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Everything posted by Micamo

  1. Well, I'm not a professional game designer, but I do mess around with D&D homebrew a lot and like to think of myself as understanding the class system very well. If you handed me the job of designing the multiclass system in Deadfire today, here's the kind of system I'd try to design: First, break down every class level into half-levels. If you take a straight level in a class, you get both of the half-levels. Otherwise, you choose which of the half-levels you want. You can also take a "hybrid level" where you get a half-level in one of your classes, and a half-level in another of your classes. Also, you earn a half-level in each class for each full level you have in all of your other classes. So, to walk through an example, let's say our Eder, a first-level fighter, wants to take a level in rogue. He gets both half-levels of rogue, a single half-level of fighter, and another half-level of rogue for the fighter level he already has. Next level he takes a level in rogue again, gets both half-levels of Rogue 2, gets the other half of Fighter 2, but no additional half-level this time. So now his abilities are: Character level 3: Fighter 2/Rogue 2.5 (Note that even though it seems like he gets more on each level up than he would if he just took straight fighter levels, if he did, he'd be a third-level fighter by now. Multiclassed characters will never have on-level abilities of their single-classed counterparts.) If he takes fighter for his fourth level, he gets both half-levels of fighter 3, and a single rogue half-level, making him: Character level 4: Fighter 3/Rogue 3 Now, what happens if he adds another level into the mix, a paladin level? (Eder could totally be a paladin btw): Very simple, exactly the same rules as the other times. Eder's unadjusted level would be Fighter 2/Rogue 2/Paladin 1. For each class he has, add adjusted levels equal to one half the sum of all the other classes' unadjusted levels. So that would be: Character level 5: Fighter 3.5/Rogue 3.5/Paladin 3 "Woah! Eder just got 3 full paladin levels from a single-level dip!?" you say, "That's broken as f*@k!" Not really, when you consider the fact that, as you go higher up the leveling curve, first-level abilities are worth less and less. Barring bad game design, dips hurt more than they help by putting you behind on on-level abilities the encounters assume you'll have by this point. PoE 1's design makes this less of a problem than it would be in 3.5 D&D because only your special abilities are tied to class level and not your absolutely vital combat stats, and by not having encounters that you simply cannot win unless you have a certain spell. By awarding adjusted half-levels for classes you already have, this means even a 1-level dip will keep up and stay relevant, albeit at a slower pace. Now, for level 6, Eder decides to take a hybrid level of Fighter/Rogue. This means his unadjusted level goes up by 1/2 for Fighter and Rogue, and nothing for Paladin. So his unadjusted level is Fighter 2.5/Rogue 2.5/Paladin 1, and his adjusted level is therefore: Character level 6: Fighter 4.25/Rogue 4.25/Paladin 3.5 But wait, what do we do with a result of .25? Well, what we could do is break levels down further into quarter-levels, but then that would just extend the problem to when we encounter a result with a remainder of .125, and I say half-levels is good enough. So we round down that result for now, to get: Character level 6: Fighter 4/Rogue 4/Paladin 3.5 If he takes another fighter/rogue hybrid level (unadjusted Fighter 3/Rogue 3/Paladin 1) then he'll get refunded those "missing" quarter-levels because they combine into full half-levels: Character level 7: Fighter 5/Rogue 5/Paladin 4 The best part about this system is that while you can limit it to just 2 classes for simplicity, it generalizes to any number of classes and lets you add new classes without any additional work, so long as you design it with half-levels from the start. A simple bit of code if you wanna play around with it: import qualified Data.Map as M adjustLevels m = M.mapWithKey (flip adjustment) m where adjustment v = roundDownToHalf . M.foldr ((+) . (/ 2.0)) v . M.difference m . flip M.singleton v roundDownToHalf = (/ 2.0) . fromIntegral . floor . (* 2) You could make a weird character with 1 level in each class and here's their result: Character level 11: Barbarian 6/Chanter 6/Cipher 6/Druid 6/Fighter 6/Monk 6/Paladin 6/Priest 6/Ranger 6/Rogue 6/Wizard 6 One last thing: You get talents at each even character level, *not* each even class level. Class talent availability is determined by class level though. EDIT: Oh, and it should be obvious but just in case it isn't, the system is independent of what order you take your class levels in. A character that takes 4 Fighter levels and 4 Rogue levels is equivalent to a character that takes 8 Fighter/Rogue hybrid levels, it only changes what order they got their abilities in. EDIT 2: Alright, so this sounds like it has pretty similar results to how the "power sources" multiclassing will actually work it sounds, where a Fighter 6/Druid 6 will have "75-85% of the power level of a 12th-level fighter or 12th-level druid." In my system, such a character would have an adjusted level of Fighter 9/Druid 9. So mathematically it's similar, they're just doing the calculations differently. Edited calculations for a system based on power source stats: First, choose a scaling factor N, and a base point value P. For each level in the class associated with that power source, add P. For each hybrid level (advancing 2 classes at once) which includes the class associated with this power source, add P * N For each level in a class *not* associated with that power source, whether hybrid or single-class, add P * (2 * N - 1) So for values N = 0.75 and P = 3, these values are 3, 2.25, and 1.5 respectively. You can get nice whole numbers with P=3 N=2/3, P=5 N=0.8, P=20 N=0.85. A character with its levels split evenly between two classes (e.g. Fighter/Druid) will have power source stats in each equivalent to a single classed character's stat multiplied by the scaling factor. This of course assumes linear scaling with the power source stat.
  2. At one point in Eder's quest, you need to take an item that you find to a Cipher and have them perform a reading on it to finish the quest. Either you can do it (if you're a cipher yourself), you can have GM do it, or you can have some other NPC do it (probably Kellen from Dynryd Row but I never needed to do that). And even if you don't do his quest, Eder won't die for any reason other than because he died in a fight just like any of the companions can. All it changes is the ending slide he gets. (Also, if you're a Cipher you can help Aelys yourself instead of having GM do it.)
  3. And then Pillars of Eternity 2 makes you play the Watcher again, railroaded into working for the Leaden Key to stop the Collectors... Thaos and all of those dudes who tried to kill you? They were just part of a rogue cell.
  4. My problem is PoE is fundamentally a series of Shaggy Dog Stories. Over the course of the game it trained me simply not to care about the outcome of any given quest because I expected it to end in a stupid and pointless way. The themes undo themselves because in trying to subvert a nearly universal trope of RPGs they also sabotage the means by which I become invested enough to catch the subtext. It broke my trust in the storyteller. Unrest pulls exactly the same trick, and fails for exactly the same reasons. It's sad that after 3 years of following the development of this game and a month of playing it, that's really all I feel like I have to say.
  5. It's disappointing to me because, judging by this team's work in the past, they really shine the brightest when making really subversive stuff that takes your expectations and chucks them straight off a cliff. Giving Obsidian a Forgotten Realms-esque setting to work with and asking them to play it straight has... not worked well in the past. Actually I think that KOTOR 2 kinda falls apart *because* of its incoherence. If KOTOR 2 was just the really good parts with Kreia and Darth Sion and the Jedi Masters I'd agree with you, but it also has a lot of silly, pulpy space-schlock that doesn't work at all like the Onderon Civil War, the Mercenaries who want to take over Khoonda because reasons, and that entire madness with the Exchange on Nar Shadaa. You do bring up a good point though, but I think there's a bit of a difference between "Let's create a thematic clash purposefully in a very controlled way in order to make a point" and "Let's throw this in and not consider the consequences." If Xaurips were clearly meant to be a deconstruction of Kobolds that'd be one thing, but they're not, at least not given what we've seen of them so far.
  6. This deserves a much longer post than I can give it here, but this is the main reason I want less derivative creatures: Every well-written story (and by extension every well-written setting) has a set of thematic and emotional points it aims to hit. Theoretically, every aspect of the story (or setting) should work toward hitting one of these points, and ideally several of these points at once. With regards to creature design, this means that details about the creature like what they look like, where they live, what kinds of societies they have (if intelligent), where they came from, how they behave, and their role in the larger world, not only need to be (mostly) logically cohesive but should all contribute to fulfilling the thematic goals of the setting. The danger of deriving aspects of your setting from other works without thinking about how these aspects fit together (both logically and thematically) is that you wind up with an incoherent setting where things disjointed and incohesive, or even worse, they undermine the very thematic points you were trying to make. A good example of how this can go horribly, horribly wrong: In the Mass Effect 3 ending it's revealed that the Reapers destroy organic civilizations to prevent them from inventing synthetic life and AI, which, the star child asserts, always rise up and destroy their creators. Except this point is completely contradicted by your interactions with Legion and the Geth and with ED-I. I suspect the reason why they went with this ending is because they wanted to blindly imitate the themes of many other science fiction stories, and did so without considering what the rest of what they had built had implied. Now, I don't mind the Xaurips being Klone-bolds if the writers believe that three-foot-tall lizard people who worship dragons have something serious to contribute to the thematic goals of the setting. It's difficult to judge because we don't know much about what these goals are: The only one that's really apparent from the material we've seen so far is "Souls, and our attempts to understand them, are important" and it's not clear how xaurips relate to that. Maybe they have something to say about the cruel, uncaring dragon being an allegory for how the human/elf gods treat their worshippers by hiding the secrets of souls from them. However, when I see something that looks like a lazy copy/paste of conventional D&D tropes, I'm going to assume it is until proven otherwise.
  7. Oh hey, a creature lore post! I'm always going on about how you guys should do more of this non-spoiler setting posts, so glad to see my wishes get fulfilled. Thoughts: Blights: Love the concept, not so much the execution. It's not apparent from the animations that these are the spirits of the dead: They look just like plain-old elemental blobs. I think they could have been far more effective if they actually *looked* like how they're described in the flavor text, though I understand that in practice they'll be too small on the screen for small details like hundreds of human hands to be easily visible (but I don't think this is an unsolvable problem for a talented artist). Also, an aside, but wouldn't it be more indicative if the different types of blights were named after the natural disasters that created them? Like change "Earth" to "Landslide" or "Rain" to "Flood" or "Wind" to "Hurricane". Xaurips: I actually saw these on youtube before I jumped over here to read the update, and my first reaction was "Man, these look *exactly* like Kobolds; If it didn't have Pillars of Eternity labeled on it I'd assume this was for a licensed D&D title. I hope they have something neat that separates them from the generic D&D kobolds besides the name." And... yeah. From the design and the flavor text I'm not sure what worldbuilding purpose these serve besides "We need another type of weak, swarming mook enemy that lives in caves for the player to fight for variety reasons, and Kobolds are easily recognizable so we don't have to spend time expositing about them." Maybe the writers can give them some interesting stuff in dialogue, assuming we ever get to talk to any of them. (I'd really rather Pillars of Eternity not be the kind of RPG where even intelligent enemies unfailingly fight the player to the death on sight for no reason because the game doesn't view them as anything more than blobs of XP for the player to get.) Vithrack: Of the three creatures presented today I think the Vithrack are probably the best executed, at least from an artistic/lore standpoint. It's interesting how they're highly altruistic toward each other; It'd have been very easy to go the obvious Drow-imitator route (especially with the spider motif) and made them all backstabbing **** (in spite of their difficulties with their reproduction and with their hostile native environment, which has always made Drow and Drow-wannabes leave a bad taste in my mouth), and I'm very happy that you've avoided this route (and taken some Mind Flayer influences as well without copying the icky "invaders from the future" bull). I do have two problems though: First, given what we're told about the Vithrack's low population and harsh environment, it'd make the most sense for them to stick together in one place, but the description seems to imply that they're scattered about in small pockets. Is there any good reason for this? Second, the "low birthrates" without further justification feels like a cop-out rather than a proper explanation for why the species doesn't just conquer the world: Why are their birthrates so low? Why can't they do anything to increase them? (With Drow the explanation always seems to be "Well they live to be 1000 years old but as elves they only have the same number of kids over their lifetime as humans, so that averages out to one kid every 200-300 years. Don't think about it too hard.")
  8. The core of a game is the emotional experience that lies at its heart: The mechanics are part of what builds this experience, but they aren't the same thing as the experience itself. You can arrive at a similar core with radically different mechanics or a radically different core with very similar mechanics. The mechanics are tools, and all that matters is how skillfully (or unskillfully) the designers use them: Compare KOTOR 1 and KOTOR 2, or Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The parts of the IE games that mattered to me don't depend at all on how the UI is set up or how the class system works. I have no emotional attachment to being able to Multi-Class Mage and Cleric as a half-elf, or being able to have 5 party members aside from the PC, or real time w/pause combat. I care about the lonely, silent walks through the wilderness. I care about the pain Ignus felt and trying to make him better somehow. I care about talking with Sere about her crisis of faith and helping her overcome it (or turning her away from the Dustmen if you prefer). I care about letting Imoen get torn apart by hobgoblins and then letting her body just rot there for the rest of the game, and then writing fanfiction about how she managed to survive the encounter and was dragged off to the hobgoblin camp as an, erm, "guest." (Did I mention I didn't care too much for Imoen?) The superficial trappings of the IE games are unnecessary for all of these: A skillful designer could have implemented these things in a cover-based shooter based off Gears of War, if they so desired.
  9. Personally I'd be very surprised if PoE didn't take the same route as KOTOR 2 when it comes to romance subplot stuff: You can hit on your companions if you want but they never reciprocate, at least not in any way that ever amounts to anything or leads to an alternate story path with that companion. Maybe have a scene where you (optionally) sleep with a hooker or something. This is how it works in New Vegas and (aside from the aforementioned scenes at the end) in Planescape: Torment too. I don't mind Bioware-style companion romance arcs in principle, but I don't think it's something Obsidian would be able to deliver very well. (The last time they tried was in Alpha Protocol and, well, that's all I should have to say about that.) As for the rest of the stuff this is something that's concerned me since the initial pitch and is my main reason for not investing in the kickstarter (and tempering my expectations for the game overall): BG, IWD, and P:T share very little outside of their engine and ruleset, so necessarily any game that tries to capture the spirit of all three will surely either be schizophrenic and inconsistent or favor one of its sources above the others. It doesn't help that P:T was the only IE game that I actually liked. It's never been very clear what things from the IE games the developers see as worth preserving and what things can be safely discarded, aside from very superficial and ultimately irrelevant things like how the interface works and the D&D-like race/class/level progression system. That said, the big reason Obsidian only seems to care about combat mechanics and technical details is that they don't want to talk about anything else for the sake of avoiding spoilers. Personally I think this is a mistake, but they've clearly decided to make that bed and I'm not going to rage at them when they lay in it.
  10. The track feels... I dunno, a bit too ambient. Maybe it'll grow on me but first impressions is this feels like it belongs in Minecraft, not in an atmospheric high fantasy story.
  11. To be honest, Planescape: Torment is a video game that has deep, personal meaning to me: I consider playing it to be one of my most important formative experiences. It was one of my biggest influences on the shaping of my voice as a creator (most of which has admittedly gone into tabletop gaming) and it shaped the way I view stories themselves (and interactive narrative in particular). I care about the direction of PoE because by all indications it has the potential (moreso than Tides of Numenera) to strike that nerve again. If they manage to get this right, then this game will basically be the equivalent of being able to go to heaven and see my kitty that died when I was 5. And I honestly think Obsidian has a good chance of pulling it off. Of course, I'd love it if the combat system was amazing and well-designed too. Or we could get another Alpha Protocol.
  12. Still hate Jade Empire!

  13. If I may be forgiven for quoting that out of its original context, I suspect this is why we've mainly heard about combat. It's the most challenging part of the game to build, so doing it upfront is best. Also, combat has rarely been an area in which Obsidian has excelled, whereas they always excel at writing, C&C, and world-building. I expect they're trying to shore up this weakness first and foremost. And, of course, there's the fact that non-combat stuff tends to involve scripted interactions, and thus spoilers. Which is not to say that they aren't working on any of that stuff, necessarily. It's just that they're not talking as much about that. My worry is that 20 minutes into the game I'm going to turn on a cheat that lets me kill everything instantly to skip the combat segments altogether (I can't play any of the IE games without this honestly) and aaaaaaaall of this effort on trying to build an interesting combat system will go to waste and end up making the game weaker. My big worry is that the combat will be unbearable and this cheat won't exist, and I'll be unable to finish the game due to it (Shadowrun Returns had a variation this problem; Whoever thought it was a smart idea to have checkpoint-based saves in an open-ish game should be taken out back and shot). There's a difference between trying to shore up your weaknesses and failing to focus on your strengths. See: Skyrim's focus on exposition-y plot-focused narrative that both distracted from and often actively got in the way of freeform exploration and roleplaying.
  14. Heresy time: If I had it my way, I'd make it so your race was 100% cosmetic outside of dialogue. It'd only affect how people react to you in the dialogue trees. Perhaps this could also apply to those scripted setpiece sections where the character can interact with the environment using their racial abilities.
  15. Uhh, are those death godlikes supposed to not be able to see? It'd be pretty funny if this had mechanical implications: You roll up a death godlike and the entire screen goes black for the rest of the game. I love what you're doing with the design: They're sufficiently freakish, but not in an ugly or unappealing way. I was afraid they'd just be Tieflings with a name change. Glad to see that's not the case, but I'd have to echo the concerns. One problem with playing monstrous PCs in tabletop games is that it's hard to strike an appropriate balance: Having consequences for your monstrous features (whether as extreme as getting chased out of towns by angry mobs or as subtle as not being able to buy and wear clothes that fit) too little makes it feel like you're just playing a reskinned human, but having it come up *too* often makes it feel like the sole thing that defines your character.
  16. TBH it's actually more bothersome than it was in the IE games, since they were 2D, pixel-y, and didn't even try to make the combat sequences visually make sense. The more effort they put into the attack animations and flashy spell effects, the worse impact small defects like that make. It's a lot like the uncanny valley effect, really.
  17. Am I the only one who noticed how characters had no animations for when they took hits? They just sorta stand there thwacking/blasting each other until one of them falls over. I hope this gets fixed.
  18. I disagree: This sort of asymmetry works for games where you select from multiple pre-generated characters like in a JRPG or in a fighting game, but is ultimately self-defeating in a game where you build your own characters. If you want asymmetries between various combat roles then build trade-offs within the system, rather than put characters into arbitrary archetypes: What that gets you is that each adventuring party looks exactly the same.
  19. Well, let me tell you a story. The first time I played Skyrim I had decided that my (Dunmer) character was one of the last heirs of House Telvanni, who came to Skyrim as a fugitive, running from being hunted down by the argonians. When I went to Winterhold I met Brelyna Maryon, who was also one of the last heirs of House Telvanni who had come to Skyrim (though her reasons for coming are never explained). You'd think my character and her would have a lot to talk about, but for obvious reasons these conversations weren't actually implemented into the game. I could stand there, stare at her, and pretend she was saying something to me, and come up with my responses, but this is hardly the same thing as having a real conversation with her. And like, if this were a tabletop game, the DM could easily throw in Argonian spies who followed me into Skyrim. In the game, there are no such Argonian spies. I mean, I could kill random argonians and pretend they were spies, but again this is not the same thing as having the content in the game. Not really what I'm talking about. Like, here's a freeform character idea for the P:E setting just off the top of my head: Once upon a time, a god decided a certain fragment of himself was flawed and worthless, so he removed it. That fragment became this character's soul. The character doesn't remember being a part of the god, but she understands what she is and wants to be reunited with her god at all costs: She obsesses over perfecting herself by devouring other souls and grafting the best parts onto her own soul, in the hopes that one day she'll become worthy enough that her god will accept her again and she can merge back with him. I can already tell you that options for playing this character will almost certainly not be in P:E. Unless some developer reads this and adds it to the game just to spite me, which would be amazing. You can't let players be something like this in a CRPG simply by not arbitrarily restricting them from playing certain character ideas ("Mages can't use swords.") characters are inevitably restricted to a space of premises.
  20. I'll do this if I already have a decent idea as to what the character creation options are and what the setting will be like, but if I don't, this is basically pissing into the wind: It's very unlikely that I'll be able to make a satisfactory match for something I make up freeform. Furthermore, my favorite part of making characters for a tabletop game is to make up backstory hooks and tying them into the campaign: Something you really can't do in a CRPG unless you want to run around playing pretend. (My preferred method for CRPGs is to just wait for the character creation screen and come up with something real quick-like there, then flesh it out as I play. Unless the game is gonna be like NWN2 and give you a box to write your backstory, then it invalidates the whole thing two seconds later by filling it all in for you... I'll probably end up playing a wizard or a wizard/priest if multiclassing is in and doesn't suck too hard.)
  21. IIRC the plan was for there to be a cooldown on each spell level (NOT on each spell), similar to the Recharge Magic variant from Unearthed Arcana, with the cooldown decreasing as you went up in level. Then at some point they dumped this system and replaced it with a standard spells/day system, for some reason.
  22. Well, my first problem with that as a fallback is that you play a Wizard to do Wizard Stuff. When you've run out of spells for the day and are stuck Not Doing Wizard Stuff, you start having fun and just start slogging through until you can rest and start being a Wizard again. It's no better a solution than the old fallback of pulling out a crossbow/throwing knives. My second problem is, well... taking your spellbook and beating enemies over the head with it is just plain silly, and not the good kind of silly. At least when you're missing with crossbow bolts you have some dignity.
  23. This reasoning is why the Allip is rated at CR 3. Personally though I find it very troubling that the game is balanced around the assumption that the party will have spellcasters (see also diseases that can only be magically healed, locks that can only be magically picked...). There's a significant difference between "This is something that could conceivably happen in the game world" and "This is a smart thing for you to do as a DM." If you want to play a tabletop version of Nethack then more power to you, but let's not forget that we play the game so that everyone at the table can have fun, and there's a reason why Killer DMs are unpopular. If verisimilitude is getting in the way of having fun then it's time for verisimilitude to take a back seat.
  24. I have a hypothesis that a large amount of character customization is appealing for the same reasons folks like to play dress-up with their characters. Disclosure: I love playing dress-up with my characters.
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