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So this is definitely a topic that has been brought up a few times, but I want to aim at presenting some original ideas to the whole process and dispelling some mistaken assumptions about the reality of the effectiveness of some of these ideas. Let's talk about shields before we get to the good stuff. Numerous people have proposed the idea, and numerous others have responded with comments like "oh zeds would just pull it out of your hands" or "shields were designed for intelligent human combatants and not unintelligent zeds, and are therefore more effective against the former and not the latter." Sorry guys, but these are terrible arguments, IMO. As for the first, which would you rather face while being bare-handed, a guy with a short sword AND a shield, or a guy with a short sword? People who make the first comment, according to their own line of reasoning, should respond to this question by saying "Well obviously the guy with the sword and the shield because I'd just grab the shield and pull on it and throw him off balance then pwn his face." This is quite ludicrous. Not only would you lack the requisite leverage to do so, but in so doing would make yourself extremely vulnerable to any number of killing blows. In addition, the shield-bearer could bash you in the face the moment you approached and trust me, you'd have absolutely no possibility of catching the shield and wrenching it free with your bare hands before you were dead. If this could at all be done with reliability, the shield would never have arisen as a reliable armament. As for the second argument, I have to say I can barely understand it. If an intelligent person is incapable of doing the aforementioned skillful actions, then surely a stupid-ass slow zed would be incapable of doing them. Yes, they may have increased physical strength but again couldn't really do anything about the shield before you murdered them in the face. Again, it's not like you could just dispatch a shield-bearing army by raising an army of really strong bare-fisted fighters (I doubt unarmed Shaolin monks did well against shielded/sworded opponents in Chinese history). Yes, jujitsu was invented as a martial art for fighting unarmed against an armed opponent, but it was designed to try and maximize your chances of survival in a non-ideal situation - it's not like zeds are jujitsu masters anyway. Furthermore, as has been noted, there's the large chance that the zed wouldn't even recognize the shield as a thing that needed to be contended with. If he didn't, you could bash him with it, and if he did, he'd be distracted by it, and you could slice his face off. Which leads me to my next point - swords don't have to be sharp. During the days of cavalry, sharp swords were a huge bane to the cavalryman. Imagine swinging a sharp-ass sword down on top of a guy's head with all your might and then THWOCK! your sword gets wedged in his skull. As you're trying to pull it out, numerous other dudes stab you to death. They didn't use sharp swords, they used blunt swords - big pieces of metal that shattered your skull or arm bone or collarbone/shoulder that wouldn't get stuck in your body so the cavalryman could keep riding, keep moving, and keep fucking people up. If we made swords smithable, we could do blunt swords at lower skill levels and sharp swords available at higher skill levels (the former leveling up blunt and the latter leveling up blade). A legitimate way to incorporate smithing would be to (again, as other people have noted) make only one or two anvils in the game. I respect that you can use any sort of sufficiently hard surface (like a granite countertop, as one has suggested, or a cinder block, as others have suggested) to temper red-hot metal - that's a possibility, but would be hard and counter-intuitive to implement. It would also be impossible to make anvils "craftable" unless it was a level 5 tier skill, but that's still pretty implausible. Instead, I say there should be an anvil or two on the map in the various farms, randomly generated and extremely scattered (so you'd have no idea where it was). You could then go one of two ways - immovable, or extremely difficult to move. The former would force trips for forging and resource expenditures to make the smithing area safe (or building an entire safehouse around the anvil), and the latter could be easily implemented by making the anvil ignore weight reduction penalties (or make it so damn heavy it could only be carried by putting it in the highest weight reduction bag...the big hiking bag I think?). Regardless, it would take ages to put into/take out of your inventory and make you super encumbered and exhausted by carrying it, effectively making you vulnerable to anything other than a 1v1 or 1v2 encounter (and making you unable to flee if you encounter more). This would then make retrieving the anvil a late-game "quest" as it were. There could be various tools required, such as a smithing hammer, tongs, or bellows; you could be required to make a forge out of masonry components (using a hammer to break down brick walls, using concrete bags to make morter, trowel to assemble); and then either logs or charcoal to fuel the forge (charcoal could just be a potential left over thing from campfires for easy implementation, or a specifically crafted item for difficult implementation). If you don't like the forge idea, heck, you could use a grill - hell, with enough coal and air, I've gotten zones within the coals over 1000 degrees before, and you only have to hit like 1500 or 2000 to be able to shape steel. It's doable...but dangerous! And that could be the trade off for this potentially game-breaking addition - the danger. Fires should be extremely common or possible without adequate preventions (e.g. babysitting your shit, not using excess fuel, skill level when forge was built, etc.), and only really definitely controllable at the max skill level. There could also be a trough required for quenching meta, which would consume extremely valuable late-game water at a high rate. Needless to say, one could make all sorts of things craftable with this skillset - tools like axes, spades, trowels, sledgehammers, or items like nails, screws, rivets, barbed wire, metal posts, or even nebulous "part kits" for various items (like "car parts" for when they incorporate vehicles, I used a soda can to help fix my engine once, or "gun parts" to repair firearms, or whatever). I'm gonna stop here because this is ridiculously long already. TL;DR - shields are definitely combative effective, swords don't need to be sharp, anvils are implementable, and the whole system can require various max level skills to balance it out and make it late-game only