life after death
In the game Temple of Apshai (sequel to Gateway to Apshai), if you died in one of the dark dungeons beneath the desert, there was a chance one of three other adventurers (a priest, a dwarf, and a mage) would recover you. One would take all your gold as compensation, one all your gold and magic items, and the last everything. It was a way for a person to keep playing after dying, accepting a penalty and moving on.
In Phantasie II, if your party was wiped out, they would appear before a demonic face who judged each member. You would either be resurrected, returned to the world undead, or destroyed.
These are pretty simple examples from the C-64 days, but occasionally having an option to recover from the ultimate screw-up, death, would be nice.
consequences that preclude reloading
In Phatasie II, the goal was to slay all of the giant monster minions of your arch-enemy, Pluto. They were scattered all over the world and there were about a dozen of them. One day, returning to town battered and mostly dead, hauling a mountain of loot, we were ambushed by Pluto's Giant Constrictor. It was an epic battle and at the end I lost Frodo, my halfling thief. There was no saving during combat, resurrection was much too expensive for a level 4 party, and if I reloaded I would have missed the battle entirely since they were randomly placed, so I had to let him die and hire a new, level 1 thief.
Games should strive to include situations with hard choices like these, where going back for a re-do would cost you something.
This one is really underused. It typically only appears once or twice in a highly scripted situation, like in Baldur's Gate 2. In Jagged Alliance 2, there were places where if your team was hopelessly outgunned, the enemy would offer to take you prisoner. After that, these NPC's would vanish from the game. They could be recovered if you broke into the enemy's prison. Another result would see those NPC's get the chance to escape from the prison and join up with their comrades again.
Other possibilities abound: holding NPC's for a ransom or getting into a highly fortified area by being captured, for example.
It would be nice if opponents surrendering were a natural part of their scripts, not every time of course, but maybe 10-20% of the time. You could earn an appilation like "the Merciful" or "the Dreaded" depending on whether you gave your cowardly foes a second chance.
This begs another question: why would a lone goblin or orc attack a party of eight seasoned adventurers on sight? I would think some kind of groveling parley for intelligent, but outnumbered creatures would make sense.
hiring mercenaries- last one, I promise
This has been implemented, but only done well that I've seen in JA2, where almost everyone is a merc. The question about mercs is always: What's to stop me killing him and taking all his stuff?
The answer in JA2 was the medical deposit of several thousand dollars for all but the feeblest of mercs. You also had the option to buy the merc's starting equipment. If you disbanded your merc while he was hurt, you'd also forfeit a percentage of the deposit. Of course, they had to be paid too. In an RPG, presumably you wouldn't be able to hire out any more guys from the guild if you lost a few, or maybe they would send some of the boys out to have a little talk with you about their missing friends.
All of these things would require some basic re-thinking of the old CRPG model, but in the context of classic, turn-based RPG's I think they'd be a worthwhile endeavour.
Cyclopean - an HP Lovecraft inspired Role-Playing Game