Friday, February 25, 2011
Getting rid of Weapon and Armor Proficiency the Demon's Souls Way
One of the reasons that is actually very easy in Demon's Souls is through the way that they deal with equipment and proficiency. In order to use a particular weapon, all you need is the requisite minimum statistics. There aren't any Feats you have to deal with, or any skills you have to train if you want to use something like a wand or a big huge sword. All you need is a bit of magic power or a bit of strength or faith and you're good to go. I love that.
But, spells and miracles are only half of it; there are also all the weapons. There are actually suprisingly more magic weapons in the game than I remembered. The reason for that is probably due to the fact that my first time playing through the game took me well over 200 hours. I got beaten down badly all the time. But, once you figure out the game, and get better at it, you learn to remember where things are difficult and where the bad things are going to come out of the darkness and the game's difficulty level becomes a bit more manageable. Because the game took me soooooooo long to play, I remember using the same basic gear for a much longer period of time.
But now, that is a very different story. I am going through weapons pretty quickly - I have gotten a bunch of new magical gear which keeps me entertained. And, since I'm kind of middle of the road when it comes to stats, I almost never worry about not being able to use something - being a generalist certainly has its perks.
Maybe the simulationist has a perfectly reasonable explanation for why certain weapons may require proficiency to use well, or why some weapons are harder to use than others, or why a certain weapon might require special training to be able to actually hit someone with, but in the end, that all just feels like a lot of dead weight to me. I don't want to have to tie myself down to using only Fullblades for the rest of my fighters career, when I pick up that Exotic Weapon Prof Feat at level 1. Retraining aside, I think it is much more fun to simply allow people, within reason of course, to use whatever weapon they want whenever they want to use it.
The way that Demon's Souls does this is pretty clean and simple. Every weapon has an associated set of abilities; maybe that is strength, or dexterity, or maybe it is faith, magic, or luck. If you don't have the requisite ability score, you can't use that weapon to its full power. You suffer some damage when wielding the weapon in question. Most of the time though, weapons that are in the same category all pretty much use the same ability scores as a baseline. If you're going to be hitting someone over the head with a big sword, you will likely need a high strength; the same can be said for medium sized swords, and other two handed weapons as well. By doing this, the game allows you to pick from a lot of different weapons, keeping the game fun, and also keeping you from getting bored. Variety is the spice of life and this system keeps life very spicy.
You could easily make whatever pen and paper RPG you are playing work the same way. D&D 4e is particularly easy in this respect. For example, you could simply rule that anyone with a strength of 18 can use a two-handed weapon and gain the proficiency bonus for it. You could also say that 16 is required for things like axes; maybe 14 for stuff like one-handed swords, etc. House ruling like this will let your players experiment with different types of weapons and will allow them the flexibility to pick up something new once in a while and try it out.