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My Expertise: The Roll a hit or Die mechanic of RPGs - usually

Wow! A first monthly musing off me?! Well at least you know I've started, and depending on future musings, it might very well be not the last.

Anyway: here is my first musing on a subject, which I hold hand on chest to. Role Playing Games. Mine may be a bit worse than some others' blogs, but what the hell, I'll go with it.

Before the Mass Effects and WoW's multiple patches, there was a well known mechanic which although is more then 25 years old now, can still confuse and baffles players without playing Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale or the KOTOR series.

The D20. A gift for hardcore players but an absolute bewilderment to everyone else, me partially included

There were other things that would stop a casual player in it's path, bear with me on this...

- Every level you have to allocate points to skills. Depending on which game you play, there may be 10 of them, or near-enough 50 depending on the game you play, and the build you make
- Every 4 levels you have to use up an attribute point. Certain games had 30 points of attributes, while others had 28 (or 32 for DDO purchasers, possibly NWN) points to allocate on the first level. Choosing it seemed simple enough, but if you used it on the wrong type of class, well you deserve what you're getting.
- Every skill and certain attacks ALL have a DC or a Difficulty check. If you don't read any of this be prepared to die. A lot. Using that same skill over and over just to find out it's doing NOTHING means you haven't been attacking the enemy. JUST KI-- oh fine... *walks off pitying the person who couldn't kill a DC 0.25 enemy that has done the exact thing on him/her*
- Depending on the setup, especially on low level characters, expect to have the accuracy of a predictable drunken bloke. If you dual wield, you'll get a penalty for wearing it at first, but if you're using that setup, expect that penalty to fade the stronger you are. If you are not proficient with said item(s), then you'll be hitting air, which does nothing, and the enemy will laugh at you in the face and probably down you with one fel-swoop. Even if it's a smelly Trogolodyte.
- Feats are either given to you automatically or you can add a custom feat of your choice almost every level. Depending on your build it may be a gift or a curse - especially if you decide to multiclass.

I don't know about you, but I'm already reading at this and am thinking: If it's that simple, how comes many other games don't use this system?

The answer is, as I said before, it's probably because it's a bit TOO clever. The Modern RPGs nowadays are moving away from the said D20 and are implementing different systems to their games. Games like Final Fantasy usually have a set cap on it's attributes, such as 255 attack, 99 Dexterity (or in FFX's case, 255) and many Tri-ace games would do with a obscene amount. 999? Nope, 255? MUCH more than that... 99? Don't make me laugh... the highest cap on a certain attibute is 9999.

Purists playing the post-game content of Valkirye Profile, or the much more known Star Ocean games KNOW that having that amount, as well as capped HP and MP stats they should have that in order to survive a deadly attack from one of the post-game bosses, because they can not just use a deadly single attack, they can use a deadly STRING of attacks that most casualists would throw their consoles out of their window and then theirselves. But with great mechanics comes at a price. The plot is usually either slow paced, poorly acted, or worse. Don't get me started on the terrible lip-syncs for non-japanese languages, this is the reason why I usually look at something else until that cutscene is over.

Having said that, however, the Final Fantasy series is very well translated after the FFX set of games, because they told the American Voiceovers to try and get it close to what the Japanese are saying. It's a bold move, It doesn't work all the time mind you, as some speeches still sometimes get a misinterpreted lip-sync, but it is getting better, and by the looks of the International release clips of FFXIII in just over a month, it may look like they've finally got the acting with the lips right. Saying that, people who might have purchased the International version of the recent Star Ocean game on the PS3 can actually listen to the original voiceovers. Whether they remain annoying or not is up to you.

Which brings me back over to the mechanics. Every Final Fantasy game is different, same with the Tales series, and don't get me wrong, some ideas in the Star Ocean series. Although the core mechanic may be mostly the same in the said games, there will always be something for you to think about, before rushing into a boss battle then -- 'CRAP! I forgot to get the skill for the new armor I found!! Oh well, back to another 100 minutes of grinding...' _

The same is said with many MMOs. If you didn't specialise your class properly you know you're going to be kicked out of an arena team or PvE guild beating some of the most dangerous foes of the said game's lore. This is why there are many guides online to help you with that. Since everyone knows how to make a Combat Rogue or Demonic Warlock, it isn't considered as cheating, and once you're fully ready to take down the bosses with up to 99 others (once again, depending on MMO), be thankful there are guides there to stop you from being mocked, or repeatedly killed by that same damn Warrior for the 572nd time... Modern RPGs, and MMOs outside of DDO also have a lot of calculations. It would probably be best to read the updated manual on what stat, skill and item does what, and how it affects you, because no-one would want to recruit you if your Hunter has a measly 10 Hit Rating at level 80. NO ONE.

So If you seem interested on RPGs, rent one or try a free-to-play before purchasing it. If not, just watch your back.. *sharpens knives*

A +2 Dagger of Pure Good and a +4 Axiomatic Dagger of Malice. I made that all up for entertainment purposes.

[Since I have played very few hardcore JRPGs I might have missed out on a few bits or a lot of information. Blame the Europeans for not giving us a megaton of those games...]
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About Xelviarone of us since 7:49 PM on 01.03.2010