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Secrets of Steel - Families and Communities of Enemies

To continue the discussion around exciting enemies in tactical RPGs (or any RPGs) it seems important to, at times, challenge the characters with families or societies of enemies. Rarely do civilized or sentient creatures stand alone in the world, without assistance, friends, or a community.

Such a family of enemies have the advantage of providing a set of monsters that have different strengths, abilities, and weaknesses, but are obviously interconnected. They often fight together, in different configurations, leading to different sets of challenges or changes in game tactics.

In addition to creating a exciting set of tactical battles, such communities of monsters assert the reality of these creatures within the world. Otherwise, the character might be scratching their head wondering why every ogre fights with a giant club... don't they have war leaders, shamans, scouts, hunters, and the like? My society does--what wrong with these creatures? Without the lack of an enemy community behind a sentient creature (or some other good explanation, such as a solitary spirit or mythical beast that spurns contact with its own kind), you may not come away from the fight as immersed in the fantasy world as you went in.

Thoughts, comments?

[The following collage contains some of the images of a enemy community with the Clouded Range mountains in Secrets of Steel. As a scourge of the isolated mountain passes, ogres will appear in 5-6 varieties and wield a variety of special abilities and magic--from shamans to bearshirts, to some ogres who have mastered and command a native and deadly mountain beast, the shiggroth hounds. As with other collages, I will post more progress here to the blog! I find this sharing activity very motivating!]


  1. I don't know how you are setting up the battles, but it would be neat to see enemies battle similarly to how the player would layout his characters, tanks protect the squishy spellcasters while sneak attack experts try to do flanking manuvers. In older games I have played the only tactic was for the enemy fighters to rush forwards and fight the first PC character they bumped into, no attempt to flank or be sneaky. They also never broke ranks to protect their squishy members if my characters managed to get to their back ranks.

    It would also be neat to see them help each other out. Say my fighters are wearing down one of their fighters, that fighter pulls back from the fight with the assist of the rest of their front line, meets with the healer in the back row, get restored, and then return to the fight. I have never seen that type of AI activity although I suspect no one has ever figured that type of sophistication out.

    Finally, it would be neat to see intelligent AI attempt to surrender or parley with the player's party if they have a reputation of being kind or at least not bloodthirsty. A thief that knows he is going to lose would likely rather surrender than accept death. At least he would have another chance to survive if he was sent to jail. Again, I've never seen that implemented in a computer game before.

    I like the artwork I've seen so far, the characters have good individualized looks to their class types. Keep up the good work.

  2. Kelvin,

    Completed on the same page! Why make differentiated monsters if the only difference is a different set of skills and the knowledge of how to use those (fire a bow from ranged as opposed to closing the 3 square different and attacking with a melee weapon).

    Both of your AI suggestions are very cool and different. Of the two, I think for a tactical RPG we will be focusing on the first, and let the story handle the second (you could win battles this way, certainly).

  3. Our Heroes of Steel KickStarter has now been launched! This is the prequel to Secrets of Steel.


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