Changing skill levels from 1-10 to 1-100?

I feel like the character learns and essentially masters their skills too quickly. Granted, I do not play with skill rust on because I quite frankly find it ridiculously stupid in the time-frame in which our characters go through the game, because skills in real life rust through a time-span of a few years, and even if you did forget a few things you’ll re-learn them pretty quickly.

Would it make more sense for the characters to learn skills from levels 1 to 100, but have the experience required to level up be relative to increments of 10? Basically, each level of skill levels 0-10 would level at the rate that characters currently level from 0 to 1, and each level 10-20 would level at the rate of current 1 to 2, etc.

It would allow a more realistic time frame for players to gain skills and would allow a greater level of granularity with regards to recipe skill requirements in my opinion. Of course, it would also require going back and changing every recipe to fit, but would mostly just be adding a 0 to every skill requirement.

Having bigger numbers wouldn’t actually change anything for balance. Granularity of skill requirements just makes things more likely to be arbitrary: it’s already pretty random what a given recipe is going to require.

The problem I have with the current system is ‘recipe skill gaps’. If you don’t have a recipe for the ‘right’ difficulty you are unable to increase beyond a certain skill level. Whereas if you do have one then you can usually increase your skill level unrealistically fast. I would maybe halve skill gain for the difficulty levels where you currently can improve your skill, but make skill difficulty tasks which currently do nothing give you a small improvement (say ten times less). That way, given enough time and effort, you will be able to get that third or fourth engine on your monster truck even if you never find a Mechanics 9 recipe.

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Proficiencies is the way to go.


Since someone else mentioned proficiencies for a change, I’ll provide the link

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I started off reading that thinking “Neat!” but by the time I reached the end of the page I was “Ugh.”

Characters (if they stay alive for two or three seasons) easily becoming experts at pretty much everything is a valid problem, but fine graduation down to lockpicking vs hotwiring sounds like a whole mess of effort to implement, maintain and for people to play. It seems like you are completely throwing out any dependency between difficulty of crafting vs how much (if any) you improve at it? I agree the present system is highly flawed but somebody who spends 100 hours making a fractional distillation system probably shouldn’t improve as fast in glassware as someone who spends 100 hours pouring melted down glass shards into sand moulds to make mostly-see-through glass sheets.

When I heard ‘proficiencies’ I was thinking that people would have a top level focus based on character generation and that would deliver talent for several skills (basically ‘class skills’) while skills outside of those would increase much more slowly.

This would do absolutely nothing. You said it yourself, it would just be adding a zero to each skill level.

As for making skills more realistic, it would just make things take longer, require more books, use up more materials in practicing. Most of all it would take a lot more IRL time. If learning skills were realistic you would essentially be locked into whatever starting skills you have. For any non-trivial skill to go from zero practice or knowledge to proficient takes weeks or months, sometimes years. Usually longer without a teacher.

Let’s take carpentry for example. I can nail together 2x4s and plywood to make a bench or table. Is that level one? Two? I guess if I found a book on home remodeling that might give me more insight into making things out of wood. The game doesn’t have hardware stores stocked with tons of lumber like they do IRL. I guess that means lots of logging or disassembling stuff to get wood.

If I can scrounge up power tools that would make things easier. But then I need a ton of batteries. IRL I would use an gas powered generator for electricity, as they are very easy to use. In-game we always build ultra-efficient solar arrays for power. That means I need to learn electronics.

I can do some really basic soldering. Is that level one? It would take me a long time to learn how to read circuit diagrams. Learning to replace surface-mount components would be quite difficult on my own. Unless I find one of those pre-made survivalist solar chargers, I’m not sure I could rig together a makeshift solar array that would reliably charge batteries. What books would I find to learn that? I guess go find an electrician trade school and look for textbooks.

Many books are going to assume you can buy the tools necessary for a skill, and aren’t going to explain how to make them using primitive means. The highest skill levels would realistically only be attainable by trained professionals with years of experience.

My point is that any playable skill system is going to be unrealistic. I’d rather not have one that makes me waste a lot of IRL time grinding skill levels just to be marginally more “realistic.”


Why would you think proficiencies would mean throwing out any XP-difficulty relationship? I’m quite sure I never implied that.

The actual granularity of what proficiencies would be needed is pretty up for grabs, but it’s easy to imagine having quite a wide number of easy-to-learn low grade proficiencies like hotwiring to allow steady gains at many points in the game.

The bit that really annoys me about skill learning right now is books. I can go from being unable to bake bread to messing with extra-dimensional compounds in a matter of days, without any real world experience. I like the way Project Zomboid addressed that: books give an XP bonus to the skill up to a certain level, but only experience using the skill will grant XP towards that level. Or maybe a variation on that where the books can only get you X% of any given level, the rest has to be from doing stuff.

Proficiencies do sound great, and would add significant variety to character builds. It would also incentivize the player to look for NPCs to complement their skillset. Just because you cook some mean haggis doesn’t mean you get the math behind advanced chemicals.


You did not specify any difficulty requirement there, or elsewhere in the issue.

Well, how long do you propose it should take?

You can talk circles around the minutiae of a revised skill system, but in the end as far as game balance is concerned all that matters is how long it takes and how many materials it takes.

Also, I don’t know what the hell you guys are talking about it only taking a matter of “days” to advance up the skill tree. Just because you’ve learned to min/max the system doesn’t mean everyone has. To me it still takes forever to get a skill above level 6. You have to start purposely hunting down arbitrary recipes to craft, because none of the everyday, useful stuff you are crafting gives you exp anymore.

What it sounds like you are proposing is one of those systems where you end up mass producing a bunch of crap you’ll never use. “I need to up my blacksmithing, time to sit down with a stack of materials and craft thirty of the highest level sword I currently know how to craft.” klang klang klang


I assure you I’m not gaming the system at all, just raiding libraries. Right now, I never grind skills the way you describe, I just go looking for more books :confused: By focusing on acquiring books, I usually have lvl 8 of all the non-combat skills by the end of the first spring, maybe a bit later for dumb, slow-reading characters.

As for acquiring real world experience, it doesn’t necessarily have to involve crafting junk. Sewing, for instance, can be learned by just practicing (consumes sewing kit charges for XP, in short). Similar mechanics could exist for other things.

Your comments also imply you think it’s normal for a player to learn all the skills, but it’s not and shouldn’t be IMO. The other participants in this thread can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we want skills to be reworked because we don’t want god-like, omniscient player characters anymore. Achieving this god-like status is usually when I abandon my characters actually :confused:

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It doesn’t really make sense to have characters that are good at everything, I agree on that point. I am near the end of Autumn (Spring start) and have skill levels between 1 and 13, average probably 7, melee and speaking skills worst, crafting and interactive skills best. This isn’t ‘realistic’ but it isn’t super fast either. If you don’t cheat, or aren’t super cautious, most characters don’t last one season never mind three. On the other hand, yes, I once had to craft 130 flint and steel and throw them away because it was the easiest way to get a level in some skill. Took just one day. That is pretty silly, and too fast.

I’d be happy to move to a system where your craft characters that are just never going to be great at most skills - provided that followers and allies can be effectively used to fill in the necessary gaps. I don’t think Erk’s proposal is that system, though. It is super complicated and more than a little confusing.

There are currently 27 skills, I would suggest new characters start with between 4 and 6 ‘class skills’. These would level up at the present speed. They represent skills that you have work experience at, have been trained in, or have a natural talent at. After you start playing you never add to that list. Essentially when you gain levels in those skills you aren’t so much learning from scratch, as refreshing your memory and adapting what you already know to the post apocalyptic landscape.

All the other skills can still be gained, but much slower. Slow enough that you would rather recruit ‘Bob’ to bake your bread than try to learn to do it yourself. Maybe three or four times slower?

Skill level deadlocks (where you can’t increase beyond a certain point because no recipe exists, or whatever) is a separate problem.

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To start with, all humans are infected by (with?) the Blob. Maybe such infection has a significant influence on peoples’ IQ and the skill of adaptation? Maybe we are able to learn MUCH faster than humans who had been living before the Cataclysm?

BUT, I love Paul Blay’s idea about ‘class skills’. It would change A LOT:

  1. Exploring and scavening would be much more essential for survival. If we do not know how to forge an axe, we have to find an axe.
  2. NPCs would be much more important and beneficial due to the fact that they would teach us many things. It is easier to learn from a teacher’s experience than from a book
  3. Role playing. I wish I were able to create a character that is 100% ‘me’. To not be tempted by the possibility to master each in-game skill
  4. Trade would be crucial. It is likely that we will not find any wrench, chainsaw, chisel, etc. We are not able to craft those items due to the lack of knowledge. We are not able to learn how to craft those items because it is not our ‘class skill’. Consequently, we have to find a NPC and hope that he will be eager to trade. NPCs would not be a walking meat

How about reworking books (possibly in addition to the class skill idea)?

  • Books no longer increase skill beyond level 1 or 2
  • Books are where 95% or more of recipes are from, very few recipes are obtained from simply leveling up
  • Reading a book could allow you to “memorize” the “easier” recipes immediately. Perhaps the number of memorized recipes increases with intelligence.
  • Leveling up skills is now more dependent on getting proper recipes and actually crafting things to increase skill further
  • maybe a bonus to xp for making a recipe the first time?

This is obviously similar to how books work now, except you no longer can grind a skill to 8+ just by reading.

Caveat being I am no coder, not sure how hard any of this would be.

Edit: Maybe computer skill could be more useful in that you can find computers with “skill manuals in PDF format” :slight_smile:

If anything, some skills should take more time to learn than others. Learning how to cook the food in CDDA isn’t particularly difficult. Any mentally able individual could do so with a little time and a recipe book. Same goes for concocting mutagens and explosives- the player doesn’t have to understand how or why it works the way it does, all they have to do is follow the procedures and learn the lingo. On the other hand, learning to hack a lab computer after reading some books for a week seems slightly less plausible- though again, it could simply be exploiting known and listed vulnerabilities. I guess the pre-collapse society was pretty lax with their secret facilities.

Haven’t you seen breaking bad? How are you going to tell when you get a bad batch of precursor? Mr. White would be disappointed

You just finish up best you can, bag it up & sell it to the junkies anyway. In game you just feed it to one of your followers. :grin:

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Hehe, imagine if we actually had to go through the cooking process.

Activate brazier:
Light fire.

Activate pot:

What do you want to do with the pot?

Fill it with water.

Activate brazier with wielded pot of water:

What do you want to do with the brazier?

Put pot of water on the brazier.
-> Wait until pot of water turns into pot of water(boiling).
Activate brazier with boiling pot:

What do you want to do with the brazier with pot?

Fill pot of boiling water with vegetables, seasoning, meats, and fats.
-> Wait through cooking process. Use some kind of utensil or stick on the cooking pot every couple of minutes to stir the pot and avoid lowering food taste and and maximising nutritional yield(avoiding bottom surface burn).

Activate brazier with boiling pot:

What do you want to do with the pot with brazier?

Wield pot. Remember gloves with fire resistance, or oven mitts, to avoid burning hands.

Carry pot over to a container, probably a plate or bowl, and unload the pot into the container, proceeding to then eat from the container. You could leave it on the counter and eat from it occasionally but it won’t give you the same sort of morale bonus like eating with a table except for the food’s taste. Too hot food will give a little damage to the head and torso but not enough to notice without scarfing down the entire pot. Remember to put out whatever you used to cook, else you may risk a fire when you leave and your station comes back into the reality bubble.

I like the thought of proficiencies and nerfing books, but the main problem is realism clashing with time spent play IRL to get the recipes. So here are my ideas:

Proficiencies by Class

We bring in proficiencies via Classes. Instead of getting all buffs to skill levels, we get buff to how fast a person learns a skill depending on how easy it is to carry over experience from one trade to another. This is like Paul’s idea, with the exception you CAN get other proficiencies but it just takes a long time. If you start out with a class that focuses on smarts like mechanics, by leveling mechanics all the way to 10 (or less I dunno how to game balance) you get a Strength proficiency that buffs combat, swimming, etc. However, to balance these buffs normal skill learning is cut majorly. With no prior OR relatable experience, any skill is kinda a huge undertaking in the present day alone, not to mention in a post-cataclysm hellscape. Essentially just combine the two schools of thought on skills on voila! Of course, whatever “class” you take at the start is level 2 (would have to take 2 skils to max level 10 normally, or have multiple skill levels add up to ten.)

Books aren't nerfed, crafting is

This is similar to scais’ idea with a little change: Books do still level up your skills all the way to ten. HOWEVER, a new stat is added to every skill with crafting involved: practice. Honestly, a person could learn how to make an incredible item IRL like very complicated recipes for food, but that does not mean they will actually do it right. A person can learn about and read about how to make a triple-decker multi-flavored wedding cake, but that does not mean it will be exactly that. This would be like the current fail/success chance that is already in-game, but the chance is now no longer based on skill but practice. You can read an entire library and know how to craft anything and everything, but without a steady hand, a sharp eye, and sensitive ear the chances of you making anything worthwhile are… low. Of course, you can still try and something may come out of it but it would suffer in quality. Whatever weapon you make won’t be as sharp or hit as hard. Electronics would take more batteries or in the case of solar panels not produce as much. Food wouldn’t fill you as much or be as tasty, and mutagens have a higher chance of giving you bad mutations or mutations not even related to the tree the mutagen says it’s for.


This would also result in “Quality” being added to the game. which is its own separate thing which would mean that not all the food you find is the same or is as good as other food, some tires are better than others when you find them, some clothes aren’t as warm as others despite having the same name, etc. This would be separate from reinforcing things, as this isn’t just putting more cloth on clothing or soldering more metal to make it stronger. Also, quality would be set from creation, with little chance for change unless you essentially recraft it. This would only really be coable with swords and electronics, as you are taking the pieces there and just supplementing the item. You wouldn’t really be able to re-draft wooden objects, and you would need a forge for metal. This could be used for items in museums as well, such as finding items high in quality but about to break durability wise, or vice versa.

Please tell me if any of these are dumb so I can learn from my mistakes.