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Combat Oriented vs. Non-Combat Oriented, A Possible Implementation

combat non-combat system

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Poll: Combat oriented, skill oriented, balanced traits for character creation? (53 member(s) have cast votes)

Would a combat oriented, skill oriented, balanced set of traits for character creation ease the concerns of those concerned about character creation?

  1. Yes (17 votes [32.08%])

    Percentage of vote: 32.08%

  2. Maybe, but it might raise other concerns for people (29 votes [54.72%])

    Percentage of vote: 54.72%

  3. No (7 votes [13.21%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.21%

Would you like to see a combat oriented, skill oriented, balanced trait system for character creation in Project Eternity?

  1. Yes, absolutely (16 votes [30.19%])

    Percentage of vote: 30.19%

  2. At least something along these lines that address the problem you are trying to fix (12 votes [22.64%])

    Percentage of vote: 22.64%

  3. No, it would probably cause more problems (2 votes [3.77%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.77%

  4. No, it wouldn't actually solve the problem you are trying to fix (5 votes [9.43%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.43%

  5. I don't think the problem you are pointing out is actually a problem - I'd like combat and non-combat to be defined equally (16 votes [30.19%])

    Percentage of vote: 30.19%

  6. Indifferent - wouldn't care if it was in there or not (2 votes [3.77%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.77%

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#1
Merin

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Obsidian has said that they are going to separate out combat and non-combat skills, so that the same resources are not spent on both.

This has lead to some cheering...

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...as well as some concern.

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The concern seems to chiefly come from those people who, at first glance, you would assume would be happy about non-combat skills getting to not be overshadowed by combat skills. I know I was.

But it became clear - one cause for worry was the possibility that there'd be no way to make a more non-combat oriented character (or a more combat oriented one, for that matter.) And this makes a kind of sense - that is a possibility, that the character creation becomes so cookie cutter as to be "choose you weapon style, choose your source of power, chose your non-combat skill" generic of a template where the choices are different but the characters are essentially identical sized and shaped lollipops of different colors and flavors. Many players want to have one character a lollipop, but maybe another a tootsie pop, and mayber a third a popsicle...

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eh, let's abandon that metaphor.

The question remains - will players be able to make a more non-combat oriented character now that you can't spend the resources put aside for combat on non-combat? Now this is potentially (in my mind likely) a non-issue - Obsidian will design a great system and we'll all love it.

Unless their intent is for combat and non-combat to always play equally. And maybe that's still the problem, especially in getting to design your own character.

Balance, I'd argue, is important. Any race or class or combination of such should have the same maximum potential - you don't want one class choice to be gimped as compared to another. Some RP'ers who aren't trying to "win the game at all costs" won't care that their RP choice is not the most effective on a spreadsheet via statistics. But many players will be concerned, and this should be a worry - hence balance.

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Again, any race or class or combination of such should have the same maximum potential... and I'd argue the same minimum potential. But there's this whole range inbetween for players to customize their character, where you can make purposeful (for challenge or for RP) "less effective" choices.

And inside of this thought process I found one (of I'm sure many) potential solution to the concerns of those worried about the dividing of resources into combat and non-combat skills.

(yes, here's the point I'm getting to)

When creating your character, regardless of race or class, one part of your shaping process could be chosing if your character is combat oriented, skill (what I'm going to call non-combat from this point forward) oriented, or balanced.

Think of this like have a choice of one of three traits at creation, a la the Fallout series.

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If you choose the combat oriented trait, you get fewer skill points but more combat points (however Obsidian is going to divide up those abilities). Your character is now better at fighting but less good at the not-killing-things, not-absorbing-damage. And figure your thief or mage or cleric (or whatever classes) abilities are similarly divided into "fighting abilities" and "non-fighting abilities" for the sake of this discussion.

If you choose the skill orientend trait, you get more skill points but fewer combat points (basically the reverse of combat oriented.)

And, clearly, chosing the balance (or maybe default or no trait) will keep the distribution of those resources at the base, normal, average level as considered in the game world and mechanics.

These traits could even simply be a few of the options in a Fallout style trait mechanic overall, in fact.

Well... would this solve those concerns, and would you like this idea implemented (or at least something like it)?

Edited by Merin, 23 September 2012 - 12:33 PM.

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#2
aluminiumtrioxid

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Absolutely brilliant, I'd like to have this feature implemented in the game.

#3
Leferd

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Must absorb. Will ponder.
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#4
ThorHeimdallr

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Hear hear! So far so good.

#5
Dianjabla

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My understanding of what was said is that although, yes, you'll get your combat & non-combat points separately, it does not automagically mean that each class will be the same. A fighter type may get access to more skills or whatever in wearing armour & hitting things where a magic user gets more in spells. Non-combat might be similar where a thief gets access to stealth, thievery etc and a ranger type to overland movement, tracking and lore about wildlife. Maybe everyone gets access to communication skills or maybe they're left off entirely. We shall see what we shall see.
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#6
Merin

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Clearly I like it if it's my idea. In fact, the more I've thought about it the more I think things should be broken down even more... but, again, the focus of this is a possibility to address concerns others have.

I like the idea of having a skill monkey who barely know which end of the dagger to hold, or a mage who is more sage than battle wizard and is great for lighting up rooms or holding doors shut but is lucky if he can adequately distract an opponent in a scuffle with some confusing sounds.

Especially with a party. Especially with a party of NPC, fleshed out companions who might notice how not combat-ready you are and will, in dialog and such, act more protective (or, in some cases, judgmental) of you.

Digression aside -

I can't imagine that Obsidian won't do some kind of perks / backgrounds / traits system. For their more original worlds / games (those not heavily based on existing systems, like D&D or WoD) it is kind of a staple. And you've had this kind of character tweaking specifically in Fallout... but what I'm suggesting here is both more broadly assigned to all characters as well as more specific on shaping the kind of character you want to make.

Honestly, you can make a skill-oriented fighter. It means that, in combat, you uses armor and swords but that, overall, you're more focused on, say, diplomacy, noticing details and maybe repairing arms and armor. If you just step outside of the box, separate combt from non-combat... and then understand a class like fighter or mage as "this is how I handle things in combat" as opposed to "this is how I solve ALL my problems (with a sword or spell, as the case may be)" then I think you begin to get the idea.
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#7
mcmanusaur

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Excuse me for the necro, but this thread came up in a google search I ran, and I thought it was interesting since we really have yet to hear anything more about non-combat skills in Project Eternity. However, my reaction to the idea in the OP was that the outcome of this functionality essentially defeats the entire purpose of separating skills, and only serves as a cosmetic variation to the familiar system in which combat and non-combat abilities are drawn from the same resource pools (unless the two skill categories had differing marginal cost curves). In fact I'm not decided yet about whether combat and non-combat skills should actually be separate, and while I can see Obsidian's reasoning in doing so this thread mentions some decent arguments against that. This is probably one of the most challenging game design questions I've come across (along with the whole class-based vs. skill-based debate), and I do fear that having separate resource pools might encourage gamers to chicken out from ambitious character concepts given the wasted potential in a character who doesn't do both combat and non-combat (though I suppose that dedicated roleplayers would assume this penalty when warranted and at any rate this is a relatively small price to pay for the benefits of discouraging one-dimensional min-maxed characters).


Edited by mcmanusaur, 24 May 2013 - 08:45 PM.


#8
cleric Nemir

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This is fantastic. This is exactly the type of change I wish for in the future RPGs,to be even further enriched with options and possibilities,from the start to the very end.

 

To be able to create my alterego priest in a way more deep than I ever had the chance to before? My answer is a one big "yes" right there!



#9
Fearabbit

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I don't see the problem you're trying to fix. If the game has attributes, then these determine whether my character is combat oriented or not. A good system shouldn't need further input, except maybe for class-specific modifications.

 

I mean, it just seems contradictory to give my thief a charisma stat of 18 and then check the "combat oriented" box. First I say "I wanna be a diplomat", then I say "I mostly want to focus on fighting". If I give my fighter a strength of 18, constitution and agility of 18 and then check "combat oriented", I am saying "I wanna focus on fighting" and then "I really wanna focus on fighting!".

 

There are lots of ways to determine a distribution of combat and non-combat skill points by looking at the attributes, in my opinion the only difficulty is figuring out which is the most intuitive and balanced option.



#10
Sacred_Path

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And this makes a kind of sense - that is a possibility, that the character creation becomes so cookie cutter as to be "choose you weapon style, choose your source of power, chose your non-combat skill" generic of a template where the choices are different but the characters are essentially identical sized and shaped lollipops of different colors and flavors.

Yes, that's very much the concern. And for the very reason that they chose this approach, I think they wouldn't support your solution, although I personally would find it an enjoyable compromise.

#11
curryinahurry

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I think a lot of the thinking about the usefulness of non-combat skills in these types of threads comes from an understanding of what will be useful based on prior experience in D&D type CRPGS (including DA). 

 

The folks at Obsidian, having done the Fallout games, and Josh Sawyer being a fan of Darklands, might employ a much wider range of skills than we typically find handy in fantasy  CRPGs.  Overland travel & exploration could be aided, by skills like ride, wood-wise, tracking,  local lore, herbal-ism, survival etc.  In dungeons it could be stone-craft, mining, religion, lore, metallurgy, etc.  Carpentry or a build structures skill, might allow the party to circumvent obstacles. there might be skills for speaking different languages; reading & writing, alchemy, artifice.  

 

The fact is that a combat oriented character might find a great deal of skills to invest points in while staying combat-centric, and we already have been told that combat will be a focus of the game, so the non-combat oriented optimization would only serve to gimp characters. If a player wants to create a sub-optimal character for RP purposes, that is his/her choice.  If Obsidian wants to include pre-rolled arch types, that is fine.  I just don't see any need to have pre-optimized kits at the beginning of the game when we have no idea how the game will play out or what types of character builds will fit the gameplay style we might want to pursue.


Edited by curryinahurry, 26 May 2013 - 07:44 AM.

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#12
mcmanusaur

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Personally I am a bit tired of seeing non-combat activities labeled as the alternative means to combat, rather than the other way around, which is how it is for most people living in a society. There's arguably much more diversity in the former category, and the focus on combat relies on the rather artificial "reality" of baddies existing in dungeons for characters to crawl, which has somehow come to be seen as more essential to the role-playing genre than a realistic and interactive society.


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#13
Odd Hermit

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Problem is a major part of gameplay is combat, and no matter how good your party is at handling non-combat problems, they're still probably going to face most the same difficult enemies as a combat party. Otherwise the content would have to be very split up, shortening the experience for the majority of players.

 

Due to this, often what you'd get in D&D based CRPGs was a party of combat optimized characters with one character who handles the other stuff. Sometimes that character would just be a wizard with a few thief levels and/or a sorcerer with high charisma, pure rogue/thief and bard characters were a rarity for a good reason.

 

I like the direction they're going personally, a step away from parties of meat shields and nukers with skill duty all squeezed into one or two characters. This is a CRPG not tabletop, so you can't have a wide variety of non-combat options for the majority of problems since they have to actually finish the game and most players probably want a decent amount of combat since the strategic turn based combat was a big part of the charm of old IE games I assume.


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#14
Eiphel

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I hadn't actually considered the implications of the skill division before now, but now that you mention it, I agree it has some disappointing implications - But by no means are they certain to come to pass. Having seperate combat and noncombat progression does sound like it would lead to a degree of homogeneity where you can choose how you fight in combat and what you excel at out of combat, but you can't choose to what extent your character tends toward or away from combat, with every character having to be a balanced build who is equally comfortable in and out of battle. I don't really see that the solution proposed in the OP truly circumvents it, however, so much as offers a hack to disguise the issue. If it was a mod being applied for a problem post release it could be a good answer, but when the game is in design I'd advocate addressing the issue much more intrinsically.

 

One possibility I can see is that whilst combat and noncombat skills are delineated, there's no reason why progression in them has to be. If you play a pacifist, avoiding battles wherever possible and talking down every enemy you can, you might get more noncombat skill points than combat skillpoints, or vice versa. That would be a pretty satisfactory system to me. If they then included a system where, at character creation - and only at character creation - you could swap points between combat at noncombat skills, then I think it'd be totally fine.

 

What I don't want to see is a system where every time you level up, regardless of how you've been playing, you always get equal amounts of combat and noncombat skill points. Not only does that homogenise every character into being balanced, it actually causes the very problem that Obsidian said they wanted to avoid. They said they were splitting combat and noncombat progression so you wouldn't have to (for example) give up your prowess with a blade in order to be a good craftsman, or vice versa. But in a system where you always just get equal combat and noncombat points regardless, they would actually be enforcing that. Imagine I'm trying to play a pacifistic, diplomatic character. I'm being told I have to spend half my skill points in the combat skills which have nothing to do with how I'm playing. That's something to avoid.

 

I'm very much in favour of determing the split of combat and combat advancement based on how you have split your focus in achieving goals. You should always get *some* of both, but a character who solves every problem with an axe should be seeing a much greater progression of combat skills, and so forth.


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#15
Sacred_Path

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One possibility I can see is that whilst combat and noncombat skills are delineated, there's no reason why progression in them has to be. If you play a pacifist, avoiding battles wherever possible and talking down every enemy you can, you might get more noncombat skill points than combat skillpoints, or vice versa.

I wouldn't appreciate the limitations this would impose on the player - if I want to kill a specific monster/ NPC with my diplomat character/ party, I want to be able to attempt that, not having to consider that this might cost me skill points at the next level up.

What I'd prefer, and what would essentially achieve what you want to achieve, is deriving skill points from stats; say, STR+DEX for combat, INT+WIS for non-combat. This way you can send characters down a specific path, but they can stray from it during the game (within their possibilities). Of course, this is a tad hard to balance.

#16
mcmanusaur

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I hadn't actually considered the implications of the skill division before now, but now that you mention it, I agree it has some disappointing implications - But by no means are they certain to come to pass. Having seperate combat and noncombat progression does sound like it would lead to a degree of homogeneity where you can choose how you fight in combat and what you excel at out of combat, but you can't choose to what extent your character tends toward or away from combat, with every character having to be a balanced build who is equally comfortable in and out of battle. I don't really see that the solution proposed in the OP truly circumvents it, however, so much as offers a hack to disguise the issue. If it was a mod being applied for a problem post release it could be a good answer, but when the game is in design I'd advocate addressing the issue much more intrinsically.

 

One possibility I can see is that whilst combat and noncombat skills are delineated, there's no reason why progression in them has to be. If you play a pacifist, avoiding battles wherever possible and talking down every enemy you can, you might get more noncombat skill points than combat skillpoints, or vice versa. That would be a pretty satisfactory system to me. If they then included a system where, at character creation - and only at character creation - you could swap points between combat at noncombat skills, then I think it'd be totally fine.

 

What I don't want to see is a system where every time you level up, regardless of how you've been playing, you always get equal amounts of combat and noncombat skill points. Not only does that homogenise every character into being balanced, it actually causes the very problem that Obsidian said they wanted to avoid. They said they were splitting combat and noncombat progression so you wouldn't have to (for example) give up your prowess with a blade in order to be a good craftsman, or vice versa. But in a system where you always just get equal combat and noncombat points regardless, they would actually be enforcing that. Imagine I'm trying to play a pacifistic, diplomatic character. I'm being told I have to spend half my skill points in the combat skills which have nothing to do with how I'm playing. That's something to avoid.

 

I'm very much in favour of determing the split of combat and combat advancement based on how you have split your focus in achieving goals. You should always get *some* of both, but a character who solves every problem with an axe should be seeing a much greater progression of combat skills, and so forth.

 

Well, I have a few thoughts about this. First, I hope there may be defensive as well as offensive combat skills, and perhaps a pacifist character could pour all their points into defensive abilities. This should always be an option to a "pacifist" character; however if you're goal is to make a "combat-weak" character then I suppose you're a bit out of luck. Second, what I hope the division of combat skills and non-combat skills means is that there are enough of the latter to have an interesting balance dynamic within that category. If we take traditional DnD-based games, there's really not enough "non-combat" focused skills to justify their own pool of experience; hopefully Project Eternity is more diverse in this regard and we won't be choosing between just five or six skills.

 

Most importantly though, this thread may represent a misconception of what Project Eternity is doing, which is merely having independent pools for the combat and non-combat abilities. This is not to be confused with forcing character's to be half-and-half when it comes to this divide, and I'm not sure there's anything to suggest that's how it will be in PE. Rather, what we could see is that a non-combat oriented character never really levels up their combat skills because all the non-combat experience they gain can only be used to further level their non-combat skills. The reverse could also occur; a pure combat character only receives combat experience and thus never ends up having to pour resources into the non-combat skills because they've never gained any non-combat experience. In character creation they might indeed have every character evenly balanced with regard to the emphasis on combat or non-combat, but this changes as the character levels. You could think of it as having a "combat level" and a "non-combat level" that increase independently rather than having an overall character level. I'm not sure whether this is what Project Eternity is doing, but it would certainly solve the issue and we shouldn't jump to the conclusions that characters' combat and non-combat abilities will have to be equal.


Edited by mcmanusaur, 01 June 2013 - 08:05 AM.

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#17
Sannom

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And this makes a kind of sense - that is a possibility, that the character creation becomes so cookie cutter as to be "choose you weapon style, choose your source of power, chose your non-combat skill" generic of a template where the choices are different but the characters are essentially identical sized and shaped lollipops of different colors and flavors. Many players want to have one character a lollipop, but maybe another a tootsie pop, and mayber a third a popsicle...


How is this bad? You've got the color as an indicator of the flavor, and that is what is really important! Who cares if they all have the same shape?

You're basically saying that being able to build a warrior as an armor-wearing tearers of hordes or an agile single combat specialist is a bad thing and that instead each archetype should be its own class.

For short : I don't get the worry. D&D 3.5 too had its combat and non-combat resources separated, and it worked.

#18
Bhazor

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Key word is the player will get "Seperate" skill points for combat and non combat skills not the same skill points.

 

I imagine there will be a balance that will shift one way or the other depending on class. Fighters get double combat points but only half as many non combat skills. A mage will get half the combat skills but double the non combat skills etc. Or it might be stat based, have high intelligence/charisma compared to strength/agility then you'll get more dialog skills than combat skills.

 

But really, I'd say after 20 years Obsidian know how to make an RPG better than I do.







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