Character Archetypes, Play-styles, and Roleplay

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tylertoon2

Recruit
Intro

As Bannerlord continues struggling through Early Access I feel that it is having enough problems as it is trying to perfect the core game-play loop of rising through the ranks and conquering Calradia.

However, the underlying reality is that, as it stands, Bannerlord is a roleplaying game with limited avenues for roleplaying. I agree with the devs actions in focusing on the current core gameplay, but in order for the Mount and Blade experience to be fully realized the Role Playing Elements should be given just as much focus, if not more so.

In this, I want to talk about pathways for different types of characters players can build, go over what that experience is like at present and what can be improved upon. Then following it up with suggestions on how to move forward and what to do to make these improvements.



Character Archetypes/Playstyles

These are just archetypes/builds/playstyles based on current mechanics, most players choose one or more to use but these represent the "Core" playstyles

Tactician/Lord: This is what many would consider to be the core of the game and the one that is given the most amount of focus. This character uses the current combat and strategy mechanics to achieve their goals.

Hero/Soldier: Forgoing command this character focuses purely on their own combat skills, fighting in another lords army as a mercenary with only their own troops and companions and largely ignoring the greater strategy going on and competing in tournaments.

Merchant: Self explanatory, focusing in Trade there are surprisingly many avenues in a Merchant Playthrough and thanks to the introduction of perks it is possible to play the game roleplaying a merchant from start to finish, it is surprisingly in-depth and can be a rewarding playstyle. I would also play Smiths under this playstyle as well, especcally since smithing is still the fastest way

Bandit/Rogue: A character focusing on the criminal underworld. This character raids villages and caravans to amass wealth and builds armies of bandit troops to set themselves up as a bandit king.





The Current Status of the Archetypes/Playstyles

Tactician/Lord: This is the most in depth of the playstyles current available to build characters. Leadership and Tactics are vital stats for conquering Calradia and the center of the game is in the building and raising of an army, fighting battles, and managing kingdoms. At present, despite other criticisms all of that is entirely possible in game play even if most would agree changes are necessary I feel it is totally possible to roleplay as a Lord and General.

Hero/Soldier: One of the most improved aspects from Warband to Bannerlord is the nature of combat. Many different fighting styles are available in most categories, one of the most roleplay friendly parts of play right now. Despite this however, gaining renown from being a single warrior hero is actually quite difficult. One must resort to grinding out tournaments or quests to gain renown necessary to advance. There are few ways to reflect your hero's status as a master swordsmen/archer/ect other than simply wracking up kills pointlessly. Tournaments are generally the same across all cities and once you've done one per culture you've done them all.

Merchant: Due to the open nature of the economy in Bannerlord and the immersive elements in play it can be surprisingly rewarding to figure out trading once a player knows the basics. However, it becomes such a tedium at present that few have the patience for it along with the lack of control the player has in the process. You can businesses and caravans however unless you know how to manipulate the market, of which it is very difficult to learn how to do so in game as very little is explained, most players will struggle making a profit from doing things other than buying low and selling high. The addition of perks highlighting profits and resources being clearly shown on the map has been a help but more needs to be done.

Bandit: Gaining points in Rogue is more than a bit of a chore and grind making playing a bandit more than a bit of a chore. Selling POW's bring in only a little gold and skill points, raiding villages is even more difficult and has just as little reward, and sacking caravans can be profitable but do nothing to improve your skill points. Only helping prisoners escape bring in any meaningful skill points and it is very hard to level the tree as a result. It is frustrating playing a criminal because while the game teases you with the criminal underworld at present there are few meaningful interactions with the various town gangsters outside of quests. Furthermore, being a criminal locks you out of markets making it difficult to really make a living as a bandit lord.




Suggestions for improvements to roleplay and gameplay for each of these archetypes.


Tactician/Lord

  • Camps: Lords should be able to see their army and inspect them, there should be a gameplay purpose in setting up camp such as increased defences or a moral bonus.
  • Immersive crowd reactions: Famous Lords/Generals should be given proper leeway and discretion from the populace when walking around their cities/castles. As simple as a bowing or cowering animation and guards saluting would be enough, even better if its unique to the culture. This could even be reflected with the current loyalty level, with high loyalty citizens would be cheering for their lord while others be cowering, while in low loyalty there will be shouts and jeers from the crowd.
  • Recognition of Deeds: Preforming well during a war should be rewarded by the King. Capturing a settlement or prominent character should result in accolades and rewards beyond just a number going up. Being gifted elite troops, or a legendary set of weapons or armor next time they met the King would be immersive and rewarded for players. Just the same if they're called to answer for failures or misdeeds and being forced to hear and insult from their King and perhaps pay a fine.
Mostly flavourful these help sell the player that their PC's accomplishments as a general matter.

Hero/Soldier
  • Interesting Tournaments: Adding more variety in tournaments will turn them into less of a chore and something far more interesting. I find it strange that a tournament of nobodies has the exact same rewards as a tournament where (an) Emperor of Calradia is taking part. More arena maps would be a good step, as would be the introduction of hazards and traps. Adding scaling renown/gold gains for tournaments featuring famous nobles giving players a reason to stake out notable tournaments. Adding scaling difficulty and challenges during the tournament for betting multipliers (i.e defeat a certain opponent, wear no armor, use only a certain weapon) ect.
  • Soldiering: One of the most common and popular mods in Warband should be properly implemented. Allowing a path through the early game going from recruit to elite soldier as part of a lord's retinue. This would allow players uninterested in fighting looters and bandits in the start of the game to jump right into a faction's army. This would provide a new and welcome way of moving through the early game and let those whom have found themselves in a hole a way out. One would need to pay their way out once joined up if they wish to keep their equipment or spend influence.
  • Dueling: While there are some scripted duels already, dueling should become a much larger mechanic. Allowing players to challenge lords to a friendly or not so friendly duel, perhaps to the death, would allow for very interesting moments. Chivalrous lords could send requests for duels to PC's whom have wronged them, such as defeating them in a tourney or raided one of their settlements. Dishonest or Scheming lords may use this as a trap, luring the PC into an outnumbered fight.
These changes would help provide a more interesting early game for all players along with a means for those who wish to forgo forging an empire a way to advance themselves while engaging meaningfully in Bannerlords combat system.

Merchant
  • Merchant Tutorial: There should be some form of tutorial on how Calradia's economy functions, even a proper guide in the encyclopedia would be sufficient. Learning how resources are priced, how to buy shops and run caravans are difficult to learn and should have a proper tutorial.
  • Better Caravan Management: At present Caravans simply go off and you're only interaction is assigning a character to create a caravan and they go around creating profit until they inevitably are intercepted. Traders should be able to control more aspects of what the Caravan does. Such as deciding what cities are on its trade route and what items it is supposed to buy and sell. At the very least, what companion you choose should have a clear impact on the caravan income.
  • Buying out competition: More interaction between the PC and the Npc Merchants should be done. It should be possible to set up a monopoly on a town by competing with and buying out other merchants. This could be as simple as passing a speech check and using the trade screen but more in depth actions such as using the criminal underworld and raiding their caravans to bankrupt them would be much more tactile and fun.
These tools and abilities unlocked gradually would help better pace and provide more achivement in the path to becoming a Merchant lord.

Bandit
  • Black Market Shops: Good relations with criminals would give you access to a Black Market Shop that you could buy and sell stolen/illegal goods. Better relations = better deals. Items marked as "stolen" could be sold at these fence shops and illegally acquired goods can be bought here, however at a very high trade penalty unless one has good rogue skill and is very friendly with the boss. The advantage is that these shops remain available even when the town is hostile but using them raises your criminal ranking.
  • Loan Sharks: In addition to Black Market Shops, Gangsters can also provide loans, the terms of which depend on the PC's relation with the criminal, the criminal's influence, and the PC's clan tier. For instance, a fresh PC would only get a pittance at 300% interest to be paid off in 7 days. While the Emperor of Calradia can borrow tens of thousands of denars at 5% interest to be paid off in 30 years if the gangster is powerful enough. Dedicated bandits can be expected to attack if you fail to pay off the sharks. A perk in the Rogue skill tree could be added to provide more favorable terms for loans. This would be a risky yet rewarding way of quickly gaining wealth or a means of recovering after a devastating loss.
  • Bounty Hunting & Notable Bandits: Generic Bandit bosses are replaced by actual heroes generated in a similar way as companions, wanted dead or alive these bounties can be seen in a menu similar to the way smithing orders are given out providing stats on the target, their escort, and the payout. Notable Bandits would take up residence in a hideout but would also sack caravans and raid villages and have a greater variety of soldiers under their command. If possible they could even be recruited with a silver tongue and a sack of denars. Bringing in Bounties would be another welcome method of gaining rogue skill points without incuring lots of criminal penalties.
These mechanics would make a bandit lifestyle more livable and less painful and allow for interesting spontaneous narratives to develop.



Conclusion

There is so much more I could talk about but at this point (I deleted a whole unfinished section on feasts and social characters) but I've already had enough pie in the sky ideas for one day. One of my favorite parts of Warband was being able to roleplay and keep a story in my head about what my character was after. I think that these proposed mechanics I feel would not only improve the gameplay experience but also improve the organic stories that take place every time we craft a new character.
 

Aurex

Veteran
WB
Please, yes to all of this. More RP opportunities, more RPG mechanics, longer battles, meaningful decisions and different playstyles. Right now it's all:
-Kill looters
-Mercenary
-Kill Lords
-Peace
-Kill looters
-Abuse smithing
Rinse and repeat. And yet there's always this decent-to-great framework for so much more.
Your suggestions are great and they were an excellent read, thanks for investing some time in writing them down and sharing them with us.
I'm surely not holding my breath Taleworlds will steer away from their "vision" of a fast-pace battle simulator with horribly uninteresting battles, but here's hoping at least some of the things you thought of make it through.
 
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