Enemy strategy ideas

Discussion in 'General Modification' started by anatoliy, Jun 20, 2021.

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  1. anatoliy

    anatoliy Established Member

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    Hi there

    Looking forward to your thoughts how would you make your AI moves if you would play as DM.

    Battlefield:
    rect2(17x13).jpg

    Three goblins: 1, 2, 3
    4 PC: 2 fighters, cleric and sorcerer

    For example interesting NPC AI moves (6 squares 5 feet):
    rect3-A(17x13).jpg

    Ideas?
    And question to programmers - how can this be achieved? As most battles would go either target_closest, attack; or target_closest, flank (ignore AOO when pathfinding).
     
  2. Sitra Achara

    Sitra Achara Senior Member

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    I actually laid some foundations for pathfinding that avoids AOOs. Try making a path query with PQF_AVOID_AOOS (I think it was called).
    Currently it requires clearance data. I guess it could be expanded however. Also haven't tested this mode yet but it should be similar (just increased the critter radius by their reach for pathfinding).
     
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  3. Endarire

    Endarire Ronald Rynnwrathi

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    I immediately assumed Goblin 2 would open with color spray then flee.
     
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  4. anatoliy

    anatoliy Established Member

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    I've seen this for some time now, and was quite intrigued with potential. Great idea Sitra!!
     
  5. anatoliy

    anatoliy Established Member

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    The more I think about it, the more ideas are popping out. My dream is to have pre-calculated different monster tactics on a field by machine learning))

    But back to more doable ideas. The key principle in foe battlefield combat is ROLES. Typical AI roles with some randomness would produce incredible encounters.

    Roles so far:
    Tank
    Tank's role is to draw PC attention on them, and provoke AOO, thus giving more room for other allies. A Tank would mostly Fight Defensively, have a shield and go round a PC after a strike to provoke AOO. If probability of damage is low (~10% or less), they would simply stand in Full Defense. If left alone (as last combatant), they would change their tactics to skirmisher. A Tank would approach not directly but to side of a target PC. A Tank would prefer moving to a spot where he can grant ally a flanking strike. When grapple will be implemented, then they would also do it if appropriate feats are present or if hit on them is low.

    Skirmisher
    A Skirmisher is low AC, high speed monster. They would prefer reach weapon, throwing weapon and bombs. A Skirmisher would approach PC in Fibonacci spiral, each time re-calculating target for most fragile PC. In close combat they would prefer Withdraw in double distance away from threatening PC, approaching in spiral next round in Fight Defensively manner.

    Aggressor
    An Aggressor is damage dealer, with decent AC and high attack. They would approach in Fibonacci manner as well, but would stick to a PC and try to improve their position for flanking. They would prefer PC with most allies circled around. Improved Aggressors would have Improved Trip or Disarm, and equipped with Heavy Flail. They would avoid AOO, and prefer 5foot step movement if close combat. They would also do Power Attack if hit chance is more than some threshold (like 35% or so).

    Archer
    Archer's primary task is to disable casters, e.g. ready for a spell. They would prefer safe distant position, where shot is not impeded by a cover. Mostly circle around if threatened. If count of melee allies would drop under some threshold, they would alter their role to skirmisher.
     
  6. anatoliy

    anatoliy Established Member

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    Spellcasters have much much more tactics room available and are quite difficult to think through. But I think I have some approach, which could yield good results - combos.

    Spellcaster tactics combos are triggered, when specific conditions are met. For example if a low Will PC is in close combat with healthy ally, then Hold Person is viable or a Curse. Then the ally would Coup de Grace of the PC.

    Examples:
    1st level of Cleric spells
    Combo - Command fall down, when more than one ally is adjacent to a PC (save <70%).

    Combo - Bane on first round, if PCs chance to hit is between 40 and 25%. It will lower it on 5%, so if PC to hit is more than 40% then it wont have practical effect.

    Combo - Doom on high attack PC, if at least one ally has fell or is reach weapon hitter (save < 50%). It's the best way to restrain hulks or reach weapon hitters.

    2nd level of Cleric spells
    Combo - Hold Person when ally is adjacent and spell would affect PC with a chance (save <70%). Otherwise some other spells are better, like Inflict Moderate Wounds.

    Combo - Sound Burst if close to a Wiz/Sor (save < 70%) and would affect at least one PC more. This one is good candidate for scroll.

    Combo - Silence in initial rounds, if save would be < 40%. Immediately cancel the spell if no spellcaster PC affected.

    Combo - Summon Monster II (I) near spellcaster PC for distraction. Summoned monster should stick to the spellcaster PC until slain. Fiendish Wolf would be the best option, which would last for 3 rounds at least, which is enough. Centipede for I.

    3rd level of Cleric spells
    Combo - Dispel Magic, if PC have Haste or Stoneskin.

    Combo - Bestow Curse on high damage dealer or reach weapon dude (save < 50%), but only when is threatened. Very good as a scroll candidate.

    Combo - Summon Monster III initially near a spellcaster PC. Hello Celestial Bear))

    Combo - Blindness, very good spell, should be cast on high dex warrior PC, especially with Rapid Shot dude.

    >4rd level of Cleric spells
    Combo - Summon Monster X initially near a spellcaster PC. Hello fiendish Dire Wolf))
    Not many decent RAW combat spells here. Except maybe harm spells.

    Special roles of a Cleric:
    Healer
    This one would do Sanctuary, buff Aggressor and heal via wands or scrolls allies.

    Fighter with one or two Cleric classes.
    Cast Divine Favor, then Magic Weapon or Shield of Faith from scrolls on self.

    Cleric with Magic Domain or one class of Sorcerer.
    Cast Mirror Image from a scroll on self.

    Update 1 - Domains
    Orc's shaman - Cleric 3 with Trickery Domain could cast Invisibility and heal around.
    Monster with cleric 1 of War domain like Hextor could have free Weapon Focus of flail and Magic Weapon.
    Monster with cleric 1 of Strength (Gruumsh) domain could have Enlarge Person.
    Destruction domain grants one smite attack and one Inflict.
    Death domain has interesting Cause Fear, but on higher levels has big potential of Death touch.

    Update 2 - Confusion
    Cleric 7 of Trickery domain could cast Confusion. Extremely good choice.

    Update 3 - Madness Domain in RtToEE allows Lesser Confusion.

    Update 4 - it seems that Augment Summoning is best feat.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2021
  7. FDR4PREZ

    FDR4PREZ Established Member

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    Just how exactly will an enemy know the Will of combatants?

    Isn't it a bit of meta-gaming so that the enemies can know our Will or other saves?
     
  8. anatoliy

    anatoliy Established Member

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    Well, NPC are usually played by Dungeon Master, who knows everything. Moreover, Troika had such in mind from the beginning, thus there are tactics like "target low ac" etc in strategy.mes.

    In addition, I like idea of allowing Player to see any NPC stats. Just like KotC did. So it's even.

    And lastly - even smartest AI is beatable by human Player.
     
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  9. anatoliy

    anatoliy Established Member

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    Wizards or even better - Sorcerers enemy NPC have much more variations of tactics than Cleric, is even more fun. I even consider spawning such NPC in increased difficulty setting or when number of PC is greater than 4 and experience is needed.

    Ideas:
    For Wiz/Sor level 1-2 - no need to cast Magic Armor specifically in combat. He wont last for so long. Essentially it is one - two rounds mayfly. Improved Initiative is imperative. Also Necromancy focus.
    Combo - Sleep at first round if level of PC are 5 or lower (chance >50%). It's like massive fall down. Very potent.
    Combo - Cause Fear at biggest PC if less than level 5 (chance >50%). Will annoy the Player immensely.
    Combo - Ray of Enfeeblement at biggest PC if less than level 5 (chance >50%).
    Combo - Chill Touch as last resort in kamikaze mode.

    For Wiz/Sor level 3-4, she will last longer due to access to Mirror Image.
    Combo - Glitterdust as first action (chance > 30%). Good when scroll.
    Combo - Mirror Image as initial action.
    Combo - Tasha’s Hideous Laughter on biggest PC.
    Combo - Ghoul Touch as last resort in kamikaze mode. Good when scroll.
     
  10. FDR4PREZ

    FDR4PREZ Established Member

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    It is true that the DM is supposed to know everything, but before every battle he is not gathering up all the PC sheets so he can review the stats and make strategy against the PCs. I guess it is well within his rights to do so, but he will not be a popular DM.

    I know, there's a bunch in there... it just sounds bad when you hear it out in the open.

    We (meaning players in general - especially in PnP) can't approach a battle and know which enemy has the lowest AC and who has the worst Will, etc.

    We need to take our best guesses at these things in a battle.

    It is an unfair advantage that they have, so we just need to take the necessary precautions knowing that there is a spy in our midst that tells our enemies are weakest links ;)

    Yes, that is true until they take over... Just ask the Terminator
     
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  11. hammyh

    hammyh Established Member

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    Imho this is a very underrated spell. A couple of these can mitigate a lot of damage from a strong opponent and it lasts quite a while, even from a scroll. No save on ranged touch. Ranged touch means no armor/shield/nat armor, so it lands very often.

    Grease + Ray of Clumsiness could be interesting. Ray of clumsiness reduces both reflex and possibly AC. Grease is not party-friendly, though, so it might hurt more than it helps the AI.

    Soften Earth and Stone is also underrated. Druid/Earth Domain - small radius, no SR. Reflex save. Even if save, 1/2 speed for 1-2 rounds. failure to save is held for 1-2 rounds. This works to gain breathing room, even for the Gods arena. I'm unsure if the hold qualifies for coup-de-grace, though, as I never specifically tried that.

    Ofc, there is the ironic use of charm person. Player party might be a faction, though...which might not be so effective.

    And finally, the fog spells (especially solid fog +blindfight,etc) can partially/completely shut down ranged and reach weapons. This one would be frustrating for players that like to use reach weapons + enlarge or archery sneak attack, etc.

    (iirc ToEE effects)

    Edit: I forgot to mention Bard's Fascinate. I stopped using it because it may be bugged for the DC. It could be funny to see the players reaction at a DC 30-ish check from a 2nd level bard, as it stands. (bug reported)
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2021
  12. Endarire

    Endarire Ronald Rynnwrathi

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    @anatoliy
    This reminds me of the Sword Coast Stratagems mod for Infinity Engine games which improves AI tactics. I fully support this notion to make the game more interesting!
     
  13. anatoliy

    anatoliy Established Member

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    The goal is to find golden balance in the game.

    I want to increase difficulty without pumping NPC stats; and to leave CR as it is designed in MM. The only way to do it would be to make them smarter.
     
  14. anatoliy

    anatoliy Established Member

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    It's good against hulks, but intermediate overall. Even with STR 10 Fighter 5 would have ~+6 Atk, which gives 40% hit chance against AC 18. Essentially it is light calmer of damage dealers.

    I like it! The only issue is Grease, as monster AI cannot determine if Grease is on their way :(

    That one is interesting. Especially when NPC are mostly ranged. Thanks!
    That one is OP, I never use it.

    It has very narrow applicability - only against ranged. But it would be nice to find better way to exploit it.
    Can you elaborate, how 1st level Bard NPC could strengthen a group of Gnolls? I compared Bard 1 vs Sorcereress 1 and he did not look good.
     
  15. Pygmy

    Pygmy Established Member Supporter

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    The point of hitting a fighter in heavy armour with (several) rays of enfeeblement should be to stop him/her moving rather than to stop them hitting things.
     
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