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my new(?) idea for a skill system

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well I dont know if this has been done before, I've never seen it in any game I've played. Anyway, for an RPG skill system, here is my idea: a skill for each type of weapon. a skill 'requirement'/tax for each actual weapon in the game basically, a character's skill defines not only their proficiency in the weapon type indicated, but also how powerful weapons are that they can use, it does this with the following: characters skill - weapon's skill requirement = proficiency for given weapon EG: a character has sword proficiency 100, and he is using a "flaming broadsword of madagascar" which has proficiency req. 56. His actual ability to wield this particular sword would be 100-56.. 44. I'm still trying to figure out how I would implement combat & such with this system, but it would involve lots of comparisons between the ability of the character & their enemy, ie: comparing their currently used weapon proficiency for working out chance of parrying, accuracy, etc. would also involve base statistics such as speed/agility, etc.. (for Damage by a weapon I'm thinking it would be a value multiplied by the strength of the user or something along these lines, minus the enemy's armour damage modifier or something. quite a bit more complex than that buy I dont have my notebook with me.) Skill development would be based on use of that particular skill, rather than arbitrary "skill points" or "experience" from killing things/completing quests. This idea mainly arose from my hatred of "general" character levels (eg: "my character is a level 63") Im an advocate of skill-based systems - I dont like classes - they close off so many possibilities. Classes should be represented through a combination of roleplaying, equipment selection, and ability, rather than an arbitrary "class" attribute. Anyhow what do you think of my skill idea (and is it actually new? it seems like a pretty logical way to do it to me, so perhaps it has been done before - id like to see if it has) *edit* thinking it over, it seems like a fairly simple modifier system, so perhaps im just coming up with the same answer that has already been used before, its just being described in a different way so appears to be different

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Well I can tell you it's been thought before (I have a similar idea), but I can't tell you it's ever been done before. One suggestion I might make though:

You could maybe add more to the equation like weopon practice:
character skill + weopon specific practice - weopon requirement = proficiency
And weopon specific practice would have an equation all its own.
weopon class exp = the exp of every weopon in the class
(weopon class exp/3) + weopon specific exp = weopon specific practice

That way each weopon requires practice to use and you have more realistic training parameters.

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Why would a better weapon be harder to wield? I for one would surely think it should be the other way around, almost per definition. I'd take a katana over a claymoor any time, because the katana is easier to use effectively and thus a better weapon. I'd also prefer a crossbow over a bow, but I suppose that would have been different if I was an accomplished archer.

I'm taking that this disadvantage is off-set somehow by the better weapon's intrinsically better qualities, but it still seems somewhat counter-intuitive to me. What's your reasoning behind this?

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Katana fanboyism aside, I agree, a finer, more amazing weapon should be easier to weild.

So instead of having the weapon's quality subtracted fromt he user's skill, how about setting those plateaus based on weapon class? Say you've got your basic straight-bladed shortsword. It's not too long, it's got a pommel for balance, you can cut with both sides of the blade, this thing's a breeze to use. A trained dolphin could fight with it. So "Short Sword" requires no skill, and is a good beginner sword. An ubermagical divine short sword of artificial intelligence, likewise, is well balanced and easy to use, and has the added benefits of purifying evil, shooting lightning bolts and balancing your checkbook. Good on you for finding it.

A long sword is a lot like a short sword, but it's heavier and there's a more pronounced risk of cutting your foot off with the thing, so it gives a -10 to your overall competence, but its various benefits, like reach and power, can outweigh the cost, especially if you get a suped-up version.

Claymore is heavy, so it's a -25, but well worth it.

Katana, scimitar, sabre and cutlass have no counterweight and only one cutting surface, so it's -40 for those bad boys, but the curved blade give a huge bonus to slashing-type damage against soft targets withint their optimal range.

A rapier requires a whole new mindset, is used primarily for thrusting, and has little defensive value. -50, but it has a chance to defeat armor by being shoved through some poor dude's armpit or something.

And on and on. If you can swing it, it might be worthwhile to look into a value for weapon familiarity, which affects individual items. If you've been carrying a standard longsword for a few months, you know its ins and outs and the nuances of its balance and weight really well, so you get a little +5 bonus when you use it.

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ICC, I'm in love with what you say...

Will you father my children, so that I can get away from home and continue to play PnP RPGs?

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Quote:
Original post by Dargor
Why would a better weapon be harder to wield? I for one would surely think it should be the other way around, almost per definition. I'd take a katana over a claymoor any time, because the katana is easier to use effectively and thus a better weapon. I'd also prefer a crossbow over a bow, but I suppose that would have been different if I was an accomplished archer.

I'm taking that this disadvantage is off-set somehow by the better weapon's intrinsically better qualities, but it still seems somewhat counter-intuitive to me. What's your reasoning behind this?


Have you ever been through martial arts training?

When I went to a martial school I was first taught the least effective knowledge. And even though some of the "more" advanced things were easier, I still couldn't learn them until the easier stuff because they don't let you do what you aren't prepared for. Even though I could possibly do the moves of what that place called a black belt (but finding a black belt in America and in the martial art's originating country are two separate things) I wouldn't be as adapt as the "experts."

Weapons are the same way. You can use a weapon and do the moves alright, but your proficiency would be low because you need experience with the lower things first.

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Its more about limiting what people can use in the game than having any real world links, but I do agree that finer weapons require much more finesse etc.

Imagine an unskilled person swinging a katana. . how many of their own limbs would they remove?

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Quote:
Original post by Splinter of Chaos
Have you ever been through martial arts training?


I have indeed, for four or five years, I think.

Quote:
Original post by Splinter of Chaos
When I went to a martial school I was first taught the least effective knowledge. And even though some of the "more" advanced things were easier, I still couldn't learn them until the easier stuff because they don't let you do what you aren't prepared for.


Funny that. For me, it was exactly the way around. The first thing they taught me was to punch people in the face or solar plexus without breaking my hand (and using hip movement for maximum power) and kicking people in the groin, abdomen or knees. That's some of the most effective things you can do in a straight-up fight, only rivaled by sweeping and -- if your physical strength and size allows it -- headbutting.

Quote:
Original post by Splinter of Chaos
Weapons are the same way. You can use a weapon and do the moves alright, but your proficiency would be low because you need experience with the lower things first.


That's an interesting point. When I think about it, you are in fact quite right. A quarter staff, for example, is usually better in the hands of a novice than for example a longsword. With skill, however, the longsword suddenly gets a lot better and the quarterstaff comparably much worse. Iron Chef Carnage's system admirably encapsulates this facet of it in my opinion though, so I fail to see what our disagreement is.

With the quarter staff, a beginner's weapon, you would get no penalty to your weapons proficiency. However, because it's really just a wooden pole, it only does 1 point of damage. The longsword, on the other hand, is a little more fiddle to use, so it gives you a -10 penalty to your proficiency score. This, though, is outweighed by the fact that it does five times as much damage as the quarter staff.

PS: My weapon of choice for most medieval-era straight-up close combats would definitely be some sort of pole-arm: keeping your opponent at a relatively safe distance is a huge advantage most computer games downplay tremendously.

PPS: I am assuming, of course, that your weapons proficiency is one of the deciding factors for whether or not you actually hit the other guy at all.

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Quote:
Original post by Dargor
Quote:
Original post by Splinter of Chaos
When I went to a martial school I was first taught the least effective knowledge. And even though some of the "more" advanced things were easier, I still couldn't learn them until the easier stuff because they don't let you do what you aren't prepared for.


Funny that. For me, it was exactly the way around. The first thing they taught me was to punch people in the face or solar plexus without breaking my hand (and using hip movement for maximum power) and kicking people in the groin, abdomen or knees. That's some of the most effective things you can do in a straight-up fight, only rivaled by sweeping and -- if your physical strength and size allows it -- headbutting.


That sounds less like martial arts and more like self defence, but that's just my opinion. Although, the fact you've been at it for five years gives it a little more credibility in my eye, I've always been taught that you can't learn anything that will hurt another person until you have been taught and are trusted by your master not to hurt another person. But I guess that has nothing to do with games, so . . .

Other than that I don't really dissagree with anything else you said.

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From a game mechanics perspective, this is essentially applying a penalty to the weapon. Let’s compare a high quality weapon H with a lower quality weapon L. For the moment lets ignore any situational benefits of one weapon over the other (for example a high accuracy, low damage weapon might be more useful against a swarm of low hp enemies than a low accuracy, high damage weapon.) In the general case, each weapon will have a single aggregate ability to deal damage. This might be expressed in terms of dps (damage per second) or something similar. (I'm not suggesting that this be an actual, explicit value in your game, but it is useful for comparing weapons.)

Under these assumptions, the penalty (p) of the weapon will lower this value and any benefits (b) of the weapon will raise it.

For the weapons defined above:
v(H) = Hb - Hp
v(L) = Lb - Lp

Now consider the rates at which b and p scale between the weapons (db and dp). If db > dp, then H will be "better" than L, but by a smaller amount than if Hp was 0. Essentially, the penalty just makes the rate of advancements in weapons slower, the same effect would be had by simply decreasing the rate of increase of b, and removing the penalty. If dp > db, then L will actually be better than H.

In order for p to be a useful addition to the equation, it can't be a constant penalty. The penalty needs to decrease as skill increases. One way to do this would be to make the penalty function discontinuous.

Set a minimum skill value for each weapon, if the player's skill is below that value, apply a penalty, otherwise do not. You could also make the function a curve with the penalty falling off as skill increased.

Assume that a penalty function Hp(s) is defined for each weapon. This function takes a skill value (s) and maps it to a penalty (p). In general, we'll also assume that as s increases, Hp(s) decreases. The equations for our weapons are now:

v(H,s) = Hb - Hp(s)
v(L,s) = Lb - Lp(s)

If db (change in benefit between weapons) is big enough relative to our penalty functions, then v(H,s) > v(L,s) will be true for all values of s. In this situation, the player is always better off upgrading to the new weapon. The value of her new weapon will increase (in a potentially non-linear manner) as skill increases. We could get almost this same effect by making the effect of skill progression in general non-linear, although this system does let us set the curves on a per-weapon basis.

However if db is smaller relative to the penalty functions, there could be a value of s where v(H,s) < v(L,s). In this situation, our player should hold on to her old weapon until her skill increases, and then switch. A similar effect could be achieved by placing a minimum skill requirement on each weapon. The only difference is that this system allows the player to make a sub-optimal choice if they wish.

Up to now, we have assumed that the player will always choose the optimal weapon; however, that assumption is worth examining. Again ignoring situational advantages of the weapons, there are a few reasons why a player might make a sub-optimal choice.

1. Other game constraints may be a factor. For example, if players have a limited carrying capacity, they may be forced to upgrade to the new weapon or leave it behind. This could be an interesting situation, but it could also frustrate players. Another factor to consider here would be how easy it is to find another upgraded weapon later once skill has improved.

2. The player might make a mistake. If the system is complex enough, then the player may choose the sub-optimal weapon on accident. For players who enjoy complex combat systems, these decisions are fun and the ability to make a sub-optimal choice is just another challenge. For other players, this may just be confusing. You'll need to consider your target audience here.

3. The game may not give the player enough information to make a valid decision. If the information that the player needs to make a decision is hidden, then the choice is simply going to be made at random. A complex system under the hood is only useful if the effects on gameplay are noticeable. The player may also be able to derive information by trial ane error. Some players will enjoy this, others will not. (see reoccurring debates on hiding numbers in this forum).

4. Ascetic reasons. The player may have an attachment to one weapon over the other. Don't underestimate this factor for some players, but I think it's outside the scope of discussion here.

Another idea might be to have the rate of skill increase tied to the quality of the weapon used. Using a harder weapon would give you skill more quickly (soft cap). Or perhaps to advance beyond a certain skill level at all you need to use a more advanced weapon (hard cap). This would give another tradeoff for the player to consider.

So far, I've ignored situational advantages for each weapon. I think these are important, and there are interesting effects available here. Options could include speed / damage / accuracy tradeoffs, defense / attack tradeoffs, advantages against specific enemies, tactical advantages, etc. If you tie only one part of a weapon abilities to the penalty, then it's situational utility will change based on skill level. At low skill levels the weapon will be less useful in some situations however in other situations it will have constant utility regardless of skill. This could be interesting, but in general it would probably be better to have the situational advantages simply vary from weapon to weapon.


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