So, I don't often post about non-DnD things, but I felt like it today. I recently saw on Steam that they have the super ultimate mega edition of Dragon Age: Origins for sale. I already own Dragon Age, but this ultimate edition has Origins, Origins Awakenings and a butt ton of extra little DLC quests and such. Even having previously purchased Origins, it was still something of a deal for me.
The game starts out pretty niftily. There are three races and three classes to choose from, the only rule is that dwarves can't be mages. Anyway, each race has a few beginnings to choose from that give you a bit of a story to play through. Little vignettes to play through that explain how you ended up as a Grey Warden fighting against the darkspawn and whatnot.
The game was developed by Bioware, perhaps you've heard of them. Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate, etc. I only mention it because there is a lot of party interaction and side quests, much like there was in Knights of the Old Republic and the Baldur's Gate games. Your companions have thoughts and ideas and opinions, and they will leave you if you piss them off too much.
The game is fun and you gain levels and loot and all manner of nifty things as you play. The story seems decent as well. They're definitely not breaking any molds here, but it all works. I haven't beaten it yet, but it is a pretty good story so far, and the main quests are fairly good as wells. Some of the sidequests are good as well, others are hilarious. As you walk around in the game world, your party members will engage in conversation with each other as well, which can be grand at times.
Anyway, the thing I find the most fascinating is the whole friendship mechanic of the game. As you talk with your party and make decisions, you can gain favor or dislike with your allies. If they dislike you too much, they just up and leave (possibly with all the badass equipment you just bought to equip them with).
On the flip side, as you give your party members gifts and get to know them through conversations and appease them with actions they approve of, they like you more. If they like you enough, they'll eventually (some of them) give you a quest specific to them. Before you get quests though, as you gain favor with a character, their abilities will improve. The assassin gets more dexterity, the tough fighter gains more constitution, the golem gains more strength (or constitution, I can't remember which).
It is a really neat mechanic that reminds me a lot of Planescape. One of the coolest things you could do in Planescape was talk to you companions. If you talked to them enough, and helped them work through some of their issues (or fuck them up more), it altered their stats and abilities.
I think that is really cool, and is kind of what I'm basing my Pathfinder NPC on. I mean, he won't be getting stat upgrades or bonuses based on stuff the players do. His skills and feats will be determined, to a certain extent, by what the players say to him. The more interested they are in him, the more pseudo-control they'll have over what he develops into. I dunno, I think it is neat.