Discussion: Improving Skalds


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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 03:51

Discussion: Improving Skalds

In my interactions with the community, nobody seems to like playing Skalds.

At time of writing, skalds have the second-lowest win rate of any background in recent (>= 0.11) versions of Crawl in online play*, at 0.38% (for the curious, only transmuters are worse off, at 0.33%), and have a significantly worse chance of reaching Lair than average (2.64% vs. 7.17% average). To put that last bit in perspective, even chaos knights, artificers, and *wanderers* (considered challenge classes) have a better rate of reaching Lair than this (5.85%, 6.55%, and 3.99% respectively.

Yes, apparently a largely random start is in a better position to clear the earliest obstacles in the game than Skald is right now. Take a moment to let that sink in.

Now, let's take a look at the Skald starting kit and compare it with some other backgrounds' starting kits; perhaps we can gain some insight as to why Skalds seem to be so underwhelming.

A skald starts with: one of the basic weapons (short sword, mace, hand axe, spear), unenchanted; leather armour (or a robe, if the race can't wear it), also unenchanted; and a book of War Chants. Ignoring the spellbook for the moment (I'll touch on that shortly), let's look at other backgrounds that have other similar starting equipment.

  • I mentioned chaos knights earlier, so I'll take the opportunity to note that they have the same choice of starting weapons, only their weapon is chaos-branded (it used to be a +2-enchanted weapon); they also have leather armour (and/or a robe) enchanted to +2. (Granted, they start as a toy of Xom, but the effect this has on the game is... unpredictable, rather than a clear advantage or disadvantage.)
  • Death knights start with a +1 basic weapon and +0 leather armour (or robe), and follow Yredelemnul at game start (the level of advantageousness of this could be argued, but I view it as a clear advantage).
  • Abyssal knights start with a +2 basic weapon and +0 leather armour (or robe), and follow Lugonu at game start (arguably less advantageous).
  • Warpers start with a +0 basic weapon, +0 leather armour (or robe), a book of Spatial Translocations, a scroll of blinking, 15 darts, and 10 darts of dispersal. (This is a good opportunity to point out that despite the relative unpopularity of Warpers, they have both a higher win rate - 0.91% - and higher Lair rate - 5.01% - than Skalds.)
  • Artificers start with a +0 short sword, +0 leather armour or robe, and wands of flame, enslavement, and random effects.
Looking at the Zealot types, there's a trend to give a better-quality starting weapon to weaker gods (Berserker isn't on the list, but for the sake of comparison, almost everyone will remember they start with a +0 weapon and less armour); the others don't, but have a sizable stack of bonus equipment (admittedly, Warpers have the darts mainly to go with Portal Projectile, but this doesn't explain the scroll of blinking).

With that in mind, let's take a look at what's in the Skald's book of tricks to start with - a set of level 2 and 3 Charms. This points to one immediate disadvantage - for a hybrid class, a Skald doesn't have the ability to do anything special from the get-go (our comparison backgrounds either have god abilities or items/spells they can use immediately, if of limited utility).

Let's suppose we have a Skald tactically minded enough to survive his first few harrowing encounters with hobgoblins and kobolds and their friends to reach XL2. Look - they can memorise spells now! Except - unless they are one of a handful of races and/or distributed their skill points carefully - they can probably only cast one spell at a time. So they might be able to deflect a couple of attacks from that adder lurking near the D:2 stairs, or they might be able to land the occasional extra flame/freezing damage on it. Hooray! Oops - another adder came up the stairs and I'm out of MP because we were just killing that last adder...

Our next character is resourceful enough to reach XL3, and has been clever enough in skill allocation to be able to cast more than one spell at once. Hooray, now maybe I can go take on that pack of gnolls and have enough MP left over to deal with that next monster! Oops, I've been so busy getting those buffs up and running to actually be able to survive that I can't hit and/or dodge well enough to deal with these ogres that turned up on D:4...

Anyway, enough with the contrived examples; regardless of the particulars, I think we can sense the problem at the heart of this - in order for Skalds' spells to be useful, they need to be able to kill things somewhat independently of their spells, and in the very short term they're not especially capable of doing so.

Looking at the other backgrounds I brought out for the sake of comparison, I can think of four immediate approaches to take:
  • Come up with a workable level 1 charms spell to add to War Chants. This would let Skalds start training their Charms skill from the get-go, and possibly give them the slight boost they need in order to kill dudes from the get-go.
  • Give skalds a better-quality starting weapon. To paraphrase a popular ##crawl learndb entry, "first be able to kill dudes; once you're killing dudes well enough, focus on not dying to dudes"; this makes them less absolutely reliant on their spells and also lends a bit more power to the branding spells in War Chants.
  • Conversely, give skalds better-quality starting armour; with slightly better defences, they possibly have more time to recover and get their buffs up and running.
  • Give skalds some other additional item to start with. This was mostly inspired by Warpers having a scroll of blinking. Perhaps the item could be a potion of berserker rage (in a nod to the old Crusaders)? I'm not really sure what could work here.

Anyway, please feel free to pick through my bad logic (bard logic?), offer suggestions, feedback, etc. - I hope that through doing so we'll be able to bring a little more utility and viability to a class that I thinks deserves a little more love.

* I'm excluding quits and dungeon escapes from these statistics, in the hopes that this mostly counts games that players are trying to take seriously.

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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 05:40

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Make flaming and freezing brand spells level 1. I don't think that would be too strong at all, considering what some other classes have access to. I think it would be a very good change really.

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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 06:45

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I agree with Wahaha. I doubt the flaming and freezing brands are too good to give a XL1 character. It would address both the Skalds having no level 1 charm spell and them not having enough mana to buff themselves multiple times.

Aside from that, the spells available in the book of war chants are kind of weak in general:
Fire/Ice Brands - Multiplicative. Weaker when used on weak weapons.
Shroud - Highly luck-based. Unreliable even when active and prone to just giving out entirely.
Repel Missiles - Great spell but not useful against melee enemies.
Poison Brand - Not bad, but requires being in melee range and probably landing a few hits before running and letting the poison work. Also useless against skeletons and zombies.
Regeneration - Good spell but combat utility is low.

Seems more like Skalds need some more reliable combat buffs, something akin to Ozocubu's Armor. That's not to mention that Skalds really have no where to "go" magically. Their starting book only includes level 2 and 3 spells. This means that even a Skald successful in completing the low levels is dependent on scrounging spellbooks to continue their magical growth past the basics.
I'd like to see Skalds get a makeover like Conjurers did. They need a Skald-centric spell set.

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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 08:24

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Thank you sgrunt for a very well informed and written post (although I'm still sure you'll get 'OH SO YOU WANT TO BUFF EVERYTHING DO YOU? DO YOU!? YOU MONSTER.'). Although I consider myself a moderately experienced player, I do find skalds to be a pain to get off the ground as they have no 'tricks' to help them nor the skills/weapons to take things on as a fighter/gladiator would.

I have to agree that the problem is mainly centred around the skald book which seems to emphasise the offensive (unlike warpers or necro or whatever) but doesn't give you anywhere near enough power to deal with the early levels due to the nature of buffs. Making fire/ice lvl 1 spells would be a good start, as well as possibly giving them slightly better skills to deal with the need to activate buffs a lot.

Other more limited ideas would be starting them with a scroll or two of fear (quite thematic I feel) or even giving them a potion of might/agility (yes it's extremely powerful, but it's only really only a one shot thing).
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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 08:40

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Why not add a ? of vorpal?
It's an interesting choice because it's buff on an early weapon is good, but also kind of a waste considering the rarity of vorpal.
It would also remove a big MP drain early on.

Or give them one or two ! that could buff him (berzerk, might, agility), kind of an early panic button.

@kintak Regeneration does have a big incidence in certain combats.
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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 09:13

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Elliptic already buffed them a bit.

Give Skalds a +1 weapon and a potion of berserk rage to start.
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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 10:23

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

What if one of fire/freezing brand is removed from war chants and a reworked version of sureblade is added, as now it is op but it's useful only for very specific characters?

Something like a spell which works only with 1-handers (whatever base type is it) and add a low slaying bonus - something like +2, +2 (+3?) at max power? That would be surely useful early on, but probably others brand would be better when bigger weapons are online.
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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 14:04

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Give Skalds a +0 sling with 20-25 stones. The stones (and lack of launcher skill) would make them a notably weaker ranged start than a hunter/AM, but their plight would be somewhat eased.

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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 16:33

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Looking at the Skald and comparing it to the other Backgrounds, I see one main problem with it:

Spellbook - The Spellbook for Skalds contains a weak-mix of spells that really don't help them too much when it comes to tactial relevance. The Warper can Blink from stuff or plink away at things with Portal Projectice - Transmuters can use Sticks to Snakes or one of the various forms to augment themselves in a relevant way for combat.

The spellbook contains some useful utility spells that are nice to have on all characters - but they really don't provide a whole lot to a character in the Early Game. They are also, as has been pointed out, expensive to cast on the Skald - getting Poison Weapon and casting it early would be a major boon but at Spell Level 3 you won't have that right away - not to mention Fire Brand and Freezing Aura.

A minor problem with Skalds to note as well is that it sort of lacks potential in any sort of the game - going back to Death Knights you mentioned, they have potential once they get their piety up and Yredelemnul starts spitting undead allies to follow them. Skalds don't get any awesome potential starting out or after progressing to any point in the game.
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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 17:11

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I like the idea of making fire/freeze brand a level 1 spell. I think part of the problem is that every spell in starting book is Charms AND another school. Unlike Necromancy where you can raise that skill alone, and get excellent utility to complement your melee. Would be nice if there were a Charms only level 4 spell that could boost your offense, maybe something like Okawaru's Heroism. I wouldn't mind seeing Swiftness in the Skald book, as it seems to match the flavor of the class, and makes the early game more survivable.

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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 18:15

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Davion Fuxa wrote:A minor problem with Skalds to note as well is that it sort of lacks potential in any sort of the game - going back to Death Knights you mentioned, they have potential once they get their piety up and Yredelemnul starts spitting undead allies to follow them. Skalds don't get any awesome potential starting out or after progressing to any point in the game.


They can pick a deity like anyone else, the problem here is the very early game IMO.

I like the improvements by Elliptic. Maybe give them a one or two level more charms skill to help them cast those buffs more reliably to get them over the early game bumb? I mean the failure rates are kind of high without magic skill training. And you probably want to focus on your weapon skill because that's how you are actually damaging monsters.

I don't think the spells themselves suck: fire and freeze brands are great for a battleaxe or the like ONCE you manage to find it. You have to live long enough to get one though. I think the usual unsuccesful scenario for d:2 for my skalds is 1) See adder 2) Fail Shroud 3) Fail Freezing aura 4) Out of mp 5) Out of HP

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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 19:03

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

On non-zealot backgrounds outside of Monk, the choice of picking a god is sort of irrelevant. Picking a god doesn't automatically make Skalds better anymore then it would on a Fighter or a Ice Elementalist. As for the idea that the spells are useful if the RNG is kind to you - same idea could be said of a Gladiator who hopes the RNG is kind enough to dump a book with a branding spell in it or better yet just an artefact or branded battleaxe.

There has to be a stronger potential or incentive behind the use of playing the Skald as there are on the other classes, or the background itself has to be made overly strong on average so that in a semi-dangerous situation for most other backgrounds it isn't anywhere near as dangerous, but it needs to take caution is really dangerous situations.
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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 20:32

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

sk starts with one of the books I am happiest to find late in the game, so I don't see what the problem is if their early game isn't awful. I haven't played one since the recent change but probably sk is fine now.

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Post Sunday, 14th April 2013, 22:11

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

galehar wrote:Elliptic already buffed them a bit.

Give Skalds a +1 weapon and a potion of berserk rage to start.

...a direct result of this discussion!

I'm satisfied with the new start at the moment, having just pulled a HESk all the way through to Vaults (before dying to one of my usual tactical blunders); it felt like considerably less of a chore than previously.

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Post Monday, 15th April 2013, 05:19

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

What about a new spell?
Hone Weapon: a level 1 Charms spell which temporarily adds the vorpal brand to any unbranded, non-artifact weapon you currently wield.

edit:
- Maybe make temporary brands work with the vorpal brand. (Magic brands temporarily override the vorpal brand. When the spell ends, the weapon becomes a vorpal weapon again.)
- Skalds start with a +0 Vorpal weapon

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Post Wednesday, 17th April 2013, 10:15

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

sgrunt wrote:In my interactions with the community, nobody seems to like playing Skalds.


I can't let you say this. I love playing Skalds. It's obvioulsy one of the hardest bg, and I always felt it as an invest for later. It's like a weak fighter with 100% later utility spells, and this only means playing skalds is staying ready for any oportunity, and fleing a lot. I usualy don't care too much about having the spells online before xl5, searching more for tons of things to throw on monsters, or some lucky loot.

I remember ready some comments on this forum about the boring/hardeness of early game, and I have some feeling this improvement for skald will be followed by improvement for another weak bg, then another one etc... I don't know if it's a good idea to to adjust bg once after other with some items boost when we could improve all chars with some slight starting boost (xp or stats), and reducing the quality of starting equipement (I fear this improvement will reduce the early looting/id game, because you don't need to much remplacement for your starting stuff).

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Post Wednesday, 17th April 2013, 10:20

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I think early game is boring because you basically have the same limited options every time you restart the game with the same species/background. But I am not sure it is a good idea to have random equipment/spells, it would encourage start-scumming.

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Post Wednesday, 17th April 2013, 12:12

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Sequell wrote:56607 games for Sebi (Wn): 56296x leaving, 235x mon, 49x beam, 18x pois, 2x wild magic, 2x disintegration, 2x acid, cloud, trap, draining

Of course most people aren't crazy like that. But some are. :)

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Post Wednesday, 17th April 2013, 13:38

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I actually really have always liked skalds, considering my first 3-rune was with one, as well as my first melee-based 15-rune. But they have always seemed perhaps a bit lackluster at the start, compared to some other backgrounds. But I think these most recent changes are enough.
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Post Friday, 26th April 2013, 17:18

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Skald spell book falls short in providing you anything of long term use.

Good weapons almost always come with brand -> so brands will be pretty much useless.
Shroud will be pretty much useless after monsters start to hit harder. Charms skills should increase it's durability for it to be useful late game.
Regeneration is only thing that scales in this spell book, but it's not gonna save you.
Deflect missile can be nice but is only useful vs ranged creatures. And most often big melee hitters are the ones causing problems to skald's.

Skald spell books needs to get swiftness as a spell. This would give skalds much needed escaping ability. I think long arms should be added to skald's possible weapons of choice. I'd also rework weapon branding spells overwrite current weapon brand weapon has so fire brand and freezing aura would actually give you something late game.

Currently I think it's much better idea to start as fighter, warper, gladiator monk, or enchanter and later buy spell book with actually useful charms spells like haste, flight or swiftness.

Another idea which might be over powered for non skalds, is to add Spell book which would contain all high level charm spells. (flight, haste, Ozocubu's Armour, ring of fire, deflect missile)

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Post Friday, 26th April 2013, 17:54

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Of course most people aren't crazy like that. But some are.


As someone who religiously scums Wn, I can tell you that it's much more fun* than playing the 9 out of 10 really, really bad wanderers, dying with them on D:1 or D:2 and spending even more of your time pointlessly playing bad characters :P

*needless to say, it's still absolutely terrible

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 08:45

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Playing new improved skalds feels ok now in early game, but it's a pity that this enhancement haven't included in 0.12 prerelease. So it is need to wait .13?

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 08:54

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 10:33

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

lain's patch implementing most of evilmike's proposal in case anyone wants to test it

As lain said it's a bit messy and unfinished but apparently playable if anyone wants to try it out and give feedback!

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 10:39

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

New book looks really charming!

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 11:03

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

blinkfrog wrote:New book looks really charming!


Skalding hot, even.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 14:05

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

mumra wrote:lain's patch implementing most of evilmike's proposal in case anyone wants to test it

As lain said it's a bit messy and unfinished but apparently playable if anyone wants to try it out and give feedback!

Cool! I wasn't expecting anything this quickly, I'll take a look at it when I have the time. This weekend at the very latest.

This patch obviously isn't anything close to final, but a rough implementation like this helps a lot for design.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 14:22

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I admit I haven't played the patch yet, but just reading about song of slaying it sounds like it is too powerful for a level 2 spell unless it caps or has a duration in the ten turn range. Because I can envision situations in Lair or Orc already where you're tearing though green rats / regular orcs to get +12 slaying before taking on that hydra or knight.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 15:14

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

evilmike wrote:Cool! I wasn't expecting anything this quickly, I'll take a look at it when I have the time. This weekend at the very latest.

This patch obviously isn't anything close to final, but a rough implementation like this helps a lot for design.


This pretty much reflects my comments to him on IRC - really good for getting some playtesting and feedback so the mechanics can be refined. He sent you a message at the time but I don't think you've been on ##crawl-dev since then ;)

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 15:19

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

rebthor wrote:I admit I haven't played the patch yet, but just reading about song of slaying it sounds like it is too powerful for a level 2 spell unless it caps or has a duration in the ten turn range. Because I can envision situations in Lair or Orc already where you're tearing though green rats / regular orcs to get +12 slaying before taking on that hydra or knight.


The way I imagine it, it would only have a modest duration at low spellpower, but at high power (requiring a ton of charms investment and probably good int...) you could sustain it a lot longer and build up a huge amount of slaying.

Even at low power it will be great against hordes of orcs and such, but that's intended.

There's some ideas for combining that spell with infusion anyway (and making it level 1), if there are really serious balance issues it can always be redesigned along those lines.
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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 16:45

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Hm, I kind of like the infusion/slaying synergy. Infusion gets you your first couple of kills and song boosts you thereafter.

Getting really insane slaying from a L2 Charm (which you're training for Haste anyhow) sounds really strong especially in the late game. Actually, getting even modest slaying from a Charm with no drawback sounds really strong. The biggest worry I have about it, actually, is that it might encourage leaving hordes of chaff around as a resource to boost up for a fight with a tough enemy. Stairdancing 8 green rats down next to get +8 slaying for that fight is worth preventing.

But in general, I like this proposal a lot. It sounds... fun :)
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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 16:53

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Song of slaying doesn't seem overpowered to me, particularly in light of what it's meant to replace. A slaying bonus is great, but the brand spells already increased your damage output by 25%. A nice ramp up in power with tight duration control sounds like the perfect damage buff spell.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 17:06

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

evilmike's proposal excites me.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 17:50

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

BlackSheep wrote:Song of slaying doesn't seem overpowered to me, particularly in light of what it's meant to replace. A slaying bonus is great, but the brand spells already increased your damage output by 25%. A nice ramp up in power with tight duration control sounds like the perfect damage buff spell.

Song of slaying is additive to brand. So yeah, early game it won't be much different but by the time you're in mid game you probably have a branded weapon + you have a ramp up in slaying.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 21:49

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

the most recent version of the patch: http://sprunge.us/AZgA
has weaker spectral weapon (it's a generic version of what you are wielding instead of an exact copy), sos (you only earn a bonus for killing strong monsters unless your bonus is <2)! adjusted infusion! still needs to change names of spells and add different descriptions!

here is the previous version of the patch: http://sprunge.us/LOYe
this one has unrestricted sos and spectral weapon --- your spectral weapon copies your wielded one exactly, and every kill counts towards sos.

if somehow someone has time to check out both patches, i'd be interested in feedback on how fun/powerful the spells seemed!

previous post, hidden to reduce confusion
Spoiler: show
http://sprunge.us/LOYe
now with improved spectral weapon movement, sos turn noise, basic spell descriptions!

i've been messing around with my patch a bit more --- and determined that the duration/power of infusion and song of slaying in the first patch is pretty silly.
http://sprunge.us/eThQ has the original patch + reduced power of infusion, sos.

still, i hardly ever have trouble getting to lair and completing it (testing as a HuSk of kiku) so i think they are still too strong (i haven't removed any of the previous skald buffs yet.)

here are the changes in the patch that are outside of evilmike's proposal:
increased starting mp of skalds to 2
infusion will add 1 dmg if you are at 0 mp instead of doing nothing
casting sos makes a slight noise (a loud noise in the first patch)
spectral weapon kills do not yet count towards sos slaying
spectral weapon does not yet scale well with your weapon skill, it only gets more hd/ac/ev the more skilled you are
Last edited by lain on Friday, 10th May 2013, 10:21, edited 15 times in total.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 22:01

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

njvack wrote:Hm, I kind of like the infusion/slaying synergy. Infusion gets you your first couple of kills and song boosts you thereafter.

Yeah the idea is that infusion is an immediate, but expensive damage buff, with the MP cost preventing you from using it all the time. Damage is nice, but running out of MP isn't. Song of slaying on the other hand is your "general use" combat buff, which is inexpensive, but needs to ramp up a bit before it reaches serious power. So my hope is that each spell will have its own use.

The general-use aspect of song of slaying does mean it probably needs drawbacks, though. Sil (where the idea, including name, is "borrowed" from) makes it so you cause tons of noise while it's up - you're literally singing a loud song. Maybe Crawl could do the same thing (constant noise, not just on casting).

Interestingly, this would also have to make the buff stop under silence, but that's too small to really be a balance issue.

I do think the song idea is fitting, anyway. Actual skalds were basically Norse bards, I'm not sure if they were really singers, but music and poetry have always tended to go together.

njvack wrote:The biggest worry I have about it, actually, is that it might encourage leaving hordes of chaff around as a resource to boost up for a fight with a tough enemy. Stairdancing 8 green rats down next to get +8 slaying for that fight is worth preventing.

To my knowledge, no one does this with vampiric draining, drain life (yred), berserk (kill easy monsters for extending duration), or anything else that might "help" by doing this. I guess there's a bit more of a reason to abuse this spell, but I doubt it's worth the hassle. If someone finds a way to abuse this and it's actually worthwhile, then we can nerf it somehow.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 22:14

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

evilmike wrote:
njvack wrote:The biggest worry I have about it, actually, is that it might encourage leaving hordes of chaff around as a resource to boost up for a fight with a tough enemy. Stairdancing 8 green rats down next to get +8 slaying for that fight is worth preventing.

To my knowledge, no one does this with vampiric draining, drain life (yred), berserk (kill easy monsters for extending duration), or anything else that might "help" by doing this. I guess there's a bit more of a reason to abuse this spell, but I doubt it's worth the hassle. If someone finds a way to abuse this and it's actually worthwhile, then we can nerf it somehow.


1. vampiric draining
They do (or should) if you are a DD of not Makhleb. Otherwise, you can do this effectively by pressing 5. I can't increase my slaying by resting, so I do the next best thing. Also, using the spell costs 3 MP each time, unlike sos.

2. draing life
see above, again I would do this as; plus piety cost is involved

3. berserk
I can't use this to the same degree. If sos is intentionally designed to have a long duration, I can leave them levels away and still use them. If I berserk and move around or down stairs, it expires. With berserk, I can kite them around, granted, and this is not a good idea with basically every monster with exceptions like orc packs on D:27 (even green rats are annoying if they bite every turn for a long time), and also has much less impact than +8 slaying would have. Keep in mind that each turn I spend killing monsters to extend berserk is a turn spent not dealing with the monster I wanted to deal with in the first place. This is very different than safely killing green rats off-level.

I don't think any of the 3 examples are very good for showing that people wouldn't do this, and even if they were, I don't think that implementing a spell that allows tedious, but useful abuse that only isn't done often because it is so tedious is a good idea. Long duration charms that benefit from anything other than just casting them will very often be problematic in my opinion. The "maprot is bad because I can draw maps" argument applies here, too a lesser degree.

I love the new Sk book, I don't want to be overly critical - I just think sos needs to be reworked a litle.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 22:21

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I believe that SoS will work well, and should be tested with non-degenerated gameplay. The issue that players can park monsters somewhere else, for later use is not restricted to SoS. Apart from the examples already mentioned, there is also feeding for Vampires, or as a food repository for anyone.

However, all of these can be addressed by thinking outside of the SoS box. If tiny monsters simply disappear after a while, for example, there is no incentive to not kill them when you meet them. (The only exception I'd make is for uniques.) This is just one approach, there are also more localised approaches, e.g. SoS not carrying over when you change level.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 22:29

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

"the problem exists in other areas" to me is not a convincing argument to introduce a problem. Rather it is an incentive to work on old mistakes and not repeat them with future features. evilmike's point was "players don't do this in the following examples" (which are in my view not very appropriate examples), and Vp's food system is an excellent counterpoint to that, now that you have mentioned it. People do that store blood by leaving monsters strategy, and I have sometimes not done it because it is so boring, and later regretted it.

Vp's food system is interesting and the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion. It is hard to fix the issue without fundamentally changing it. sos could be fixed easily though - short duration being the obvious idea, or maybe turning it off when no monsters are in your LoS. If the issue cannot be easily fixed I think the new Sk proposal should still be implemented because it has a lot of merit otherwise.

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 22:35

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I think the game will be better if (a) it stops throwing trivial monsters at you, and (b) does not store monsters for you. If the hydra you left on Lair:2 at XL 10 is gone when you're back at XL 20, then so be it. I can guarantee that Vampires where not designed with the Lair fridge in mind.

If the SoS spell finally prompts us to address these shortcomings of the game, then all the better!

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Post Tuesday, 7th May 2013, 22:58

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Trivial monsters departing the dungeon seems like a fairly elegant solution to keeping walking snacks around, but I've also never gotten a vampire very far (and certainly not to any point where living monsters would cease to be the norm) so I can't say how much it would break them.

Another point to balance SoS could be to have it time out faster if no enemies are in sight, rather than straight up turning it off, as it could be annoying to have it go away just because you have to round a corner to get to the next orc.

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2013, 04:14

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

disclaimer that I haven't tried this but

Infusion seems like a really bad idea to me because it's a level 1 spell that you want to be casting all game long, unless you do something like make it 1 mp = 1 damage or worse (but then early on it doesn't do anything because you have no MP so you don't use it...). Basically I think this idea does not work at level 1, maybe it should be level 3 or so.

I think a guardian spirit spell sounds pretty bad, especially if it is old spirit and not new spirit (new spirit is better in basically every single situation except the one where you have slow heal 3, unless the duration is short enough that the spell runs out mid-battle). Basically the spell would be a potion of curing except it also drains all your mp (or later in the game, it grows into a potion of heal wounds! Wow!). If Infusion stays then possibly also your mp is better spent on infusion than on guardian spirit. Perhaps this spell would work at a lower level if infusion didn't exist (I don't really like the idea of having two different buffs in the same book that both drain my mp to do something, since you pretty much can't effectively use both).

Song of slaying and the melee battlesphere sound fine.

Personally I think skald not having a level 1 spell is fine. Warper feels like it doesn't have a level 1 spell since apportation does not actually change your character much on D:1, so I don't see why it's bad that skald doesn't have a level 1 spell when you look at Wr.

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2013, 05:05

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

Haven't tried these spells.
With SoS I can easily see myself dragging a rat or two to a unique and killing them for the slaying bonus. I can also see SoS giving ridiculous slaying amounts (like +15) in Vaults/mid D (ugly things, ogres, yaktaur packs). Probably cap the bonus with a set number or spellpower. I also don't like how a strong character would be able to accumulate a significantly higher bonus than a weak character. Strong characters are already strong, and with this spell they'd get good slaying. Weak characters can't kill fast and have to run/heal and will get only a few points of slaying.

Spirit shield sounds quite good at first but yeah like crate said it's a potion of hw that drains mp. Infusion sounds really good and fun.

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2013, 05:50

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

crate wrote:the melee battlesphere


BATTLEBLADE!
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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2013, 07:30

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I like the proposals generally....most of the more obvious problems seem to have been brought up already.

SoS should definitely be pretty loud--even if it isn't literally a song in the final flavor, Skalds IRL were pretty big on epic poems and that sort of thing, and it seems like a logical sort of penalty to carry with it. And maybe it should have a breath timer (or something equivalent) cooldown period roughly equal to the amount of time it was active, depending on how things get sorted out on duration, as well as figuring out refreshing the spell while active.

Some sort of cooldown period seems like it might make it less abusable, but it does run counter to the notion of resetting the bonuses to +0 when the spell is refreshed.

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2013, 13:14

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I like the new proposals a lot, though I think people have offered good critiques as well. In order to address some of the critiques for SoS, I think the "expires on level switch" and "loud" suggestions are good, but if the bonuses still seem likely to get out of hand, one of these two limits might help:

1: +1s are added like they are for weapons: the more you have, the lower chance that an increase event (killing something) increases the slaying bonus.
2: +1s decay over time while the song is active proportionally to the difficulty of the monster that gave you the +1. So +1s from popcorn would wear off quickly, whereas +1s for more robust enemies would stay longer, probably for the full duration of the song.
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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2013, 21:13

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

evilmike wrote:Yeah the idea is that infusion is an immediate, but expensive damage buff, with the MP cost preventing you from using it all the time. Damage is nice, but running out of MP isn't. Song of slaying on the other hand is your "general use" combat buff, which is inexpensive, but needs to ramp up a bit before it reaches serious power. So my hope is that each spell will have its own use.

Right, this might work. I'd say it's worth a try.

I do think the song idea is fitting, anyway. Actual skalds were basically Norse bards, I'm not sure if they were really singers, but music and poetry have always tended to go together.

Yes, it fits the skald theme perfectly. Also, stealing a good feature from another open source game sounds perfectly fine to me. Let's sing!

njvack wrote:The biggest worry I have about it, actually, is that it might encourage leaving hordes of chaff around as a resource to boost up for a fight with a tough enemy. Stairdancing 8 green rats down next to get +8 slaying for that fight is worth preventing.

To my knowledge, no one does this with vampiric draining, drain life (yred), berserk (kill easy monsters for extending duration), or anything else that might "help" by doing this. I guess there's a bit more of a reason to abuse this spell, but I doubt it's worth the hassle. If someone finds a way to abuse this and it's actually worthwhile, then we can nerf it somehow.[/quote]
How about making it give no bonus from harmless monsters?

dpeg wrote:I believe that SoS will work well, and should be tested with non-degenerated gameplay.

I agree. The original design is pretty solid, let's start with this and tweak it.

Wahaha wrote:I can also see SoS giving ridiculous slaying amounts (like +15)

Give it a stepdown and maybe also a cap
<+Grunt> You dereference an invalid pointer! Ouch! That really hurt! The game dies...

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2013, 21:19

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

galehar wrote:
njvack wrote:The biggest worry I have about it, actually, is that it might encourage leaving hordes of chaff around as a resource to boost up for a fight with a tough enemy. Stairdancing 8 green rats down next to get +8 slaying for that fight is worth preventing.

How about making it give no bonus from harmless monsters?

Wahaha wrote:I can also see SoS giving ridiculous slaying amounts (like +15)

Give it a stepdown and maybe also a cap

It could work like Wyrmbane.

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Post Wednesday, 8th May 2013, 22:48

Re: Discussion: Improving Skalds

I had a lot of fun testing a DgSk with the patch. It seems to be a very powerful class against most threats (until I got abyssed at XL:11). Battleblade often seems hesitant to dive in and attack, you have to move around slightly awkwardly to get it to actually sit next to a monster sometimes. It kept dying very quickly to most stuff I actually needed to use it with, would like to see what it's like at higher power levels though. Overall it felt really good to play with infusion/song/shroud anyway, I think the class could afford a nerf and it'd be a really fun whilst decently challenging. I didn't get as far as spirit shield.

Needs spell descriptions and graphics and stuff of course but mechanically this seems really good already.

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