ARB 2.0 thoughts and feedback

I have played a few games now under the new rules and would like to highlight the things I think are a great step in the right direction, and the few things that feel lacking. Overall, the new system is a welcome change and I have enjoyed my experience. I look forward to continue playing and seeing how the rules may have an impact beyond what I have seen so far. So without further ado, my thoughts:

The change to scaling weapon proficiencies and backstabs is a really strong change in the right direction. This sort of puts a soft cap on damage achieved by melee combatants, while still letting spells be the big burst you would expect. This with the addition of new abilities separated by martial and stealth lets a character really round out with fun abilities without always just getting to the next damage number.

The added abilities feel fun, with mettle and resolute adding to the stoutness of what a fighter should represent. Fighters also keep the line of hard hitting abilities that they were previously known for with slays and eviscerate. Fighters now have new combat abilities like disarm to help them feel more capable on the battlefield.

Scholars adding “signature spells” with new skills that allow them to do interesting things like flex cast them when not memorized opens up some fun ideas for how to play your character. The addition of channelling also allows a different build path for scholars, giving them a less expensive means for ‘all day’ damage/healing.

Giving Rogue more flexibility by allowing backstabs to work with thrown weapons and ranged weapons at reduced effectiveness but not requiring positional requirements in a neat idea. Rogues get a lot of powerful per day abilities that have positional requirements really incentivising risk/reward.

The two caster hybrids get, imo, the best new skills thematically. Combined Strike and United Blow really show what a hybrid should play like. Expending spells to get melee damage is definitely what I imagine as a hybrid.

Items have also undergone some changes for the better. The new armor rules let people create and craft more interesting costume pieces without being as heavily penalized. I look forward to seeing all the fancy armor now that people will actually get value for. And in game, the change to magic items has done a great deal to close the gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. As far as I have seen, all magic items no longer give free skills or spells, but instead can modify existing ones to give a greater strength. The removal of auras also makes hunting that magic weapon for extra damage a thing of the past. Also, just to throw it in here, I am happy with the removal of literacy. For me it was always a mandatory purchase, and I am glad to see it removed.

Now for a few areas I feel still need some revision. Rogue still feels very situation and in most cases just makes a poor fighter. The time and effort it takes to get to the rear of a target to get your backstabs off does not equal to the amount of damage it actually does. Backstab could use a slight bump in usefulness. I have read people building rogues backstabless, and using other skills to get all the per day abilities, and that is great. It truly shows the complexity of options the system can achieve, but I would like to see backstabs be a balanced build option (in relation to weapon proficiency) .

The idea of a rogue getting to flank to dish out burst damage is a trope many people enjoy and I wouldn’t mind seeing it supported. While the use of the stealth per day skills to achieve this is an option, the reliance on those skills to be able to do anything feels lacking. Channelling was added to give scholars less reliance on their per day skills and it seems like the mentality for rogue is to do the opposite. Additionally, while some support was given to allow the Ranger style bow rogue to be plausible, many of the per day skills cannot be used with this style. The lack of support there makes the build feel incomplete.

I understand that the current directive is to attempt to lower the amount of static damage increases in the game and this seems at odds with the balancing that backstabs could use. To give a practical example with numbers, it seems that the idea is that a rogue will be twice as effective as a fighter from behind, at a cost of severe penalties if they cannot reach that position. With the balancing in its current form, This is not achieved. A fighter with 5 weapon proficiencies would swing for 7 damage with a one handed weapon (10 with a 2 hander), while a similarly built rogue would swing for 2 from the front and 12 from behind (or roughly 3 from the front and 10 from behind if a proficiency was purchased). The damage done from behind as a rogue is not meeting the expectations of the x.5/x2 that is envisioned.

If the bonus from backstab was increased to 3 per purchase, the same rogue would swing for 2 from the front and 17 from behind (or more likely 3 from the front and 15 from behind with a proficiency). This allows the rogue to have a very clear advantage from behind and really gives them the thematic feel people would expect them to have, even when compared to a fighter wielding a 2 handed weapon.

The cost for a second school of magic is also taxed unfairly high. I agree there should be some penalty for the flexibility that being dual school provides, but currently it feels a bit steep. Even changing it from double cost to 1.5 cost would make a big difference to that character option being better supported.

On the topic of spells, I believe Necromancy should become its own school. I have never really liked the idea that balancing the school due to in-game legality was really a positive way to design it. It has already been balanced from previous systems, moving the strongest 5th level spell to a 7th. Now the only thing making it stronger is Empowered Strike. If made to its own school, I could see if having the Necromancy Spells, Curses (but not remove curse), and the general spell list, While Earth would have the curatives. People like playing the dark casters, the warlocks, so forth and so on. I know this one is probably too far out of the system to change, but I thought I would mention it anyways. This would also work to balance Earth in relation to Celestial, which always seems a step behind.

I like the addition of extra body for racial skills, but I would like to see Humans get a racial, some sort of generalist skill (as every other race has). I know the argument is that Humans have no make-up requirement, but there are other races who get great racials for very limited effort. The requirements to meet for elves, dwarves, oathsworn, in particular are fairly easy to meet and still provide substantial bonuses for doing so. There is nothing wrong with this, and the majority of people really go that extra mile for costuming, but giving humans some sort of racial seems fair to me and could also help give them a story (rather than their story being the absence of the other stories).

Blacksmithing 1 required for refitting just becomes a mandatory skill, like literacy was before. If you have any physical armor at all, you just buy that single point of blacksmithing. It feels like a superfluous skill that is just tacked on so you can wear armor.

As a whole, the new rules changes are a lot of fun, and I look forward to continue playing. By no means are any of these things gamebreaking, but some of the changes could potentially open up more options for not only myself, but other players. On that note, a lot of the top end skills are basically kill effects when landed, either through a form of control or just straight death. This in turns means monsters need to stat defenses or immunities against it. This leads to a lot of player skills feel like wasted purchases, and for that I have made a few monster abilities that could help both the fights end more dramatically, but also make the player feel like their skills mattered:

  • Cheat Death - When hit by a takeout effect (like Doom), the monster can spend 40 body to call “cheat death” to not take the effect.
  • Unstoppable - When hit by an effect that could cause loss of movement (bindo, paralyze, etc), the monster can spend 35 body to call “unstoppable” to not take that effect
  • Strong Will - When hit by a charm effect the monster can spend 30 body to call “strong will” to not take the effect
  • Reduce - When hit by a damaging effect the monster may spend 40 body to call “reduce” and take no damage from the hit.

These abilities are not a final draft, but a quick design to show a direction I can see them going to make player skills feel more rewarding. I am interested to hear what people think and welcome any constructive criticism people have.

I look forward to any conversations people wish to have, I just ask to keep it friendly and respectful as we all may have different opinions, and that is ok. Recently I have moved across the country, so I am starting with a new chapter and a new character. So my view points are from that standpoint. Thank you to anyone and everyone who took the time to read this and thank you to all the staff, not only all the plots teams, but to the dedicated people who helped write the new system.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Regarding your feedback, there’s some points I’d like to make:

1) Backstab vs Weapon Prof - You’re right that it’s not a true “double damage” advantage. But I don’t think it’s actually meant to be. Rather, it’s more damage, but it requires more work for that damage.

That being said, Assassinate is straight up better than Slay, and by a difference that more than bridges the gap, IMO. A based two weapon, which is the most common martial weapon, will do 70 Damage with 5 Improved Slays. A base 3 weapon would do 105 damage. A heavy crossbow, which is a weapon you can’t protect yourself with, would do 140 damage. An Assassinate with the same investment will do 150 Damage, and it doesn’t care about what weapon you use.

Stealth’s weakness is probably that it provides a whole lot of per-day powerful abilities and strong production skills, but in a straight up, protracted fight, a low-mobility Rogue is going to get outperformed by Martial Fighters. But protracted, straight up fights are where Fighters excel, so that makes sense.

I really think people underestimate or undervalue the importance of “threat”, that intangible presence that a Rogue lends just by having the potential to burst damage someone’s backside. You don’t need to expend any abilities to turn an enemy. You approach, and they’ll face you. That’s such an amazing tactical advantage.

But if it’s the constant damage game you want, maybe you’ll like Fighter more.

2) United Blow is a Scholar skill, I will die on this hill. :D

3) Blacksmithing 1 isn’t a required skill, but it can certainly be a useful one if you want to be self-sufficient. Alliance is designed to penalize self-sufficiency, so you should expect that to happen.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Oh, and 4) the cost of dual schools.

I actually kinda agree, but I would propose a different fix. I want Earth and Celestial casters to be separate classes, rather than the same class that "makes a choice."

Along those lines, I'd also want a hybrid caster (and call it the Sage). I would take the spell slot cost of the hybrid classes, and just give it to both schools for the Sage.
 
Thank you for your responses Draven.

1) I am on the side that rogues just need a little more oomph. My thought is that they could afford a few profs while still keeping their damage from behind high to still make them a threat when the creature turns around after getting hit so hard. Based off your scenario, 2 fighters flanking then would just be better then a rogue in my opinion. And currently, I do play a fighter =D

2) I am not disagreeing that UB gets a lot of mileage on a scholar, I was just pointing out thematically how much I enjoy this skill, I know plenty of non adepts picking it up. The nice thing about the system is that skills are not locked to classes.

3) Being able to refit my armor is a little less on the idea that I am self dependent, but that it just feels mandatory. Last game I played there was a master BS that scolded fighters for repairing their own armor because he did it faster, and that was a good interaction. But the mandatory 1 point in it just feels bad to me.

4) Without looking at build costs in comparison to what it is now, I will say I like this idea off hand. Thanks for the additional idea.
 

Tantarus

Squire
Giving Rogue more flexibility by allowing backstabs to work with thrown weapons and ranged weapons at reduced effectiveness but not requiring positional requirements in a neat idea.
This worked this way in 1.3.
Now for a few areas I feel still need some revision. Rogue still feels very situation and in most cases just makes a poor fighter. The time and effort it takes to get to the rear of a target to get your backstabs off does not equal to the amount of damage it actually does. Backstab could use a slight bump in usefulness. I have read people building rogues backstabless, and using other skills to get all the per day abilities, and that is great. It truly shows the complexity of options the system can achieve, but I would like to see backstabs be a balanced build option (in relation to weapon proficiency) .
I generally agree with this. Though I think it is somewhat chapter based. In the NW we have alot of open field battles, which helps. But I do agree in line fights, hallway fights, mods in general it can be very hard to be effective or even useful sometimes.

Channelling was added to give scholars less reliance on their per day skills and it seems like the mentality for rogue is to do the opposite. Additionally, while some support was given to allow the Ranger style bow rogue to be plausible, many of the per day skills cannot be used with this style. The lack of support there makes the build feel incomplete.
I agree with this. I get that they where scared to give rogues the ability to do some dangerous ranged attacks, but a shield negates most of them effectively.

On the topic of spells, I believe Necromancy should become its own school. I have never really liked the idea that balancing the school due to in-game legality was really a positive way to design it.
Dont agree it should be a second school, but I do strongly agree it should not be considered when balancing earth to celestial.

Cheat Death - When hit by a takeout effect (like Doom), the monster can spend 40 body to call “cheat death” to not take the effect.
Honestly doom has enough ways to defend it and costs so much build I would prefer to not see more defenses against it.

Great post over all, I hope to see more posts like these from people as we get deeper into 2.0

I really think people underestimate or undervalue the importance of “threat”, that intangible presence that a Rogue lends just by having the potential to burst damage someone’s backside. You don’t need to expend any abilities to turn an enemy. You approach, and they’ll face you. That’s such an amazing tactical advantage.
Yeah... That is called metagaming most the time and as a rogue it gets real old real fast to have npcs face me before I have even hit them. Infact it is one of my biggest frustrations and concerns with the class long term. Though I will say it is PCs that are double hooking that do it the most to me. They look for me in the backfield knowing that is what I do, then they see me on the field and face me at all costs.
 
Tantarus,

Thank you for the response and the time you took to read it. I will state that my idea with "cheat death" is that it turns skills that are defended a use other then, well they just never take death effects. These would replace dodges, parries, etc...on monsters. The thought might be the big bad guy may have dodges and phases to help whittle the players down, but the lieutenants and such would have these so your per days so you can slowly decrease his forces to focus on the BBG. This is just a thought experiment to alleviate the number of skills everyone has that are obviously never going to hit anything but a weakling.

I appreciate the conversation and look forward to hearing more.
 

Tantarus

Squire
Thank you for the response and the time you took to read it. I will state that my idea with "cheat death" is that it turns skills that are defended a use other then, well they just never take death effects. These would replace dodges, parries, etc...on monsters.
Okay, that I like alot more. Though is alot more mental math for npcs.

I went rogue for 2.0 after getting in shape, and as a reason to stay in shape. But I think it is probably one of the hardest RL skill classes to play. And some of the "upper" teir effects are underwhelming. After play testing them I declined to buy most of the skill strikes. They just get defended and are over costed IMO. (Obv not talking about waylay). That said I am high level so I hit for 20s from behind. So most things I can just grind out.

Over all I think 2.0 is a great advancement for the game. The one glaring flaw to me was skill store. So many 1 shot dodges around it is impossible to scale stuff to be scary to people that have them. But if you scale to them you ruin people without them.
 

Feldor

Scholar
Marshal
From an archer perspective, the real problem with rogue is that backstabs don't get the 2-H damage bonus that profs do. And for Archery, its about the static damage. I also feel like some of the frustration with rogue is that in fights where you can't get behind someone, swinging 2's feels underwhelming.

There are 3 rogue abilities that don't work with archery: slow/weakness blow, sleep/paralysis blow, and enhanced strike. Honestly slow/weakness blow should be usable with a bow (fighter weakness/shun strike is 1xp more expensive and /30 instead of /20, but also a strike and shun is tactically stronger than slow). I can't come up with a good reason why it isn't already. Sleep/Paralysis blow either needs to get more expensive and harder to get, or stay melee only -- and I'd strongly support it staying melee only as it is a core of melee rogue. Enhanced strike should probably be allowed via archery -- the fighter equivalent allows it, and the ritual equivalent allows it, so it seems weird that it doesn't work.

How about as a suggestion, we change backstab so that for every 2 backstabs, you also get 1 static damage. This would result in 2 backstabs providing: 1 damage from the front, 3 damage with archery (same as 2 profs for fighter), and 5 damage from behind. It'd give rogues a little more bite from the front, while not really being competitive with fighters from the front. It'd also let rogue-archer be competitive with fighter-archer.


Also, I agree that United Blow is a scholar skill. And Combined Strike needs a little work so that it actually synergizes with its fighter half, to scale in the same way that UB scales with its rogue half. (There are a couple ways I could see that working, but I have half of a proposal written for that already.)


I do agree with @Steven Duncan 's point that I'd like to see fewer ignore defenses (like phase) and more things like mettle and resolute -- where you feel like you did something, even if the opponent is still there and acting. Though that may largely be a thing for the local plot team, and not a part of the core rules.
 
Feldor,

Thanks for the response. I really see no issue why sleep/paralysis shouldn't work with a bow, even at its cost, casters are still getting stronger and more then you would as an archer. I don't think it really hurts anything to be honest. I dig the idea of backstabs gaining a prof every 2 purchased, but at that number would it cause the scaling to become out of hand? Of course through playing and testing that number could change, but I like the thought, I feel a rogue does need to have some threat from the front, or when they get into position they are left open and a non-threat.

The only reason I posted those ideas for monster rules is because the Player Handbook does mention the monster abilities so I thought I would post potential new ones to help not get frustrated staff due to strong player abilities, or on the other hand, frustrated players because their abilities never work.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

Feldor

Scholar
Marshal
Thanks for the response. I really see no issue why sleep/paralysis shouldn't work with a bow, even at its cost, casters are still getting stronger and more then you would as an archer. I don't think it really hurts anything to be honest.
Its not that it couldn't be -- its that to be balance against the fighter ability, the XP cost would need to be doubled, and you'd need to be restricted to 1 per /45 instead of /15. And have 1 or 2 abilities not usable by bow is completely reasonable - it leaves a plenty large toolset. To be honest, sleep/paralysis blow _should_ be more expensive than it is for the effect if we were trying to make all skills be equivalently effective for the XP -- but we want rogues to have the reputation of being able to do a take out from behind if they can sneak up on you, so we make it cheaper and put that sort of restriction on it.

I dig the idea of backstabs gaining a prof every 2 purchased, but at that number would it cause the scaling to become out of hand? Of course through playing and testing that number could change, but I like the thought, I feel a rogue does need to have some threat from the front, or when they get into position they are left open and a non-threat.
So I don't think it'd cause the damage scaling to get out of wack. Its a 20-25% increase on damage from behind, and a small increase on damage from the front. It'll mean a high level rogue (who is swinging for 20's from behind, which probably means he has 9 backstabs) would now swing for 6 from the front and 24 from behind. It is _some_ increase. But to compare with a fighter, 6 from the front is 3 prof's for a 2H-fighter which you can easily have by 6th level. It is some damage creep, but its not huge. It'll also mean a rogue will feel like a better melee fighter than a scholar in a line battle.
 
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Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
I hope everyone participating in this conversation has a healthy realism regarding the implementation of any degree of changes to 2.0, at this point.

Not a criticism, just a gentle nudge.
 
Draven,

I fully expect none of my thoughts to not actually impact the game. But I do enjoy conversations and constructive criticism. I feel it was my duty as a player and larp fan to at least express my thoughts and concerns, and also thank everyone involved, from a local level, all the way to the top. From my feed back as you can tell I have a lot more positive to say, and for good reason. As I said above, if nothing changes, I will still go and have a great time, but it cannot hurt to voice concern and give appreciation.

Thanks you your response though.
 

Gilwing

Baron
Alliance Logistics
Yeah... That is called metagaming most the time and as a rogue it gets real old real fast to have npcs face me before I have even hit them. Infact it is one of my biggest frustrations and concerns with the class long term. Though I will say it is PCs that are double hooking that do it the most to me. They look for me in the backfield knowing that is what I do, then they see me on the field and face me at all costs.
PCs do it NPCs as well. "Stand back, that last one threw a sleep poison". Maybe the monsters in the distance spotted you mowing down their allies on their way up to the fight? Lol.
 

Tantarus

Squire
Nah, I see them looking for me in teh back field from the get go, esp after respawns if I killed some of them. They will give there back to a fighter swinging 8-10 to not let me hit 20s. Before I have hit them. This always has been and always will be an issue. It was when I played a rogue in the 90s.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
PCs do it NPCs as well. "Stand back, that last one threw a sleep poison". Maybe the monsters in the distance spotted you mowing down their allies on their way up to the fight? Lol.
I mean, I treat all orange packets with the same degree of “Nope nope nope, none for me, thanks!”
 
At the end of the day, metagaming is something the rules will never fix. But we can try to help alleviate the frustration in other places where we can.
 
Oh, I meant no blame. I am just saying there are things the rules can help with and things that are out of it's scope. I apologize if I came off as pointing fingers.
 

Tantarus

Squire
No you didnt, I just wanted to make it more clear I was not calling people out for intentional metagaming. It is one of those things that people do without thinking about, they know there is a rogue on the field that does 20s from behind and forget that the npc they are playing doesnt know that.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
(I always blame Tantarus)
 
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