Combat Enjoyment since 2.0

Muir

Fighter
It is not easy to run a game in which characters of every level feel valuable, but it has been done. I've seen it many times, and I know others here have seen it too. From what I've seen it requires a consistently high level of energy, creativity, empathy and skill, but it's necessary, because every game worth its weight in salt matures and eventually faces the same problem. The games that fail to effectively address this problem fade away. But I think it says something that some of the longest enduring LARPs in the US still appear to have significant power disparities among their players. Somehow they've found someway to attract enough people to sustain. I doubt it's because they divined the one true rule system, or because they've eradicated disparities.

More likely they somehow continue to care enough, provide enough energy, creativity, empathy and hard-earned skill to consistently put on a damn good show.

Hard resets are seductive but tricky. You might temporarily invigorate the game...or you might blow a hole in your player base and never recover your numbers. Drawing resources from within yourself and your organization to improve your running of the show is harder, but I've never seen it kill a game. Level caps and resets always seem to me to be a temporary fix.

Building a dynamic, interesting, inviting game that accommodates for all player levels and interests seems like a better long term goal.
From the perspective of someone who's been doing this for a long time?

It's more that new players keep showing up and cycling out while the long-termers stick around and keep getting more powerful. A lot of the 'big cards' I see in the midwest today, I played with in their first few events back in the early-mid 00's. There are still people kicking around who were fairly large cards when I started.
 

Tantarus

Knight
I feel this is more a failure of what is "supposed" to be taking out these creatures being circumvented by the various enhanced blades. Undead/Elementals are supposed to be the time for a healer/celestialist to shine with channeling or healing/evocation. Instead, various blade enhancements get thrown around like crazy, and where a 20 body / 40 armor undead would have sufficed, instead you have to put out a 60 body / 120 armor undead for it to have the same thematic impact, because it's not 1/4th of the field that has something that can go straight to body, but rather 3/4ths. It means that it ends up punishing the few who cannot swing to body, instead of benefiting the few who can.
I agree blades are the issue, that said I think remove blades and go back to 50/50, so if you have the right element you are doing double, so very effective. But if you dont have that you still feel like your hits matter.
 
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Tantarus

Knight
I personally wouldn't be against a gear reset, and I'm not sure if it would be a long-term bad thing if it encouraged people with decades old characters with full loot stacks to either make alts or take a little time off. The social strata in most games I've played in solidifies really fast into haves and have nots, and only really changes when people on the upper end of that divide quit... and access to plot attention tends to (intentionally or not) reflect that.
I would not really like a total reset, some of us have worked hard for years to make items, I would however be for a low item cap, like 20 or 10 rits. This would also fix the 1 shot dodge issue that is going on.
 
From the perspective of someone who's been doing this for a long time?

It's more that new players keep showing up and cycling out while the long-termers stick around and keep getting more powerful. A lot of the 'big cards' I see in the midwest today, I played with in their first few events back in the early-mid 00's. There are still people kicking around who were fairly large cards when I started.
True, that is often the case. In the last 20 years I've been playing this game I've certainly seen a lot of that, but I've also seen a lot of new players stick around and become old timers themselves. I'm still seeing it each season. Heck, I remember running around next to 30th level folks when I was a 1st level fighter and 30th was practically unheard of. Almost all those folks are gone now, some from the earth...

Probably two-thirds of the people I play with now started this game at least a decade after I did, many less than five years ago. I'm sure it varies from chapter to chapter and season to season, but it's always something to keep an eye on as an owner. If you're not seeing any new players come and stay, adjustments need to be made.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
It is not easy to run a game in which characters of every level feel valuable, but it has been done. I've seen it many times, and I know others here have seen it too. From what I've seen it requires a consistently high level of energy, creativity, empathy and skill, but it's necessary, because every game worth its weight in salt matures and eventually faces the same problem. The games that fail to effectively address this problem fade away. But I think it says something that some of the longest enduring LARPs in the US still appear to have significant power disparities among their players. Somehow they've found someway to attract enough people to sustain. I doubt it's because they divined the one true rule system, or because they've eradicated disparities.

More likely they somehow continue to care enough, provide enough energy, creativity, empathy and hard-earned skill to consistently put on a damn good show.

Hard resets are seductive but tricky. You might temporarily invigorate the game...or you might blow a hole in your player base and never recover your numbers. Drawing resources from within yourself and your organization to improve your running of the show is harder, but I've never seen it kill a game. Level caps and resets always seem to me to be a temporary fix.

Building a dynamic, interesting, inviting game that accommodates for all player levels and interests seems like a better long term goal.
Let’s be real.

It is exceedingly unlikely that instituting a level cap would blow an irrecoverable hole in the game. It‘s likely players would leave, sure, but the players that would leave are the ones who

A) are affected by it
AND
2) feel it makes for a worse game for them.

Not everyone who plays is A, and not everyone who is A is also B.
Enough players remain that would be able to pick up where the others left off. That’s a reality. A level cap would not kill Alliance as a national organization, because the impact is, frankly, too small and specific to actually do that.

“Building a dynamic, interesting, inviting game that accommodates for all player levels and interests seems like a better long term goal” is best accomplished with a game that is manageable by volunteers who only have so much energy and resources to give. Alliance cannot appeal to all customers. Thus, a better business model is to appeal to new players and build growth. A level cap is part of that model.
 

Tantarus

Knight
The issue with a level cap, is you need to likely redo build costs, figure out what the top of each class should look like and adjust to that, Imo. Because some classes are stronger at certain level ranges. You also dont want to make split classes unable to get to capstones in both, imo.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
The issue with a level cap, is you need to likely redo build costs, figure out what the top of each class should look like and adjust to that, Imo. Because some classes are stronger at certain level ranges. You also dont want to make split classes unable to get to capstones in both, imo.
Totally agree with that! I think it would be bad from a design standpoint to just put in a cap and call it a day. You'd have to decide what the endgame characters should look like, how much leeway you want to give for non-optimal builds, and how powerful you're willing to let optimal builds get. Then it's just about determining the prices to get to that point.
 

MaxIrons

Squire
Oregon Staff
Marshal
Something that doesn't get talked about as much is that every time your character gains power, by design, the world becomes more dangerous... for everyone else. I'm going to use Tantarus here as a microcosm example (because he's already engaged in the discussion, but this isn't personal). It's done in small increments, but every time Tantarus gets a new ability, tool, or even just accumulates coin, if I'm his plot team, to present a legitimate threat to him, I have to make the threats bigger. If Tantarus is gaining in power faster than other people, then the threat level of the world is legitimately going to be higher. Since we are still adding people at level 2, the danger difference rapidly approaches the point where a new player is effectively cordoned off from certain things. A good chunk of the game becomes effectively "insta-gib tier" for these new players.

This is mitigated by plot teams with a lot of positive metagaming. PCs can help or harm this by how they choose to engage "trash mobs" way below your level on a battlefield. If Tantarus is wading through a horde of 5/10-2 skeletons, those things that are a threat to level 2 characters, it ruins that thematic threat for them. It was so bad at one point that to help this along Seattle literally color coded how dangerous creatures were. Think about that for a second, there was such a huge power discrepancy between the bottom and top that monsters had to be color coded for the game to function in big battles... and even then Tantarus's power group still breaks the system in a lot of ways. That's not a dig at the players by the way, it's a problem with the basic game design.

I think MI restrictions are a good step towards ameliorating this problem, and would encourage owners/plot teams to do it locally. However if it's not done Alliance wide, you'll end up with players who can travel breaking the economy in other ways (immediate thought is someone who buys small items like Enchants cheap in chapter 1 with an MI cap, then can sell high at chapter 2 without one). I don't have the answers, but that we're discussing it here tells me that we all care about Alliance, and hopefully we can work together to figure better ways forwards.
 

Tantarus

Knight
I think MI restrictions are a good step towards ameliorating this problem, and would encourage owners/plot teams to do it locally. However if it's not done Alliance wide, you'll end up with players who can travel breaking the economy in other ways
This is where a hard effect cap would help, if it is low enough. Because it doesnt matter if you can get it cheap or what not, if you can only have 10-20 effects. This would also help with the loot hording that goes on. And make people more likely to spread
things down the line.

Also would help scaling alot for from a plot perspective.

his is mitigated by plot teams with a lot of positive metagaming. PCs can help or harm this by how they choose to engage "trash mobs" way below your level on a battlefield. If Tantarus is wading through a horde of 5/10-2 skeletons, those things that are a threat to level 2 characters, it ruins that thematic threat for them.
While I totally agree with Higher levels reverse metagaming, It is not always so simple. I have literally walked away from mobs saying something to the effect "This one is not for me." But I have got flak for that as I am a knight of the land walking away from undead or something. With that I get asked for help by low people, so it is awkward to refuse. Also some npcs are really aggressive about attacking someone even if they are way higher level. Forcing you to kill them, which is annoying, this is the one reason I miss Protection Aura. I could just ignore them. For the most part I try not to get fight weaker stuff, cept sunday mornings if I got alot of skills to burn.

That said I have seen some people that kill anything of any teir to "I search you" as much as they can. So It is a hard balance. In my experience in the PNW chapters, Loot is totally random, There is no risk vs reward for the most part. So that encourages people to kill lesser things and hope to win the loot lottery.


Another issue I have started to notice more lately, with levels rising, is that many people get stuck in that lowbie mentality. And expect the older folks to always handle the big bads. Without realizing they are high 20s-low 30s and it is there time to step up to the plate. There by making room for newer people to fight the weaker mobs.
 

Muir

Fighter
While I totally agree with Higher levels reverse metagaming, It is not always so simple. I have literally walked away from mobs saying something to the effect "This one is not for me." But I have got flak for that as I am a knight of the land walking away from undead or something. With that I get asked for help by low people, so it is awkward to refuse. Also some npcs are really aggressive about attacking someone even if they are way higher level. Forcing you to kill them, which is annoying, this is the one reason I miss Protection Aura. I could just ignore them. For the most part I try not to get fight weaker stuff, cept sunday mornings if I got alot of skills to burn.

That said I have seen some people that kill anything of any teir to "I search you" as much as they can. So It is a hard balance. In my experience in the PNW chapters, Loot is totally random, There is no risk vs reward for the most part. So that encourages people to kill lesser things and hope to win the loot lottery.


Another issue I have started to notice more lately, with levels rising, is that many people get stuck in that lowbie mentality. And expect the older folks to always handle the big bads. Without realizing they are high 20s-low 30s and it is there time to step up to the plate. There by making room for newer people to fight the weaker mobs.
That's a whole thing. I despise town mods, especially the Saturday Night Town Fight (TM), because they all too often feel like the low-mid level characters are there to watch the Kings of Town get their Big Bad scalps and provide the expected level of praise. Given any choice in the matter I would not go to them at all. I would legitimately rather go offsite for a pizza than play that mod.

In-game? I can't afford to be the guy who 'never shows up when the town needs him' if I want to be able to go on any other mods for the weekend.
 

Tantarus

Knight
That's a whole thing. I despise town mods, especially the Saturday Night Town Fight (TM),
Funny, I am the reverse. I hate mod mods, because it is a small amount of people eating up alot of npc time. And the risk vs reward is crappy for high levels, you tend to get teh same loot for a apl 5 and apl 40 in my experience, but the high levels take alot more risks, use alot more items/pots/etc.

I much prefer the game to happen in the town. So everyone gets to see it, rather then in mods where only a few people see it, and dont bother to inform the rest of the town. Like recently in seattle, we had people doing some time travel mods over like 3 events, half the town had no idea. And it was a major plot point.

My personal favorite is split fights, where half the town goes off to attack X and the other half stays to Defend the town. So you can double hook for each other. Assuming both sides of the fight are equal in quality and fun.
 

Muir

Fighter
Interesting, that's part of why I hate the town fight. It, and the lead up to it, ties up all of plot's attention and NPC time for about a third of the active period for most of the events I go to, and there's nothing to be done besides that.
 

MaxIrons

Squire
Oregon Staff
Marshal
While I totally agree with Higher levels reverse metagaming, It is not always so simple. I have literally walked away from mobs saying something to the effect "This one is not for me." But I have got flak for that as I am a knight of the land walking away from undead or something. With that I get asked for help by low people, so it is awkward to refuse. Also some npcs are really aggressive about attacking someone even if they are way higher level. Forcing you to kill them, which is annoying, this is the one reason I miss Protection Aura. I could just ignore them. For the most part I try not to get fight weaker stuff, cept sunday mornings if I got alot of skills to burn.
Yep. It's on everyone PC & NPC alike to make an event the best it can be, and the things that you're giving examples of are players who are unintentionally making it harder. You're actually really good about it, and it has improved a long way from when I first started playing in Seattle through actions all the way up to the aforementioned color coding of monsters.

Another issue I have started to notice more lately, with levels rising, is that many people get stuck in that lowbie mentality. And expect the older folks to always handle the big bads. Without realizing they are high 20s-low 30s and it is there time to step up to the plate. There by making room for newer people to fight the weaker mobs.
As someone who is now in the highbie mentality, I was very lucky to get tutelage in that mindset from some amazing players, but it took place almost entirely in between games. I got none of that apprenticeship/tutelage in game, and it took literal years of not just PCing, but NPCing, and Plot to get to the point where I felt like I had the experience as a player to make those hard on the field calls. Hell, the first time I took command, I used "plot voice" to get everyone's attention. These things in some ways due to an event being too busy to really teach them, and I don't know how to encourage more of it.

We have, however, diverted from the basic topic to really high idea territory by a large margin at this point.
 
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Feldor

Adept
Marshal
I feel like a lot of the issue with magic items got fixed with the 2.0 rules. The problem that seems to be being called out here is with the Imbuement rituals, and how much they have an overly large benefit against certain monsters, and devalue players who have specifically built to be effective against those type on monsters (either via high magic, combined strike, or evocation memorization). We pretty tightly control the "blade" spells and don't allow them to be put in to production (either scroll or potion). I wonder if we should scale back the imbuement ritual - maybe make it have a 1 minute or 30 second duration. This would also return blade spells to be being worth memorizing.

Edit:
Though I do think a cap on skill store & enchant is also a good. We've been focusing on skill store dodge, but someone coming in with 40 skill-store eviscerate or enchant-doom could wreck a chunk of plot too.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
There's a lot less incentive to do offensive Skill Stores over defensive ones.

A defensive Skill Store will never fail to resolve. An offensive Skill Store runs the risk of feeling like a waste.

I've had skill store Assassinates before, all three of them hit defenses. It's a bummer when that happens.

I've never been bummed to burn a Dodge, though.

That being said, I think Skill Store needs to be broken into multiple rituals. Specifically, four. Attack Store (Everything not Evis/Doom Blow), Greater Attack Store (Evis/Doom Blow), Defense Store (Evade, Mettle, Counteract), Greater Defense Store (Dodge, Parry). While it wouldn't have helped with the conversion process (except by maybe assigning more TP to Greater Defense Store/Attack Store and thus lowering the amount that flooded the game), it would help lower the amount that enter the economy going forward.
 

Tantarus

Knight
I feel like a lot of the issue with magic items got fixed with the 2.0 rules. The problem that seems to be being called out here is with the Imbuement rituals, and how much they have an overly large benefit against certain monsters, and devalue players who have specifically built to be effective against those type on monsters (either via high magic, combined strike, or evocation memorization). We pretty tightly control the "blade" spells and don't allow them to be put in to production (either scroll or potion). I wonder if we should scale back the imbuement ritual - maybe make it have a 1 minute or 30 second duration. This would also return blade spells to be being worth memorizing.
I dont think the issue is the imbuements themselves. It is that they are a must have to fight undead. If an undead has 100 body and 200 armor, You are a 3rd as effective without one, and on bigger things it is even more pronounced to the point it doesnt feel worth fighting without the element it is weak too. There needs to be a balance where using the element is good, but not using it is still worth while too.

I think with skill stores, you need to just remove dodge and maybe evis from the list, they are capstones of there classes. And when skill stored in mass, far too strong, making balancing a fight almost impossible for plot.

I have said it repeatedly on these forums over the years. Imagine a world where plot doesnt have to scale to everyone having dodges, They could ramp down so much of the dangerous effects. Arcane would hardly be needed. And it gives rogues back there function in front facing fights against big bads, They defend the others from the dragon magic.
 

Feldor

Adept
Marshal
Ah - I was taking the problem as being that imbuements basically were devaluing people who specialized, and forcing them to inflate monsters to compensate. So using your example, if the goal was for PC's to have a challenge that I'm going to artificially decide could be modeled as the challenge in delivering 450 damage via weapon. if they didn't have any way to do healing damage, they'd put out 3 undead with 100 armor and 50 body (450 total damage needs delivered). Now all the PCs have healing, they have to stat them at 300 armor & 150 health. The problem is when you have "most" of the PCs with lots of healing imbuement, plot has to stat it like it is "all"; and those PC's without just end up frustrated. If you could make it so like 20% of the time PCs had access, you'd end up with those undead being stat'd at 130/65 (and you expect 2 of them to be beaten down by people without healing, and 1 to be killed by the person using healing).

So what you want is the ability for there to be some healing offensively thrown, so the few people having it (or providing it to someone else) get their hero moment without it being the case that its just mandatory. IE, rare imbuements let people have moments in the spotlight. Pervasive imbuements just make it so that people without feel less cool.

So I'm guessing if you are seeing 200/100 undead, there is something going on where that is the reasonable stat'ing to make the undead fight challenging for your local mix of players and access to healing damage.
 

Tantarus

Knight
My experience is obv going to be a bit different then most. I am a rogue that hits 20s from the back. But when fighting undead at my APL without ahealing blade it is like hacking on a tree, where as if I have one it feels more balanced. I feel like the current dynmatic while a good idea, has just made it so healing damage is required to fight them as apposed to just more effective. Celestial casters dont bother even throwing damage at undead at this point.

Side note doom blow really feels bad against undead. Though based on previous posts and pulls, no one really bothers with doom blow anyhow past using 1 for reposte.
 

Gilwing

Baron
Alliance Logistics
My experience is obv going to be a bit different then most. I am a rogue that hits 20s from the back. But when fighting undead at my APL without ahealing blade it is like hacking on a tree, where as if I have one it feels more balanced. I feel like the current dynmatic while a good idea, has just made it so healing damage is required to fight them as apposed to just more effective. Celestial casters dont bother even throwing damage at undead at this point.

Side note doom blow really feels bad against undead. Though based on previous posts and pulls, no one really bothers with doom blow anyhow past using 1 for reposte.
But that's all classes that don't have healing. The same would apply with a flame elemental that has body and armor and ice goes straight to body. They added the armor to make it worth something to throw healing at undead and a weapon that swings healing has become a "must have" instead of a "that's cool" thing.

I have said it repeatedly on these forums over the years. Imagine a world where plot doesnt have to scale to everyone having dodges, They could ramp down so much of the dangerous effects. Arcane would hardly be needed. And it gives rogues back there function in front facing fights against big bads, They defend the others from the dragon magic
Come play AGB (I know ur in the PNW....I think). I co-ran monster desk this past season and we never scaled or stated with assuming anyone had a dodge item. If they did, cool on them. One less charge in the game.
 

Tantarus

Knight
Come play AGB (I know ur in the PNW....I think). I co-ran monster desk this past season and we never scaled or stated with assuming anyone had a dodge item. If they did, cool on them. One less charge in the game.
I dont think they do in the PNW either, but I havent seen a highbie really get dropped since 2.0 when live. I am a rogue and I know that most fighters/scholars have access to more dodges then I do in any given day.
 
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