Monday, December 12, 2011

Balancing professional abilities

In todays post concerning professional abilities anoddlad and hugeowl raised interesting concerns regarding the fact that it might be extremely tempting to take at least one level of commoner in order to gain double carrying capacity. I agree. But...

..there might be a way around that: I have been pondering whether to give the first professional ability only to characters who choose the respective profession as their main profession. Since its inception JADE has the concept of both multi-classing and main professions. The first profession ever chosen becomes the main profession of the PC. So far this does not have any special advantages (except that you always can advance in your main profession, no matter whether you meet the prerequisites or not).

A logical extension to this would be to also grant the first professional ability (which should be special, important and differentiating to each profession) only for the main profession. Then you'd have to be more careful about choosing the correct starting profession and the starting profession also would have more profound effects on the course of the game.

One might be tempted to argue the same for the 3rd level professional ability - but consider the cost of gaining that ability... Let's take the following example: say, that you start as a ranger and would like to enjoy the benefits of requiring less nutrition like a commoner. When advancing to levels 2, 3 and 4 you'd need to gain levels as a commoner (1, 2 and 3) to gain that one ability. In exchange you advance only very little in your combat expertise, don't gain many hit points, gain very different skills and suffer from an overall increased experience cost for your second profession (if you fulfill the requirements to advance as a commoner at all - which is not that difficult).

So in my humble opinion that is plenty of balancing. What do you think?


  1. I think it's not bad, but I don't think the main profession shouldn't be something fixed since childhood, but rather something that you can alter.

    Why not define the main profession as those you have the most levels on? For example, if you start as a Commoner and get three levels of Commoner, but then get four levels of Fighter, then Fighter would now be your main profession (and you'd forget how to carry so many items).

    Also, I think it's a bit radical to outright remove the possibility of having the lvl. 1 abilities of more than one profession... what if you just add a penalty to non-main professions?

    For example, if with your main profession you get an ability at level X, with a secondary profession you could get it at level X+4. So in order to have the double carrying capacity, a char would be forced to either have Commoner as their main profession, or have at least five levels of Commoner as secondary profession.

  2. Looks like you've got some options:

    1) Implement it as you suggest, leaving the level one abilities only available at character creation. I actually like this solution a lot--the first ability is a culmination of what your character has learned before the game starts.

    2) Make the level one abilities less desirable to most characters (minor stat gains, for example). Put the more glamorous abilities higher up. This has the virtue of not having to change the system already in place.

    3) Balance the multiclass abilities by adding extra exp cost in the form of 'empty levels' to your second profession, before you start gaining abilities as Al-Khwarizmi suggests (but maybe not 4, that seems harsh)

    You have another choice about whether you want to let characters change their main professions. I don't like the idea of forgetting abilities though (you wouldn't lose the experience of years of hard labor just because you've seen some battles!).

  3. I think it's a good system. You definitely have to be careful to not allow anything cheap. Restricting inherent class skills (level 1 skills) to your first choice is good design in my opinion - your choices should actually count for something. In a roguelike every decision you make is final and can't be reversed, and that's a good thing - it encourages proper thought and planning, and makes it more interesting when you try out new things.

  4. I'm assuming it is going to be balanced in that the commoner class, while having great professional abilities, is going to be useless everywhere else, much like the farmer!

    What if you didn't get the first ability at level 1? What if instead of pro abilities at levels 1,3,6,10,15, it was 3,6,9,12,15? That way you'd have to get 3 levels of commoner to get double carrying capacity, which is probably fair enough.

  5. Or (sorry for the double post) maybe double carrying capacity is just two powerful an ability at level 1. Maybe it should be changed around so that:

    Level 1: +20% carrying capacity
    Level 6: +3 perception and +3 toughness
    Level 10: +80% carrying capacity (carrying capacity is now double)

    Maybe that way would be better? I know for me, I love to pick everything up, double carrying capacity would be very tempting...

  6. I think your main profession should have an impact on available quests, at least early game.

    A commoner can't take on a quest with a royal family, but can get involved with the black market, whilst your 'higher class' professions get a royal family quest but can't get involved in the black market (at least not as muppet).

  7. My personal opinion is to set the Major and Minor 1st level abilities. You get Minor as soon as you gain the 1st character level in the class, but you gain Major at character creation only - as a base for your character's build. For example, you gain Commoner's Major +80% carrying capacity as well as her Minor +20% carrying capacity at 1st level, but people looking forward to dipping into a commoner for a single level later in the game will find a useful +20% c.c. instead of the overwhelming doubling.

  8. @Ksennie: I love that idea. I will implement it right away :-)

  9. Just as a followup to Ksennie and your original proposal, I really like the idea of certain benefits that are only available upon character creation. It makes the choice of starting class more significant and meaningful throughout the game. A character who started as a commoner will still play differently than a character who started as a thief, even at 50th level and even if the eventual class split is identical.

    On the related not of balancing multi-classing, I think it's a difficult balance to achieve. You want to reward someone who chooses to stay single classed with some sort of capstone ability, but at the same time you want to provide interesting synergies that allow players to create powerful multi-class characters. The trick is to make it so that a strong multi-class character is basically as powerful as a capped single-class character, just different.

  10. To me, the whole main profession thing seems too artificial of a limit, restricting what players can do in most situations to fix balance in few cases that shouldn't appear if the player isn't abusing the system. What if you have the first few levels of all classes be weaker, but start the game with few levels in the main profession?