As you may know, I am currently reviewing Morrowind mods that add NPCs to the game: citizens to populate cities, bandits on the roads and companions to survive said roads.
Not completely pleased with any of the options, I decided to try and make my own bandit mod. My main focus was simplicity, immersion, and balance.
The loot - weapons and armour
I loved the fact that in the Hostiles you could get all kinds of loot but I didn't like how repetitive and generous it was.
Things I kept in mind:
- loot must be varied in terms of items (gear, potions, scrolls, misc. items)
- loot must be levelled BUT not static: we don't want every bandit we kill clad in chitin so long as I am level 1, then in bonemold so long as I am level 5, etc.
- loot must be balanced
- items added by other mods should be available to my bandits
To achieve that, I first built my levelled item lists, for each type of equipment I made 4 lists: cheap, cheap enchanted, best, and best enchanted where anything worth more than 500 was considered best and the odds to get any enchanted item or best item was 1% or 2%.
I put these 4 lists into 1 to set the player level.
All I needed to do then, was to give my bandits this last leveled item (assuming they have the skill for it).
What this means for my characer looting an outlaw:
- At level 1-9, I'll always get the cheap item (chitin-steel, some cheaper dwemer)
- At level 10-14, I have 1% chance to get an enchanted item (chitin-steel)
- At level 15-59, I can get an item from the vanilla levelled list (chitin-dwemer + anything added by other mods)
- At level 60+, I have 1% chance to get a top tier item (dwemer-daedric)
Rince and repeat for every type of weapon, every piece of armour.
The loot - miscellaneous items
Looking at the skills, I made a list of items one could possess and set the chance to 50%. This way, defeating an outlaw skilled in security, you could get a lockpick or a probe.
When possible, I made a list for classes as well, so defeating a bard, you would have a 50% chance to get a lute or a book (they are lore masters, after all), for example.
I also created a random levelled list, still with 50% chance to account for the fact that some outlaws might have some food, a potion, a scroll, stolen items from previous victims, etc.
One of the things I minded the most with the Hostiles was the fact that I would fight the strangest hostiles: a savant teamed up with a healer and a crusader (they all lost their way, I guess) or a necromancer with a priest.
When creating my NPCs, here are the things I kept in mind:
- the class of the outlaws remains hidden
- good or pacific classes are excluded
- 50% of the population is Dunmers
- While female NPCs can be outlaws, 50% is too much, 1/3 is enough
- fighting 4 outlaws of your level at once is overwhelming but 1vs1 is boring: different spawn list for parties of outlaws and solo outlaws
Some support classes, such as healers and alchemists were added, to vary the loot and the looks.
Then came, the very very long process of creating the NPCs:
10 races x 2 genders x 10 levels x 20 classes, give or take.
While filling the inventories of my outlaws, I was careful to give out roughly an equal amount of heavy, light and medium armour. I did the same for weapon types so that the loot would be interesting for every player class. I also decided (randomly) that the nightblade would have bracers but no cuirass, the warrior a full set, the thief greaves but no boots, etc) to reduce the amount of loot.
Based on their skills and class, they would get more random loot, more ingredients (still with a 50% chance to get nothing).
These outlaws have a 50% chance to spawn in groups of 1 to 4.
They are in front of bandit/smuggler/slaver hideouts.
Their level is lower than the player's (-5 levels).
Originally, I used the same NPCs for groups and solo attackers, the only difference being their level.
Soon after the release (and after playing around with CM Partners that adds lone bandits) I decided that my lone outlaws should sometimes demand your gold for your life rather than attack you outright.
The way this is done is via a script and dialogue.
The script needs to be attached to the NPCs, so unless I wanted ALL my outlaws to ask for money, I had to create a separate set of NPCs.
Here are the choices I made:
- only true combat classes will be lone highwaymen
- they will all be Dunmers (I couldn't face the prospect of creating another one thousand NPCs)
- they will ask for gold only 50% of the time and attack you the rest of the time
- the amount they ask is based on THEIR level, so the player has an idea whether they should comply or not (remember, these guys can be higher level than you and they gear matches their skills, so they know what they're doing)
- talking to a highwayman after giving him money would trigger an attack
- highwaymen won't forcegreet you (or attack) if you are invisible or chameleoned (it's a word I just made up)
- highwaymen carry more gold than other outlaws
- they are less likely to spawn than basic outlaws (10% chance)
- they can be between 5 to 10 levels higher than the player
The muggers and pick-pockets
Using Antares' mod as a template, I then added muggers in corners of cities and pickpockets in towns and shops.
All I did was:
- create a few more NPCs for the sake of variety (different races and levels)
- give them a lore friendly name
- prevent them from stealing if you are invisible/chameleoned
- place more muggers (they were in Balmora and Ald-ruhn only)
- add more dialogue some different outcomes are possible based on the player's attributes (use strength to intimidate), skills (speechcraft) and faction.
- create fences that may spawn instead of muggers to create an incentive to check out the NPCs
I also made sure Antares' original mods were compatible with mine.
For the TR addons I have
- added common TR items to my levelled lists (the steel armour variations for example)
- placed highwaymen at crossroads and bridges
- placed muggers and pick-pockets in town
- placed outlaws in front of hideouts
When all is done, tested and tested again, I would really like to have an in-game configuration menu, much like MCA to enable/disable muggers, pick-pockets and top-tier gear.
For now, I'd better get back to my TR addons.
EDIT: Well guess what both the TR addon and the configuration script are done! Now to play the mod some more and wait for bug reports if any!
But seriously, what else?
There were talks of adding ambushes (you see a lone highwayman, think you can handle him but he add accomplices hiding nearby)
I was toying with the idea of adding slavers that would capture you, lock you up or sell you... IT NEVER ENDS!