Max level for ECL races

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:46 pm

I have eventually come to the conclusion that the whole ecl system of this mud is wrong, and that it would be good for everybody to abolish it completely. Particularly enlightening were the posts of Yemin and Beskytter.

The fact that ecl is also implemented in a crass manner, with a level cap that has never been planned in either tabletop or any other game system employing this same ruleset, as abundantly shown by the evidence gathered, is only a secondary matter.

On FK the premises for ECL to have sense are simply missing.

In fact it is again very easy to understand that the bonuses these races get are not comparable to what a character achieves with higher levels in their class. It is not that racial bonuses are worse than feats and hit-points, they are just different things, hence not comparable, as I said. I could go on and make a long list of stuff that ecl makes *really* odd, but I would rather not since it would be a lengthy list of obvious things, and more importantly it would distract from the main point as it has happened so far more than once when I mentioned this kind of things.

So, back to the main point, what are the premises in tabletop for a higher ECL? To keep a balanced level of power in a party with races endowed with meaningful bonuses and races that do not have them. Note the key expression here: "in a party". Outside of a party of adventurers things are different.

First and foremost this can be seen by the difference between challenge rating and higher effective class level. A drow, for instance has ecl +2 but cr +1, that is they level as a character of two levels higher, but their power in battle is that of a character only one level higher, since their bonuses do not apply to all conditions. For example spell resistance is useless against a melee attack.

Then there is the matter of isolation, in a party with only deep gnomes, for instance, it would not mean much in tabletop if they had ecl +2, +3 or even +8, because the master would make sure they get the right amount of experience to level normally. ECL comes into play only if these deep gnomes are in the same group with, say, dwarves or surface gnomes.

So let's analyze the races of FK under these premises and see if they have either the bonuses, their presence among less powerful races or other features that justify a higher ecl.

Orcs:
Have orcs any meaningful advantage to justify their higher ecl? No.

Drow and Deep Gnomes:
Have drow and deep gnomes any meaningful advantage to justify their higher ecl? Yes.
Do drow and deep gnomes play and level among races less powerful than they are? No.

Planetouched:
Have the planetouched any meaningful advantage to justify their higher ecl? Yes.
Do the planetouched play and level among races less powerful than they are? Yes.
Do the planetouched have then some reason to have a higher ECL on FK? No.

The planetouched are perhaps the only races here with some of the premises needed for a higher ecl, but their extremely high kismet cost, in my opinion, definitely makes up for the minor advantages they get from their race.

That said I feel I have said all I wanted in this thread and I will only add just a pair of additional considerations.

Firstly it is worth mentioning that this thread is not related to rp in any way, since higher ecl has obviously nothing to do with rp. Higher ecl for some races is exquisitely a matter of game balance. Hence addressing things as the isolation of these races as a chracteristic of their rp is plain wrong. Of course it is a nice aspect of their rp and one I personally like, but in this context it should be analyzed as a disadvantage of these races, because it precludes to them many resources and possibilities that other races have.

Last but not least I would like to state again that the whole matter of power is not really a big concern of mine per se. Since there are non-ecl races which are often pretty nice, if I want a level 50 character who gets to level 10 in non-biblical time, I can just play one of these non-ecl races. Plain and simple. It is because of their beautiful rp and setting that I pursue, also, ecl-races. But these races are extremely penalyzed by this feature, which kills many a player's motivation early on when they struggle at low levels, and gratification later when they hit the unfair level cap. My sincere desire would be to see one day these races being as viable as the others and to see players use them for their main alts, and I am now convinced that for this to happen ecl must go.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:22 pm

I really approve of your passion on this topic.

I will just share my own point of view, which is that ECL is not the reason I do not play my svirf more. It's boredom. They can only feasibly interact with other svirf (of which there are very few) and are supposed to (primarily) stay in the UD.

It gets boring. You're essentially playing a single player game. There may be 30 other people playing on peak, but 29 of them are somewhere you can't go.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Rordan » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:23 pm

Vaemar wrote:I have eventually come to the conclusion that the whole ecl system of this mud is wrong, and that it would be good for everybody to abolish it completely.
The way you present this is very condescending. The ECL system has been here for years and players have coped with it. There have been complaints, but we make due with what we have to the best of our ability. I don't think abolishing it would accomplish anything at this time, as the difficulty of leveling these races is the same both on the mud and in pen and paper.

Could there be changes? Yes, there could. The races could be allowed to reach max level while still suffering from a +5 level penalty, making it difficult to reach max level but still achievable. This would be the most by the book fix we could have. But removing ecl completely seems... Wrong. It'll make leveling easier for those races, and they are not supposed to be easy to level up and become powerful. Half the challenge of the races with ECL is that you are required to invest more time and effort because you are playing something special. You have to be willing to take every burden that accompanies an ECL race, not remove the burdens because you find them inconvenient. You pay a great cost, and some of it is paid in time and frustration. It comes with the territory.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Alinor » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:37 pm

I don't really see anything wrong with ECL races needing more experience to level, but I also don't see any reason why they shouldn't be able to achieve max level like everyone else if they put in the time and effort.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Thurgan » Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:55 pm

I would support allowing ECL races to reach lvl 50. Leave ECL as it is otherwise, along with race abilities as is.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:16 pm

Rordan wrote:You have to be willing to take every burden that accompanies an ECL race, not remove the burdens because you find them inconvenient.
Speaking of myself only I have at present three ecl characters, all already well past level 15 and thus past the critical level where ecl is problematic in the first place. The ecl characters I have in program, for when I reach the required kismet, will have lower ecl, so I doubt they will be any harder to level. Hence I can safely state that these burdens are not incovenient for me.

Precisely: for me.

You see, the problem is that I, you and a few others are outliers. As you can read a few posts above many others have found the experience frustrating and have either abandoned their character or not even had the courage to roll one in the first place!
I don't think abolishing it would accomplish anything at this time, as the difficulty of leveling these races is the same both on the mud and in pen and paper.
On the contrary, since I witnessed myself, even in so little time, countless deep gnomes and drow characters never making it past level ten, I believe that removing this inequivocably negative feature of the mud would yield only good results for the game in general, making easier for players who are less inclined to mindless grinding to enjoy a different rp.

The way you put it down, in that you need to deal with ecl to achieve the privilege to play something special, and as we have managed to cope with it, so can do others, sounds to me frankly self-destructive. First the part of time investment is covered already better in this game by the kismet system, which rewards time spent also making rp and not just grinding mindlessly. Second I would frankly trade anytime the "privilege" of having made it through some crazy grinding with the opportunity of having more active drow, svirfnebli or orcs.

Actually I could even try a reductio ad absurdum and say that perhaps it would be more effective, in game terms, to leave the cap as it is, but make instead the experience cost for these races normal, because losing players for a race is in my opinion worse than having a few powerplayers unhappy because they can't reach max level with their characters. :P

Which is not something I see well, really, eh, otherwise it would not have been my initial proposal when I opened the thread.

But eventually, despite my passionate tone, I think I can really continue to play and enjoy my ecl characters as they are with no big issues. Yet at the same time I find it wrong and not correct to just cope with a feature whose benefits for the game I really fail to see, especially after I have spent a decent amount of time evaluating it, and not make known what my feelings and impressions are.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 5:37 pm

The problem I see with ECL is not just that it makes leveling more difficult (it does) but that it caps the power level of the character.

A drow living hundreds of years cannot become as powerful of a mage as a human living a scant century.

That just seems wrong.

I would like the ABILITY to become as powerful as any other race in the game, even if it takes more effort to get there. The artificial cap preventing me from being as powerful as a human counterpart is problematic.

If you took xp gained for these races and divided it by X then you'd have a superior system in that leveling would still be slower but also there wouldn't be an artificial limit on top-end power.

CAVEAT: I'm not entirely sure the 5 levels really matters that much in the long run. I haven't seen the code. If a spell cast is level dependent on whether your opponent saves versus then the level cap is a problem. If the spell being cast is only dependent upon your skill (inept versus grandmaster) then the level cap is a non-issue.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:21 pm

Ungtar wrote:The problem I see with ECL is not just that it makes leveling more difficult (it does) but that it caps the power level of the character.

A drow living hundreds of years cannot become as powerful of a mage as a human living a scant century.

That just seems wrong.

I would like the ABILITY to become as powerful as any other race in the game, even if it takes more effort to get there. The artificial cap preventing me from being as powerful as a human counterpart is problematic.

If you took xp gained for these races and divided it by X then you'd have a superior system in that leveling would still be slower but also there wouldn't be an artificial limit on top-end power.

CAVEAT: I'm not entirely sure the 5 levels really matters that much in the long run. I haven't seen the code. If a spell cast is level dependent on whether your opponent saves versus then the level cap is a problem. If the spell being cast is only dependent upon your skill (inept versus grandmaster) then the level cap is a non-issue.
If it works as in tabletop a drow or svirfneblin wizard cannot even manage to bypass spell resistances of Underdark creatures as well as a non-ecl wizard with the same feats, since having ecl +5 their caster level is lower. And yes, it is plain wrong. I don't say drow or deep gnomes should be able to do that better, but at least not worse than surfacers.

I share this and I think leveling could be made easier at first levels with the building of just two-three areas. But in the end it would be another way to get a workaround to ecl. If we make areas to allow easier leveling, where is the point of ecl?

Because once you are past level 20 leveling an ecl character and a non-ecl one is not really that different as I have seen. I would say the critical levels are those between 5 and 15.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:35 pm

Ungtar wrote: CAVEAT: I'm not entirely sure the 5 levels really matters that much in the long run. I haven't seen the code. If a spell cast is level dependent on whether your opponent saves versus then the level cap is a problem. If the spell being cast is only dependent upon your skill (inept versus grandmaster) then the level cap is a non-issue.
To inform, there are some spells that are skill dependant, and others that are level dependant AND skill dependant.

However, the 5 levels matters more for spellcasters than it does for mundaines. Unlike a fighter, who's grinding second to fifth attack is a matter of degrees. A spell caster's life is a matter of absolutes that you can clealry put into mathmatics. You either know the spell or you don't. You either have the ability to resolve a situation, or you don't.

The two big issues with ECL wizards and clerics is firstly spell slots, which I feel doesn't need anymore explanation and metamagics.

Like spells, knowing a single metamagic can take your game from medeocre / weak to optimal effectiveness. Knowing two in tandom can make you immune to entangled no win cenarios without freedom of movement. If you consider this, you'll see the loss of a single feat points for a wizard or cleric can shift almost everything about their capabilities and how they're played.

So in summary, even 2 levels of ECL will by the math make a wizard /cleric completely inferior. I have simpathy for ECL 5. This is of course given that the skill of the player is roughly the same in comparison.
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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:39 pm

When I did mine, I bypassed those difficult levels in a well-balanced group. We all leveled up together so we had no issues. I would say that the svirf was the easiest character to level for me since I had constant companions. The fact that you're having fun grinding plus the group xp bonus allowed me to skip the hardship.

But to start cold without friends? The ECL is a real struggle.

Now at max level I have to consider whether or not I'll ever be a decent mage when I'm missing those 5 levels. That's one stat point (I haven't even used all the ones up to level 45 yet) and one feat I'm missing (though I haven't spent all of those granted thus far either).

So where does the real power of an ECL race come from? Access to spells and skills? No. They have less access. Boosted stats? No. They have bonuses in some attributes and minuses in others.

In my experience, the real power of an ECL race can only come from the community OF that ECL race. And that's an intangible. It's something the playerbase provides on their own.

When you see a drow on the who list, you will often see a BUNCH of drow on the who list. Or if you see a svirf, you're going to see several svirf. That's the power of that community.

But how do you make that community thrive? It's not going to be boosted by alterations to the score sheet. It's got to be done in some other way.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:01 pm

I have made a post on the matter of community and address the problem in the general discussion boards to avoid off topic. ;)

P.S.
As a wizard I think you lose both the level 48 general feat and the level 50 bonus feat. That makes two feats. If you are a drow, since daylight adaptation is a compulsory feat as it stands, you are then short three feats. But I am not sure feats are so important for a wizard, I don't really miss many feats on my wizard. I found it much harder to deal with for my drow thief, since being 3 feat short with a thief is really bad.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:04 pm

I disagree, but I'm interested to hear if you have an alternative.

I remember you used to do thursday is snerfday but my experience was with occasional help from 1 and 2 other drow.
I trained up double-edged bananas because the uber-plantain of doom I scored from the beehive quest was the best weapon in the game. Now it's being treated like a bug and they have gimped its damage! That's not fair! My character is ruined!

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:06 pm

I am the king of off-topic but I'll go chase down that sideline there. :)

I don't think I ever noticed that there's a bonus feat at 50. Yeah, that would be a loss.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:12 pm

Ungtar wrote:I am the king of off-topic but I'll go chase down that sideline there. :)

I don't think I ever noticed that there's a bonus feat at 50. Yeah, that would be a loss.
If I recall correctly, wizards get bonus feats at levels 12, 20-something, 37 and 50.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Areia » Tue Apr 26, 2016 7:16 pm

I've been putting a lot of thought into this discussion over the last few days, and I have to say, after hearing what's been said so far, and considering everything someone like a drow currently sacrifices as opposed to what they gain in return, I'm starting to feel that the level cap really could be a big hindrance.

Max level drow fighters have 5d10+(CON-mod x 5) fewer HP, 2 less BAB, 2 fewer feat points (1 natural and one class bonus), I think 1 less each fort, ref, and will, however much those five levels worth of stamina is, and 1 fewer stat point than their human, elf, dwarf, etc. counterparts. Thieves lose the same, excepting 5d6 instead of 5d10 HP and an additional lesser sneak attack damage than non-ECL races. Clerics get one fewer feat point instead of two, but the rest is very similar.

...Etc.

And for all that, these max level drow characters gain... SR, which, assuming my math is correct, actually caps at 2 lower than it does in D&D because of FK's level limit, 1 faerie fire per 2 hours, and darkvision.

Actually, the drow end up getting 3 more stat points than the elf in the end, but even this, I think, doesn't rightly balance out the losses.

I focused on drow here just because that's what I know best in FK and D&D both, but for other races with high level modifiers, the picture is fairly similar.

I still wouldn't go as far as to say level mods should be removed altogether, but I'm definitely starting to see why it is said that these races are so much weaker than others, overall.

Edit: And yes, I believe 50 is the level wizards get their last class bonus feat, so there's another class that's missing out on two very important feat points.
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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Dranso » Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:18 am

Areia wrote:Actually, the drow end up getting 3 more stat points than the elf in the end, but even this, I think, doesn't rightly balance out the losses.
Those three stat points cannot be allocated to anything other than intelligence unless it has been recently changed. This is more than likely a greater bonus to drow wizards. For warriors however, they can allocate their stats in str, con and dex to be par with a comparable human fighter while still having the int bonus which moves skills along quickly.

For drow warriors, the loss of three feat points doesn't amount to much. There are several possible routes for a drow warrior to take in regards to feats and they would not miss out on any major feats that would make them unequal to a comparable human fighter in a one on one battle.

The main disadvantage to max level drow is the lesser amount of hp's. Depending on the path that a person takes their character, this can be made up with feat points. Like anything feat/stat related, something must be sacrificed.

Accepting that drow characters, or other ecl effected character, will have disadvantages is the first step. Planning for those disadvantages and building on their strengths will result in a fearsome PC with awesome RP opportunities.

Another fun idea would be perhaps giving drow more special abilities or skills related to their race such as the ability to cast darkness and skills like hide and poison weapon.

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Ungtar » Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:59 am

Dranso wrote:Another fun idea would be perhaps giving drow more special abilities or skills related to their race such as the ability to cast darkness and skills like hide and poison weapon.
Okay, now THAT is brilliant and the path I think we ought to go down.

Maybe not worry so much about paper-engineering the perfect scoresheet and figure out some ways to enhance the !FUN!.

The deep gnome ability sucks. ESPECIALLY if you follow the rp and become an illusionist which means your racial ability suddenly cannot be used by you anymore (since it's a necromancy spell).

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Alitar » Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:06 am

I would just like to note that I agree with the ECL. It's removal would result in a flood of races that are intended to be rare. Kismet alone is not enough to keep the Aasimar population down.
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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Yemin » Thu Apr 28, 2016 2:23 am

ECL was never designed to keep people from playing it in Tabletop why is that believed to be an effective method at doing so here?

On the same turn, out of the hundreds perhaps thousands of characters that have been made since this MUD first went online, we are still a fraction of the millions of people on the sword coast alone. Let alone the whole continent. Even if all of us played Aasimar no one in the game world NPC wise would blink.

I think if you're a multi character player like the majority of people here, you will eventually make an Aasimar, or tiefling or genasi. I don't see that as a bad thing.

If it is percieved to be a problem. I would rather races be capped and restricted as soon as enough PCs of that race are made and played regularly for 6 months rather than use an obscure mechanic unsuited to do so as it's control.

I'll note that drow are already supposed to get those abilities. Even with them I'd not go back unless the ECL was lessened or removed entirely.

The darkness spell is kind of iffy to use here. It's main method, like the fog spells is to block line of sight and is battlefield control. I'm not sure how to emulate those uses here since distance is effectively eliminated
I trained up double-edged bananas because the uber-plantain of doom I scored from the beehive quest was the best weapon in the game. Now it's being treated like a bug and they have gimped its damage! That's not fair! My character is ruined!

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Re: Max level for ECL races

Post by Vaemar » Thu Apr 28, 2016 11:54 am

Dranso wrote:For drow warriors, the loss of three feat points doesn't amount to much. There are several possible routes for a drow warrior to take in regards to feats and they would not miss out on any major feats that would make them unequal to a comparable human fighter in a one on one battle.
[...]
Another fun idea would be perhaps giving drow more special abilities or skills related to their race such as the ability to cast darkness and skills like hide and poison weapon.
And if you give hide and poison weapon to drow warriors, drow thieves, for whom the loss of three feat is heavy, would be very unfairly penalized. If you want to hide and poison weapons, you should play a (drow) thief in my opinion. This is a matter of class balance.

To be precise, for hide, if you want to really do that, you can acquire an item that allows your character to do so. For poison weapon, if you really want it as well, you may ask a thief to poison your weapon before the fight.

There is also a special kind of pre-poisoned weapon already available, for the right price, to all drow fighters and rogues.
Ungtar wrote:Maybe not worry so much about paper-engineering the perfect scoresheet and figure out some ways to enhance the !FUN!.
I doubt you have played a rogue for more than a few hours if you call something like that brilliant or funny.

This is not to mean that some non-key class skills cannot be used to enhance the rp of a race, for example this happens already for goblins and the skill of sneak and it is quite nice. So sneak could be given to drow and svirfneblin, perhaps, but I doubt it would be relevant or contribute in any way to either the balance or the increase of the playerbase for the races. They already are deeply characterized and have peculiar features like spell resistance, but this does not seem to make them any more played.

About the svirfneblin ability and illusionists, I think their inability to use it with invoke is probably a bug/oversight. School limits should not be checked when you invoke native abilities in my opinion. I wonder what srd says on the matter.
Alitar wrote:I would just like to note that I agree with the ECL. It's removal would result in a flood of races that are intended to be rare. Kismet alone is not enough to keep the Aasimar population down.
Maybe slightly off-topic, but I believe aasimars should cost more kismet, given their already high number. As for ecl curbing their population, I think it would be almost irrelevant, since their ecl is not so high.

While for the intended to be rare, I don't think orcs, drow and deep gnomes are intended to be rare. On the contrary one of the main reasons a review of ecl is badly needed is to actually make these races more populated and thus increasing their playerbase.

Planetouched, as I said above, are the only ones for whom ecl has some sense to be there, although even for them I feel the level cap is still wrong. I personally would prefer that if a certain planetouched race is too common, its kismet cost be increased.

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