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Sederien
Acolyte

Reged: 07/16/04
Posts: 118
[WIP] A Simple Leveling Mod Balancing Act (Co-Thread)
      #2873381 - 07/31/04 08:49 PM

Two topics are now being discussed in the [WIP] A Simple Leveling Mod thread. Thus, this thread is to provide some much needed separation...

The work on Madd_Mugsy's Madd_Leveler continues. For those of you who are unaware of such a superb mod, I would suggest you read the following description and check out the thread above for posts concerning bugs and minor variations or improvements.

This thread is set to contain all of the balancing issues and new ways we can approach leveling/attributes/skills in Morrowind.

Minor note: I really do suggest you visit the link above to get the full scope of work that has been done on this mod in the past few weeks. (Start on page 7-8 if you're short on time. ^^)

That having been said, here's the Madd_Leveler description as of version 0.4:

Quote:

This mod contains two different versions/esps. The script used in the mod ("Madd_Leveler") is fairly heavily commented and any modifications can be easily made through the Morrowind TESC.

Both versions make the following changes to Morrowind's leveling system:

-- Sets all the level up bonus abilities to x1 (rather than x5), regardless of skill point gains
-- Adds an ability point every 3 skill points (to balance above)
-- The base attributes of these two skills have been changed: Acrobatics -> Agility, Spear -> Strength


Version 1: Standard

The following will be in effect when this esp is properly installed and running:

-- Capped at 100 points max / skill / attribute (as in the standard game)


Version 2: No Caps

The following will be in effect when this esp is properly installed and running:

-- Capped at 99 points / skill -- this will allow you to continue to raise attributes and level up after maxing out your skills. When you raise a skill point and it hits 100, it will automatically be reduced to 99, but still be counted towards leveling up and attribute increases.
-- Capped at 5000 points / attribute -- for extra buff characters




Currently downloadable at: http://www.cosmicspeck.com/maddleveler/

--------------------
Currently working on:
The Less Generic NPC Series website.
The Madd Leveler website.

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Sederien
Acolyte

Reged: 07/16/04
Posts: 118
Balancing Attributes/Skill Relations [Re: Sederien]
      #2873386 - 07/31/04 08:51 PM

Now, as to the whole balancing issue, I've made a chart of the originals and possible changes.

Originals:

  • Strength: Armorer, Blunt Weapon, Axe, Long Blade, and Acrobatics.
  • Intelligence: Alchemy, Enchant, Conjuration, and Security.
  • Willpower: Destruction, Alteration, Mysticism, and Restoration.
  • Agility: Sneak, Light Armor, Marksman, and Block.
  • Speed: Athletics, Short Blade, Hand-to-Hand, and Unarmoured.
  • Endurance: Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, and Spear.
  • Personality: Speechcraft, Mercantile, and Illusion.


Also here are the formulae to keep in mind:

  • Starting Health = (Strength + Endurance) / 2
  • Starting Magicka = Intelligence / 2
  • Fatigue = Strength + Endurance + Agility + Willpower
  • Encumbrance = Strength * 5


Now, let's use all of that information and come up with a system that balances the attribute/skill associations without changing the formulas as they stand (we can do that later if need be). And, let's see if we can do it in a way that doesn't take away from the original feel of Morrowind.

---

I'm going to start by looking at Strength. Strength currently has the most skills and positions within the formulas. It was obviously made to be important in the game.

In Strength I see two changes that need to be made right off the bat. Long Blade and Acrobatics. Neither one of these skills (in a logical real life context) pertain exclusively to strength. Axes are fine since they work as though they were like bladed Blunt Weapons, relying heavily on their weight for damage and cutting power. And Armorer requires much hammering, which requires a great deal of strength to pound out imperfections in metal.

(At this point Iíd like to note that Iím not pulling any of the following observations from extra-dimensional spaces on or around my person. While I may not be able to claim a background steeped in the knowledge of Medieval teachings and arts, I can say that my knowledge is a more representative Ďweak, yet flavorful tea.í I had devoted time to studying such subjects in my earlier years. That having been saidÖ)

Long Blade:
For anyone who has used an actual sword (one which has been balanced properly and created to be as light as possible given the technologies available), you will know that to swing a sword does, in fact take some strength. However, good swordsmen/women will know that itís not the act of carrying/swinging a sword that dictates the pace and ultimate outcome of a battle, but actually it is the length of the battle that counts. Swords arenít incredibly effective against armour and it takes a long time to properly strike an opponent in one of the five to six areas whereupon the sword can actually penetrate armour. (The leg/arm joints, neck, and visor for the curious masses.) A blunt weapon is much more suited to quick, strength-filled blows. A swordman/woman should conserve their strength and work on their endurance to fight effectively with a sword. Thus, I would suggest that Long Blade be placed under endurance, rather then strength. (However, I would like to note that there are still rapiers and similar weapons under the long-blade skill and while they might use agility/speed more realistically, any battle with armour in play is what Iím giving the most credit to.)

Acrobatics:
Strength makes fine sense if Acrobatics were to simply focus on jumping. But, as we all know, Acrobatics also governs oneís ability to move in the air and reduce falling damage. In this case, Acrobatics is a better candidate for agility. Since this is not often contested, Iíll stop here.

---

Next is Intelligence. Alchemy is fine. I would expect that it takes some ingenuity to work with alchemical materials well and see patterns that emerge. Enchant also falls under Intelligence, as one needs to understand the manipulation of magical items. Security also makes sense (Iím not assigning any skill to luck.) given the number of locks out there and the difficulty in picking them and disarming traps that may each contain a different trigger.

Conjuration:
Going through the possible combinations of skills, I realized that Conjuration just didnít seem to fit the original model Morrowind laid out. (Please note that the last statement is based purely on personal opinion and is open for discussion, but read on for the most minor of changes.) The manual states that, ďThe spell effects of the School of Conjuration include the mental domination of mundane and magical creatures.Ē Interesting, yes? Given that there are only two mental attributes (Intelligence and Willpower), Conjuration seems as though it would fit better under willpower. That having been said, I probably wouldnít have mentioned this particular change if it had not been balanced with the next. That being that Destruction be switched to Intelligence, thereby balancing the two once more.

---

Willpower is our target now and all but one skill makes sense in this category. Alteration governs changes that could be made/governed by concentration. Mysticism is much the same. And Restoration fits, as it requires the user to perform fortification and healing changes to oneís body. (Which can be argued to use a certain amount of Willpower to withstand the changes and perform under new circumstances through choice.)

Destruction:
I cannot think of a single reason as to why this skill was placed under willpower. It seems to belong much more to Intelligence than any other skill. This is based on the pseudo-fact that Destruction spells seem much more liable to be used creatively and/or with less reasoning then might be attributable to Willpower (which seems to condone much less destructive skills as it stands).

Again. The Destruction/Conjuration switch is minor in comparison to others.

---

On to Agility... Sneak makes fine sense given the necessity to control both the movement and sound produced by the sneaking individual. Marksman needs to rely on an ability that favors a steady hand. And block, while debatable for sure, also seems to fit the bill. A successful block requires the precise placement of a shield, not Ė mind you Ė to simply stop a blow (that would be painful!), but to deflect the offending weapon to a favorable angle and avoid damage in that way. Yes, Block fits.

Light Armor:
Light Armor is also a good candidate for Agility. (However, it requires more explanation then can fit above.) While one may argue that endurance (from being hit) should go up, Light Armor is much more of a padding to soften any blows that manage to land on a nimble enough person to choose light armor over any other. (Or perhaps the mage who requires more precise hand movements and choose not to deal with bulkier armors.) While there are some restrictive qualities to Light Armor (those being the common leather-based straps and/or the toughness (i.e. little flexibility) of the material used), a person choosing this defense would need to be agile just to compensate. (True that it could be said about heavier armors as well, but Iíll state it right now: If you wear heavy armor, youíre expecting to be hit!)

---

Speed is another attribute of note. Given that your speed increases with higher Althletics, no problems there. Short Blade is also appropriately placed. Knife fighting can get ugly, but when it comes down to it, the winner is the one that can react fastest with the proper technique. Hand-to-Hand operates much on the same principle. One does not have to be strong or even incredibly agile to win a Hand-to-Hand fight. If you want to get out of the way of an incoming blow, then dodging quickly with Unarmored is the best option.

---

Endurance is our next target here. Medium and Heavy Armor make perfect sense here. The moment a person dons armor of this bulk, theyíre not only expecting to get hit, but their working on those long, armor-clad walks without tiring.

Spear:
Spears are Ė more often then not Ė weapons that requires strength to wield effectively. First off, the total weight of a halberd or long spear that isnít going to break can go up to a ridiculous weight (and thus, itís crucial that theyíre properly balanced). Second, in order to pierce chinks in armor or land an effective blow, strength is necessary for the task. While it is true that endurance is necessary in long battles, itís nowhere near as grueling as a swordfight in full plate. Thus, Spear moves over to Strength (while Long Blade becomes endurance based).

---

Last attribute to cover is Personality. Speechcraft, Mercantile... Duh. (Ok, ok. Let me give some more credit to this. It is true that Intelligence and willpower can govern some aspects of these skills, but again, in keeping with the original feel of the game, not everyone is going to like you enough to care how clever or stubborn you can be. Thus, your personality should be the defining factor here.) Illusion, surprisingly, makes perfect sense here. While it seems odd for a magically ability to be covered by personality when compared to the others, if a character wants to successfully fool an NPC, Iíd argue that they would need to convince the said NPC that the illusion was real (and in some cases, they are).

---

Please do not comment on these changes without reading the reasoning for each change above. I welcome all disagreements, etc. But I kindly ask that you recognize/understand the time spent in making them, the reasoning behind them, and evaluate them with that in mind. Thank you. ^^

What are we left with then? Well, weíve had the following changes:

Spear => Strength
Destruction => Intelligence
Conjuration => Willpower
Acrobatics => Agility
Long Blade => Endurance

Thus, ending our changes with the following list:

  • Strength: Armorer, Blunt Weapon, Axe, and Spear.
  • Intelligence: Alchemy, Enchant, Security, and Destruction.
  • Willpower: Alteration, Mysticism, Restoration, and Conjuration.
  • Agility: Sneak, Light Armor, Marksman, Block, and Acrobatics.
  • Speed: Athletics, Short Blade, Hand-to-Hand, and Unarmoured.
  • Endurance: Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, and Long Blade.
  • Personality: Speechcraft, Mercantile, and Illusion.


The biggest change as far as our formulae are concerned is that Strength has one less skill and Agility has one more. This will slow the progress of the encumbrance formula, but I do not believe it will affect anything else.

Also, as people may have noted, the combat based skills kept the same ratio of Strength/Endurance skills as the original with only two skills falling outside (Block and Athletics). Magical Arts also kept its Intelligence/Willpower ratio with one skill outside (Unarmored). And Security lost one Strength skill (Acrobatics), which turned into an Agility skill.

All of that should make sense considering that (with a mod that potentially provides the option to gain every attribute to itís highest) skills still keep their separate Ďspecializationsí and provide for varied characters across the board.

My only additional change would be one Iíd make myself. Iíd turn the leveling to 4, rather then 3... Itís a long game after all. ^^

So, letís hear some comments! Hopefully the reasons above can lead to some good ideas on partial skill based versions to come. (See the original thread page 8.)

--------------------
Currently working on:
The Less Generic NPC Series website.
The Madd Leveler website.

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Re: Balancing Attributes/Skill Relations [Re: Sederien]
      #2880195 - 08/02/04 06:30 PM

Amazing.

Excellently articulated, well thought out, and skillfully presented. I'm afraid the sheer caliber of your post has daunted too many people from responding.

Let me add my thoughts. First, a minor point. You state in the beginning that Starting Magicka = Intelligence / 2. While this is what the manual says, the actual value is simply Starting Magicka = Intelligence.

Now, for the stats. In order to see what I thought they should be, I made a list of all the skills and assigned stats as I felt, only looking them up in the manual when I was finished. These are the skills that I allocated differently from what the manual assigned:

Strength: None
Intelligence: Destruction
Willpower: Conjuration
Agility: Long Blade, Acrobatics
Speed: Spear, Light Armor
Endurance: Block, Athletics
Personality: None

I agree with you regarding Destruction, Conjuration, and Acrobatics. I differ on the others.

Block - You see this skill as deflecting a blow at the proper angle. While I admit to no personal experience with shield use, what I have read leads me to a different conclusion. Holding a heavy piece of metal to your arm for long periods of time causes a great deal of fatigue. To me, the greatest limit to proper shield use is simply being worn out. Taking a blow on the shield transmits a good deal of kinetic energy to your arm. That shock, suffered over and over and over will wear out any person eventually. Everything I have read indicates that at the end, fighters have trouble just keeping the shield up, let alone "guiding" it in any fashion.

There is not a great deal of variety in moving a shield. Block high, block low, block left or right. To me, fatigue is the real limit on shield use, so I place Endurance here instead of Agility.

Long Blade - You state that you feel Endurance is most important here, as one must last for a long period of time. I think this is incidental. While stamina is useful in a fight, this applies to any weapon use, just as extra strength is useful as well. In your own opinion though, you say that the real skill in using a long blade against an armored opponent is being able to hit key targets. This is what I agree with.

I think the key factor with long blade use is being able to weave your blade past their weapon, under their shield guard, and then pierce the weak joint of their armor. I envision an epee or foil to clarify this. These require Agility.

Spear - I'm undecided here. The game lists Endurance, you say Strength, and I'm leaning towards Speed, or perhaps Agility.

What is a spear? It is, essentially, a dagger on a stick. Short Blades use Speed, and I think the same is true here. You hold the spearin front of you, waiting for the right moment to make a quick thrust. I envision a row of pikemen, holding attackers back. While keeping them from penetrating the line is part of it, you do this by threatening with your jabs. You could apply Str here in order to pierce their armor, or Agi to hit a weak spot, as with Long above, but I think Spd is what works. I'm tentative about it though.

Athletics - When I think of this, I think of aerobics. Doing aerobics requires stamina, nothing else. However, since the manual describes this as running and swimming, I could see Speed here. I'm open to debate.

Light Armor - Another undecided. You state that this skill requires being able to dodge the blows coming, as opposed to enduring them with heavier armors. However, if one must dodge a blow, then one is using the same tactic as Unarmored. Unarmored uses speed in order to move before being hit.

It might be that Light is more about deflecting blows so they don't penetrate by glancing off the armor. In this case I could see Agi. Having no experience here though, I'm open to Agi or Spd.

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Sederien
Acolyte

Reged: 07/16/04
Posts: 118
Re: Balancing Attributes/Skill Relations [Re: ]
      #2881176 - 08/02/04 11:23 PM

Quote:

Excellently articulated, well thought out, and skillfully presented. I'm afraid the sheer caliber of your post has daunted too many people from responding.




Why thank you.

Having read through your comments, Iíd like to extend the same praise. I had not considered a few of the angles that you presented. Also, thank you for the correction in the Starting Magicka formula.

Hereís my comments on the skills you brought up in your post:

Block:
Yes, itís true. I looked at blocking as I might have if a fighter was using a small buckler or round shield. For some reason it had not occurred to me that I was thinking of the least common type of shield in Morrowind! Nonetheless, youíre absolutely correct in this case and I agree with the change. Block should actually be listed under endurance given the points you listed and the types of shields used. I would like to note, however, that there is truely a bit of skill in using a shield effectively no matter the size (Roman tower shields excluded ^^). Specifically, the angle at which a person blocks (tilts the shield on impact) can often lessen the blow to a degree.

Long Blade:
Once again, I concede to your logic given the arguments you made. Considering the wide variety of blades within Morrowind, the facts I previously presented, and the necessary agility to wield any sword with precision and fluid motion, Agility does seem to be a better fit for Long Blade.

Spear:
You bring up some good points where the spear is concerned. Itís true that spears are used as pure thrusting weapons and could therefore be a candidate for Speed. However, spears are generally used as thrusting weapons in a limited capacity Ė when facing a charging person on horseback, when in a large group of spearmen/women whereupon enemy mobility can be cut, and in narrow spaces. Outside of those situations, it is usually a better option to use a spear much in the same way a bo staff or quarterstaff is used. Swinging a spear is necessary to keep single or multiple opponents at a comfortable distance. Thrusts can too often miss allowing a well-trained opponent to charge straight in as your spear tip remains past their body (missing under their arm with a sidestep, etc.). I would also like to bring up the wide variety of weapons that have been classified generally under the term spear within Morrowind. Halberds, for example, are also used in the game as spears and those are used as noted above and require just as much strength to swing in an arc. Thus, in this case (should no other argument be presented), Iím going to leave Spear under Strength in my book at least.

Athletics:
Yes, Athletics could be used as an endurance-based skill. This one is based more heavily on personal opinion. I have it listed as speed for two reasons. The first being that (as stated before) your speed increases with increased athletics. This seems to suggest that the character is using any additional strength/endurance to boost their top speed and not the overall time one can run (I look at it as an anaerobic sprint rather then a jog). The second is not a valid point but more of a side note. I use the Falling Down v2.01 mod which makes fatigue a much more important attribute. Thus, short sprints are all my character is capable of in any case.

Light Armor:
This particular skill was in fact the hardest skill to place as it could be argued for Speed, Agility, or Endurance. While I am comfortable with having eliminated the endurance option, as you stated, speed or agility are still possibilities. In this particular case I leaned towards balancing the number of skills set to each attribute and tried to give the formulas Bethesda made the benefit of the doubt. I do like the alternate explanation you provided for Light Armor under Agility and I believe Iíll stick with that for the time being. Surely, more could be discussed on this topic.

---

The new changes to my list (at least) are:

Block => Endurance
Long Blade => Agility

Thus, leaving me with the following list:

  • Strength: Armorer, Blunt Weapon, Axe, and Spear.
  • Intelligence: Alchemy, Enchant, Security, and Destruction.
  • Willpower: Alteration, Mysticism, Restoration, and Conjuration.
  • Agility: Sneak, Light Armor, Marksman, Long Blade, and Acrobatics.
  • Speed: Athletics, Short Blade, Hand-to-Hand, and Unarmoured.
  • Endurance: Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, and Block.
  • Personality: Speechcraft, Mercantile, and Illusion.


---

Ultimately, however, the actual balancing of these skills is not in any way to 'correct' or otherwise disagree with Bethesda's own placement. I do trust that their designers worked hard to create the system and had their reasons for each linking. It should also be noted that with the exception of some minor formula balancing, the actual placement of these skills has much more to do with a sense of realism in the world then it does pure stats in an RPG.

--------------------
Currently working on:
The Less Generic NPC Series website.
The Madd Leveler website.

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Biges
Novice

Reged: 07/21/04
Posts: 40
Re: [WIP] A Simple Leveling Mod Balancing Act (Co-Thread) [Re: Sederien]
      #2954610 - 08/21/04 02:12 PM

I agree that long blade should be governed by agility, thus I'v made changes to my economy mod Thanks for the idea.

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