[crossfire] classes & guilds

Lalo Martins lalo.martins at gmail.com
Tue Jul 3 21:42:05 CDT 2007

Ok, here's my take on the whole thing; this is a description of
a scenario that would attract me as a player and a contributor,
and by no way the Only Single Truth.  I should also say I'm an
RPG (pen-and-paper) player and author, and this certainly puts
some bias into my point of view (for the better, I hope).

Skill proficiency

I'm really happy about this idea.  May I suggest these names:

- Dabbler, amateur, or untrained
- Professional, advanced, or trained
- Master

I could even like it if examining a player reveals her "master"
skills -- which usually won't be more than a few anyway.

In defense of Mark's view of how it works (levels are effective
the same way, but need more exp), I'd like to say: Crossfire
levels are not a function of experience.  They are just that: a
measure of how effective a skill is due to experience.  So
pitching a self-taught amateur that took years to get to
level 20 against a professional who got to this level before
"graduating", should get an approximately even match.

The comparison with an untalented black-belt vs. a talented one
is IMO not fair.  A better way to think about it is comparing
two fighters who were given black belts by the same, rigorous
master, in which case they should have more or less the same
skill.  Then again, maybe by "talented" you actually mean (in
game terms) that one has better Dexterity or Strength; this
would obviously make a difference and is unrelated to level.

That said, I'd put a cap on levels.  If we retain the current
level system (110/115), I'd cap amateurs at 40 and professionals
at 90.  (Master is of course uncapped, or capped by the system's
own limits, currently 110).

It would also be interesting to introduce "difficult" items; for
example, weapons that require pro level in their skills.
Despite appearances, it's just not possible to fight with a
longsword or a battle axe if you've never been trained on it.
(You can self-train, but you'll probably hurt yourself a lot in
the process, and it would take ages.)

Training to increase proficiency should take time.  A way to
represent that could be:

- The system only considers the proficiency for the "instance"
  of the skill with highest level; so if you're amateur archer
  20 and pro archer 18, you're still amateur.

- But new experience goes entirely to the higher proficiency.

- Upon acquiring a new version of the skill, it's initialized to
  the exp corresponding to N levels below the current version,
  where N might be hardcoded, or might be defined by the object
  that gave you the skill (the mentor).  For fighting skills I'd
  say 2 to 5, for magic possibly more.

So the time required to train yourself into a pro is represented
by the experience required to "catch up" to you previous level.

Character creation

Get rid of classes entirely, moving that stage to in-game.

During creation, you choose species and, let's say, nationality.
The combination of those defines your starting town and initial
skills.  As far as weapons go, for example, I'd give amateur
two-handed weapons to all humanoids (everyone can wield a club
or chair), amateur clawing to whoever has claws.

Then you can optionally pass through a tutorial area in your
home town (probably impossible to enter again after you leave).  
I'm uncertain whether this area should give any exp at all.

Then you are free to roam your chosen home town, get the lay of
the land, buy booze, talk on the tavern, whatever.  Or even go
adventuring if you're crazy enough.  (There should be some kind
of benefit for these characters -- maybe societies charge
membership fees?)

To do this well, we should add a few more towns.  It has been
exhaustively discussed to add an underground city for dragons
somewhere (near the Hatchery would be appropriate), and maybe
one for dwarves.  There's at least one elven village that could
be expanded for that purpose.

One thing I'd like to see is a "wild" village somewhere, where
we could put the current northman, barbarian and swashbuckler

Acquiring a profession

On each starting town there would be a number of buildings where
you'd find professional guilds.  This is maybe overloading the
meaning of guilds we already have in the game, but it's closer
to the traditional meaning.  An alternative is not to call them
guilds -- call them societies, or better, something more
class-relevant, like "academies" for magic and "monasteries" for
priests and paladins.  (Even then, the thieves society is
probably still "The Thieves Guild" in at least one town :-P)

Here we can add some flavor.  Some of those would admit only
some species, some only natives.  And they could/should be all
different.  For example, to become a "fighter" equivalent in
Scorn, you join the Royal Order of Chivalry, where you get
professional one-handed and two-handed weapons but no archery;
in Navar, you'd instead join the Citizens Guard Corps, getting
one-handed and archery.  More obviously, each magical academy
would only offer two skills, which if I remember my maths
correctly, gives us 6 possibilities currently, up to 10 if we
implement necromancy as suggested.

Joining a society should have a cost, probably in money,
although that would be a problem if it's the first thing you do
in the game.  How hard would it be to implement debt?  It should
also have some ongoing cost.  One idea I like is: to actually
enter the premises, you need to pay your fee, which then lets
you in and out for some time (a week?) before you have to pay
again.  This value could be tied to level (overall level?  Sum
of relevant skills?  Highest relevant skill?).

I'd also like to make them more or less social, so it would be
reasonable to have savebeds in them, and "lounge areas" like the
Scorn dragon guild does.  It would be interesting to add
bulletin boards to them; even better, one inside (for members)
and one outside.

More importantly, your application to join should be rejected if
you have "conflicting" skills.  On the starting societies, these
would be any skills at pro level at all.

Oh, only tangentially related: I'd take that opportunity to
"regionalize" the choices of gods.  One possibility is that
praying at an altar doesn't "convert" you, you need be
"converted" on that god's society (although it shouldn't be
required to be a member; probably a chapel on a separate
entrance).  So even though you could still have small
"representative" temples of all gods in the major cities, you
can't become a follower there.

Learning new skills

New skills, at amateur level, should be IMO taught at a relevant
society.  The Royal Order of Chivalry can teach you amateur
archery and smithery, and the Arcane Academy of Scorn has
alchemy and one spell type it doesn't teach at pro.  For a
price, of course; probably very high.


Then at other places in the world, preferably far from the
starting towns, you get other societies that teach you more.
I'd even be happy to partially reuse existing maps.  To get pro
alchemy, you go to the Nurnberg Alchemy Society (existing map,
but unfinished); to join, you're required to have amateur level
alchemy, which is only learnable in magic academies, so fighters
are barred.  The Tower of Demonology could reasonably have a new
section added, where someone who has amateur summoning can learn
it up to pro.

These further societies are still societies in all senses,
including recurring costs if you want to go back there (and we
should think up some perks to encourage that).

In terms of RPG, they are similar to "prestige classes".

Some current classes could be available only this way.  The
"warlock" could be replaced by one academy somewhere that
teaches fighters to do amateur magic, and another elsewhere
(Lake Country comes to mind) that teaches mages to fight.  A
similar logic goes for the "devotee".  Ninjas could be an
"improvement" over thieves.  Maybe even paladins...

Rationales and arguments

This gives characters more "involvement" with their, er,
"classes".  It also, on a crowded server (which we hope to get
if we make CF2 cool enough), facilitates characters meeting
others of the same society and forming parties.  Conversely, if
you need one mage for you party of fighters, you know where to
go; just stand in front of the Academy for a while.  Or if you
want to "hire" one, post on the Academy's bulletin board.

It also opens the field to even zanier ideas and gaming
styles.  Merchants Guild anyone?

                                               Lalo Martins
      So many of our dreams at first seem impossible,
       then they seem improbable, and then, when we
       summon the will, they soon become inevitable.
personal:                    http://lalo.hystericalraisins.net/
technical:                    http://www.hystericalraisins.net/
GNU: never give up freedom                 http://www.gnu.org/

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