The state of throwing skill and weaponry


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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 7th June 2017, 20:47

The state of throwing skill and weaponry

History of throwing skill and weaponry

So back in olden times, throwing weaponry used the old throwing weapon formulas which no one liked to try to understand, but with decent stats, throwing weapons did good damage quickly. And don't forget to enchant your ammo!

Moving up to .15's ranged weapon reform, throwing weapons used melee formulas. Bows/Crossbows/Slings used melee weapon damage formulas, while throwing used unarmed's mechanics: +1 base damage per skill level, starts at 10 aut delay, and gets 1 aut faster for each 5.4 skill. This means that javelins with a base damage of 10, got up to a base damage of 37 at 27 throwing. This is rightfully overpowered, assuming you have enough javelins to keep using them. It also meant that you could pick up large rocks on a troll or ogre, and throw them with 0 skill in only one turn's time. Accuracy sucked, but nothing got double turns against you, so it was safe to try. With 5-10 skill, they were definitely powerful, and could be thrown in less than one turn.

So in .17, throwing aptitudes got considerably nerfed to try to reign in the power level of throwing weapons. They were still as powerful as before, but it'd take a bit longer to get there. I named my .17 clan after this change: A farewell to throwing aptitudes. Due to the amazingness of this name, we won the tournament (I kid, I kid). Aptitudes changed were:
- Centaur, Halfling, and Kobold go from +3 to +1;
- Ogre, Spriggan, Tengu, High Elf, and Deep Elf go from +1 to 0;
- Hill Orc and Gargoyle go from 0 to -1.

Edit: the spoiler below contains the rest of the original post. It is spoilered as it is factually inaccurate - correction below (and in the replies which pointed it out in the first place).

Spoiler: show
Ultimately, it was decided that even though it's now slower to become completely absurdly powerful, throwing shouldn't be super incredible, and so it was moved off of the unarmed combat formula to a normal melee weapon formula. Javelins are now always 10 base damage, although throwing skill will give it a bonus just as melee weapons do. Still, at 27 throwing that bonus is roughly x2, and so you end up with ~20 damage javelins, not 37 damage javelins.

So this leads us to today's state: We have nerfed aptitudes because it used to use unarmed combat's formulas and became too strong, but we now use melee weapon formulas and it never gets that strong. Large rocks now require 2 turns to throw, and an absurd 26 skill to be thrown quickly (7 auts). Javelins require significant skill investment to get a ranged attack no more powerful than a flail, and this is the *best* throwing weapon available to any non-large race. Tomahawks are largely useless in terms of dealing damage - you can use them for brands or just to get monster's attention, but I challenge you to show me any character who decided to go Tomahawks as their main "killdudes" method.

In short, throwing sucks.

What should we do about it?

I think throwing needs to be reworked and buffed, and hopefully if you read the above you agree. However it's somewhat less clear how to do so. So if you agree that "throwing should be buffed somehow" then I've already accomplished my goal. I'm not super worried about the specifics for how it's improved, but here's some suggestions:

I think returning to unarmed combat's formulas is likely too strong. Unarmed scales too well to be used for attack that has range 7.

Raise the base damage of javelins to somewhere in the 12-14 range, and/or lower the skill required to reach min delay.

Large rocks should have their base delay lowered, I'd argue for a significant decrease, to something like 16 auts (currently: 20). This would only require 18 throwing skill for min delay. While large rocks are plentiful, they usually are secondary to melee, and investing 18 skill in a secondary skill is more than enough commitment. You will eventually run out of them if you attempt to use them as a primary offense.

Consider buffing some species' throwing aptitudes, either reverting some of the .17 changeset, or just holistically looking over the species and considering who would be interesting to make good at throwing weapons. Merfolk are well known for using javelins, yet the player species has 0 throwing, for example. I suppose that's higher than the -2 they have in the rest of the ranged weapons, though...

Some or all of these can be combined, but at least something should be done or else throwing skill is largely useless for dealing damage, which limits character choices. I suppose a needle stabber will still train throwing, at least :)


Post spoiler: So it turns out that throwing still uses the unarmed combat formulas for damage (+1 base per skill) only; the delay formulas use actual weapon delay (-1 aut per 2 skill). This makes even lower damage weapons like stones, and especially decent things like javelins, worthwhile at high skill. If you're going to use throwing seriously I'd still say you want fairly high skill, but it can be pretty decent even at low levels of skill.

Apologies for not realizing it used a mix of unarmed/weapon formulas. If anything, it might be a bit too strong currently! *whistles innocently* Nothing to see here, move along.
Last edited by tasonir on Monday, 12th June 2017, 23:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Airwolf

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Post Wednesday, 7th June 2017, 21:25

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

One of throwing's niches is, "doesn't need a launcher." Well, except for needles. So let's just do needles -> darts already.

Would returning Throwing aptitudes back to 0.16's but keeping melee-style damage formulas help enough?
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Wednesday, 7th June 2017, 22:37

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

I get that doing less damage than melee isn't fun. Nobody likes taking more keypresses to kill things. But attacks with longer ranges are inherently, unambiguously better. Being able to attack any square within line of fire is better than only being able to attack adjacent squares. There needs to be some compensating disadvantage, otherwise there would be no reason to ever use melee.
Games with class systems can sometimes get away with ranged attacks being just as good as melee attacks by making the melee class(es) better in other regards, such as having better defenses. This is not an option with DCSS's skill system, barring something absurd like making ranged combat skills reduce your max HP. So you need to find some other way to compensate.
By far the easiest one is to make ranged attacks do less damage than melee combat. This is what Crawl uses for slings, crossbows, and throwing.
The second most obvious option in the context of DCSS is to make ammo an actual limitation. This is what the game does for wands, and what Lasty's mythical ranged combat reform purports to do. The problem with this is that you're just re-implementing wands. We don't need two kinds of wands.
There are other possibilities. Damage spells are ranged, and typically provide more damage than melee with more consistency for the same experience investment, but compensate by shutting off heavy armour, early game shields, and Trog, and by consuming MP (although MP isn't much of a restriction after early game). It would be a bad idea to copy these mechanics for missile weapons, since we don't need two versions of damage spells just as we don't need two versions of wands, but it does show that alternatives exist.

Currently, DCSS lets you trial run a system where missile combat does as much damage as melee combat: just pick bows. A longbow is almost identical to a glaive that reaches across your entire LOS, not just 2 squares. It's also disgustingly overpowered.

In the current game, if we use bows as a baseline, this is how the missile options compare:

- Slings let you use a shield at the expense of doing less damage. They also do not have the late-game ammo and launcher delivery services that other missile weapons have.
- Crossbows are better than bows at very low skill and enchantment, and worse than bows and slings once you have some skill and enchantment. Penetration randarts are too rare to be relevant. Yaktaurs also don't generate as early as centaurs, so ammo is scarce for longer.
- Throwing on normal size races does even less damage than slings; way less, due to the lack of enchantment or good brands. It also has similar ammo issues. To compensate, you get to pick a few monsters per game to kill effortlessly with special needles, provided you are with a gifting god.
- Throwing on large races does better damage than slings once you get large rocks, but still worse than bows.
- Throwing on small races is ridiculously bad.

In the game's current state, throwing on normal size species is probably already about as good as melee, or maybe even better. So I think it'd be better to nerf the other ranged weapon classes. Also, javelins should be usable by all races and large rocks should either not exist, or be made usable by normal size races and commensurately nerfed. Giant (spiked) clubs just barely scrape by on design because 1. they're competing with options that have higher apts (and claws), and 2. getting enchanted and branded ones is harder than getting other enchanted or branded maces. Throwing doesn't have any enchantment or good brands in the first place, and it's just competing with other ranged weapon classes; it is bad for Og and Tr to have their own special throwing weapon.

I think if you're going to have multiple ranged weapon classes, the current distinctions for bows (highest damage) vs. slings (lower damage but shield) vs. throwing (lowest damage but special needles) is about as good as you can do. It's a lot better than riposte and reaching, at least. I also think bows and crossbows would work great as two separate classes if you simply made all crossbows penetrate; it'd be a meaningful and unique advantage for the weapon class, instead of "here's something you get to use once in every 5 crossbow games, maybe". Then it's "just" a matter of picking the right base damage and delay numbers for balance.
Of course, independent of any balance changes, the current ammo mechanic is terrible and needs to go away.

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Post Wednesday, 7th June 2017, 23:21

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

It would be great to get ranged weaponry down to just bows. Merging throwing with slings would be a good start. From what I understand about the ranged reform duvessa mentions, it's supposed to remove the need to switch weapons to fire slings, bows, xbows, and blowguns. There's a patch, already in hellcrawl, that eliminates blowguns as MainiacJoe mentions too. Once you've got weapon switching out of the way, the difference between throwing and slings just isn't there. The obvious thing to do would be to eliminate javelins, tomahawks, and sling bullets in favor of stuff you can fire either by throwing or using a sling, with throwing as the garbage tier sling.

Then you get to large species. As much as people like troll claws and ogre clubs, the main event for these species is throwing large rocks in my experience. Again the best thing to do would be to eliminate these species. Under the above sling/throwing program, perhaps just not allowing slings and keeping things the way they are otherwise would work.

Always-mulch ammo mechanics are a lot better than current dcss mechanics, but no ammo at all would be better still. This gets weird with throwing, unless you're prepared to dispense with throwing and go bows-only.
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Post Thursday, 8th June 2017, 00:11

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

I'm pretty unfamiliar with all the throwing stuff. If you get a super sling, it seems powerful. But bows.... I mean, you can't use a shield, switching means you can't even really use a shield with your other weapon, so you're vulnerable to getting hit, and ... it seems like you're throwing candy at the critters. I mean, I tried taking a centaur and putting a lot of points into the bow and I got so fed up I just plain quit, because a pretty humdrum axe without much skill was so much more effective than that crap. I mean, the tenth time you run all the way around a rock wall and the thing is STILL NOT DEAD, you start thinking, do I have a year to spend on this game?

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Post Thursday, 8th June 2017, 16:56

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

duvessa (or anyone), can you quote for me the latest calculations for needle success as a function of throwing skill and (I'm assuming) monster HD and/or MR? Seems like needles are the only thing that salvage throwing for most characters, but I never know how much Throwing is "enough" for where I'm at in a game.
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Post Thursday, 8th June 2017, 23:32

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

The initial post is incorrect in one important respect: I slowed down their speed, but did not curtail their damage. The _delay_ for throwing now works as though the projectile was a wielded weapon with base delay equal to 10 + (base damage/2) -- so javelins at 10 base damage work like a 15 delay weapon. The damage still uses the favorable UC formula, which means (IIRC) +1 damage per skill level. As a result, the discussion of throwing damage in the OP is quite incorrect.

Do giant rocks take 26 skill to hit minimum delay? Yes, and so do bardiches, but bardiches are range 2 instead of 7 and base damage 18 instead of 20 and grow less with skill.

I think duvessa has a pretty good take on the current state of ranged combat in crawl, tho I think he too is underestimating currentthrowing from a damage perspective.

You can see the changes here.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Thursday, 8th June 2017, 23:51

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

Well that'll show me to assume throwing makes any sense at all, I guess
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Post Friday, 9th June 2017, 02:02

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

Anecdotally, throwing javelins worked "pretty well" at 5 throwing on my last character. It was inarguably better than doing nothing for a turn.

I imagine fsim doesn't work for throwing? I'm ashamed to say I don't know how fsim works :/

I like the idea of crossbows as "less damage but have penetration" especially if that's true for monsters as well.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 9th June 2017, 02:15

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

Fsim works for throwing as long as you wield a launcher.

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Post Friday, 9th June 2017, 04:31

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

Javelins have great brands: penetration, silver, steel, returning, and even poison. (Tomahawks have some brands that are occasionally usefully but frequently annoying: dispersal and explosion.)

I have no idea what the needle formulas are, but 20 Throwing, a +9 blowgun, and needles of paralysis or confusion wreck HellPanLords (may take 6-8 shots...).

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Post Friday, 9th June 2017, 05:40

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

Lasty wrote:The initial post is incorrect in one important respect: I slowed down their speed, but did not curtail their damage. The _delay_ for throwing now works as though the projectile was a wielded weapon with base delay equal to 10 + (base damage/2) -- so javelins at 10 base damage work like a 15 delay weapon. The damage still uses the favorable UC formula, which means (IIRC) +1 damage per skill level. As a result, the discussion of throwing damage in the OP is quite incorrect.

Do giant rocks take 26 skill to hit minimum delay? Yes, and so do bardiches, but bardiches are range 2 instead of 7 and base damage 18 instead of 20 and grow less with skill.

I think duvessa has a pretty good take on the current state of ranged combat in crawl, tho I think he too is underestimating currentthrowing from a damage perspective.

You can see the changes here.

So you're saying that once a javelin reaches min delay at skill 16, it effectively still has the 26 base damage, but gets 'limited' to 7 aut min delay? Also for completeness, what's the exact increase for melee weapons, say we're comparing a bardiche at 18 base damage, 26 skill. The 18 damage gets multiplied by 26/25, I think? In other words, it's multipled by (your skill)/(fixed constant), and I think the constant is 25, but I may be off. So it'd be effectively 36-37 damage? And then all of these weapons are multiplied by fighting, but that part is the same for all.

I'll go back and edit the original post to be correct I just want to make sure we're all on the same page as far as facts go. Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but facts should (hopefully) be universal :) If throw's damage is higher than it appeared to in the first place, it may not be as worthless as I had feared.

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Post Friday, 9th June 2017, 14:57

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

To confirm Lasty's revelation about throwing damage, I compared a javelin (10/15) with a flail (10/14) via fsim, with a wizmode character I had handy that I adjusted the atributes on. Version
0.20:
  Code:
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup version 0.20.0
Attack: Barachi Summoner vs. ghost (10000 rounds) (2017/06/09/10:28:08)
Barachi Summoner: XL 9   Str 20   Int 10   Dex 15
Wielding: +3 sling "Punk" {acid, rCorr} with 30 javelins, Skill: Slings
ghost: HD 1   AC 0   EV 0

Fighting(x) vs Slings(y)
      1    3    5    7    9   11   13   15   17   19   21   23   25   27
 1  4.2  4.2  4.3  4.4  4.5  4.7  4.8  5.0  5.1  5.3  5.3  5.6  5.7  5.8
 3  4.9  5.0  5.1  5.2  5.5  5.5  5.7  5.9  6.0  6.1  6.3  6.5  6.6  6.8
 5  5.8  5.8  6.0  6.2  6.4  6.5  6.7  7.0  7.1  7.3  7.4  7.6  7.9  8.1
 7  6.6  6.7  6.9  7.1  7.3  7.5  7.8  7.9  8.0  8.4  8.5  8.8  8.9  9.3
 9  7.6  7.6  7.9  8.0  8.3  8.6  8.8  9.1  9.4  9.6  9.9 10.1 10.3 10.5
11  8.7  9.0  9.1  9.4  9.7  9.9 10.4 10.6 10.8 11.2 11.4 11.7 12.1 12.2
13 10.2 10.3 10.7 11.0 11.4 11.6 11.9 12.3 12.8 13.1 13.3 13.7 14.0 14.3
15 12.3 12.6 12.9 13.2 13.6 14.0 14.4 14.6 15.1 15.6 16.0 16.3 16.8 17.1
17 13.8 14.1 14.8 15.1 15.5 16.0 16.5 17.0 17.4 17.9 18.3 19.0 19.0 19.6
19 16.1 16.4 16.8 17.3 18.1 18.4 18.9 19.7 20.1 20.5 21.4 21.6 22.3 22.5
21 18.3 18.9 19.8 20.4 20.8 21.5 22.3 22.5 23.4 23.6 24.6 25.4 25.6 26.2
23 21.8 21.9 23.4 24.4 24.2 25.2 25.9 26.2 27.6 28.2 29.2 28.8 30.5 31.1
25 23.4 24.2 24.6 25.9 26.3 27.4 28.1 28.8 29.4 30.4 30.9 32.1 32.3 33.5
27 24.7 25.4 26.2 27.2 27.9 28.7 29.6 30.3 31.3 31.8 32.8 33.7 34.3 35.6
-----------------------------------

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup version 0.20.0
Attack: Barachi Summoner vs. ghost (10000 rounds) (2017/06/09/10:32:42)
Barachi Summoner: XL 9   Str 20   Int 10   Dex 15
Wielding: +0 flail, Skill: Maces & Flails
ghost: HD 1   AC 0   EV 0

Fighting(x) vs Maces & Flails(y)
      1    3    5    7    9   11   13   15   17   19   21   23   25   27
 1  4.4  4.5  4.5  4.6  4.8  5.0  5.1  5.3  5.4  5.5  5.7  5.9  5.9  6.1
 3  4.8  4.9  5.0  5.1  5.3  5.4  5.5  5.8  5.8  6.0  6.1  6.4  6.5  6.6
 5  5.4  5.5  5.6  5.7  5.9  6.0  6.3  6.5  6.6  6.7  7.0  7.1  7.3  7.5
 7  6.1  6.2  6.3  6.6  6.6  7.0  7.1  7.2  7.5  7.7  7.9  8.0  8.3  8.4
 9  7.0  7.0  7.3  7.5  7.7  8.0  8.1  8.3  8.6  8.7  9.1  9.3  9.5  9.8
11  8.1  8.2  8.4  8.7  8.9  9.1  9.4  9.7 10.0 10.3 10.5 10.7 11.1 11.1
13  9.4  9.6  9.9 10.1 10.4 10.8 11.1 11.3 11.8 12.0 12.3 12.5 12.9 13.3
15 10.5 10.6 10.9 11.2 11.6 11.9 12.2 12.6 12.8 13.2 13.8 13.8 14.4 14.6
17 10.9 11.1 11.3 11.5 12.1 12.1 12.6 12.8 13.5 13.7 14.0 14.4 14.8 15.3
19 11.2 11.2 11.6 12.0 12.3 12.6 13.2 13.4 13.7 14.2 14.7 14.8 15.2 15.5
21 11.6 11.5 11.9 12.3 12.7 13.1 13.4 13.9 14.2 14.4 15.0 15.2 15.8 16.0
23 11.8 12.1 12.3 12.7 13.1 13.5 14.0 14.3 14.5 15.1 15.4 15.9 16.2 16.4
25 12.2 12.3 12.6 13.2 13.4 13.8 14.1 14.5 15.0 15.4 15.9 16.2 16.6 17.4
27 12.5 12.9 13.1 13.6 14.1 14.1 14.7 15.2 15.6 15.8 16.6 16.9 17.0 17.6



And here is a table of javelin minus flail:
  Code:
Fighting(x) vs Skill(y)
     1     3     5     7     9     11    13    15    17    19    21    23    25    27
1  -0.2  -0.3  -0.2  -0.2  -0.3  -0.3  -0.3  -0.3  -0.3  -0.2  -0.4  -0.3  -0.2  -0.3
3   0.1   0.1   0.1   0.1   0.2   0.1   0.2   0.1   0.2   0.1   0.2   0.1   0.1   0.2
5   0.4   0.3   0.4   0.5   0.5   0.5   0.4   0.5   0.5   0.6   0.4   0.5   0.6   0.6
7   0.5   0.5   0.6   0.5   0.7   0.5   0.7   0.7   0.5   0.7   0.6   0.8   0.6   0.9
9   0.6   0.6   0.6   0.5   0.6   0.6   0.7   0.8   0.8   0.9   0.8   0.8   0.8   0.7
11  0.6   0.8   0.7   0.7   0.8   0.8   1.0   0.9   0.8   0.9   0.9   1.0   1.0   1.1
13  0.8   0.7   0.8   0.9   1.0   0.8   0.8   1.0   1.0   1.1   1.0   1.2   1.1   1.0
15  1.8   2.0   2.0   2.0   2.0   2.1   2.2   2.0   2.3   2.4   2.2   2.5   2.4   2.5
17  2.9   3.0   3.5   3.6   3.4   3.9   3.9   4.2   3.9   4.2   4.3   4.6   4.2   4.3
19  4.9   5.2   5.2   5.3   5.8   5.8   5.7   6.3   6.4   6.3   6.7   6.8   7.1   7.0
21  6.7   7.4   7.9   8.1   8.1   8.4   8.9   8.6   9.2   9.2   9.6  10.2   9.8  10.2
23 10.0   9.8  11.1  11.7  11.1  11.7  11.9  11.9  13.1  13.1  13.8  12.9  14.3  14.7
25 11.2  11.9  12.0  12.7  12.9  13.6  14.0  14.3  14.4  15.0  15.0  15.9  15.7  16.1
27 12.2  12.5  13.1  13.6  13.8  14.6  14.9  15.1  15.7  16.0  16.2  16.8  17.3  18.0

Won (48). Remaining (15): 5 species: Ba, Fe, Mu, Na, Op; 6 Backgrounds: Tm, AM, Wr, Su, AE, Ar; 3 gods: Jiyv, newNem, WJC

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Post Saturday, 10th June 2017, 16:18

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

So the point of throwing is needling pan lords and being too lazy or incapable of swapping weapons?
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Post Saturday, 10th June 2017, 17:55

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

For what it's worth, it would be great if all ranged weapons worked like throwing in that you don't have to switch to launchers. Some RLs like Caves of Qud have launchers on a separate equip slot you can use freely which is basically like this.

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Post Saturday, 10th June 2017, 20:46

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

edgefigaro wrote:So the point of throwing is needling pan lords and being too lazy or incapable of swapping weapons?


Yes, that and shields.

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Post Sunday, 11th June 2017, 07:14

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

What I would really like is if you could have a shield equipped with a two handed weapon, and it was just completely suppressed (like melded body armour)

That way you could just swap bows and one-handed weapons back and forth, and shield would be less complicatedly annoying.
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Post Sunday, 11th June 2017, 18:55

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

Siegurt wrote:What I would really like is if you could have a shield equipped with a two handed weapon, and it was just completely suppressed (like melded body armour)

That way you could just swap bows and one-handed weapons back and forth, and shield would be less complicatedly annoying.
It would also eliminate any downside of using a shield. Every character would carry both a one-handed and two-handed weapon, and swap between them depending on whether a shield or additional damage is better against the enemy they're currently fighting.

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Post Monday, 12th June 2017, 00:20

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

duvessa wrote:
Siegurt wrote:What I would really like is if you could have a shield equipped with a two handed weapon, and it was just completely suppressed (like melded body armour)

That way you could just swap bows and one-handed weapons back and forth, and shield would be less complicatedly annoying.
It would also eliminate any downside of using a shield. Every character would carry both a one-handed and two-handed weapon, and swap between them depending on whether a shield or additional damage is better against the enemy they're currently fighting.

Well, while i wouldn't have a large objection to that (i have always thought of the xp expense as the main drawback of a shield) i could see it getting fairly mircomanage-y for people who do invest the xp, a lesser version of my preference would be for two handed launchers to suppress shields. Which accomplishes 99% of what i would want in any case. (It is just a slightly more complicated rule.)
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Post Monday, 12th June 2017, 23:46

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

I feel at least partially responsible for this thread: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=23797&p=314991

I've updated the original post to correct my horrible mistake. Maybe without the bug of +slaying from your melee weapon, throwing isn't as OP as duvessa makes it sound, but if anything it may be a bit on the too strong side.

If large rocks are getting +1 per level, why not lower their base damage to 15 or something? Alternative: Remove large rocks, give trolls and ogres higher throwing aptitudes to make them better at throwing javelins.

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Post Tuesday, 13th June 2017, 09:20

Re: The state of throwing skill and weaponry

Airwolf wrote:
edgefigaro wrote:So the point of throwing is needling pan lords and being too lazy or incapable of swapping weapons?

Yes, that and shields.

Doing physical damage at full LOS range, including strong brands like silver and penetration, is pretty neat.

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