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# MMORPG economy...

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Okay this is going to be as much a rant column as anything. The problem being that I''ve seen MMORPG economies almost collapse because of packrats. Rare items increase in number and they lose value because they''re no longer rare. Here''s a brainstorm I had on a way to deal with the problem of rare items not being rare anymore, I don''t know if it''s been done already or not but here it is. I''ll try to word this in a simple example(hope I dont confuse you)... you have a Sword of Death of High rarity you have a Dragonscale Armor of Medium rarity you have a Ring of Invisibility of Low rarity now let''s say you have 1000 people subscribed to play your game. Now a lot of games I''ve seen use a probability system where items with a High rarity have a lower probabilty of being gained. The problem being that the more people who play that enemy the more items of High rarity are found and the lower their value. So that Sword of Death that was once worth 10000 gold because no one had one is now worth 100 gold becausde everyone but the newest characters have one. Solution(I think): Make a system where items are found based on probability AND a ratio system. For Instance we would have ONE Sword of Death for every 100 people subscribed, ONE Dragon Scale Armor for every 50 people subscribed, and ONE Ring of Invisibility for every 4 people subscribed. That would keep the value of High rarity items at a more or less constant value. The way I see it when theres an encounter the computer would look at a database and determine if the quota for an item has been filled. If it has then there is no chance of gaining that item in an encounter, if it hasn''t then it adds that probability to the table for the creature. So for those 1000 people subscribed there''s only going to be a maximum of 10 Sword of Deaths, 20 Dragonscale Armors, and 250 Rings of Invisibility. Now if 4 more people subscribe you have 251 Rings of Invisibility, 50 more people-21 Dragonscale Armors, 100 more people 11 Swords of Death. If an item was lost or Destroyed then the quota is simply adjusted accordingly. Like I said I don''t know if this system has been used already but I thought it might work. It could be easily adjusted for different items. I''d be interested in any suggestions on it or thoughts on why it would or wouldn''t work. Word Up and Peace Out.

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It sounds good. However as soon as someone figures out the umber of items per players it going to turn into "now that that player has joined theres another sword of death...charge!!"

Alternativly, you could get a situation where there are a thousand people, 10 swords of death, and one player with all of them :-) He could then set his own price knowing that he has control of the entire world supply of swords of death. Actually thinking about it this might not be so much a problem as an intresting feature :-) You could have the first monopoly in an mmorpg :-)

Alan

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quote:
Original post by AlanKemp
you could get a situation where there are a thousand people, 10 swords of death, and one player with all of them :-) He could then set his own price knowing that he has control of the entire world supply of swords of death.

And then said player gets attacked, and slain by a mob of 800 players wanting one of those swords .

That does sound like a system worth considering. However, I would tweak the quota from time to time tostop players from guessing the exact number of items. One day the quota is 1 per 1000, the next, 1 per 1100. 8 hours later, its 1 per 900.

If there are more items in existance than the present quota allows, simply don''t create any more until the number left is less than the current quota. After all, equipment does wear out rather quickly when in constant use .

Virtual Worldlets, the home of online worlds

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Out of curiosity, why are you making the assumption that commonality of items is necessarily a bad thing?

Yes, things eventually lose value as there are more of them. Standard economics. But let''s look at this from the standpoint of pure player enjoyment. I would propose the following:

Players like to be under the impression that they are capable of possessing those items that make them more powerful.

Players are willing to spend large amounts of time to acquire the aforementioned items.

Players get frustrated when it is impossible for them to obtain items they deem necessary for their playing enjoyment, thereby detracting from game enjoyment.

Is it really that important that there only be 4 rings of uberness per server? Or is it more important that the player is happy because they have been able to make the effort (while paying you to let them make the effort, muwaha...) to acquire that item, even if it turns out that every player, after playing for, say, 6 months, has the aforementioned item? To be honest most people I''ve seen really couldn''t care less if their Uber Happy Super Spiff Sword of Rat Slaying is unique or rare, so long as they have one.

The fact that a single item becomes "common" doesn''t mean the collapse of the entire economy. It just means money becomes worth more. So long as you have a thriving game and the ability to make multiple characters, there will be a constant supply of new characters to outfit with rings of uberness.

Now, granted, you''re going to tell me "but, fel, if they all have rings of uberness they''re not going to want to play anymore!". Well, not true. Here are some ways you can make the game drag out for the rest of your players natural lives:

1: Hang equipment from every possible part of a player''s body. My EQ characters have I believe 20 different slots in which to put items. That''s a lot of item gathering.

2: Make items situationally specific. For instance, a certain dragon might require the player to have a sword with fire resist that does cold damage. The player''s "super-uber sword of cold resist and fire damage" does diddly for them there.

3: Make lots of uber items. Make people passionate about debating the virtues of one uber item versus another. This will make people want one of each so they can try them for themselves. More months in the subscriber base trying to get them all... woot!

4: Make items class specific, then make a heck of a lot of classes for players to play through. Be sure to give them plenty of character slots for this.

5: Make getting the items tough. Don''t take away the ability to get items due to numbers, take away the ability due to the fact that the thing that drops it only shows up once a week, or takes 30 people to kill. EQ is maddeningly good at this. Grr.

6: Make the uber items the result of a quest that takes hours of running around killing stuff and doing errands for random NPC''s. You can keep people busy for literal months this way.

7: When you think the economy is getting sluggish, spice it up by releasing a few more dungeons with Uber Inside (TM) stickers on them. Heck, sell it as an expansion pack. People on MMORPG''s love buying expansion packs because their friends have them and they want to be there, darnit. People on MMORPG''s will get up at 3am and go stand in line at EB to be in the new dungeon first.

8: If you really want to cut down on the number of Uber Warrior Breastplates of Sparkliness, then make it so that you can''t give the Uber Warrior Breastplate of Sparkliness you found to anyone else. It then becomes immune to economic forces upon the rarity of the item, and becomes a matter of "you have to go kill the nastiest mob in the game. Here''s a sword. Good luck. *snicker*"

-fel

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I had a very similar idea on a project I''m designing. I like the idea of having people fight over items like hungry animals. Isnt that what MMORPG''s are for interaction with other human players, and considering greed is a comminality for humans, you could have some interesting situations, such as human controlled quests requiring you to track another player down to wherever he might be to retrive a certain item that the person who sent you on the quest will either reward you or you can keep it until he or someone he hires hunts you down.

"There is humor in everything depending on which prespective you look from."

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You should also consider that usualy players own more than one character,so you will have 1000 players and 4000 different characters which mean that only the oldest one will ever own a "sword of total destruction".
I think the solution is simple to let items to be not invulnerable...after a while, the items will be lost forever.
At this time you can think of implementing something like a smith in order to repair damaged items,and this will also introduce a new skill (maybe a player only skill-->ie:no NPC will ever repair your sword of dominion).

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Like I said the system is easily modified to adapt the environment and what you''re aiming for. Hopefully the ratios wouldn''t be common knowledge but if they were it could be adjusted server side without the public knowing.

As far as whether having an abundance of items is a bad thing or not, there''s two heads to this coin as well. If a player has a very rare item it gives them a sense of pride in their acomplishment, and they''re more likely to keep playing because of what they are proud. Now if everyone else got very rare items they lose that sense of pride and the bragging rights that some people enjoy having. They wouldn''t nessesarily get frustrated if they still have other things to occupy them. In an MMORPG there''s not going to(or shouldn''t be) just 1 ultrarare item to desire. With enough variety players will be dreaming a long time into the future of what they think their char could do with this item or that.

Another thing(and mabye its just me) is that veteran players like being able to distinguish themselves from the newbs. However, when that superduper weapon is so cheap that lvl 1 players can afford a full suit of the best armor and start off killing lvl 20 monsters, veterans lose interest because there''s now nothing to differentiate between the two groups. As long as there are rare items vets keep the sense or distinguishment and newbs are looking at these vets and saying to themselves "Someday I want my char be that powerful." So now you have both groups hooked.

Sorry bout that sorta went off on something else there. But thx for pointing out those issues. Those are real good suggestions Fel, thx.

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I also like the idea I''ve seen in some games where items become imbued with experience when you use them. In other words, the item itself becomes more useful with age as long as you have it equipped. If you are to sell/give this to another person, it loses that experience and so the person receiving the item needs to start at ground zero. This encourages players to hold on to their items--the value of a 40th level sword of sparkliness is much more than a 1st level. This might help to stem the proliferation of items.

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What the hell is an uber and where can I find one?

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If you want to distinguish veteran players from newbies, the obvious way would be experience-based levels, not items, unless the items are not able to be transferred between players. Strength of the character should be due mainly to character development, not item, in my opinion.

But, as I pointed out, making uber-mobs rare is a good way to make items "unique".

Take for instance, my level 56 Everquest druid, Lanys T''Vyl server. She is wearing a neat-looking piece of equipment called a "golden efreeti breastplate". There are, to my knowledge, 4 on the server (the server has approximately 2000 people on it at any given time), hers was the first. There is no rule on the number of golden efreeti breastplates. It is rare because first off, you have to be level 46 (out of a maximum 60) to even go to the plane (sort of like a dungeon) that it drops on. You have to organize 36 people to go up to the plane thanks to the difficulty. You have to perform key quests across 5 islands covered in nasty high-level beasts to get to the island with the being that drops the breastplate, and the being that drops it only spawns once every 24 hours minimum. It takes approximately 12 hours of fighting, if you''re doing well, to get to the fifth island. You will at a very minimum lose about 30% of your raiding party in attempting to defeat the monster that drops it, as the monster that drops it is 63 (top level for any player character is 60) and does truly massive amounts of damage very quickly. If you do manage to kill it, the breastplate is an extreme rare drop, so the breastplate only drops off the monster one in an estimated 50 or so kills. To compound it, the breastplate is "No Drop", meaning I cannot give it to any other player. Considering that the server has been up a year and a half now, and there are only 4 bp''s, I think the strategies I mentioned work quite nicely in making certain items rare.

I am, by the way, very intrigued with the idea of a player "imbuing" equipment with "experience".

-fel

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There is a major problem with most games these days. To put it in a figurative sense, the "Sputnik hasn''t reached Mars yet". If you don''t know what I mean, then here''s a better construction: "Why aren''t the Beatles still alive?".

In fact, the apple has dropped. Who knows who it will be, or where it will happen, but we won''t be there.

Don''t worry, it won''t hurt you. The RPG of life is real.

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um... okay.

Can I have some of whatever you''re smoking?

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quote:
Original post by felisandria

If you want to distinguish veteran players from newbies, the obvious way would be experience-based levels, not items, unless the items are not able to be transferred between players. Strength of the character should be due mainly to character development, not item, in my opinion.

The problem with doing that, is you''re back to the age-old problem of higher-level characters becoming walking tanks, able to absorb more damage when stark naked, than most newbies are capable of with full armour.

I, for one, don''t believe that this is really the way to go. Just because a character has gained more knowledge and skills, does that mean the knife should have a harder job slashing into their bare flesh?

Putting the strength in items is one way of levelling the field. A veteran in their birthday suit is as vulnerable as a day-old newbie, the only difference being, the veteran has their array of honed combat (and other) skills to fall back upon.

A newbie might well become equipped with all the best stuff, but without the skills to defend themselves, lets see them hold onto it.

Virtual Worldlets, the home of online worlds

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Sounds like it would work well. An alternative is to make the most powerful items be randomly created. (Or hand code lots and lots and lots of items...) It''s a similar concept to what the Diablo games do, only the system needs to be 100 times better than how Blizzard did it. The game engine I''m working on will do this. With a good magic item creation routine, a game engine could create a MASSIVE number of different items. There''s more to it: The monster carrying this powerful item will also be using it. You want the item? Good luck! Give the players a large variety of items to go for - they''ll never be able to get them all.

_rpg_guy

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Just drifting slightly off topic, that''s not a bad idea.

The only items the creature is going to drop are the ones its actually using (plus a random chance of another item if the creature has a venturepack, or other container). That way, it would be easier to see if the creature was worth attacking:

Just examine the creature. If its not carrying a "polearm of severed limbs(+24, vampirism, 10% decapitation)", and instead is carrying "A severed tree-trunk(+50, no-chance-of-you-being-able-to-carry-this)" then there''s no point attacking the creature.

Virtual Worldlets, the home of online worlds

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If there''s really no difference, ability-wise, between a day old newbie and a veteran, then customer loyalty as brought upon by character investment (which is a HUGE thing when it comes to the reason people keep playing for years) becomes impossible, especially if your game is designed in such a way that makes it easily possible to lose the equipment that makes your character feasible. Like, say, UO is. PVP situations make this especially bad, because you will wind up with a bunch of pk''s in the best equipment, and anyone who chooses not to be a pk will be driven out of the game by their complete inability to make any headway.

-fel

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This is an extremely interesting topic for me, since I''m currently developing game mechanics for my RPG, and economy is one of two very important factors. (Relationships between social orders is the other one.)

Even after playing both Diablo''s, I had never considered using randomly-generated items until reading through this thread. Blizzard''s system cranks out far too many crap items for high-level characters. Even in the Chaos Sanctuary, 90 percent of the items I find would be useless in the hands of a 1st-level character, let alone in MY hands.

The solution is to make items more rare, and to make them generally more powerful. In Diablo II, the power of items found in corpses is based on your character''s level, though the monster''s own level has a large impact. I say do the opposite and base it mostly on the creature''s level. This means stronger kills will yield better rewards, which is the way it should be. And like _rpg_guy said, the monsters really should be using the items themselves. It''s only fair that way.

Any good fantasy world will have a handful of singularly-unique and powerful items, like the artifacts in Daggerfall. These are the items players will really be proud to own, because there''s only one in the entire world. Hell, I can see full-blown wars breaking out over possession of such an item. Things like this could really add to your game''s longevity.

Diablo II has its own share of equivalents. Set items (green) and unique items (gold) are both singular in the world, although almost all of them can only be found in random corpses, thus making it nearly impossible to acquire them all, no matter how long you play. In my opinion, no singular item should be found on a random corpse. Each should be gained through a quest of some sort. This also gives you a good reason to further develop your game''s setting.

I agree that sharing uber-items with newbies has always been a problem in online gaming. My solution is to enforce level restrictions on all magical items (non-magical items can be used by anyone). I went farther by saying you can''t even touch the item unless you meet the level requirement. Doing so will give you a healthy zap. (Level restrictions are displayed as soon as you look at an item, so you don''t accidentally fry your lvl-5 warrior on a lvl-90 battle axe.)

Furthermore, my game world is divided into 19 planes of existence, each of which has its own level/status restrictions so players of lower planes cannot travel to higher planes without first bypassing those restrictions. Items in higher planes are, of course, stronger. So are the adversaries.

TechnoHydra:
Restricting items by a direct ratio is not nearly so efficient as using EverQuest''s example of hard-to-find items. If you allow three mega-swords in the world, players might find all three of those swords during the first ten minutes of play. Then there''s nothing left for anyone else to hunt. I''d say it''s better just to let players keep looking with the knowledge that someday they will eventually get what they want.

And definitely implement level restrictions. It''s only fair.

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felisandria, I agree, if there is no ability-difference between a veteran, and a newbie, there''s no hard-wired encouragement to keep going - it all depends upon the community.

However, that is never the case. Veterans, by their very nature, are more skillful than newbies. Therefore, they are more likely to hit in combat, and less likely to be hit.

What I believe though, is that should they be hit, the only thing that works to reduce the damage done (as a percentage of their total health) is armour.

Should a newbie with excellent armour fight a veteran with virtually no armour, the veteran would still have the advantage of being able to kill the newbie quickly (newbies are renowned for not being able to hit the broadside of a barn with their attacks), whilst their practiced dodging skills enable them to escape relatively unscathed.

Once the newbie is no more, should the veteran take the armour (assuming it fits their race), and use it in combat against other veterans, it will eventually break.

Once the armour has broken, the chance of repairing it successfully should be inversely proportional to its strength (leather armour is much easier to repair than plate mithril). This means that the more damage-absorbing armours are unlikely to be repaired, and so drop out of the world quickly. Meanwhile, the cheap-and-nasty stuff, like leather and cloth can carry on being repaired ad-infinitum.

The net result of this would be the super-armour would stay rare and valued, whilst the average stuff steadily devalues.

Virtual Worldlets(link now fixed ), the home of online worlds

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Okay I have no idea where to start now. I wasn''t expecting this many responses, but I''m not going to complain. I''m all for a system of randomly gained items, the thing I was trying to stress was the part about the nessecity in some instances for a qouta for the max number of that object. A variety of high powered items with diff strengths/weaknesses might make up for this quota.

The weapon experience thing is interesting too. Although instead of the weapon gaining the experience, what if there was some sort of familiarity variable between the player and his/her weapon/armor/etc. Or something along those lines. Players are more likely to use what they have and less inclined to horde stuff in the interest of being prepared for every situation. I think the experience thing is better(in my opinion) then the idea of not allowing players to trade at all.

If there are certain drawbacks/restrictions to weapons/armor then you wouldn''t have all powerful and invincible godlike players. The idea about only the using a enemy is using being whats available has potential, but the problem is that that enemy is gonna be hunted constantly by players and te rest of your world will be ignored. The lvl restrictions on items is great but it would require careful balancing. And you would have to make sure there is enough variety for players of all lvls/classes.

The weapons and armor wearing out over time is an excellent idea. I''ve seen it used in games like The Realm. The repair/creation skills brought for a whole new area of skill specialization. Using this skill you can implement some sort of Smith or Merchant Class(or both) that can repair/id/make items better then anyone else. (That part wasn''t really related to topic but it really doesn''t matter anymore) And on a final note I have to fully agree with fel/DM on the fact that trying to keep all parties(vet/newb) interested is a nessecity of any game that hopes to a future.

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What I think is that if you want any hope of a good economics system, is having all the items fixed... every single one of them.

The only way of making more items, is to, of course, make more items, and this would of course consume other items... such as

lump of steal (mine from somewhere - limited mine) --black-smith-->
long sword (can be found or made) --very-powerful-wizard-->
Long Sword of Goblin Geoncide (rare item - prehaps have to pay wizard with somthing) --High-level-quest-->
Long Sword of the world (gods have givin you a unique enchantment not unique weapon)

And for each new user, prehaps just knock up the number of lumps of steal available by a bit

Now the problem I see with this is the magic used in stage three can be counted as infinate. Magic realy screws up this system, by adding an infinate component to it.

A way of combating this would be to link magic to consumables, such as healing potions, food, etc.

I dunno, prehaps I am just rambling, I have found a few holes in this system, but prehaps someone can fix them for me?

ANDREW RUSSELL STUDIOS

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Those are some interesting ideas Andrew, but I''m not sure I see it as being very successful in an MMORPG. The first problem I see is that if there''s a set amount of steal available and it''s all used up you''re going to have to find some way of introducing more without upsetting the balance. If everyone is low lvl when the game starts and they all use the steal to make low lvl/quality items because they dont have the experience to make anything more powerful, then when they do get to higher lvls the quantity of steal is too low for them to do much with.

So you''d end up having to implement some sort of recycling method where they reforge it or something similar. If they''re getting experience doing this though then you get lots of people sitting around reforging things all day and being high lvl without really experiencing the game. They will quickly run out of things to do.

If there''s no recycling system and the resources get used up then new players coming into the game wont get any resources when they start because vets are standing around those mines just waiting like vultures. I like those ideas too Andrew but I don''t see it working unless there''s a lot of micromanagement by the people running the show. Anyways I''m probably rambling too now so I''ll shut up.

Oh and instead of magic you could use Alchemy which would definitly rely on a reagent system so it wouldn''t be infinite and you could still have powerlike abilities.

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Firstly, I totally agree with DM about veterans being just as vulnerable when it comes to taking damage as a newbie. After all, veterans are no more or less human (or what ever race) than newbie. The difference comes through the skills and equipment gained.

On the topic of weapon experience, I think that's a good idea but would make more sense implemented as a player's skill with a weapon. It doesn't make sense for an actual weapon to gain experience. Also, experience could be with weapon types rather than specific weapons. E.g. A player that has good skill with long swords but has never picked up a broadsword in their lives, would be more formidable with a long sword + 2 than a mace + 4.

Players shouldn't be aware of the items that exist in the world, they should only know about the ones that they've come across or heard about. Players definitely shouldn't know how many of each item are available on the server. This would add to the fun of the game as the players would be exploring an unknown world as opposed to the players roaming the world hunting for items. I think this would help to ease player obsession with power maxing. Also, when a player comes across the they should immediately know what it does. They should have to go to some means to identify it's attributes, whether that's casing a spell or taking it to a magical weapons merchant, etc.

On the same note, players shouldn't be able to identify items another player is carrying, all they'll see is the actual weapon which they may or may not recognise but no info will pop up about the sword. This way players won't be targeted as much because they're carrying a flame blade + 20. Only those that know what one looks like would be able to tell that he's carrying one (and even then it might not be completely clear cut - long sowrd +2 or long sword of speed?), to the other players it will be apparent that he's carrying a magical sword (from the bright aura around it) but they'll have no idea which one it is. This would also make players think twice about player killing - Is he carry a super powerful magic broadsword +15 or a lowly broadsword + 1 or even a cursed -4.

- Kaijin

"The student who is never required to do what he cannot do never does what he can do." - John Stuart Mill

Edited by - Kaijin on April 28, 2001 3:29:22 PM

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Or try the Paranoia solution.

Players have a rank or level. They are not legally allowed to possess items of a higher rank, but the items that they are allowed suck for the adventures they are prompted with. Therefore everyone will have some illegal equipment.

Possessing illegal equipment is a capital offense and every good citizen (adventurer), as well as the NPCs are empowered to kill a player with illegal equipment.

So now the players need the equipment to survive the adventures, but also need to hide it from everyone else. If you admit that you have a higher powered weapon than you should (which includes giving it away) opens you up to getting pounded.

Of course, killing someone without cause is also a capital offense. If you kill someone for exposing a high-powered weapon then you have to forfeit the ''evidence''. Or at least some of it.

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That''s a cool idea JSwing!

Although I think it is a little campaign specific as you''d have to come up with a reason as to why that was so (e.g. A warrior nation where you''re not allow to possess a weapon that you are not yet worthy to wield). I might be better to have weapons that are just plain illegal to have (e.g. A dagger of backstabbing, ring of deceitfulness, etc). While powerful and providing a definite edge there are grave consequences to possessing such items.

This would be better as it doesn''t rely on the level of the player, I personally don''t like the idea of players having to be a certain level before they can use an item as it is very unrealistic. They should still be able to use them powerful item but it takes a real master to bring out it’s true power (e.g. a short sword +20 might only be confer a +5 bonus in the hands of a novice).

- Kaijin

"The student who is never required to do what he cannot do never does what he can do." - John Stuart Mill