Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's all in the details: Adding shadows to JADE

While adding shadows as an undead type to JADE in the aftermath of the annoying hacker attack an interesting discussion sparked on Facebook around the capabilities of shadows. I'd like to share some of the details.

First of all shadows use a touch attack which is a new kind of attack which didn't exist in ADOM. Touch attacks work like this:

  • Touch attacks ignore the positive DV modifiers of all protective items worn by the attack target (except for shields).
  • The logic here is that for a touch attack it is enough to connect in some way to the target to be effective (like e.g. a shocking grasp). Thus positive DV modifiers do not help except for those provided by shields as that extra barrier helps blocking the attacker.
We had some discussion about whether touch shouldn't ignore PV instead of DV. That again is controlled by another detail in JADE: the general attack type.

JADE differentiates between physical and magical attacks.

Physical attacks are attacks that work as in ADOM: PV reduces the damage.

Magical attacks use one of the new stats in JADE: MR (look in the stats display - it's been there since the very first version) reduces the damage.

Shadows now possess a magical touch attack that causes a little damage and drains strength points. Now go figure :-)

As a side discussion we talked about cloaks of displacement which obviously should be effective against touch attacks. The first idea from the community was that cloaks of displacement provide a plain DV modifier. Which seems logical at first and might be an appropriate implementation of the displacement effect technically. But that's not the way how it works in JADE as then touch attacks would be able to bypass displacement effects. Displacement effects in JADE are modeled as reducing the attack roll of the attacker - which is different from increasing the DV of the defender.

What I love about JADE is that doing such stuff is trivial thanks to the overall infrastructure.

As a result I am almost finished with shadows (attribute drain still needs to be added), touch effects are in the game and cloaks of displacement have been added as well as necklaces of protection from touch attacks.


  1. So displacement cloaks lower enemy attack rolls instead of increasing your DV, which means they influence touch attacks while most other worn armour does not.... Aaaahhh, that's pretty clever! I like it!

    I pretty much agree completely with everything you've said here, touch attacks that ignore worn DV like helmets and armour but are affected by mobility DV like dodge and Dexterity is spot on. Definitely a different challenge to normal, and someone who had no problem in a room full of high level orcs might struggle in a room full of low level shadows... which is just the way we like it :-)

    I guess on the other side, you would have stealth-based monsters like invisible stalkers, which catch you flat-footed - meaning that you get no DV bonus from shields and dexterity, and must rely only on your worn items for DV! That cloak of displacement keeps sounding like a better deal by the second!

    I'm not looking forward to stat draining attacks, but that's due to so many bad memories in ADOM, haha :-) Stat draining weapons does sound interesting, will finally be able to return the favor to the monsters!

    One thing I'd like, which you've probably already included anyway - it would be nice to see somewhere (not on the main screen, so it doesn't get cluttered) what your "touch" DV is, just incase you're preparing an excursion into a shadow-themed dungeon!

  2. I have to think about that touch based DV display... because one thing that might grow in ADOM is "the many special DVs" for special circumstances or something like that. But I have to admit that I hardly can think of a more common "special attack" type than touch attacks. And D&D 3+ thought so, too ;-)

  3. So, when the PC uses xer scimitar of sorrow to drain an enemy's Charisma, what happens to the PC? Does xe get a permanent Cha boost? A temporary boost? Is Cha trained? Depending on the implementation, it could be very good or very useless. Temporary boosts seem like they might annoy by adding clutter to the message window.

    Also, are ability drains going to be permanent, as in ADOM, or would they be subject to effects like D&D's Restoration?

  4. I was under the impression that DV was your ability to avoid attacks, while PV is the thing that reduces damage. In other words, even if it is enough that a touch attack connects to a target, the DV is the character's ability to "not be connected to."

    In ADOM, I was pretty sure that DV was largely a combination of your Dexterity score, your Dodge skill, and your Shields rank. All of those things contribute to not being hit at all (or, if you prefer, not being "touched").

    Could you maybe clarify what exactly DV is? Perhaps your rationale will make more sense after that.

  5. @Gamer_2k4: Basically your interpretation is 100% correct. With the slight exception that it is much harder to evade a general touch (e.g. the enemy just needs to connect in some way to you) than it is to evade a seriously damaging connection.

    Take the example of an electrically charged attacker that mostly damages you by shock. Compare him to an attacker with a club. A club can be parried or blocked with a shield, a club can be fully dodged, a club can be bounced of the armor or deflected with armored gauntlets, etc. In other words: There are many ways to dodge club attack effects even though the attack might connect "in some way". All that falls under DV / dodging.

    Now think about the electrically charged attacker (or in case of shadows an undead being that just needs some close connection to some part of your body to drain your life energy via its negative undead energies): You can't parry the eletrically charged attacker with your (metal) sword, you don't want that attacker to connect to your metal armor or gauntlets (not even the slightest bit), etc. In other words: Your only chance to really evade him is to prevent any kind of contact. Which is a lot more difficult than standard dodging.

    Compare it with friendly fisticuffs. It's pretty easy to touch your opponent in some way but it's much harder to connect with a sloid blow (as any boxer will attest).

    That's basically how I view it. I know that there is a fine line to PV (e.g. the blocking factor of gauntlets probably is more related to PV than to DV) but a game has to make a line at some point and the explanations in the blog line are the lines I'm drawing so far.

    As for JADE we still do not have the ultimate realism: JADE does not (yet?) check the attack type via the various things blocking attacks (as far as DV is concerned) although it could (e.g. JADE knows what the attack type is [like electricity] and it nows the materials of the defense equipment but if you venture down that lane things become so complicated that I personally believe that the game wouldn't benefit from it). Thus I take a reaslism stance like in the comic books: If a super charged villain somehow connects to the hero, the hero is shocked - and usually it doesn't matter if the costume is made from rubber or metal (up to the endfight - then comic authors usually remember such details ;-) ).

  6. Of course, wooden shield or fully leather armor could also block the electric charge.

    Or an armor with prefix "grounded"? :)

  7. Wouldn't an easier solution be to increase the PV of armors, and set the DV to 0? Blocking with gauntlets and such would be represented by having damage reduced to 0. I know it would be a step away from ADOM but it would be a lot cleaner and easier to keep track of.

    That way, you'd have the versimillitude of touch attacks but keep the system cleaner. The reason 3.x used touch attacks was because the game only had one mechanic to protect oneself; armor only gave DV, so touch DV was needed against attacks that ignore armor.

    Having DV, PV, MP, and touch would be a lot of different types - and it could also call for a flat-footed DV against invisible enemies and the like. Instead, having just DV, PV, and MP - and letting touch bypass PV/MP and invisibles bypass DV - would be far slimmer and easier to grasp.

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  9. (deleted and reposted for clarity)

    I like it better the way Thomas described - it's a little bit messier, but I think on the flip-side, you get more different varieties of armour and equipment (armour with PV only would be a bit boring), and PV-only for armour is potentially biased towards high-strength high-armour-weight fighter types instead of dodging guys with light armour and low strength.