Looking for Opinions on Combat Redundancy

The only way truly and completely around this would be to give more choice per stats. Like three magic choices if your magic is high and so that you always have a real choice.

Needless to say this can quickly balloon into a mess for the writer.

Else I can only parrot both malinryden and parrotwatcher, and say that you essentially have to write around those situations, but again that is not always doable.

Generally, I try two always have at least two choices that always sort of work mixed, in with the stat choices, but I also need that, because if you lack the stat you can’t even pick the choice - so I need two default or I might end up with no choice.

Then again, the majority of my choices will properly be investigating choices. I think. So no much combat for me.

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I think what people forget, and I believe CoG do actually point out in one of their tutorial/documents (correct me if I’m wrong @RETowers), is that stats are a tool, a method of keeping track of ‘decisions’ in a non-linear way. You are a 75% ‘good guy’ is much easier to note and act on than it is to check: you made exactly choices a, b, and d (but not c), in terms of mechanics. They aren’t numbers for numbers sake :slight_smile:


There are gray areas. Example- in Lucid’s Lost Heir series the Magic checks vary and are 0 in some situations. You can kill the final boss of Lost Heir 1 with 0 Magic, you just need to distract him or disable his Plot Coupon somehow first. Game players should know what I’m talking about. So having the Magic Option works there. It is also good to have to remember to use the skills in which you have points for character building- or use the ones that fail if you want to find out you may not have enough skill for replay research or comedy purposes etc.

Also sometimes there’s a situation where one Skill helps another succeed- in Lost Heir 2 less than 45 Strength ain’t enough to bust open a jail door before the Guards notice you busting it down. But if you have 30 Magic and can cast a Silence spell first… that’s one example.


I’d say there are two big differences between RPGs and CoGs/HGs. The first, and most obvious, is the lack of any save system in most released games, meaning that, instead of a quick reload, a bad decision can cost you several hours of reading.

The second, less obvious one, is that RPGs have very well-defined rules (or at least they should have), and the player will have a lot of experience with fights, which is something that really doesn’t happen in CoG/HGs. (And for good reason; I can imagine a game would not be well received if it took you ten battles to get to the first town, where you get no plot progression, but do get the chance to find an old lady’s medicine… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: )


I have trouble with this one… how do you avoid having ‘always pick your best stat’, while still making the player’s stats mean something? Does it lessen the experience if they can always choose and succeed at any choice?

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What if we think of the issue less in terms of “succeed at any choice” (which suggests the combat is just a dumb obstacle to get over as a speed bump) and more in terms of a hub where interesting choices can be made to propel the narrative in different directions?

So in that sense, failing a combat can be a viable choice, narratively. Maybe you get captured or have an out of body experience or suffer a terrible bleeding wound or lose a friend. But more interestingly, what if there’s a reason to not pick your best stat? You have to talk down the goblin instead of shooting it because your friend asks you to?

Otherwise, I don’t think you even need the choice of whether to swing your sword or throw a knife other than as a quick fake choice for a little local color.


So it’s ok as long as failing still leads to something different and interesting? Rather than being a game over?


Part of the issue here is a lack of understanding mechanics and the (in)ability to execute a mechanical structure when writing/developing a game.

CoG terms it a four-point trap. Here is a concise definition of a four-point trap:

There is also what CoG calla the Trouble:

Where GoG’s model breaks down in understanding is that many authors/developers think to counter these issues that stats need to be immediately balanced out at the time they are utilized. What one hand gives, the other must take away right away or you get caught in the Trouble or the four-point trap.

Another way of looking at this is that the mechanical structure of your game is more like plumbing it has faucets, that add to stats, sinks that pool stats together, often for checks, and drains to subtract those stats.

Here I’m going to quote myself:

Here is where the answer to @Scribblesome’s question comes into place:

and my words once more:

If you always balance out (or zero out) stat increases/decreases then you invariably end up with the player ending up with stats in the middle. By varying your results and thus mixing your options up, even if they seem the same, you’ll allow people to play a specialized game or play a generalized game - however, they wish.


@Gower @Eiwynn

These are both excellent ways to get around the exact problem that I was speaking of! I’m gonna read through more of that thread now, as I was unable to find anything about this after some searching before I made this thread.

More insight is always appreciated!


What if options combine multiple stats? Or is that still just a mutant version of the 4PT?


It’s a mutant form - if I understand your circumstances because the complexity is more of an illusion then a true modifier of the equation.

Edit: In my contest entry (that was just turned in) I tried to utilize a CS mechanic called *multiple choice - and I tried to use it for a stack of 6 different stats. In theory, this mechanic should help address this problem but as it works right now, it is very clumsy and becomes very inefficient beyond a stack of two. It took me a lot more code to use this function then it should have.

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You solve things differently. Let’s say you have a rather classic fantasy stat set up. You can be good at melee, range and magic. In addition you have a few more personal stats in a slider, let’s say charming-intimidating and daring-cautious.

Now, you are going to cross an ancient bridge, but the bridge is guarded by a black knight that demands a duel before you pass.

I could see the following choice setup:


1: Try to talk him into letting you pass (written differently whether you are charming or intimidating, really hard to succeed at, failure leads to fight)
2: Decline, and pretend to leave, then take the opportunity to shoot him from afar (succeed if high ranged, if middle range leads to fight with wounded knight, if low, lead to harder fight because he’s angry and ready)
3: Use magic to teleport across (the bridge is guarded by magic runes, high magic gets you across, otherwise you get zapped and ends up in a fight.)
4: Accept the duel gracefully (leads to fight, but easier since you are being honorable).

Starts with either advantage or disadvantage depending on last choice.
1: melee fight (win if good, win of middle plus advantage from earlier or high caution, lose otherwise. If accepted the duel from 4 above you will be allowed to retreat gracefully, otherwise run for your life, end up hurt or lose things) (special, can be allowed to cross even with low melee, if high daring, because the knight respects your courage).
2: ranged fight (Cannot win, will probably look a lit like a fool. Have an easier time running away unhurt than above if high cautious)
3: magic (win if good, or middle magic/middle melee, or middle magic/high daring to take the risk needed. Otherwise hurt and retreat, less hurt if high cautious.).


Will have either got across and beaten the knight or magicked across.
Otherwise they had to pull back, might be hurt or have lost items. Have to find another way across.

This is just on the top of my head. The players stats should mean things, but success and loss doesn’t need to be clearcut. The important thing is that the choices feel in character.


I don’t think I’ve heard of that one. How’s that work?


This leads to great narration and immersion no matter what the reader picks, which is ultimately what the end goal is. As mentioned before, it is definitely way more work than the typical 4 Point Trap, Yes/No checks that are provided in many games, however. I’d really love to see more of this sort of thing, though! :star_struck:

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Here is a sample 2x2 … if you go to the thread this comes from, you’ll see more discussion on it too:


What I was thinking of is something I’ve done a few times in my own game which is, you have a check for stat A which is difficult for stat A on its own, but if you have stat B as well it’s easier. So making an emotional appeal checks persuasive but is a hard persuasive if you’re not an emotional person (because you’re faking it) and easier if you are.
(and I appear to have hijacked this thread a bit, sorry!)


I do something similar in that I have a set of “bonus stats” to help less developed stats overcome checks. The difference between our approaches is an external modifier (my bonus stats) vs an internal modifier.

I still would caution you with your approach because it still seems vulnerable to specialization - just maybe splitting it into a “major” and “minor” specialization.

I purposefully had non-related bonuses apply cross-stat to encourage a generalist approach if the player wishes.

Whichever way it is addressed @Gower’s prose suggestion is the ultimate blending that we do as authors and that can carry you through if the mechanics are not perfect.


There’s also the issue of having multiple paths to do the same thing. Lost Heir 1- your Magic user might be a Wizard, a Priest, a Druid, or a Fighter who dabbles in Magic- you need the same Magic Stat to cover all such characters. The same game locks you out of certain Options at times if you’re not interested in certain things. Want to avoid Archery? Don’t ever grab or buy a Bow and you’ll never see a lot of Archery Options. Want to never steal and play a Good Future Paladin? Take a ‘no thieving’vow at the Temple (option locked out if you are a Thief by trade or have less than 50 Good). Such situations don’t always appear but they are possible sometimes.

That’s certainly an interesting conversation. I too think that sometimes CoGs become too attached to the “pick the right stat” model, and while a good story might carry through it, it often doesn’t do the narrative any favors, becoming just a way for the reader to pick the right stat, rather than the choice per se.

And a good answer, I’d argue, is in Choice of Rebels. In this game, the main skills are divided in Combat, Intellect and Charisma. The MC, for the first game, will be great at one, okay at another and suck in the last.

It’s simple and intuitive, but Havenstone makes interesting changes to the formula. The most important one, I think, is this: you can’t use all the stats all the time (at the same situations) but the three skills are equally strong. So, while a COM 2 character might not punch their way out of an argument, a CHA 2 rebel isn’t going to convince a good strategy.

There’s no weak pick, but they all show up in different points of the story, which is a hook towards replayability. They also make combat more engaging, since the MC will either lead their followers to victory in some ways and in others, they’ll have to rely on commanders, who will begin to accumulate more influence themselves.


Just wanted to clear it up, it’s rarely that we consider posting in a #game-development threads as necroing, even though they’re years old. Of course, posting a post relevant to the old topic isn’t easy.