Wasteland: A Landmark of RPG Innovations

NPCs, attributes, and harsh reality

NPCs With Depth



Non-player characters aren't just inventory bags that can shoot, like they were in other RPGs of the time. NPCs in Wasteland have a small amount of depth that, while it can hardly be called artificial intelligence, still flesh them out and make them more real.

For one thing, it is not uncommon to have an NPC refuse to interact with characters that have low charisma. Vain, yes; but a reality. If you tell an NPC to trade his or her weapons or ammo to a player character with low charisma, that NPC will most likely refuse to trade. Along these lines, an NPC can be fickle and refuse to do something for no other reason except that they don't feel like doing it.

NPCs also fight with a bit of personality. Certain NPCs are trigger happy and unload clips at the slightest provocation; others will size up the threat and fire a single shot, a burst, or unload full auto depending on how much trouble the party is in.

Usuable Attributes



Your attributes (strength, IQ, speed, agility, dexterity, etc.) not only make up who you are in Wasteland, but can also be directly applied to get past certain situations or puzzles. Here are some of the many situations you can apply your attributes towards:

  • Need to bust down a door and don't have a crowbar handy? (U)se Strength.
  • Trying to get some information from a local? (U)se Charisma.
  • Need to balance across a thin tightrope or scramble up a wall? (U)se Agility.


This small tweak makes your attributes feel more tangible instead of just being a description of who you are.

Thinking Skills Required



Might makes right in most battles, but Wasteland was one of the first RPGs to stress puzzle-solving and thinking to get past a certain area. So much so, in fact, that sometimes you need to apply intelligence--literally, by (U)sing your IQ attribute--to get past a certain area or puzzle. Most of the puzzles in Wasteland are just the right blend; they're challenging without being too frustrating.

Harsher Player-Character Handling



Death is permanent; once you're dead, you're dead. There are no magic spells or procedures to ressurect dead characters or otherwise have them fight alongside you, not even as a human shield. This harsh reality makes each tough battle exciting, and makes retreats a more inviting tactical choice.

Players can also detach from the party and go about their business, but non-active players still follow the same timeline. This means you can't leave a sick person in a room somewhere and expect them to sit there in suspended animation while the rest of the party gets healed up enough to take the sick person to a doctor.
Continued: A picture is worth a thousand words -- unless...

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