Weapon Damage and Weapon Preferences

I have looked at few lists and read some reports about the weapons in the game. It seems that there are only a handful of weapons that are worth using and that is a shame. While it is true that a rapier is a more effective weapon than a spoon, it is FUN to imagine that a character with a high proficiency in wielding spoons could be quite deadly.

A person with murderous intent can kill with their bare hands and most creatures are more fragile than we would prefer so the real distinction between weapons may not necessarily be a 1 vs a 30, but rather dead vs deader.

If you will entertain this idea, I suspect we can come up with a mechanic that is satisfying for a lot of people. I don’t know the full mechanic which is used in the game currently, but some of the variables seem to be weapon damage, character skill, one/two hands, weapon reach, attack speed, damage type, parrying, and target defenses.

A starting point may be to base weapon damage on the character’s proficiency with the weapon. D&D has classified lists of weapons which are similar and classifications like that could be used rather than specific proficiency in specific items. Something like a rifle with a buttstock and a bayonette might be classified as a piercing weapon at range when fired, and in close proximity it could still be fired, but it could also become a melee weapon which does either bashing, slashing, or piercing damage. If I understand it, some weapons have special attacks that are used randomly and this would be no different, as the character would randomly use one of the possible attack modes. Some weapons are currently programmed to inflict multiple types of damage. That’s cool, and a suggested way to keep that feature would be to ensure that the sum of all damage type scores equals 1 (100%) and to use each score as a multiple of the damage inflicted. As a consequence, if the character’s proficiency in short spears indicates that they will deal 100 damage and their rifle with a bayonette has an attack mode that does 80% piercing and 20% slashing then the damage would potentially be 80 points of piercing and 20 points of slashing. The defender would potentially reduce that damage with their skills and armor. A variant attack mode with the same rifle might be 100% bashing, or it could be 98% bashing and 2% cutting because combat is messy.

Each attack mode would have a defined reach. Weapons could also have one and two handed attack modes. If one hand is occupied with a ladder, a steering wheel, or a shield then the two handed modes would be disabled. If both hands are free, then the two handed modes might be used 75% of the time because they would generally be preferable. Two handed attacks might generally provide better reach and less chance of fumbling. Wielding two weapons might cut the rate of attacks for both by half. In that way a shield, which is also a bashing weapon, would get used about half of the time What’s the advantage? In addition to bash, slash, and pierce I think a portion of each weapon’s attributes should be allotted to parry. A shield might have 20% bash and 80% parry so a character utilizing a shield would get 80% parry 50% of the time and the quality of that parry would be determined by the characters skill with shields.

In the spoon vs sword scenario, the sword should have an upper hand. With some creative license we can imagine that blocking competes with dodging and that leverage is negated by finesse so all weapons are equal, but that’s a hard story to sell. Bigger weapons are better at blocking up to a point an then they are better at keeping the opponent at a distance. We already accounted for this by adding a parry attribute to every weapon and because some weapons have better range. It’s not realistic. Small weapons might be faster, but large weapons are not actually slow. A two handed axe can even be wielded in one hand. So here I have come full circle. If we give the better weapons a buff or the improvised weapons a penalty then players will be incentivized to ignore the lesser weapons. I don’t think that it is necessary or good. It’s a game. Most players will prefer the better weapons because they know they are better weapons. NPCs could likewise choose weapons because they see a hidden weaponness score that might be the old damage score. That decision should be random, but it would be weighted by their existing skills and the weaponness of the available weapons so they would generally choose the better real world weapon even though with enough practice that choice would not actually matter. If the player’s swordsman dies because an NPC bests them with a spoon, that’s actually funny.

It would only be a problem if it happened at a stupidly high rate.

This makes me wish we had a dorf fortress style combat system where you aim your attacks and mobs have limbs and vulnerabilities that you could attempt to exploit at reduced success chances.

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That would also be cool. I think that the simple “tab” button to stand and attack is good, but it would be better if it was the “.” button just like driving. I think “tab” should be repurposed to cycle through the character and the enemies and NPCs like the up/down arrows do in the monster tab in “V” mode, but all the time. The “V” mode could then be used simply to view all the items laying about. Tab and shift-tab would keep situational awareness up with fewer button presses. Capital “F” might be a good key for aimed attacks like fallout or df because “f” is used for targeting firearms. And if a mob is already the focus of “tab” then “f” should begin with that mob rather than the nearest mob and tab would cycle from there just as it already does.

After reading all this, this part in particular, I have to ask - Have you actually spent much time playing the game? I don’t mean to be rude with this, I’m just a bit confused. Because there’s nothing stopping you from doing any of the above if you really wanted to. Weapon reach and speed is already modeled, along with accurate stats for “using with sheer intent to kill”. Get your brawling martial art high enough and you can probably kill a zombie with a pen without much risk, if it doesn’t break first.

There’s always going to be optimal weapons in any game, because stats are stats, and CDDA in particular doesn’t try to introduce too much inaccuracy in favor of balance. Which is why Rifles with Bayonets or any reach weapon is ridiculously powerful, letting you deal free damage as long as your stamina holds up, which can be trained.

There will absolutely never be a venture to try and make a spoon anywhere close to competitive with a sword, in any world, period - Reach is king, just watch actual historical martial artists try to deal with spears. The sword vs the spoon is an even more exaggerate version of the advantage the spear has. CDDA doesn’t operate off movie logic for its fights, your not gonna John Wick a guy with a gun using a spoon, but its not gonna stop you from trying.

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Thanks for joining the discussion,

I’m really new to the game. I like it, but there are a lot of reasons for players to start metagaming and I am sharing this suggestion because there are already way too many games that railroad people onto an optimal tech tree which leads to a relatively limited number of character builds and loadouts.

I believe you when you tell me that if I grind enough I could take the spoon as my character’s main weapon. That isn’t my goal. I hate grinding and I don’t want to use a spoon. The point was that if all of the weapons (including spoons because it was an exaggerated example) were relatively equal then the players could tell the story they wanted to tell. Most players would use appropriate weapons because, like me, most players will agree with you that some weapons are better than others. If the damage stat becomes a weaponness stat that influences NPC weapon selection then the NPCs will also behave appropriately. It would take a strange series of random events for an NPC to gain enough proficiency with rolling pins that they might choose to use it against a character. In real life, one well placed hit with that rolling pin could end a person’s life as could a flurry of jabs from an improvised ball point pen shiv. I think that the stats skew the game away from realism because reach may be king, but almost every weapon is very dangerous in the hands of a person who intends to kill.

I didn’t remove the advantage of reach in my suggestions, but once the gap is closed, players with similar weapon proficiency in dissimilar weapons would be more evenly matched. I admit that that is not realistic. We will never get realism in a game, but it would make room for players to succeed with a greater variety of character builds and loadouts and it would make the game less formulaic. In a world overrun by B movie monsters, I’m not convinced that the game doesn’t operate on movie logic. We don’t need to agree about which strategy is more realistic. My proposal is that the system I described will tell more and better stories.

This is actually covered by the design doc - to quote:

The core tenet of Dark Days Ahead game design and balance is that if it works in reality, it should work in the game. Scavenge and craft makeshift weapons, improvise shelter, outmaneuver enemies, find, repair and drive vehicles. Deal with monsters using your brains, melee weapons, firearms, traps, explosives, other monsters, fire, and if all else fails, a truck or two. This grounding results in sometimes unexpected inversions of gaming tropes, where storage capacity of clothing is more important than armor, or weight of highly effective gear outweighs its effectiveness.

So the game doesn’t operate on movie logic, the game aims to replicate realistic outcomes. To quote again from the Game Balance doc,

The driving goal of balance in DDA is to support versimilitude in the scenario . In other words we want the right things to be present to match reality, but also when those things are used to accomplish goals, they should be appoximately as effective at doing so as their real-world counterparts. Of note, this is not the same as pursuing all aspects of realism. New features added should have the goal of improving verissimilitude rather than complexity for complexity’s sake.

So the game should, and does, permit you to become very lethal with your fists, or improvised or unusual weapons - But they are as effective as one would expect if they brought them to a real fight. Earth people and earth materials should behave as they do today. The more B-Movie logic starts to come in with things like the [redacted] which bring extradimensional tech - You can’t realistically be John Wick with a pen, but you can plausibly get a bionic combat accelerator that gets you close, made on some future parallel Earth.

I’m really glad your enjoying the game, and I hope you don’t take any of this as me trying to put you or your ideas down, just these roads have been conversed before, many times, which is why these documents and guidelines exist. Keep playing the game, get a feel for the late-survivor experience. Build up to high end gear, find the [Redacted] and make friends with them, do quests and help the refugee center, see what there is to offer.

Then, once you have a better feeling for what the game is, how it works, why it works the way it does, and what it does offer down the line, come back with some suggestions, and that newfound experience will help ground it a lot more.

For you in particular, I highly recommend turning on the “Aftershock” mod in your next world - If you want more of a b-movie logic experience, Aftershock will get you closer with its far future colony world conversion. You’ll reach the movie logic stuff you may enjoy more, much faster than pure base CDDA.

I actually wish the game was more realistic. I doubt I will ever have time to see the late game stuff, but I have been laid up with a broken leg so I have a little bit of time right now.

I know we disagree, but I actually think that the damage stats and the grinding are skewing the game away from realism. The wacky results that could happen would only happen if the player in this single player game deliberately decided to specialize in spoonsmanship. If that is their wish then slowing them down is a pointless exercise in railroading. Most players would gravitate towards optimal weapons as they play out the story and they would consequently be less proficient with random objects. NPCs would have the same biases so there isn’t really a breach of realism. I’ve met people who fell down and became paralyzed because they landed in an unfortunate way. I have a broken leg right now. Some people survive a bullet to the head. If a major artery is cut people can bleed out fast. Combat is dangerous, no matter which weapon is involved.

I think the grinding part can be easily skipped through Freeflow in char creation. At level 10 in all combat skills you could kill hordes of normal zombies with a spoon, heck you could probably kill a hulk too. Then you could increase all your stats to 20 and have so much bash damage increase due to Strength that most of your cutting and piercing weapons would be dealing more bashing damage, and you’d crit a lot too due to Dexterity.

I think the grinding is very much skippable since you’re given the option to create the pinnacle of humanity in char creation. Though if its the lessening of the grind that you seek then there’s a way to mod that too.

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That’s one way to do it. I am not a fan of super characters, but they do seem to be popular. I suppose then you might give all the monsters lvl 10 skills and lvl 20 stats too to make it balanced.

I wrote about an alternative to grinding here: