Friday, 23 July 2010


One possible abuse of the ability to use Angband items in multiple ways is the ability to throw ammunition instead of shooting it from a bow or crossbow. Ammunition is light, which means you can carry a lot of it, and throwing it is 'abusive' because the damage bonus that is applied to firing ammunition is also applied to thrown ammunition, without penalty. This is exacerbated in Unangband because the damage bonus was until the latest version counted twice for thrown weapons and not multiplied by missile launchers, which meant that throwing an arrow (+9,+9) may be more effective than firing it from a longbow.

The damage bonus in this example is insensitive to it's context - it is applied equally when the item is thrown, set in a trap, or fired from a missile weapon*. And if you think the ammunition example could in some way be construed as sensible, consider that the damage bonus a bow applies to arrows fired from it, would also be applied if you threw the bow instead.

At the moment, I'm changing this: damage bonuses will be able to be context sensitive - a weapon that adds damage while fighting, won't necessarily benefit throwing or setting in a trap.

But the question I have is should I enforce this change? This is not quite Warren Spector's proximity mine climbing emergence, but it is an interesting and unintended consequence of a design that may be worth keeping.

I have the flexibility to allow missile weapons with incredibly good trap damage but no shooting damage bonus, but it is unlikely that a player would ever choose such a weapon over a missile weapon with superior shooting damage and no benefit in traps. Whereas if the weapon was multi-functional, it is more possible the player will attempt to take advantage of 'free' additional functionality at some point. I can do either approach with the approximately same level of cleanliness in the code: it is a data design issue, rather than code overhead cost.

It'd be interesting to hear your thoughts.

* There is a separate but related question about worn vs. wielded items. If a sword improves your ability to fight with it, does it also improve your ability to fight with another weapon if you hold it in your off-hand or even just strap it to your body? In particular, if you get one more blow per round with it, do you get that blow if it would be from another weapon?


Sir Yobgod Ababua the Handless said...

The perceived abuse from throwing ammo is that there are weapons designed to be thrown, weapons designed to be launched, and weapons designed to be used in hand, and they typically IRL don't work well when used in a way they aren't designed to. That said, you generally -can- throw a greatsword, or crossbow bolt, and have some effect, but giving then full effect seriously diminishes actual throwing weapons.

I'd suggest that throwing a "non-throwing" weapon (including ammo) has a fixed range shorter than that of thrown or fired weapons, does significantly less damage than usual and may not get the full effect of any bonus.

As far as traps go, one generally assumes the trap uses the weapon/ammo in the way it was intended (swung, thrown, stabbed, fired), so full damage and bonus is always applicable.

Sid Menon said...

I suppose I believe the opposite; you should be able to dual-wield ammunition if you wish. Missile weapons should stack bonuses on top, in my opinion. Adding penalties just seems more arbitrary, I guess.

Four Hands said...

I really dislike it in a rogue-like game when I can throw arrows as effectively as shoot them. It breaks my suspension of disbelief. Which is a weird thing in a rogue-like, but its true.

When I've designed these systems I've usually ended up breaking out thrown, fired, and wielded damage, or just not allowing things to be thrown. Alternatively, I once played around with a simple throw penalty modifier for all items which works pretty well, too.

I've also found I usually ended needing a thrown and fired range to be separate, usually because I wanted certain ammo to add range bonuses (griffon feather arrows) when fired, but not when thrown.

As Yobgod said I've always assumed traps where firing arrows from something close enough to bow or spring-loaded something that it would count as a fired weapon.