As the title suggested, this thread will be about randomized NPC encounters, that will give you a follow up story depending on your choices. This is one feature that I have never seen in any RPG. However I think it would be interesting.
The first thing that come to your mind about randomized NPC encounters might be "Hey, I seen this before! Final Fantasy games are full of them! You randomly meet foes in the world map travel." Well, I am talking about something very different. Those encounters in Final Fantasy do not have a follow up story. Once you beat a mob they die, and you will never see them again.
Another thing that comes to your mind might be "Hey, I seen this before! Dragon age has them! For example Zevran Arainai. When you first meet him he was you enemy. After you beat him you can kill him, spare him or ask him to join your party. All 3 leads to different effects in the game." Well once again this is different. Zevran isn't a random encounter. The players will encounter him no matter what.
Instead, I am talking about a mixture of both of the above. For example let's say 200 of these random encounters scripts were created, 20 major ones and 180 minor ones. The player will only ever see maybe 10 of them in a single play though. So for any character, there is a 5% chance that they will encounter each of these NPCs. But this percentage increases if the player was in a party. They will meet the NPCs that his party members were supposed to encounter, so the chance is higher than 5%. This gives a side bonus to encourages party play.
Furthermore these encounters is already decided from birth (e.g. when that character was created), so the player CANNOT farm for these random encounters. They have to start a new character to see other encounters.
So just like real life, some people/creatures you are destined to meet in life. Some you are destined to never meet. And these encounters are totally separate from the regular NPCs and quests that you must do. In other words, these random encounters are side-stories. Of course, there can be cases where these side encounters can affect the main story and the main missions, depending on the player's choices.
Names and Skins:
These random NPCs will each have their randomly generated name. In other cases, the player gets to name the NPC whatever he/she wants. Furthermore, the looks (skins) for each of these random NPCs will be slightly different for everyone. Height, weight, skin colour, etc.
The reason for this is to make these personal encounters. No one else in the world would meet Bob the Charr except you. The other players that encounters this same script would encounter a totally different Charr for themselves. Amy the Charr for example, with a totally different skin.
So let's say in one of the encounters, the player killed a bunch of Harpies and found a very young Harpyling. The player cannot bring himself to kill this little creature, so instead he decided to raise her up in his adventures. So this Harpy, from a race that is always hostile to humans, joins the human player on his adventures. She would have a randomly generated name, or a player given name.
Now, there is a 5% chance for other players to also get a Harpy ally. They would have a different name for their Harpy. In other words, that Harpy is personal to the individual. There is no one and the same.
These random encounters will go something like this.
Enemies-When first met this NPC is a foe. After the player beats him/she, he can decide if he want to kill or spare that NPC. In some cases, the player can convince that NPC to join his group.
Friends-When first met this NPC joins the party on a quest. After this quest, the player can either bid him/her farewell, or in some cases ask him/her to join the player's group.
Ally-When first met this NPC were, usually, in need of the player's help. The player can decide to save the said NPC, or let him/her to die. After this quest, the player can either bid him/her farewell, or in some cases ask him/her to join the player's group.
-The 2nd,3rd,4th,etc encounters
Some NPCs you will meet again throughout your play though. The final effect will depend on your choices along the way.
If the NPC dies that usually means the end of that chain of stories. However there might be exceptions. (I will see you again in the Underworld!!!)
Assuming that the NPC survives the encounter, later on the player will find that NPC again. Generally one of the following will have happened.
=Become a commoner. Live a normal life. (very common for NPC allies that you saved.)
=The person/creature is not what him/her seemed to be. The player found out much later who that actually is. The said person could be a dark lord or a princess. Alternatively he could have become the leader of a mighty guild. There are many possibilities.
=Positively help the player in some way. Either offering items, or suddenly appearing to help the player out in some pre-selected quests as an ally. Maybe even love interest. In other cases the quest got changed altogether. (e.g. The player was supposed to fight though an enemy to get to the boss. But that enemy happens to be an NPC's uncle. So instead that enemy was convinced to join the player's side, and together they all fight against the boss.)
=Negatively hurt the player in some way. Either by making a mission tougher by helping out the enemy, or starting a new quest chain where the player have to finish the NPC off.
In other words, enemies might not always be enemies, and friends might not always be friends. On the other hand, enemies might become even worst enemies, and friends might become lovers. And each NPC is personal. Once again, I have never seen this in any RPG before.
Good idea? Bad idea? Discuss.