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Sylvius the Mad

Symmetrical Combat Mechanics

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The rules that govern the PC and his companions should be fundamentally the same rules that govern every other being in the game (I'll allow exceptions for gods). The PC shouldn't be immune to stun abilities while still being able to stun his enemies. The PC shouldn't hit vastly harder than his enemies do. The PC should not have vastly fewer hit points than his enemies do. Friendly fire should be equally deadly for all sides.

 

Asymmetrical combat mechanics reached a laughable level with DA2, and that needs to be reversed. Eternity is just the place to do that.

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God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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Hell yes. I love seeing enemies using the same skills and feats that I can. It just makes everything feel more "real", somehow.

Edited by Infinitron
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Well, in danger of quoting myself. This should go without saying, but then the last decade happened. I remember advocating this is in the BSN forums and getting flamed for it in bizarre ways.

 

I'd like to add that a rules-based combat system kinda forces the devs to do more with less. If HP and damage dealing isn't bloated on the enemy side, encounter design and AI gets more in demand.

Edited by Delterius
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I'm still not sure where I fall in this debate. I like the idea, but I don't like the idea that a single encounter against 6 guys should end up being a 50/50 shot unless the opposition are played beneath their abilities. And a single encounter against 1 guy ends up totally dominating him.

 

You can do things like underleveling or overleveling encounters to adjust the balance, but then you've stopped being symmetrical.

 

I have played games where there was total symmetry and enjoyed them, but they ended up playing best as one encounter per day affairs.


"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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I'm still not sure where I fall in this debate. I like the idea, but I don't like the idea that a single encounter against 6 guys should end up being a 50/50 shot unless the opposition are played like idiots. And a single encounter against 1 guy ends up totally dominating him.

 

You can do things like underleveling or overleveling encounters to adjust the balance, but then you've stopped being symmetrical.

 

That's not what we mean here. "Symmetrical" doesn't mean all opponents are equally matched. It means all opponents follow the same rules of the same system.

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I don't care if things aren't completely symetrical as long as the inconsistencies aren't ridiculously overblown. I think Kal's example of creatures/gods/demigods is fine, but I wouldn't be completely enslaved to equality as long as there's a good story reason, and a believable reason, for the exceptions even for other humans or humanoids. I guess the point is that I'd like to have some way, all things being equal, to have the same build as the vast majority of NPCs I see. They claim that we'll be able to see the monster manual. If that's the case, I don't want to see any creature I can't find in the manual or, upon finding, discovering that the in game creature doesn't conform to the manual.


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I'm still not sure where I fall in this debate. I like the idea, but I don't like the idea that a single encounter against 6 guys should end up being a 50/50 shot unless the opposition are played like idiots. And a single encounter against 1 guy ends up totally dominating him.

 

You can do things like underleveling or overleveling encounters to adjust the balance, but then you've stopped being symmetrical.

I don't agree that overlevelling or underlevelling makes the combat system asymmetrical. The rules still all work the same way - you're just sometimes facing opponents stronger or weaker than you.

 

The Infinity Engine games were mostly symmetrical by virtue of using a tabletop ruleset (though you had to turn up the difficulty to get the rules applied fairly), and things like BG's Xvart village still existed - a party of mid-level adventurers facing dozens of half hit dice creatures. The xvarts didn't break the rules; they were just weak.

 

Also, since I oppose scaled encounters, I think some encounters should be too difficult while others are cakewalks.


God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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Preaching to the choir, man... I hope.

There was a time when I would have been embarrassed to ask for this, so obvious it would have been.

 

Now it feels necessary.


God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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A symmetric combat system sounds like a great and fun idea to me.

 

But if they are going to include friendly-fire in the game then should be legitimate in-univer ways to work around and/or reduce it.

So both single-target and AoE spells, armor that decreases let say fire damaged but doesn't have as much AC and so-on.


Be warned I'm dyslectic so there may be some typos and what-not in my posts.

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But if they are going to include friendly-fire in the game then should be legitimate in-univer ways to work around and/or reduce it.

 

From the top of my head, in the IE games:

 

Elemental damage can be negated via magic, potions, equipment. Think Protection from the Elements.

Specific spells can also be used to negate other specific spells. Think Resilient Sphere.

AoE spells can, you know, be cast from afar.

Crowd control can be used to hold people in place.

So can party positioning.

 

But, I must add, that AoE damage should not be easily negated. Otherwise friendly fire loses its meaning.

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I'm still not sure where I fall in this debate. I like the idea, but I don't like the idea that a single encounter against 6 guys should end up being a 50/50 shot unless the opposition are played like idiots. And a single encounter against 1 guy ends up totally dominating him.

 

You can do things like underleveling or overleveling encounters to adjust the balance, but then you've stopped being symmetrical.

I don't agree that overlevelling or underlevelling makes the combat system asymmetrical. The rules still all work the same way - you're just sometimes facing opponents stronger or weaker than you.

But then we've accepted that the PC can hit vastly harder (and more regularly) than his enemies.

 

Aside from the issue of friendly fire and status effects, I'm not sure I recognize the distinction unless you're looking under the hood. The functional results are achievable either way.

 

I can agree that friendly fire and status effects should be as relevant for players as enemies, but I'm just questioning the importance of saying that a monster should be level 2 instead of 5 if the important part is that he has 7 hit points and can hit a 15 by rolling 6.


"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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I'm still not sure where I fall in this debate. I like the idea, but I don't like the idea that a single encounter against 6 guys should end up being a 50/50 shot unless the opposition are played like idiots. And a single encounter against 1 guy ends up totally dominating him.

 

You can do things like underleveling or overleveling encounters to adjust the balance, but then you've stopped being symmetrical.

I don't agree that overlevelling or underlevelling makes the combat system asymmetrical. The rules still all work the same way - you're just sometimes facing opponents stronger or weaker than you.

But then we've accepted that the PC can hit vastly harder (and more regularly) than his enemies.

 

Aside from the issue of friendly fire and status effects, I'm not sure I recognize the distinction unless you're looking under the hood. The functional results are achievable either way.

 

Problem is, I guess, the word symmetry, but the OP didn't have many options - aside from 'rules based system' which might not be very informative. The idea here isn't about fairness or equality, but rather consistency.

 

Essentially, opposing this idea is kinda opposing its source material as well.

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i support this, but i don't think a option to turn some things off in lower difficulties would be bad

i think the dnd games did this rather well

normal difficulty should be symmetrical!

oh and while we are at it, permadeath could be a nice thing for a possible hardcore mode :)

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Tale, a simple human enemy can't have an immunity to poison/fear/stun/petrification just for the sake of being "boss enemy", while player's character could't. He should't make animu technique-attack for 9999 damage which player's fighter could never learn for the same reason, because of fairness of roleplaying system and consistency. Does that example makes things more clear?

Edited by Shadenuat
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Hear hear..

 

I really hope they will design the combat system with this principle. I absolutely hate it when they just give some "boss" a ridiculous amount of HP to make for a longer fight. When you could easily have a system where someone is actually hard to hit or damage within one set of rules, better reflecting their weapon skill or things like thick armor.

 

I'm also hoping the power curve of PC's won't be nearly as steep as in DnD games where high level PC's can just mow through thousands of orcs. Being outnumbered by "low level" enemies should always be dangerous. There should also be some amount of realism in how much more powerful a human can potentially get. i.e. not being able to take on 20 people alone, regardless of levels.

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I'm still not sure where I fall in this debate. I like the idea, but I don't like the idea that a single encounter against 6 guys should end up being a 50/50 shot unless the opposition are played like idiots. And a single encounter against 1 guy ends up totally dominating him.

 

You can do things like underleveling or overleveling encounters to adjust the balance, but then you've stopped being symmetrical.

I don't agree that overlevelling or underlevelling makes the combat system asymmetrical. The rules still all work the same way - you're just sometimes facing opponents stronger or weaker than you.

But then we've accepted that the PC can hit vastly harder (and more regularly) than his enemies.

But not in a way that renders the game's setting incoherent.

Aside from the issue of friendly fire and status effects, I'm not sure I recognize the distinction unless you're looking under the hood. The functional results are achievable either way.

Why wouldn't we be looking under the hood? The numbers and calculations are how the game tells us about the details of how reality works, something our character should already understand.

 

I'll agree that a game could achieve relevantly similar results without properly symmetrical mechanics, but I haven't seen a game do it yet.

I can agree that friendly fire and status effects should be as relevant for players as enemies, but I'm just questioning the importance of saying that a monster should be level 2 instead of 5 if the important part is that he has 7 hit points and can hit a 15 by rolling 6. It seems an arbitrary limitation.

It's mostly an attempt to enforce design consistency on the developers.

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God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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I'm still not sure where I fall in this debate. I like the idea, but I don't like the idea that a single encounter against 6 guys should end up being a 50/50 shot unless the opposition are played like idiots. And a single encounter against 1 guy ends up totally dominating him.

 

You can do things like underleveling or overleveling encounters to adjust the balance, but then you've stopped being symmetrical.

I don't agree that overlevelling or underlevelling makes the combat system asymmetrical. The rules still all work the same way - you're just sometimes facing opponents stronger or weaker than you.

But then we've accepted that the PC can hit vastly harder (and more regularly) than his enemies.

 

Aside from the issue of friendly fire and status effects, I'm not sure I recognize the distinction unless you're looking under the hood. The functional results are achievable either way.

 

Problem is, I guess, the word symmetry, but the OP didn't have many options - aside from 'rules based system' which might not be very informative. The idea here isn't about fairness or equality, but rather consistency.

 

Essentially, opposing this idea is kinda opposing its source material as well.

I imagine, but never really looked, that the infinity engine games fudged stats rather often. But whether or not they did, they became too swingy at times and while it wasn't outright objectionable, it was one of the rough edges.

 

I'll say this though. If an enemy is strong, he should have a reason for being strong. No sickly beggers that are a fine match for seasoned adventurers.

 

Why wouldn't we be looking under the hood? The numbers and calculations are how the game tells us about the details of how reality works, something our character should already understand.

I can't disagree more. Even the classics were not about how reality works. The abstraction was too great for that. The characters should understand the literals, but the players have long argued and struggled on it. I can see value in easy translation of data for the player sake. But that's achievable with a limited asymmetry.

 

If you're missing the target by 5 points even on a 20 roll, you can figure out just how much more skilled the character needs to be to make a hit either way.


"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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I imagine, but never really looked, that the infinity engine games fudged stats rather often. But whether or not they did, they became too swingy at times and while it wasn't outright objectionable, it was one of the rough edges.

 

I'll say this though. If an enemy is strong, he should have a reason for being strong. No sickly beggers that are a fine match for seasoned adventurers.

 

If they did, then they did a good job at it because there are very few arbitrary design decisions I remember. Such as Kangaxx's Imprisonment spell.

 

It must be said that the last line of your post has nothing to do with the thread's proposal. If anything, a sickly beggar is more likely to be a 'challenge' to seasoned adventurers in scaling (kill it with fire) combat systems.

 

Why wouldn't we be looking under the hood? The numbers and calculations are how the game tells us about the details of how reality works, something our character should already understand.

I can't disagree more. Even the classics were not about how reality works. The abstraction was too great for that. The characters should understand the literals, but the players have long argued and struggled on it. I can see value in easy translation of data for the player sake. But that's achievable with a limited asymmetry.

 

I hope the combat log isn't yet another marvelous tool cut because its 'out of character'.

Edited by Delterius
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It must be said that the last line of your post has nothing to do with the thread's proposal. If anything, a sickly beggar is more likely to be a 'challenge' to seasoned adventurers in scaling (kill it with fire) combat systems.
Darn, I had hoped I accomplished an understanding. That the core concern was enemies having difficulty or ease beyond justification, making the setting appear silly.

"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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It must be said that the last line of your post has nothing to do with the thread's proposal. If anything, a sickly beggar is more likely to be a 'challenge' to seasoned adventurers in scaling (kill it with fire) combat systems.
Darn, I had hoped I accomplished an understanding. That the core concern was enemies having difficulty or ease beyond justification, making the setting appear silly.

 

Are sickly beggars a challenge in Baldur's Gate? Certainly not.

 

Unfortunately, supposed common city guards in Amn are. But that's scaling game design scaling everything. Sure, they probably didn't want you to burn the city because you aren't low level anymore, but that's not reason to make everything in the city a high level opponent. A better option would be to add high level oponents to places of interest (such as important magic shops) and make the player suffer his low reputation (if all he does is pillaging without care and no PR work).

 

So while this shows that scaling game design isn't abolished just by rules-based game design, its also clear that the latter is a good first step to keep writers and encounter designers from causing the former without justification.

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Of course.

 

These are sad years when we have to make sure and ask for abhorrent combat systems like the one in DA2 NOT to happen.

 

I'd also like to add that designing symmetrical combat mechanics doesn't mean that enemies can't have interesting active and passive (on hit) abilities that the player characters doesn't have. A wraith's draining touch for instance - because it would make sense. Or high evasion for incorporeal creatures.

Edited by Valorian

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