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Party vs. Individual Skill Checks.


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Both the new and old skill systems in the backer Beta were/are quite controversial. People complained about

the first system because it seemed pointless to not have each character focus on one skill, and the second system

because it links talents and skills. I think the root of the problem is having only five skills. There are many ways one could solve this problem, but one solution that seems elegant is to have party and individual skill checks.

 

Individual skill checks would be like what is already in place. The character with the highest skill makes a check for the group.

 

A group skill check would add up the skill totals of all the party makers and make a check based on the sum of all ranks in a skill that a party possesses.

 

Now consider if about 50% of all skill checks are individual and 50% party based. A group where each character specializes in one skill will pass all individual skill checks, but flub all party skill checks. A group specializing on two or three skills will make half of the group skill checks and half of the party skill checks. This would give skills value and encourage replays with different skill points allotments.

 

One important thing though, this would have to be clearly written on the character sheet. Something like:

 

Stealth:  8  (25)

Mechanics 0 (21)

Athletics: 8 (40)

Lore: 0 ( 8 )

Survival: 0 (16)

Edited by forgottenlor
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PE uses a mix of PC and per-unit skill checks. Sometimes the PC's skill is checked, sometimes it's a single unit and sometimes it's everyone.

 

I did suggest combined checks a while ago, back when there was a big debate about the Crafting Skill and Durability

 

Here is what Josh Sawyer had to say in reply

 

Sensuki, the main problem I see with your proposed additive skill system is that it inflates the range of skill values (to oppose target difficulties) by potentially multiplying the maximum range by 6 party members. If the bonuses from additional party members are not linear, but fractional, it creates new efficiency problems for the player to solve between all of their characters' skill pools. It's something we looked at that on its face seems to make sense, but it actually creates more complications for players and designers.

 

It doesn't really matter (IMO) if one character winds up performing any given action based on having the highest skill. The derived systemic benefit will, practically speaking, often outweigh the less frequently-encountered benefit in any given environment. In F:NV, you arguably consume food/drink items much more regularly than you craft food/drink items, so the derived bonus that comes from Survival is (I argue) more beneficial than the specific instances where you craft with it or use it in dialogue/quests.

I think the answer is to make some options in the game require two skills to pass. That would encourage dabbling in two different skills at least.

Edited by Sensuki
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Ok, I guess they won't be doing that then. Yes, I agree that passing two checks would encourage you to put the same skill on multiple characters. Its too bad though that the additive system doesn't work, it seemed like it would be the best at encouraging experimentation with assigning skills.

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I'm pretty much resigned to the skill system being the way it is; they're probably much too far along to make wholesale changes of that type. My current perspective is that the 5 Skills have become essentially a new set of attributes--they are general parameters that serve a relatively broad number of functions, rather than being fine grained tunable parameters.

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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Do you think that streamlining the IWD2/3E/4E skills into 5 skills was a good idea?

 

I can see where the benefits are from a coding and game development perspective; they don't have to worry about adding checks against a large number of skills (for balance purposes). If it was a PnP game though, I don't think it would be an appealing approach because it limits your choices for character creation and development.

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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Yeah, I'm replaying New Vegas right now, and I forgot how much I like how Fallout did skills (in general). There weren't really too many, and they all apply in various ways to various situations.

 

Also, I trust that Josh Sawyer knows a lot more about the problems he's describing (because he's a developer, and has surely more extensively approached the possibility than I have), but I'd really like a simple-for-simpletons-like-me example of exactly how the sheer existence of some aggregate skill checks creates so many problems. I'm not saying "Pssh, SURE it does..."... I just honestly cannot intuitively conclude the kinds of problems that would arise.

 

Because, I think having some "Hey, you need TWO people with high Stealth here" situations would be really good.

 

That's the other thing. You've really got two options (that I can think of):

 

1) Have "This check requires 30 in this skill... now add up all your party's skill values, and see if it's 30 total" checks. OR

2) Have "This check requires a skill of 7, but it requires X people" checks.

 

Doesn't have to be a lot of them, but, ESPECIALLY in a system with only 5 skills, it would sure bestow a lot more meaning on exactly what your characters' skill ratings were, as they pertain to your situation-handling options and narrative choices, etc.

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Honestly, it's hard to do skill checks right in a party-based game.

If you implement only a few skills (say, less than 10), each of them can show up a lot during gameplay and be frequently relevant, but at the same time you can specialise each of your 6 party members to cover everything. And if you implement more skills so that the party won't be able to cover everything, it will dilute the usefulness of each skill, resulting in all of them being less relevant.

There are workarounds, as already proposed in this thread - making some skill checks only available for the player character like in NWN2 (which was annoying and/or nonsensical at times), or double skill checks (either checking for two skills or for the same skill on two characters). But the fact the system needs a workaround to be satisfying isn't a point in its favour.

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In Icewind Dale 2 the really only must have skills were concentration for spellcaster, locks/traps for thieves, and performance for bards. Stealth was optional but useful. For me Icewind Dale 2 is an example of how poorly the D&D skill system could be translated into a computer game. Intimidation and Diplomacy I think were checked one or twice in the entire game, though they could make some onerous quests easier. Neverwinter Nights 2 did it much better, though most skills were optional.

Still I think it would have been better in POE to have more skills. Mechanics could have been spilt into locks and traps. I know why they removed social skills, but they would have made a much richer skill system. The problem with so few skills is to make it equally viable to give each character the same skill as it is to specialize each character in one skill.

Edited by forgottenlor
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If you implement only a few skills (say, less than 10), each of them can show up a lot during gameplay and be frequently relevant, but at the same time you can specialise each of your 6 party members to cover everything. And if you implement more skills so that the party won't be able to cover everything, it will dilute the usefulness of each skill, resulting in all of them being less relevant.

 

There's another way to look at this: replay value. If you can't cover every skill then there are side quests that you may not be able to complete. You can either wait until your party can satisfy that skill, or you can leave it for another play through. In other words, fewer skills means less replay value.

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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