The following is based on some discussions on Hearts of Oak on "Player Career Choices". However, it contains a lot of brainstorming of mine on how PotC currently works and what I would like to see changed, either in PotC itself or when these sort of things are implemented in HoO. The below covers the different values PotC has to handle "keeping score" and "progression" and such: Character Level Gaining XP gets you to level-up; on each level-up you get an ability point that you can spend manually. At least ashore, enemy characters are generated to be similar in level to the player. So you won't get Level 50 characters when you are Level 1 yourself. (This seems rather arbitrary/arcadey to me) Ideally I would like the game progression to NOT be "you are a one-hit kill at the start" to "you are Superman at the end". Instead, I'd like to see the focus of the game shift throughout the game. So you would have different stages, such as: 1. Learning how the game works at all (tutorial) 2. Gaining experience in "staying alive in 1-on-1 fights" 3. Learning how to sail a small ship with a captain and crew (crew management tutorial) 4. Doing basic navigation by yourself 5. Doing basic trading by yourself 6. Gaining experience in small ship battles 7. Gaining experience in "staying alive in fights with multiple enemies", possibly with the help of officers 8. Start boarding ships rather than running away/sinking them; possibility to get bigger ships this way 9. Get a Letter of Marque or join the Pirates or a Merchant Guild 10. Start doing missions/gaining relation points and rewards 11. Start delegating navigation/trading/crew management tasks to officers 12. Move up to bigger ships, get into larger sea battles 13. Get involved in politics, such as infiltrating/blockading enemy ports or affecting other nations' economies in other ways 14. Gain fame through doing this, leading to cooperation with other pirates or being introduced to governor's nieces/daughters, etc. 15. Start dealing with "estate management" 16. Get involved with diplomacy so you get the make/break alliances yourself 17. Start capturing towns 18. Start managing towns 19. Try to keep the towns 20. Conquer the world By the time you get to the end, you shouldn't be doing the same things that you were doing at the start of the game. You might hardly even participate in the sea battles anymore; you'd be much more involved with the "large picture". That makes for a huge progression that isn't "just numbers" but rather an intricate part of the gameplay. It also makes for huge replayability, because there are so many things that can go different in that whole process. Character Abilities You can choose any ability that isn't still locked because of: - Not having prerequisite abilities - Player level still too low - Specific player action required (can be tied in to certain quests OR career promotions) Health Points: Increase together with Character Level. It is possible to apply a "bonus" using the Apothecary. Ideally for Hearts of Oak at least, I would be VERY interested in a situation where the difference in HP between a low-level and high-level character would not be excessively huge. So a Level 1 character COULD win from a Level 50 one if the actual player is very skillful (or lucky). Character Skills You increase these by using them. They go from 1-10. Ideally these should go from 1-100 and it should take FOREVER to max out so you will NEED your officers. This isn't quite the case yet though. Crew Money This is the "ship fund" from which you pay all your expenses. It is basically the normal money that you deal with day-to-day. Personal Wealth Doesn't really serve a purpose, other than to keep score (see "Fame" below). You can donate it to the crew to actually make use of it. If "marrying" and/or "estate management" become a thing, then your personal wealth can be used there and may even be required there for the "general upkeep" or to pay for improvements. There are different ways of getting this: - Receiving salary every month (maybe this should happen ONLY if you are a Merchant or Naval Officer?) - When Dividing the Plunder as a Pirate or Privateer (SHOULD this even apply for Privateers at all? Or not? See below.) - When selling legal Prize Ships as a Naval Officer (maybe also do this for Privateers?) Being Married At the moment PotC basically has this as a "yes/no" situation. It doesn't serve so much purpose. So what purpose SHOULD it serve? Social status? It IS factored into "Fame" (see below). Maybe getting children? Can that also be added into the game? More status? Or perhaps a "backup" for when your main player character dies? Could you build a "dynasty" through the ages? What other advantages? Why would you want to spend personal wealth on a wife? Reputation Ranges from "Really bad" to "Really good". It changes based on certain player actions. For realism's sake, I want to change this soon so that many small actions will NEVER give you an amazing reputation. Amazing reputation should require LARGE actions. Also, perhaps a "lack of actions" should make your reputation drop down to neutral again over time. If you have a GOOD reputation, you should get some benefits from that, but also if you have a BAD reputation. "Being a nobody" means that nobody knows you nor cares about what you do, but it also means you get no benefits from being known and you don't actually get much of anywhere in the game. And now that I think about it, a suggestion by @Flannery may provide an answer to a question I was about to ask about "The Blackbeard Effect": If I understand the story of Blackbeard correctly, he worked very hard on building a fearsome reputation specifically to encourage ships to NOT put up a fight, but surrender. But if you have a reputation for being evil, why would your victims want to surrender to you? So my new idea is now as follows: - If you capture a ship and leave no survivors, then there will be ZERO effect on nation relations and reputation - If you slaughter the captain, but leave the crew alive, then you DO get negative reputation and relation points - ANY high reputation (both good and bad) will increase your Fame and high fame means higher chance that false flags are detecteed, but ALSO higher chance that ships surrender to you, rather than putting up a fight This then finally means that having a BAD reputation can be a GOOD thing. So you get the choice: Do you want to get a higher fame at the expense of getting negative relation points or do you want your piratical acts to remain unknown? Relation Points Through your actions, you can gain or lose points with the various nations. Below a certain level, and they won't want to trade with you. Go down even further and they'll be openly hostile. On the lowest level, you should be actively hated and be pursued as an enemy wherever you go. And on the opposite side of the spectrum, "zero points" means you are fully Friendly to that nation. National Ranks To gain points above zero, you can do so either as Naval Officer OR as Privateer (but not both at the same time). You can even gain points with the Pirates AND with nation(s) as Privateer AT THE SAME TIME. This eventually gives you "Ranks", which come with rewards. These could be: - Unlocked abilties - New ships - Swords - Officers - Land I am not clear how to tie in "Merchant ranks" with this, because "Merchants with Letters of Marque" did historically exist. Does that mean you gain ranks as a Privateer? Or as a Merchant? Or both? For a single nation? Do those points stack? Would there be DISadvantages to doing that? My first thought is that in this case, you should gain points AS A MERCHANT. So while you COULD take legal prizes, you wouldn't get Privateer ranks and rewards. Fame In PotC this has mainly been a way of "keeping score". Your relation points are added together. Personal wealth is added too, as well as your amount of land and whether you are married to someone of "high social status". At the moment it basically serves no purpose, other than a NEGATIVE one because "being famous" means you can be more easily recognized and will have a hard time with "covert operations/false flags". I have the idea of adding Reputation as a factor in here. So if you have a HIGH reputation (really bad/good), then you also get a high fame. If your reputation decreases back to neutral, your fam drops too. And of course there need to be ADVANTAGES to fame as well. Possibly have certain national rank promotions require certain fame levels. Then you'd have an incentive to WANT it. Served Nation This is a relatively new development in PotC and is used to determine where your loyalties lie. If this is a normal nation, then if the nation relations change for that nation, your relations change to match. This will be the case if: - You are a Naval Officer for a specific nation - You have a single Letter of Marque - You started the game with a specific nationality selected (this also determines your starting relations, of course) If it is "Personal Nation", then your relations are NOT tied to those of any other nation. But for gameplay's sake, the various nations do not actually object to that. This can happen if: - You have MULTIPLE Letters of Marque - You started the game with Personal Nation selected (this makes all nations Wary of you, except for the usual hostile Pirates - so they're not HOSTILE, but you will need to earn their trust) It can also be "Pirate", which is very similar to it being "Personal" as your relations don't follow another nation either. This can happen if: - You selected "Pirate" as your starting nation - You chose to officially join the Pirate Brotherhood (note that you can do this IN ADDITION to getting legal Letters of Marque) - You have committed enough capturing/sinking of non-pirates ships without a Letter of Marque that you are now considered a Pirate Unless you choose to join the pirates, this does NOT immediately turn every single nation hostile to you. So having "Served Nation = PIRATE" is not necessarily an excessively bad thing. But it IS risky. The actual risk that you run in this case is still somewhat up for debate. At the moment in PotC it is handled as: You may be randomly recognized as being a pirate in ANY non-pirate towns and get attacked for that. That can probably do with some reconsidering and improving on and I'd welcome suggestions on it. One thought is that perhaps you should be considered a "Pirate" ONLY by nations that are actually hostile to you. So there would be "normal hostile" and "Pirate hostile", where the second option would be more dangerous. Final Points I think PotC's system has the potential to support ANY situation that might be desired, though it currently isn't yet "fully developed". In fact, we only really started building on it this last year.