during my latest play-through I began suspecting something about "Menace: Unaccountably Peckish", something that the most experienced zee-captains here I’m sure are already well aware of. What I am talking about would be the fact that "Unaccountably Peckish" doesn’t represent a "menace" at all (from a gameplay mechanics prospective) but instead something purely advantageous to have. And my suspicion got confirmed after googling it up a bit.
That got me thinking about losing crew in general: I, usually, don’t care at all about sacrificing a couple of my crewmen and I, in fact, end up treating them as just another resource; a resource even less critical for my survival than fuel or supplies or even Terror level because the normal "wear and tear" of the zee doesn’t consume it. In truth, as long as you plan carefully and have a lot of crew available, you can simply "waste" zailors however you like only to stop when you are getting too close to the "half crew" limit. After that, you can just play conservatively until you get back to London and then recruit new crew members without any sort of consequence.
After writing this, I wrote a somewhat lengthy exposition of why I think this should be changed. I put it as a "spoiler" in order to make it easier to skip to the point if you’re not interested in my thoughts on the matter.
[spoiler]At first, I thought that this was a clever representation of the historical truth that, on the ships of the past (even a relatively recent past as the Victorian Age would be) the lives of stokers and the like where essentially at the mercy of whatever the captain wanted to do with them (that is, if a mutiny wasn’t organized in the meantime).
But, in SS, you get zee-captains (like my own captains xD) that get their crewmen killed over and over with the crew as a whole not even being disturbed by it as long said captains manage to get Terror under control. This simply doesn’t work. Even more so if you think about those zee-captains (again, like my own captains xD) that turn cannibal and chose to snack over their crew once in a while when "things get a little too rough".
I really think that it’s fine to expect from players to role-play at least a little bit and to choose to act in a certain way only because they feel that it’s "the right thing to do" and not because of incentives and disincentives.Truthfully, some great RPGs and story-driven games in general may present choices where "doing the right thing" it’s actually disadvantageous regardless of you moral alignment (if the game includes one). In these instances the player may still feel compelled to do so because he’s actively role-playing a "good guy". But, as I discovered playing SS, this doesn’t work as well when said moral choices are not limited to single events (regardless if they have almost no effect on the overall plot progression of the game or if instead they alter the whole course of said plot) but instead are involved in a core game-play mechanic: that is, losing crew when failing certain challenges.
As much as I would like to role-play a "good" captain, I only too often end up in situations in which caring for the well being of a crewman is simply too detrimental for my own play-through and this line of thought even extends to something "extreme" as resorting to cannibalism. I would simply feel "stupid" by not taking advantage of the opportunities granted by relinquishing the life of a couple of my zailors when said opportunities crop up over and over again. My thoughts on the matter are that this behaviour should be balanced out by having a really disadvantageous consequence to it, in order to "force" the player to chose between one of two evils when faced by said situations and "role play" accordingly.[/spoiler]
So, my suggestion to the developers is in fact a really simple one: to implement a significant penalty for recruiting new crew members over and over. A good penalty, in my humble opinion, would be to make the Hearts challenge that comes when recruiting crew members in London increasingly more difficult, even to the point of getting to an almost impossible level of difficulty when dealing with particular "callous" zee-captains (or, more simply, with cannibals). This could be done by introducing a new "Menaces" quality that would contrast with the Hearts skill in much the same way that "Menaces: Khanganian’s Suspicions" contrasts with the Veils skill when trying to Gather a Port Report in Khan’s Heart. A "Menaces" quality of this type would also be an efficacious way to convey the idea of your captain accruing distrust among the zailors of London because of his ruthlessness (or, as I already said, because of far more terrible reasons wink).
I would be glad to hear the thoughts of my fellow zee-captains on this matter. Thank you for reading.
edited by Blacklight on 3/12/2016