Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
James

Shadowskin didn't make the NPC experience seem pointless?

Recommended Posts

Let me disclaim to start: my character casts shadowskin and it's fundamental to his success in encounters. This is not an attempt to nerf other people's abilities, it's an effort to enhance new player experience.

 

 

So, I talked to my friend (who also works here) that I introduced to game some time ago, and this is how it went:

 

"You should come NPC feb feast."

 

"Nah, it wasn't great last time."

 

"Why not? Seemed like you were having fun."

 

"I thought it was stupid when we surprised that group of people and they started saying "no effect," staring at us while we wailed on them."

 

"Right, that's shadowskin, most characters can't cast that."

 

"But there were 6 of us, and right before that the guy who explained the rules to us had said how "In this game it doesn't matter - if a level 1 surprises a level 100, he can kill him easily. It just seemed stupid that we all stood there hitting him while he slowly turned in a circle and killed us all."

 

"..."

 

And I realized, I felt this exact same way as a new NPC, and had heard this comment from another couple who had come to game (and then never came back).

 

Basically, I know Shadowskin allows for those "hero moments." I was drawn to them, and like I said, spent all available skill points to secure this skill. And I have heard complaints by other shadowskin casters that it's annoying that every NPC seems to enchant weapon these days. I'm just not sure it's helpful to have something in game that creates "hero moments" for very experienced players at the significant expense of the experience of newer players (a given NPC is much more likely to be a newer player given other roles taken by longer-time players, or the fact that they NPC 4 shifts in a weekend, or whatever).

 

With the way game currently is, new players are told by many that they should npc for 4-6 events so they can be "useful" as a PC. That's fine. The problem comes when you NPC and you feel like you don't have a chance at all. I never minded being a skeleton and getting my hits in only to die to 1 hit. But to be told "no effect" by a dude who isn't even fighting back? It crushes the experience, and is jarringly different than the realism felt elsewhere in the game.

 

So my proposal is as follows:

 

Make Shadowskin grant monstrous-type to all body, armor, and enhancements on a caster - except vs. elven steel, which damages as normal. Change Abomination back to its original form, which is just monstrous body type, and allow abomination to also add the other powers of hulking undead (that have been proposed, not sure if they are finalized). I don't buy that the "math is too hard" for abomination to effect only body. Most players would do better to just know how many of a given hit they can take, anyway.

 

So if a player has 4 monstrous body, 3 armor, and 4 magic armor, they would know that they could take 6 hits of 4 damage or whatever, if they had abomination up. If they for smoe reason were getting hit by a bunch of different things also swinging for different damage, it would be harder, but not the end of the world.

 

 

I think that a feeling of fairness is essential to the growth of the game. Many new NPCs will encounter shadowskin over the course of an event, and it just doesn't seem to jive with the flow of the rest of the game. It makes one feel like cannon fodder, not an active participant. The proposal I've offered would keep shadowskin very viable, and would A) stop NPCs from being sent out with enchant weapon all the time, since they currently are ONLY to make it so shadowskin casters don't break the encounter and cool.gif stop new players from feeling frustrated by being completely powerless.

 

 

One man's opinion! Ready to be yelled at by other folks who cast shadowskin, or who otherwise think this is a horrible idea smile.gif Also happy to hear from people who remember going up against Shadowskin and thinking, "This really is no fun."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get frustrated when an entire encounter is ganked by one guy with shadowskin, even as an experienced player. I'm pretty okay with these suggestions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i have to concur shadowskin is still way to powerfull in my opinion. enchant weapon is all good and what not to fight it but unless you send it out on every single encounter on more then half the group of npcs shadowskin is still going to trump. in my opinion everyone is getting shadowskin cause its the insta win for just about every encounter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Casting Shadowskin costs as much power as revive. If a PC casts that to stop you from killing him, you've already done as much damage to their resources for the day as if you had killed them.

2. If a party uses shadowskin, retreat and come back in 10 minutes. Or dissipate and wait.

3. They are still vulnerable to all tag bags. This means you can kill them with magic or poison, fear them, dispel them, or even use disengage (a level 1 spell) to be able to ignore him and kill the healer next to him.

 

I've had my problems with Shadowskin in the past, but it's way better now than it used to be. It's powerful, but it's a level 5 spell. You've got be 8th level just to cast it once per day, and that's if you can do absolutely nothing else. Odds are, anyone using it is level 20+. Low level NPCs aren't expect to be able to defeat PCs of that level, all they really do is wear down their power a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The flipside of that is playing an NPC with a DR that the PCs can't match. How'd you feel playing those bagmen when we didn't have any poison?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies for typos. Wrote it on phone while walking baby for nap :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. Casting Shadowskin costs as much power as revive. If a PC casts that to stop you from killing him, you've already done as much damage to their resources for the day as if you had killed them.

2. If a party uses shadowskin, retreat and come back in 10 minutes. Or dissipate and wait.

3. They are still vulnerable to all tag bags. This means you can kill them with magic or poison, fear them, dispel them, or even use disengage (a level 1 spell) to be able to ignore him and kill the healer next to him.

 

I've had my problems with Shadowskin in the past, but it's way better now than it used to be. It's powerful, but it's a level 5 spell. You've got be 8th level just to cast it once per day, and that's if you can do absolutely nothing else. Odds are, anyone using it is level 20+. Low level NPCs aren't expect to be able to defeat PCs of that level, all they really do is wear down their power a bit.

 

Fun in encounters isn't based on pure damage done to PCs. I don't care if I haven't forced someone to spend a single point of magic power.

 

Additionally, if we're going with the philosophy of "if you're low level, you're just there to waste some power points" we should probably say that, instead of telling people that KoN's system is cool because it allows a low level person to gank a high level person if that lower level person knows how to fight better

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dan, I am referencing the new player experience. It is fine for Npcs to have DRa because it allows for PCs o have greater challenge. But if you're giving me a new player, and giving him one experience where he is totally useless and one where he makes the PCs useless, and comparing it to 2 experiences where there is a sense of fairness an realism to the combat-the sense that anything could happen, give me the latter every time. And the times where you render PCs (temporarily, always temporarily) useless will happen at a rate of about 1 in 20? to the times where you'll be rendered useless by shadow skin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I PC'ed my first event. 1 body, magic armor with two power points, and I could use a weapon up to 42". It was so much fun! As you play more events you will see all of the ways to get around those tough battles. NPC's are ment to make PC's have an adventure. If that means they use 25% of all of their power to survive a 10 min. battle and get loot then that seems fair to me. 40 mins. of awesomeness out of 6 hours......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob, I am not talking about the mechanical balance of the spell. I am talking about how it impacts the fun of the people who are most important to the long term life of the game.

 

I was drawn to the game because it seemed like a fun way to get out a competitive impulse. I was sold on the "anyone can win, it's all about your skill" angle. In my first game, I felt that. At my 2nd, a group of orcs I was in surrounded a prominent pc and we all wailed on him while he non-chalantly said "no effect, no effect" and killed us all in 1 shot. The competitive person in me thought this was not fun at all. Of course, I think the game is amazing and I come every event regardless I understand tere are tactics that can be employed to combat shadow skin. But game isn't worried about me (or it shouldn't be). It should be worried about the message it broadcasts to new, more discriminating players. Shadow skin is the 1 spell that broadcasts a community of elitism, where occasionally 1 person (always an experienced player) will get to turn off most game mechanics and take the sense of fairness away for the NPCs (again, almost always newer players).

 

And, your math is bad on shadow skin vs. revive. Both cost 5 power, but shadow skin will kill the Npcs in question, thus making the expenditure of future resources unnecessary. If I kill you, you need the 5 power for revive and you still need to kill me. Plus, I can loot you, drag you off, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once upon a time it was true that any three guys could kill one guy, but that was a long time ago, and the game has grown quite a bit, both in population and in power level since then.

 

It's hard to take someone who's never swung a foam sword before and make him feel really useful in a game where people have been swinging foam sticks for years, even ignoring the magic system. We don't do the best job at recruiting and retaining new players, and at the staff retreat we all agreed that we need to make it a much bigger priority. Newbies are our future, people!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a lot of this feeling for new players can be alleviated by ensuring we have good lead NPCs or veteran players paired with the new guys. There's ways to get around shadow skin and a good lead npc can make sure a new player has a good time by making a good field call. Also many plots are simply designed to be 'chumps' that easily get smashed by shadow skin.

 

We just have be carful not to send noob players out by themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jordan,

 

It's not 25% of all their power. Even as a new player I have 10 power in items. Enchantment masters can also cast it for 4 power. Even if it were 25% of power, it can be used in likely each encounter a pc faces on a shift. If this PC staggers his shifts (thus taking a convergence between shifts) you are talking about casting it 4 times every 2.5-3 hours instead of every 6.

 

But again, I am concerned less about the mechanics and how 5 year vets feel about the spell, and more about getting in the heads of new players and imagining how they are interacting with the spell. I think it's easier to forget how it feels as a new player to be a band of Orcs, skaven, yebs, werewolves, vampires, kazvaks, undead, dellins, waspoids, bog lurkers, or other NPCs who have their game turned off by shadow skin.

 

Again, I don't mind (anymore) because no one can "win button" my PC. So I spend half the game feeling like things are on even ground. But given that our new players are actively encouraged to spend a season (or more) NPCing, I believe these changes would make it more likely for them to spend their events thinking "This is Awesome! We almost had them!" than "That was stupid."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zach, do you have any interest in joining a new larp where "many" of the things you do can be trumped by shadowskin or some similar win card? Shadowskin would still roll these encounters, it just wouldn't turn stop people from even pretending to defend themselves.

 

And good tactics can stop shadowskin, sure, but many of these tactics really go against the NPC designs. Anything of primitive intelligence type shouldn't be racing off into the woods when someone incants shadowskin. Nothing animal type should recognize that. How many NPCs should know how long shadowskin lasts if they are playing true to type? Having Npcs constantly find end arounds could lead to more meta gaming, and as a caster of shadowskin, I'd prefer the basks be able to fight back than they scream, "quick! Retreat and hide for ten minutes!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We usually don't give total noobs roles like bog Lurkers and wraiths. In groups, like I said we need good lead npcs.

 

The other side to that is magic is totally prevalent in all aspects of novitas. Even animal intelligences recognize fear/arrogance and very well may retreat after being injured and unable to injure their opponent.

 

Also compared to almost every other Larp I've been in, shadow skin is much less of a win button. Compare it to 'point and call death' mechanics. RP bases larps and not combat larps like dag I mean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spells like Dissipate, Ley Lines, and Sanctuary can also be confusing/frustrating for new players who don't like being told "You can't hit me, I'm invincible." From a game balance point of view the spells aren't too bad, but for new player retention they are certainly off-putting.

 

I think the trick is to get these new players to make PCs and start having fun on the winning side of battles, because for the most part, NPCs are designed to lose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But Novitas is much awesomer than other larps, right?

 

Does shadowskin add more fun to the game than the fun it take away?

 

Do people really want Npcs sprinting into the woods after the PC party puts its buffs up?

 

Would the new proposed system be more fun for players, or less? Just because current shadowskin can be defeated doesn't mean that it is optimally designed for player fun/immersion.

 

A business builds its customer base by having empathy for its customers. I would love to hear from folks who spend at least half their time in NPC combat roles about this, though I understand if people don't want to come across as whiners.

 

I'd also love to hear from folks who can cast shadowskin. Would these changes greatly take away from your fun? I vote "no", and this is why I propose a change. I think it wouldn't change my game much at all, an that it would greatly help the NPC experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kevin, TOTALLY agree about getting more new players in PCs. That's a great idea.

 

And there is a big difference between being designed to lose and being a punching bag. When PCs dissipate or leylines, Npcs feel like they've won. Likewise with sanctuary (which can be used offensively, but rarely is, so I wouldn't consider it a problem for player fun). When PCs cast shadowskin, I posit that many NpCs feel like someone has turned off the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to hear from people who have the skill too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Aurum I was able to cast Shadowskin quite a lot (6/GD, Enchantment Master + Shield of Shadowskin). I used it for just about every fight that I was outnumbered. It helped maintain the illusion that I was a larger-than-life hero of legend. It was fun and useful and I rarely was dropped at all.

 

But I wouldn't recommend that playstyle for every character concept. It was fun for me because it fit with how I envisioned my character, but it would not have been fun otherwise. Being nearly invincible in melee can be dull if you don't have the RP to go with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are many tactics other than running to deal with Shadowskin. Maybe the lead NPC will throw out an enchant weapon to one of his NPCs, throw a dispel, give their NPCs acid or other things to throw at a shadowskin. I've told noobs with my NPC team several times 'we will probably meet this group, who will probably cast shadowskin, here's what we are going to do'. New players who are given a task regardless of if the enemy has shadowskin, I assume, still feel included and needed.

 

I rarely cast shadowskin, but I often fight against it. Usually I let the player with shadowskin have their fun for a bit, then I create some sort of counter for it, unless specifically told not to by the GM. We want the players to have their fun, casting shadowskin, and the NPCs to not feel totally useless. We have always held the position that NPCs are 'performing a job to entertain PCs' and your PC time is the time to have fun. Usually it's only one player casting shadowskin, not the whole group. I've never really viewed it as disruptive. Why does a group of orcs have to only attack the person with shadowskin marching towards them. Primitive intelligence isn't stupid. Have a few people occupy the shadowskin guy and attack the PCs behind them. If the entire party casts shadowskin, thats a lot of power. That in it's self is a victory for the NPCs. 20-30 power spent? A lot more than a few mend armors, heal bodies, and maybe a heal mortal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we are seeing alot more high level spells because people can bank them with spell store......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, but for every Harlem Globetrotter in game there wind up being 6 Washington Generals. Many people don't mind playing the fodder for Aurum, and I definitely don't now. But I am CERTAIN that a lot of people do. Would playing Aurum have been less fun if shadowskin were changed as I proposed?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, screw this noise, I came in my first even at a low level... with the mentality that a low level could take a high level. At level 2 I took all 8 of my awesome skill points and made a character that could counter Tag bags. Honestly to this day thrown spells are the scariest part of my pc encounter. I made my character throw fo 2 damage, swing for 1 damage and had 1 body. I successfully PCed. Yes life sucked but those experienced characters saved my ass countless times. And i ended up saving our group from a few worshipers of darkness. If i hadn't been there Novitas may have had a few dead PCs. and yes one of the PCs knew shadow skin.

 

I put countless hours into reading the rules and figuring out what would be a foundation for Blagar, and i still use the throwing stars to this day.

 

 

I have also seen Gravespawn Rip throw countless players using Enchant weapon and Strength, A troll personally made ryan and i his bitch one night... not fun. There has been more then one occasion where elementals have come through and screwed everyone in the area. Hell my last game i was killed by a few skeleton. I am not level 100, i am not even level 20 but i have done crazy things both as a pc and a npc.

 

Point being that a lot of the game is luck. You run into the Druids as a bagman and JC is going to curse you and kill you in one hit. Now that sucks. You have a big group of Orcs and Dren roles through and cute into you guys like butter... or your shaman ends up committing suicide when he blasts Goldwright for 4 magic slay. (I know Aurum is retired)

 

Take away from this game what you put into it, there is no rule saying that you can't ASK a GM to be able to break through shadowskin, whether its tag bags or elvin steel. The big thing a lot of new players lack, and was and am still one of them is the confidence to talk to the staff or people running the shift. I feel like a lot of people think GMs bite... More on this when i get back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zach, since I have been playing, NPCs with access to enchant or dispel are the exception, not the rule. And it's not like the guy who casts shadowskin will stand idly by while you hit the healers. The act of hitting someone, hearing "no effect" and finding a new target is almost always more than enough time to get killed.

 

But I digress. Nowhere have I said that shadowskin can't be beaten. I am saying that it sure FEELS that way to a new player.

 

I feel like the discussion gets skewed a little bit when talking with marshals or long time staff member types. Many folks in this thread spend a shift at most in cannon-fodder combat roles. Many will go an entire event without throwing on an Orc wig. That's fine! People that put a ton into game probably shouldn't be in these roles as often as others.

 

And I know many here "put in their time" as orcs and didn't mind. But this is what I call "returning customer bias". Asking returning and loyal customers about VK has them telling me how perfect everything is, or maybe they laugh forgivingly about finding mouse turds in a drawer. But growth stops if you focus too much on returning types. The key is to think about the groups that left camp and try to figure out why that happened. You want to honor loyal folks, but not have them lull you into complacency.

 

I am giving feedback from at least 3 people who cited shadowskin as a particularly bad time. I can say it was the "least fun" game mechanic I encountered as an NPC. I am offering suggestions on how to make this spell more fun for everyone. What do you think of these suggestions?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×