"Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

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"Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 9th, 2009, 12:34 pm

OVERVIEW:

After playing through the five character classes, I wanted to look more closely at three specific skills - Mercantile, Cartography, and Dodge.

So played through three character that focuses on those skills.

The results follow...

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 9th, 2009, 12:39 pm

"SPECIAL" CLASS-MERCHANT:

Image

Challenge Game type: :twisted: Rich Merchant. You must increase your Merchant skill to 30 before increasing any other skill other than the skills you start with. (At least in spirit, if not by the letter, of it - I had to add Lvl. 1 Pick Locks early on; but most of my skill points went in Mercantile until I got it to Level 30.)

I always wanted to see what happens with high Mercantile skills, based on the discussion in this topic. I decided to play this merchant character as a melee fighting Healer, for the Divine Heal and Bless spell-casting ability (and I added Elemental magic not too much later).

What I discovered playing a Merchant character was something interesting - you sell things back for more than their worth before you can buy things for less than they're worth!

Basically, 'breaking even' in selling things back (i.e. selling them back for their exact price) happens roughly around Level 25(?) or so Mercantile, while 'breaking even' in buying things (i.e. buying things for their exact price) doesn't happen until later, probably around Level 28 or 29 Mercantile.

I don't know why that is, it just is! ;)

Anyway, as you can see, while I didn't get as rich as Unclever Title did, ~34,000 Gold is nothing to sneeze at! (and is twice as much Gold as any other character of mine has ever amassed).

Bottom line: Me like-y. Having high Mercantile is fun, and may look to play such a character in Book II. :)

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 9th, 2009, 12:42 pm

"SPECIAL" CLASS-CARTOGRAPHER:

Image

Challenge Game type: None. (The closest would have been "Survivorman. You may only place skill points into Survival, Alchemy, and Cartography…", but I didn't play it strictly that way.)

In no game I played before, did my Cartography skill ever go over Level 9. So this topic has always intrigued me.

Thus, I finally decided to play a Cartography-focused character, and the result is shown above.

Note that, while it's hard to see, the goldish-yellow dots on the Automap represent treasure chests, the reddish dots represent things like corpses, and the dark red (black border) dot represents the Goblin bombthug that is showing up on the main game screen.

I took this character to Level 22 Cartography, and as the Cartography Skill Table topic suggests, there is no benefit that I can see for taking Cartography past Level 16 (which is when monsters & NPCs start showing up as the dark red (black border) dots.

But, the one advantage of Level 16+ Cartography? - Monsters show up on the automap *before* you see them on screen. Very cool, I think. 8)

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 9th, 2009, 12:45 pm

"SPECIAL" CLASS-THE "ARTFUL DODGER":

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So, does the 'Dodge' skill actually get you anything?

When I first played Book I, I gave my characters Dodge because it sounded like it would really help. The problem, back then, was that I was playing characters with roughly DEX=15, and Swords or Bows only around Level 1 or 2 or so. I quickly discovered that, under these conditions, Dodge was basically useless in increasing your odds of hitting anything, and I stopped giving my characters the Dodge skill soon thereafter.

Well, after several months of play, I decided to revisit this issue.

What I found was is that Dodge doesn't get decent until around Level 5 Dodge. But at Level 5 Dodge, there is a 5% chance on any melee attack that your character will successfully 'Dodge', and on a successful 'Dodge'-inspired follow-up attack, your ToHit will increase by 50%! (Apparently, the Player's Manual description of the Dodge skill is unclear on this point - but Dodge gives you a +10% ToHit probability per level in Dodge.) Practically, this means if you usually have a 58% ToHit probability on a melee attack on, say, a Thug, a successful 'Dodge' will increase the follow-up ToHit probability to 87% with Level 5 Dodge! Not bad!!

Still, I'm not sure how useful Dodge really is as a skill. Even getting my guy up to Level 12 Dodge only means that I have a 12% chance of a successful 'Dodge' on any melee attack, though my ToHit Probability would now increase by 120% (so a 39% ToHit Probability would rise to 86% on follow-up attack to a successful Dodge, and any attack with an initial ToHit of 45% or better would rise to ToHit 98% after a successful Level 12 Dodge).

Basically, I guess, Dodge is pretty good only if it has a high number of levels put into the skill, which tends to diminish its usefulness to all but those who wish to focus exclusively on the Dodge skill in their characters.

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by Unclever title » January 9th, 2009, 10:34 pm

It's awesome to have this information consolidated into a couple of posts. Nice work!

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 9th, 2009, 11:15 pm

Unclever title wrote:It's awesome to have this information consolidated into a couple of posts. Nice work!
Thanks! :)

One thing I want to add about Dodge - if BW & co. want my advice, I think every increase in level of Dodge should increase your chance of "dodging" 2-3% rather than just 1%.

As it is, you'd have to reach Level 100 Dodge to have a 100% chance of "dodging"! That's clearly impractical!!

But if every level of Dodge increased your "dodging" odds by, say, 2%, you'd only need to reach Level 50 Dodge to reach 100% chance of "dodging" on every melee attack (still a steep hill to climb, but at least theoretically possible.)

If it was 3% increasing chance of "dodging" per Dodge level, then you'd only need to get Level 33-34 Dodge for 100% chance of "dodging" per melee attack. (Maybe that makes it too easy...)

Anyway, I like the "increased ToHit odds by 10% per level of Dodge" - that's fine, as is.

But I think increasing the chance of "dodging" by only 1% per Dodge level is too low.

(I'm actually, pretty fine with the way Mercantile and Cartography currently work. Maybe the only thing I'd add is at, say, Level 30 or 32 or 35 Cartography, if your entire Quickmap just filled in (with all details) upon entering a new area - that would cool improvement...)

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 25th, 2009, 2:00 pm

And another follow-up on Dodge...

It looks like I was wrong about the ToHit bonus with higher level Dodge.

I've now gotten my guy up to Level 15 Dodge, and what I've noticed is that the ToHit Bonus from Dodge never goes over +50%.

I don't know if I was wrong about that before, or whether BW readjusted that with the release of v1.05 of Book I, but you definitely never do better than a +50% ToHit Bonus, even at greater than Level 5 Dodge.

What that means is if your ToHit is usually 65% or greater, you will max out at 98% ToHit after a successful (Level 5+) Dodge.

But if your usual ToHit is less than 65%, you won't max out. For example, with my Level 15 Dodge character, I just fought some Thugs, and the usual ToHit was about 63%, after a successful Dodge the ToHit only rose to 94% (63% * 1.5 = 94.5%, rounded down to 94%?...).

Basically, this puts a further limitation on the Dodge skill - even with Level 15 Dodge, your chance of successfully 'Dodging' on any melee attack is still only 15%, and your ToHit Bonus will only be +50% no matter what Level of Dodge past Level 5 you are.

Bottom line: I definitely would like to see the Dodge skill revised for Book II.

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by BasiliskWrangler » January 25th, 2009, 5:51 pm

IJBall wrote:Bottom line: I definitely would like to see the Dodge skill revised for Book II.
So far Dodge is one of the few skills that hasn't been updated in Book II. The problem is that Dodge is very powerful as-is when you look at the "big picture".

Lets say a character invests 10 points into Dodge. He also buys some training and maybe finds some books/items to boost that, so lets just say he ends up with a Dodge of 20. This means:

- 1 out of every 5 hits will miss him completely.
- On every successful Dodge, he'd get a (nearly) guaranteed hit in return.
- Over the course of the game, he will receive 20% less overall combat damage than an equal player without the Dodge skill. That means 20% less resting, less health potions consumed, and lower costs for healing.
- Likewise, due to the 1 in 5 guaranteed hits, he will deliver as much as 20% more total damage over the course of the game, resulting in more kills and more experience points.

These numbers of course get even better when Dodge is increased- at level 30, almost 1 in 3 hits will miss and all the other benefits increase as well. You can imagine how this can begin to upset the balance of the game. In Book II, which is longer and has more range for character development, Dodge really doesn't need to become more powerful...but still, your observations have been very helpful to us. Thank you!
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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by VPeric » January 25th, 2009, 6:31 pm

- Over the course of the game, he will receive 20% less overall combat damage than an equal player without the Dodge skill. That means 20% less resting, less health potions consumed, and lower costs for healing.
This isn't strictly true - a player who didn't invest in dodge still invested those points somewhere - like, for example, the heavy/light armor skill, which provides him with further damage reduction. Of course, I don't know the exact numbers, but it's bound to be less than a straight 20%.

The same applies for the increased damage (though you did say "as much as" there) - the more prolific of a fighter you are, the less the dodge bonus helps you (because obviously, the greater your starting ToHit, the greater the chance you'd have hit even without the Dodge bonus).

I suppose what the dodge skill lacks is focus, which is why it isn't such a popular choice - it tries to function as both an armor and attack skill. I suppose then the "right" way to test it is to compare a +10 Dodge character, to a +5 swords, +5 armor one. Alternatively, if someone can point me towards correct and complete data (I'm not sure if someone even figured it all out, or I just missed it maybe?), I could turn my speculation into actual fact.

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by BasiliskWrangler » January 25th, 2009, 7:15 pm

VPeric wrote:I suppose then the "right" way to test it is to compare a +10 Dodge character, to a +5 swords, +5 armor one.
That is true, although this assumes that Dodge would replace a +5 sword, +5 armor combo ... Dodge would normally be a complimentary skill, such as: "I already have a +5 Sword and +5 Armor, should I start building up Dodge, Shields, or Move Silently?"

Generally though, you are right: a +20 Dodge makes you harder to hit and offers you more hits in return, but if you build this up at the expense of a good weapon & armor skill then the benefits of Dodge are negated.
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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 25th, 2009, 7:30 pm

BasiliskWrangler wrote:These numbers of course get even better when Dodge is increased- at level 30, almost 1 in 3 hits will miss and all the other benefits increase as well. You can imagine how this can begin to upset the balance of the game. In Book II, which is longer and has more range for character development, Dodge really doesn't need to become more powerful...but still, your observations have been very helpful to us. Thank you!
I get what you're saying, BW. And I appreciate the detailed info.

I guess I'm coming at this from a player, rather than game-designer, standpoint. Basically:

If I'm a player with, say, a Fighter character, am I going to put points inro Dodge over the other potential skills at every level-up?

And the answer, at least as far as Book I is concerned, is likely no.

If given the choice of putting, say, 3 skill points into Swords (or even Armor), and putting them into Dodge, I'm probably better off in putting them into Swords - my ToHit will increase 3% or 6% putting 3 points into Swords (likely from a starting base of 50-70% ToHit), while with 3 points into Dodge my odds of 'Dodging' only increase 3% (likely starting from a base near 0% Dodge).

Even with a character focused on Dodge, getting to Level 15 Dodge probably won't help me nearly enough with, say, Tauraxes later on. (Though I may continue playing my Dodge-focused character over the next few weeks to find out...)

It just seems to me, even with Fighters, people are better off putting points into Skills with more immediate payoffs. (And, with any of the other classes, you are much less likely to want Dodge anyway, as most of the other classes lend themselves to ranged, non-melee attacks).

I'm just afraid Dodge will be one of the 'orphaned' skills as a result of all this, which people likely won't choose, unless it's made more powerful, at least up front (say, through the first 10 levels of Dodge).

But, bottom line - It's your game, I'm just a fan! :)

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by BasiliskWrangler » January 25th, 2009, 8:16 pm

Perhaps some players will find it to be an orphaned skill. Honestly, I am always amazed at how some people have come to use skills in ways we never considered during development. To that point, Dodge really can be of great advantage (statistically speaking, over time) when it is built up. As you point out, other skills offer more immediate benefits, but I've certainly spoken with players who have praised the benefits of a high Dodge skill.

I certainly would never suggest that our system is perfect- in fact, I urge players to always question the effectiveness of skills. If a good formula can be worked out to where Dodge can become more beneficial without becoming "a bazooka in a knife fight", then I am all for it! :)

And thank you for being enough of a fan that you want to see these skills improve. I am always pleased when people like you dissect the game to uncover it flaws or showcase its strengths.
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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 25th, 2009, 9:15 pm

BasiliskWrangler wrote:If a good formula can be worked out to where Dodge can become more beneficial without becoming "a bazooka in a knife fight", then I am all for it! :)
Taking your considerations into account, and mine, the only thing I can come up with is if getting Level 1 in Dodge would give you a +10% ToHit bonus, and, say, a 10% chance of Dodging upfront instead of just a 1% chance of Dodging.

Then you could keep everything else that same (i.e. the increasing 1% chance of Dodging per level of Dodge, etc.), but still give an upfront incentive (a 1 in 10 chance of Dodging per melee round) for choosing Dodge early enough in the game where it was still matter and help. (And if 10% is too much, maybe 5%?...) :mrgreen:

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by CrazyBernie » January 26th, 2009, 4:05 am

I just see doing that as creating an area of exploit for the skill. I see dodge as an ability more likely to developed by a nimble character... aka a rogue or ranger. In other words, it's a skill to help make up for not wearing heavier armors. Fighters that wear heavy armor don't need to dodge because they can take and dish out more of a hit. And good luck trying to dodge when you have a suit of platemail and carry around a tower shield. So maybe if there were armor penalties levered against the dodge skill, I could see the higher bonus as being more feasible. And don't forget that Book II is also going to have a Parry option. I already see Dodge+Parry being paired together to make impossible-to-get-hit scenarios... hmm... maybe I should have kept that to myself... :mrgreen:

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Re: "Special" Classes - Merchant, Cartographer, "Artful" Dodger

Post by IJBall » January 26th, 2009, 8:58 am

CrazyBernie wrote:I just see doing that as creating an area of exploit for the skill. I see dodge as an ability more likely to developed by a nimble character... aka a rogue or ranger. In other words, it's a skill to help make up for not wearing heavier armors.
The problem with this is that Rangers and Rogue are classes that most people play as primarily ranged-attack (Bow skill) characters. Dodge only works if you are a melee (e.g. Sword) fighter, which usually means Fighter class.

Also, IIRC, Dexterity doesn't contribute to the Dodge skill in the same way that Dexterity compliments, say, Pick Locks.

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