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> How would you make guilds work?
korexus
post Mar 13 2019, 09:00 PM
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As some of you will have seen, I'm on and off making an online RPG, inspired by Mordor.

I'm currently looking at the guild system, and am trying to decide the best way to implement it. I'm not reaching any real conclusions, so I thought I'd try a bit of crowdsourcing for inspiration!


There are some things I like about Mordor's guild system:
* Different guilds give different strengths at different stages of the game. - This is a lot more flexible than a traditional class system, where each class needs to be viable throughout the game.
* A player can join multiple guilds. - Multiclass characters exist in other games, but again the flexibility of Making a fighter with enough thief to cast charm of opening, then adding some spell damage later is great.
* Guilds have different requirements to join. - Sure, you want to join the wizards guild to get your hands on some spells, but you can't. You're too stupid. Next!

There are some things I'm less keen on:
* The way stats from different guilds are combined is not intuitive. However, I think this may be a bug, rather than a design choice.
* The order that you go advance levels matters. - There shouldn't be an optimal leveling route for HP. A player with the same guild stats has learned the same things. It may be faster one way than another, as skills from X help level up Y, but you should get to the same point.
* Apart from time, there's nothing to stop you maxing out all guilds (that are available to your race and alignment).

This last point is quite a big one for me. I like the idea that anyone can pick some magic, but it also seems reasonable that you won't get to archmage status if you're also training as a warrior.


The model I have at the moment has more guilds than Mordor, but with some of them only becoming available after you've progressed in another. (For example, there are base guilds of nomad, fighter, rogue and adept; only adepts can join the mage or cleric guilds; only mages can join the sorceror, wizard and illusionist guilds.) The earlier guilds can teach more things, to a lower level, higher tier guilds specialise. (Adepts can learn any spell book up to spell level 5; Mages learn Fire, Cold, Electicity, etc. while Clerics learn Heal, Banish, Resist, etc. up to spell level 15; later guilds specialise further.)

Combined with this, I've taken out the automatic advancement when leveling up, and replaced it with gaining skill points, which can be spent to learn any of the skills taught by any of the guilds you are a member of. This allows you to tune your character much more precisely, by focussing solely on backstab if that is what you want, instead of having to level up a guild that gives backstab but has high EXP costs because it also teaches other things.

Finally, to discourage people from joining every guild, I've replaced the joining fee with an ongoing cost. Every base level guild will take 1% of your earnings in perpetuity, every second tier guild will take 2%, etc. With the guilds I've currently defined, that will result in 99% of your gained gold going to the guild tax if you join every one of them. (I did wonder about making some guilds unavailable after you've joined others, but that seemed too harsh.)


As you can probably tell, this is a system I've put a fair amount of thought into, but I'm still not very happy with it. It models fairly closely what I want to happen, but is complicated to describe and doesn't feel particularly true to life (whatever that means in a game where you can learn to case fireball). Hence this post. - What would you want in a guild system? Starting from a baseline of Mordor, what would you keep, what would you get rid of, and what would you add?


Answers on a postcard please!

korexus.
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Mordion
post Mar 14 2019, 12:38 AM
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Here's some questions to ponder...

  • Why even have guilds/classes? Why not one big round skill tree (where you start in the center) that's impossible/impractical to develop in opposite directions.
  • Do you want a limit on how powerful a character can get? Modor has limits before lvl 999 in every guild. There's max extra swings and max att/def. Also you mention time being a limit. Mordor has a second time limit... how much you can level before your character dies of old age.
  • Do you want this limit to be obvious like a level cap or somewhat hidden like Mordor?
  • What is the optimum number of guilds to join and what are the game mechanics to encourage this?
  • Do you want to encourage investment in one character/party or do you want the player to have different characters for different roles? (and how can you use the guild system to encourage this.)
  • Similarly, do you want a Swiss army knife character to be viable? What about a craft hammer? (It can hammer and pull small nails and there's a crappy screwdriver hidden in the handle.)



Here are some games to study:

Magic the Gathering has an effective system for limiting "multi classing" via resources. Having a 3 color deck is impractical without a large number of dual lands. If you try more than three you'll be resource strapped and ineffective but there's nothing actually stopping you.

Diablo 2's class/skill tree system encouraged you to make a number of specialty build characters.

Path of Exile has a mega skill tree. Your "class" is where you start.

Original World of Warcraft didn't give you enough skill points to max two trees. You could spend your 50 skill points 40/10 to get an ultimate skill or 25/25 and have an interesting hybrid build.
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korexus
post Mar 14 2019, 08:47 PM
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Thanks Mordion.

Why even have guilds/classes?
It's reasonable that you need to go somewhere to learn a skill, and the concept of a guild is appropriate to the fantasy setting. It also allows for some common skills to be taught (at least to some level) along many or all paths, so different variations are more likely to be viable.

Why not one big round skill tree?
One of the diagrams I've drawn actually looks quite a bit like this. Still using guilds, but with multiple pre-requisites for some of them (so a paladin must have levels in warrior and cleric, for example) This allows for a nice single / dual class approach, and it would be possible to block access to some guilds after others have been joined (no paladin thieves for example). It does work, but was even more complicated, which is why I scaled back a bit.

Do you want a limit on how powerful a character can get? / Do you want this limit to be obvious?
I think really I want to model it as becoming harder to advance a high skill. - If it's twice as hard to add every point in <insert skill here> many people will pick up a bit, some people will focus enough on it to be good at it, but only a few will be masters. So no hard limit, but a practical point at which it stops being worthwhile improving a skill.

What is the optimum number of guilds to join?
I don't know, and I don't really want there to be an obvious best choice. I'd like several different strategies to be viable to make playing new characters interesting.

Do you want to encourage investment in one character/party
My play style tends to focus around a single character, so I'll definitely be supporting that. But I do allow people to make and play multiple characters (one at a time, parties are made up of multiple players with one character each.)
If someone has the time to make a warrior character and a mage character and to play them both, I have no issue with that, but I'd expect people to have one primary character at any given time.

Do you want a Swiss army knife character to be viable? What about a craft hammer?
Both, but therein lies the rub. If the Swiss Army Knife is almost as good as the craft hammer at craft hammer things, and has other capabilities, no one will pick the craft hammer. A Jack of all trades is a fine character choice, especially for a solo character. A dedicated <class choice> should also be viable, perhaps relying a bit on working within a group for missing skills, but outshining Jack in the specialised area.


Hmm, so it sounds like I'm actually concerned about many skills getting to high. Perhaps if the cost to advance any skill was somewhat increased by the total skills already learned, not just the level of the skill to advance. That could work, and is justifiable as a mechanic, as it's hard to know lots of information about lots of things.


Magic the Gathering
Is a bit far removed from what I'm doing. - You have to make a deck with a limited number of cards, which is why balancing resources is hard. Unless I randomly restrict which skills the player can "remember" how to use it would be hard to implement the same sort of limitations.

Diablo 2 / Path of Exile
I'd rather stick with the guild system than a true skill tree. I'm not convinced many of the skills I have really have a pre-requisite, but it's easy enough to apply pre-requisites to guilds, and use that to stop a skill being levelled further.

Original World of Warcraft
This is sort of what I'm aiming at, but in a system with many more paths you can go down, and no real limit to the total skill points you can obtain.


Thanks for the thoughts, it's certainly helped me refine my current model, but I still can't help feeling like I'm missing a simpler system...

korexus.
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Mordion
post Mar 15 2019, 03:30 AM
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What if XP requirements for the next level in the current guild are based on your combined guild levels?
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Technomancer
post Mar 15 2019, 03:56 AM
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I'm not sure if it would accomplish what you're looking for, but a super simple solution is, instead of having each guild be able to reach max level, you have a max TOTAL character level (say 999, keeping with Mordor tradition). Each guild gets a piece of that 999, but all added together can never go above that. You could take one guild to 999, 2 guilds to 500/499, 3 guilds to 333/333/333, 8 guilds to 500/200/100/100/50/25/20/4, etc.

At that rate, you could set breakpoints/max effective levels for guilds, like 250, 334, 500, etc. This way, no single character can have 250 level ability with more than 3 guild, or no more than 2 with 334 level ability, or no more than 1 guild with 500 level ability. You could even have a special easter egg or special boost at 999 for each guild, but only as a chase goal for the most dedicated diehards. All those numbers could be scaled down to 1-99 of course.
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korexus
post Mar 16 2019, 10:21 PM
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QUOTE (Mordion @ Mar 15 2019, 03:30 AM) *
What if XP requirements for the next level in the current guild are based on your combined guild levels?


I'm liking this more and more. Although I think I'll swap it around a bit.

The cost to advance can remain constant (which will make life easier for users knowing what their target is) but the rate at which XP is accumulated will drop off based on how many guilds you're in.

Come to think of it, I have a feeling Mordor does something similar to this. DA was quite good at this game design stuff cool.gif


The more general question is still open though. What do people like and dislike about Mordor's guild system? I'd hate to spend time reproducing something everyone hates! (Questmaster?)


korexus.
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Mordion
post Mar 17 2019, 12:05 AM
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QUOTE (korexus @ Mar 16 2019, 06:21 PM) *
Come to think of it, I have a feeling Mordor does something similar to this. DA was quite good at this game design stuff cool.gif


Demise does this but I can't remember if M2 does. Mordor doesn't. One 'bug' in Demise's implementation is that it calculates total XP needed for the next level vs total accumulated in current guild. So when you gain a number of levels in a second guild, instead of increasing the cost of the next level in the original guild by, say, 10% it increases the cost of the next level and all previously earned levels by 10% putting you in what they call "XP Debt".
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Roland
post Mar 18 2019, 01:49 AM
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Since you asked about the Questmaster . . . I think quests should be retained, but there should be a couple of restrictions to keep the Questmaster from abusing his power:

1. He should not be able to quest you two levels in a row.
2. He should not be able to quest you for a monster or an item that is not yet listed in the library.

More generally, I don't think the archetypal guilds make as much sense in Mordor as they did in Avatar. In Avatar, a character can access the abilities of only one guild at a time - e.g., he can't cast Charm of Opening or Leprosy while leveling in Warrior. Therefore, an Avatar character levels in only one guild after reaching level 30 in Nomad. This is designed to encourage/necessitate cooperation with other players. But Mordor players have found that the ability to multi-class makes some guilds are fairly useless. There is little reason to level in Scavenger if you can level in Warrior and Thief. An Osiri might level in Scavenger just for the extra swing, but the fact that he has to expend so much effort for one skill is a sign of bad design. If a character can access the skills of multiple guilds, I think each guild should teach a tight cluster of related skills, making for less overlap between guild profiles.
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BLauritson
post Mar 18 2019, 09:41 AM
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I must say I like all of the ideas presented thus far, and Roland's thoughts on the Questmaster have got me thinking.

Currently the Questmaster presents challenges where there is no extra reward for success (only the ability to do something you would have done anyway without the quest - level up) and a penalty for failure. Why not turn this around?

Quests in most RPGs offer rewards for their success, so why not re-design the Questmaster such that completing the quest is optional, but if you do achieve it within that level then you get some sort of reward for it? Whether it's a material reward such as gold or perhaps an EXP-boost towards your next level? The quest could only be valid until levelling up so that if you do complete it in time then you win the reward, but if you try to level up without completing the quest then you simply forfeit the reward as though the quest was never assigned in the first place.

There's no denying the Questmaster in Mordor can be a nasty inconvenience at times but I think there's no reason why it couldn't be changed into a positive occurrence instead, if you did choose to retain that feature.


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korexus
post Mar 18 2019, 08:53 PM
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QUOTE (Roland @ Mar 18 2019, 01:49 AM) *
More generally, I don't think the archetypal guilds make as much sense in Mordor as they did in Avatar. In Avatar, a character can access the abilities of only one guild at a time - e.g., he can't cast Charm of Opening or Leprosy while leveling in Warrior. Therefore, an Avatar character levels in only one guild after reaching level 30 in Nomad. This is designed to encourage/necessitate cooperation with other players. But Mordor players have found that the ability to multi-class makes some guilds are fairly useless. There is little reason to level in Scavenger if you can level in Warrior and Thief. An Osiri might level in Scavenger just for the extra swing, but the fact that he has to expend so much effort for one skill is a sign of bad design. If a character can access the skills of multiple guilds, I think each guild should teach a tight cluster of related skills, making for less overlap between guild profiles.


I've come across that one-class at a time restriction elsewhere, and I've never really got on with it. It just doesn't seem to make sense that I can learn some skills, then be unable to use them. In some very specific cases it might make sense (I am training as a cleric, my order forbids the use of non-clerical magic, so I can't cast spells that I haven't learned through the cleric guild) but in general it seems a bit silly. I know how to disarm that trap, but I'm going to blow it up in my face, because currently I'm learning to be a warrior. - Yes, perhaps the warrior's equipment makes disarming traps harder, but then put the penalty on the equipment, not the class.

On the other hand, you're right that having some guilds that offer nothing to almost any character is also bad. I'm trying to make each guild the best in at least one skill, while also providing a handful of other skills. I have a spreadsheet dedicated to breaking this one down!



QUOTE (BLauritson @ Mar 18 2019, 09:41 AM) *
Quests in most RPGs offer rewards for their success, so why not re-design the Questmaster such that completing the quest is optional, but if you do achieve it within that level then you get some sort of reward for it? Whether it's a material reward such as gold or perhaps an EXP-boost towards your next level? The quest could only be valid until levelling up so that if you do complete it in time then you win the reward, but if you try to level up without completing the quest then you simply forfeit the reward as though the quest was never assigned in the first place.


I've got something a little bit like that in my Town Hall.

https://pasteboard.co/I62quCW.png

Basically, when a monster kills a player, That monster becomes "deadly". - It gets its own name, and a bounty is placed on it. The higher the level of the monster, and the more players it has killed, the bigger the bounty.
Currently completing the quest is entirely optional, and not related to levelling up, but if guilds were offering the bounties instead, this could tie in to your suggestion quite neatly.

Of course, these are quests to kill a specific monster, not any instance of one, but you do also get told where it is. As an optional quest, that seems fair.

It wouldn't be hard to extend this idea to replacing stolen / destroyed items too, once I've implemented those mechanics...



Thanks,
korexus.
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Danjen
post Mar 21 2019, 05:04 PM
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Depending on your tastes, I think it's a good idea to have different XP rates. A lot of mechanics in Mordor feel like they're loosely based off AD&D 2e, which I love. For example, in that ruleset, you could only get +1/+2 bonus HP from having high CON, unless you were a Fighter. If you had 16+ in your primary stat for a class, you'd get a 10% experience boost. Fighters and Rogues had low experience requirements, while casters had a much higher requirement. This made classes uneven, and some better and some worse at different points in the game (eg Fighter was strong early but would taper off without spell support eg haste, while Wizards would shine midgame when they start to get Level 3 spells, and the party's total damage per round would be maximized by buffing the physical classes).

It also makes solo play more interesting. smile.gif

QUOTE (Roland @ Mar 17 2019, 09:49 PM) *
Since you asked about the Questmaster . . . I think quests should be retained, but there should be a couple of restrictions to keep the Questmaster from abusing his power:

1. He should not be able to quest you two levels in a row.
2. He should not be able to quest you for a monster or an item that is not yet listed in the library.


I think the QM should assign stuff that can be found on the deepest floor the character is on; maybe 10% of the time have it be 1 floor deeper, regardless if it's been discovered or not. By having him randomly give you a thing you've never heard of, you get those "That exists?!" moments, which you don't see as much of in games these days (mostly due to the prevalence of YT and wikis)
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Roland
post Mar 21 2019, 10:49 PM
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QUOTE (Danjen @ Mar 21 2019, 01:04 PM) *
I think the QM should assign stuff that can be found on the deepest floor the character is on; maybe 10% of the time have it be 1 floor deeper, regardless if it's been discovered or not. By having him randomly give you a thing you've never heard of, you get those "That exists?!" moments, which you don't see as much of in games these days (mostly due to the prevalence of YT and wikis)

If a monster has never been logged in the library, how woud the Questmaster even know that such a thing exists? If he does know about a monster, the guild should require him to share that knowledge with the librarian.
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korexus
post Mar 22 2019, 09:44 PM
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QUOTE (Roland @ Mar 21 2019, 10:49 PM) *
If a monster has never been logged in the library, how woud the Questmaster even know that such a thing exists? If he does know about a monster, the guild should require him to share that knowledge with the librarian.


Perhaps there are legends of monsters and items? If it didn't happen too often, that could make for quite an interesting quest: "Go out and find a dragon that is more dangerous than a pelagon".
The monsters are arranged in families, so any of the undiscovered monsters from the appropriate group could count for completing the quest.

Alternatively, the library could have partial information and the quest could be to fill in the gaps.
For monsters that would mean finding the monster and interacting with it enough to increase the ID level.
For items, if the library were only updated with what a guild member has personally carried, then the quest could be to own a fully identified <item> which is currently only partially identified in the library.

For my game I'd have to figure out how that interacts with the multi-tennanted nature, so I probably won't go down that route, but it's a nice idea!


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Roland
post Jul 10 2019, 06:33 PM
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A suggestion for a new spell for thieving guilds: In addition to Charm of Opening, which simply unlocks boxes, you could add a high-level spell, Disarm Trap. It should be costly enough that a Thief can't cast it on every trap, but it should be available for use on, say, a box from a level-15 encounter with a slime or teleport trap. This spell would make a nice artifact or wand for rogues.

Avatar appears to have added this sort of spell at some point after DA cloned the Avatar data for Mordor.
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