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Over the course of the development and then the beta, there was a lot of bellyaching about Josh's stated intent to eliminate "trap choices" in the game, to make light and medium armor viable, and to make all or most weapons attractive for at least some characters, without having hard restrictions à la AD&D armor and weapon restrictions.

 

Many feared this would make every class, weapon, spell, and ability play effectively the same. I thought I'd jot down some of my thoughts on how the game is doing relative to this design intent in a few specific areas.

 

(Usual disclaimers apply: I'm having a huuuuuuuuge amount of fun with this, I think Obsidian hit it out of the park, it is the best cRPG of the decade hands down etc etc, so do not construe this as hating on the game because that I'm not doing. And yeah the bugs need fixing, and perhaps Obsidian's coding practices need some improvement so they don't make so many in the first place before it gets to QA.)

 

Classes

 
Success. Yay for the classes. There's a good deal of griping about how wizards have been nerfed and whatever, but at least I'm finding all the classes useful and fun to play. I hated the Ranger during the BB, but am quite liking it now, to the point that I'm thinking of rolling one at some point. We can argue all day about which one makes a better tank, the fighter or the paladin, or if druids are OP relative to wizards, if chanter Invocations come too late (yes they do, especially if you're using the higher-level chants), and so on, but all in all I'm really, really happy about the classes. They're as varied as they can be with 11(!) of them, they're all effective, and they're all fun. (Okay, some I don't personally find as much fun as others, e.g. the barbarian, but that's due to personal preference.)

 

Stats

 

Fail. The intent was to reduce the incentive to minmax and make every ability useful for every class. The outcome is that now there are pretty much two optimal stat distributions -- one for DPS characters, another for tanks. DPS takes MIG, INT, DEX, tanks take CON, PER, RES. Support characters and some gimmick hybrid builds can tweak these a little, but that's about it. I.e. it ended up in the same minmaxing place AD&D started from, except that now there's no optimal stat distribution for each class, but for each build. 

 

With all the iterations the stats have gone through, by now I'm kinda convinced that a six-stat system is just plain bad. There's no way to make one that's at the same time intuitive, non-minmaxy, and genuinely impactful. As it is it doesn't really bother me but considering all the angst the discussion caused, they might as well have gone with STR-CON-DEX-INT-WIS-CHA and left it at that.

 

Armor

 

Qualified failI'm honestly finding no use for light or medium armor, once I get to the point I have the resources to genuinely choose what to wear. I mean of course wearing it isn't unviable, but mechanically it's really simple -- Edér and Kana (my off-tank) get the heaviest armor available, everybody else wears one of those snazzy outfits you can get by murdering backer NPC's. However, since the armor restrictions have been removed, there is slightly more scope for tactical variation; I have been in a situation where Edér's been so badly beat up I've temporarily switched Sagani to the front line in heavy armor. Also, because of the speed penalty, at least it's not "always wear the heaviest armor," but "tanks wears heaviest armor, everybody else wears nothing."

 

However: I think this may be a learning curve thing. If you're unfamiliar with the mechanics and haven't yet figured out how to keep your squishies out of trouble, light/medium armor does give a bit more margin for error. I do not find the trade-off worthwhile.

 

This is a bit of a shame as the armor models look really cool. The only way I can think of to mitigate this would be to sprinkle in more unique armors with attractive side effects so your off-tanks might want to wear them despite the speed penalty, or put in higher-tier lighter armors first, so they'd become the best choices. The expanded AoE Aloth's armor gives is so useful I've kept him wearing it, for example.

 

Weapons

 

Success. This is largely thanks to the Weapon Focus groupings. Each of the groups has one or more really, genuinely attractive choices, and after you've picked one, all the other weapons in that group become interesting. After that, it's all up to the unique item properties and finding the right character to use them. It's not perfect but it's really very good. Also the special properties in different weapons are highly interesting when combined with different character roles. In the early game, having Edér wield two hatchets for the extra DEFL and the benefits of dual-wielding is interesting for example. Needs a bit of tuning of course, but it really has worked. I've experimented with most of the weapon groups and have found all of them satisfying and varied.

 

Talents and Abilities

 

Partial success. On the plus side, there are enough talents and abilities and they're varied enough that you really can skew builds in different ways. Rogues can become straight-up damage dealers, or focused backstabbers, or gunners, or ranged death-dealers. Wizards can focus on spellcasting or improve their pew-pew-pew. Durance can become a competent gunner or a pure dedicated supporter. 

 

However, many of the talents are just... not very good. Bear's Fortitude? Also some of them combine in uncomfortable ways, Backstab for example is next to useless before you get Shadowing Beyond, which really isn't that great for a 2/rest talent. (Should be 1/encounter IMO; there would still be a reason to pick Escape also as that'd let you duck out of trouble twice per encounter.) And, conversely, some of the talents are fairly obviously much more useful than the alternatives -- Flames of Devotion as opposed to Lay On Hands, for example. 

 

This could be fixed by tuning: turning some of the weaker per-rests into per-encounters or increasing the number of uses (turning Lay On Hands into a small-radius area heal would make it attractive, for example). 

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An interesting post, and I think balanced perspectives. As for armor, I've pretty much decided to keep a nice mix of medium/light/heavy in my party. It's maybe not the most efficient, but since my party is getting by just fine, it's obviously also not hindering me.

 

It just feels much more satisfying to have the variation.

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Great post, I agree wholeheartedly. Nice to see such a well formated post formulated with not only solid intelligence but also experience with the game.

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See, I don't totally agree with the armor points. I'm running a barb as my main (admittedly on Hard and no PotD) and I find a light to medium armor to work best for me. Basically, I need the least amount of armor necessary to prevent getting wiped too fast for healing to save me.

 

Example: when I fought Readric, I had my barb dancing on the line of death (okay, knockout) the whole time all the while dishing out fast damage/carnage. If I'm naked, I can't intervene in time to stop his knockout. If I'm in full plate, I'm 33 percent slower, and we all die.

 

So while I agree the answer is obvious for tanks and ranging DPS/support, I think it is more complex for the melee DPS types. I'm no cRPG expert, but I wonder how medium/light armor could work for a Monk who needs to take as much damage as possible without insta wiping.

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As for me - person who finds fighting in cRPGs boring, stats are interesting, they allow one to make some interesting choices.


"Go where the others have gone, to the tenebrous limit

for the golden fleece of void, your ultimate prize

go upright among those who are on their knees

among those turning their backs on and those fallen to dust"

Zbigniew Herbert, Message of Mr. Cogito

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@Emperor Pen Good points. I haven't played with the barb or monk much; just a couple run-throughs in the BB. They probably will have a use for medium armor. Count them as special cases mitigating the basic problem with the armor system.


I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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With all the iterations the stats have gone through, by now I'm kinda convinced that a six-stat system is just plain bad. There's no way to make one that's at the same time intuitive, non-minmaxy, and genuinely impactful. As it is it doesn't really bother me but considering all the angst the discussion caused, they might as well have gone with STR-CON-DEX-INT-WIS-CHA and left it at that.

 

 

I would prefer scrapping it and just having class-specific cost system for the derived stats. Obviously, AoE and duration are more valuable for casters than a fighter who has only a few abilities with durations and pretty much no AoE.

 

They aren't equal in value for all classes and shouldn't be treated as such.

 

I think the goal to make a simple, easy to understand system was the bigger fail. It's very difficult to make a compelling system while trying to keep it simple and avoiding lots of exceptions and specifics.

 

Then, dialogue can be separated from attributes which would make my day like nothing else. I would rather define my character's personalities than have them tied up in combat stats limiting my dialogue options. Skills, background traits, culture, etc. are much more suited for dialogue check stuff.

 

 

(Okay, some I don't personally find as much fun as others, e.g. the barbarian, but that's due to personal preference.)

 

 

I actually think both Barbarian and Ranger have some major flaws. AoE melee is just less reliable than ranged, and melee damagers in general aren't as valuable as tanky ones - they aren't that amazing damage output wise, while they take a lot more damage and get hit by more CC. Ranger pets are also kinda lackluster, and rangers don't have many outstanding abilities to use nor do they do great damage. You'd think they'd be good single target, but they're not compared to a caster unloading. I found them just as weak on boss fights as on trash.

 

Rogue IMO is also a bit weak due to fragility. They're neat for solo antics but their escape tools don't hold much value in a party setting and in melee they're a liability while as ranged they don't contribute a lot aside from single target damage which just isn't an important enough role for most encounters.

 

At higher levels especially, casters just outshine melee with their sheer versatility and all the synergies between the available spells.

 

Wizard does also have some serious issues, though they're saved from their bad spells by their good ones at the moment.

 

 

"tanks wears heaviest armor, everybody else wears nothing."

 

 

Padded - Hide range is pretty decent. You're not always chain casting.

 

The big problem is that armor doesn't scale very well at all with damage. It's great at lower levels, but at higher levels, even 10+ DR is just nothing against the heavy hitters and high level spells. The DR system just doesn't work. Armor goes from mitigating maybe 30-80% of damage taken at low levels, to more like 10-30% against serious higher level encounters. I'm making those numbers up but you get the idea.

 

 

However, many of the talents are just... not very good. Bear's Fortitude?

 

 

Mortification of the Soul is my favorite useless talent haha. Every time I build a Monk I look at it and think "wat". 3 wounds per rest, wow. Bull's Fort can actually be a decent way to "fix" a character that's dumped con and might, which some builds actually could be good with. I don't think it was a good pick on Durance, but it's nice that it's there actually. The defense gaining ones don't do a lot for non-tanky builds though, as I've been saying with beta deflection/defense feel a little too "go all out or don't bother".

 

 

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Theres a few classes that do like half the dmg and offer no real utility compared to something like Cipher/Druid/Mage, but for the most part they are fine.  

Edited by Parsong

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I will say, I totally agree otherwise. The stats are a bit disappointing, though I still like stats for builds better than stats for classes. (If there is an optimal stat choice for each class, why even pick stats? At least with the two builds, you can make some choices here and there. E.g., dps warrior vs tanky warrior.)

 

I do love the weapon talents. Very cool idea to group them the way they did. Especially with the three melee damage types working like they do.

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 I am making use of the light armours. My casters are in fine robes since 5 DR in exchange for 15% recovery penalty doesn't feel that bad. If I had my choice though I would reduce everything in the game by 10%. So robes would give a 5% penalty, Brigandine a 40%. Plate I would leave at 50%. I feel if they did this it would be reasonable incentive to wear the lighter armour. There are enough blink striking and aoe attacks in the game that I feel a small penalty to recovery in exhange for some protection would be nice.

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@Odd Hermit I've mostly been playing a DPS rogue and have found that highly rewarding. Sneak Attack synergises really well with the other classes -- slap a Curse of Blackened Sight or Eyestrike on a group, and the rogue will chew through it like a hot knife through butter. It's also not that hard to keep him out of trouble.

 

Also agree about armor scaling. I didn't want to bring that up here because it's not relevant for the basic issue. In the early BB's, armor was a combination of DR + DT, where DR was a percentage reduction of damage and DT was what DR is now. It was mechanically much better IMO but apparently people found it too hard to understand so they changed it.

 

That was a mistake IMO. From where I'm at, there are two kinds of players -- intuitive/empiricists and theorycrafters. The intuitive/empiricists experiment with a bunch of stuff and go with how well it works in practice; the theorycrafters crunch through the numbers to find the optimal solution. I believe the theorycrafters would've crunched through the somewhat more complex armor mechanic just as well, and the intuitives would've figured it out from experience.

 

I kinda wish they'd change it back, but it's too late now.

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@Odd Hermit I've mostly been playing a DPS rogue and have found that highly rewarding. Sneak Attack synergises really well with the other classes -- slap a Curse of Blackened Sight or Eyestrike on a group, and the rogue will chew through it like a hot knife through butter. It's also not that hard to keep him out of trouble.

 

Also agree about armor scaling. I didn't want to bring that up here because it's not relevant for the basic issue. In the early BB's, armor was a combination of DR + DT, where DR was a percentage reduction of damage and DT was what DR is now. It was mechanically much better IMO but apparently people found it too hard to understand so they changed it.

 

That was a mistake IMO. From where I'm at, there are two kinds of players -- intuitive/empiricists and theorycrafters. The intuitive/empiricists experiment with a bunch of stuff and go with how well it works in practice; the theorycrafters crunch through the numbers to find the optimal solution. I believe the theorycrafters would've crunched through the somewhat more complex armor mechanic just as well, and the intuitives would've figured it out from experience.

 

I kinda wish they'd change it back, but it's too late now.

 

That does sound like a much better system. The early BB's were a bit of a mess though, I didn't play them that much since combat was buggy chaos and I got BB access to experiment with builds and have a clear idea of what I wanted to play once it released.

 

What difficulty are you playing rogue on? I'm doing mostly PoD at the moment, and I've found spells are just better than physical for whittling down tougher enemies. Melee rogues do great damage, but melee damagers feel much more likely to draw attention and get KOed quickly.

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Hard. The way PotD screws with the enemy stats is off-putting to me for some reason. I have a hunch the increased enemy ACC may throw a bunch of systems out of whack, especially the armor: if hard-hitting enemies are critting a lot more, no armor's gonna stop that.

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Hard. The way PotD screws with the enemy stats is off-putting to me for some reason. I have a hunch the increased enemy ACC may throw a bunch of systems out of whack, especially the armor: if hard-hitting enemies are critting a lot more, no armor's gonna stop that.

 

I agree. Same reason I didn't like Heart of Winter. It skews the value of so many things.

 

I wish they'd have found a better way to increase the difficulty. Hard was too easy for me, using 3 custom + 3 companions, and now they're supposedly making the companions better plus I know the game better.

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The armour recovery penalties are ludicrous. I have Eder in his custom armour, sword and board and his attack speed is slovenly to say the least. My two-handed barbarian I tried out (leather armour) is also quite slow.

 

There should be three armour types - slow / med / fast recovery. The speed / protection tradeoff isn't working and for the life of me I can't imagine anyone wearing plate armour.

 

So, yes I definitely agree on the armour point. I never liked the stats mechanics anyway.

 

Damage reduction is confusing for different types of enemies, it's *way* more complicated than the precursor games.

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Hehe, yeah, a Path of the Not Quite Damned would be good, with the massive monster groups of PotD but without the stat adjustments.

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There should be three armour types - slow / med / fast recovery. The speed / protection tradeoff isn't working and for the life of me I can't imagine anyone wearing plate armour.

 

Tanks. They don't need to do any damage, they just need to sit there, hold enemies down, and get pummelled as you use your DPS characters to scrape them off him.

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@Emperor Pen Good points. I haven't played with the barb or monk much; just a couple run-throughs in the BB. They probably will have a use for medium armor. Count them as special cases mitigating the basic problem with the armor system.

 

Yea the barb particularly can't afford to throw on plate unless you really have to or you just like the aesthetic. 25-35% reaction is what I've found to work best for him.

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There should be three armour types - slow / med / fast recovery. The speed / protection tradeoff isn't working and for the life of me I can't imagine anyone wearing plate armour.

 

Tanks. They don't need to do any damage, they just need to sit there, hold enemies down, and get pummelled as you use your DPS characters to scrape them off him.

 

 

How very, very MMORPG.

 

* Sigh *

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:shrug: You don't have to like it, but it's just not true that there's no reason to wear plate armor.

 

Edit: Also, it's not like there weren't tanks in the IE games. Maxing out AC on one of your characters and getting enemies to aggro him is pretty crucial to IE game tactics as well. Whether that tank also does damage or not is optional; fighters do damage but a cleric or druid will make a perfectly good tank as well, and they won't be all that good a that.

Edited by PrimeJunta
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I think the better approach is to do away with reaction penalties for armour and either make it where you have to meet a certain requirement or simply prevent the execution of abilities while wearing it.

 

The mechanic to make armour have a trade off has always been gimmicky imo. I don't like to throw in too much reality in games, but I can't help ignore what little I know about full plate harnesses and how 'un-encumbering' they really are.... but that topic would derail the OP.

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The defensive talents are extremely boring. Definitely need to be made a bit more attractive so people might consider them over some class/offensive stuff outside a specific min/maxed POTD gimmick build. 

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I'm sure many of us have seen displays where re-enactors have done near-acrobatics in full plate. We know the PoE armour system is 'gamist' nonsense McGuyvered to make the rest of the system work. It's even more galling seeing as it's set in an analagous time period where full plate armour had reached it's apogee of function (Milanese plate etc).

 

As for IE game tanks, PJ is being slightly disingenuous. Even super-armoured -15 AC characters in ToB take constant damage. IE game tanks require a tradeoff of Hit Points / damage output / AC and resistances to survive.

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I guess the stat min/max problem could be solved by making higher stats cost more points, and lowering stats to a certain point give fewer points back.

 

Personally I like my character to have a mixed set of stats, from a rpg perspective.

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@MC You're not very consistent with your criticisms, you know that? Like here, you fault P:E for "gamist nonsense" but at the same time you give AD&D a pass when it dictates that rogues can't shoot longbows, wizards can't shoot crossbows, clerics can't use swords, lets you rest every thirty seconds, and lets thieves hide in shadows in bright daylight. All of that is "gamist nonsense" as well. There's no reason for it except gamist reasons.

 

I.e. a lot of what you say doesn't look like legitimate, actual critique at all; it's instead just knee-jerk conservatism and an unwillingness to understand how this system works. I'd have a lot more respect for your opinions if you applied your standards consistently and made a genuine effort to figure out how and why things are like they are.

 

As to the ToB endgame, well, the endgame's always the endgame, isn't it? That's when the general rules go out the window and the games throws something at you that you have to pull out all the stops to beat. And of course there are lots of fights in BG2 which don't need a tank or can't be tanked, e.g. the caster-, beholder-, illithid-, and lich-fights. That does not mean that tanking isn't crucial to success in the fights where you're facing hard-hitting melee enemies.

Edited by PrimeJunta
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