RPG Proverbs

Zloth

Community Contributor
There's a lot of things we do, especially (I think) in RPGs, that we do because we've been doing them for decades. Sometimes they are so ingrained that we don't even notice we're doing them! Naturally, that makes them prime targets for developers who want to mess with our tiny little minds, but even then they won't mess with more than a few.

Red is Blood, Blue is Magic Juice
In games, your health (hit point) bar is nearly always red. If you're in a game where you can only use so much "mana" (or whatever they call it in the game you're playing) before you need to recharge, that will nearly always be displayed in blue.

Concentrate your fire!
In video games, an enemy that's been hurt only rarely gets in some sort of crippled state. Most of them will fight just fine until that last bit of health is gone, then suddenly fall over dead. If you're facing 5 enemies and attack all 5 of them, you will probably find yourself facing all 5 for a long time. If everybody gangs up on one, though, you'll be down to 4 enemies fighting back much faster.

Diversify
Games have been getting away from this in recent years, but in general you'll want to have a wide variety of party members. An all-mage or all-thief party will have a difficult time. (This only applies to RPGs where you control multiple characters.)

Shopkeepers are Gougers
You know how, when you buy a new car, it loses almost half its value once you drive it off the dealer's lot? RPG shopkeepers are FAR worse! You may have to save up 5000 to buy that nice, +5 sword but, if you later find four of them in a dungeon, that same shopkeeper might only give you 200 for each!

Price Check (advanced)
In some games, you'll get more for your sword in a shop that sells swords than you will in a shop that sells magic books. In other games, every shopkeeper you meet will offer exactly the same price. (This is what we in modern times call "collusion.") You'll need to figure out which model is being used in each game. It's easy enough to do, just try a couple of different shops. The tricky part is doing it before you lose a lot of money by selling your saddle to the potion vendor out in the middle of the jungle.

Save Early, Save Often
Wow, tough fight! Celebrate by saving your game. Ooo, looks like a tough fight! Prepare yourself by saving the game. Hmm, which quest should I do next? Think about it while you save your game. Time to get something to drink - better save game. BELCH! Save game!

Keep in mind what kind of saves you are making, too. If there is ANY chance that you're in a no-win situation already, don't save over your latest save game! Quick-save is nice and easy but doing only that will eventually land you in a very bad spot. Like facing down a dragon just five minutes after selling your +4 Dragonmangler sword in that book shop.

Any more? Any stories of (re)learning this advice the hard way?
 
Red is Blood, Blue is Magic Juice
In games, your health (hit point) bar is nearly always red. If you're in a game where you can only use so much "mana" (or whatever they call it in the game you're playing) before you need to recharge, that will nearly always be displayed in blue.
Quick google earliest examples I could find (edited a few times as I kept searching):

- Gauntlet (1985) used blue for potions ... but it wasn't for magic or mana. Just note it as the earliest example of blue being used for anything magical or potion bottle related though, as most RPGs were pretty text-based and often used Dungeons & Dragons esque MP-text for magic.
- Rogue (1986 on Atari) used blue for all potions, too.
- Zelda 2 (1987)... not really... it was white but with a blue outline, whereas health did not have a blue outline. And I think magic containers were red. So sort of used 'blue' unique to magic but not primarily or exclusively.
- Golden Axe 1 (1989) and 2 (1991) used blue potions for magic but also blue bars for health
- Golden Axe Warrior (1991) had blue potions has 'hearts' for magic but switched from blue bars to red hearts for health (it was kinda Zelda clone)
- Wizardry 7 (1992) added blue bars (the previous games used text or red/yellow bars)
- Ultima Underworld (1992) also used blue potion glass (whereas regular Ultima did not)
- Elder Scrolls 1 (1994) had a blue bar for magic.
- Diablo (1996) maybe the first time blue was used specifically for "mana"?
- Might and Magic 7 (1998) added individual character blue bars

I think quite a few classic 80s/90s PC RPGs mostly went from pure text to blue for 'magic.' I guess Golden Axe Warrior may be the first one to really use blue potions for magic points, and Diablo the first one to use blue for "mana." Blue for magic in general seems like how most games changed once they moved on from text-based magic/mana stats. Feel like I remember one that used yellow stars though.

//edit/// Verdre remembered Ultima Underworld that's an important one too... I had double checked all the Ultima games haha but I totally forgot about UW.

Diversify
Games have been getting away from this in recent years, but in general you'll want to have a wide variety of party members. An all-mage or all-thief party will have a difficult time. (This only applies to RPGs where you control multiple characters.)
is sure he saw a video of an entire raid of druids doing a wow dungeon

Shopkeepers are Gougers
You know how, when you buy a new car, it loses almost half its value once you drive it off the dealer's lot? RPG shopkeepers are FAR worse! You may have to save up 5000 to buy that nice, +5 sword but, if you later find four of them in a dungeon, that same shopkeeper might only give you 200 for each!
often in the rpg I play the shops aren't really useful at all and you find better drops in the game. They just there to sell stuff too.
 
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Just off the top of my head, I'd say that Yellow is for Stamina, if stamina is a game mechanic (sometimes it is, sometimes not).

Concentrate your fire!
In video games, an enemy that's been hurt only rarely gets in some sort of crippled state. Most of them will fight just fine until that last bit of health is gone, then suddenly fall over dead. If you're facing 5 enemies and attack all 5 of them, you will probably find yourself facing all 5 for a long time. If everybody gangs up on one, though, you'll be down to 4 enemies fighting back much faster.
Depends on the situation. Sometimes, if we're talking a boss or mini-boss battle, you have to use a bit of crowd control for a boss's minions, often by AOE spells (but not always). So many variables, and it depends on the type of RPG as well: CRPG (or isometric), 3rd person (like Witcher 3), or 1st person (like Skyrim).

Sometimes the choice is easy: Concentrate your Fire (POE1:


(Skyrim)


Other times, it's like WTH am I supposed to do (Divinity OS2):


Diversify
Games have been getting away from this in recent years, but in general you'll want to have a wide variety of party members. An all-mage or all-thief party will have a difficult time. (This only applies to RPGs where you control multiple characters.)
I don't know if games (RPGs) have been getting away from that so much, but I play a lot of older games so I may not be up-to-date. When I play a party-based RPG (whether it's 2, 4, or 6) I always try to diversify as much as possible; I want to be able to counter any situation I might come across. There was a recent article in PCG (print version) about playing Icewindale 2 with 6 wizards. Fun article by Jeremy Peel, but not something I would attempt. I'm pretty old-school when it comes to party composition.

Shopkeepers & Price Checks
In CRPGs that I've played, especially AD&D games which I seem to be playing a lot of this year, shopkeepers always seem to have inflated prices, and pay you far less for those 12 rusty swords you're trying to sell. What I do appreciate, is when only certain shops will buy certain items. Why should a Mage Shop buy those 12 rusty swords? Why would a blacksmith buy my excess scrolls? I like dealing with that.

Save Early, Save Often
Wow, tough fight! Celebrate by saving your game. Ooo, looks like a tough fight! Prepare yourself by saving the game. Hmm, which quest should I do next? Think about it while you save your game. Time to get something to drink - better save game. BELCH! Save game!

Keep in mind what kind of saves you are making, too. If there is ANY chance that you're in a no-win situation already, don't save over your latest save game! Quick-save is nice and easy but doing only that will eventually land you in a very bad spot. Like facing down a dragon just five minutes after selling your +4 Dragonmangler sword in that book shop.
In games that allow it, I am an avowed save-scummer, and I always will be. Save before, save after, save often is my mantra. Quick saves are good to have, but I try not to rely on them, as they are generally overwritten. And I never, ever, overwrite a hard save. Save game corruption happens way too often. If a game has a set number of hard save slots available, I'll cut and paste a few to a backup directory to free up some slots (and continue that throughout the game).
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Oh yeah, yellow for stamina! I haven't seen that one in a while, but it's definitely a convention.

@mainer - area of effect spells/guns do make that confusing. Characters that are big on healing and/or crowd control are going to be doing very different things, too. In general, though, you attack the thing that's easiest to defeat and most likely to hurt you. "Glass cannons" that can hurt you a lot but are easy to kill off are highest on the list. "Tanks" that can't hurt you much but are very difficult to bring down are last.

It's a little like "return on investment" now that I think about it.

My impression is that older games are more likely to throw a locked door in front of you where you must pick the lock to get in. No thief, no way to find out what's behind the door. Modern games seem more likely to let you get through via alternate means - like hacking it down. They might not be nearly as good as the thief would provide, but you can get by.

@Johnway - true. If you're new to the genre, a straight up fighter is typically the easiest to learn with. At worst, it's as hard to learn as any other class.
 
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Clutter!
In some games, a solid 90% of lootable items are completely useless and have near zero resale value. Just think of the full cutlery set you could retrieve from the stomach lining of the wolves in Cyrodiil, or the stacks of ruined books littering every building in Fallout 3. This won't discourage you from keeping anything particularly odd just in case it has a use eventually. The one thing I appreciate in Fallout 4 is the way the crafting system gave utility to just about every object in the game.

Lizard Boobs!
Every bipedal species in fantasy seems to have the same basic gender traits that humans display. Theoretically the pureblood Yuan-Ti and lusty Argonian maids should be flat as pancakes while a seductive Tabaxi bard should have four sets of cleavage stacked atop each other, but apparently this topic is 'weird' or 'perverse' or 'not relevant to the discussion during this weeks book group'.
 
true. If you're new to the genre, a straight up fighter is typically the easiest to learn with. At worst, it's as hard to learn as any other class.
Hate to start on Age of Conan with that idea then.
that games combat system was strange, Melee classes had to use key combos to do attacks, Magic and healing classes just had 1 key moves. So some classes were way easier to just use in game than others were. I only used melle after I had almost completely equipped my main and it wasn't enough to really keep me playing.
 
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- If the RPG features Big Boss Battles, don't fixate on a rogue class's stealth, poisons, etc., as there's a good chance those skills will be rendered all but USELESS during said battles.

- Don't bother trying to kill the Big Boss until his minions (or sigils or soul cairns or whatever) have been destroyed, as he'll probably just use them to regenerate (or worse, be invincible.) [This applies more to non-RPG games, but I've also seen it come up in RPG's and I hate it.]

- Never drink your higher level potions, you might need them later.

- Never use your higher level scrolls, you might need them later.

- Might as well sell those potions and scrolls you never used, they're too low level now.

- Your childhood mentor is probably going to betray you, just FYI.

- Always loot your followers before you dismiss them, in case they turn on you (perhaps because you looted them.)

- If you crouch down, animals and monsters can't smell you.

- If the music suddenly gets more dramatic, that's your cue to look around frantically for someone to murder.

- If someone has a proper name over their head, maybe don't immediately kill them in case they have a quest or plot info. But if their name is "Shifty Brigand," clearly they must die.

- Whenever possible, convert your valuable trinkets to arrows, which are both useful and weightless.

- If you're good enough at bartering, you can convince a baker to buy a pile of wolf carcasses.

- If a creature can spot you up to 15 meters away, at 16 meters you're basically invisible.
 

Frindis

Moderator
  • Training dummy is your friend
  • 50/50 crit chance, crit dmg for big dik damage
  • Don't forget your lvl 1 spells. Less mana=more spam
  • Most mobs you can kite, some even to other mobs
  • A legendary weapon does not automatically mean legendary stats
  • Don't stand in stuff. Fane "but....."
  • Sometimes more armor means fat
  • Save your skill points until you have a somewhat clear path to build
  • Every boss have weaknesses developers don't know about
  • If you think you can make the jump over a ravine, you won't make it.
  • 99,99999999999999% mobs hate fire
  • Side quests give the best loot
  • Just because you don't read journals, doesn't mean you are illiterate. It just means you'll die more often and get a bad ending
  • Shopkeepers have stopped having buckets around the shop
  • You get dizzy from alcohol
  • Too much loot? Use a filter to take away the crappy stuff
  • Sometimes you can have two lovers. It worked wonders for Geralt.
  • A ladle can be a deadly weapon
  • Trust me, you can take that big red dragon with fierce eyes. You just hold your shield up and stand your ground. You'll be just fine!
  • A high lvl magician in a brown pub is a bad sign
  • Just because you can sing, does not mean you should
  • Yes, most red buttons are red for a reason
  • Human flesh will make you laugh
  • If you see drool coming down from some vent, you'll be better off not standing under it.
  • Just because you are a warrior, does not mean you can kill everything, especially not ret paladins.
  • A sign can always be overlooked
  • Most mobs can't open doors.
  • Use your stuff. You'll end up rich and miserable if you never use your stuff.
 
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FreezerBurn

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This is a good time to remind people of the Holy Hand Grenade.
The Book of Armaments chapter two, verses nine through twenty-one:

"And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, 'O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.' And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and large chulapas. And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.'
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Dead Ends

If you're in the kind of RPG that follows a pre-determined path (as opposed to just letting you wander around in a building), then you'll want to explore dead ends. If you get a choice of two different ways and the way you pick keeps going for more than a minute, turn around and explore the other direction. It will likely be a dead end and will also likely have some treasure.

Waterfalls Hide Good Things

Developers LOVE to hide things behind waterfalls! Treasure, secret passages... all sorts of good stuff! Don't let the pretty scene lull you to sleep. Make it a point to explore behind every waterfall you can get behind!


@Krud - One of the big things I need to establish when starting a game is whether it's the type where you need to kill the big one first, then clean up the little ones or the other way around. Or sometimes there will be a healer that needs to be the primary target. I went for the 'damage you vs. difficulty to kill' formula instead.

HOARD EVERYTHING.
I think most games prevent that now. Some allow it (Wasteland 3 does), but most give you a limit by mass or volume. If they don't, though, I agree: hoover mode activate!

P.S. If I die and get reborn as a video game monster, I'm coming back as a mimic that sits behind a waterfall.
 
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A couple of other things occurred to me, particularly if we're talking party-based RPGS and a fantasy type setting, like AD&D.
Theft
The best RPGs of this type, if you try to steal or root through someone's containers is when you're confronted by an NPC, attacked, or arrested. There should be some kind of consequences for taking things you don't own. The best RPGs do that (ever try stealing in a Piranha Bytes game?) as it's just a bit immersion breaking if you can just wander into anyone's house and loot their belongings.

Kill that Freaking Mage
Again, a fantasy environment like AD&D, and most likely an isometric type of game (not always though). First thing, whether you're facing one mage or more, the primary concern is to neutralize them. Engage with a melee fighter, silence them, or hold spell; whatever the choice, keep them from casting spells, especially AOE types. And the absolute worst is when those mages get off a domination or charm spell. Brutal. Not only do you still have to neutralize the mage(s), but you have to contain your dominated/charmed companion without killing him or her.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
The mage is often a glass cannon. Healers can be, too, depending on the game. (Healing enemies is just as bad as harming allies - maybe more so, given the mental distress it gives the player!)

The Theft thing goes even further: stealing from the dead is an expected practice in RPGs. I'm not just talking monsters, either. As soon as anyone dies, be it friend, foe, or relative, they lose all claim to all property. You'll be expected to go way beyond simply going through their pockets, too. It isn't uncommon to leave their bodies lying on the ground with nothing but their underwear! (You can't take their undergarments, of course - that would be immoral.)

Also, in a party based game, joining the party means relinquishing all rights to all personal property. It doesn't matter if the thief's mother hand-made that scarf on her death bed - it adds a point to concentration so the mage is wearing it. The thief can wear the unwashed bedpan helm of +1 dexterity.

@Mazer is very much right! Very few games mess with food spoiling. I've eaten meat and vegetables that have been sitting on the floor for literally thousands of years!

Retired Proverb: Never wear anything that hasn't been identified
Curses were real back in the 80's and 90's. That nice, shiny, magical ring could be cursed and, if it is, you're going to have an awful time taking it off! Just use the items you've already got until you can get the new stuff vetted.
 
One of the big things I need to establish when starting a game is whether it's the type where you need to kill the big one first, then clean up the little ones or the other way around. Or sometimes there will be a healer that needs to be the primary target. I went for the 'damage you vs. difficulty to kill' formula instead.
True! This situation does definitely vary by game, and in the games I particularly like, happens less often. Because yeah, when you're just dealing with a mass of baddies, and one of them is a major damage dealer, best to get them off the board ASAP. Sandbox games in particular seem more forgiving of this, though they'll often add another wrinkle where a door or path won't open until the Big Bad is dead, who might not show up until you've taken out all his minions first.

P.S. If I die and get reborn as a video game monster, I'm coming back as a mimic that sits behind a waterfall.
LOL! Brilliant/evil.
 
Nov 26, 2021
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Remember the rule of three (spells). Enemy mages will always cast three spells that want to trick you into wasting your interrupt ability. It's the fourth one that will do the most damage or otherwise provide a boon to your foes that must be interrupted. Some enemies simply can't be burst down to nothing, and will heal themselves with this sort of spell if you attempt to try this method. Interrupt, silence, maze, do whatever it takes to stop them. Ever faced a lich with a Time Stop spell? Pay attention. Learn to dance the waltz.

Talk the Talk. In most games that allow it, Charisma, Speechcraft, Jive Talkin', or whatever your gud speek term is is the 'I win' button, especially if you savescum (which is, in itself, the win button). If you don't, there's no negative consequences for at least trying. Unless it's intimidation, you may get attacked or fobbed off, but never any good consequences because you amused someone with your attempt to be a big ol' meanie.

i suppose there is one i do and thats "When in doubt, take the fighter class" or gear your character to be combat focussed. - good for beginners, excel in the main key part of an RPG: fighting.
My own take on that is that the fighter is most likely unnecessary in a non-MMO video game, because fighting is inevitable and thus every class needs to have some fighting capability. Combat is more often than not an unavoidable staple of the game. And if the game can't be beaten without a fighter, then players go to forums and say the game can't be beaten in the way they want to play, and it will invariably be re-balanced and/or receive negative reviews. That's very meta, but it's my experience ever since the BioWare post-d20 way of doing RPGs. They are however decent choices for those who aren't familiar with RPGs, I agree with that, but I'd still say that it's not showing off the full potential of what RPG characters can be.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Rule of 3 (or 4): I don't follow, @Withywarlock? Games that even let me interrupt are pretty rare but, when they do, I won't typically let a mage live long enough to cast a fourth spell.

The charisma thing is sure true, though. With modern games, I find I'm gravitating toward charisma-based classes simply because the main character's charisma often determines the chances of being able to talk your way out of encounters. (With older games, there were no charisma-based classes. In the original AD&D, charisma was pretty useless.)
 
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Nov 26, 2021
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Rule of 3 (or 4): I don't follow, @Withywarlock? Games that even let me interrupt are pretty rare but, when they do, I won't typically let a mage live long enough to cast a fourth spell.
This is more for MMOs, particularly tab-targeting or otherwise real time ones. Enemy casters tend to either have a very limited or entirely unique spell list to draw from, and usually run them on 'rotation' (an order of which they cast their available spells.)

On a somewhat related note, notice how if their resources are visible, NPCs don't seem to ever run out of mana/stamina. The war of attrition players find themselves in is always in enemy favour (unless you're playing a Pirhana Bytes game; yay for armies of skeletons in Gothic.)

The charisma thing is sure true, though. With modern games, I find I'm gravitating toward charisma-based classes simply because the main character's charisma often determines the chances of being able to talk your way out of encounters. (With older games, there were no charisma-based classes. In the original AD&D, charisma was pretty useless.)
Indeed. I played a Sorcerer in Baldur's Gate because they're one of two classes that uses Charisma for their spellcasting ability, so being more likeable seemed like a boon. It was not.

But seemingly all games after 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons made better use of charisma as a stat. BioWare were one of the most influential devs to push speech as its own pillar of gameplay outside of d20 based games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, with Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins. Shame that came at the cost of doable math for combat resolution too. Gotta take the rough with the smooth, I guess.
 
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