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Long Blades Need a Balance Pass
Carried over from extended XOOC conversation

I wanted to make this thread to bring up some concerns and issues raised by people in XOOC the other day, because I don't think it's been addressed elsewhere in a persistent format.

There was a complaint raised by quite a number of individuals that there's some major combat imbalance in the game currently, and that Long Blades were incredibly over tuned.

My understanding of the complaint is that the inclusion of sever code to Long Blade attacks has created a situation whereby there's a percentage chance that when you get hit by a long blade attack, you effectively or literally instantly lose the fight.

Some examples included:

-Instant win decapitations that are purely RNG

-2H weapons being at a distinct disadvantage because severing an arm or hand means that the weapon can no longer be used, again resulting in a win handed to the LB user.

-Severing of lower limbs preventing escape.

I can't go into details of how the combat engine works, but it would appear to be the case that the greater the skill of the blade user, the better the chance of these procs happening.

I can say that prior to the inclusion of sever mechanics, long blades felt like they were in an advantageous position largely held in check by economic factors moreso than actual combat balance factors. The inclusion of randomly sending body parts flying, while thematically most excellent probably is not in any way balanced and a step in the wrong direction to promoting a fair and balanced combat experience between various flavors of skills and weapons.

I don't know the solution to this issue as it's been laid out, and I would like a conversation to take place in the thread in ways that the combat system can be better balanced.

My current suggestion, and a belief that I've held for a number of years now is that any long blade "past" the wakizashi be made a two-handed weapon. Reason being that while it's possible to swing around a katana one-handed, that is most certainly not the way they were designed to be used, or how almost all schools of swordplay teach people how to wield a blade. The effectiveness of a cutting/slicing sword of any type is almost entirely dependent on the user's ability to strike with, and maintain good cutting angles. The key to doing so is to have excellent control over the rotation of the blade, and holding the sword with two hands greatly aids in that.

the efficacy of long blades over other weapon types is a vastly overstated meme

long blades are not the only weapon that can sever, either

I disagree. Swords are at least slightly better than most other weapons in the majority of circumstances players would care about, but what makes them especially wonky is they also have the strongest defensive features and no downsides. No ammo, no legal restrictions, no jamming, no cleaning, no special sheathes required.

I've given up any hope this will ever change though.

As a long time long blade user and advocate, I dislike that bladed weapons can sever during combat. It seems to impart an imbalance that you don't see from guns. And you don't see from weapons that would otherwise break or immobilize limbs (IE: a sledgehammer doesn't break your arm and make it unusable during combat). It seems like someones attempt at moving us toward a world that involved more persistent damage during combat that was never followed up on and shouldn't have been put into the game until all the other systems that would balance it were also in place.

I may be biased in general though as I dislike sever overall in just about all situations where it is codedly possible.

(Edited by Slither at 1:12 pm on 10/25/2022)

To speak to some of 0x1mm's concerns:

"I disagree. Swords are at least slightly better than most other weapons in the majority of circumstances players would care about, but what makes them especially wonky is they also have the strongest defensive features and no downsides. No ammo, no legal restrictions, no jamming, no cleaning, no special sheathes required."

This applies to any weapon aside from a gun and is not specific to long blades.

The best long blade can break if you crit fail, which effectively means losing the weapon and probably dying during combat as you lose combat rounds dropping it and pulling another weapon

Guns do have an upside that blades do not have, in that they can be used from a distance. And the best guns, being used from a distance can impart serious if not one shot one kill damage on a person in a surprise attack.

it is virtually impossible to beat someone in melee who abuses the guarded posture, this has been talked to death in the past and it is still true, so i don't really believe that long blades are the best

i will say, though, auto-severs are extremely frustrating to deal with. having been on both the giving and receiving end of an instant first-round kill due to the auto-sever system, it feels bad.

I was arguing today that I felt like even though attack rolls between weapons might be balanced, firearms had accumulated too many small auxiliary downsides over time and should be reexamined in their current context under that justification.

However learning that only bladed weapons got dismemberment/decapitation rolls, I really don't think that kind of mechanic couldn't be considered a very strong advantage that disrupts the past balancing.

A balance pass to look at everything, with that in mind and now that heavy weapons and several new cyber weapons have been introduced, might be in order when possible.

It's mind boggling that a katana is not considered a two handed weapon in Sindome.

I'm sure that there are some game balance reasons for it. I hope there are.

It's almost as silly as wielding an assault rifle with one hand. Can it be done? Sure. In theory. Would anyone trained to use the weapon do it? No way.

I will raise the question of if katanas should be considered two handed weapons at the next staff meeting. It's a fair point.
there are various traditional and modern japanese swordsmanship schools that teach the one-handed use of the katana

i think severing is a bigger issue than handedness IMHO, have not seen people dual wield katanas in like a year or two

I haven't engaged in serious combat in quit a while, but I'm personally not a fan of combat severs for all the above mentioned reasons. @slither totally cool with it outside of combat though. And it's very themely imo. Yakuza chopping pinkies? Dope.

Not sure when it happened changed, but I thought short blades were the best defensively. Every melee weapon had a distinct advantage over its cousins at one point, yes? Won't go into more detail though. Feels like IC data.

In any case, I like the two handed ideas. I think being one hand gripped reduces the popularity of wakis in the first place. Couple that with certain advance use abilities, and it does starts to look like a no-brainer.

My observation is: if one type of weapon seems to get noticeably more use than others, there's an imbalance issue. Kind of speaks for itself. So the question becomes, "Is that the case?"

@RatchetEffect said

My observation is: if one type of weapon seems to get noticeably more use than others, there's an imbalance issue. Kind of speaks for itself. So the question becomes, "Is that the case?"

Putting on my devil's advocate hat here...

What you've described could be a self re-enforcing loop. A particular weapon could be used more than others because that is the IC knowledge that has survived the memetic wars in Withmore. People usually take the path of least resistance.

Questions to ask ourselves, but not answer here on BgBB because it is IC information:

Is "everyone" using one type of weapon because the IC knowledge (mentors, player historic experience, etc.) of that "build" is readily available?

Is that one weapon type truly superior to other weapon types if all factors were equal?

In other words, is

Stat A + Stat B + Skill A + Weapon X = Uber

really better than

Stat B + Stat D + Skill Q + Weapon Y = Uber


My understanding is that at some point, someone with access to the code went through and balanced everything such that the highest tier weapon in every skill is effectively equal to in every other skill.

(Whether or not this is true ICly is not for discussion here on BgBB. It's all FOIC.)

If the above is not true, then staff should really look into it.

If there is an imbalance, please adjust it.

If there isn't, please consider finding IC ways to re-introduce that knowledge to the playerbase. For example, a cool NLM show that has a scene where a character using "different weapon" defeats a character using "the weapon everyone uses". Or PubSICs along the lines of, "Do you believe that bakas still us the weapon everyone uses? Different weapon is slept on." etc.

If I had unlimited time in my life, what I'd do is create a background.

"My hatred of the one weapon everyone uses began on the day that they used it to kill my father. From that point on, I knew that I would dedicate my life to the monastic life of studying different weapon technique to prove once and for all that only suckers use the one weapon that everyone uses. My life will not be complete until I dye the streets of Red Sector, red with the blood of those who use the one weapon everyone uses. For I am, Different Weapon Guy!"

If we are measuring the efficacy of weapons by their popularity, I know of significantly more knife-based characters than sword-based characters lately. In reality, the population of different archetypes and weapon styles is entirely up to how people feel at any given time.
There was a balancing pass a few years ago, but there's been a lot of changes and additions since then. New armors, new weapons, whole new weapon classes, new regions, new enemy types, new cyberware.

I'm personally not hugely bothered by top tier weapons having different strengths, so much as several of them got little perks or additions or new tiers and new mechanics added here and there over time, while others kept accumulating minor annoyances, and none of these really seemed to be done with any kind of balancing in mind.

Though I will add, I don't think any weapon should be nerfed to address this. I think long blades having so much variation and good accessibility and strength across most of the tiers is the ideal, just like the utility of brawling is the ideal that all skills really ought to aspire towards.

To me cyberpunk involves characters being casually armed to the teeth.

I mentioned this in XOOC, but again, posting here for posterity.

I am against the idea of breaking bones, severing limbs, blowing off heads, and what have you in combat when it will directly affect the scrum taking place.

My reasoning for this is simple. I view combat to be largely a skill-based affair (meaning player skill as well as mechanical sheet skill) with some RNG elements. I haven't found it to be a system that's largely dictated by RNG for the most part, fights can be replicated with fairly repeatable results. Of course there's outliers and variance where you just roll natty 20's all day. However, prior to the addition of sever mechanics proccing on certain types of weapons, there (to the best of my knowledge) wasn't a system whereby you might get totally disabled in combat, or even killed outright based off of nothing but dumb luck. Especially devastating crits were a thing, but they are relatively rare enough to be the exception to the rule and not something to have to concern yourself over in the average street fight.

I've played many other text games. Some text games have your stats degrade in combat through procs, or through battle damage. I greatly dislike these systems because they reinforce a problem we already complain about --dubbed rocket tag-- in the game. Rocket tag meaning that you roll super hard and super fast, minimizing all risk to yourself in the process. In, kill, out before people can respond. In systems where your stats degrade through the act of fighting itself, what inevitably winds up happening is that it turns into a gameplay meta where 'he who strikes/crits first, wins' simply by building statistical advantage by debuffing the enemy before being debuffed yourself. It favors dodge mechanics over all else, and basically eliminates the entire concept of 'doughboy' as an archetype.

My suggestion, should it be decided that sever, bone breaks, gunshot debuffs, or whatever else be included in the game: please, PLEASE apply the statistical debuffs either as an over-time effect, or apply them as part of getting your wounds treated. Do not apply the debuffs in combat. While it's perfectly themely to hack someone's arm off in a fight with a katana, it's terrible gameplay for both the attacker and the defender, and it doesn't lend itself to great storytelling of epic fights and mighty struggles when one person rolls a die and just auto-wins the fight. The best fights, the ones that give the biggest endorphin rush, and the greatest sense of accomplishment, are the ones you barely scrape through, or win despite the odds being heavily stacked against you. Proccing a decapitation, broken arm, blown off leg, or whatever else that totally disables the person in a fight feels like it's only going to end fights quicker than they already are, and further contribute to the minimal risk rocket tag into necksnap meta.

I dunno if I buy into the self reinforcing loop as related to people seeing it ic, or knowing OOCly something is good.

Katanas are cyberpunk. It's probably one of the most cyberpunk weapons that isn't cyberware.

There may however be a reinforcing loop in the sense that we put effort into things people use and this katanas get more love than say, hockey sticks. Not sure this is a problem in a resource constrained world though.

In Cyberpunk 2020 maybe, but in fiction they're an Anime trope that got backported into the genre. Swords being more iconic genre weapons than firearms? Psssh.

Your response comes across as a brush off of all the concerns that have been raised.

Do you understand the concerns that the code of the game itself is being developed and modified in a way that favors(?) one weapon or fighting style over all others?

If that is in fact the reality of the situation, then staff would do the entire game a favor by being transparent about it.

One of the primary risks here is that "everyone" (who cares about "winning") is going to tilt towards that weapon or group of weapons. That (IMHO) is pretty boring and lame. At that point, the game becomes "Sword Fight Simulator" and not Sindome.

I totally get wanting to "put effort into things people use". Just realize that the whole universe of "things people ALSO use" is A Thing.

To illustrate where I am coming from, the Features section of the web site has the following listed as the second most prominent feature of the game.

emphasis mine

Kick Ass Combat

With over 80 well balanced weapons to choose from, you don't have to wield a katana or semi-auto pistol to be a badass on the street. If you can hold it, you can kill with it. Prefer to dish out pain with your bare hands? Train in a number of martial arts including Taijitsu and Capoeira.

I might be reading too much into @Slither's response about katanas getting "love". If that's the case, my bad.

If not, please adjust the messaging so that players can manage their expectations accordingly.

We're still discussing implications of making katanas two handed. However, there is a bug fix in place to prevent the torrent of counter attacks that was possible when facing multiple characters. I think this will change the meta with weapons that can parry, which were more OP than they were intended to be.

I thought I was being pretty transparent and honest about the reasoning behind why certain classes of weapon got more love than others. It wasn't intended as a brush off, but rather an honest assessment of how we got here.

The reality is that there are a million things to do, and coders and builders typically focus on the areas of the game that people use the most. That is where I see a reinforcing loop happening.

And I was honest about not knowing if that were a bad thing or not. It was intended to continue the conversation and get more feedback on the subject, not to shut down discussion. Apologies if it came off as the latter.

I'm curious how the discussions about combat severing went, particularly in regards to spontaneously severing heads.
Is there any intention to update the player base about severing?

From my perspective the mechanic itself is fine. The "issue" as I see it is that as far as anyone knows, it is apparently limited to a single weapon.

More specifically, the ability of that one weapon to remove limbs has a dramatic affect on combat. First, the removal of the head is an "instant kill". Second, the removal of an arm effectively takes any two handed weapon user out of the fight.

If the ability for weapons to remove limbs is going to be kept in the game, ALL weapons should have the ability. For weapons where severing the limb does not make sense, there should be an equivalent. For example, knives could cut tendons and blunt weapons can smash bones. All weapons can inflict a fatal wound to the head.

Giving special abilities to a single weapon or group of weapons is a horrible game design decision.

As stated multiple times in this thread, severing is NOT limited to long blades in the slightest. Any sharp weapon can do it.
So? Knives and swords then.

One of the most frequent criticisms of Sindome is that it is not the balanced competitive venue it advertises itself as, but rather a sandbox for some characters to win over whoever decides to play in it.

At one point it was at least claimed that weapons were balanced among one another, and then later instant-kill mechanics were added to knives and swords, haphazardly with no concern for balancing and from what I can see, no larger discussion at all.

I cannot imagine what would better fuel criticisms that the game is a playground for its programmers than this sort of system being slipped in, and then left in place as is.

So I'm curious whether there is any intent to change this, because as it is I would never recommend anyone engaging with the combat side of the game when gear and ability and circumstances are so readily overruled by a vorpal roll.

Here's a proposal on how to balance severing if it's decided that it had to stay. Severing specifically she not swords.

1. Have the chance to server proc only when a blow drops the target to zero or get HP instead of on every strike. This would mean it is only possible to sever a part from people who would already be dropping from the fight anyways. The chance for an extra punch to the defeat.

2. Have the odds of a server happening scale with one's relevant skill/abilities and not just on the weapon alone. That's assuming this isn't happening already.

Just a thought!

Since this was bumped, I want to point out that people sometimes fight without wishing to kill eachother. For various reasons.

I think at the very very least, there should be an option to intentionally avoid severing someone's head in a fight, if not all parts in general.

@batko wrote,

As stated multiple times in this thread, severing is NOT limited to long blades in the slightest. Any sharp weapon can do it.

My understanding, and please correct me if I am wrong, there is only one weapon (or class of weapon) that can sever in combat.

I want to reiterate what @0x1mm mentioned in their most recent reply.

The game is advertised as having a balanced combat system. If that is not the case, please state that.

Sorry for the strong language here, but it is shitty to suggest that the system is balanced if it isn't.

The combination of requiring ~3 YEARS of a person's life to develop a character to Max UE, and the lack of transparency around how the game mechanics work, it's legitimately fucked up to not give people advanced warning of what they are getting into.

If Sindome wasn't so PVP heavy, this would not matter as much.

As it is, it's unconscionable to create a situation where people run the risk of commiting huge amounts of their life to something, only to later learn that despite their best efforts, they didn't make the "right choice" and are at a permanent disadvantage against other characters.

I think of the many discussions that have happened over the year about the game in general, both here and on social media, one of the ones that has resonated with me the most is that there is a feeling like the game isn't respectful of people's time, their employment status, or willingness to play every waking hour.

There's a very real 'Fear Of Missing Out' (FOMO) undercurrent among many players, it's often jokingly mentioned on XOOC.

Then there's the simple fact of the matter which is, since we have a hard no OOC rule, and outside special plots run by staff, there also is ZERO allowance of OOC coordination to do RP events (I.E. Let's have this gang war next Saturday, 1-3p, can everyone make it?) So rather than FOMO being this sort of mental fallacy that is a 'gotcha!' in some games, there is the reality that you just do get to experience more content, chances to make more money or to advance your character based on how much more time you log on the game.

This isn't specifically a criticism of the game, it's a problem endemic to many of the games in this genre that have strong rules about OOC planning and coordination (even sometimes when it's allowed and moderated.)

That's part of the feeling of disrespect of player's time. The other one, the elephant in the room, as it were, is the advancement system itself. Three years is a lot of fucking time in contemporary times. And it's three years if you are a consistent player who logs a hefty chunk of hours per week. If you're someone who logs in once a day for a hour or two, and then like 4-5 hours on weekends, well, good luck to you.

How's this related to LB and SB being OP? Well, exactly as you stated, @hek. It's a fuck around and find out sort of game when it comes to making characters, but the find out period is like twelve to eighteen months for someone wanting to do combat shit that has the ability to target a wide swathe of the game's population and settings.

Is your character sheet dogshit because someone ICly manipulated your character for their own gain? (Which let's be real here, happens all the time.) Well, you might get a respec and be able to fix it. Or maybe you won't. Respec requests are literally entirely at the discretion of staff and requires their review and approval. Is your character solid, but not great, and you're overly paranoid and self-conscious about it? You think you can do better, squeeze another 10-15% performance boost out? Roll the dice. Staff might tell you to get fucked after reviewing your request on a 2+ year old character. I know this happens because I got the hard no red rubber stamp on my last @respec request, despite spending over six fucking months RPing and UEing the character moving into a different direction. Hop on the perm express and better luck next time, see you in a few years.

The waters start getting very muddy and morally questionable when you bring membership's very real, very tangible in-game benefit to the fact that a reroll because you lacked game knowledge might be a multi-year turnaround endeavor.

Yes we all play the game for the RP. That's not up for debate.

Yes you can RP without a single UE on your character sheet, and even do quite well for yourself. Simply factual.

Also extremely true? People play role-playing games with leveling and stat scaling and character improvement and gear upgrades with the reasonable expectation that their character progression matters and is important, and isn't going to get randomly overpowered or nerfed into the gutter with zero community discussion or advance notice of this happening.

Yeah, okay, when big changes happen, people can get UE resets. Sometimes. But what happens if you wanted to play a character that uses big fuck-off buck knives and gut people like John Rambo, and suddenly your comically large knife is hot trash, or everyone is being pissy at you for using it because it's overly buffed? Okay, knife sucks, we know it sucks and you were UEed into it, here's your UE back you can go be a sword ninja or rocket launcher man now. Go forth.

But I didn't make a character who used a big fuck you knife because I wanted to win. I wanted to do it because I like John Rambo the character and play make believe that I was cyberpunk John Rambo. I don't want my John Rambo make-believe man to use swords and be a ninja after I just spent X playing them how I liked.[/b]

The Respec helpfile is pretty clear about when it can be used. You get one after a year on a character with GM approval. I submitted my first one just after that time, and only to shift things around a bit and trim fat off of places I'd given up pursuing. That said, it's rather limited in use in the first place since you can't use it to remove a skill or stat that is beyond a certain threshold and/or intrinsic to your character's public identity. A ganger that's been playing for a year and focusing solely on swinging a cricket bat can't just respect to long blades, for example.

THAT SAID. The helpfile ALSO states that major code changes leaving negative impact on your character qualify as a legitimate reason to respec.

I'm not a staff member, and I don't intend to submit for a respec regarding the changes made to bladed weapons and sever. I do however, see this feature as qualifying for a respec under that rule in the helpfile. Might be worth submitting again for that reason?

I know some of these things were reflected in your post, Talon. I'm generally agreeing with the sentiment here. I see the change as either needing to be addressed again, and reconsidered/balanced better, and/or considering it as a big enough change to warrant respecs.

I know rulings regarding those things that are up to staff discretion vary based on who the staff reviewing the thing is and probably (because we're human) how they feel at that given time. This doesn't just hold true to respecs. I have faced similar problems with other aspects of the game experience. There are a good number of rules/concepts/features that are just too open to interpretation to be consistent between one ruling body to the next, and that in itself is a point of much frustration sometimes.

Maybe what needs to happen here is that one respec is GUARANTEED after the first year. And the REASON it's granted determines how and what can be adjusted.

This won't fix everything, but it's a start, I think.

And maybe staff can host a poll asking the player base if they think sever is considered a major enough change to warrant a respec? I can't really tell at this moment if staff does or not, and while it seems major to a few players, we're only a few of many.

Maybe a change where you can’t server body parts from people while in combat UNLESS you type “sever” as a command would help. I feel like severing parts accidentally isn’t the best for combat because your character might not want to do that much damage to somebody. In my opinion sever is at its best when it’s purposeful and used for RP purposes not just accidental.
Skillsofts getting overhauled didn't qualify for big code changes, I can pretty much guarantee that bladed weapons getting quietly patched to combat dismember will not.

I've done several respecs, they're very limited and mostly there as a token mechanism to make players feel better about being stuck with their UE expenditures.

In any case I kind of reject this idea that this system was added and now we're just stuck with it as is so other solutions should be found. It can literally be changed at any time, disabled for weapons, added to other weapons, removed completely.

What if all weapons had a chance to critically hit someone to such an extent that they instantly dropped and sever was just a version of this applicable to weapons doing slashing or piercing damage? And maybe the frequency of this occurring with katanas was due to the large percentage of high-ue long blade users and incorrectly informed the meta (as many things do) but was largely consistent across all weaponry code-wise.
I just think the severing of the head shouldn't be an option in combat. This seems different than the other crit fatals which can happen. I'm fine with the standard one being left in, but I don't think the head should be severable mid-combat like any other standard type of limb in the sever-combat system.
Based on the feedback here, and on game, I've disabled sever during combat. I agree with the feedback that one class of weapons being able to do it and others not having a similar mechanic (blow off someones hand, break someones arm so it is useless) causes an imbalance that wasn't intended when the feature was introduced.

When a similar system of 'insta-kill' or 'completely maim a bodypart' is introduced for other weapons (if we decide to go that route) we can look at re-enabling it.

I am glad that auto severing was disabled while allowing the sever command to continue use, I think it is a good command for nonlethal conflict.
Sounds good to me, Slither. Thanks.

For future reference, I like Reefer's suggestion regarding lethal blows across all weapons.

Also, I'd say factor armor/chrome if it wasn't already, so that if single shot lethal blows re-emerge down the road, they can't happen until armor integrity is basically 0 for the specific section where the crit roll occurs. I.E. Left arm dough is compromised, but the helmet isn't. Player rolls crit on a head shot. This would normally sever the head, but doesn't due to the helmet.