TL; DR – I absolutely love the concept, but not the execution.
Single player, PvE, North America
I have tested out this mechanic. Here’s what happened at the Black Corsair encampment:
In the middle, there are four cages with prisoners inside. Only one seems to have an option to “open a door.” If you attempt to open that cage door, you get a “It is locked” message. To open the cage, you have to kill the jailor and take his key. The jailor is basically a T4 taskmaster. If you kill the jailor and loot his key, then you can go back and open the cage door. Immediately upon opening the cage door, the thrall inside ‘thanks you’ and becomes your thrall on the spot with a message like ‘Fighter I is following you.’
And once you use the key, it disappears. One key, one door.
I don’t know what happens if you already have a thrall following you. I was alone at the time.
And I could not see what type of thrall was in the cage until I got the door open. That could have been me not aiming my mouse correctly (needs further testing).
- It seems I’m only allowed to rescue one thrall. ← I don’t like that artificial limit.
- The thralls rescued seem to be a very low value. ← this was my first rescue, but it would seem that enemies would want to “keep” high value people and kill low value ones; granted my sample size is very low, so take that with a ‘grain of salt’ (for now).
- The thrall was ready to ‘follow’ instantly (no waiting on the “wheel of pain”). ← seems ‘too easy’
Give players more options with cages. Let players choose whom to rescue. Cages can have more than one thrall inside (perhaps unconscious and unresponsive just languishing in the cage).
The key should expire after a time limit, not immediately turn to dust. Let the one key open all the cages in the area. It disappears after leaving the area and after, say, a one hour time limit starting with its first use (it can be stored for later, but once used, it has to continue to be used or disappear). Or let the key have a limited use like the oils in the Unnamed City (short duration, not instantly gone).
Thralls in cages, if increasing the number of them, can still be random (like several in one cage – see #1). But if there’s going to be only one, then it should be a high value thrall – ‘worth keeping alive’.
Thralls should not be ‘instantaneously’ following the player. Let them be found in a ‘knocked out’ condition inside the cage. Let players pick them up (inventory) instead of being made to follow.
I would suggest that players who want to rescue thralls carry, instead of bindings, perhaps a portable stretcher pulled by a rope. The animation mechanic doesn’t need to change much (have the player, with the portable stretcher equipped in their taskbar press their ‘interaction’ key just like we do with bindings). The bindings pull the cloth stretcher with rope (same animation as used with ‘knocked out’ thralls). See below for example:
Whether to add a “stretcher” or simply drag the unconscious thrall back to one’s recovery station (see below) is optional. The same animation for bindings can be used in both situations.
Next, let the rescued thrall recover (like a weak and sick patient in a hospital). This should talk the same amount of time as a thrall in a “wheel of pain”. No advantage to how a thrall is “converted”.
So instead of constructing a wheel of pain, players construct a recovery bed (there are plenty of beds already in the game) - we don’t even need a “new” station. Just add the option to beds to make it able to allow a thrall to recover on it. Give it a place for an attending thrall, too, if used for recovery or the option for a spawn point like it just automatically does now (like a decision wheel setting when we command thralls behavior and tactics).
Add a new thrall to the game – healer. Instead of taskmasters at the wheel of pain, we can get ‘healers’ for our recovery bed(s). The bed needs to be stocked with aloe potions and/wraps or even ambrosia instead of just food on the wheel of pain. And the better the Healer, the faster a thrall can recover (so T4 named healers are valuable).
And if you want to add an even more complex dynamic, the better the healing ‘supplies’ that are added, the faster the thrall ‘recovers.’ Likewise, the higher tier the healer thrall is, the faster a thrall will recover. Upon full recovery, the thrall becomes a member of the player’s household just like ‘converted’ thralls.
This method keeps the ‘rescue’ mechanic consistent with the way Conan Exiles is played, doesn’t give any advantage to ‘capturing thralls’ either by enslavement or rescue, adds a new thrall type to the game, and adds value to existing resources (beds and healing mechanics).
Yes, this would require a little more work to make it happen, but I believe Conan Exiles would be better off for it. Devs, please reconsider the method of execution as to how players will rescue thralls.