Defense Balancing

Name dcss:brainstorm:misc:defense
Summary Brainstorming for overall defense balancing, i.e., heavy and light armour, AC, EV, shields
Further information Armour Class Revision
Added by rob
Added on 2010-08-04 12:27

Alternate helmet mechanic

I don't think it's important, but could be interesting. Currently helmets are just another misc armour piece, indistinguishable (or close) from boots, gloves or cloak unless it comes with a magical brand. This is a bit strange - helmets protect organs of critical importance.

How about this instead: Helmets no longer give AC bonus. Instead, they protect against “critical hits”. Crawl doesn't have an explicit critical hit mechanic, of course. So helmets would protect against high damage hits. There are at least two possible implementations:

# Helmets count as 0 AC, but as 4 AC if a hit deals more than 35% damage (max hp)
# helmets serve as an upper damage cap. If damage is higher than 35%, reduce excess damage by up to 20%

In case of 2, The numbers would depend on helmet's base “AC”. This change would make combat slightly more rational. It would also distinguish races a bit - otherwise good warriors like minotaurs and kenku would have a more meaningful drawback.

b0rsuk 2011-06-29 20:44

Recent changes

  • GDR from body armour is doubled
    • New formula: 14 * (bAC-2)^(1/2). See below for comparison.
  • Armour can be enchanted up to base AC (e.g. robe up to +2, plate up to +10)
    • Enchant armour scrolls don't fail anymore with lots of pluses
  • No more AC/EV bonuses from randarts
0.7 : 2.5 * (bAC -2)25710121517202230
0.8 : 5 * (bAC -2)5101520253035404560
14 * pow((bAC-2), 0.5)14192428313437394248


Here's what I (rob) think a well-balanced system should achieve. Shields aren't in there yet.

Basic goals

  • A relatively continuous range from light to heavy armour.
  • Heavy armour should be “better” than light armour for a magic-less fighter.
    • This also early game, though there not for the very heavy armour.
  • There should be meaningful differences between light and heavy armour.
  • Even a fully skilled character should be limited in spell-casting by very heavy armour.

Advantages of heavy vs. light

  1. Lower average incoming damage over time.
  2. Higher ratio of damage out vs damage in.
  3. Lower variance of incoming damage.

2. is like 1., but factors in armour melee penalties (tohit and speed penalties in the 0.6 nerf for example).

Options for differentiating

  • Spellcasting.
  • Melee penalties.
  • Heavy armour means less direct damage but more secondary effects, because you get hit more often.


It would be really good to have some numbers for what the damage in vs. damage out .vs time distributions look like for various characters in various versions of crawl, including some numbers to aim for in the future.

Wizard mode test

0.8 development version, released around Oct 22 (crawl_tiles-0.8.0-a0-2165): With +2 accessories, and +6 body armour with 21 dex and 24 str against stone giant (45 damage at 10 delay), damage taken:

At skill 0:
Plate: 9.3
Robe: 10.6 

Plate with Armour 27 (AC 45, EV 8): 5.5
Robe with Dodge 27 (Ac 20, Ev 35): 3.7

Against executioner (which has many weaker attacks than stone giants, making armour more effective. 30, 10, 10 damage at 5 delay):

Plate with 27 armour (AC 45, EV 8): 6.51 
Robe with dodge 27 (Ac 20, Ev 35): 6.17
Dragon armour with 14 armour and dodge (AC 33, EV 21): 6.46

Conclusion: Evasion is indeed more or less better than armour as it is the popular opinion, especially considering the penalty of heavy armour and the reduction of consumable/equipment damage from outright dodging.

Comparing ring of robustness (+8 ac) vs ring of shaolin (+8 ev) for a character with (AC 20 and EV 35, a typical high level dodger) against stone giant.

Ring of robustness: 3.0
Ring of shaolin: 2.55

Comparing ring of robustness (+8 ac) vs ring of shaolin (+8 ev) for a character with (AC 45 and EV 8, a typical high level heavy armour) against stone giant.

Ring of robustness: 4.72
Ring of shaolin: 4.27

Comparing ring of robustness (+8 ac) vs ring of shaolin (+8 ev) for a character with (AC 45 and EV 8, a typical high level heavy armour) against executioner.

Ring of robustness: 5.51
Ring of shaolin: 5.24

Conclusion: +8 ev is superior to +8 ac even for heavy armour characters.

For reference, in 0.5.1 (before the dex effect on dodge buff and armor nerf), With +2 accessories, and +6 body armour with 21 dex and 24 str against stone giant (45 damage at 10 delay), damage taken with 27 skill:

Plate (27 armor) (53 ac, 7 ev): 2.62
Robe (27 dodging) (20ac, 31 ev): 4.55

ledtim 2010-11-17 17:26

Big (belated) thanks for these numbers! I reproduced them here, trying to figure out fsim. I wonder how comparable a point of AC is to a point of EV. Looks like heavy armour characters have a much harder time getting EV, than EV characters have getting AC. There's a couple of ideas below to match them a bit; making many AC items Armour skill boost items; looking at the AC boost spells; and limiting light armour enchantability (newly added to wiki below, discussed on ##crawl-dev and I think crd). Looks like limiting robe enchantment to +2 increased the average damage input to about 4.0-4.4 against the stone giant. — evktalo 2010-12-11 09:07
The GDR from body armour is now doubled from before. Stone giant damage to the plate mail user is about 4, while the damage from the executioner is about 2.5. — evktalo 2010-12-14 18:43


EV chars with insane AC

With spells, items and mutations, supposedly EV characters can get very high AC. In my recent DEWz win, I had 41 AC, with +15 from rings and +9-10 from Ozocubu's Armour. If it was a DSWz, that could have had +10 from rough black scales and +10 from ice mail. Yikes. Thoughts below (##crawl-dev, kilobyte, dpeg and me): — evktalo 2010-08-05 15:41

One thing to look at here: DS probably shouldn't be able to get two +10 AC mutations, and icemail should probably conflict with Ozocubu's. — eronarn 2010-11-19 20:04
  • Rings of protection give additional (virtual) Armour skill instead of straight AC.
    • Ring of Robustness could keep giving straight AC.
    • What of randarts?
  • Spells need drawbacks.
    • It's cool that Ozocubu's Armour now dissipates with fire attacks, but it could also give rF-. This would only make one fire attack hit harder, so it's not a huge drawback, but might make you reconsider using it in certain situations.
      • More interesting might be: Ozocubu's Armour actually makes you a set of 'real' armour (EVP, casting penalty) out of ice. It has a degree of magical hardness based on your ice skill that remains constant, and a degree of mundane hardness based on how thick you choose to make it. Casting it multiple times makes it thicker and longer-lasting, and it melts in stages. — eronarn 2010-11-19 20:04
    • Stoneskin could exchange EV for AC make you ponderous (eronarn).
      • I think that ponderousness would be a more interesting penalty. — eronarn 2010-11-19 20:04
        • Absolutely. — evktalo 2010-12-12 09:17
Is this really a big deal? +15 AC in egos from rings/artifacts is really unusual (looking quickly at some other morgues, looks like most characters had between 0 and 5 AC from egos, with 0 the most common), and not every character has 27 levels in ice magic either to get 10 AC from Ozocubu's Armour. The demonspawn example, while ridiculous (60+ AC with a robe, but with 0% GDR though) would require hitting the AC jackpot in both artefacts and mutations - how likely is that? Characters who find insane gear (like +15 in AC from rings) should be extremely strong.

You can also get an AC character with high EV (it's easiest to do with a minotaur because of their aptitudes and high Str and Dex) with the perfect storm of gear - A minotaur with Crystal Plate and the ring of Shaolin (or other good EV rand/fixedarts) can have 50 AC AND 50 EV by the end of the game (just tried it out in Wizmode, these numbers are attainable with good gear). I don't see the problem in a rare EV character getting a high AC or vice versa. — rangerc 2010-08-05 21:47
It's not like it's the most crucial thing in balancing defence, but I do feel it matters. You make good points about needing luck, and skill investment in the case of OA. AC+EV sounds like a nice perk for Minotaurs.

AC/EV bonuses from randarts was removed (see here), so getting high EV/AC from lucky gear should now be harder. This change was made exactly because gear luck could/can overshadow skill investment. — evktalo 2010-12-12 09:17

Limiting body armour enchantability

So, the plan is to limit AC availability to light armour users by making the armours only enchantable to a bonus equal to their base AC. Thus, a robe can only be enchanted up to +2, while a chain mail can be enchanted to +6, and plate up to +10. (crd discussion here) This is now in master. Also, enchant armour scrolls now don't fail anymore, even if the item was in high pluses.

What about artifacts? Many artifacts have enchantments way outside the normal range of the possible, and I'm not sure their enchantment actually scales with the item's base AC. Would we put a cap of, like, double the normal enchantment cap plus 1 or something? — brickman 2010-12-11 17:31

I think the artifacts can stay as they are. I linked the mailing list discussion above, and that seemed to be the idea.. not 100% sure though, dpeg can you confirm? — evktalo 2010-12-12 09:12

Artefact heavy armour should probably appear with higher possible pluses now, though. — evktalo 2010-12-14 18:43
RangerC said on the forum that “The uncapped AC scrolls don't matter that much, because you won't find enough of them unless you scum pan or something”. If this is confirmed, we could further boost them by making them give 1d(base_AC/3). — galehar 2010-12-19 09:42
Uhm, most players even on 3-runers had +7 or often +8 armour. The latter required 21 scrolls, now a GDA takes only 11. — kilobyte 2010-12-19 11:45
Has the impact to corrodeability been considered? If I recall correctly, +5 or higher armors are nearly immune to corrosion, whereas a +2 enchantment provides only small protection. This would mean that it would be nearly impossible to make robes/leather/troll leather etc. “corrosion proof” via enchantment scrolls. If it hasn't been changed already, perhaps the “protect from corrosion” benefit should compare against maximum available enchantment, instead of just straight +value? Of course, that would mean that it would be relatively easy to make a robe extremely corrosion resistant, and conversely it would make it very hard to “corrosion proof” plate mail or dragon armors… — jeffqyzt 2011-01-28 14:15
Yes. +5 are completely immune to corrosion and it is now impossible to corrode-proof anything lighter than scale. I think it's ok. You can always use artefacts or junk armour for doing slime. — galehar 2011-01-28 14:34
The corrosion save formula could be the same as the mulch save formula, which would make it more relevant at lower levels and remove the absolute immunity at +5. — tgw 2011-01-28 15:28

I like this idea. — evktalo 2011-01-30 17:21


The armour skill doesn't have a strong enough effect on spellcasting in heavy armour. Even if wearing GDA, XP is spent more efficiently in spell schools rather than the armour skill for overcoming the penalty. With very high magic skills, it's possible to cast high level spell in heavy armour even with moderate armour skill. This shouldn't be possible. Actually, I think even with maxed skills, we shouldn't allow casting very high level spells in very heavy armour. I suggest we increase the effect of the armour skill on reducing AEVP and scale the armour penalty with the spell level.

[base_penalty + max(0, 3*base_penalty - str)] * [a - armour_skill]/a

Armour penalty
spell_level * b * (25 * AEVP - 20)

Currently, a=45. I suggest using 36 for a and 0.5 for b. I've made a spreadsheet (Google docs link) to show the impact of changing those values on the armour penalty and AEVP. Changing the formula for AEVP also impact evasion and to_hit maluses. I have no idea if this is acceptable. The spreadsheet also shows the effect of 1 armour skill level has on the armour penalty before and after the change. The skill level defaults to 3*EVP if you set it to -1. Setting the B23 cell to 0 or more allows you to check the number for any skill level. — galehar 2010-12-26 23:50

Comparison to 0.5

In 0.5, EVP was reduced by the Armour skill, in 0.6+ it is by STR with the skill having almost no effect. Also, you can get it reduced to about nothing while in 0.5 you couldn't get better than 27 skill. The end result: 0.5 topped your spell success for lev9 spells in GDA at “Good” even with all skills at 27 and stats at 72. — kilobyte 2010-12-27 00:23

Separate failure chance

Have a separate failure chance for armour. We remove the armour penalty from the spellcasting formula, and make a separate failure chance for armour equal to AEVP²%. We then combine the 2 probabilities and roll once, so that miscasts severity take armour penalty into account. Shield and weapon penalties should probably use the new system too. — galehar 2010-12-28 23:53

Looks good to me. This approach should meet (with judicious choice of numbers) the following goals: (1) In order to cast in heavier armours, Armour skill is necessary (even useful would be better than status quo). (2) No matter what Armour and magical skills you have, there will be hit to casting success in heavier armours (I believe that the unavoidable hit should start with actual mails the earliest, definitely not leather). (3) Middle armours (with respect to EVP) should become useful for hybrids — this refers more to certain dragon armours than to chain/scale etc., which is okay (I guess that lucky randart mails may get use).
As far as I understand, the success hit from armour will apply for all spells, regardless of level. This is good. We have many quite useful low-level spells, and a 10% success hit will matter.
Yes to shield and weapon penalties of the same type. Note that some Trm spells (spider and blade hands) cause flat success hits. Do we want to keep them like that? It might be possible to unify the system even more.
I support having just one instance where armour affects casting. Having several mechanics is opaque and should be considered bad design. — dpeg 2010-12-29 01:01
After having looked more closely at the source, I suggest to simply add AEVP² + ASEVP² to the final spell failure (ASEVP is the adjusted shield evasion penalty). Adding the penalty instead of rolling it separately is almost the same for high success chance, and much simpler to code. We should also get rid of the weapon penalty, as it's really insignificant. — galehar 2011-01-14 10:55
+1. — dpeg 2011-01-14 12:21
I made a chart so we can see the numbers. Seeing them, I'm now thinking of using (2 * ASEVP)² for shields. Buckler is still a no-brainer, though. — galehar 2011-01-21 21:56

Current state (as of 10th January 2011)

After the GDR doubling boost, people have been playing and enjoying armoured casters (sorry for being vague, these were some irc comments (greensnark included). I like factoring in armour skill more (especially after reading KiloByte's note). But if the current state plays well, then we should be careful to not nerf it too badly. — evktalo 2011-01-10 19:59

This isn't a straight nerf. It actually makes casting in the lighter and medium armours easier if you've got decent armour skill. But you can't overcome the armour penalty with high magic skills anymore. And heavy armour makes all casting unreliable, even low level spells. So it's a trade-off. Reliable defense but unreliable magic. — galehar 2011-01-19 11:04

Okay, that sounds excellent to me. Thanks! — evktalo 2011-01-19 18:46
Comment from elliptic: principle is interesting, numbers seem too harsh. I've updated the tables with AEVP^1.5 which seems nicer. Unfortunately, I don't really know how to implement it. Spell failure is compared to random2avg(100,3) and I don't really know how to convert from/to straight percentage chance to this kind of roll. The function which translates spell failure to description (failure_rate_to_string) has just some hard-coded values, so it isn't of any help. If anybody could help with the maths… — galehar 2011-01-26 16:19

Slower casting in armor?

How about making magic casting take longer while in armor? Same failure chance as without it, but taking (EV_PENALTY+1 - Armor_Skill/7) times longer, and you get additional success checks every time you are attacked. —sinsi 2011-04-01 20:12

That'd certainly be an interesting alternative. It'd have the side effect of making it so that armored users could still cast in non-emergency situations, which is probably a plus since it just saves the micromanagement of having to remove stuff. The one issue I see is that it doesn't differentiate between difficult and hard spells; if you could cast it in a robe you'd be much better served casting Poison Arrow or Fireball in your medium-EVP armor than scaling it back to level 3-4 spells, unless you're in melee (and if you aren't in melee and are up against melee opponents it's EXTRA important to only cast the high level spells because you stop being able to cast well once they close and you only have a turn or two to do it in). So to maintain some symmetry with the existing system the extra slowdown should be in some way proportional to how difficult the spell is; of course that means the added chance of failing is quadratic with spell difficulty since you're making that check every time you're attacked, but there's nothing wrong with that.
The other interesting concern, then, becomes targeting. The best way to handle that is to make you commit to casting a spell, then let time pass until you're ready to cast, then let you target it. Of course the enemy may not be standing in the prime fireballing formation they were two turns ago, but that's what you get for casting in armor. — brickman 2011-04-01 21:18
I really like this idea. I'd actually suggest that wearing heavy armor LOWERS the chances of failing the spell check when you get hit by a monster (but not the initial check). Logically, this is because you're less likely to have to interrupt your gestures because someone swung a sword at you if you're in enough armor to ignore the sword. Game-wise, this is because you'll already have to make more checks because the spell takes longer to cast, and all the while you're already taking extra damage from being hit more times, so there's no reason to double-penalize. — squashmonster 2011-04-07 22:39

Fighting penalties

Currently, the penalties for wearing heavy armour are evasion, spellcasting and accuracy. There used to be a speed penalty, but it has been removed. The accuracy penalty is 1d(AEVP) which average at 3.5 for wearing plate unskilled. This is quite insignificant, and it's a no-brainer for anyone taking the heavy armour route to use the heaviest armour they can find as soon as they do.
I think it would be more interesting if players have to used medium armour to build their armour skill and switch to the heavier ones only when sufficiently skilled. One way to achieve this goal is to increase the accuracy penalty and/or add a speed penalty. For accuracy, I suggest using a formula of the form:

a * AEVP^b

This results in strong penalty for high AEVP, which quickly reduces when the armour skill trains. I've made some charts with examples of formula. If we decide to add a speed penalty, I think it shouldn't be randomised, just a straight penalty. For accuracy, I can't decide if randomising the penalty is better or not. — galehar 2011-02-09 09:54

I'm afraid I have to disagree about the merits of forcing players to victory dance a series of mundane armors in order to use basic equipment. Until a character can loot the Orcish Mines, the player is unlikely to have access to a convenient series of armors that they can victory dance in a specific order to work their way up to plate. The process of training armor is neither interesting nor particularly challenging, basically mashing . in front of a lone rat or sheep.
If armor reliably appeared when you need it, it would be one thing, but with equipment that randomly drops you need to make do with what you have. If scale doesn't feel like dropping this game, it would not do to be locked out of being able to use chain and plate as well. Forcing intentional training of armor is a little more reasonable in cases such as high-end dragon scale mail, which only starts appearing after you reliably have a complete set of training armor to work with and has properties in addition to the basic function of body armor. — koboldlord 2011-02-09 13:44
The idea is not to force players through each of the armour type. Ideally, they could use anything between ring and scale to train armour. Plate could even be usable unskilled, I just wish it weren't always optimal. The goal is that if the player has the choice between plate and say scale or chain, they at least consider the medium armour choice. If some players choose plate for better defence even if it means worse offence, fine. But currently, there isn't enough drawbacks to the heavier armour that anyone would even consider the medium ones. — galehar 2011-02-09 16:41
If the player has found the Book of War Chants or the Book of Air and wants to start using it, then there's your good reason to wear the medium-grade armor. You are never going to find a player who is going to consider wear the non-heavy armor if you summarily discard players who choose not to wear the non-heavy armor because of reasons that already exist. — koboldlord 2011-02-09 21:36
I feel as though plate should be outright optimal for pure fighters when they find it, even unskilled; requiring training of Armour skill for effective use is, I think, somewhat counterintuitive and spoilery. You don't see Rogue, NetHack, Angband, Shiren, and so forth requiring special training before it's a good idea to use the 'better' pieces of armour. — dtsund 2011-02-09 22:28
Galehar's “But currently, there isn't enough drawbacks to the heavier armour that anyone would even consider the medium ones” is incredible, as the reason no one uses mundane medium armor is that it doesn't offer enough benefits to make up for its current drawbacks. These drawbacks of course increase with heavier armor, but those actually offer enough defense to balance that out and become an option. This path of thought leads to having no mundane armor ever worth using (again). — og17 2011-02-10 10:13
I agree with both KoboldLord and dtsund: medium armour allows use of spells while your spellcasting skills are not yet that great, and, especially ring or scale, are still good on mostly EV chars. Like, my last KoBe had -1 EV +2 AC in ring vs leather, and the ring was a randart too.
The spoiler factor is also a good point: while people are told weapon accuracy suffers in plate, having unobvious penalties is bad. It'd be best if EV 10 AC 10 would be about as good as EV 20 AC 0 and EV 0 AC 20. — kilobyte 2011-02-09 22:54
Of course, hybrids are not going to use heavy armour. And their not going to wear medium ones either until sufficiently skilled in both armour and magic skills. But this is completely off-topic, since I'm considering the choice offered to someone taking the heavy armour route (ie: pure fighter), and I'm saying it's not a choice but a no-brainer to always use the heaviest armour they can find as soon as they do.
Now, what I'm proposing isn't any different than what we already do with weapons. If you find an executioner's axe on D:1, are you going to use it right away? No, because the speed and accuracy penalties hurt too much and you'd better stick with your hand axe until you've got enough skill to use the executioner's axe effectively. I find this quite intuitive and natural and that's why I'm suggesting we do something similar with armour. It is a bit spoilery, but we can address that by putting back accuracy in @ screen (why was it removed btw? It's commented out in the source) and/or printing a message upon wearing (exemple: “You're not skilled enough to use this armour efficiently. It makes your attacks slow and inaccurate.”). — galehar 2011-02-10 09:41
Wait, should this not be a no-brainer? If a player starts a character with the intent of “going the heavy armor route” right from D1, does the game really need to punish them and make them regret even attempting to do so? If heavy armor is to be viable at all, a character who has been preparing to use it from turn 1 should have every reason to use it when it becomes available. It isn't that there isn't a choice, it's just that the choice has already been made.
If you were suggesting that a special penalty be added to crystal plate mail and golden dragon armor to make them more difficult to wear, I'd agree on the relevance of the executioner's axe example. Those items are rare and special, and by the time you get them under normal circumstances you will naturally already be positioned to use them. Plate mail is a normal drop from low-level orcs, though. By the time you get it, you probably haven't even seen the Lair entrance yet. Plate mail is more like a broad axe than an executioner's axe, and I don't think I've ever played a character that wouldn't take that upgrade immediately. — koboldlord 2011-02-10 13:13
FWIW I agree with galehar. It feels obvious to me that the choice should be there for pure meleers. From og17's comment it kind of sounds there's not enough room in the scale to balance things out properly (I'm thinking melee vs casting too). But the latest GDR change (is it in yet?) would give more GDR to the medium armours, this might help? — evktalo 2011-02-10 12:09


The proposals I have made above make the armour skill much more significant, but it's currently too hard to train. The current formula is: whenever you're hit, there is 1 chance in 2 that your skill is exercised by 1 or 2. There is a second check that makes that happen only in (mass - 10)/10 chances in 50*skill. I propose getting rid of the first coinflip and make the exercise amount depending on mass too. For example (mass)/20 (min 1 of course). This makes training in chain mail twice as fast, 3 times faster in plate and 6 times faster in CPM. — galehar 2011-01-19 11:04


I figure heavy armour should be better than EV, because it needs to be as good (or viable) as EV+magic. (Pure EV fighter would be great to have, but how to differentiate?)

Also, many secondary effects (poisons at least) check if there was any damage - therefore AC is actually good against them, esp. GDR. This should probably be changed to make EV and AC more different. — evktalo 2010-08-04 12:53
Don't forget about stealth as a difference between light and heavy armours. Also, AC should help you against poison attacks (other types of secondary effects, maybe not) - when I see the message “The snake bites you but does no damage.” when wearing heavy armour, it seem to mean that the snake bit your character, but the fangs didn't penetrate the armour (thus you didn't get poisoned). It would seem odd to take no damage from a snakebite and somehow still be poisoned. — rangerc 2010-08-05 21:40
It makes sense, but the problem is that EV and AC are then similar for avoiding special damage, that is, either helps. Maybe we could distinguish between bites (snakes), contact poisons (naga spit) and magical attacks. Two later categories wouldn't need to go through AC to have an effect. — evktalo 2010-08-06 08:27
As an additional option for differentiation, perhaps EV should receive some kind of penalty for dodging multiple attacks in the same round (or even for being next to a lot of monsters); considerations of fatigue and logistics make it reasonable that it's harder to dodge 8 orcs all swinging their swords at once than it is to dodge 1 or 2. AC wouldn't get such a penalty because it's a more passive sort of defense.

It's obviously almost always a good idea to be next to as few monsters as possible, but sometimes you can't avoid those situations, and heavy armour would provide a comparative advantage in them. Additionally/relatedly, if and when “weapon moves” go in, a cleaving sort of attack could make standing next to a few monsters a bit more attractive in some cases, and it should be possible to make weapon moves interact with armour type differentiation in other ways, too.
danei 2010-09-16 08:40
I object. Avoiding multiple opponents is always desirable, we don't want to encourage this further. Rather, EV should have different benefits in the open than AC. (See the weapon moves wiki page for ideas.) — dpeg 2010-09-16 16:44
Yeah, on second thought, I agree. I do think the two armour types might benefit, in terms of differentiation, from other sorts of differences in effectiveness that are based on the (short term) situation. — danei 2010-09-16 19:42
A different (but more complex) implementation of a fatigue effect might be as follows: Every turn in which the player dodges at least one attack has a chance (mitigated by dex?) to fatigue the player by one increment. Fatigue is slowly cumulative, like glow, and decays over time. As fatigue increases past a certain point, EV begins to decrease (the decrease should be linear and incremental such that higher EV maximums don't decrease faster). The decrease should be capped at some percentage of maximum EV. Fatigue decay rate should be fast so players don't have to rest very long just to remove it, but slow enough that pillar dancing for a few turns won't remove all traces of fatigue. Fatigue could have an interface indication like glow that starts at grey (no effect). Sources of EV like repulsion field and phase shift should probably not be factored in.
Advantages: Achieves some level of differentiation by encouraging light armour melee characters to “skirmish” rather than engage in long, pitched fights; Is reasonably intuitive; Fatigue could be used in the future as a mechanic by monsters that are meant to especially threaten EV characters (e.g. a monster that fatigues the player on hit).

Problems: It's hard to explain why dodging 1 attack in a turn fatigues the player as much as dodging 8, but otherwise the mechanic has the same issue as my previous suggestion; Is it too complex?; Is it worth the obvious monster/player disparity?; It probably doesn't make sense that nothing fatigues the player except for dodging stuff.
danei 2010-09-23 17:57

Interesting idea. To avoid pillar dancing abuse, the fatigue doesn't decay when moving. You have to stand still to catch up your breath. About the interface, it could be a third bar after HP and MP, and be called stamina. Stamina could also be used for plenty of other things, like all the weapon perks of this page. And running. — galehar 2010-09-23 21:16.
On the one hand making that same stamina bar used for weapon feats sounds cool and intuitive, but on the other hand for characters who use EV but DO intend to be in melee (like monks, draconians, stabbers who want to hold their ground should it fail), they'd basically have to use their feats right away or not at all (and using them would kill their defense afterward)–again sounds kind of cool, until you realize that a guy in plate mail is having less problems with fatigue than a guy in a robe, which does NOT sound realistic. Anyways I don't see what's so bad about evasion failing against multiple opponents–a guy in plate mail can afford to wade into a horde of orcs if he wants to reach the caster, but a guy in light armor won't want to do that. Summoning minor demons would be more threatening to light armor than heavy. Both people can take down a troll or giant with whatever kind of combat they slant their build towards, but there will be a class of fights in which the light armored fighter finds himself at a disadvantage due to his armor. Unfortunately, the way of coping with this extra damage is to put more efforts into the tunnel-hunkering tactics that they already try to use.— brickman 2010-11-18 05:23
For what it's worth, I liked the pre-AC Nerf situation. High AC melee characters (eg. MDPa) were an easy “introductory class” for new players to play. Simple, straightforward, and yes, a bit easy. Eventually though a player gets bored with that playstyle, because not being able to use magic robs much of the richness of the game. If these builds were too easy, then just don't allow them in tournaments. Is the issue that the devs want to play high AC characters and just find them too easy? Are the devs all Spriggans? — djnrempel 2010-12-03 16:43

Well, I can only repeat that heavy armour made the game too easy, but now playing a heavy armour character is too hard. It won't go back to too easy, that's for sure. The game is designed to be challenging. Banning combos from tournaments is not a solution. Also, hopefully non-magic playstyles will eventually have some of the richness too. — evktalo 2010-12-06 08:38

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but if AC was overpowered before and is underpowered now, wouldn't a statistical compromise, inelegant as it sounds, solve the problem? We don't really care how needlessly complicated the equations get if they're happening behind the scenes, as long as “more AC=less damage taken while meleeing a yak”. — brickman 2010-12-06 19:18

You might be right. I'm thinking we're not that far from properly balancing heavy armour. Seems the combat penalties are ok. What's needed is a boost to defense, and maybe also to spellcasting. I'm always a bit annoyed that the armour skill helps so little with spellcasting. — galehar 2010-12-06 21:49
One extremely important aspect everyone is missing/ignoring: if a player sees two characters with the same AC, he expects them to be protected equally well. GDR based on “base armor AC” is thus a completely unexpected and confusing mechanic. If you want to use it - it has to be clearly indicated on the main screen, players shouldn't code dive to find it. BTW, same is about all those shield/armor/size penalties - they should also be displayed on the main screen.—sinsi 2011-04-04 18:03
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