The Skald nerfs

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The Skald nerfs

#1 Post by ferranifer » Tue Sep 07, 2021 6:32 am


I'd like to talk about a topic that has been bothering me for a while now, and that is the succession of IMHO unwarranted skald nerfs that the game has seen in the latest years.

The latest one of which is the change done to castanets so that they cannot be played with one hand anymore:
1) I can play castanets RL with one hand. I've actually done this. They are designed to be played with one hand. You can play two, but that's not necessary.
2) It was a cool mechanical niche and a cool fantasy to be able to buff while fighting. The instrument was already weaker. Now it's a no option. This kind of change only removes and adds nothing except mechanical hurdles.

NOTE: to buff effectively, you have to use an instrument. Pure voice singing dramatically nerfs the song's output.

After this change, castanets (and percussion in general) have become a no option since it offers no advantages over a lyre. In fact, no instrument is as good as the lyre. What castanets did, was allow the character to be a battlebard (a Skald) by providing song support while still being able to attack and contribute with damage in combat. Now you cannot hold a weapon and play, which means you do all your buffing ahead of time before combat. This just increases the amount of time required to prepare/prebuff for combat, which is already unnecessarily long and not really any fun at all.

Another change done to the skalds in the recent years that hurt the guild mechanically was the introduction of the magic water, which punishes ex-Skalds in ways that no other guild does. This change was unnecessary and uncalled for and adds nothing to the guild.

Combine this with the fact that there is only two songs worth buffing with and there is no actual advantage to doing it during combat because you can make them linger (the regeneration songs are too weak to make a difference in combat). What you get is a dynamic where skalds don't actually sing in combat (singing also blocks a number of combat specials), and prebuffing a lingering war or magician song adds a good 1-2 minutes of boredom.

Some suggestions on what to improve (beyond the obvious "change back castanets and remove the magic water"):
  • Make all instruments usable in combat. How?
    [-] Make them not disable the limb they're used with. Instead, you just carry them over your back on a sling. During combat, you simply play them even if you're wielding weapons. This is a mechanical simplification away from realism, because this is a game after all and the current vision for instruments has gone too far down the realism antifun rabbit hole.
  • Remove singing blocking combat specials.
  • Make songs more powerful. Both with and without instruments.
    [-] Make song effect ticks have a larger impact than they do now. Specially when played with an instrument. E.g. the angry song could dispel all darkness every tick.
    [-] Make out of combat buffing easier to accumulate. E.g. it takes less singing to achieve 10 minutes of bufftime and songs linger for more than 10 minutes. In general, buffing is boring and buffing that takes minutes to do is just distasteful!
    [-] Simply ramp up the ceiling of how powerful the effects can be. Even the most potent war song is weaker than a single Taniel bless.
    [-] Make the journey song worth using for combat purposes. The stamina regen ticks are basically non-existent. They have to be huge (I'm talking almost complete recovery of stamina every tick) to be worth using at all.
  • Add new songs. Comparing the array of powers you get from Alchemist and from Scribe... Skalds get very little. There is a ton of space for thematic, party buff oriented and music/charm oriented songs! E.g.:
    [-] A song that "lifts the spirits" by making everyone's equipment feel lighter.
    [-] A song that "inspires" by improving the listener's skills.
    [-] A song that summons protective faeries to protect the team against arrows (coz we all know that missile can take a nerf or ten).
    [-] A song that makes your weapons "dance" and animates them to fight for you. When played with an instrument, it makes all enemy weapons "dance" out of their hands.
    [-] A song that "charms" an enemy to fight for you or makes them "dance" and unable to fight your team.
    [-] A song that "reminisces" or a particular person's heroic deeds, which alerts them of the Skald's presence and eventually allows the hero to be summoned (teleport) to the skald.
TLDR: Skalds are a flavorful guild with ridiculous mechanical impositions that kill the fantasy of being a battlebard. Compared with Alchemists and Scribes, they are the lesser option. We can change this by tweaking a few of the mechanics slightly. Please make being a Skald useful and mechanically flavorful in its own right.

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Re: The Skald nerfs

#2 Post by Delia » Tue Sep 07, 2021 10:37 am

Good stuff. Removing the mechanical need for water and letting the water remain as a temporary voice buff you can access but not necessarily need could be the way to go.

I sometimes find myself thinking how a visible "rogue" main guild could be formed around Skalds. They could have this structure that mirrors mages: skalds would remain as a layman guild (like public magic with mages) but there would be the main guild on top of it which would borrow a lot from rogue guild. A guild full of adventurous friendly neighbourhood scoundrels and musical miscreants. To go a bit further, they would not have a singular main base but every city would function as their guild in some fashion.

Music could also branch from swashbuckly rogueish characters to more mystical voice stuff like the Skyrim dragon shouts kinda things - Geas magic system already includes casting spells by saying each individual runes aloud so instead of that some main guild skalds perhaps could combine a few syllables for various effects. Could be cool.

Anyhoo, just random thoughts.
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Re: The Skald nerfs

#3 Post by ferranifer » Tue Sep 07, 2021 10:42 am

Inns and pubs would be natural bases of operation for overt Harper/Goodie Adventuring Skalds.

I love the idea of shouts as the Skald advanced hedge magic path! Alchs get wands, scribes get scrolls and skalds get rach and utar shouts?

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Re: The Skald nerfs

#4 Post by Arsicas » Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:24 pm

I think it might be nice if using songs without the magic water wasn’t woefully ineffective, but the magic water gave a nice boost—maybe to duration or other suggestions you made. I would also agree that all instruments should be usable in combat, but maybe some other distinction between them? It seems like before most people would just go for the instrument that allowed them to play the most songs (lyre) or castanets because they could be played in combat. I’d like to see a reason for learning different instrument skills besides just flavor. Although skalds shouldn’t be forced to carry one of every single instrument just to be able to play the different songs.

It might also be nice for skalds to have a path to magic like the other layman guilds, although combined with all the music skills, that might be quite a lot of skills for skalds to learn. But I like the idea of possibly learning magic shouts or songs that tie into the existing magic system so that skalds can be another path to learning magic.
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Re: The Skald nerfs

#5 Post by iza » Mon Sep 13, 2021 7:10 pm

Just some quick thoughts, keep in mind its been a while since I've played heavily so perhaps i am missing many things that have changes with the skalds:
  • I am okay with people who leave guilds not getting as good of benefits as those who stay. If people want to hop to different guilds. Peace. But there should be some good bonuses to staying as well.
  • In the past mages did not exist. The the layman guilds were a small path to low level magic. However mages now exist and perhaps its time to balance out the layman guilds so they aren't all low level magic options.

In my mind scribes are the most magic oriented, alchemists in between and skalds not at all. I do believe skalds already fit that non-magic category. Music doesn't need to be magic to get you pumped and inspired after all. But I think this is an important distinction for skill learning as well. It could mean that fighters would suffer any skill learning bonus from becoming skalds but definately suffer some skill learning bonuses for becoming scribes, the opposite would be true for mages.

I am okay with a bard wants to tank or auto attack with weapons while singing with his mouth, at the cost of not being able to perform specials even if the song is weaker as long as there is good value of a bard in the back rows playing with an instrument as well. Additionally perhaps singing should cost less mana and instead be combination of stamina and mana.

I agree buffing out of combat should last a long while (investment vs payoff) for everyone in the bard's team. If the bard is no longer in the team the buffs should slowly wear off, bards aren't mages or clerics they need to be around to inspire you, this also increases the value of having one around instead of just sitting at crossroads buffing everyone. At the same time the spammy nature of bard songs could probably be toned down, even if that means taking in more mental/phsyical resources for more "passionate" effective performances.

Lastly, the buffs bards bring should be grounded in bit more the physical realm than magical, perhaps having to do more with sound, vibration, inspiration and demoralization. They should be a welcome addition to a team with a cleric/mages in it, not just sometimes feel redundant. For example a pre-combat buff that instead of just providing redundant buffs to stats perhaps it should provide people with small buffs actual skills like parry/dodge on top of that an in combat buff that distracts or demoralizes the enemy making them feel heavier and depressed, causing the enemy to have penalty in skills like they were wearing heavier armor. Maybe a song that helps the team focus and succeed just a bit more, not only specials but mage and cleric spells/miracles are more sueccssful/effective. These don't have to be simply narrowed down to combat,I can imagine a bard inspiring or encourage people to do be more successful with skills outside of combat, like mining or crafting. Again nothing huge so it isn't overpowered but still relatively noticeable depending if the bard is singing in the back with an instruments or with his mouth as he or she is swinging some blades.
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Re: The Skald nerfs

#6 Post by Abharsair » Wed Nov 24, 2021 6:11 am

Sometimes a nerf isn't a nerf, but a bug. Also, if a nerf happens in a forest and no one sees it, is it still a nerf???

Anyhow, you can play castanets one-handed again. When I looked at the code, it became rather obvious that this "nerf" was never intended, but was a simple mistake.

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