Table of Contents

Skill Trees FAQ 1.1

_____
Bibliography

This file of frequently asked questions is intended to clear up the various issues that have arisen regarding the installation of the skill trees on LegendMUD. If you see an issue which needs addressed, please mudmail an immortal and we can see about adding it. Note that this entire FAQ was assembled from memory by Ptah, and may be blatantly inaccurate in places. Don't take it as the final authority, because it was written a LONG time ago and EVERYTHING in it is subject to change. Additionally, please note that these are things we want to do and many of them have not been implemented into the running game yet.

______

Revisions from version 1.0. + indicates an added question, ! denotes a revision to an answer.

+1.3.3 Will we need to relearn our magic words?
+5.1.1.1 What is the difference between retreat and move out?
!5.3.3 Will mobs' XP values be changing?
!5.3.6 Will the XP for exploration or quests change?
+5.4.3.1 Won't con fighters have the advantage of being able to switch to dex at level 50 and have huge hit points?
!6.2.3 Will there be a skills wipe for skills trees?
!6.2.3.1 Will we get our practices back?
!6.2.3.2 Will the maximum pracs allotted be greater under the new system?
+6.2.4.2 If I switched careers in the past, how do I translate?

______

The following questions are contained in this FAQ. They have been grouped into a semblance of logical order so that if you prefer, you can read this document straight through as a summary of the changes in the skills tree code base.

OVERVIEW
1.0 What are skill trees?

LEARNING SKILLS
2.0 How do I gain skills under the new system?
COMPARING THE CURRENT AND NEW SYSTEMS
3.0 How do current skills compare?
ABOUT HOMETOWNS
4.0 What is happening to hometowns?
OTHER FEATURES IN THE SKILLS TREE CODE
5.0 Are there other features in the skills tree code?
HOW THE CHANGE WILL BE HANDLED
6.0 How will the changeover be handled?

______

OVERVIEW

This section contains general questions about the basic mechanics of the new system.

1.0 What are skill trees?

'Skill trees' is the generic term given to the new version of LegendMUD code that alters varius facets of the mud's gaming system. In particular, it refers to the new skills system, which uses 'trees' of skills in order to give progression through a given profession.

1.1 What does trees mean?

The trees mean that in order to learn a skill, you not only need to qualify with the appropriate stats for the skill, but you also need to know the prerequisite other skills that are needed. For example, in the current LegendMUD code, you need play in order to learn entrance. Skill trees extend that to cover every skill and every profession. This rewards those who specialize in a profession by giving them access to nicer skills.

1.2 What does usage mean?

The new skills system does not measure your ability in a skill based on your level, or just your stats, though these may play a role. Instead, your base chance of success is based on an ability level that fluctuates. In essence, you get better at skills by using them.

1.2.1 How do skills improve?

Each time you use a skill successfully, there is a chance that it will improve. It is that simple.

1.2.1.2 Do skills all improve at the same rate?

No, they do not. First off, skills basically have a learning curve; it gets harder and harder to improve the more you master something, so it's fairly easy to get that first 20% and pretty hard to get that last 20%. This is offset by the fact that you don't succeed very often when your ability level is in the bottom 20%! Also, every skill improves at a different rate. Skills that are more frequently used (such as weapons proficiencies) are harder to get better at than skills which are rarely used. Frequency of use is tabulated by the mud and preserved between reboots, so the difficulty of learning a given skill is directly based on how often it is used by players.

1.2.2 What about atrophy?

Skills under the new system will have atrophy, or decay. This happens to those skills which you do not use often, to reflect the lack of practice you have in them (growing 'rusty').

1.2.3.1 Do all skills deteriorate at the same rate?

No, they do not. In general, atrophy happens a little faster when you are trying to maintain an ability at its peak, and slower when you are not very good at it. For example, a world-class athlete can only miss training for a day or two before the effects become noticed; a weekend soccer player won't notice if he misses a week's worth of practice. In addition, atrophy happens when you use skills; the attention given to the one skill subtracts from the other skills. Therefore skills that are related to the one you used will not decay. Entrance will never cause play to get worse.

1.2.3.2 Is there a lower limit to atrophy?

Yes, there is. Your minimum ability level in a skill is equal to the number of levels you have known that skill. Note that if you did not qualify for a skill over the duration of a level, that level does not count towards levels known.

1.2.3.3 If a lower skill decays, how does that affect the upper branches?

It doesn't affect them at all. However, lower skills are less likely to decay than skills higher in trees, because they tend not to atrophy (being at the bottom of trees means a lot of skills are related to them).

1.2.3.4 If a skill deteriorates, do you gain a practice?

No, skills never fully go away. They drop to a minimum threshold, but they do not ever go away completely.

1.2.3.5 When do you reach a point that a skill never deteriorates because of your utter mastery?

Never. If you want to keep that top edge, you'll need to stay in training.

1.2.4 How will we know if a skill decays or improves?

You won't get a message, but you will be able to check the status of given skills or of your entire skill list with various commands covered elsewhere in this FAQ.

1.3 How will skill trees affect magic?

For the most part, they won't. Magic words and spells are not touched by this upgrade to the code at all.

1.3.1 Will they affect spell casting?

Yes, in that chant is a skill and therefore you have an ability level at it. This is separate from the success rate of individual spells, however, which is based on cast level (number of levels you have known the spell).

1.3.2 Will they affect cast level?

No.

+1.3.3 Will we need to relearn our magic words?

No, magic words are completely unaffected.

1.4 Are you accepting suggestions for new skills?

We will look at ideas, but don't take it personally if we judge that they cannot be included. A lot of folks have worked for a long time to try to make sure that the skill set is varied and interesting, and many ideas have been considered and rejected.

1.5 When will skill trees be done and installed?

Good question. Our target date was August 1996, but we have run into some delays.

1.5.1 When did work start on skill trees?

We first did design work on this a year and a half ago, and the first code went in over a year ago.

1.5.2 Who is working on skill trees?

Ptah did the original basic usage code, Arkenstone coded many of the new skills, and Gail is doing principal coding on the rest of the stuff. Kaige redesigned the prerequisites system including hometown access, plus coded several of the new skills. Sabella, Wraith, Sandra, Arkenstone, Charity, and many others contributed skill ideas and researched them.

1.6 Are there any other sources of information on them?

Aside from this FAQ, there was also a long-ago article in the Legendary Times, in Issue 30 of volume II. This article is available on the web at http://legendmud.org/ in the Legendary Times archive, and also available for anonymous FTP from ftp://legendmud.org/pub/LT_Issues/LTv2n30. An earlier FAQ on this skills system is available in Issue 39 of Vol. II, also available for FTP: ftp://legendmud.org/pub/LT_Issues/LTv2n39 Arkenstone's lecture on the current combat system includes a section on elements which are scheduled to change; many of these changes are rolled into the skills tree code. The URL for his lecture is: http://legendmud.org/Lectures/combat.html

1.7 Could we have an example of a skill tree?

We don't have any trees quite at the point where we are ready to show them, but here is a hypothetical tree for

1.8 If we don't like skill trees, can we throw tea in the harbor and demand independence?

Sorry, but no. The skills tree code is simply the way LegendMUD is going to be, and while many of its details may well be altered as we go in order to keep players happy, the concept as a whole is not going to go away.

______

MECHANICS OF LEARNING SKILLS

This section contains questions related to learning skills and professions.

2.0 How do I gain skills under the new system?

The same way you do right now: you find a mob that looks like a likely teacher of something you want, and you ask them what they teach, and if they teach what you are looking for and you can learn it (have the necessary qualifications and also have a practice to spend) you ask them to teach you that skill.

2.1 Will commands and interface change?

Yes. The current allskills, skills, and query commands will all behave somewhat differently under the new code.

2.1.1 What will allskills be like?

Allskills will show you a list of all the skills that you qualify for, and mark the ones that you have learned. Note that the list in allskills is now limited to those you both have the stats for AND also have the necessary prerequisite skills for.

2.1.2 What will query be like?

Query will give you a sentence that describes your ability level in that skill.

2.1.3 What will skills be like?

The skills command will show the skills you know in order from best-known to least-known. You will be able to track your improvement in a given skill relative to the others you know.

2.1.3.1 Can't I see a number for my ability level?

No. See the query command.

2.1.4 Will all skills have help files?

Yes, a complete revamping of all the skill-related helpfiles will be done.

2.1.5 Will help files require that you qualify for a skill to read them?

We don't know yet. The whole issue of to what extent you will be able to get an overview of the trees has not yet been resolved. As soon as we know, we will update this FAQ.

2.2 How many areas can you master? Can you be a jack of all trades?

Yes, you can be a jack of all trades, but you should not expect to be able to master more than perhaps three separate trees, and those ones with somewhat similar requirements. Alternatively, you can mix and match from a wider range of trees, with less skills from the higher echelons.

2.2.1 Do skills block access to other skills?

Learning skill X does not bar you from learning skill Y.

2.2.2 If you start as one type of fighter, when can you switch? When does it become ill-advised?

We don't really know the answer yet. If you switch, you're going to have more trouble keeping your different proficiencies up to par. If you stick with the same stats, you're more likely to accrue benefits like hit points, if you were a con fighter.

2.2.3 Will there be special skills taught only to guild members?

No.

2.2.4 Can immortals be offered money to get pointed towards the best trees?

How much? ;)

2.3 How do we learn skills under the new system?

Same as always. You find a teacher mob and ask them to teach you.

2.3.1 Will 'ask mob teach' change?

Nope, but you may find more and more mobs requiring small quests or some form of payment before they teach you.

2.3.2 Will we know the path to get to a skill we want?

We don't know yet, as we are torn between letting you discover it in character, or giving you a schematic of the whole system.

2.3.3 How will we find skills?

Skills will be taught be people who seem like likely teachers, as before.

2.3.4 Will there be 'skill bundles' of multiple skills you can learn together for reduced cost?

Currently, none are planned, but it has been discussed.

2.3.5 Are there people who can help you relearn a skill?

You never lose a skill once you have learned it, so there is no need for special mobs to help you relearn. There are mo mobs that can help you train up a skill level's ability, but you can certainly practice many of them ON mobs. :)

2.3.6 Can you spend more than one practice on a skill to improve it faster?

No.

2.3.7 Are there going to be any skills that do not take practices to learn?

No, if they didn't cost practices, we would not call them skills. :)

2.3.9 If you dislike a skill, can you trade it in?

No.

______

COMPARISON OF SYSTEMS

This section compares the current skills system to the new one.

3.0 How do current skills compare?

There are currently approximately 75 skills. Under skill trees there are approximately 150. Many of them have been changed in effect from the way they are now. Overall, the system is much more flexible and interesting, but some old favorite skills may not do what you expect them to.

3.1 What new skills will we see?

Some of the new skills will include: chokeholds, trip, flips, pins, woodscraft, possibly camping, new craftsman and merchant skills, a whole tree devoted to stage magic, prestidigitation, and legerdemain, locate object, new herbal skills, new medical skills, enchant and inscribe, and many others.

3.1.1 Will there be two-handed shooting?

It's on the list of skills to be implemented for skill trees.

3.1.2 How about chemistry as an advanced form of brewing?

Chemistry and alchemy have both been discussed but at this point we are not sure they will make it into the first pass.

3.1.3 Will there be skills to train up stats?

No.

3.2 What new professions will we see?

Stage magician. Doctor will come into its own. Assassin. SOME form of chemist, even if it is only bombmaking. Detective. Merchants and craftsmen of various types. Rangers.

3.2.1 Will martial arts finally be done?

Sorry, but probably not. We want to accurately simulate a dozen or so different arts. One of the reasons that spatial combat is going in (see below) is to make this possible. Martial arts simply will not be ready yet.

3.3 What skills will change?

Just about every combat skill is guaranteed to change. Ride will be a very easy to get and very common skill. Dodge will change considerably.

3.3.1 Will prerequisites change?

Yes, although we do not know to exactly what yet. You can expect most skills to concentrate on requiring just one stat instead of two or three, and the prerequisites will likely be higher in many cases.

3.3.2 Chant is a skill, is it affected?

You should find it basically the same as before.

3.3.3 Just what does armwrestle do?

Currently, it sends a nifty message. Under skill trees, it will serve as a way to 'armwrestle' an opponent who is trying to hit you with their weapon, and maybe force it back against them (like, say someone is trying to stab you, you armwrestle them and force them to stab themselves).

3.4 Does atrophy affects spells as well as skills?

No, it does not.

3.5 What effect does level have on skills?

Under skill trees, level has virtually no effect on skills. The skills which currently use level will change to use level learned and your ability level in that skill. The main point of levels will be to gain more practices.

3.5.1 What effect does level learned have on skills?

Level learned serves to define the lowest level to which a skill can decay through disuse. It may also serve to affect the results of a skill when it is successful. Note that level learned will only increase when you gain a level and actually qualified for that skill during the course of that level.

3.6 Will alignment affect skills?

Some skills may still be alignment based. Likewise, some skills may alter your alignment subtly.

______

HOMETOWNS

This section covers the changes being made to various areas and hometowns.

4.0 What is happening to hometowns?

They are all getting revised in order to offer more teachers, and to make a more newbie-friendly enviroment. Plus we are adding some.

4.1 What hometowns are changing?

All of them.

4.1.1 How are they changing?

Details are still being finalized, but we have a very specific checklist for what a hometown must have. For example, London will be bigger. There is a minimum percentage of newbie mobs that must be present, a minimum complement of shops, and a requirement for some newbie quests.

4.1.2 How is access to magic affected by the hometown changes?

It may well change. Kleinstadt may lose some access to magic, and Ireland may gain some.

4.1.3 How is access to skill sets affected by the hometown changes?

Hometowns will likely not offer access to the exact same skill sets as before. But there are many more skill sets, so every hometown will offer MORE skill sets than before.

4.2 Which ones are we gaining?

The current list of areas that will become hometowns includes Aztecs, Viking Scandinavia, French-Indian War, Bengal/Seoni jungle, and San Francisco.

4.2.1 What will they be like?

They must meet the same requirements as the other hometowns. You should find new and interesting mixes of skill sets there, such as gun-wielding herbalists, etc.

______

OTHER FEATURES

This section covers features that are not directly skill-related but are part of the skills tree version of the Legend code.

5.0 Are there other features in the skills tree code?

Yes. Some of the things you can expect to see are spatial combat, a new XP scale, and many internal changes to the combat system.

5.1 What is spatial combat?

Spatial combat is a system whereby direction you are facing and distance from your opponent makes a difference in combat. Approaching from the side or back causes extra damage, you can back out of fights and agree to stop them before people are killed, etc. Think of it as 3d combat in text. Under this system, weapon size matters quite a lot, as you need to be in the optimal range for your weapon; too close, and you cannot block effectively--too far and you cannot reach the opponent.

5.1.1 What sort of commands are there for it?

A not-necessarily-comprehensive list of commands includes: roll, move in and out, circle, turn, rush, retreat, glance, block, engage, and of course, the old standby kill.

+5.1.1.1 What is the difference between retreat and move out?

Retreat quickly backs you all the way out of combat; move out moves you out just slightly to get a better position.

5.1.2 Do I need to learn skills to use this?

Nope. All of the above commands are available to all players.

5.1.3 What commands are affected by this?

Many. You will not be as able to see things that take place behind your back, including being unable to identify voices. Many skills will have different effects based on your distance fromthe opponent--e.g. headbutt from close up knocks foreheads together, and headbutt from far away rushes the opponent and butts your head into their stomach, with different results and effects.

5.1.4 Will weapon size matter?

Yes indeed. A dagger versus a polearm may well be at a serious disadvantage if the polearm can stay out of the dagger's reach. In close combat, of course, a dagger will be much better able to block blows.

5.1.5 Can I just ignore spatial combat?

The 'kill' command will move you automatically to optimal range for your weapon, facing your opponent, and let you start whacking away at them, so you can theoretically use it just like always. It will likely not be ideal, as some enemies may well be better armored on the front than on the sides, etc.

5.2 What about general combat system changes?

The internals of the combat system have been redone, although the basic mechanics of variable attack speeds remain the same.

5.2.1 How is the hit table changing?

The current hit table uses a 1d20 roll, and we will be going to a 1d100 roll. The old table was simply too small for the amount of +hit that was available in the mud.

5.2.2 Is dodge changing?

Yes. The dodge-perception equation in the current fight system is a major flaw which we intend to rectify. Under the new system, dodge will add no more than a 10% bonus to armor class, possibly less.

5.2.3 Is sniper changing?

It is quite likely that instant death will not exist against player opponents in skill trees. It is also possible that it would be permitted but only with twohanded guns such as rifles, and only if the shooter was laying down on the ground to set up their shot carefully.

5.2.4 Will armor class matter?

Armor class will become the single biggest factor in defense, unlike now where it is largely useless. Gaining a good ac should be a high priority.

5.2.5 What will be the benefit to being a strength fighter?

Strength fighters are probably the easiest to play. They do much, much more damage than the other two types.

5.2.6 What will be the benefit to being a dexterity fighter?

Dexterity fighters will have a defensive edge, and will be more accurate at hitting, though they will not do that much damage compared to strength fighters.

5.2.7 What will be the benefit to being a constitution fighter?

Constitution fighters will have what are currently termed 'monster hit points'--and nobody else will. But they will not hit as often as dex nor do as much damage as strength. Their approach is to outlast the opponent.

5.2.8 What will happen to +hit?

The current +hit available is so large that it completely overwhelms the hit table. Our solution to this is to make +hit actually confer not absolute numbers, but an increased percentage chance of hitting.

5.2.9 What will happen to +dam?

Right now, +dam is added once per round, and it is reduced as you attack faster. You should expect +dam to change to a % of additional damage done (much like position modifiers work now) and for its effect to be between 3 to 6 times greater than it is right now.

5.3 What about the XP scale changes?

There will be some to both the XP values of mobs and to the XP needed for various levels. This has been done to fix some glaring problems with the XP scale that currently exists, such as the bump at level 6, and the way in which killing mobs only two levels above you can give two to three times as much XP at higher levels.

5.3.1 What is happening to the XP scale?

A new XP curve has been developed that is much smoother. It makes the lower levels easier to gain, and paradoxically, requires less XP to get between the higher levels, yet makes it more difficult. This is because at higher levels, you will not get such a disproportionate benefit from killing a few levels above your ability.

5.3.2 How is my XP getting converted?

Most likely we will see how far through your current level you are, and place you at that same point relative to the next level under the new system. In other words, you will lose no ground at all, and in fact will likely gain XP.

!5.3.3 Will mobs' XP values be changing?

Yes, in this new scale, the value of a single experience point is quite different, and that means that all mobs will have *apparently* lower XP values, though in terms of the new system, they will not necessarily be different.

5.3.4 Is the level 6 hump going to go away?

Yes.

5.3.5 Are we gaining more mortal levels?

No, there will still be 50 mortal levels.

!5.3.6 Will the XP for exploration or quests change?

It is probable that they will; but they will remain based on the same formula they are now--equivalent to a certain number of kills of mobs of your level. [Answer revised.]

5.4 What about changes to stats?

Two crucial things are changing in the way we handle stats, and they are not likely to be popular changes.

5.4.1 What is stat averaging?

Stat averaging means that the mud tracks your stats over the course of a level, and when you get your hit points, mana, and move increases when you gain a level, it uses the average stat over the course of that level, instead of the stat at the instant of levelling. Note that the average is tracked not based on time elapsed, but rather on XP gains, so that sitting around in +stat equipment and doing nothing will not raise your average. This is done because permanent gain from one second's worth of stats causes immense problems with the game system, and robs those who play with high constitution of their chief advantage.

5.4.2 What are gradual stats?

Gradual stats means that when your stats change from changing equipment, they do not jump to the new value, but rather slowly move there over the course of several ticks. The rate of shift is not yet determined and will not be settled until after some playtest. This is done in order to make shifting professions take longer, reduce equipment spamming and spamming for specific skills, and to make the identification and lore skills and spells more useful (since you will not be able to instantly determine the +stat benefit of a given item by merely wearing it and typing score).

5.4.3 What will happen to levelling equipment?

It become useless to borrow levelling equipment; you wear it for so brief a time that it does not affect the average stat for that level.

+5.4.3.1 Won't con fighters have the advantage of being able to switch to dex at level 50 and have huge hit points?

If they do, they're going to be pretty lousy dex fighters. Their skills related to dex will be terrible, and will be very hard to keep up, since their levels known will be minimal. Likewise, their fencing proficiencies will likewise suffer the same problem.

In addition, if this becomes a common tactic, the fact that learning rates for skills are tied to their popularity on the mud means that if everyone decides to run con warriors up to level 50, it'll be next to impossible to get decent ability levels at con skills. So they can do this, but only with great difficulty and hardship.

5.4.4 What will happen to spamming for stats?

The practice of spamming to shift the emphasis of your character will be much more difficult, as it will take several ticks for your new stats to manifest. You can still do it, but it will not be the instantaneous process it is now.

______

THE ACTUAL CHANGEOVER

This section covers the mechanics of converting the playerfiles from the current system to the new one.

6.0 How will the changeover be handled?

We plan to do it as painlessly as possible, making all changes to the playerfiles in one fell swoop and permitting time for everyone to get used to the new features.

6.1 Will there be a testing period?

Yes, although we don't yet know the exact duration or parameters of it.

6.1.1 Will there be a test period where characters are not affected?

It is possible that such a period would exist for the first week or so, but we do not yet know if we will go to the extent of backing up the playerfiles and letting you run around for a time with no consequences. In the past, such test periods have resulted in very few testers.

6.1.2 Will there be a no-pk period?

Yes.

6.2 Will anything need to be changed or wiped in my playerfile?

Yes, because the current playerfiles will not be compatible with the new playerfile format. We plan to run all playerfiles through a filter to convert them to the new format.

6.2.1 Will there be a playerwipe?

There are no plans for a playerwipe at this time.

6.2.2 Will there be an equipment wipe for skill trees?

There are no plans for an equipment wipe at this time.

!6.2.3 Will there be a skills wipe for skills trees?

Yes. Skills will be saved in a different format that tracks levels known and your ability level, unlike now, which just saves whether you know it or not. [Answer clarified.]

!6.2.3.1 Will we get our practices back?

Yes. You will be given the correct amount of practices for the level you have, minus any spent on spell words. [Added final phrase to clarify.]

!6.2.3.2 Will the maximum pracs allotted be greater under the new system?

No, a character will still be limited to 53 practices total. [Math error.]

6.2.3.3 How are you assigning levels known to the skills I learn after the skills wipe?

There is currently a filter in the skill tree code that uses the order you relearn skills in to set the levels known. So levels known will be given to you in the order you learn skills. This is an enormous advantage, so use it wisely to combat the disadvantages that old characters will have in adapting to the new system.

6.2.4 How will my stats convert over from the current system?

The six stats and prestige should be unchanged. Your hit points, mana, and move will likely be converted and scaled to correspond to the type of character your stats make you out to be at the moment the filter is run on you.

6.2.4.1 Will this affect characters retroactively?

Yes, all playerfiles will be run through the filter at the same time, and the changes to hit points, mana, and move will be retroactive through the levels they have gained. Basically, all the effects of levelling eq will be erased. We will use an estimated curve to guess at the amount of hit points you would have gained every level if you had been under the new system the whole time.

+6.2.4.2 If I switched careers in the past, how do I translate?

You're going to translate over as whatever you are at the time of the playerfiles getting translated. Past history won't matter. If you want to use the changeover as a chance to return to being the con fighter you had decided was unworkable, you'll need to gear up as a con fighter and stay that way for the filter to recognize.

6.3 Will we get to see the trees when they go in?

We don't know yet; some immorts favor making you discover the skills in character, others think that you should get a master list to better be able to design your character in advance. The issue is not yet settled, but if it turns out that you will get a list, we will give it to you as far in advance as possible.

______

This FAQ was assembled by Ptah largely from memory, and may well have blatant errors in it. So if you spot anything that needs clarification, point it out to him, and maybe you can get updated versions. :) Don't take anything in here as gospel.

______