Some skillbook changes

Currently, cataclysm dda’s preferred method of learning skills seems to be shacking up underground with a horde of food and energy drinks and an atomic lamp, and going to down on a pile of skillbooks for months on end.

I’d like to suggest a way to alter that without having to completely re-write the recipe and crafting system.

First: Remove the ability for the player to gain skill levels from reading books. You can still learn recipes and craft from them, but no longer skill up.

Second: Instead of skilling up by reading the book, having the book nearby when you craft a related recipe will instead enhance the rate at which you learn from crafting. I’m not too good at balance, so I’m just going to pull numbers out of my butt, but feel free to choose your own.

Example: You’re trying to train from rating 8 mechanics to rating 9, and you have a rating 8+ mechanics skillbook nearby, the rate at which you train mechanics while crafting in the vincinity of said book (or if its in your inventory) increases by 40% (or whatever).

Example 2: You’re trying to train from rating 4 cooking to rating 5, and you only have a rating 3 book nearby, you’d still get a exp bonus but to a lesser extent. Say 30% or whatever, and it decreases the further away you skill above the rating of the best book of the related skill you have on hand.

Example 3: You’re trying to train from survival 1 to 2, and have no survival related books on hand. You gain skill experience as normal.

Third: Make it so that having a relevant book on hand of the appropriate skill level gains you a bonus yield on dis-assembly. Having a rating 3 construction book and dismantling a construction-furniture that normally has lossy yields would give less lossy yields on account of you basically having a reference to plan your dis-assembly from.

^ With the above three changes, skill books would still involve a lot of time spent, but it would encourage supply and resource gathering so you can actually craft your skill up, instead of just cuddling up with a book, but would also lessen the resource gathering part slightly to compensate because you could dismantle stuff easier to rebuild.

Another possible change: Give skill/crafting books a durability, and have the books in worse condition give less than optimal exp gain and maybe even have missing recipes and be less valuable. Also, make their condition degrade if you don’t store/treat them properly (but give the ability to keep their condition stable with some minor care and attention, and maybe some chemistry-related ability to attempt to restore their condition to a higher value but risk their destruction in the process) That way finding multiple of the same copy goes from ‘Well, I only need one’ to ‘Found a better one!’

This wouldn’t work well without quite a bit of extra adjustments. For example, making all recipes in the book available at all levels so that you can actually learn the skill somehow.

The exp bonus would have to be 50%-200% (depending on skill and level - higher levels could deal with lower bonuses) to make sense. Otherwise hunting for the books would only make sense for the recipes and when heavily grinding the skill, not for general use.

Another thing is that you’d have to carry the book on your person, which can be a problem early on. So if you wanted to learn unarmed fighting, you’d have to haul the fighting book to combat. And having it provide a timed bonus on read would probably render the whole thing too tedious to bother with (unless the bonus had a long timeout or was automatic or something) and so isn’t a solution here.

Skills that rely on skillbooks would be hard to start. For example, mechanics from lvl 0 to lvl 2 can be learned only by performing actions like reinforcing metal items, picking locks and prying doors/windows/crates/manholes. There is no early recipe that goes from lvl 0 to lvl 1 and the ones at lvl 1 are costly.
For electronics, you’d have to dismantle flashlights until you get the first level.
For melee combat, you’d have to risk getting bitten to learn it, making the skillbooks for it nearly useless. Archery skillbooks would become even worse than they are now.

The increased yields on deconstruction don’t really make sense. Random yields make sense when the things you’re deconstructing are supposed to be a bit different - different table sizes, different brands etc. If you want a bonus here, it could be deconstruction speed.

Book rot sounds like something that doesn’t add much to the game, but can easily become very annoying. The only way I see it could add anything positive would be if the book got damaged when used to gain extra xp (and not just for existing), but it would be completely unrealistic.

So the idea of bonus xp books itself is workable, but would need quite a bit of work to be good. Either altering the skills that don’t fit, making exceptions (for lower levels), adding extra mechanics etc.

For the exp bonus amount, yeah I was just pulling numbers out of butt. 50-200% might work well.

As for carrying the book on your person, yeah I could see that being a pain for the more active skills. Maybe you can craft little cheat sheets with a piece of paper and a writing implement, and the cheat sheet is really light and unencumbering and gives you the exp bonus but runs out of durability over time until it turns back into a scrap of paper?

For the ‘difficult to start’ stuff, maybe each skillbook could get added a basic set of easy craftables that you can practice on over time to get past the first couple of levels. Practice locks, combat dummies, dodge hurdles, spinning pegs, archery targets, etc.

Deconstruction speed probably works better than yield. I was going at it from the ‘you have the blueprints and can plan ahead’ angle.

I have some thoughts about skill books too. I dislike camping out for 20-40 days reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, to get my skills better. With the last few characters I’ve played, I’ve tried to ignore books–except maybe to bring a skill to level 1 to work with it in the first place. You can learn a lot from a book, but in terms of practical application, books have their limits. I think that they could raise a skill a single level or–like you mentioned–introduce simple recipes.

As far as using books for recipes, maybe it could be that you learn a group of recipes. Like, once you understand basic circuit theory, you can piece together a flashlight, soldering iron, or other simple electronics.

And instead of a skill bonus from books, I think that different skills could receive bonuses based on your stats. Intelligence and perception help people understand and succeed better by learning from mistakes and figuring out why things work the way they do. Dexterity may help for tasks like sewing. I think it should be work to raise the skills, but it shouldn’t be a grind. Often times, I find myself finding no motivation to practice skills to achieve higher levels because the lower skills have my needs covered (Construction reaching level 2 so I can make a fireplace in my base is a great example of that). But of course, how to implement things that way takes time, practice, and tweaking.

Maybe they could be used as scrolls in D&D?
Can either learn the craft or use the book to craft with a hefty extra time AND a chance of failure based on skill and the difficulty?
Besides the actual act of doing something all skills should also have the theory.

I think the best suggestions that I’ve heard for skill changes are simply requiring part of each skill rise be practical. Even if it was a single item, it would change the flavor of it. So for example in order to get chemistry from 8 to 9 you can read read read - but you have to make at least a single mutagen. (or whatever). The problem with this is that not every skill level HAS something.

Here’s what might work better.

At certain skill levels where there are a lot of items, you have to have at least one item made to raise the skill level. So for example, I start with electronics 0. I read and raise it to 1. In order to raise it from 1 to 2, I have to have at least 1 item made from electronics level 0 or 1. Or disassemble some amount of items from the same skill level. And stuff like that may not seem like much, but it can be a lot of work just scrounging around for components for some of these things. Its more about the atmosphere of it then the actual balance. I do think the skill system is mostly fine as it is. I mean, spending time holed up in a basement doesn’t make sense from the ‘real world’ standpoint, but it is mechcanically balanced as you could spend that time doing other things. It just needs to be made to ‘feel’ real. I definately don’t want to see mandatory grinding implemented.

Combine that with something like the suggestion KA101 brought up in another thread about perks and such and I think the system would be fine. I definately do think it needs tweaked, but I also think there are other problems that need worked on more and a limited number of coding developers and time.

How about instead of having to carry the skill book with you you get bonuses for having read the book. So I’m trying to gain electronics so I read the What is a Transistor? book and have bonus. I’d say you get the bonus till you hit skill 2. Then if you want the bonus again you’d have to read it again. Your understanding of electronics is different and you’d get more out of it. As for recipes, I’d say generally leave them as they are. Though I would like a chance to “discover” book recipes without the books. You might have a chance to think of some recipes while disassembling relevant items.

Minor tweak to this idea: reading skillbooks can’t take you over 50% of the way to the next skill.