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Help with skill system for combat

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 06/13/2010

Okay so for a while I have been working on my game, my game has multiple KEY stats(as in D&D type stats, intelligence, strength, etc.) each giving the using character their own form of advantage (ie the faster characters can get in hit and get out before anyone notices, the more adept characters hit more often, the stronger characters deal more damage with their axe, the more durable characters shrug off and even ignore more damage, while the more magically attuned character can...well be more magical, haha. Even characters that split multiple ways keep within equal boundaries of the others (as in not better but not woefully worse) at least for most of the levels, with class choices pretty much evening out things. However I also have a few “Unique” stats that certain classes and races give access to, that give a few other uses, but they don’t necessarily strengthen the character (so far I only have ones that add to the role playing element, such as charm and luck)
my game features only 3 base classes (the fighter, the mage, and the expert) with a plethora of advanced classes and a few mastery classes. naturally advanced classes make characters improved upon the base classes, some advanced classes can be taken by multiple base classes (such as the bard, who can be taken by any of the 3, with the best bonuses coming from the expert(expert as in good at what he doesn’t, not necessarily assassin or thief, even a smith would fall into this catagory))
all characters use magic (I know it would seem like a game breaker, but so far I like how it works so far without undermining the mage.) I use a special magic leveling system, basically your caster level is based off your class+race(certain races increase or decrease your caster level) , you can only cast spells that fall within your caster level, spells and caster levels use a decimal system to further complicate casting a spell. A level 1 fighter based character with a caster level of .6 could not cast any spell above level .6, meaning any .1, .2, .3, etc. spell he could but a level 1.5 he could not.
Spells can be made by players ( I have a VERY elaborate spell crafting system that I am NOT going to get into here, let’s just say it’s fair and it works for now.) there are of course premade spells, but the idea of spellcrafting (called spell weaving) is…well to craft spells duh! So obviously my premade spells will not be top of the line…or I hope they aren’t.
Spells also come in a few varieties, not all spells are combat spells. What worried me here was with a leveling spell system, and the fact that no matter how role play oriented the dm will be, battle spells will inevitably out level other spells, so using the people from this site, I fixed that problem before it started, BWAHAHAHA! Oh…wrong laugh…
But anyways, the reason I give you information on spells, is that, although only slightly, they have something to do with my problems.

but I’ve run on a couple of problems
1 I don’t want to use "feats" like in DnD, and while my game has a vast amount of possibility of customization, I don’t want to give 100% free customization like in BESM, and MnM feels to…Idk, weak? Limited? And while I’ve already input a plethora of unique attributes to my game, (okay so a plethora perhaps is exaggerated, at least a little) I really don’t want to simply copy DnD with feats, even giving them a different title. (I did however use them as a different effect, as In DnD I don’t believe every feat qualified for the definition of the word feat, instead of giving you any variation in an ability, they give you more…effect? Instead of a cause they are an effect…best explanation I can give I guess…)
However I was okay with doing this with skills, I simply changed what ones there were to ones that fit the game and titled them “talents” instead of skills, KeKeKe.
2. This is what is really biting at me: I have a stat called skill, it increases your skills “meter” max, as you fight in combat you this meter, that starts at zero, rises up to this max. There are abilities, also called skills, that alter how you fight essentially, from countering to special knockdowns, and even altering magic(similar to metamagic…only cooler!BWAHAHAHA).
Well I started thinking about it, but while this skills system somewhat limits people from countering everything, and knocking everyone down, throwing everyone into the air, or overpowering every spell, there are other options, (basically I like the strategic working of it.)
Like DnD a role play style system, a player announces what hes doing and it doesn’t really detract from their actual actions, meta-magic is apart of the spell, knocking down becomes part of the attack, countering uses a free action, blah blah blah.
But one thing, attacking in my game, along with blocking and dodging have their own variation of effects.
Each one uses a type of “tiring” system, you can attack as much as you want, but your chances of hitting decrease every attack, more dexterious characters attack more often with more hits.
Dodging chances decrease every dodge, and blocking chances decrease with every block, but neither as greatly affected as attacking. (these decreases aren’t permanent for the whole round, if character a attacks character b, and b dodges or blocks, then his dodge or blocks decrease, but when character a is done, character b’s block and dodge reset, when character c attacks, than the only benefit from character a that affect character c is if character a did enough damage that character c can do enough to kill b.)
I just want to know what people really think I should do, getting rid of the skills system wont get rid of the stat, (like I said earlier, my game has more than just the basic stats, and this would just move skill to one of the “other” unique stats, making it less required but still useful…actually I think skill also affects archery..hmm.(better than dex or speed)

Basically my game has dozens of trade offs that a player has to make sure he understands at creation. It may seem complicated to someone looking at the mechanics, and that is because it is, and that is how I enjoy it.

I would like to conclude my questions with a reason to why I make my game! YAY! I knew you would enjoy it, besides if you read everything I typed, you deserve a cookie ^_^ seriously, go bake yourself some cookies.
I started this project when I tried to make characters from my book I am writing in DnD…didn’t work, so I tried BESM, still didn’t feel right…I started searching through thousands of other mechanics…none worked. So I decided to do what I do best…create, and I have…and its going wonderfully!
(also the clumped together stats felt limited, I like to compare things to real life, and being me, I compare them to the plethora of friends I have, a body builder isn’t always as fast as a runner, a thief isn’t always an archer(or gunsman), just because you can shoot a gun doesn’t make you dexterious, I myself have a plethora of physical skills that I compared to games (I am clumsy and unlucky, yet my karma defeats my luck…my luck that is so bad it loops around back into good…its really that bad,(things literally break and fall around me…)I am fast, strong, smart and wise(imo), yet I have other qualities in the same area that affect each of those negatively.(ie memory?horrible…chances are ill forget to check here for a week hahaha)

Joined: 10/13/2011
Where's my cookie?

Hi Mindwarper10,

I read through most of your posts and it looks like you have made a lot of progress with your design!

To clarify, your 2 questions were;

1) How to limit customization without resorting to "feats"
2) Should the "skill" meter be a part of the combat system.

Does the "skill" meter go back to zero at the end of combat or does it increase over a long period of time? Either way, is it correct to assume that the skill meter is limiting the available abilities of a player?

Good luck with your design!

Joined: 06/13/2010
cookies are in the cookie jar

yeah sorry, I guess I got so wrapped up in my explanation I forgot to clarify the questions exactly.
Yes on both, but for the second question it's also more of, should it be the used system or would something else stand as the better?

and yes the skill meter goes back to 0 after combat, and it is limiting the available abilities of a player.
Each player may start with an amount of skills based on their stat points in skill, such as a warrior may decide to have just enough of a skill meter to be able to counter attack once. while an expert might wish a wider range of skills and a larger skill meter.

and now that I think about it, if I keep the skill meter,
1. should skills be able to combo together, thus increasing the point of having a higher skill meter than to just have enough points to use a skill, (and as is the amount of skill gained is based on your max skill and what action you are taking)
2. should mage class characters even have skills for the skill meter that directly affect their spells? spell casting is already diverse, and the sorcerer class (wich is open to all three base classes) is the only class able to "defy" the actual rules of spellcasting (ie, they can cast spell "effects" without actually knowing a spell, but not to the max of their spellcasting ability)

and yes, im actually getting ready to ask some of my friends to playtest it!

Joined: 10/13/2011
Feats and Skills

It sounds like your skill meter concept may already be replacing the idea of feats so it might work out just fine.

With regard to skill meters, it sounds like the skill meter is the benefit to physical combat that magic only has in terms of customization. I don't think I would give spell casters the skill meter in the initial play tests.

If the skill meter is something you expect players to manage, then they will probably need a mix of attacks that either increase the skill meter level or reduce it. For example, a basic sword attack might not cost any skill points, but if it hits then the meter will increase. Later, a more powerful sword attack can be used that does not increase the skill meter, but costs several skill points. In this type of system, I imagine you would need to set a max value for the skill meter and a starting value. So an experienced warrior might already have 5 or 10 skill points ready to spend on special attacks.

I like the idea of skills being combo'd together, but I could also see it being abused...

"and for my next attack, I'll be delivering my patented flying shin punch power cleave shield bash attack. Take that, goblin scum!"

Joined: 01/17/2011
Skill meter

Personally I like the idea of a "skill meter" in combat.

In a vast number of movies/cartoons that involve the heroes fighting the villains, the fight starts with both sides doing 'normal' attacks and then gradually they build up to really amazing feats of skill. This has little semblance to reality, but it's _cool_. The cool factor alone makes it worth implementing. Some arcade fighting games mimic this with a 'power meter' that powers up as you do various actions and once it reaches a certain level you can launch a super attack.

However, very few RPGs allow this sort of combat to ensue, because all skills/feats/spells are available right from the start and there is no logical reason not to use them on round 1. If anything, players generally use up their best abilities at the start of the fight, so towards the end of the fight they are more likely to be using weaker effects than stronger ones. This might be realistic but it's not "heroic".

Your concept of a skill meter sounds like it is trying to simulate the effect of powering up during the fight, which I think is a good thing in an RPG. (I'm talking about heroic sword-and-sorcery RPGs, obviously, not a gritty realistic RPG.)

I would make the skill meter increase for each of the following:
- Warming up before the fight starts
- Making an attack (even an unsuccessful one, so that the underdog can make a comeback)

The skill meter would decrease rapidly after the end of the combat, so that you can't carry over your skill points to the next fight.

If you can "warm up" before the fight starts, this simulates several other effects nicely. For example, you could do away with the typical "ambush" or "surprise" bonus -- the bonus is that the ambusher will be warmed up while the ambushee is not. Similarly the typical "taking aim" bonus would be replaced with the same warming up rule. Trash-talking/Taunting/Distraction effects could reduce your target's skill meter. If each special ability that you use reduces your skill meter, this also explains nicely why you can't do a backwards somersault flying kick every single round (without resorting to arbitrary "once per day" rules).


Joined: 06/13/2010
Sounds like a plan, testing

Sounds like a plan, testing the game with skills being for the non-magical combat characters.

The way it works is pretty much like that, normal attacks increase skill, less on a miss, while more on a hit.
Right now I don't have a minimum start, and there is no limit to what the max can be.

Which would be part of a set of factors that run me into another problem,
characters gain stat points every level, while not very many, the fact that you could put even one point in your skill stat means your max skill meter would increase, since every skill right uses a set number of skill points, eventually the max skill points will never be reached, or even needed, unless you could chain skills, which could possibly be abused, but then I almost don't see why not allow such and abuse, considering the player worked to raise their skill throughout the combat.

and hey as long as its only used on basic enemies like the little goblins, iz okay no? hahaha.

I actually had not thought about fighting games when making this...maybe my subconcience was though...apparently!

And actually, most people don't tend to see it, but real fights kinda work that way in a sense too. nobody starts out with a fricking spin kick, its an effective move to say the least, but it takes more time to pull off, meaning you want to pull it off you must first find the most advantageous moment to pull it off.
In fact in most fights, street fights or martial arts tournements, very few people start off with a rather spectacular attack, those that do are either really skilled and can get away with it, or don't last very long.

Its like this brute I was fighting one time. He had the advantage of larger size (very few people dont for me, but this guy was big) meaning he had natural weight that he could put into his attacks, most of the time I was trying to avoid him, I didn't want to bother trying to counter him, I did not know his strength and did not want to give an opening, I would put in a few hits because I was faster, but mostly just to test his endurance and speed. Later in the fight, once I got used to his attacks, I was able to not only get a few countering techniques in, but pull off some more powerful moves than just punches and kicks, actually I did no kicking that fight whatsoever. Grappling being a specialty of mine, and how I had beaten his friend earlier that week, we did none of that, and he never once tried to tackle me or otherwise overpower me, unlike most guys would that were his size.

But on a side note, I'm obviously not going for a pure "realism" idea. While I am trying to be very realistic in design, I do not want to remove that feel of fantasy. As far as I can tell most people cannot relate their real life experiences to games, and that makes sense, last I checked people cannot say a few words and shoot fireballs into a crowd. I do not intend to make people able to relate real life to my game, if I accomplish that, then I have failed.
Then again as far as I can tell making yourself in this game is much easier than in games such as D&D due to the more spread stat system...

I do not remember if I said this earlier, but attacking, dodging, and blocking all increase your skill, sort of like you said "warming up". what I am sure I did not say is, even failed attempts increase your skill somewhat.

Two things that I have decided to consider adding are
1: more skilled characters having a higher starting skill, this would probably give a better fighting chance to the less combat oriented characters such as the expert, who will likely have higher skill. Archer based characters would also probably make good use of this.
2:kos has stated an ambush/suprise addition to the skill system, which makes sense. A person who is prepared who is attacking an unsuspecting victem is likely to pull off something more spectacular from the start.
Like you stated earlier kos, television uses a similair concept, starting out with less powerful moves and moving into more powerful moves. Yet there are times when the stronger moves come right from the start, usually in sneak attacks.

I really enjoy the input so far, very glad I found this site, I have few friends into these sort of games, fewer friends that could or would help in such a game, and I no longer live near the bulk of them...actually I only live near ONE other person...perhaps the only person in the stat that plays such games, sigh. (guess Ill just have to deal with it, Im the one who has dedicated my life to being both a cowboy and a nerd...and a cop...wish me luck hahahaha)

Thank yall very muchly, I appreciate the help. The more input, the better my game will be.

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