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EmrldDrgn

Breakable Weapons in TRPG - Strategic or Annoying?

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In a tactical RPG, do you find breakable weapons make you think harder about your strategy, (and/)or do you find them annoying? By a tactical RPG I mean something similar to Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Personally, I think that breakable weapons can be an asset, as long as they're implemented well (I like Fire Emblem's system: fixed health for weapon, fixed damage per attack, no repairs possible), and not badly (see Dark Cloud for an example of "annoying" :) ). I feel they prevent players from simply grabbing the "ultimate weapon" and going to town on anything in their way, thereby enhancing the tactical aspect of the game. However, I cannot deny that nothing's more annoying than having your character die because you forgot to check weapon health. Especially in games (like the aforementioned Dark Cloud) where you spend the whole game leveling and upgrading your WEAPON. I eventually stopped playing that game because my 7th Heaven sword would break and I'd have to hit "reset" WAY too many times. Weapons that can break should, with a few exceptions ("ultimate" or other special weapons, maybe), be easily replaceable by spending a little money at the local shops. What do you think? Are breakable weapons good or bad, and what would improve the concept (with specific reference to the Fire Emblem system, described above)? I'd like to hear reasons, not just a "Good" or "Bad", if it's not too much trouble. Thanks!

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It's good, but not the system you've described.

If I was playing a game where my weapon could 'die' then that would piss me right off. I like Diablo's system, where if you payed a heap of money, you could get it professionally repaired, but if you did it yourself, the total durability (health) of the weapon decreased. It's sort of like in real life how you can keep fixing something, but after a certain point it's beyond repair. I don't know much about 'Tactical' RPGs, though.

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Bad. It's a time/thought/money sink with no discernible design benefit. The only thing it might do is provide a balancing effect towards skill/magic users since their stuff usually doesn't degrade. A stamina system is (imo) better if you want some sort of decrease in effectiveness or a mechanism to divert the 'one man army' min/maxing. More straightforward, more easily displayed to the user, less exploitable (weapon switching), less annoying in general.

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I'm just going to touch on swords and blades since I think that's what most comes to mind, at least for me. :)

I think it should only be used in rare instances and for logical reasons. I don't really care for the idea of a sword or knife being broken after a certain amount of time, though I think it can add some interesting elements to game play and depth if used correctly.

Obviously swords and knives lose their sharpness over time from use, and I think that should be more common than breaking. It should be relatively easy and inexpensive to fix...

You could implement this by having a sharpening stone like a whetstone as an item to buy, as long as a character has one it is assumed he sharpens his blade after each battle. After awhile the stone might get dull and then you'd have to buy another one. If you don't use a whetstone THEN your blade starts to get dull and will be easier to break.

If it was a cheaply made weapon then I'd be more lenient towards it breaking after awhile, even if it was sharpened, but there are plenty of instances where finely made weapons have stood the test of time. So if you had something decently made I wouldn't really expect it to break.

The only instances I'd really care for seeing my sword break is if I did something foolish, for example if I was fighting something made out of some kind of element that might weaken the blade; like stone, metal, ice, or lava/fire. I wouldn't really be surprised if I broke my sword hacking at it from all the stress, or it getting stuck and then breaking it as I pull it out.

I also wouldn't be surprised if my blade broke if I got into a fight with someone wielding a sword breaker in their off-hand. If a character has a sword breaker then there should be a small possibility on a parry that your sword breaks.

Mainly I dislike breaking weapons because it's just something else to micromanage and it just seems to be there as an annoyance in most games. Doesn't add too much other than having to run to a shop to spend money.

If you implemented it so terrain, strength, sharpness of blade, and physical elements play a part it'd be a lot more interesting. If you were backed up against rocky terrain and had a warrior of great strength barreling down on you with a sword, there'd be a good chance that during your dodging he might hit rocky terrain and possibly break his sword. Or get stuck in a tree if you're in a forest as another example. If the game takes into consideration that sort of thing you could tactically maneuver yourself into areas where terrain might damage their weapon to cover for your weakness in other areas.

It'd add a bit more tactical strategy to the game, though it probably wouldn't happen often. But I think it'd be satisfying as a player if you were about to die from some warriors blow but you managed to duck as his sword breaks on a rock and you kill him. It'd probably even be moderately bearable if you died and at least knew that terrain, strength, etc played a factor in why it broke, instead of just: "My sword is out of HP :("

Could also just have it break from the sheer amount of force behind the blow.

"I killed him so hard my sword broke :("

That's my rant on the subject.

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While not really a tactical RPG, I liked Vagrant Story's system.

All weapons have various stats that can be leveled up(elemental affinity, effectiveness against beasts/demons/dragons,etc). They also have a life(?) stat that falls the more you use it. If this stat falls to 0, all of the weapon's stats will be halved. You can repair the weapon before it breaks but there still are penalties like reduced durability or strength.

Instead of using it again after repairing, you can combine the old weapon with another to come up with a new weapon.

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Quote:
Original post by EmrldDrgn
However, I cannot deny that nothing's more annoying than having your character die because you forgot to check weapon health.

You can't have it both ways. You either want to force players to think, or you don't want to punish them for being too careless. Make sure it's easy to keep track of and effortless to deal with as long as the player stays aware of it.

Personally, I don't enjoy the idea very much. Within the context of most games, it's the equivalent of getting a flat tire during a race. It doesn't do much to measure your driving ability, but it completely knocks you out of the competition. It doesn't balance out very well.

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It depends, really. Fire Emblem balanced the weapons by making the weaker ones more durable, so it was worth carrying around a bronze weapon as a backup in case your silver one ran out. It also meant your units had to balance which foes to use the more powerful but more expensive weapon against over the cheaper but weaker ones.

However the big downside to all of this was keeping track of inventory, which was a real pain in the Fire Emblem game I played (Path of Radiance). It was a real hassle swapping weapons between units and ensuring that everyone had at least one weapon with enough hits to get through a mission.

If I were designing a tactical game with breakable weapons, I'd make it a lot easier to ensure everyone's got a workable kit out before heading off to a mission. Either I'd have a helper function that would auto-equip everyone with a basic weapon, or better yet give everyone a default standard weapon that's unbreakable and only use the breakable ones as effective limited powerups.

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I confess I didn't read the other posts yet but breakable weapons?

Bad idea. I've not bought games because I hate grinding levels only to find my weapon or armor broke and all my hard earned money goes to fixing it. This feels more like a chore then anything and I hate it.

Sorry, just my two cents. (And vent on breakable weapons!)

Edit:

I should have been more clear. Breakable weapons feel more like a punishment in my opinion. Its very frustrating to be in the heat of battle only to have your weapon break. It seems to break up the game play unnecessarily. If you wanted to implement breakable weapons I think there should be a way to "charm" the weapon during battle to heal it, or maybe cast some type of special damage to it (such as fire). I wouldn't recommend making the player spend exhorbant amounts of money and travel great distances just to repair a weapon.

Edit 2:

Oops you said "Tactical" RPG. In that case....ya I still don't like breakable weapons for the reasons mentioned above.

[Edited by - Chrono1081 on March 20, 2008 2:19:09 AM]

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If they wear out, then they should be expendable. I'd be all about a game where you can get a "Studded Leather Tunic" which, after getting a few dog bits and slashes and punctures, becomes a "Battered Studded Leather Tunic", and then a "Tattered Studded Leather Tunic" and finally a "Ruined Studded Leather Tunic" which cannot be worn. Then you go to the armorer and say, "I'd like a studded leather tunic made to fit me," and hand him some cash.

I do not want to see Glamdring with a nick in the blade.

If breaking is a tactical concern, then repair should be possible, and "broken" should be more of a status ailment than a removal of assets. A "broken" or "jammed" or "disabled" piece of equipment could be patched up on-site, taking some action points or a turn or whatever, or it could be fixed (automatically, ideally) between fights. Like in Front Mission, where you can shoot the other guy's legs until they're "damaged" and then he gets a movement penalty, or focus fire on his artillery module and take it out of commission without having to eat through his entire HP bar.

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What you could have is a two stage damage system.

The first stage would be normal wear and tear on the item (weapon, armor, etc). This kind of damage is easy to fix. Using the item noramlly would do dmage to this Normal Wear and Tear stat. It would then take but a few second for a player to repair this damage (maybe with a whetsote to sharpen a blade). The item might become less effective as you apply this damage, but it would never become usless.

However, if the player dosen't kepe their items maintained, or they suffer from extreme situations (like attacking an Earth Elemental with a sword, or a sword getting hit with s sword breaker), then the item could take Structural Damage. This damage dosen't effect the functioning of the item so much, but it could reduce the maximum Wear and Tear Damage stat of the item. The big thing is, if the structural damage is too great the weapon can fail and break.

Structural Damage would be expensive and difficult to repair, ehich might only be available through an NPC "Smith". If you do allow players to attempt structural repairs, you might put in a penalty for failure whereby the failure makes the current Structural Damage limit the maximum that the item can ever have.

So maintaining your equipment will keepo them in top working condition, but failure to do so (maybe because of a big battle) is not catastrophic.

However, go too long or subject the item to too much extreme stresses and it will break. However, repairing this in the field is risky (you could permenently lower the structural integrity of the item) and getting it repaired by an NPC is expensive. But failure of this will result in catestrophic failure of the item eventually.

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