I have been reading my copy of Exploratio and that got me thinking how one could model some of the things appearing in it in a roguelike game.
The thing of course is that while Roman military and political intelligence was a joint effort, my roguelike game is mostly single character effort (at least until I get the societies up and running). There isn’t any sensible interaction between player character and NPCs at this point. Pretty much only thing one can do is to either avoid combat or try to overpower the enemies. But all is not lost, there’s still couple things that could be added at this point.
There’s currently three player characters: adventurer, warrior and master engineer. Adventurer is your typical roguish character, while master engineer is close to wizard. Upon entering on a new level, they can notive subtle hints right off the bat and give hints to the player. Adventurer for example could detect faint footprints and from there deduce which kinds of creatures currently inhabit the level or which type is the most common. Warrior on the other hand can read the general layout of the level and guess if there’s some type of special room present (armoury for example). Master engineer has cabability to find out if there has recently been alterations done on the level in order to add traps or what’s the generally preferred type of trap.
But it would get really tedious if every time player enters to a new level, they would be encounter the same hint: “hm.. I see rat footprints here”. So it’s important to have varied messages, different types of information and occasional failure to detect anything at all (with varied messages here too, of course). Amount of little quips of text one needs to come up is not that high, but it’s still more than just one or two lines per character.
Should the information presented be accurate and truthful? If there’s chance of false information, players might choose to ignore hints completely. In this case they would act as annoyance only. Does it give too much information if the presented information is always truthful and exact? Probably not. The knowledge that the most common trap in level is huge pits that can be seen from miles away isn’t exactly too powerful. And this can be further toned down by providing purely flavor messages: “Construction of these walls reminds me of the 2nd Speculatorii War”.