Weapon Balancing

Do you have suggestions? Questions? Are there mechanical or balance problems?

Weapon Balancing

Postby TheMatt » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:04 am

Playing around with the weapons tester.
Crossbow speed should be VS, not fast, yes?
Rather than putting 'none' on parry for the 'shot' weapons, can they have a brutally poor parry? At some point, everyone *tries* to parry with them. I don't have a number for them, so right now they are lumped in with 'Parry +0' weapons.

So, you know what's pretty great?
Yep. The Great-axe. Greatsword is pretty great too.

List 1 weapons goes something like this:
Av_Dmg/Rnd Name
14.51 Greataxe
13.70 Maul
13.23 Spear (two handed)
12.67 Morningstar
12.29 Mace
12.28 Greatsword
12.22 Staff
11.87 Scythe
11.85 Hatchet
11.44 Spear (one handed)
11.30 Longsword (two handed)
11.30 Battleaxe
10.94 Shortbow
10.60 Bow
10.04 Club
10.04 Broadsword
9.72 Longsword (one handed
9.36 Sabre
8.42 Gladius
8.03 Staff (quarterstaff grip)
8.03 Spear (quarterstaff grip)
8.03 Gauntlets
7.77 Heavy Shield
7.73 Unarmed
7.28 Main Gauche
7.03 Advanced Unarmed
6.79 Crossbow
6.64 Shield
6.37 Rapier
6.37 Javelin
6.37 Dagger

Of Course, they all have different parries, which changes the order substantially.
For LIST 1

-2 is a small class, with only 2.
12.67 Morningstar
12.29 Mace

-1 is larger.
14.51 Greataxe
13.70 Maul
13.23 Spear (two handed)
12.22 Staff
11.87 Scythe
11.85 Hatchet
11.44 Spear (one handed)
11.30 Battleaxe

0 About the same
12.28 Greatsword
11.30 Longsword (two handed)
10.94 Shortbow
10.60 Bow
10.04 Club
9.72 Longsword (one handed
8.03 Gauntlets
7.73 Unarmed
7.03 Advanced Unarmed
6.79 Crossbow
6.37 Javelin

If you need that +1, best in class....
10.04 Broadsword
9.36 Sabre
8.42 Gladius
8.03 Staff (quarterstaff grip)
8.03 Spear (quarterstaff grip)
7.28 Main Gauche
6.37 Rapier
6.37 Dagger
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby TheMatt » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:08 am

List2 and the parry class...

13.05 Halberd (axe) -1
11.26 Nunchaku (two handed) -1
11.26 Nunchaku (one handed) -1
11.26 Chain -1
11.07 Halberd (spear -1
10.94 Rope Dart -1
10.94 Kusarigama Chain -1
10.63 Light Mace -1
7.17 Scourge -1
7.04 Whip -1
14.60 Longbow 0
12.67 Sansetsukon (long grip) 0
12.16 Pike 0
12.11 Kusarigama Sickle 0
11.87 Nagamaki 0
11.85 Glaive 0
11.26 Sansetsukon (close grip) 0
10.38 Falchion 0
9.42 Sickle 0
9.36 Assegai 0
8.64 Charkram 0
8.58 Ballista 0
8.21 Fan 0
7.71 Heavy Crossbow 0
6.37 Shuriken 0
5.40 Bladed Bracer 0
5.16 Hand Crossbow 0
5.01 Repeating Crossbow 0
11.44 Katana (two handed 1
10.33 Doublesword 1
10.04 Armblade 1
10.03 Light Shield 1
9.72 Katana (one handed 1
8.53 Heavy Gauntlets 1
8.05 Sai 1
8.03 Tonfa 1
7.60 Cane 1
6.37 Claw 1
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby Maugh » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:41 am

Crossbow is tricky. Should be relatively quick to fire, very slow to reload, if you think just about the mechanics of how it works. Somehow that got reversed for the first printing of the book, which is annoying. Should probably be fixed.

Heh. I know you emailed me about the weapon testing spreadsheet, those things are a beast. I don't have it with me and would have to dig it up in the storage hard drive, but I do have it somewhere. Just need to take the time to do it. I'll try to get to that tonight.

The process, if I remember it, was a mite complicated, but we were able to take into account parry scores, which takes that maul and greataxe and knocks them way down the list, while bumping up the daggers and sabres and such considerably. Lets see if I can remember the exact process.


Average hits multiplied by damage:
First I took the dice probabilities for every combination of die roll versus die roll. I think the standard was d8 versus d8, or maybe d12 vs d12, but either way, ironing out what was the chance of each of those hits. Multiplying that by the average base damage (4.5 for d8, 9 for 2d8, etc.) Got the average damage per hit.

Factoring Crits:
By using the die versus die probabilities for every combination, we also could get the margins by which something hit, and int dividing that to the crit value for the weapon, determine % chance for crits (amps) it would get. Multiplying that for the crit die damage would give the average crit damage, which was added to the average damage per hit.

Factoring Speed;
This one is easy. Multiply the average damage by the number of swings per round, to adjust for speed. Crossbows can be balanced by including reload speed in that.

Factoring Opposed Parry:
I would repeat that process five times, adjusting the probability table as though swinging against someone with a -2, -1, 0, +1 and +2 parry modifier, getting five average damage values against a variety of oppositions. This is a little useful in and of itself, but gets more useful in the next step:

Weapon by Weapon Comparison: (factoring all parry modifiers and getting a relative list)
By choosing two weapons and comparing how they perform against each other's parry modifier, subtracting the average damage of the higher from the lower, you can see relative weapon strength. By repeating this calculation across the whole weapon list, and taking an average, you can see how it fares relative to every other weapon.

Since all of those other weapons are going up against the tested weapon's parry modifier to get that difference, you're effectively including the parry modifier in the balance of the weapons. A big convoluted, but by repeating this whole process for every weapon against every other weapon, it gets a nicely stacked list of effective strength. Sorting that list gives a nice hierarchy for the whole list.

That's best I remember. I'll pass you the list that I had, when I get the chance.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby TheMatt » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:20 pm

Crossbow is pretty simple. You just add the sum of it's two speed scores, before multiplying.

'Mite complicated' is well put. So many things it's easy for forget. Took 10 hours to code one up.

d12 vs d12 alone won't do it. The distribution of hits is very different for d16 vs. d16 than for d12 vs. d12.

Your capping crits at 2 changes damage performance a very large amount.

Running weapon damage vs. a different set of parries is not something I had thought of. Be a pain to set up a 'dynamic' version of that. Plus I'd like to be able to add parries beyond -2.

How did you do missile weapons? Sorted them out into their own list, and balanced them there? I'd rather have an explicit list of parry penalties.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby TheMatt » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:24 pm

Was thinking on how things should operate. Specifically, bows. Hit pattern kind of binary--either a hit, with horrific damage, or a miss. Poorly reflected by an amp. Should be big damage (5d6), fat penalty to hit, and crappy amp.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby Maugh » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:59 pm

I've got a few monkey wrenches to throw in for you, and may be some aid.

Non-parry weapons & Ranged weapons
Ranged attacks really shouldn't be too much different than regular weapons. If anything, giving them too much of a penalty in power makes them useless. There are PLENTY of ways to move around in this game. (possibly too many.) which means that if their damage is too much less than Melee, people will ignore them.

Stuff that can't parry, (bows & crossbows,) I just gave a -2 penalty to parry, to simulate the elusive ability, then tried to make sure then ended up on the 'low average' range of the scale. Seems to have worked pretty well. Bows do solid damage, (balanced relative to the low parry, it actually spikes their damage,) but don't hit quite as hard as the rockstar weapons like the maul or the katana. still viable, certainly, and the players that can hit from a distance, (fliers, commonly,) feel pretty smug about being well out of harm's way and still raining death.

On a similar note, tracking for more than a -2 penalty doesn't make a lot of sense to me, just because anything with less than a -3 penalty would likely get ignored in favor of taking the Elusive ability and just dodging instead.

Crits vs Amps
I'm not sure I ever balanced for the crit cap. By that point my level of crazy obsession may have waned, or at least re-directed (art?) I would be very interested in seeing the difference, but the idea of diving into that again makes me twitch a little.

Also. There are several weapons, such as the dagger and the lightsword categories of weapons, that we added an upper tier weapon tech that extends the crit cap to 4x instead of 2 when using the backstab or lunge abilities respectively. Requires specific setup, but makes for some fun tricks for those weapons specifically.

D16's and other bonuses
Also, The range for d16's would be interesting to run. Didn't ever do that. I imagine this provides a little more advantage to heavier weapons. I have players these days that lament the inability of the 6/12 crit weapons to ever really crit. Really, when they're swinging 3d8 damage weapons, they don't need the crits much. d16 vs d16 makes that more likely. On the other hand, working uphill, (d8 vs d16,) balances the other way, heavily favoring weapons with a bonus to hit and lower crit ranges.

Extending additional bonuses, like Whelm and Technique bonuses, also changes the ranges for attacks. Offensive bonuses are much easier to come by than defensive ones, which makes for some big hits, and probably skews the numbers as well, when people play it smart. ultimately, total bonuses can get as high as +10. (+2 equipment, +4 technique, +4 circumstance.) That's getting a little ridiculous, but players have pulled it off before.

There was something else, but it's gone now. Lost in brief memory lapse.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby Maugh » Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:20 am

Also, just emailed you the last tester I could dig up. Too big to post here.

Sheets 1, 2 and 3. Looking at it makes my head hurt a little bit. This kind of a pursuit is pretty insane. Also makes me a little proud. They likely don't make sense just looking at them, though. it would probably require a little explanation. Too many colors and numbers splattered about haphazardly.

Honestly, if I showed that weapon tester to the wrong person, they might try to talk me into taking antipsychotic meds. It does look a little nuts. I've seen actual psychotic ramblings that were more coherent. Heh.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby TheMatt » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:48 am

Yeah, it took me a couple of hours to decipher what we were doing. Most of it's pretty simple, just repetitive, with some wonky lookups. The real hell starts when you realize that ties go to the winner. Then it redoubles when you start coding for hitting negative numbers. And then you hate life (and yourself) when you want to include combinations of amps, to hit bonuses, penalties, etc. that you never included in the first place, and now must include, without breaking anything you've put in there before.

Really need to figure out someway of doing the vs. -3 to +3 more elegantly.

Then the 'weapon vs weapon' matrix...nightmarish to live-link. I was going to create a sheet for each set of parry mods, calculate damage in each case, and then weight that total by the number of weapons with that parry mod. But that required re-engineering how I'd done everything to date, so I threw up my hands and went to bed.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby Maugh » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:56 am

Good Call. =P
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby TheMatt » Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:51 am

Figured out how to do the weapon to weapon live-link. My excel-fu is best! And a better way to do damage, using nested IF statements.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby Maugh » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:36 pm

Your excel-fu is indeed impressive.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby TheMatt » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:01 am

Also. There are several weapons, such as the dagger and the lightsword categories of weapons, that we added an upper tier weapon tech that extends the crit cap to 4x instead of 2 when using the backstab or lunge abilities respectively. Requires specific setup, but makes for some fun tricks for those weapons specifically.


Probably doesn't make much difference, unless the amp is 2 or 3. A better amp is exponentially better, so a worse amp is marginally worse. Ie, the shift from 3-->2 is insane, but the shift from 7-->6 is barely noticeable.

ultimately, total bonuses can get as high as +10. (+2 equipment, +4 technique, +4 circumstance.) That's getting a little ridiculous, but players have pulled it off before.


I feel like that's one of the places our DnD DNA wrongfooted us: +2 as the default bonus. For a d20, a +2 is 10%. For a d10, +2 is +20%.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby Maugh » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:54 pm

I don't know that a +20% versus a +10% difference is necessarily bad, and I don't necessarily think that +2 was the standard bonus in dnd. A ton of spells/feats/abilities gave +1 bonuses, especially for low level characters.

When considering the mental heuristics for bonuses, I don't know that 10% is good enough to catch players' attention. (I always thought that a 5% bonus in dnd was a drop in the bucket. Not useful often enough to really care, unless you could stack a bunch of them together, which makes for poor game design. A +1 on a die roll is better, yes, but only marginally. 10% of a value of 12 or less seems minimal. 20% is more substantial, and I think it's enough for people to get a mental handle on it. Obviously in terms of matha nd probability 2 is always more than 1, but I think it's more about the players perception of things than the long-term mathematical structure.


Mental response to bonuses:
+1, "Sometimes it will help, sometimes it won't, but in the long run, it's obviously a little better."
+2, "This is definitely going to make a difference." It's worth putting the time and skill points into using that ability, because you know it will very likely impact the game.
+3, "This is going to make a big difference."
+4, "This is HUGE. This is going to mean the difference between a crit and a double-crit."


Besides, once you're past +1, I'm pretty sure people do internal math faster and easier with even numbers, than with odd. If we're stacking up multiple numbers, might as well make it easy as possible.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby Maugh » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:55 pm

I don't know that a +20% versus a +10% difference is necessarily bad, and I don't necessarily think that +2 was the standard bonus in dnd. A ton of spells/feats/abilities gave +1 bonuses, especially for low level characters.

When considering the mental heuristics for bonuses, I don't know that 10% is good enough to catch players' attention. (I always thought that a 5% bonus in dnd was a drop in the bucket. Not useful often enough to really care, unless you could stack a bunch of them together, which makes for poor game design. A +1 on a die roll is better, yes, but only marginally. 10% of a value of 12 or less seems minimal. 20% is more substantial, and I think it's enough for people to get a mental handle on it. Obviously in terms of matha nd probability 2 is always more than 1, but I think it's more about the players perception of things than the long-term mathematical structure.


Mental response to bonuses:
+1, "Sometimes it will help, sometimes it won't, but in the long run, it's obviously a little better."
+2, "This is definitely going to make a difference." It's worth putting the time and skill points into using that ability, because you know it will very likely impact the game.
+3, "This is going to make a big difference."
+4, "This is HUGE. This is going to mean the difference between a crit and a double-crit."


Besides, once you're past +1, I'm pretty sure people do internal math faster and easier with even numbers, than with odd. If we're stacking up multiple numbers, might as well make it easy as possible.
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Re: Weapon Balancing

Postby TheMatt » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:56 am

I wish we'd included more two weapon combos. Doing a complete matrix of all weapons is out of the question, of course. But I have always been really pleased about the way different weapon grips are grouped under the weapon techs. (It almost makes the full weapons list into appendix content.) You could put weapon combination under there as well. A lot of the list2 exotic weapons really need done that way.

Pairing the weapon pics with the weapon techs would be cool.
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