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Why do three succeed where an army may fail?


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#21 _Zac_   Members   -  Reputation: 138

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 07:17 AM

I remember a scene in FFX (or was it X-2?) where you pretty much fight the Yevon army...and win. It's pretty much the game saying "These few people can destroy an army, so why not Sin?"

Most JRPGs (and probably WRPGs, but I haven't played much of those) like to just suspend your disbelief to the point where you believe you're more powerful than an army. And even then, most games have you kill a ton of enemy NPCs (those random encounters) so you've already been killing "armies" of critters.

So really what causes you to not stop and think about that is because the game has been repeatedly telling you through random encounters and such that your party is capable of killing tons of people, probably without even breaking a sweat.

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#22 JamesPenny   Members   -  Reputation: 148

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 03:43 AM

Tropes Ahoy!

Jingo, by Pratchett, has a nice example of few vs many - The Protagonists are surrounded by an army of conscripts expecting a massive suicidal charge. Instead they wait until night, steal into the enemy lines and start making a lot of noise. In the confusion and darknedd the enemy start attacking each other, both due to internal conflict and the general raucous.

Basically: Make the weight of the enemy work against it whilst the good guys don't actually fight.

#23 Orymus   Members   -  Reputation: 154

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 07:31 AM

There's a similar scenario in Captain America movie.
the Captain gets in with his small detachment. Even though he is technically part of the army, they are 150km inside of the enemy lines, fighting a different enemy for different reasons.
Obviously, being undercover plays a big part in smaller teams. The idea is that you are a commando so to speak. Resource management comes into play.
This is why I don't quite get the rpgs that employ more than 5 or so characters (who says 10+?)
The fact you were there before they invented the wheel doesn't make you any better than the wheel nor does it entitle you to claim property over the wheel. Being there at the right time just isn't enough, you need to take part into it.

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#24 Telgin   Members   -  Reputation: 200

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 10:03 AM

What was the saying, "A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords at dawn?"

That's probably the most directly applicable explanation to most RPGs, and I've seen it mentioned a few times in the thread already. A small group can slip into the big bad's palace and remove some vital organs secretly where a full scale army would have to force their way through his army.

The problem with this is that few RPGs I've played actually portrayed it that way. In Final Fantasy VIII for example, Squall's little team literally destroyed armies by themselves. Although, by the end they were pretty much all that was left to fight the actual big bad, so there was no army to do it in their stead. Regardless, most other RPGs I've played are a similar story. Fable, Dragon Age, Fallout, Deus Ex and many others have actual armies or similar groups who engage the big bad (or could), but the player is the one who actually kills the big bad.

It's all related to the "specialness" of the main characters, and if you think about it too much, it can be jarring. In Fable for example, the entire Hero Guild tries to stop Jack of Blades, but in the end, only you can fight past the endless hordes of jackal monsters to best him in single combat. I find it hard to believe that 3 or 4 other high ranking guild members didn't just beat him into a pulp.

It's a reasonable departure from reality for gaming's sake though. Sometimes players just do want to feel like they can take on armies and win. For me though, I prefer a little justification for this sort of thing (such as being an actual god on Earth, or having state of the art nanotech augmentations).

By the way, it's somewhat related to the topic at hand, so I highly recommend you check out Limyaael's Fantasy Rants (Google it, she has these in several places by now). She explains a lot of things that you might want to ponder or avoid when plotting books (but it's mostly applicable to games too). In particular she takes a stab at how "speshul" characters get on her nerves. I agree with her on most things. If you want a special character who is able to do those sorts of things, justify it! Are they expertly trained soldiers who can sneak into the main villain's lair and stab him in the duodenum, or are they just the chosen from the ancient prophesy who can mysteriously absorb 100 arrows to the face and keep running?
Success requires no explanation. Failure allows none.

#25 Aeroga   Members   -  Reputation: 114

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 06:13 PM

My idea is that in most RPG's the last boss has an attack that hits everyone like an AoE attack. It could be their signature move or not, but it usually does MASSIVE damage to even our chosen heroes. An army has numbers but they would have to invade a stronghold to even get near the boss. The thing is, your character as a level one is as strong as a mook, and the boss has an AoE attack. No matter what numbers you have, the boss can wipe you all out with that one attack that he can do. Also, he usually has a magical seal or something that only our heroes can break.
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#26 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2222

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:10 PM

There are a lot of good reasons here that I agree with, e.g.:

- Stealth
- Cream of the crop
- Paranoia (organisation infiltrated)
- Technological restrictions (both for getting to the enemy and access to prototype weapons)
- Bottlenecks

I would also add:
- Speed (no supply lines needed, high-fitness troops only)
- Personal relationship with enemy (enemy may want to kill them personally rather than just carpet bomb the area)
- Lack of collateral damage (you can use the really big weapons/crazy tactics when 0% chance you'll hit your own people)
- Non linear scaling (large forces can be less effective per person due to organisational issues)
- Team synergy (a team that know each other well can work together with little/no planning)
- Own men as a liability (e.g. in a zombie attack your own men can become the enemy, chain lightening magic is more dangerous in a tight crowd, etc)

EDIT:
- Only people free for the mission, e.g. your faction faces war on multiple fronts.

#27 PyroDragn   Members   -  Reputation: 404

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 07:07 AM

Essentially, I think you can boil this down to one of two things. These are:

1) Your team is stronger than an army.

2) Your team has an opportunity that the army didn't/doesn't.

The first choice is rarely chosen, but that's not to say it isn't done. Something like God of War where the main character is portrayed as an unstoppable force compared to the 'regulars' within the army.

The second choice I think is the norm. But it is obviously very wide since essentially it boils down to 'everything else'. Whether it is stealth, mobility, a personal relationship, exploiting a weakness, or dumb luck.

There is a difference however, between reasons for "why the team succeeded" and "why the team was sent." Taking from the above post:

Only people free for the mission, e.g. your faction faces war on multiple fronts

This isn't a reason for why the team would succeed. This is just a reason for why they were sent instead of the army.


Technological restrictions (both for getting to the enemy and access to prototype weapons)

This could be either case, if you say "Only three people can go through this portal to fight the enemy." Then it is again, just a reason for why the three were sent. If the portal allows the team to get in to a weak spot, then it is a case being made for why they were able to succeed when other people failed.

#28 Malabyte   Members   -  Reputation: 589

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:44 PM

In military theory it's actually possible for 1 person to destroy an army of any size. This is because one's total capacity isn't just measured in brute manpower, it's also measured in quality of action, level of technology, logistical upkeep, and more.

Why not Sin? Because Sin was a big, dumb whale with one effed up signature.

Edited by DrMadolite, 01 May 2012 - 04:10 AM.

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