One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is our skill system.
In designing our skill system, we wanted to afford our players as much freedom as we could. We want our players to be able to be anything they want, from traditional and familiar concepts like devout priests and sword wielding warriors to completely out there concepts like idol worshiping architects and radioactive gunslingers. The best way we could figure to do this was by creating a classless system, a system where players choose individual skills rather than a class or entire skill sets.
Of course, this comes with its own problems, primarily in balancing the range of motion that is afforded to characters in such systems. To combat this, we created a system based, in part, on collectible card games: Every skill belongs to a skillset and every skillset belongs to a model; players use ‘skill points’ to select individual skills from any skillset or model.
Skillsets are a collection of skills united under a central theme, and every skillset contains a number of skills that total 2500 skill points. Our initial plan is to have 35 skillsets, total, at launch. A few of the skillsets that we have designed already are:
- Enslavement (control model): Focuses on making your enemies subservient, forcing them to bend to your will, and ultimately causing them to die if forced to live without you.
- Chemistry (denial model): Focuses on synthesizing various compounds and using them to afflict and desensitize enemies, culminating in the tailoring of a compound that eats the enemy from the inside out.
- Transcendentalism (resilience model): Focuses on boosting mental ability and transforming physical damage into mental damage.
- Butchery (trauma model): Focuses on using small bladed weapons like cleavers, hatchets and straight razors to cause bleeding damage and damage to the extremities, with the ultimate goal of completely eviscerating their victim.
- Triage (vigor model): Focuses on quick and dirty battlefield solutions to afflictions and damage, using things like maggots to clean wounds and stop excessive bleeding.
Models are a collection of skillsets united by a few core mechanical concepts. The five models are:
- Control: Focus on crowd control, forcing enemies to do things and hindering
- Denial: Focus on dealing out afflictions and limiting the number of decisions enemies can make
- Resilience: Focus on preventing damage, raising armor values and avoiding attacks
- Trauma: Focus on dealing raw health damage and damage to the limbs of enemies
- Vigor: Focus on healing health and afflictions and on regenerating lost resources
How this all works together is where the system gets interesting. If we allowed players to take any skill, from any skillset or model without penalty we would quickly run into balance issues. To resolve this, every skill has a ‘base balance’ cost and a ‘base resource’ cost.
The base balance cost of a skill is a fairly high value, somewhere around 6 to 8 seconds on average. The balance cost of a skill, for a particular user, is modified by the number of skill points that they have invested into that skill’s model.
For example, let’s say a player has spent 400 skill points to take the skill ‘Indoctrinate’ from the Hieromancy skillset, which is in the control model. Let’s also say the player has spent no other points on control model skills. This means that the base balance cost for the player to use the Indoctrinate skill will hardly be modified at all. In this instance, using the skill would take around 7 seconds of balance.
Now, let’s say another player takes the same skill, however, they have spent an additional 3500 points on control model skills. In their case, the base balance cost of using Indoctrinate would be highly reduced, resulting in the skill taking roughly 3.5 to 4s of balance.
The system works similarly for skillsets, except instead of reducing the base balance, it reduces the base cost, whether that cost be mind, health, psyche, potential, commodities or anything. Therefore, using a skill when you have taken an additional number of skills from its skillset results in those skills costing less to use.
Players, in creating their builds, must essentially balance the benefits of having a lot of different types of skills with the cost of using those skills. If they spend too wildly, they may find themselves ineffective because they are too slow, or because their skills expend too many resources.
Ultimately, in this way, players are allowed to take any skills they choose but are strongly – and mechanically – encouraged to create a thematic and unified build. We plan to balance the system itself around providing equal benefits to keeping your build consistent and within a few skillsets, while also allowing for ‘Swiss army’-type players who like to spread their points around many skillsets, ensuring they have an answer to every situation that may arise.