they docked at a Commonwealth station: stop killing Sung Stations or face penalties. Alternatively, the Commonwealth could decide that a war with the Sung is ok (or at least tolerable) and actively help the player to destroy additional Sung Stations.
  • All-out war: Perhaps the Sung decide that the only way to stop the player is to destroy all stations that supply the player. That means destroying all Commonwealth/Corporate stations in any Sung system.

What do you all think? Please make suggestions in the comments.

the_shrike 1 Jan 2021:

If CC is loaded, maybe even if it isn't, they could go through the corporate hierarchy, since the sharemarket reacts negatively to Sung targets being attacked. That's excluding the possibility of sneaky ties between the Sung and certain companies within the CH.

derakon 1 Jan 2021:

Consequences can be interesting, but they should be clear to the player, as much as possible. For several of these suggestions, I'd advise including some kind of broadcast message explaining why the consequences are happening, and ideally a warning in advance of the more serious consequences.

I would be leery of turning the Commonwealth against the player, largely because the Sung are "evil" and the Commonwealth is "good" (overly simplified but hopefully you get my point). Having the good guys turn on you because you're beating up the bad guys is a pretty subtle thing to do in game storytelling and you'd need serious writing chops to pull it off well. Not saying it can't be done, but you'd want to be confident you can do it justice.

As for ideas -- when I think about the Sung I think of two things: slave coffins, and hacking. So I think your two big options that make the most thematic sense are:

a) the Sung attempt to subvert the player's equipment and/or allies with persistent cyberattacks. While there are Sung stations still intact in the system, friendly stations become unreliable: one or more services are on the fritz due to hacks, or perhaps the player can't dock at all because the station's dock control computers aren't behaving. Companion ships (Volkov et al) may be specifically targeted by a combination of cyberattacks and Sung ships, requiring the player to defend them.

b) An entire actual mission chain where the player gets captured by the Sung (triggered by visiting a Commonwealth station while Sung aggro is high enough and there's still Sung stations in-system) and placed into a slave coffin. They would need to perform a sequence of tasks while bound to a Sung ship, before being able to escape and reclaim their old ship. This is perhaps an alternate approach to the extended Sung storyline you mentioned in another ticket...it has its attractions, but I expect players would not appreciate being locked into a storyline. Perhaps it'd need to be triggered by player action, e.g. they receive a message claiming that Benedict is being held hostage, to lure them out to a bit of deep space where the Sung can hack and capture them. Savvy players would know that Benedict isn't actually in any danger and can ignore the prompt if they don't want to do the storyline.

george moromisato 1 Jan 2021:

@derakon: I love the idea of the player getting stuck in a slave coffin and trying to escape. The player fights against slavers but gets blown up. Instead of the game ending, though, the player wakes up in a hospital. They get visits by family, etc., and everything seems normal. To pass the time in the hospital, the player solves puzzles of increasing complexity.

Eventually, of course, the player realizes they are dreaming inside a slave coffin. The puzzles are residuals of the compute tasks their brain is performing.

Not sure how (game-wise) the player gets out. Maybe the trick is to send some kind of message to the outside world through the puzzles?

p.s.: The above is ripped-off from PK Dick's Time Out of Joint.

megas 1 Jan 2021:

Transcendence is basically Diablo in space, and typical RPGs encourage murderhobo behavior (i.e., kill stuff, take loot, buy upgrades, repeat). Punishing the player for acting like a classic murderhobo and killing obvious bad guys in the process seems like something that can end badly, especially if not telegraphed.

I think Commonwealth telling me to stop killing the Sung or other evil space pirates or else Commonwealth fires back or press criminal charges (for a trial), would rub me the wrong way, and I would be tempted to turn on the Commonwealth and raze them to the ground (or just rage quit).

However, goading the Commonwealth into total war against the Sung and crushing the Sung once and for all (if the player does not do it himself first during his feeding frenzy) seems like a fun idea for those out for blood.

I tend toward 100% kills when I play. If I see something red, it dies sooner or later. More red kills, more loot! The exception is Huari because they can become green (by killing off enough Sung).

As for Dragon slavers, I probably will look at it as a loot pinata. Possibility to get Qianlong or other Dragon equipment without doing the Huari quest, and maybe more longzhu spheres. It is similar to outlaw miners. It is often more profitable to mine a rock then farm the neverending Borers for drops instead of mining the rest of the deposit.

As for player in the slave coffin, I do not see how the player can get out if he is locked in. Just kill the player as usual, or maybe do the hospital sequence if the player was insured (or small chance of free resurrection).

digarw 2 Jan 2021:

I agree with megas. Players destroying red things because they think the red is bad guys. Having someone from friendly one to stop and charges you from killing bad guys without philosophical matters is kinda suck, especially if there is nothing to able compensate the loots they contained.

However, this ideas can be great to extending the Huari mission. Perhaps, because Commonwealth Militia is too "scared" to fighting the Sung, player can go to Huari for supports.

kourtious 2 Jan 2021:

Maybe the Commonwealth Militia has traitors. If the Sung has slave coffins that can simulate the world of its inhabitants, then it would be very feasible to send an imposter (brainwashed and simulated) to the Militia. Whenever the Sung wants, they can trigger the imposter to remember its true mission and ravage the Militia from the inside, such as stealing secrets, selling arms illegally, and promoting internal conflicts. An example of internal conflicts is an imposter trying to convince the local militia that retaliation is not feasible against the Sung cause it would be too costly. A lot of the militia are tired of the war of attrition and wants to fight decisively but many also are afraid to see their lives lost for a cause not supported by the Commonwealth's wealthy. If the player could expose this imposter, it could force the Commonwealth into an all out war against the Sung.

Some consequences of a total war with the Sung should affect the situation in the Ares war space. For example, CSC Antarctica could start with significantly more escorts or even an Aquila class cruiser to defend itself because more fleet members believe the war against the Sung is a sign that the Ares War is no longer worth it.

From George's suggestion, I like the idea of a retribution fleet that hunts down the player for interfering with the Sung. I want to add to it and have the Commonwealth Militia provide details on how large the pursuit fleet is each time the player destroys another Sung base. Until the player annihilates the Sung pursuit fleet, the Commonwealth Militia would be refuse to defend the player for fears of an all out war.

If the player defeats the Sung pursuit fleet, a Sung ultimatum against the Commonwealth would be declared - either hand over the player or feel the wrath of the Sung Empire. Now here is where the Huari comes in. If the player has significant Huari support, the Huari would offer to become a Commonwealth Protectorate to win the war against the Sung. The Commonwealth Militia would only agree under those circumstances or when the player has attained the highest rank possible in the Commonwealth Militia. The Sung imposter I mentioned before could also be a factor in determining whether the Commonwealth Militia commits.

To make it more dynamic, after the Commonwealth Militia agrees to fight a total war, the Commonwealth Militia can launch a devastating pre-emptive strike to force the Sung into a non-aggression pact. The amount of support depends on the rank of the player within the Commonwealth Militia (the amount of militia going with you), whether the imposter was exposed (the amount of Sung resistance), and the player's relationship with the Huari (aka, if the Huari are on good terms, you'll see them with this pre-empetive strike).

george moromisato 2 Jan 2021:

@megas: My goal in all of this is to expand possibilities for the player, not constrain them. So, you're right, it doesn't make sense to prevent the player from "killing all red things", if they want. I won't go down that route.

The key is to make it more challenging, more rewarding, and hopefully more interesting. And I need to remember to make it obvious to the player what's going on.

Maybe after the player kills enough Sung stations, they get additional choices: get the Sung and Commonwealth to agree to a peace treaty (now that the Sung have been hurt) or all-out-war between Sung and Commonwealth.

As long as the player gets to make the choice, I think it's ok.

digarw 2 Jan 2021:

Perhaps Sung threat reaction should also have great impact to this mission arc? If player keep destroying Sung bases outside the mission, maybe they will receive more easier or harder mission on this mission arc.

derakon 2 Jan 2021:

Another possibility is the Sung approaching the player and trying to bribe them into leaving the Sung alone. They have an entire empire's worth of resources; surely they can provide things the player might want? For example:

- A bunch of slave coffins
- A Qianlong Archcannon
- A custom quantum supercomputer with extra powers
- A playable Sung ship
- Information about Domina/Oracus as divined by the Sung computer network

Naturally if the player accepts the bribe and then attacks the Sung anyway, they should retaliate with excessive force -- think multiple Dragon Slavers attacking simultaneously. They'd also disable any Sung tech the player is using.

viperion 26 Jan 2021:

I think maybe a place where the player can start to decide what way they are going to go is to put an interaction with the Huari into St. K's. Maybe a Huari representative appears at Parliament, pleads for help, is turned away, then appeals to the player as a Pilgrim to help.

I also would like to see a little more explored about giving Slave coffins to the Sisters versus returning them to the Huari. Maybe the Huari also have an aversion to the Sisters and there can be a way for the player to serve as a conduit between the Sisters and the Huari?

I like the idea of the player forcing the commonwealth/corp heirarcy etc to take a side. Maybe if the player uses a certain kind of weapon in a system, say a Makayev, the Sung will retaliate against their stations in system?

I also feel like one way to make the overall choices more interesting, which would add some complexity, I admit, is to offer the player the opportunity to get a Huari or Sung ship of some kind depending on how they ally. I can see the Sung asking the player to attack the Huari stations and then ultimately giving the Player access to Humanarca with the opportunity to take out the Huari base in return for some improved Sung ship. Maybe then the player could ally with the Ares instead of the Commonwealth in the Outer Realm?

avorite 14 days ago:

If this is still open for contribution - an extension to the hunting party idea might have the game announce that the Sung are embarking on a campaign against the player starting from a particular fortress to reactivate mothballed fleets to hunt the player down.

The fortress sends a group of 5 - 7 Wind Slavers to a location in deep space. If the player intercepts the Slavers, then the campaign stops. If they are left uninterrupted, after 30 seconds of reaching their destination, a group of Earth Slaver ships are reactivated to hunt the player down, with occasional support from Wind and Earth Slavers gating in.

An extension to this is to have the Sung capture the player in a "treaty" incident - the player is brought to the nearest (operational) Citadel and pressed into a truce with Earth/Steel Slavers & a Dragon Slaver surrounding the player. The Sung recognize that the player is powerful force to be reckoned with, and wishes to avoid future conflict. Should the player reject the truce, the assembled forces attempt to terminate the player.

Should the player accept the treaty, a Dragon Slaver wingman follows/escorts the player around in Sung space (about 5 systems) but does not engage in combat. Sung stations turn neutral with a warning message - if the stations/wingman are damaged to an appreciable extent, the truce is nullified and the wingman moves to terminate the player. Sung forces abandon the system on transport, leaving only consumables in the stations behind in their flight.