Combat needs a knockout state

Ok, I’ve finally gotten up to the 25+ Hearthlings, Hard Mode orc campaign and I have to say the combat is starting to really take off tactically, mostly because of archers (which take an inordinate amount of time to get to when playing Rayya’s, by the way). The fire arrows let you force particular enemies to stop what they’re doing and run away, which lets you use archers as “Crowd control”, and this in turn lets you defeat superior numbers of enemies if you’re willing to get a little fiddly.

It would still benefit from some more strategic depth – i.e., more weapon choice for footmen and knights, different weapon types with different abilities, etc.; potions need a better interface – but overall the framework is much more playable and fun than I had expected it to be, once you get to the midgame/late game.

There is one major remaining issue though: Because the combat is still pretty chaotic, it is largely an exercise in saving and reloading. Once enemy numbers and levels get high enough, they can drop even a Knight pretty quickly (especially when there are enemy archers so you can’t maneuver the knight to safety as easily). If your attention lapses for a moment, you’ll lose soldiers that represent a VERY significant investment of time. So you reload. Which is mildly annoying and breaks immersion.

So, suggestion:

Old school D&D had an optional “knockout/bleeding” rule; when a character hit 0 hit points, they were knocked out, and began to bleed, losing a hit point every round for ten rounds; when they reached -10, they were dead.

I think Stonehearth needs something similar for Hearthlings in combat. Players have too much invested in their dudes to lose them instantly and irrecoverably, and a character that’s just knocked out and recoverable won’t mean an instant reload and thus won’t wreck immersion.

What I’d propose as a suggestion:

  • Characters that hit 0 health take a dirt nap and fall over unconscious for a period of time.
  • They get the sleeping thought bubble and a long-lasting (say, three days) debuff to move speed, muscle, and morale.
  • Cleric can heal knocked-out character’s health but cannot remove debuff or wake them up (this may require some AI tweaking so clerics don’t waste all their heals on unconscious dudes when the rest of the fight is still going on).
  • high-tier herbalist bandages can remove debuff.
  • Enemies will attack unconscious hearthlings but only if there are no other active threats or live hearthlings nearby.
  • If knocked-out hearthlings go to -100% health (i.e., they’ve taken total double damage), they poof and turn into gravestones as current.


*Just to clarify, this is for hearthlings only, not enemies. For one thing it would be too much to track for each enemy; for another, enemies don’t have the hearthlings/rest mechanic so the debuff doesn’t make sense for them.


I like the concept, this could be incorporated into the normal portion of the game and be selectable for the hard mode. In sense have a normal, Kind of hard and Hard mode to better meet individual play styles.

Having this as an option may address the concern that @AaronD had about the equipment level restriction and making a come back after having a single combat wipe during mid game.
Level Restriction for equipment really needed?

But not force it on player that enjoy and want the “Hard Core” challenge like @Doctor_Neth

1 Like

Yup, the bleedout/unconscious rule I’m drawing from here was specifically marked as an optional rule in the player’s handbook (even in a game where all rules are by their nature optional). From what I remember, though, pretty much every AD&D computer game (baldur’s gate, pool of radiance, etc.) made it the default normal rule, though some may have had a hardcore-mode toggle to opt out of it.

1 Like

I started with the red box when elf was a class LOL :smile:


Yeah, we’re dating ourselves pretty badly here, I’ve been basically quoting the 2nd Edition AD&D player’s manual :stuck_out_tongue:


This reply got pretty massive. In lieu of editing it I’m just adding a TL;DR

I also think this kind of thing is a problem. Being able to accept a loss and move on always seems like a key part of games like this. Well, any game where you have individual named units with experience progression. XCOM (Not the DOS one) and Tactics Ogre both had problems with this.

Wow, yeah,Tabletop DnD would be really bad about this, regardless of the death and dying mechanics. Whenever I’d lose a player I’d always just let them reroll a character of the same level. Otherwise I’d have all my encounters improperly balanced and let a friends evening be ruined just to be fair to the imaginary monsters :frowning:

Tactics Ogre is a case study in mismanaging death mechanics. Experience was super important so you couldn’t level up a replacement without this super tedious training process. The remake implemented three different solutions which were in conflict with each other a bit, I think two of those would function all right as a stop gap for the same kind of problem in Stonehearth.

  • Every Character had three lives until they were dead ‘for real’
  • There was a three turn window to revive a fallen ally or complete the fight to save them
  • Classes gained levels instead of characters, so they were easier to replace
  • There was also a rewind button, but that sort of rendered everything else irrelevant, like I said a case study in mismanaging this

The second solution is a simple version of what you were describing, but I think the first option has as much possibility. I’m really curious if its possible to mod this in.

  • Every hearthlings has three lives
  • A dead hearthling revives in 24 hours at the banner, with one life removed.
  • The third death is permanent

I’m calling this the ‘arrow to the knee’ solution because it lets characters retire from adventuring to work in town. If you have a unit drop to one life, they could change jobs. You would be losing combatants but still maintaining your population. You could also switch them back to a combat class if the situation looks particularly dire. Job switching is all ready a core mechanic so I think this integrates fairly well.

I also like how your solution integrates a role for the Herbalist, since there’s little reason to have them currently. I think that could also work here, a high level herbalist could craft an Elixir to restore a single life. The behavior for consuming it would be like the current system - there’s a debuff based on the current hp fraction that seems to trigger the ‘wait for healing’ behavior, a debuff could also be used to track missing lives.

TL;DR: Giving hearthlings extra lives (:heart: :heart: :heart:) means combat losses still have consequences, but wouldn’t be bad enough to feel like they demand save scumming.

Sorry for hijacking your thread, this just seems like a solution to the same problem. I’m usually hesitant to bring up complicated prescriptions like this, but I’m really interested in seeing it implemented. I’m going to look into the files and see what I can come up with. :smile: