You don't see that it makes much difference to gameplay if fights end with death or unconsciousness. And in gameplay terms, if you make there be no difference between knocking out with a stunstick and killing with a sword, there is no difference whatever. But in moral terms, there is a world of difference.

I don't see much market for a generalized non-fatal combat scheme.
Good that it's notthing like what I'm suggesting then :P I'm just asking for the choice! The OPTION NOT TO KILL if I feel like I don't want to! This is not a hard concept either to understand, or to design into a game.

But there really ought to be gameplay differences for combats against NPCs, at least. Against mobs, perhaps leave it purely to morality, or perhaps have a "pacifist" voluntary challenge (Like nethack: ).

The idea of "exclusive non-fatal combat" is even worse than "exclusively fatal combat". Understand that I am arguing for neither: just that in every combat, the choice should exist! If you PC's chosen weapon is the stun-stick, then it may be a harder fight, perhaps: but your opponent will be alive at the end of it. If your PC's chosen speciality is stealth, he should be able to sneak past most fights; if speechcraft, he should be able to talk his way out of them.

Being in the middle of a war zone sounds more like a wargame, not an RPG, but, yes, there might be RP reasons for it I guess: in which case, if the combat was fatal-only, no surrender, no quarter given, then it's harsher even than most war zones. And that would be poor design on the part of a level designer, and would starkly limit the choices of the player.

If the game designer can't make a scenario navigable without wholesale slaughter by the PC, then perhaps they need to rethink the whole scenario, because they have most likely been writing it as a battle sim, not an RPG.

Whether you could make combat "realistic enough not to be fun anymore" depends on what you find fun in RPG combat. Personally, I find the combat "minigame" in almost all rpgs from Ultima 1 to Oblivion becomes just as tedious as the "pipemania" hacking-minigame in BioShock, which is part of why I am arguing against making it a compulsory, fight-every-sodding-monster-in-the-world subgame, and arguing instead for alternatives if the player wishes.

A zombie is an interesting case. Vampires might be reasoned with, but zombies and golems less so. They could, however, still reasonably be fled from, stunned, repelled, sneaked by, trapped, ensorcelled, dispelled, teleported elsewhere, distracted, tricked, or avoided, though, amongst other approaches.

"Let's go bash a mob and get us some phat lewt" is the most unoriginal, unimaginative way of gaining equipment. I'm not arguing that it shouldn't be a possibility, just that avoiding it altogether should also be a possibility, if the player wants to play as, say, a thief, shepherd, illusionist, blacksmith, or indeed anything other than a warrior or psychopath.

There was a time when every RPG game was compared to Diablo
Diablo... a RPG? It was a Roguelike dungeonbash with no RP elements at all. It saddens me that people think anything in a fantasy setting is a RPG. Then again, people are calling BioShock an RPG, so what can you do? <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Alrik has also questioned the necessity of violence in RPGs,
Well I'm NOT! I'm not questioning the necessity of violence! It would be utterly unrealistic and silly if adventurers did not have the choice to be violent. I am instead questioning the necessity of the necessity of violence. You don't have to have to kill someone in order for the game to be fun, and removing that constraint makes the game, in my opinion, infinitely better, deeper and more fun than if it forces the player's hand.

I enjoy killing people sometimes - but how banal is that decision, if I had no choice anyway? The deaths become meaningless. It's as banal as protecting the children, if the children are invincible: your "decisions" become empty, and lack any moral depth.

And this materialistic point of view materializes in games which implement no ethics, because the companies see no use for ethics to be implemented, because otherwise it *would* be implemented, and because there are no ethics implemented, everything is allowed. Yes, EVERYTHING.

I feel that "yes, EVERYTHING" absolutely should be allowed. You have far less of a morality tale if the babies, children and pregnant women either do not exist, or are immortal. You also have far less of a morality tale if you are required to kill them. The best games for exploring your own morality at the moment are the GTAs.

You can only explore your own morality if you have the ability to make moral choices. Those choices need to include the ability to not kill, tht I argued for so vehemently above - but also the ability to kill. Otherwise, powerless, you are just subject to the morality of the game designer. The same with theft, and all other moral decisions. is a good article about killable children and child death in Prey. I found it very interesting that despite the kerfuffle, only one person had actually made any kind of moral decision in the game: they decided not to kill the kids. That would have been my FIRST decision. But even the author of the article, horrified by his own actions that he was "forced" to do, mowed them down in their dozens. But one player just ran on by them. A morality decision, and one that I admire the game for giving him, even if he and Richard Garriot are the only two people who might have spotted it.

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