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Equipment progression and Why have different weapons?

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

I am currently redesigning the game rules for a Wizardry video game remake, and I have problems figuring out how to design my equipment, especially progression of equipment over time with the character progression.

In many classic Video RPG like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, the equipment progression is linear. As you find new cities, better gear is available, so you just pay more and your gear progress with your character. It also creates the syndrome of too strong/weak enemies for your gear making battles too easy or too hard.

In Wizardry, there is only 1 city and most equipment is found in the dungeon. Based on Dungeon and Dragons, the Wizardry series seems to use a two axis progression: Equipment type and power up. The best example, is with armor which was a bit easier to design. For example, I have:

Leather Armor (Light Armor)
Chain Mail (Medium Armor)
Plate Mail (Heavy Armor)

A fighter is only going to start with light armor proficiency, and as he gain levels, he can gain proficienciess in heavier armor and upgrade his equipment. Heavier armor are also more expensive, so he might not have the money early game. This is what I call Vertical progression. Then each type of armor can get mastercrafted or enchanted which gives additional modifiers, resistances to certain elements, magical defense, etc. This is what I call Horizontal progression.

In my old system, there was no vertical progression, You could equip the plate mail level 1 if you had the right class. Still in both system a rogue, would have no vertical progression because he could not be proficient in more than leather armor, so he can only hope for horizontal progression

It gets more complicated with with weapons, vertical progression is virtually non-existent. Yes I could have dagger, short sword, long sword, and bastard sword, but not sure if would really make sense, and it does not work with all weapons. Also characters seems to use different weapons which are not on a progression chart. Clerics uses maces and fighter used swords. But is a sword and upgrade to a mace, not really, it just a different way to attack your enemy. So different weapons cannot be sorted in a vertical progression.

Which makes me wonder if there should there be vertical progression? In a non-fantasy world, horizontal progression would almost not be allowed, so only vertical progression remains, but vertical progression in weapon is complex to implement. So maybe I should only stick to horizontal upgrades

What is the advantage of having different type of gear? If you fight with swords, the only reason to change is if you get some horizontal upgrades. Else I was thinking at different variations, like a lighter sword that is more maneuverable but does less damage. Or maybe you prefer axes because they yield more damage but are more clumsy. Again, it more a matter of configuration and preference than power ups. Maybe I should focus more on that type of upgrades.

What are your though on this?

Is there other type of progressions I had not talked about?

Is having little progression in any axis a good thing?. That will reduce equipment management.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Quality and handling of materials

Not sure if this helps you.

A better and stronger sword is more expensive for a reason.
The blacksmith needs more materials, a hotter fire, better equipment himself, and time, in order to craft a better sword.

The skills of whoever handles the sword, doesn't really matter? Except for being able to handle the difference of the weight of the sword. Earned skills might be executed harder with a sword that has the exact same size as the previous sword. But is heavier.

Of course, switching back to a lighter sword afterwards. Would make this sword very easy to do things with. But the maximum possible result would reach an upper limit sooner than a heavier sword.


A player starts with 0 skill and gains skill to a mamimum of 4.

The 3 tiers of swords
2d, max damage is 8+skill
3d, max damage is 10+skill
4d, max damage is 12+skill

Rolling above would mean a reduction.

Lets say, 0 skill.
Then the average rolls are 7, 10.5 and 14.
The light sword has no problem with this.
The medium sword would be 10.
And the heavy sword only 12.

If that same player had 2 skills.
The heavy sword would be doing 14.

As for a possible maximum of damage.
The light sword will increase from 8 to 12. With 4 skills.
The medium would go from 10 to 18 with 8 skills.
The heavy would go from 12 to 24 with 12 skills.

The only question remains. If a player can afford the heavy sword. Would the player really get the heavy sword right away??

Maybe a failed strike attempt is very possible with a lower skill as well.
I leave that to your imagination.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
You were doing fine until ... the example

I was almost able to follow what you were saying Ramon... Up until the point of where you cited an "example" with average dice rolls, damage and skill stats... I think all of that "thinking" is way too "technical".

Sure it may work in your mind, but Eric might have a completely other way of using weapons. For example: Determinism (no dice). His own version may not use any dice (and I know Eric a bit)... He's not really a fan of luck rolling. Another approach may use dice in a "dice pool" and use a bunch of "1" or "0" dice, you roll nine (9) of them and that determines the luck portion of your roll. And maybe the number of dice you roll depends on your skill level (and that would imply something like 1 to 9 levels)... Another example of using dice differently.

My whole point of this is just to try to NOT be "too technical" and focus on the questions presented. Eric may have his own combat resolution mechanic but still can serve from general replies not specifying the type of dice to use and the amount of damaged produced.

Now MY answer to your question ... And it derives from @X3M's response. Weapons are ALL ABOUT DAMAGE. The more DAMAGE a weapon does, the better it is to use. Some weapons have certain TYPES of damage like Fire, Frost, Electrical, Vorpal, etc. Those usually have a benefit and a penalty. Meaning Fire is GREAT until you encounter a Demon or Hellhound...

Getting back to DAMAGE. Aside from CLASS penalties (eg. Cleric must use Blunt Weapons and Mages can't use anything bigger than a small sword or a Dagger) usually WEAPONS require some kind of "skill" to be able to use. Like STRENGTH to equip a Long Sword is of a certain minimum.

The other thing about ARMOR is that it too is more or less effective towards certain weapons. Like a MACE may be great against Chain and Plate Mail ... But be less effective against Leather or Studded Armor.

That's the other side about ARMOR. It too can have bonuses or penalties depending on the type of weapon being used to attack. Like a Short Flaming Sword might be more effective against Leather or Studded Armor but be LESS effective against Chain or Plate...

I think the easiest thing is to figure out which ARMOR you want in your game (1 to 5 or more) and then figure out which weapons are MORE effective which gives you a +X bonus and -Y Penalties. And then map out DAMAGE and CLASS restrictions and skill minimums.

I don't know what STATS your game has. But that's your mission to figure out. It ALL boils down to doing the MOST damage and using the most effective weapon against one or more category of Monsters. Like your Frost Sword is 2x more effective against "Fire" Monsters and 1x effective towards other Monsters... but is PENALIZED when combating a "Storm Giant" for example...

I think it will look more like a Tech Tree with BLUNT, PIERCING and SLASHING types of weapons. But figure out your ARMORS FIRST and marry them to their type counterparts (Blunt, Piecing and Slashing).

But you may also want to rely a skill for RAPIDITY. Like a Long Sword does more damage but requires 2-Hands and is slower to attack with that say a pair of Magical Daggers which automatically return to the owner...

Conclusion: it's not easy to give a simple answer. It depends HOW intricate your STAT system is and how to connect it to your WEAPONS.


Note #1: There are other STATS too like ENDURANCE which affects EMCUMBRANCE and allows you to carry LESS Weapons (depending on their weight). That too is another factor (in some games).

Like I said it is hard to GENERALIZE because D&D is the epitome of COMPLEXITY. There are a ton of stats and there are a ton of factors. The equipment system in D&D is a TRUE "work-of-art" in itself. And there are so many factors.

But in my mind, the KEY is maximizing DAMAGE. Players use the BEST WEAPON they have for their CLASS of Hero and that relies on various STATS that each player has.

Note #2: The other thing is that EVEN if you can BUY more powerful weapons, doesn't mean you have the STATS to use them... And therefore even simple weapons can require a player to LEVEL UP before buying them.

Another point is if your game has "Enchanting". If basic weapons can somehow become "Enchanted" via scrolls or a ritual (for example) ... That too can affect both the TYPE and AMOUNT of damage.

Enchanting is a BIG DEAL. Because it's very complex and it is also the life-boon of dungeon raiding is about: it's about finding that MAGICAL WAND or that MAGICAL Bastard Sword, etc.

Again too hard to comment further... Because we don't know how EVOLVED your game is ... And how much complexity you want to SAVE or PERFORM...

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
No such thing as BALANCE

The other point I wanted to make is this: D&D games don't need BALANCE. Something that X3M's example is trying to achieve. Why do I say this? Because it's all about getting BETTER LOOT/equipment. Better Sword, more effective Armor, Magical Boots, All kinds of Enchanted Rings. That's why people PLAY games like Wizardry.

If the narrative is "thin" ... The focus is placed on the "Reward" system.

Think of Diablo I. (I have not played Diablo II)

The game is all about LOOT DROPS. Collecting more GOLD to afford better weapons which sometimes you get when you defeat a Monster.

(Diablo I) Watch this video:

This talks about the Diablo stats up until the FIRST Five (5) Minutes. Of course you will do it differently but this gives you SOME ideas too...

Note #1: The reason I talked about BALANCE is because some games are EASIER for a LEVEL if you have better equipment. Or perhaps the Boss Fight is easier, etc. I you look at games like Dragon Quest ... Usually if an AREA is too DIFFICULT is because in the LINEAR CREEP of things, there is one or more areas you should explore FIRST and LEVEL UP so that you can go visit (or progress) the harder areas...

So many games don't necessarily use BALANCE ... But do rely HEAVILY on a LEVELING UP mechanism... (And STAT boosts)

Note #2: Other games rely on the quantity of monsters in an encounter. Like in ULTIMA. The more characters in your party usually the more monsters to battle. But you can usually run away from weaker monsters or ones that can be annoying that can cause disease or poison...

This is relevant because WIZARDRY used to be about having a PARTY. But IF you do it like ULTIMA, you can recruit as you play along and not have a full party from the beginning... That too also plays a role in how HARD a BATTLE is with the Monsters you are encountering.

Note #3: I think another aspect is a game being UN-BALANCED meaning you can gain POWERFUL weapons for the first Five (5) Levels and then you need BETTER ones for levels 6 to 10 (for example).

Just because ONE PART of the adventure is EASY... Doesn't mean it will LAST for the ENTIRE game!

I really think for most adventure games... It's ALL about being UN-BALANCED. EVEN SIMPLE games like the BBS Door where you are in an arena. Let me tell you... You want to get that GREAT BOW ASAP so you can kill your opponent from the OPPOSITE side of the ARENA.

Is WINNING BATTLES BORING?!?! Heck no! Is it EASY with the GREAT BOW?! OF COURSE, but that's why we love the "GREAT BOW"!!!

Again sometimes in some games, BALANCE is out the window and figuring out how to BEST do the MOST DAMAGE with minimizing your own health damage is also a LOT OF FUN too!

So BALANCE doesn't always rule a game... Sometimes it's UN-BALANCE that makes a game FUN too! (Like having that Great Bow in the Arena!!!)

Note #4: But some players may have the "Iron Shield" which is an item that BLOCKS ALL "Bows"... So even IF you HAVE the bow... Your luck has run out ... Because the opponent has a SHIELD to counter the effectiveness of the Bow! (And in this respect ... Maybe some gladiators have the shield...) Or you could go back to the Weapon Rack and choose the "Iron Shield" to counter that big bad Bow!

But maybe that "Iron Shield" only shows up when you are Level 10 or higher... < Wink! >

Note #5: And GETTING that Great Bow is NOT EASY: you must defeat "Robin Hood" and he is the one with the BOW at the beginning of the battle. Once you defeat him, you can claim the Great Bow for yourself. It's a TOUGH battle and you may need to use a few healing potions. But once you get the BOW ... It more than pays for itself in the long run of the game.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Unified Advancement Mechanic

How is advancement managed for other aspects of the game? Can you somehow fold armour and weapon effectiveness into this?

This is kind of a "big picture" question, and I have to apologize because I don't know about your system. For example, in [at least the early versions of] D&D there are improvements to hit points, chances to hit when attacking, and to avoid certain types of damage - via saving throws - as a character gains experience and levels. In version 3.5 [my personal limit in terms of D&D exposure] there were skills and perks you could earn with experience, and even as far back as 2nd Edition there were optional non-weapon proficiencies and weapon proficiencies.

My point in bringing this up is: what's your system? How do you represent improvement of characters?

Personally, were the decision up to me, I would take advantage of the fact a computer would be doing all the math for you. I would track minutiae similar to seen in the Elder Scrolls games: what type of armour you were wearing when you were hit or when you were moving, the type of weapon you hit your opponents with, etc. I would then provide tiers of achievement and improvement to go along with them.

There's no need to keep it simple when the calculation can happen automatically, and I think with an intricate system, you can provide advantages for persistence in addition to opening up several different play styles to success.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Henceforth "example"

I only put 1 way to use "skills" as a factor.
There are many, many, more ways, obviously :)

One thing to note:
I didn't try to balance the weapons in one system.
I tried to have them come in handy as the game progresses.
I don't expect players to go back to a "lighter" sword.
I simy expect them to start light. Then go to one of the next levels when they see fit.

We will await your response.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
A better idea, scrap that, example

This just got to my attention.

The heavier a weapon, the lower the damage should be.
It is the skill that adds more damage.


4d6 + 1x skill
3d6 + 2x skill
1d6 + 3x skill (yes, 1d6)

Average damage of light is surpassed by medium at skill level 4.
Average damage of light is surpassed by heavy at skill level 6.
Average damage of medium is surpassed by heavy at skill level 8 (equal at 7)

Or you make some sort of table of effects for the dice.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Skills = Effectiveness

X3M wrote:
The heavier a weapon, the lower the damage should be.
It is the skill that adds more damage.
Very often, there are systems that argue that someone with little skill in a particular weapon can't use it as effectively as a grand master who has been training with that weapon for decades. You can apply the same process to armour. The rationale is that the more intricate the armour (and, very often: the heavier the armour), the more skill it takes to utilize effectively.

I still remember a scene in the Orson Welles drama "A Lion In Winter" where there's a massive battle and Welles' character - typically a merchant and court advisor - is dressed for the first time ever in a full suit of plate mail. Throughout the chaos of the skirmish, he's bumbling around, falling over, and basically tripping himself out of harm's way. Meanwhile the trained fighters and the future king are on the battlefield fully-decked out in the same suit of armour, and are capable, lethal warriors even while mounted on horseback. It was a solid example of proficiency in armour use.

This concept of "familiarity breeds effectiveness" is pretty much the root of any skill-based system, referring to weapons, armour, and beyond. Of course there are practical/balancing limits, but that all bears itself out with playtesting.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote:(and I know Eric a

(and I know Eric a bit)... He's not really a fan of luck rolling.

I am not allergic to luck, but it has to bring something useful. For example, in the new system I am designing, you have a to hit roll and an armor roll that modifies damage. So should there also be a damage roll considering the armor roll already modifies the damage. Maybe It's better to use a fixed value because it does not bring anything new.

Weapons are ALL ABOUT DAMAGE. The more DAMAGE a weapon does, the better it is to use.

In another thread, it was discussed that all weapons have the same potential to kill people. So evaluating which weapon does more damage is very difficult. Sure, it's a video game, it does not have to be realistic. So I intend to use damage as a counter balance for other advantage. For example, your bow can attack at long range, but it has reduced damage.

Like a MACE may be great against Chain and Plate Mail ... But be less effective against Leather or Studded Armor.

You remind me that D&D was using different type of damage (slashing, piercing and blunt). That could introduce variability as a form of rock-paper-scisor mechanism, but unless you can switch weapon in mid battle and see the impact of that RPS mechanism while playing the game to adjust yourself in consequence, I am not sure it is worth using.

I don't know what STATS your game has. But that's your mission to figure out.

In the old system I had a lot of stats, allowing many little variations to create 12 types of weapons. But it was confusing to the player to understand how the mechanics actually worked. Now I streamlined the stats massively, making it easier to understand, but having less variability.

Other suggested material like used in Final Fantasy and other VRPG: Wood, Iron, Steel, Crystal, etc. But there is generally little choice implied behind your get, it's only get the next best gear in the list.

This is kind of a "big picture" question, and I have to apologize because I don't know about your system.

I am navigating between the original Wizardry, D&D 3rd and 4th edition, and my personal idea to create a new system and is easier to understand than my old system, but offers more feature that the original Wizardry game. So yes you can use your D&D knowledge.

How is advancement managed for other aspects of the game?

So far, it's basically: more HP, more MP, a bonus attribute once a while, and class skills. The class skill can lead to all sort of bonus modifiers, new gear to equip, more damage with certain weapons, new actions, new spells, etc. So I moved all the complexity to the skills, but it was necessary to allow multi-classing easily. So players can mix and match skill from various classes.

I would take advantage of the fact a computer would be doing all the math for you.

I thought that many years ago, but it was my downfall, as it not only needs to be programmed and bug proof, but it also must be understandable by the player to make the right choice.

For the curious of people who wants more details, the game rules are here with the design notes are online. It is still incomplete and in re-writting process, So it changes regularly. It's my new design document.

From the other BGG thread, multiplying types of weapons and armor might not bee a good thing and it affect ocurence. It seems that having to juggle with a series of pro and cons could be a good idea, but that is not a progression, it more a choice. Maybe there should be more non-magickal horizontal upgrades. The reason why in D&D there are many types of armor, swords and spears is for using different historical source. But they are basically the same. So no need to have a chain mail and a scale mail unless they both offer various pro and cons.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Better gear through more difficult cost

Perhaps you can apply the fact that players need different materials for a better equipment.

If you have only 1 resource, players could grind for a more costly item.
If a different resource is needed. Players need to do a more difficult task in order to obtain it.

Also, the risk gets lower with a better item. But the item itself might still be damaged or destroyed. Thus a more difficult item to obtain also carries a smaller risk but bigger impact, in being gone again.

Minecraft has such example:
Diamond armor is waaay better then iron armor.
But diamond armor can be lost as well after a defeat.
While iron armor and a certain point doesn't have that much of an impact (spare sets at home)

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
RPS-3 Bonuses/Penalties

larienna wrote:
questccg wrote:
Like a MACE may be great against Chain and Plate Mail ... But be less effective against Leather or Studded Armor.

You remind me that D&D was using different type of damage (slashing, piercing and blunt). That could introduce variability as a form of rock-paper-scissor mechanism, but unless you can switch weapon in mid battle and see the impact of that RPS mechanism while playing the game to adjust yourself in consequence, I am not sure it is worth using.

Actually you may be able to READY a NEW weapon during combat. But even if you can't, it just means that you will be LESS "effective" in your attack of certain monsters. The RPS still holds true and offers some form of validation in the TYPE of weapons/armors being used.

So, while using a Sword is great at hacking away flesh... A Mace will do a much better job with Skeletons and the Undead by crushing their brittle bones...

It doesn't have to be ABSOLUTE either. Like the Skeleton example: You can still use a Sword, but it is less "effective". So how YOU implement the efficiency is the important part:

1. Is it because you have less of a "Chance to Hit"?

2. Or is it because you cause less "Damage" to the monster?

3. Or is it because the "effective" armor class is harder THAC0?

Something to that effect. You can choose which is more appropriate and it can even be a COMBINATION of more than one of these too... It just depends on how you implement the Armor/Combat STATS into your system.

Again just some food for thought.

Note #1: A couple of notes... I realized only now that THAC0 was only in D&D 2nd Edition (and was removed in subsequent Editions) and also the newer D20 rolls were simplified for the AD&D Engine a bit... But I don't know how... Because I'm not familiar with the NEWER Editions of the game.

I'm not familiar with ALL of the details of Version 2.0 versus 3.0 or above... Like I said, I had the books from the 2nd Edition and I read most of them and remember things like THAC0 and using a assortment of dice not ONLY D20 rolls.

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