Mario subcontracts Koopa Troopa's to collect Yoshi Coins?

So, I had an extraneous thought about Quests and Puzzles in Adventure and RPG games. My favorite style of obstacles in videogames are the sort that allow you to beat or circumvent them in multiple different ways, even perhaps changing your objective altogether. Anyway, the thought I had was about speech and charisma. These often manifest as better speech options with NPCs or more lucrative bartering options, which, while fun, is a little underwhelming.

What if, with a high enough charisma, you could convince various NPCs to go out and complete your quest for you, giving them a cut of the reward? It wouldn’t be guaranteed they would succeed, but it’d offer a completely unexpected way to approach quests. You’d have to be persuasive to convince people to accept your quests, the more dangerous the more leery they might be.

With that said, maybe the point isn’t even expecting that they succeed. Maybe sending an NPC on what you know is a suicide mission conveniently removes them from the equation, possibly opening other doors. Maybe their disappearance to persue adventure opens their parent to unwittingly paying you to go rescue them when you’re the one who endangered them in the first place? Maybe you send multiple folks out on the same quest, or perhaps you send folks out on fake quests or quests you had already completed, and simply rob their homes and leave while they’re gone? I just see a lot of narrative possibilities with this.

Anyway, what do you think of this?


I’m always a fan of multiple solution problems, too.


I like multiple solutions.

But letting the NPC do the quest for you somehow sucks because the fun of the obstacles is removed.

And sending an NPC to a death command is cruel imho.

Generally the idea is worth to be used an investigated deeper. For example you could

  • make NPCs busy or away
  • get 2 NPCs into a quarrel
  • make NPCs show you how to open that door with the accursed lock
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The issue I foresee is a classic game design one: players will generally do what the designers incentivize, rather than what will be the most fun. (Since, after all, most players don’t know in advance what’s going to be the most fun for them: they’re trusting the designers on that point.) If the mechanics of the game incentivize having NPCs do the actual game-playing for you, will the players enjoy that?


I mean, I see your point, but I sort of see that as playing to your characters strengths. If I stealth my way into a castle instead of killing the guards, or I use my speech ability to bribe the guards, am I really making the game less fun? I would imagine execution would be critical, but this hasn’t been my experience. As for incentives, they’re typically balanced by disincentives. I’m sure becoming a known source of employment or even a known manipulator could certainly have drawbacks.

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No, that’s not less fun. I personally would have even more fun than with fighting the guards.

But persuading the guards to solve the lock puzzle might be not so much fun. If I have to tell the guards HOW to do it then it’s fun. I just have doubts if the guards solve the puzzle on their own. But I guess that kind of AI is not what you had in mind.

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If there were consequences down the line for doing it one way vs doing it the other (especially if it was a simple-looking exercise that doesn’t involve “skipping” a major puzzle, or the effort needed for the delegation approached that of the effort needed to not delegate), that might work.

For example, the guards might help you lower the drawbridge but if they do, they can’t help you with opening the armoury door to get the best armour, because they can only do one thing for you without making their employer suspicious. Then you’d have to decide which help - if either - was more important to you (since you could have something else that happened if the guards were not called upon to assist you at any point). You might even make it so that with a low enough charisma, the guards don’t see the point of helping you at all, requiring the player to fall back on the other options. Of course, there would be other solutions as well so that none of the guard choices ended the game.


OMG, @pinkunz the ideas man strikes again. This is like Indiana Jones hiring a street urchin in Cairo to go off and find the Arc of the Covenant while the film crew films Indy sipping Egpytian coffee in a street cafe. Wouldn’t that be an exciting movie?


I sense just the faintest air of sarcasm in your reply.


Sarcasm? Me? Never.


I could imagine a certain kind of puzzle built around this idea: You have to tell one or more NPCs to do something.

  • a robot (I think I saw some of this somewhere)
  • send NPCs to the corners of the room and press a button simultaneously
  • you are locked away (locked in or out, both possible) from a room and need an NPC to do something

You are California Carl, a well-known archeologist and adventurer.
You stand at the Cairo bazaar, in front of a cafe.
There’s an urchin around.
There is an empty chair around.
%give urchin a dollar.
The boy is awaiting your command.
%urchin, get the mummy of pharao Mumpitz
The boy runs away.
[Your score has just gone up 99 points.]
%sit on chair
You sit down in front of the cafe.
A waiter appears. “What can I do for you?”
%buy coffee
The waiter asks “Americano or Espresso or Mocca?”
“Excellent choise”
[Your score has just gone up one point.]
%again 10 times


That would unironically be a funny hidden ending for a game.


You mean as a sort of easter egg? Yeah, definitely! :smile: