Author Topic: Adjustments to the current ECL system  (Read 460 times)

Iridni Ren

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Adjustments to the current ECL system
« on: January 29, 2018, 03:51:27 PM »
Having been playing an ECL 2 race since NCE (off and on), I find the penalty is pretty rough at the start and have a proposal to try to smooth the two-level penalty out. That is, I'm not arguing we get rid of the penalty entirely, but that the penalty begin as relatively small and increase over time. My thinking is that everyone wants to level reasonably quickly at low levels and becomes more patient once a PC has at least a few abilities and character development. Finally, players are less likely to abandon PCs after putting some effort into getting them up a few levels, whereas it's easy to become discouraged at the beginning.

What I propose is replacing ECL 1 with a 10 percent XP penalty and ECL 2 with a 20 percent XP penalty.

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Iridni Ren

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2018, 04:04:16 PM »
To illustrate how this change would affect level progression, I will give an example from early on and from later on:

Currently, 2nd level ECL2 PC trying to progress to 3rd level needs 10,000 XP (the XP requirement for 5th level, which is 7,000 more than a regular PC needs to get to 3rd). In other words, an ECL2 character needs 333 percent as much XP as the normal PC.

Under a 20 percent penalty, this cost would be 2,400 XP (400 more than a normal PC).

That seems way easier, and it is. But over-time, the 20 percent penalty slowly worsens. Here are two more examples:

To reach 18th level, the ECL PC needs 190,000 XP currently (20th level for everyone else).

Under the 20 percent penalty, the ECL PC would need 183,600. That's still less, but it's reasonably close to 190,000.

To reach 20th llevel (which an ECL PC cannot currently achieve), the character would need 228,000 XP, versus the regular PC's needing 190,000.

All of these are still substantial penalties, so they would not make playing an ECL race be doable at no cost. They would simply reduce that cost a lot at low levels, somewhere in between at medium, and not change it drastically at all for high level ECLs.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 04:06:29 PM by Iridni Ren »

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Dextan

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 06:07:23 PM »
But if you can reach level 20, you have races bonus powers + normal class powers... and this is unbalanced with the normal level 20 people. No?
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WingsOfStardust

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2018, 08:20:37 PM »
But if you can reach level 20, you have races bonus powers + normal class powers... and this is unbalanced with the normal level 20 people. No?

Considering the amount of work that would take I'd say it's well deserved and it'll ever only be a very small percentage that will manage.
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Iridni Ren

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2018, 08:43:06 PM »
I think it would be nice to at least have the dream of reaching 20th level for every character, but how few PCs get to 20th as is? For ECLs, you'd have to get that much farther. Let's say it takes a normal player two years to get to 20th. Then for an ECL of 2 it will take 2 years + 4.8 months--almost five extra months of playing.

Players can go beyond 20th level via enchanting already. For enchanting, ECLs might likewise be paying extra (depending on how the penalty was implemented).

Another advantage of this system is it's very tweakable. The percentages could be 10 percent for ECL1 and 25 percent for ECL2, for example, if 10 and 20 were decided to be too mild.

That's my main issue with the current system: it's just this arbitrary indigestible brick of levels that is especially difficult to overcome when you're starting a PC. A fourth level PC is not only two levels higher than a 2nd level ECL PC--she also is likely to have better equipment and developed a place in game.  Being able to get to 20th is not nearly as impactful as reducing this wall low-level ECLs have to fight through at the beginning to get to the "viable" levels where you can enjoy much of the server's content.

One last thing about limiting ECLs to 18th: it cuts down on their ability to multiclass because the server's rigid multiclassing rules assume players have 20 levels to expend.

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MAB77

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2018, 10:54:06 PM »
The sacrifice of the last few levels and abilities that might come with it (if you ever reach them anyway) is the price to pay for the bonus abilities ECL races start with. Those will be useful to your character much longer than any abilities you might get at the highest levels. This is how balance is achieved between Non-ECL and ECL races. It is a conscious choice you make upon selecting the race. Both options have merits and flaws, pick your race in full awareness of the facts and live with the consequences.
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aprogressivist

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2018, 11:18:26 PM »
I think it's OK that the ECL system ends up kinda leaning a little against ECL races. They're not meant to be a mainstay of the server. If we were playing on a Planescape server it'd be another story.
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Iridni Ren

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2018, 11:20:47 PM »
The sacrifice of the last few levels and abilities that might come with it (if you ever reach them anyway) is the price to pay for the bonus abilities ECL races start with. Those will be useful to your character much longer than any abilities you might get at the highest levels. This is how balance is achieved between Non-ECL and ECL races. It is a conscious choice you make upon selecting the race. Both options have merits and flaws, pick your race in full awareness of the facts and live with the consequences.

Yes, I agree. And I also agree that's true about any discussion of balance. No one is forced to play any class either, if she thinks the class is weaker than some other.

But!!

I also chose cleric knowing that I would have Greater Sanctuary at 6th level. It's since been decided that GS is over-powered. Those who didn't pick cleric, knew they wouldn't get GS at 6th level. Hard cheese to them, I say! Isn't this rather the nature of looking for things in the game that might need tweaking?

For that matter, I did not have any experience playing an ECL before now and would have been commenting in ignorance. Now, having played through the first two level ups, I feel qualified to comment that it is a pretty discouraging grind that makes playing the character less fun. Everyone who plays this game, even the most ardent RPer, enjoys levelling up.

My point is simply the current attempt to balance the class is not a smooth one, and I've seen many, many players make the same comment. That is, the general consensus is ECL is good to play at the mid levels, but it's terrible when you're starting out and then again at the highest level.

Some percentage--which those who make the rules could pick whatever percentage they like--would smooth that progression out, rather than the crude lump that is two constant levels, making a poor 2nd level ECL have to get more than three times the XP to level up as the 2nd level non-ECL (and in fact it's worse than that because the 2nd level has to earn XP as though she were a fourth level).

(I'm perfectly willing to abandon the idea that ECLs should be able to get to 20 in the interest of maintaining hoary "balance." It would be nice, but c'est la vie.)

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aprogressivist

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2018, 11:38:08 PM »
If the ECL system becomes favourable to ECL races, then they become the power gamer's choice. (Let Drow hit level 20 and you really think it'd be so difficult to grind them that high? I'm willing to bet we'd have level 20 Drow within a year or two.) That would be negative.

Even if the ECL system were perfectly balanced (which is hard to do -- the suggestions so far have been ridiculously favourable, so "hoary balance" clearly isn't a serious consideration) we would see more players encouraged to make ECL races. We don't need the Outskirts to become Little Sigil.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 11:50:39 PM by aprogressivist »
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MAB77

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2018, 06:40:10 AM »
Precisely. ECL races should only be taken for RP considerations, anything that opens the door to a mechanical advantage of those races over the standard races must be avoided as it would be exploited.

Also, remember that we try as best as possible to emulate the D&D setting and avoid custom rules when unnecessary. As it is, the ECL system works precisely as per pnp rules. It is not a game breaking rule and still allow the player base to play a wide array of races not normally available. It will remain as is.
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Iridni Ren

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2018, 09:22:11 AM »
The current situation is such that at beginning levels the ECL PC must face content above her pay grade for much longer than other PCs to get to a level in which very much of the server content is approachable. For example, it is expected that the average PC can reach 6th level in one week:

http://www.nwnravenloft.com/forum/index.php?topic=39102.msg491069#msg491069

I don't think that's the typical experience, but let's say a PC reaches fourth level in one week. That means the ECL player must take approximately three weeks to accomplish the same thing. Over the long haul, of a PC's life, those two weeks' difference don't affect game balance greatly when we're talking about PCs that may be played for years.  Because of the way leveling works on this server and it slows for everyone, over time the difference becomes less significant. The ECL will always be slightly behind, but purely because of math, instead of of being half the level of her peers, she will be--eventually--90 percent of her peers'.

Smoothing this mathematical artifact at the beginning of the ECL's life is the purpose of this suggestion.

Having played through those first couple of levels, I see the current system as tending to push ECL PCs into far worse grinding than normal PCs in an effort to power through to a more versatile, effective PC. One approach would be to get higher levels to twink the ECL or carry her with them into content judged appropriate for her level, but which she really has no chance against. Another choice would be to die a lot from being over-matched and thus become even more frustrated. I chose instead to run fetch quests to the point that I became super bored but had more money by fourth level than my other PC has after a year of playing.

None of those options seems to encourage RP or character development.

In short, there are better ways of maintaining balance without making the choice to play an ECL feel--at low levels--like she is being punished: "You wanted to play an ECL; live with it."

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modderpunk

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2018, 09:43:40 AM »
I have never played an ECL character so I could be wrong but don't you get more hitpoints because of racial hit die as well as special abilities to compensate for the extra lvls? I asume those would help you also fight the higher lvl content. Or is this a too positive view?



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aprogressivist

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2018, 09:55:58 AM »
Technically an ECL 2 player starts at level 4. And so only needs to gain two levels to reach level 6. But moving on.

You don't seem to understand two key point:

 - The ECL system may be a little harsh at present for ECL races, but it's by the book; it is not home brew. Sure, not every system on PotM is by the book, and it has many home brews, but generally that's when a home brew aims to preserve the integrity of the setting.

 - The current downsides of the ECL system currently do suit the setting and the team. Since they act as a brake on powerbuilding, they help ensure people who play the ECL races are doing so for genuine RP reasons. If you wanted to play a character that leveled fast, you shouldn't have chosen an ECL race. If the slow leveling isn't fun for you, sorry, the purpose of the ECL races is not to deliver the kind of experience as the regular races.

You need to take a look at the big picture; and understand how the consequences of your suggestions would affect it, if implemented.
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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2018, 01:17:47 PM »
I recently started an ECL outcast and it is going very poorly. Still level 3 after more than a week. The system is even more extreme for outcasts because a lot of the low level options are not available. Deliveries, bounties etc.

I would suggest that 1 ECL be given at start and add the 2nd +1 at lvl 9. That way you aren't crippled at low levels.

I also think the Ratter should take bounties from Outcasts. He can clip 10%-20% off the bounty and still give the xp.
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aprogressivist

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2018, 01:42:34 PM »
I also think the Ratter should take bounties from Outcasts. He can clip 10%-20% off the bounty and still give the xp.

That actually sounds reasonable.
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MAB77

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2018, 02:01:58 PM »
That or add an NPC buying "meat" in the drain.
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Arcibel

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Re: Adjustments to the current ECL system
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2018, 05:23:19 PM »
i havent read all, but i think that the problem of the ecl is that is something fixed & static and not progressive & dynamic. Im in my phone so i cant give deep arguments of my point of view in this moment, something that in going to do later.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 05:25:12 PM by Arcibel »