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Default Squad based game with fewer skillpoints in non-combat skills

December 16th, 2019, 18:16
So i though a little bit about how one would create a cprg that is basically a pen and paper campaign.
The less characters you have the worse the tb combat becomes with something like 6-8 being the optimal number before it becomes too complicated.

Rolling skill checks aren't used in crpgs because of save scumming. So you would have to replace the saving system which also would annoy a lot of players (me included).

So you have these static skill checks used in games.
The problem now is if you have static skill checks in a squad based game and you get too much skillpoints you can basically master every skill check.

Fallouts or Fallout-likes are great because you can create your own build and master some skill checks while losing others.
Part of the fun of squad based games though is that you can skill a lot after each level-up.

Would you play a game with a 8-character squad that had only 1 specialist for lockpicking and 1 for persuasion?
Or is there another solution for the problem like combined skill checks in AoD?

Did any game solve this already?
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December 16th, 2019, 21:36
Well, there's nothing wrong with mastering every skill. It's the order you master them which matters most, based on whats most useful at what time. If Act 1 is all locks and you go all persuasion then you're gimped.

So, you have to give the player different ways to meet the same goal. Lockpick, bash, knock spell, the actual key, etc.

You have to ask yourself why do you need a door, why does it need to be locked? A closed door is blocked vision. A locked door, a 1 way door, they all have their purposes. Lockpicking is cheating you have to plan for.

If it's a game like Divinity:OS then doors in town might be locked in a way that people would do in the real world. Like store is open but the storage room staff door needs a key.

But if you're in a dungeon I'd look at games like doom with its 3 coloured keycards or Gauntlet with 1 type of key for inspiration.

If you go letting people pick locks they can avoid your intended level flow. Maybe your dungeon is 4 rooms and you get a level-up and key in each room. If you let the player pick the locks they might just end up somewhere too hard for their level, die and go make an angry forum post.

I'd look at Dark Souls with its Master Key style of lockpicking. It does indeed give you access to harder areas and different paths, and while maybe it shouldn't it also lets you release some trapped NPCs, but it's not much use to a new player who has no idea what it's for and it may just get them into trouble ruining the level progression, but experienced players with their powerful knowledge can skip half the game with it.

Persuasion is more often than not just a means to avoid combat and I don't really have much to say about dialogue related RPG matters. I prefer to be able to turn every discussion into a combat encounter, which is why I think DivinityOS2 is such a well designed game.

Also, as far as lockpicking for extra loot goes, I'd look at WoW rogue lockpicking. Clearly it's very hard to allow for planned cheating in an online game that doesn't allow cheating. Main chests should never require lockpicking, but there can be random chests and lockboxes for rogues to open and maybe 1 door in LBRS. Unless you're forcing the player to take a rogue in their party you should design the game assuming they may not.
Last edited by SirJames; December 16th, 2019 at 21:48.
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December 16th, 2019, 22:27
I think, that opposed to a pen and paper game, you have to consider what each non combat skill is going to offer you.

Sir James has mentioned some of those:

Access non-required areas
Extra loot
Better equipment
Avoid optional combat encounters
Provide alternative quest solutions.

The orginal Deus Ex game did a good job with providing optional quest solutions. I also think Shadowrun:Hong Kong does a good job as well. I think this should be the main benefit of non-combat skills. Other goals aren't necessarily bad, but maybe hard to balance. For example an herbalism skill might give access to additional healing, but will that cancel out having less points in another area?

Another alternative which I think worked very well is the non-combat skills in Elminage:Gothic and Stranger of Sword City. Here you could choose one non-combat skill for each character, and they did not use points, but were more like a perk. A character with identify skill could identify items, otherwise you had to go to a merchant. Lockpicking was mandatory for one character, but other perks like extra inventory space, better resistances, et. could be useful on multiple characters.
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December 16th, 2019, 23:29
Originally Posted by forgottenlor View Post
I think, that opposed to a pen and paper game, you have to consider what each non combat skill is going to offer you.

Sir James has mentioned some of those:

Access non-required areas
Extra loot
Better equipment
Avoid optional combat encounters
Provide alternative quest solutions.
That's very good but those are exactly the thoughts the DM have to make in a pen and paper campaign.

The basic thoughts of this whole thing is the following:
I think the skill checks from pen and paper were best translated into Fallouts for computer games.

The combat that's closest to pen and paper combat is Temple of Elemental Evil or
Knights of the Chalice (i'm into playing them right now).

So how would you go to create a ToEE-Fallout hybrid with the skill checks?
Something similar like this were Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun Dragonfall e.g.
But i'm not really satiesfied with those because they didn't have the build
variety of Fallout for skill checks.

As i'm thinking about this i guess exponential skill costs and more difficult skill checks are the solution.
If you have a party of 6 people it should be kind of work that you have:
4 good fighters, 1 lockpicking char and 1 persuasion char.
or
2 good fighters, 1 lockpicking char, 1 persuasian char, 1 tech char and 1 healing char.
Just as an example. Somehow the skills should help by avoiding combat, making combat easier or helping you otherwise.
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December 17th, 2019, 13:57
It wont work.

Players play vid products to feel empowered. The definition of characters works against the feeling. Providing players with powerful defined characters is not enough, or counterproductive.

Two fighters, 1 lockpicking char, 1 persuasion char, 1 tech char and 1 healing char might be a powerful party and prevail in encounters even while each of them is defined. but they do not build that power feeling as much as it is needed.

Players desire to feel strong, they desire to be feel leet. They rise above.
Prevailing while playing a fighter as if a healer, the other as if a persuasion, the tech as if a lockpicking, the healer as if a fighter and a persuasion as if a fighter builds much more that sense of power. It helps appeasing players'insecurities.
Players are so good they can afford not playing characters along their defined category and still conquer.
--
Backlog:0
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December 17th, 2019, 14:30
Another easy solution would be that you have one leader who makes all the non combat skill checks and like 5-7 fighters who can only fight.
You could explain that the main char is some kind of polymath like archimedes son or smth.
He can learn tactics skill which makes the other soldiers also stronger.

I heard Geneforges are kinda like that.
Is there any other game that follows that principle?
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December 18th, 2019, 01:40
Have you never played Neverwinter Nights games?

They are party based with non-combat skill checks that don't require or necessitate save scumming that use all the party member's skill checks. You can save-scum, of course, but it disrupts the flow of the game so greatly for so little reward that most people don't bother and just roll with it, if you get the pun.

And the reason it works so well is that D&D 3.5 edition is so granular with its skill point allocation and number of skills available.

The main problem with generic RPG developers is that they don't tie attributes or class and etc into skill point gain, have very few useful skills to choose from and then make it too obvious what skill checks will be happening in the game, giving the skill checks too much individual weight.

In NWN if you fail a disarm trap skill roll, then the trap goes off and you lose some HP, no biggy, move on. Characters with low skill points in disarm trap, essentially everyone apart from rogues and possibly bards, will have alternate ways to traverse the situation depending on their own build.

Likewise, the trap skill doesn't need to be party-leader initiated as the guy with the trap disarm skills automatically rushes to the trap to try their luck. However, if it's a conversational or general search type skill then the game automatically selects the character with the highest score as the number to roll for your check.

And even with four well-skilled characters you still wont be able to master all of the skills as there is just so many, each of which dealing with its own micro-niche. For example, Spot is a completely different skill to Search, even though they sound the same, just as Intimidate is a completely different skill to Persuade, even though they both sound the same.

And something like Spot you wont even know you're rolling for it as it's a completely passive check that occurs during travel without you even knowing about it only in places where the dev has placed things that require the check. You can't save scum if you didn't even know you were rolling.

Admittedly, NWN tends to max you out at a party of four, sometimes five, so if you're going to demand a party of eight then even 3.5 edition might struggle to provide you with unobtainable options, but, essentially, it wouldn't matter how many people you had in your party for something like Spot as you will never know if your one expert in that happened to roll a critical failure at the place where the Spot check happened.

As per usual with most of these 'speculation' threads about 'how can we make XYZ better', there is already examples of the 'better' existing, it's usually that the thread starter has failed to play or enjoy those games though and has usually just played a crap example of something and then makes a thread about some random perceived 'problem' rather than just bitch about the game that did it craply, either because they don't want a backlash from that game's fans or because they're genuinely incapable of separating 'one game' from 'all games' when conceptualising concepts.
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December 18th, 2019, 03:17
So your answer for my search for the better are NWN 1 and 2?
I played NWN 1+addons and NWN 2 back then around the time they came out.
Never came to play MotB because main game NWN 2 already annoyed me too much
from a technical standpoint (ui and camera) and because of the lackluster combat.

I really can't remember any meaningfull skillchecks in NWN 1 or it's addons because the games didn't have much choices and consequences.
They stroke me more as a deeper action rpg which has their place but i'm not searching for that.

NWN 2 had more c&c if i remember correctly but it just doesn't compare in quantity and quality with Fallouts or Underrail, AoD.

I read something how you can adjust Fallout 2 to control your characters directly.
It seems to create new problems though like minor bugs and making the game too easy. F2 wasn't built around the idea of controling a squad.
I will have to look more into that.
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December 18th, 2019, 15:03
Ah yes, dismissing NWN while just talking about Fallout, Underrail and Age of Decadence, well that's good, now we know you're a codex poster who's trotted over here to repeat the phrase C&C at us as if that's the only thing that matters in a cRPG. Is it getting too boring over there?

Firstly, I didn't mention NWN2, but I can see how you'd not understand the difference, I too found NWN2 to border on unbearable, however, NWN games are absolutely packed with skill checks and you seem to be confusing skill checks with narrative forking, two completely different things that just happen to coincide occasionally during conversational skill checks.

When you play a Cleric in NWN you make a skill check every time you cast a spell, whether it's a combat spell or a non-combat spell, if an enemy is within range of the skill check's radius, this is called a Concentration Check.

If you didn't notice many skill checks then that's because you weren't supposed to, because telling you about them will just make you save-scum - the primary 'gameplay' of something like Age of Decadence.

If you prefer your game to just have lots of conversational forks that are dressed in skill checks then that's all very fascinating but I have no idea what its got to do with either cRPGs or even general C&C other than making your window dressing more obvious to the player.

NWN completely shits all over Age of Decadence in terms of quantity and quality of skill checks, because of the D&D 3.5 ruleset, irrespective of whether you liked the game or not and irrespective of whether you noticed the skill checks or not. This is that little thing called hard factual data that is oh so unpopular at the codex and something you might struggle to understand if you decide the persist in wallowing in their communal propaganda.

I'm sorry, but if you're starting a thread like this and dismissing NWN then what the fuck are your credentials for even having this conversation, you've essentially immediately shown yourself to be entirely unqualified to have the discussion.
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December 18th, 2019, 16:11
You sound rather angry. I'm sorry if i annoyed you or talked ill about something which is important to you.

I'm just coming from the pen and paper kind of view. I never heard of a concentration check called as skill check in p&p but maybe that's just a different point of view.

This discussion isn't about whether NWN 1 is a good or a bad game.
Even if the c&c quality and quantity was low it could still have other good features.
I also love Gothics and Diablo and so on.
It's not like i'm only playing a hand full of games.

Anyway what i am talking about are skill checks tied to c&c like in p&p.
You have a char with good healing--->You can heal the person now and she/he will live.
You have high mechanics skill. --->You can understand how the mechanism works and open the door.

I'm talking about skill checks which are used to create different solutions for quests or different playstyles for the enviroment.

Stuff like that just was more common in Fallouts or Fallout-likes.
Wasteland 2 and Numenera had a lot of these too but you could have a success at every skill check which made it kind of boring.

I can't remember NWN having much of either but maybe you can give me a few more examples.

You mentioned the traps in NWN and i think that i played a Fighter/Cleric back then who just ran through every trap without caring for the damage. Pls tell me you don't call this c&c.

Tastes are different. I like save scumming to an extent.
You can't savescumm with AoD dialogues because there are static skill checks.
Save scumming for combat isn't a problem in my book.

The ruleset is completetely irrelevant if the game hasn't meaningfull skill checks.
TOEE is also based on that ruleset and doesn't have meaningfull skill checks at all.
The ruleset is only a frame which makes stuff possible.
If the content doesn't have skill checks the frame won't help.

Who are you to decide who is capable or not of having a discussion?
Even if i were a total noob who never played an rpg i would still want helpful answers.

The codex answer to this question was that i should try Geneforges.
Do you recommend anything that i should play except NWN?
Last edited by Dazed; December 18th, 2019 at 16:14. Reason: bad grammar
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December 18th, 2019, 17:19
I don't think you realise C&C doesn't mean what you think it means.

When you CHOSE to play a Fighter/Cleric for NWN, you faced the CONSEQUENCES of that CHOICE by having to run through traps and take the incoming damage and status effects. Whether your build was dramatically effected by this CHOICE will have been a CONSEQUENCE of your build of that character, it's not the game's fault if you built your high HP and high Constitution character well and did not feel the full CONSEQUENCE of the traps.

That is but one microcosm of what C&C is.

(I'm using capitals but I'm not shouting, and, no, I'm not angry, I'm belittling, patronising, taking the mick, because you're just parroting cut and paste dumb codex propaganda).

The fact that you can say the words you say but not correlate them to the point you are making is why I'm suggesting you are not capable of having this conversation.

When you say:

Anyway what i am talking about are skill checks tied to c&c like in p&p.
You have a char with good healing--->You can heal the person now and she/he will live.
You have high mechanics skill. --->You can understand how the mechanism works and open the door.
You have to say which p&p ruleset. There are crap p&p rulesets just as there are good ones, just as there are crap cRPG mechanics and good cRPG mechanics.

And of the two skill checks you mention, I fail to see how they are any different to those in NWN. In NWN you have a Heal skill which enables you to use Healing Kits more effectively, the higher the skill, the greater the chance to remove the debilitating debuff and the greater the heal value received.

Likewise, Open Lock skill is the exact same thing as high mechanics skill as you present it here. I've no doubt in a game with lots of mechanisms this skill does more than just doors, but medieval fantasy doesn't tend to have lots of mechanisms, LOL.

Regards to C&C, the codex only gives a shit about NARRATIVE C&C, what people say, what different quests become available via conversations and how people react to you. That's like 10% of the C&C a cRPG can have, and it's the least important 10% as well, and it's the % that if you increase it too much converts the genre from RPG to Choose Your Own Adventure, close relatives who had an important separation in the late 70s early 80s.

Geneforge allows you to ally yourself with different FACTIONS. The whole point of factions are that they offer different NARRATIVE paths for your character depending on your CHOICE of alliance. The game, gameplay wise, is pretty dire for reasons I would gladly share but for brevity I wont describe that in detail unless you wish me to. The codex likes it for no other reason than it has NARRATIVE C&C.

However, Genefogre lacks CHARATCER BUILD C&C, the most important aspect of cRPG C&C, you can only pick between three character archetypes, to which levelling them up is extremely linear and the only team-play you have is from literally dumb summons. In terms of skill-checks you'd be better off playing one of the early Avernum games, Avernum just doesn't have so much NARRATIVE C&C, it just has tons of GAMEPLAY C&C.

The codex dismisses Avernum, like NWN, because it is traditional fantasy and because it lacks NARRATIVE C&C, while it promotes Geneforge and Age of Decadence because they are not traditional fantasy and because they PRIORITISE narrative C&C over GAMEPLAY C&C.

Before I go on, do you understand what I'm saying?

When you use the phrase C&C, do you even know that it is not one specific thing? Do you realise that you running through traps as a fighter/cleric is MORE C&C than engaging in a conversation with an NPC and accepting a different quest as a result of a skill check - which is more CYOA.

?
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December 18th, 2019, 17:52
OK. I guess i used c&c wrong. I'm talking about narrative c&c then.
The DND 5e sessions that i had were more about narrative c&c.
I imagine them to be pretty much the average pen and paper session.
Maybe i'm wrong with that and all other people just play linear combat focused dungeon crawls.

They had a lot of CYOA elements and because i want a crpg that captures the kind of p&p sessions i had i tend to like crps with more CYOA elements if you want to call narrative c&c that.

So what's wrong about the thought that i want a TOEE-Fallout hybrid to translate my personal experiences with DND 5e to a crpg?

How does NWN 1 have anything to do with that?
The question was how to solve the problems in creating such a hybrid because games that are kind of similar like Wasteland 2 and Numenera have failed in having the same narrative c&c than Fallout because you could master every skill.

Do you have any squad based games with narrative c&c like in Fallout that solved the problem?
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December 18th, 2019, 17:58
If your primary focus and interest is narrative C&C then you should be asking a community of CYOA nerds what are some good games to play instead of nagging cRPG fans to convert their genre into CYOA games LOL.

I'm no expert on CYOA games, but I enjoyed playing Warlock of Firetop Mountain earlier this year. It only has three types of Skill Check though, one of them is even called your Skill Stat, the other two are Stamina and Luck.

Whatever the situation, you'll roll against one of these three to decide what happens to you and what path you will take in the story. You cannot see the whole game in one run. Your path through the game is entirely governed by your stats and your rolls against those stats and you choosing to go left or right at a junction.
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December 18th, 2019, 18:07
Where did i write now that i only care about CYOAs? xD
I mean squad based crpgs that are heavy in CYOA elements as you said in your own definition.
Something like Wasteland 2 but in good.
Is there something like it?
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December 18th, 2019, 18:08
Wasteland 3 will be out next year I think.
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December 18th, 2019, 18:10
Just say "No".
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December 18th, 2019, 18:27
Ok, no.

Games which are isometric, party-based and are hybrids of cRPG and CYOAs are quite thin on the ground.

But then so are most game types once you narrow the field of interest to that scale of specifics.

There aren't a plethora of games like Icewind Dale either, for the same reason. There aren't a plethora of games like Planescape Torment. Or games like Gothic. Or games like Skyrim. When you get right down to the nitty gritty of the nuts and bolts.

I mean, the Banner Saga has great narrative C&C and is party-based with a leader making all the decisions, but there's no skill checks.

Warlock of Firetop Mountain is almost purely skill checks, but it's not party-based.

Planescape Torment has lots of narrative C&C, but it's not really tactical squad-based, only in the very loosest sense.

Age of Decadence is a skill check dream, but an exploration bore and can barely be considered squad based.

And people who like Wasteland usually tend to be fans of X-Com as well, and then there's a whole different genre of fish to wade through.

You might notice a trend here, in that western cRPGs tend to lack a sense of cloning that is more common with jRPGs. Most Western RPGs all tend to be "not really like anything else" once you exclude sequels and spin-offs.

If you want "similar to" recommendations then that's all you'll get, similar, not the same, just similar, which all the above could be described as being 'similar' to Wasteland 2. Depending on which angle you're approaching them from as your interest.

Squad-based narrative C&C skill check cRPG Choose Your Own Adventure hybrid? Well, yes, that IS very specific isn't it?
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December 18th, 2019, 18:38
Yeah, it's very specific but i hoped there would at least be a handfull of indie games i never even heard of. But i guess if they would exist i would have already heard of them.

At least we can see that there still is a lot of free room for coming games and even some hope that indie studios will create them.
I can even imagine for blobbers to come back sooner or later.
You can argue about steam all you want but basically it reinvigorated the crpg genre.
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December 18th, 2019, 20:50
Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
That's very good but those are exactly the thoughts the DM have to make in a pen and paper campaign.

The basic thoughts of this whole thing is the following:
I think the skill checks from pen and paper were best translated into Fallouts for computer games.

The combat that's closest to pen and paper combat is Temple of Elemental Evil or
Knights of the Chalice (i'm into playing them right now).

So how would you go to create a ToEE-Fallout hybrid with the skill checks?
Something similar like this were Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun Dragonfall e.g.
But i'm not really satiesfied with those because they didn't have the build
variety of Fallout for skill checks.

As i'm thinking about this i guess exponential skill costs and more difficult skill checks are the solution.
If you have a party of 6 people it should be kind of work that you have:
4 good fighters, 1 lockpicking char and 1 persuasion char.
or
2 good fighters, 1 lockpicking char, 1 persuasian char, 1 tech char and 1 healing char.
Just as an example. Somehow the skills should help by avoiding combat, making combat easier or helping you otherwise.
I think you've come to the point and realized that its very difficult and time intensive for developers to make CRPGS with lots meaningful non-combat skills which actually change quests or the narrative, and that's why there aren't so many.
Might and Magic 6-8 have a whole number of non-combat skills which have no narrative value, for example. They are important mechanically though, and I also think the games are more enjoyable because of them.
Either you have, as Lackblogger mentions with Neverwinter Nights a lot of non-combat skill with noticable, but minor effects, or you have a few very meaningful skills. I should say, I played a thief/blackguard in the first NWN who had a very high use magic item skill, and that proved a very powerful combat build.
But as far as narrative skills, typical skills are persuasion, mechanics, perception, and knowledge, all of which can be divided into other skills, such as intimidate and diplomacy.
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December 18th, 2019, 22:11
Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
Anyway what i am talking about are skill checks tied to c&c like in p&p.
You have a char with good healing--->You can heal the person now and she/he will live.
You have high mechanics skill. --->You can understand how the mechanism works and open the door.

I'm talking about skill checks which are used to create different solutions for quests or different playstyles for the enviroment.
These are all just fancy keys.

If chances are everyone will have a healer in their group then why bother with the first event? It's just a cosmetic coating. You saved the NPC and that's enough. What's actually happening in the game is the NPC may give you another "key" and leaves the stage. If the key is needed to progress then you cannot allow a situation where you lack a healer in your party therefore you cannot progress or win the game.

Mechanics skill opens a door, next example, with a bit of roleplay about a machine, but its just a door with the purpose of a door, in the end. Maybe only a mechanic can open it because what's inside is useless to anyone else? Do a class check, not skill check. IF everyone was always going to have a mechanic then it was really never locked.

If you're going to give the player all the "keys" to start then you just have to ignore them again and use real world keys found on boss drops when making your dungeons.

If there's a room you can enter through the healing required door, the mechanic door, lockpicking door, perception door, normal door, etc. Like, do you really want to play this childs shape matching puzzle? Does it add fun to the experience trying to find the correct entry for your character creation skill choices?

I think it's better for narrative directing decisions to be made on the spot by the player and be completely unrelated to what skills they took at character creation. Most people don't even finish games, let alone replay them to see slight variations in dialogue options leading to the same game ending.

Don't forget how many times you've run into doors in RPGs that cannot be lockpicked! Makes you wonder why you even bothered taking the skill and therefore the rogue could have been replaced with another wizard, etc, etc.
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