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July 19th, 2010, 12:23
I can fully relate to the difficulty of making sense of such number sets, as in Ad&D. The point is, though, that this has more to do with how the results are presented to the player than with the complexity of the rules behind that.
Take Da:O as an example. A health poultice is a health poultice and there are minor and regular ones. It nowhere states how many health points you actually gives to you, but its immediately apparent that a regular one is a lot stronger than a minor one. Spells are similar - a normal player will know that the Magic attribute influences spell damage (because the tooltip tells me so). And thats all he really needs to know! But I have to go here to find out how it is actually calculated. Now - the actual formula used here is very simple, but it could easily be something a lot more complicated (for example, instead of a linear increase, you might prefer something that provides big gains initially and slow gains later, e.g. using sqrt(spellpower) - as long as the actual outcome is intuitive to the player. Thats why I think one should not shy away from more complex calculations.

Of course there are people who like to understand and min-max the actual values - but I think for these players such details could be safely stored in a manual appendix or a Wiki.

Looking at Corwins weapon damage example: the good thing is that a CRPG could easily calculate and show you the damage range (if you want to go geeky, it could even plot you the statistical damage distribution). I'd suggest to have a nice flavor text description and damage output in the general description, the actual base damage an modifiers in a right-click context menu, and a little in game "compare items" applet that allows you to easily make comparisons (showing all the stats, but also giving hints against which enemies or armor types special damage modifiers are particularly useful against, etc.).
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