Diversify Melee Weapon Skills Discussion

Continuing the discussion from Throwing debate:

I don’t know if this NEEDS to happen, but I’d be interested in a discussion over it. As we know, current implementation is that there are three melee weapon skills based on the three damage types, cutting, bashing, and piercing. This oversimplifies things a bit and is much simpler than the ranged weapon skills which break down into a bunch of different gun types. Since there’s a bit of a discrepancy there, I think it deserves some discussion, based on two possible alternatives:

  1. Melee weapons be moved into a set of melee skills based on the actual type of weapon, rather than just their damage type. I.E something along the lines of daggers, swords, axes, polearms, hammers, and clubs. You could also diversify by handedness and have two-handed hammers, two-handed clubs, two-handed swords and two-handed axes, or perhaps just a two-handed melee subskill (but that’s a bit excessive).

    The advantage is basically that the game is a bit harder, and more realistic, by virtue of needing to master individual weapon types rather than just “I spent two weeks training with a butter knife, now I can flawlessly execute complex sword manoeuvres.” It also means that weapon skills can be diversified a bit more, for example, high skill with swords might make them more accurate while high skill with daggers might make them faster. This would help to differentiate different weapon types, although that’s arguable when weapons already have their own individual stats. It should add a bit more strategy to mid-late game.

    The disadvantage would obviously be that there’s more skills to implement and maintain, and that the game is overall a bit harder and more complicated. Sometimes that’s necessary though.

  2. The other possibility is to move ranged weapons more in line with melee weapon skills I.E Instead of a skill for each weapon type, have a skill for one-handed guns and two-handed guns OR automatic and semi-automatic, move launchers and shotguns into the same skill for which I can’t think of a name, maybe heavy weapons?

    That way all guns fall into a couple of skills and you don’t pick up a carbine and suddenly become magically inept after using an assault rifle for two years.

    Pretty much inverse pros and cons of expanded melee weapon skills.

My personal take on this is that when a player finds or crafts a new weapon, they must train with that individual weapon type until their character is familiar, perhaps even having a mastery soft-skill, let’s call it muscle memory.

Someone great with a light wooden spear would find a forked spear unwieldy and top-heavy for example.
A new bow would require a different draw strength and time to adjust to aiming heights accordingly.
Perhaps with guns it’s dependent on sights mounted, or at least caliber, you would be used to overcompensating recoil, or under-compensating in comparison to a new weapon.

There are two ways to do this:
Create a new tag for each different weapon sub-type, or keep it to individual weapons.

This would also make skill with the cudgel be able to benefit some swords with type 1, which makes sense.

Edit: obviously weapon skills would still play a role, I’m not proposing you’re automatically useless at X weapon.

So on top of extra weapon skills, you suggest that we need to reach proficiency with a new weapon before we can use it properly? I can see how it’s realistic, but I’m not sure it really adds anything to the game other than countering that lucky moment when you stumble on a shiny new katana while running from a horde and it saves your ass.

I wouldn’t say harder, I would say more complex, and it would increase the clutter on the crafting and stats screen.

The double diversification (by both handedness and type, instead of either of them individually), in particular, would suffer from having groups with barely any weapons in it, or none at all.

Ie: what the heck is a two-handed dagger? A one-handed polearm? Isn’t the differentiation between two-handed clubs and two-handed hammers way too nitpicky?

Differentiating weapon bonuses you get by skill level runs into the issue of balancing them. In particular, the two examples: faster daggers and more accurate swords, run into the issue that daggers are already plenty of fast, a percentage increase to speed would be minimal, while a fixed one would be too brutally good, on the other hand hitting in melee is already relatively easy, so the more accuracy on swords isn’t doing much.

Overall, if the change is going to be made, we need equal or close to equal amount of skills than we have now, ie: light, onehanded, twohanded, pole. That’s 4 to the current 3, with synergy between some weapons. You’d still have plenty of weapons per category, without overburdening the crafting screen with empty tabs.

Or small, medium, long, with say, swords neatly falling within medium this has the advantage of better weapon synergy.

Or folding clubs and hammers (or hammers and axes, they’re similar enough in how thye are wielded) in your initial 6-weapon proposal, reducing it to 5, which is more manageable.

I’m thinking it needs more nuance that that, perhaps some weapons, like a sling are hard to master, others it won’t really affect the player that much, but mastery on a particular weapon will make it more effective than normal?

So let’s say there’s a tag that makes some weapons garbage til advanced mastery (the sling for example)
Some books can teach mastery, as can NPCs, at least up til’ a useable degree, but anyone can grab a pipe and use it effectively based on how good they are at bashing weapons.

I agree entirely, I just wanted to lay out everything I could think of. It would basically be realism for realism and I’m not a big fan of that.

I agree, but it might be interesting to add some extra incentive to mastering a particular weapon rather than just using whatever has the highest damage. Perhaps it would be better to have some special techniques unlocked at high levels that can be used with weapon types like in Caves of Qud. e.g daggers could have a crippling strike ability that temporarily slows an enemy. Stuff like that.

I think there’s a lot of room to move and experiment with melee weapons.

That’s kind of the point though, you could probably keep the 3 damage types as is in the crafting menu, but there’s currently 6 ranged weapon skills and only 3 melee weapon skills, and I think there’s a greater difference in technique between a spear and a rapier than between a rifle and an SMG. It would make sense to have melee weapons be at least equally as diverse in skills.

Yeah I see your point, it’s not a bad idea. Perhaps an “EXOTIC” tag for weapons that halves its damage until you’ve swung it 50 times or had some training, something along those lines.

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Isn’t that already implemented? Some weapons have special moves that require a minimum level of Melee to do, like wide strike, and there are martial arts to take it further. Niten, Fencing and Eskrima do this for a select number of weapons, with all other weapons having to make do with Silat, Krav and Ninjutsu, with the later two being simpler and providing less abilities.

Yeeeeeess that does exist… Perhaps it’s best to just leave the skill effects as they are.

I would put two handed axes and hammers under the polearms skill and merge the hammer and club skills, like this: short blades, swords, clubs, axes and polearms. Weapons that don’t fall in any category only use/train the melee skill (cause having a skill to bash someone’s head with a soap makes no sense). We’d still need to diversify melee damage, armor values and move count for the skills to be a bit balanced tough.
Besides that the system is nice since all skills have access to all damage types. The ranged weapons issue could be solved by simply making marksmanship more relevant and leaving the actual skills as they are.

So, throwing ideas to the wall here.

Within clubs, you’d have tonfas, you’d have escrima sticks, umbrellas, and canes, amongst others, and you’d have hammers.

Tonfas are kinda their own thing, there’s not that many weapons with sideways handles.

hammers, maces and the like have more in common with how they’re wielded with axes than with anything else. There’s not much difference in how you’d wield a hammer, a military pick, and a tomahawk.

The rest of the list honestly has more in common with swords out of all things, only adding a few possible moves like using them as aids in grabs and disarms that really better fits within martial arts than being contemplated within “skill”.

I suppose any system you pick is going to have it’s quirks, it’s weapons that blur the line. Even if you split by handedness you’d still have plenty of swords that can be wielded both one and two-handed.

I don’t have a good word for “axe-like” so you could dump all weapons that are basically a stick with a striking thing on the tip. Even if you could, you’d still get fuzzy things like falchions, kukris and machetes: swords and daggers made to be unbalanced like an axe, so your way of striking is kinda in the middle between both.
Then again, the current gun model has the same flaw since once you add a lot of weapon mods, the lines between pistol, smg and rifle get rather blurry. Even if you changed guns to work on handedness rather than type, you’d still suffer from this thanks to forward grips and stocks.

And where the heck would you put whips? Chains? Wind and fire wheels?

I guess there’s also the option of following the D&D model of simple/martial/exotic, perhaps with renaming martial with ancient or something. The advantage of this method is that you can make the training of exotic weapons skill slower in account of them being weird or difficult to wield. That way a chainsaw lajatang would take longer to master than a simple spear, even if both are polearms.

I don’t think two-handed axes/hammers need to be polearms, they’re fine as just axes and hammers. Unless you have a really long hammer for some reason.

Already done ingame by item stats.

A little, but swords and short blades are going to be mostly cutting, hammers will be mainly bashing, spears will be mainly piercing, etc. This way the actual damage type is secondary to how the weapon is used and handled.

It’s already set up so marksmanship has a greater effect on accuracy while the specific gun skills are more about aim speed, reloading, and handling. The issue isn’t that the way guns are handled is weird (although it is a bit), it’s that the way guns are handled is so much different to the way melee weapons are handled.

I don’t think it’s too bad. There’s pretty clear-cut rules for what is a sword, a dagger/knife, an axe, etc. It’s more about how it’s wielded than the actual anatomy of the weapon. Even if a falchion or kukri is weighted rather than balanced, you still wouldn’t grab it halfway up and swing it down on someone like you would a hammer or axe.

I could see having an exotic skill for weird things like whips and the combat chainsaw, but I think the D&D model is a step backwards in complexity/realism, which I don’t think fits Cataclysm.

A military pick or mace would have a definite handle, you don’t grab those halfway up, you grab those by the handle. Even those axe/hammers with no definite handle you’d want to grab roughly at where it should be rather than somewhere near the head or halfway up, you’d get more range and hit significantly harder that way.

There’s some martial arts-like techniques that you can do by grabbing it on both ends, for example, but those tend to be martial-artsy, like blocking, aiding in grabs, or disarming. And if you had an armored gauntlet, similar techniques are available for swords. This part is better handled by either dedicated martial arts or adding special moves to the weapon.

Weapons are honestly more of a gradient than strict categories, just like with the falchion example, at what point a really long dagger becomes a sword? Because we have knives of all lengths in the game, so that line is rather blurry.

If you’re going for a hard hit (or blocking, or just carrying it) you grab halfway up the haft to move it around so you don’t have to deal with the extra leverage. Wood splitting is a great example of what I mean.

My point is that it’s something you’d do a lot with a mace or axe but generally not with a sword. There are times when you would, but that’s another matter and probably falls under the medieval swordsmanship martial art, like you said.

Like I said, it’s more down to how it’s handled than how it looks. If you have a bigass knife that’s still light enough that you can use it like a knife, cool. If you have to start swinging it like a sword then it’s a sword. 99% of the time it’s in the name.

Even then, a lot of weapons have similar or equal damage stats in two or more damage types, so it’s still a better method than using the three damage types as the melee skills.

That’s not a binary yes/no question. A bowie knife, a Kukri and a Gladius have blade lengths that are fairly close in range, for example, and an Aircrew Survival Egress Knife is barely a few centimeters below it.

In practice, you’d pick a length that sounds right and classify everything below as “knife”, but you’d still have artifacts like knowing how to wield a “knife” doesn’t benefit when wielding a “sword”, even if the knife is less than an inch shorter than the sword.

I suppose you could implement a system where weapons that are fuzzy would belong to both categories, benefitting from either the average or the highest between the two, and splitting how much it trains your skill between both skills.

Oh, that one has it’s artifacts as well, and I agree they are more problematic than those of the clasifications suggested so far. Knowing how to wield a two-by-sword or a bokken helps zero for learning how to wield swords, for example.

Sounds like blade length isn’t the way to go in that case. I’d still say something like weight and where it’s distributed is more the way to go. It might be awkward trying to pick whether something is one or the other, but it should be more intuitive than blade length.

That said, your example is weird. Assuming Wikipedia is right, kukris and gladii(?) are around 18 inches, while the two knives are about 5 inches. That’s not close at all. Apparently bowie knives can go to 24 inches but that’s a sword. You COULD argue that a kukri is an axe, but the rest are firmly swords or knives. I’d be perfectly comfortable classing anything under 12 inches with balanced weighting as a knife, and I can’t think of somewhere that would fail.

Averaging skills isn’t a bad idea, but it kind of ruins the point of having separate skills anyway.

Well actually bokken are specially designed for training for katanas. Knowing your way around a bokken would help you use a sword. In the current implementation bokken are blunt and swords are cutting, so no amount of bokken training will help you with swords, which is unrealistic. (or is that exactly what you’re saying?)

Kukris: “while the blade lengths can vary from 26–38 cm for general use.” (10.2 - 14.9 in)
Gladius: “Blade length 45–68 cm (18–27 in)”
Bowie Knife: “Blade length 5–24 in” (12.7 cm - 76.2 cm)
ASEK: “the blade is 5 inches (13 cm) in length”
KABAR: “Blade length 7 inches (18 cm)”
Survival knives fall somewhere between KABARs and Kukris.

Bowie knives are particularly problematic in how big the variance their blade lengths have, and even kukris have a variance as big as a full third of their maximum typical length.

Not really, because most weapons would fall more neatly in a category, or at least the goal would be to pick categories so that’s the case. The interesting bit is that you can use “intermediate” weapons to bridge your way to the other category: start with a scavenged kitchen knife, switch to a bowie knife for a while, then you can confidently step into swords now that you’ve trained up the skill a little.

Yup, that’s exactly what I’m saying. A training sword in the current model doesn’t help you train for wielding swords.

From what I can tell kukris can be any bloody length they like, so I don’t know what to think. That said, I think at any length below 15 inches or so the shape wouldn’t contribute that much to the weight and it would basically act like a curvy knife. The one ingame is 0.75L while a combat knife is 0.5 and an arming sword is 2. So it’s half again as long as a combat knife? I guess? Hard to tell, but if it’s in the 10 inch range I’d say it’s a knife.

And yes, it’s pretty weird that bowie knives have that large of a variance.

If most weapons are going to fit snugly into a category, and we’re probably talking 90-99% here, there’s really no reason to implement shared skill weapons anyway. Just put them in the one that seems closest and call it a day.

Not sure if intermediate weapons is really practical, especially for anything other than weirdly long knives to swords. Unless there’s some 15 inch knife ingame, I don’t see that being realistic.

Ah, I hoped so.
Yeah, it’s really weird that it works that way now. With actual weapon type skills you could have all kinds of training weapons, and they would train you perfectly.

Bowie knives, survival knives, Kukris… they’re all in the game you know?

Then you have falchions, potentially training swords and eskrima sticks (and other training weapons), halligan bars, potentially punch daggers and katars (which are currently unarmed), macuahuitls…

Remember that since the training is being split, each individual skill would raise slower: a falchion is kinda poor at teaching you swords because it’s unbalanced, and kinda poor at teaching you axes given the handle, but it can do a little bit of both, and let you learn bridge the gap.

Yeah, but I disagree that any of them are long enough to be considered anywhere near a sword. Kukris are a bit long, but they’re pretty much more like a hatchet than anything else, so I’d say they’re an axe.

Well any training weapon is going to have to be the class it trains, it isn’t going to make sense to make them partially a club when they’re made to train swords.
Macuahuitls are basically sharp clubs, halligan bars could fall under clubs, although I’d almost consider having hammers and rods, so that quarterstaffs and baseball bats have somewhere to go. Blunt weapons would fall into one or the other. Then again, I’m not sure having a skill called rods is a good idea…
Handling wise, a falchion is just a sword that’s heavy at the end, which isn’t that uncommon, it’s nowhere near being an axe. Leave it with swords.

I don’t think bridging learning gaps is necessary when it doesn’t exist anywhere else in the game. And I think practising with a falchion is going to teach you swords, since it’s a sword.

Kris and RM42’s are the same volume in-game as Kukris. IRL, Kris are another of those whatever-length-I-feel-like weapons.

A training sword is also sufficiently club-like that you could apply what you learn with one with the club, say, with a baseball bat, to some extent.
Macuahuitls are also relatively sword-like, given that they are flat. Halligan bars can be used club-like like a crowbar, but they are also axe-like, that’s the whole point of them in fact, mixing up different rescue tools into one package.