Balance Review

Hi all,

Among the staff, we’ve been reviewing game balance.

Game balance is an interesting beast. There’s always a healthy tension between variety of options and balance between those options. All of us are fans of the freedom and variety in our current system, and have no desire to curtail it. However, there are a couple of specific challenges.

The first challenge is posed by using a D20 based engine. When attack rolls are based around a D20, there is a very big difference between, say, an AC 10 points higher than AB, and an AB 10 points higher than AC. Gaining 20 points of AC puts you in a whole different tier of power, where the people a tier below basically can’t hurt you.

The second challenge is posed by the significant impact of gear. Very approximately (and depending a bit on the stat), the difference between “no gear” and “top quality gear” is somewhere between 120% and 200% of the difference between a character at skill level 0 and one at skill level 500. In other words, your gear is currently more impactful than your skills, in some areas significantly so. That actually reduces variety - it means your build is less important, because you can use gear to essentially replace (almost) any skill you didn’t pick up.

The combination of these two things makes the most powerful characters on the server significantly more powerful than the rest. My own character is an example; with an AC over 70, an AB over 80, HP over 550, 7 attacks per round and 40-50 damage per hit, he could take on most other characters in the server simultaneously and be confident of winning. There are a couple of other characters at a similar power level. Even as someone benefiting from this, I recognise it as excessive!

Impactful gear is a good thing - certainly, we don’t want to end up in a situation where gear is boring and does very little. However, we don’t want it replacing skills either. Our ideal is that the effect of gear on your build should be something like 50% of the effect of your skills - so a 500SP character with top gear would get about 2/3 of their effectiveness from skills and 1/3 from gear - rather than the other way around like today.

We’re also well aware that several players have invested a lot of time and effort to get great gear. We don’t want to take gear away.

So what are we planning? While not final - the purpose of this announcement is to get feedback! - we’re looking at doing the following.

  • Halve the rate of ability gain from skill points. (This would apply immediately to all characters).
  • Divide AC and ability bonuses by 3 before applying item bonuses to PCs.
  • Divide +HP and +FP by 2 before applying item bonuses to PCs.
  • Restrict AC to shields, armor and helmets only. Discount it on other items.
  • Restrict BAB to weapons only. Discount it on other items.
  • Adjust (reduce) max caps for mods for BAB and AC.
  • Update item examine descriptions to make these changes more self explanatory.
  • Make regen (HP & FP) happen 4x as often - every 30s not every 2m.

The purpose of most of these is to bring more people within the “magic 20” range of each other, i.e. to the point where they have a >5% chance of hitting or being hit by encounters and other PCs.

Currently, it’s possible to get an AB in the 90 range and an AC in the region of 105. This takes the best gear, which is available to very few people. Even getting within 20 points of these numbers is difficult, meaning that the most powerful characters on the server are basically threatened only by each other. (There are maybe 3 characters in that bracket right now).

Post changes, AC should cap out around 65-70 for a focused character with the best gear, with AB in the 50-60 range. This is still going to be strong and difficult to match - but differences in equipment will now not be auto-wins.

As an example, take the best item I’ve made thus far, which gives +44 to Dexterity. Post changes, it will give +14 to Dexterity. The bonus changes from +22 to +7. Under the old system, that one item is enough to raise someone by an entire tier - making them nearly unhittable to someone whose gear and build is otherwise identical, and ensuring that they hit with every attack. In a 3 on 1 scenario, that item alone means that the player with it will be able to brush off their attackers. Post changes, it changes the odds by about 35% in each direction - 7/20. Hitting 35% more often (and being hit 35% less often!) is still a very significant edge - but in the 3 on 1 situation the odds are still with the greater numbers. One item is no longer enough to make you god tier.

The most powerful characters are still going to be well above newer characters (equip 3 items of the quality of the above, and you’ve gained a tier) - but 500 SP characters with average level gear will, in groups, at least be able to pose a threat to the top level characters. We’ll still have characters who can overcome squads of enemies - fittingly, for a Star Wars server - but you won’t need to have several top tier items just to be relevant at the top levels of the game.

At least - that is the intent. Discussion and feedback is welcome - please use the #theorycrafting channel on Discord for discussion.