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Dual-wield vs shield-use

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Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Letters » Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:19 am

I know that Atonement ended up folding dual-wield and shield-use into a single skill. That made dual-wield the style skill to use, and sole-wield much rarer, and many characters would routinely carry a pair of swords or a heavy axe and a hatchet, and use both simultaneously. Personally, I don't think that fits into any sensible vision of Middle-earth, unless we have something along the lines of "... and then, because he didn't really need that shield right now, Boromir ditched it in favour of another sword to use in his off-hand. Also, Dáin's folk. Yeah, those weren't mattocks, but definitely paired axes. And the elves of Mirkwood? They were using two spears at a time."

Is there any chance of having shield-use reinstated, and dual-wield relegated to being unavailable, or otherwise RPP-restricted?
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Throttle » Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:36 am

I have to agree. It never sat well with me to lump the two best weapon setups into one skill and the worst setup into another, economically equal skill.

Back in the original SOI, dual-wield was a separate style skill that had no counterpart. There was no such thing as sole-wield or two-handed or anything else save for a block skill that was separate from parry. I don't know the exact numbers, but my observations were that dual-wield was really bad until you got the skill up to a fairly high level - and it was one of the hardest skills to raise, along with dodge - and then it became pretty good, but never strictly the best option.

I really preferred it that way, not just the dual-wield part but the whole thing. I've never been comfortable with the idea of style skills that were so primitive that they didn't really add any diversity or complexity but were nevertheless mandatory. Maybe if there had been four or five styles, but with two, it adds no more than what was already there: you either dual-wield or you don't. All it really did for ARPI/PRPI was pad out the skill picks in chargen, but you still had to choose one or the other unless you were prepared to learn them in-game through use. I do like the support for using just a single one-handed weapon, but no other parts of this system seem to do any real good.

And with dual-wield now covering both the most offensive and most defensive styles of combat, the choice is easy and the difference obvious. The one and only reason sole-wield is even worth considering is the WARD feature that becomes available at a certain skill level, and that's extremely situational. SOI effectively had three styles: normal, shield, and dual-wield. I think we should at least go back to that. I preferred having separate block and parry mechanics rather than just the all-encompassing deflect.

If nothing else, I think sole-wield should be an innate skill since it's the "natural" way for people to fight. Then I would make dual-wield and shield-use selectable skills that cost a skillpick in chargen and count towards the total skill cap which sole-wield should not, as is the case for small-blade. This lends some purpose to the inferior style and makes it the go-to style for those without military training, as it should be, and also provides a minor encouragement to use it if you want to be economical about your skill totals. One of my big peeves about RPIs is how everyone seems to always lug a shield around, even hunters and small-time armsmen, as if this were historically accurate.

On a side note, the ARPI codebase changed dodge so that it no longer affects armed combat and only applies to defending yourself unarmed (usually while brawling), which has always been very misleading and confused many players. I actually suspect that this was a bug that Kithrater didn't care to fix and instead simply adjusted the numbers behind the deflect code to allow it to serve as the only defensive mechanic in conventional combat. Other than being ambiguous and against the grain of gaming nomenclature, it's also just quite dull.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Letters » Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:07 am

What Throttle said, too, although I imagine that may be harder to put into place than just dumping dual-wield. I much preferred the block/parry/dodge set-up with the light/medium/heavy weapon skills to Atonement's much more condensed skill set. I'd adjust it slightly, to deal with the uselessness of some skills in SoI's set-up, to look more like:

Knives
One handed maces
Two handed maces
One handed axes
Two handed axes
One handed swords
Two handed swords
Spears - a catch all here, to encourage use of spears as a primary weapon due to flexibility
Other polearms (halberds, poleaxes, and so on)
Parry
Block
Dodge



But...

I'd be quite happy just to see dual-wield not be everyone's primary skill.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby cfelch » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:52 am

I would argue that dodge and parry are good enough without block.
Most the time you still want to parry a blow with a shield, not just absorb it. Else you will go through a lot of shields.

Sorta makes shield use come free with parry, but you still have encumbrance to consider.

You could always have the sword&board style like dualwield and require some IG rigamarole or RPP to be able to use effectively.

Not a skill whose value matters so much, more that it unlocks abilities in other skills.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Letters » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:57 am

cfelch wrote:I would argue that dodge and parry are good enough without block.
Most the time you still want to parry a blow with a shield, not just absorb it. Else you will go through a lot of shields.

Sorta makes shield use come free with parry, but you still have encumbrance to consider.

You could always have the sword&board style like dualwield and require some IG rigamarole or RPP to be able to use effectively.

Not a skill whose value matters so much, more that it unlocks abilities in other skills.

I think we might be on different pages here.

Atonement introduced style skills. These impacted how well a character performed with certain combinations of equipment, on top of the existing weapon skills. Initially, these included shield-use, dual-wield, and sole-wield, but dual-wield and shield-use were folded in together. Meanwhile, the deflect skill from Atonement encompasses both block and parry from before.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Octavius » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:56 am

Our current decision is, "don't mess with combat code for Alpha."

Depending how things play-out in Alpha, and good discussions here by those testing it and experiencing the effects, you may convince Nimrod of changes for Open.


We can consider how skills are apportioned for Alpha.
* The proposal to have sole-wield be given is possible.
* Having Dual-wield then be 1) granted based on Role, or 2) built up through gameplay is still on the table. Dual-wield sets apart skilled warriors from common militia.

Discussion on those?

Since the skills work relative to each other (it compares levels that combatants have), giving everyone Sole-Wield makes it like nobody has sole-wield. How should that play in this decision?
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Throttle » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:15 am

* The proposal to have sole-wield be given is possible.


Even if you do nothing else, definitely consider doing this. The only way it makes sense for one of the styles to be much better than the other is if one is readily available at a lesser opportunity cost. I still hate that dual-wield governs the use of shields, but that'd be a coding project to change.


* Having Dual-wield then be 1) granted based on Role, or 2) built up through gameplay is still on the table. Dual-wield sets apart skilled warriors from common militia.


Like with that odd Military Conditioning skill that was planned for SOI 2.0, it's just such an OOC construct to have a skill that basically says 'soldiers get +1.' That's to say nothing of the fact that it's unlikely that an organized military force would be training its soldiers in dual-wielding. I would much rather see that the soldier clans are given facilities that encourage that their members will become the best fighters in the sphere -- training crafts and weapons, sparring NPCs and so on.

The bigger issue with dual-wield is how it'll apply to orcs. They're not separated so much into soldiers and civilians the way people in human society would be, and there's not much grounds in orkish society for a skill that symbolizes rigorous military training. Would all orcs then get dual-wield? Or none?
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Emilio » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:01 am

Octavius wrote:We can consider how skills are apportioned for Alpha.
* The proposal to have sole-wield be given is possible.
* Having Dual-wield then be 1) granted based on Role, or 2) built up through gameplay is still on the table. Dual-wield sets apart skilled warriors from *weak civilians.*


Fixed. Common militia can be as well trained as an organized military force, specially where danger lurks behind a tree. Laketown isn't like Minas Tirith where manpower is very abundant. I would never go out into the woods to chop down trees if I can't handle a fight with orcs. I should be a skilled warrior as well as a lumberjack. The militia in some countries are very skilled undergoing training one or two days a week alongside regular troops. Now an untrained militia is nothing more than farmers with pitchforks. If militia is considered such, let me know. I'll probably play an orc because then I can fight as well as chopping down trees and I want to do both as a human. I care less about armor, but, at least, I want to be able to fight with axes and shields.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Octavius » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:57 pm

Sorry, I didn't mean to split that hair. :shock:

Alpha will not have an organized, permanent military clan. Open might not either. All soldiers are expected to be dual-use citizen-soldiers at this time and in this environment. This is a decision already put forward for us by Icarus, and is reflected in the proposed combat roles I put forward on the other thread:

Octavius wrote:Woodsman: The core lumberjacks of the camp, they are adept at navigating the forest and understanding what lies within well enough to return each night with resources from its depths. A woodsman's axe is both the tool of the trade and a weapon when one is needed to deal with a big bad wolf.
Core Skills:
Scavenge (Timber scouting, Herb gathering)
Bludgeon (use of axes)
Sneak
Hide
Woodcraft

Huntsman: A huntsman works with his brethren to resolve the everpresent threats of the forest. They can protect woodsmen in their duties, gather for hunts to bring in needed game, work to keep the menace of orcs and worse contained.
Core Skills:
Hunting (tracking, laying and disarming traps and snares, scouting useful game)
Shortbow
Polearm (long spears preferred against dangerous game)
Butchery (includes skinning, smoking, etc)

Merchant Guard: You are a skilled combatant who arrived with the merchants from places beyond Utterby's small walls but who has found reason to stay and lend your arm to the efforts of this small burg.
Core Skills:
Longblade (for the swords of trained combatants)
Dual-Wield (provides specialization on a sword-and-shield style)
First-Aid (keeping alive on journeys is first priority)
Handle (riding, ostler)

Wood-wives: On the edge of the Mirkwood, none is safe from either grief or duty. The Wood Wives, also known as the Daughters of Nienna, are a group of women (often widows) who stand with the men against the forest with strength of spirit, wisdom, and healing.
Core Skills:
Polearm (skill with a long spear)
First-Aid (Ensuring all come home)
Gardening (Cultured plants, funerary flowers, herbalism)
Scavenge (foraging of berries, gathering herbs)


By saying "Soldiers" I mean someone who focuses on, and has significant experience at, going toe-to-toe with Orcs or Men in armed combat.

This CAN be a Huntsman or Woodsman who also has done so. I do not see it as a given that ALL Huntsmen or Woodsmen have done so, nor do I think that would be a positive expectation to create RP-wise. I expect that most 0-RPP characters are Woodsmen and Huntsmen coming from other areas of the Mirkwood or Middle-Earth, and that the combat-against-orcs-while-I-lumber-a-tree is a new part of their job description. Or, as differentiated in the roles above, if they are experienced soldiers they are new to the woodsman/huntsman portion. I liked the idea of a 0-RPP character choosing to focus on ones side or the other. I expect that RPP Roles, which represent people experienced in Utterby, would have the option for a boost in their dual-wield to reflect that according to the role chosen.

That, at least, is what I've had in my head. Does it help?
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Throttle » Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:12 pm

Since the skills work relative to each other (it compares levels that combatants have), giving everyone Sole-Wield makes it like nobody has sole-wield. How should that play in this decision?


It doesn't really, does it? It just gives the advantage to whomever has the higher sole-wield. The vast majority of combat is against mobs, anyway.

In any case, the whole fighting style system is really awkward as it locks you into one specific weapon configuration in a way that just feels unrealistic. It'll probably be alright for Alpha, but it's definitely something I would hope to see changed down the line. There's something fundamentally flawed about the whole thing, especially the fact that if you're trained to dual-wield then you have no real ability to fight with one hand free. It simply doesn't resemble reality in a number of ways, and the whole thing feels pointlessly tacked on. Instead of dual-wield being an optional stance on top of the standard combat system, ARPI turned the combat styles into mutually exclusive islands that you can't really deviate from.

There's a slew of problems with having dual-wield and shield-use lumped into one style. Other than it simply being too valuable, it's got issues such as not increasing for shield users unless they're "tanking," meaning that ostensibly shield-focused fighters will spend much of their time dual-wielding in the field as you get very little opportunity to tank. Additionally, the power of dual-wield increases exponentially with the number of combatants because the increased frequency of attacks also conveys an increased chance to knock the target over, and if a mob is engaged to capacity with dual-wielders, it will often spend most or all of the fight on the ground and yield an effortless kill. The ARPI engine is brutal about stumbling, and if there's ten attacks directed at you per round, odds are you just never get to stand up. On ARPI and PRPI, the result was that PvE combat was often a joke where players were in no danger unless an admin showed up to load a bunch of extra mobs.

Having widespread dual-wielding is really just gamebreaking in a wide variety of ways on top of being silly and thematically tasteless. It's clear that the engine wasn't designed for it, yet at the same time the code hugely encourages it and essentially ensures that it will happen.

I think a lot of this could be alleviated in the short term by giving sole-wield to everyone for free. It's not so much worse than dual-wield that it's not a viable alternative, it's just not worth choosing if both are equally available, and saving a skillpick makes it an appealing option for everyone who isn't obsessed with the idea of being the optimal warrior. It's the kind of thing that can be done without significant codework, and it'll at least ensure that amateur fighters don't universally go around dual-wielding as they'll only have coded support for sole-wielding; because no matter how much you intend for everyone to be both a village militiaman and a lumberjack or whatever, there's going to be core group of players who are just interested in being warriors and whose every decision will be made with that in mind. This can't really be helped, but one can try to ensure that the rest of the populace doesn't feel similarly compelled to choose the unsightly option.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Zargen » Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:25 am

My two-cents that I figure will be appreciated and then ignored :roll:

Like what others have said. I agree that dual-wield should be split back up again into separate skills. Along with deflect. While I get that it is a catch-all for blocking and parrying, separating it goes in with my other suggestions. Also a suggestion for dodging.

Dual Wield.

Dual Wield makes sense in the way that yes, you -are- holding something in both hands. But you're not really 'wielding' the shield, are you? Dual Wield should be it's own skill that judges proficiency with wielding two weapons at once. As it used to be. In Zargen's perfect world, dual wielding two weapons is a league all it's own because of the technical skill and coordination needed to not only swing two weapons at once. But to swing them with some resemblance of skill. Wildly spinning around in a circle with two swords will only get you so far. Just because a player has high dual wield purely because he's been using a shield in his other hand doesn't correlate to him being a two-sword swinging maniac. Defensively, I would also suggest that dual wielding defences rely on the dodge and the deflect skill(deflect from now on in my writing being regulated -only- to parrying weapons with your own.)

Sole-Wield

In my perfect harmonious game of balance. Sole-Wield is no longer designated to be used for two-handing weapons. Rather it covers the use of -one- weapon in -one- hand. Sole-Wield would then be also used in conjunction with a shield, as you are only wielding one weapon(shields dont get wielded!) defensively it would work off of parry and dodge as well. Unless one is holding a shield. In which case dodge is replaced with block.

Blocking

Blocking I would see once again returned as a separate skill. Not much difference here. You block stuff.

Shieldwork
I would prefer that shields be further built on with a skill called Shieldwork that is subject to certain special abilities at higher levels. Like shield bash(henceforth removed from dual-wield and unlocked with shieldwork) this would represent proper skill and training with using a shield. Anyone can duck and hide behind a shield. It takes some finesse and hand-eye coordination to block a spear thrust or a sword with any proficiency. Ive tried it. Harder than it looks.

Two-Handers

Renamed to that because I can't think of a better way to put it. This is obviously swinging weapons with two hands. I would keep it as selectable as opposed to giving it to everyone. To make it stand out as a viable selection I would increase the damage output for two-handing a weapon even more than it is now. To make up for the lack of speed(found in dual-wielding) and lack of defense(found in sole-wielding). Defensively I would have to say block and dodge. As trying to parry with a lengthy weapon would seem a lot lot more bothersome than just putting it in the way or jumping to the side.

Well, those are my thoughts.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Matt » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:36 am

The only thing I'm really a fan of in this thread is Zargens suggestion. Giving away Sole-Wield for free or reducing choices for combatants will just increase people rolling the exact same PCs when you really want is diversity. Increasing options and spreading out what people can do is preferred in my opinion. Because people are diverse... so you want PCs to be diverse. Give them sole-wield for free and all you're doing is hooking up people that want to just play pure combatants. Or giving crafters an easy way to pick one other skill and be a combatant on top of a crafter with 3 choices of craft skills.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Throttle » Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:45 am

Well, there's only two choices anyway, so any talk of diversity is a bit silly. People are going to either dual-wield or sole-wield whether you give them one for free or make both restricted by roles and/or in-game learning. The difference is that if sole-wield has the same availability as dual-wield, everyone's going to choose dual-wield and there will be nothing special or uncommon about the style that is supposed to signify the advanced combat training of veterans. The style that should be used the least is going to be used the most, and the style that should be used the most is going to be used the least.

You also get small-blade for free. That didn't suddenly turn all crafters into multi-class fighter heroes. Innate sole-wield would be the exact same thing, for the exact same reason: an inferior choice that, if left inferior, needs to have something else going for it. Since any major overhaul to the code is outside the borders of Alpha, the only thing that would really make sense to do is to change the accessibility of the styles. Since it's actually a central aspect of the setting for most people to both work and help defend the place, I don't even see a problem with making it easier for characters to be built for both.

That's essentially how it was on ARPI and it was never an issue. You could pick ????-wield, a weapon skill, and then four to six crafting skills if they really wanted, but it's not something people did. The insignificant penalty to starting skills for picking more than four was never so important that this was what kept people from optimizing their skills. If it's overpowered or whatever to have several crafting skills together with the ability to fight, people can still do that to their hearts' content.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Emilio » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:49 am

Don't forget about one-hand weapons wielded with both hands. It drops speed, but, adds damage. Also, there's a difference between using two weapons and fencing. I doubt a dagger can stop a two-handed axe being swung by a 300 lbs orc from hitting you. A shield would do a better job.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Icarus » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:00 am

My descision:

Don't screw with the combat code unless absolutely necessary. Certainly not for Alpha. We will happily consider changing things in the future, provided we have a fully time coder who wants to screw with it.

Adding: I do agree with Zargen though. That would be optimal, but I'm already a jerk for asking Nimrod to code everything I have already...
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Matt » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:56 pm

I always choose sole-wield... like 95% of the time. It's not as bad as people make it out to be versus dual-wield.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Throttle » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:13 pm

Dual-wield is much stronger. You can have an effective character with sole-wield, but dual-wield really is about 30-50% better. We tested it extensively at one point and dual-wield almost always wins in both the simulations and the manual tests. Sole-wield really has nothing going for it, it's worse in every way, and especially shields are so vastly superior that it isn't even funny.

Using the compete command, dual-wield vs. greatsword comes out somewhere between 60:40 and 70:30. If you set the former up with a shield instead of two weapons, or give the latter a one-hander instead of a two-hander, it comes closer to 80:20. Manual tests (i.e. making mobs attack eachother and watching the damage taken after a while) take a lot longer to do and are more prone to randomness but seemed to indicate similar results.

That's just the combat rolls. Then come the secondary disadvantages where two-handed weapons, on top of being much heavier, compete with backpacks, quivers and bows for back/shoulder slots so that carrying a backup two-handed weapon in case of losing/breaking your main is pretty much out of the question; and if you fumble your weapon while sole-wielding, you're extremely vulnerable while a dual-wielder is defensively no worse off. One-handed weapons are also more viable for throwing, perhaps not necessarily in the eyes of the code but certainly realistically, whereas it's hard to justify throwing a greatsword or two-handed axe.

Sole-wield is the pedestrian fighting style, and if it isn't "cheaper" or more readily available than dual-wield, there's no logical reason to choose it. That's why I suggest giving it for free like small-blade, or at least making it pickable in chargen if dual-wield isn't, so that it becomes the style associated with less seasoned fighters. Otherwise you'll have a game where almost everyone dual-wields. Then later down the line when more important matters are handled, it'd be worth redesigning the style system entirely.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Matt » Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:47 pm

Why not tweak sole wield to be better?
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Throttle » Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:10 pm

Because they aren't making any changes to the combat code for Alpha.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Matt » Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:24 pm

Well I think it'd be pretty easy to tweak it to make sense. Just change the damage rolls on two-handed weapons to make it so you get a more 50/50. That's why two-handeds should be used anyway. Slow and low defense but heavy in damage dealing.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Khamul » Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:37 pm

As a general note, the reason most two-handed weapons were used... and the reason that they didn't gain common use until later... was essentially that two-handed hammers could basically be considered 'armour-piercing'. Dual-wielding, as a friend of mine is fond of telling me, "actually kind of sucked." :lol:

There's a reason the weapons that people off-handed were seldom heavier than a dagger, really. Making what can be effectively dual-wielded more realistic would probably be a fairly good method of balancing the skills, in my opinion.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Throttle » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:34 am

It feels like one's dual-wield skill goes up really slowly when fighting with a shield. I suspect it only checks for skillgains when you get hit while holding a shield, which doesn't generally happen that many times during a fight, whereas it checks with each attack when wielding two weapons. Over the course of a character's career, they'll get many more opportunities to raise the skill if they fight with two weapons compared to a weapon and shield, assuming the above is true. Even if it isn't, I definitely think there's something that makes dual-wield go up at about half the intended rate when using a shield instead of actually dual-wielding.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Songweaver » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:01 pm

Unless SOI's changed the way combat code and skillgains work, skillgain rolls can be summoned on success as well as failure for all skills, and whether or not you are using a shield does not directly affect the rate of skillgain.

The indirect effect comes from, as you stated, attacking more often while dual-wielding. This means more opportunities for skillchecks for dual-wielding weapons vs weapon+shield or sole-wield over a long course of time.

This is off-set by the deflect bonus that shields offer in actual combat, and the pure DPS capabilities of sole-wielding a weapon. I've tried all three styles now under this current system and found them to be pretty balanced given the right attribute and skill build, with dual-wielding being possibly the least potent now that you can no longer dual-wield medium-sized weapons, particularly when you consider that ward/shield-bash are far better combat utilities than feint.

So, the increased rate of skillgain (which has been consistent in every iteration of this codebase) for dual-wielding weapons doesn't seem problematic to me. I also don't have a problem with it, thematically, so long as it stays balanced.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Oblivion » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:08 pm

For the most part, I think that dual wielding just shines right now because everyone everywhere is in crap armor, except for key npcs who you aren't supposed to challenge.

As armor types come out that can withstand/negate more damage from the blows, a difference between the two combat types might become more evident.

Right now, it seems, that the person with the highest strength wielding two weapons and thus hitting more often, will win.
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Re: Dual-wield vs shield-use

Postby Songweaver » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:11 pm

Oblivion wrote:Right now, it seems, that the person with the highest strength wielding two weapons and thus hitting more often, will win.


Maybe in spars, but I've not found this to be the case in actual PvP with real weapons. Sometimes, but it's definitely not a given.
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