Offhand focus

Although the central place for design discussion is ##crawl-dev on freenode, some may find it helpful to discuss requests and suggestions here first.

Shoals Surfer

Posts: 325

Joined: Sunday, 11th September 2016, 17:21

Post Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 22:13

Offhand focus

I propose adding a new category of items, the offhand focus, as an alternative to shields. These would not provide any defensive stats or egos, but would provide bonuses that facilitate sneak/stab and magic usage (I'm thinking stealth++, MP+15, Wiz++, archmagi) play styles. I think this level of power is an appropriate trade-off for the survivability SH offers, which is generally useful even to stabbers and mages, especially in emergency situations. But, as a trade-off for offering this amount of power without a skill investment gate, and especially if there are only 4 varieties to choose from, these items should be more rare than amulets or magical staves.

For meleedudes and melee hybrids, there is a meaningful choice between choosing a two-handed weapon and a shield, either double down on killing enemies faster or reduce the threat they pose if they survive longer. This choice does not exist for stabbers and pure casters, as short blades and magical staves are all one-handed weapons. There's no reason for them to not wear a shield, if only to pick up an extra ego, and 4 skill levels to reduce the penalty on a buckler of fire resistance, for example, is so trivially small to a late or extended game character as to be a no-brainer, if the penalty is even impactful in the first place, and any further investment just blends into the generic behavior of putting excess skill points in defensive skills. Adding offhand foci would present a simliar choice between offense and defense, for these characters that don't have two-handed weapons. For melee hybrid characters, having additional options from offhand foci would just make the decision for how to utilize the offhand just that much more interesting, because they would have more options for how to enhance offense besides just "deal more damage in melee".

Furthermore, skill investment requirements tends to be higher for stabbers than for pure meleedudes (especially 2-hand weapon users), and even more so for casters, in no small part because all characters will want to max fighting, dodging, and armour eventually, simply because even a small boost to survivability is better to have than to not. Providing an offhand item category tailored for stabbers and mages which does not require any investment in the shields skill to make full use of would help to balance out the skill point distribution game somewhat.

Flavor-wise, jewels may be the best choice, as most other traditional magic focuses have already been implemented in other forms, although I believe all such implementations for crystal balls have been removed at this point.

Zot Zealot

Posts: 931

Joined: Thursday, 16th August 2018, 21:19

Post Thursday, 25th November 2021, 10:49

Re: Offhand focus

I think Hellcrawl made magical staves off-hand items for this very reason.

For stabbers I think stealth++ wouldn't be valuable enough to sacrifice the shield spot. Perhaps something with escape utility (for those situations where you've walked up to a group of monsters and one of them wakes up and shouts, and suddenly you're surrounded), invis, silence, or a guaranteed auxiliary attack that can stab and can benefit from slaying bonuses?

Slime Squisher

Posts: 375

Joined: Thursday, 12th June 2014, 06:56

Post Friday, 26th November 2021, 00:13

Re: Offhand focus

LOS reduction would certainly make sense as an offhand (there was even once an item whose name would be perfect: the lantern of shadows). I'm sure some people would argue it would be too powerful: the original item was "balanced" by being a double negative spell enhancer, occupying a weapon slot, and setting your stealth to zero; personally, I always thought that was overkill, but perhaps keeping the negative spell enhancers and putting a slaying malus on non-stabbing attacks would work to make this a "stabbers-only" item.

Dungeon Master

Posts: 245

Joined: Thursday, 27th November 2014, 19:12

Post Friday, 26th November 2021, 10:13

Re: Offhand focus

Note that los reduction returned in the scarf of shadows that was added in charms reform (without the rest of the lantern of shadows).

I have a similar idea in my brainstorming notes. The point of comparison for ego strength should be something like scarves. Ideally the ego list on these trinkets will have a spread appealing to a mix of play styles. The ego mix you suggest is a bit redundant with things players can already get through other slots. To make them really enticing I’ve been thinking that the egos should be hard to get (randart only or new) outside of the slot.

Here’s my spitballed ego list:
- energy/channeling. MP refund mechanics like wucad mu. (Details and what upgrades if any to give wucad tbd)
- rage. One pip of *Rage (20% zerk chance in melee hits)
- guile. Like harm but for willpower
- light. Halo

Energy is nearer than just plus mp. Guile is an out there idea but the intention is that it help not only hexers (as a hex enhancer would) but anyone with will checking stuff.

This list is a set of rough notes so needs some more brainstorming; 4-5 egos is probably the sweet spot for implementation.

For this message the author ebering has received thanks:

Shoals Surfer

Posts: 325

Joined: Sunday, 11th September 2016, 17:21

Post Saturday, 27th November 2021, 01:36

Re: Offhand focus

"energy" and "guile" are quite appealing. "light" as well, although being able to get access to halo while summoning demons or undead feels a little like cheating. "rage" seems bad, as there's plenty of *rage on randarts, and it's often a reason to avoid using them... also, there's a bad mutation that functions similarly, and it's so categorized for a reason.

I'd suggest "concealment", where enemies that are unaware of you are denied the chance to notice you while at the edge of your LoS. Would be particularly interesting for max-piety Dithmenos worshippers, but useful for sneaky behavior in general. Might be too useful for eluding uniques and out-of-depth encounters, though.

Maybe "precision", to improve lower grade stab attempts like distraction stabs, could be quite appealing for some characters (Gozag worshippers, etc.).

Maybe "dampening", to reduce spell casting noise.

For this message the author Nekoatl has received thanks:

Swamp Slogger

Posts: 147

Joined: Wednesday, 4th April 2012, 15:11

Location: Hengelo, Netherlands

Post Monday, 29th November 2021, 11:50

Re: Offhand focus

ebering wrote:los reduction returned in the scarf of shadows

Pah, all this Balance gets in the way of playing the ultimate stabber: a Kobold equipped with the ring[1], scarf and lantern[2] of shadows :-(
(Even "better": also have Dithmenos grant -1 LOS, for blindly stumbling through the dungeon)

1. If it had -1 LOS
2. When re-added as offhand with -1 LOS

For this message the author rigrig has received thanks: 2
Majang, petercordia

Return to Game Design Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by ST Software for PTF.