Design Philosophy: Taking away the PC's stuff - any alternatives?

This is more of a general question from an avid player who last dabbled in creating modules ages ago, so I’m not asking about concrete and detailed solutions (I’m not working on anything). I’m just curious about the possibility of different approaches, since I’ve recently run into this issue repeatedly:

The plot of a module requires the PC to get captured and imprisoned, and everything they own is taken away from them, so they have to make do without it until they manage to get it back.

From a storytelling perspective, I understand that it would look ridiculous if the captive was left fully armed and equipped. And I totally get the appeal of having a section in the module where you can’t rely on your overpowered magical stuff and you’re suddenly vulnerable again and have to start from scratch. It can be quite exciting in fact. The problem is that it interferes with the players’ customization of inventory and quickslots. Any meticulous sorting and setting up that the player might have invested time in is completely disregarded in this approach, and when the PCs regain their equipment, it will be a chore for the players to pick up all items individually, sort them anew, and drag them into three rows of quickslots again. It’s seriously ruining the pace and trying the players’ patience.

So I wonder, is this the only way to do it, or has anyone ever come up with more clever ways to handle this that respect the players’ time? Can NWN EE remember the setup of inventory and/or quickslots, and if not, what could be viable workarounds?

Thanks for any input!

The author can re-equip the equipment slots exactly as they were before the strip (or equip the better of the original and current item).

It’s not possible to restore the unequipped inventory layout or quickslots, as far as I know.

I may be wrong, but I suspect that even the new JSON methods in EE don’t allow that information to be rewritten on a player.

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Could the items be sorted by type, e.g. one chest with armour, one chest with weapons, one chest with potions etc. like on a merchant’s shop? Or would that come with the risk of some items not turning up again?

I also remember that sometimes the content of bags got lost or spread among the other stuff instead of staying in the bag, when given back to the player. Do you know why that is?

There is an Inventory Sort mod which does something like that (with caveats).

Wouldn’t help everyone - for example, players who use each page, and position within page, for different purposes would need the exact layout to be restored.

I suspect that’s a result of poor scripting, not a game bug. Personally, I don’t use containers in my modules, because that simplifies scripting (but then I have companions as mules).

A partial alternative which I can think of would involve a lot of custom scripting so that when the PC is “captured” they get to keep their items, but they’re all suddenly non-working (call it an anti-magic field, if you like) and they only start working again after the PC does something in particular (such as destroying the source of the anti-magic field).
It would take a LOT of scripting, but it might be workable if you’re willing to go to all of that trouble.

Cannot think of an alternative, but a method of operation, perhaps…
I am also not a fan of having my gear removed from my character. As this is so annoying, I will not force this on my players in any adventure. That being said, I also think a writer should have some creative freedom. So if there is an exception to be made, I believe it is the writer’s responsibility to pre-warn a PC if something like that may happen. For example, in one of my adventures the player is being evicted from town. As this may already have happened to other NPC’s, they actually warn the PC that this may happen. This way the player can decide if it is worthwhile setting up quickslots etc. or wait until some event has happened. As a side note, the player doesn’t get his gear confiscated in my adventure, but all gold is taken by the “new” ruler upon eviction, so in this case the player was pre-warned that all money needed to be spent asap or even hidden somewhere.
In my humble opinion, it is not the responsibility of the game itself but of any writer/builder to know the consequences of any actions enforced upon the player. If the adventure you build doesn’t please the player, the player may leave/stop/go elsewhere. But in the end, it’s everyone’s personal taste that counts - there are so many different kinds of players/player styles - some folks might enjoy having their gear taken and having to find it or replace it, not because they are masochistic but because they like the challenge. But no I don’t have an answer how to implement any clever scripting, but my advice to all players and builders is to think & plan ahead, to use your intuition/insight, and to use plot hooks to warn and inform players of possible happenings. Does that make any sense?

I don’t think that the lack of containers makes scripting easier. What could be a problem?

Sounds like inventory items with inventory themselves.

There’s some fixes, but don’t know if variables are preserved and how easily detectable the fact you drop/copy say a magic bag with any random item in it. (I.e. item unacquire at least did not fire for that case in 1.69 iirc).

You’re talking about the plot of Hordes of the Underdark. You wake up to find a drow in your room and while you manage to kill her, it isn’t before she teleports your stuff away. You then have to make do with equipment that is clearly below the module’s recommended starting level in terms of quality until you can find better and will have to go through a large army of Drow in Undermountain to get all your awesome stuff back.

As a player, I don’t have a problem with this type of item stripping because you do get your gear back eventually. When it’s returned to me, I use it as time to reassess all the stuff I have been carrying around. I always find a few things that I never use and could sell. I really do have a tendency to hoard wands like I’m some crazy wand hoarder. What I hate is when there’s an item strip, and you never get any of your stuff back ever.

Now from a building point of view, my campaign setting is Ravenloft of Cthulhu. This means that if your player character is wearing any sort of traditional wizard or monk robe that normally would be acceptable in Ravenloft, they will instead look like cultist. Rather than doing an item strip, I’m just going to have a module setup area to deal with all housekeeping stuff like:

  • explaining setting changes to Ravenloft that the PC should already know (example: don’t harm or kill cats, especially in Ulthar)
  • assist with changing the appearance of equipment to conform to the module (plus can change back after)
  • chests to store equipment that will be useless in the module (also available when leaving to pick stuff up)
  • remove no drop plot items on the way out (modules really should clean up after themselves)
  • NPC that will buy stuff, either going in or leaving
  • pet a few cats because cats will be found almost everywhere