One of the things I’ve been meaning to mention about ZTK is the fact that many monsters, when severely wounded, try to flee. That’s not something we see much of these days in other RPGs.

The last time I can recall watching monsters run away was in the early Ultimas. There may have been other games that had this feature, but none come to mind.

In a typical combat, all the opponents fight on to the death. This is silly. When you see your side is being wiped out, why stay? I can allow for some exceptions, such as a certain monster being totally fearless, or enemies with a code of honor.

Otherwise, though, it would make more sense to escape and survive to fight another time. Of course, it could be annoying for the player to see opponents making a hasty retreat. I was certainly annoyed when that happened in the Ultimas. “Hey! Come back! You’re not dead yet!”

Yet it didn’t really matter that much, as there were always more combats ahead, and plenty of enemies to kill, even if a few of them slipped out of reach. Besides, I could retreat from a fight, too, so it was only fair they could do it.

It seems to me that combat would be more interesting if enemies had some morale factor that kicked in when things were going poorly for them. I’m not talking about “boss fights”, but the “every day” type of combat. The grind we endure to build up our characters.

There’s always talk about making NPC AI “better”. This is one way it can be done: smart enemies who don’t stay to suffer inevitable death. Run away! Run away!