Thursday, November 30, 2006

Weapons and Equipment

I have a few theories on weapons and equipment I would like some feedback on.

The first is regarding weapons. I never liked the idea of classifying a weapon in only one category. Not only does it remove weapons differenciation (A scimitar cuts a lot more than a two-handed sword, but the latter will still hurt more), but it does not accurately represent weapons in the real world. I have devised a simple system for weapon damage; each weapon has a number of points of each basic type of damage (blunt, slashing and piercing) associated with it. For example, a knife would do a small amount of piercing damage while a poignard would do small piercing and small slashing. A short sword would be partly slashing and partly piercing, while a bastard sword would be partly slashing and partly blunt. This way, you can accurately represent any kind of damage imaginable; and if this is not enough, you can always make weapons with more than one contact points (say, a spear does piercing on its point and blunt on its lenght).

The second theory is similar to the first, in that not all armor defend the same amount against all weapons. A chain mail armor is great against slashing and piercing, but does next to nothing against blunt weapons. Similarly to the weapons' theory, I believe armors should have different defences to different types of damage. Again, if this is not enough, feel free to add damage reduction by body parts.

A theory I came up with, which I believe to be quite interesting, would be regarding the functioning of magically enchanted items. One could envision a world where permanently enchanting items is impossible. Items, to keep functioning, would require the magic power of their wearer. While wearing magic items, adventurers would see their magic potential diminished by the power of the items worn or wielded. While a warrior would not care much about losing magic power, he would not have much to spare to begin with, and wouldn't benefit from greater magical items unless he found a way to improve his reserves. A mage, on the other hand, could wear a great number of magical items at once, but would have to think carefully before putting any of them, lest his powers are too diminished to fight.
While not perfect, this system would add a little more spice to simply chosing the most powerful items available.

If you have anything to say about these theories, feel free to leave a comment. And don't forget to tune in tomorrow for my thoughts about crafting.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Skills Theory

I said yesterday that a hardcore gamer could try to master all skills. That is simply enough remedied by having skills slower to learn when one has many of them (in term of total skill points, not total skills at more than 0%).

This also has the added benefit of being easy on newbies; new players will learn their skills fast, for having few of them. Advanced players can still expand their skill knowledge circumferencially to those they already possess, allowing them to learn skills at a decent rate.

Now, I cannot go any further without explaining what a skill is. A skill is not something that allows you to perform an action. A skill is like a character's level in itself. Improving knowledge of a skill allows you to chose an action. You may, for example, elect to spend a few points from your Slashing skill to learn a new move to use with weapons with slashing damage; or maybe improve your accuracy or damage with slashing weapons. You may use your points in Magery to learn any number of spells, provided you have enough points left and meet the minimum skill requirements.

With this in mind, it would be possible to have actions that require more than one skill. One could see how backstabbing would require points in both Stealth and Piercing weapons. Summoning a greater elemental could require both Magery and Elementalism. Mounting and Animal taming could be used to have your mount learn a few more commands.

I think, at this point, anyone can see the advantages of the Linked Skills system. Of course, there are drawbacks, too. For one, beginners would be hard pressed to create a character without using one of the default templates or following an hour-long tutorial. Casual gamers lacking dedication would find the game too hard to learn, if they decide to jump right in at character creation. This is unfortunate, but I don't think asking newcomers to chose between templates and long tutorials is too much to ask. It should be easy enough to create templates for any class (and have them being downloadable for added convenience), and an in-depth tutorial would be needed either way (you could even have the tutorials be offline, for even more added convenience).

Compared to the drawbacks of classic Class and Skill systems, I believe the Linked Skill system is a strong contender; certainly not to be ignored. Expect much complaining from fans of either side, but we all know you can't please everyone.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Class of Skills

The Class versus Skills is an age-old debate (and by age-old, I mean appeared a few years ago on the internet), and I won't bore you with details of my opinion. I'm pro-skills, for the most part.

The main problem which I wish to address regarding regular skill-based games is the possibility to build a successful Jack-of-all-trades. Your practice of swordsmanship does not deter your ability to fling spells at the enemy, summon demons or sew your own shirts and pants. While it is admirable that developpers wish to ultimately give the players the freedom to build their own class, such freedom should not, in my opinion, be complete.

What I envision is a game that is strictly skill-based, but with skills being linked to similar skills. For example, the Slashing skill, allowing you to use weapons which deal slashing damage efficiently, would be linked to the Blunt, Piercing, Blocking and perhaps Woodcrafting skills. What this means is that someone who is proficient in using slashing weapons would have an easier time picking up the basics of blunt and piercing weapons, doesn't have a hard time learning how to use a shield, and learn to craft things out of wood more easilly. You could always pick up skills that have no link to skills you already have, but such skills would be much harder to learn (skill level increasing slower).

In this regard, a class would be a template for a pre-defined role; a suggestion of a build, no more. Players would be able to create their own character from scratch, picking a few (say, 3) primary skills that start at a decent amount, and a bunch (say, 6) of secondary skills that they start with only basic knowledge in. They would be free to pick skills that are far-away in the skill maze (TM), but those skills would level slowly, and wouldn't necessarily work well together; nor would they have many skills that is close to more than one or two of their starting skills that they could start from scratch and not feel like wasting time trying to level.

I feel my post has been less than clear, so let me explain the idea with an example. You have Bob the Paladin, who has the following skills :
Primary : Slashing (weapons), Defence (spells, from physical attacks), Healing (spells)
Secondary : Blunt (weapons), Blocking (shields and weapons), Protection (spells, from magical attacks), Leadership, Smithing (crafting), Mounting (horses, etc)

Those skills are pretty close in the skill maze. Defending with a shield is close to defending with defensive spells, which in turn is close to healing. Leadership would allow the paladin to gap Mounting and Protection. Finally, the use the blunt weapons is similar enough to smithing that Bob can take care of his own armor.

So here you have Bob the Paladin. But you could build your paladin differently. Maybe Alice the Paladin doesn't care much about smithing and blunt weapons, and instead wants to learn to use spears while riding and cast Holy spells. Maybe Charles the Paladin doesn't care much about that fighting thing and instead wants to learn music and animal taming. Each player can play however they want, and form nearly limitless possibilities.

Of course, the truely hardcore gamer could spend twenty hours a day trying to master all skills; for that, there can be other limitations. But those will be for another day.

First Thought

Right. The first post.

Thoughts of a roleplayer will be a collection of thoughts about the computer roleplaying and, in particular, the massively multiplayer roleplaying game industry. There won't be much me in this weblog, except to discuss my opinions of the roleplaying games industry.

Instead, what I will offer is a bunch of ideas that have been bouncing in my head, or that I have read elsewhere. I will present to you what would be my dream MMORPG.

So stay tuned, and feel free to offer your opinions or send me links you think I should link and / or discuss.