Monday, January 18, 2010

Elthos Play Test - Skills Advancement


Well, the play testing has been coming along well, and I'm mostly satisfied with the Elthos One Die System overall. That said, we did discover room for improvement on the Skills Advancement system. The way the system works you advance in skills by acquiring Skill Learning Points as you advance in levels. You then use the Skill Learning Points to learn new skills, or beef up skills you already have. For example, Swimming is a skill that takes 1 Skill Learning Point to learn, and you would spend 1 SLP to learn it. There's more nuance to the system, but in a nutshell that's the basic idea. Once you learn the skill then you can use it at your character's Level if it's Primary to your Class (such as Fighters using Weapons skills), or if it's Elective (such as swimming which any class can learn) the character can use it at their Current Level minus the Level at which they purchased the Skill. So if Hrothgar the Warrior learned Swimming when he became 3nd Level then he would be 1st at 3rd Level, 2nd at 4th Level, 3rd at 5th Level, and so on.

Skill Usage Level Calculation:
Skill Usage Level = Current Level - Acquired At Level

The problem that we found was that the advancement rate was too low. I was using a very simple method for assigning Skill Learning Points at each Level. The number of sub-classes (ie - an Outlaw is a Thief and a Fighter, which is 2 sub-classes) * the Current Level. So at 2nd Level the Outlaw was getting 4 Skill Learning Points. The cost for most Skills is 1 Skill Learning point. Some Skills are more difficult and the range goes up to 3 SLP, with the occasional 4 SLP. The problem is that Characters wind up with too few Skills at higher levels. So that Characters had at least a couple of Skills to start off with I assigned a +1 SLP at the start. For example a Fighter gets 1 SLP per Level, and so started with 2 SLP. So he could purchase Medium Weapons, and Light Weapons. But at 6th Level (considered Legendary in the ODS System which is devoted to small numbers) he wound up with what we considered to be too few skills. This was especially true for Mystical Classes who spend SLP on invocations and spells.

So I modified the system to use a revised formula that is a little more complex (really, just a little bit), but results in a more diverse set of Character Skills at higher Levels, and I think that works out much better.

Original Skill Learning Points Formula:
(Current Level * # Sub-Classes) + 1

Revised Skill Learning Points Formula:
(Current Level * # Sub-Classes) + (Current Level + 1)

The key was the realization that we need to enforce that Characters can only spend half of their SLP on their Primary Skills. Otherwise, they will spend them all on Primary Skills, because tactically that makes more sense, but leaves them with no interesting (and useful) non-combat skills, such as swimming. I'm almost finished with the modifications to the Web Application that adjusts for the new formula. I'm pretty sure that the new rule, although a little more complicated, will result in a more fun game. But again, we'll know more as we play around with the new rule.

Progress is being made, one chip at a time, but it's gratifying none the less. And most important of all, I'm having fun using it (finally). :)
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