Weapon Familiarity & Melee To-Hit balancing

So I got this from playing a lot of Silent Storm, and it’s a feature I think would fit nicely in a game like this.

The gist of it is simple, the more you use a weapon, the more attuned you are to using it, despite possible flaws in the weapon itself.
So say you start out with a crappy melee weapon, that has a lot of flaws… But because you have no alternatives, you start using it regardless of it’s flaws. Over time you get used to the weapon you’re wielding, making the flaws less… flaw-y, and becoming better with the weapon than someone else could.

So in turn your favourite weapon becomes better and better over time in terms of handling. So that unwieldy yet deadly Combat Knife can become a beastly weapon if you use it enough…

Of course if you don’t use a weapon for a long time, you would lose your familiarity bonus. So it’s not like you can max out a bunch of good weapons and then reap the rewards whenever they’re needed.

And if you look at Zombie (and other survival) series, all the heroes (and badguys) have their own ‘‘favourite weapons’’ that set them apart from the others. Michonne has her Katana, Tyreese has his hammer, Gordon Freeman has a crowbar, etc.

So the advantages would be simple, the more and more you use a weapon, the more familiar you get with said weapon, and the easier it gets to wield for you… So over time a weapon gets a higher +tohit value compared to it’s base stats.

Conversly, if this was to be added, it could make weapons with a high starting to-hit even more overpowered as they are already. The baseball bat would be even badasser than usual.
So maybe this means the melee tohit system needs to be altered for this change, everything lowered to +0 or lower. Because anyone with no weapons training shouldn’t be able to fly through the air waving their quarterstaff around like it’s nothing.

If the tohit gets rebalanced, it would make the starting game inherently more tough for people not starting with melee skills. And that might be a good thing, because in turn it would reward people for getting a weapon and sticking to it for longer times.

  1. Of those characters, I’m only at all familiar with Gordon. None of those are really a “bad” weapon, and the crowbar is the worst chiefly because it’s not built for hitting things. A hammer or a katana is already a good weapon, and I’d consider myself adequately armed for a melee with either.

To-hit values are something that actually has a formula in the balance workup. That formula isn’t always strictly followed, granted, but it’s there.

Most I can accept familiarity handling is the grip and (maybe) striking-planes aspect: no matter how good you get with the knife it’s still less than a foot long, and though you’re good at not hitting folks with the flat it’s still an edge and a point, not a mace.

So I’m not really sold on this being worth the time.

I could see something like this, but I think it would be more of a simple threshold mechanic. After you’ve used a weapon a certain number of times, depending on the weapon type itself, you’d get some bonus. For instance, with a knife, the bonus might be to dodge, since the mechanics of knife-fighting are such that getting into knifing range without getting dead is much of the skill. With a quarterstaff, it might be something like the ability to do a spin attack that has a chance to hit every zombie around you. Swords might get a small increase to speed, and bashing weapons might get a bonus a la Deft.

I wouldn’t mess with the to-hit, and I would make it a one tiered, or at most a two tiered system. It would obviously be a lot of work, however, and I’m not sure how many people would be that interested. One advantage of giving something somewhat unique based upon the actual weapon type rather than the damage type is that you could use it to reflect the learning curve of various weapons and how they are learned. Quarterstaff is a passable weapon in the hand of a novice, a pretty decent weapon in the hand of skilled user, and absolute badassery in the hands of a master (thanks to its large range and ability to keep multiple enemies at a distance). Baseball bats are a lot better for a novice, but don’t get that much better over time, since the benefit of a baseball bat is largely in its balance and design, and less in technique (the technique of most bludgeoning weapons is just to hit really hard and expect to smash bones).

I think weapon skills raise too quickly for the benefit of something like this to really be worthwhile.

From a game-design point of view, modifying weapons to make them “your” weapons is what is done in many games and it’s done for a reason, because it’s fun.

The problem is, making it still remotely “realistic”, as this game isn’t taking place in a magical world with runes, magic and more.