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Too many skills

posted by Zayit

Zayit
Posts: 8
Too many skills 1 of 8
Feb. 6, 2024, 2:46 a.m.

So I read Nai's post here, and I understand that the overall intention of this game is for skill progression to be slow. I think this is totally fine, and it suits my playstyle (which is less progression-driven) etc.

However, one concern I have is that I don't think it interplays well with the sheer amount of skill options we currently have. In chargen I already felt a little overwhelmed on which to choose and how many points to invest in order to sell my concept. For example, let's say I want to play a knight from a noble family. Obviously I need combat skills, but do I choose light swords, medium swords, or heavy swords? Doesn't it kind of make sense that if I know how to use medium swords, I'd have at least a passing familiarity with the other two? But it'd be awkward if I picked medium swords, found myself in a situation where only a light sword is available, and was as good as any other peasant. And if given this reasoning I decide to split my points across the board, I'd be worried that not min/maxing means I couldn't convincingly call myself a skilled swordsman, as my medium sword skill would be kind of average.

Then there's footwork, aim, parry, dodge, shield, armour. I would have to accept that my skills can't reflect a likelihood I've had training with any other weapons. I might forgo intimidation, since even though it makes sense for me to be intimidating if I'm playing a ruthless musclehead, I'd have to compromise the skill points necessary to be one. And I'm not sure if I could believably be a noble knight either, since I definitely wouldn't have enough points to spare for educationriding, or any low-level art skills to reflect a cultured upbringing.

So in my opinion, there are two problems:

  1. Too many skills, many of which could be merged.
  2. No established interdependencies between skills.

For example I think that if you put 2 points into medium swords, you should conceivably have 1 free point in light swordsheavy swords, and maybe even footwork. Dodge and Parry could interplay. Shield and armour. Etc.

Alternatively, I think if they were merged to just "swords", you could have any skill-specific bonuses come from whether you're wielding a specific item. Or, even a system where you have one favourite weapon at any given time, and suffer maluses when utilising any different one.

I think that this applies to many of the rogue-related skills as well, outdoorsmaship/hunting stuff, even arts/crafts. I'm using the combat stuff as just an example.

I think that perhaps categorising the skills and then letting people pick only one from any very similar group would be cool? But that then raising that skill would have a demi impact on all others within that category. So if grouping all of the avoidances & defensive skills together, you can only train one of them, but training that one would strengthen your ability to avoid in general. This would also make chargen a lot more newbie-friendly from a problem-of-choice perspective.

Feb. 6, 2024, 2:46 a.m.
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pilgrim
Posts: 238
Re: Too many skills 2 of 8
Feb. 6, 2024, 7:36 a.m.

This is a well-considered topic you've brought up, and I like some of your thoughts, and I'll think about more interplay options. I want to reply with bullet points to address each separate point.


too many skills, overwhelming, confusing, not enough points

  • The reason we have so many skills is to help people build very unique characters. Despite a classless system, a character is supposed to have their own niche and not just know everything. Min-maxing is definitely not the goal. Someone might be very familiar with camping and building fires but not good at hunting at all, and someone might be a city dockyard angler who doesn't know a thing about starting a fire in the rain, or some posh courtier who loves to hunt but could not pitch a tent for the life of him. The goal is to be able to build a character with unique strengths and weaknesses, who simultaneously has room to grow but can start off being relatively decent at their given niche.

difficult for newbies to navigate

  • Archetypes and specializations are meant to provide relatively-quick starting guides to this system, so someone could be like "I want to play a knight!" and just select knight and go ahead. Maybe at the skills page they could be like, "Huh, I kind of want to play a knight who uses a flail." And then they drop their generic weapon skill, swap it for flails, and that's all they do. It's up to a newbie how much customization they might want to go into, and either way there will be time in their character's story to customize further.


unable to be good at associated skills

  • Skills unlock abilities, and sword skills unlock sword abilities. Heavy swords and other types of two-handed weapons also share some of the same abilities. So, if a heavy-sword knight picks up a rapier, she won't be as good at it as someone who is very familiar with light swords. An ability like 'riposte' will be beyond this knight, most likely. But they can still use other sword-type abilities, and if they were to pick up another heavy weapon like a two-handed mace -- they wouldn't know about combat move abilities that would be related to utilizing the bluntness of the mace, but they could still use heavy weapon sorts of abilities like a wind-up.


some skills could be combined because they seem to accomplish similar goals

  • When there's overlap between skills -- or stats, as you might have been curious about why we have something like Intuition vs Logic or Magnetism vs Command or Endurance vs Constitution -- we usually check which a character is better at, and use that one. So, it's possible to be good at something in different ways. You could be a great war leader of NPC forces that they hate-but-obey from your pure aura of command, or they do what you order out of love. So sure, we could have just 'Charisma' which seems to be the typical convention. But we really wanted characters to be able to express their uniqueness in their sheets.
    • Example: noticing tells. There's two ways to notice tells (atop Acuity, which is the base stat used for both routes) -- either you're logical and observe closely, or you're intuitive and feel them in your gut. This conversely uses different skills -- education (scholarly knowledge of psychological quirks) and investigation (experience in the field)
    • Another example: shields and armor. They might seem like they overlap but they don't really. A shield can be used as a weapon (the shieldbash ability) and manuevering a shield around to catch blows is a pretty different skill than just being good at walking around wearing heavy stuff, which is what the armor skill represents.

 

In the end, having a lot of options is a design choice that we've thought about a great deal, and while we totally understand the preference that some players may have for more clean and minimal character sheets, this is the direction that we're consciously moving towards. For a heavy-roleplay story-based game you basically have two options: either have a very minimal sheet and let characters roleplay about their unique differences, or go to some lengths to have that character uniqueness represented in the sheet itself. 
 

Big TLDR: we have that many skills because we really value the mechanical capability to build a very unique character.

 

Thanks for this post though -- I'll have skill interplay pulled further forward on my mind while revamping combat, and maybe we will in the end combine some things. I've been considering combining some of the combat pools, but the issue is that we originally set up these different pools to function a bit differently, and I'm sure that once we start adding more abilities to combat -- especially magical abilities -- we'll be wishing we had those more unique pools back (like, poise vs willpower -- physical state-balance vs mental state-balance -- you could just call it balance and be done, but there's a difference that could be meaningful in terms of how a uniquely-built character does in a fight).

Feb. 6, 2024, 7:36 a.m.
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pilgrim
Posts: 238
Re: Too many skills 3 of 8
Feb. 6, 2024, 8:55 a.m.

This post has actually led to some discussion between me and Mistsparrow and we'll be refining the way people perceive tells a bit, because Mistsparrow thinks-and-rethinks very seriously about these things, and it's Mistsparrow's fine-tuning that makes Song of Avaria what it is (a very considered game). After fixing this, I'll put something somewhere (maybe the wiki?) that properly documents how dissembling and tells work. So... while currently they work how I just described, they're hopefully soon to be fixed to work in a way that makes even more sense! enlightened

Feb. 6, 2024, 8:55 a.m.
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Zayit
Posts: 8
Re: Too many skills 4 of 8
Feb. 6, 2024, 10:26 a.m.

Thanks for explaining the thought process behind the choice! I'd love to understand more about the abilities different skills offer, as I suspect my spread might confer some duplicates in that case. But I'm sure that will be clearer post-Alpha. 

Feb. 6, 2024, 10:26 a.m.
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Esfandiar
Posts: 106
Re: Too many skills 5 of 8
Feb. 6, 2024, 10:44 a.m.

I just wanted to mention that, while I definitely think there is room for improvement (it's alpha after all), I really love the design philosophy of letting people accomplish the same goal in multiple ways. I loved thinking about what it means to have high magnetism and low command, for instance, and having the opportunity to express something pretty specific about how my character persuades people toward his point of view. 
 

I think that the biggest problem with redundancies is not that there are too many options but simply that because we are at the very beginning of the journey, the effects of any given choice are not well documented. I might have made different choices if I had known, for instance, that education and investigation played into noticing tells! But since it's being altered, I'll have to wait and see if the choices I did make were advantageous or not.

 

i wonder if there will be a potential remedy for people who thought they were building to be good at something in particular but find out they're actually not very good at that thing at all, because their guesses about how it worked were wrong?

Feb. 6, 2024, 10:44 a.m.
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Zahra
Posts: 152
Re: Too many skills 6 of 8
Feb. 6, 2024, 11:35 a.m.

Me reading this and suddenly realizing my character is (was?) so good at noticing tells simply because she's an over-educated nerd like LOL. I'll be curious to see how seeing tells changes moving forward! For me, it would make sense that someone with a high dissembling skill would be fairly good at it. Sort of like game recognizing game. BUT. Yeah, anyway. I'll look forward to reading that particular changelog or announcement heart

I have nothing else productive to add to this discussion, other than I appreciate this being brought up as I think some interesting points were made. I personally liked all the choices myself as, like Esfandiar, it was fun for me to think of, "Okay how would MY character achieve this," since there were usually multiple options to achieve a similar outcome (like command vs. magnetism, etc.)

Feb. 6, 2024, 11:35 a.m.
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Kinsa
Posts: 24
Re: Too many skills 7 of 8
Feb. 7, 2024, 9:05 a.m.

Something of a tangeant (because I broadly agree with the main thrust of Pilgrim's response), hearing that Armor is "just being good at walking around wearing heavy stuff", which would make me wonder why someone would want to pick it. Though that's said as someone who does have a tendency to minmax to a certain degree, because I like to have characters with very focused skillsets (or deliberately broad skillsets).

Feb. 7, 2024, 9:05 a.m.
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pilgrim
Posts: 238
Re: Too many skills 8 of 8
Feb. 7, 2024, 9:20 a.m.

Wearing armor in a fight is ... a pretty effective way to not get hurt too badly, as things currently stand. And your roundtime in a fight is dependant on your encumbrance, modified by your armor skill. Climbing (without falling) in armor? Running (without having to take a break every minute) in armor? Fighting (effectively) in armor? All of that is dependant on being able to wear heavy stuff and not be too disturbed by it. While armor is considered to be the main thing affected by the skill as it's something very heavy that your character would probably be wearing, this capability translates also to something like a heavy pack, or any weight that might burden you while you're trying to do stuff.

So it's a pretty serious skill, even if it's largely passive. I think I may've made "light" of it when I mentioned it that way, even though it's a "heavy" choice for bearing "heavy" weight. (*tries too hard for a pun*)

Feb. 7, 2024, 9:20 a.m.
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