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In my game, the player starts with a set of equipment and unlike many other hack-and-slash RPG's, this base set of stuff never changes - the player never acquires a new weapon or armor.

The only way how to keep up with ever stronger monsters is to enchant the equipment with spells. Each piece can hold a couple of different enchants and as the player slays monsters he gets access to stronger spells for enchanting.

The problem is some encounters favor different enchant strategies than others. While for one type of monster it would be better to go for resistance against magic, another monster is not using magic at all so physical resistance is more important. I want the players be able to replace their enchantments obviously, but i don't want the player to feel like he must redo all his gear before every encounter to be prepared - that would be too annoying.

How would i go about limiting the availability of removing enchants from gear so it does not become a tedious thing to do, but instead is an exciting event in gameplay? (like: "Cool i can now upgrade those old enchants on my staff which will make slaying those ogres easier!") Also the possibility of removing enchants shouldn't be too rare, since it's the core gear-progression mechanic.

The only thing i could think off was using special scrolls to remove the enchants. These scrolls would drop from monsters and the drop chance will be based on how "weak" the enchants the player uses are compared to his level. The weaker the enchants, the higher a chance to get a disenchant scroll and vice versa. However there is a problem that the player can simply farm for the scrolls and save them for later thus allowing him to redo his gear before every encounter in end-game, where the monsters are the hardest. I would like to avoid that.

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I suppose the way I would go about it is giving your character or characters the ability to enchant their gear (like you buy or learn spells from leveling up, npcs, or skill book drops) and give them the ability to change their enchantments during the fight. That way they don't require perfect prediction when out exploring. Also using this strategy I think most players would keep a default set of enhancements equipped that boost their abilities rather than resistances and swap out whatever is needed when they enter battle. –  Benjamin Danger Johnson May 24 '13 at 15:43
    
You could also allow the player to configure enchantment sets (just a predefined list of the enchantments to apply) and prompt him/her with a selection screen at the start of battle. Personally I prefer swapping them mid-battle since that gives the player the chance to pick which general buffs he/she wants rather than some specialty anti-enemy-x set. –  Benjamin Danger Johnson May 24 '13 at 15:55
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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Here's a random idea. Enchantment parts come in 3 or 4 different colors, and in order to equip one, they must all be combined into one (using one of each color). This means people aren't swapping out minor parts of an enchantment based on the tiny upgrade part they got - and there's some buildup to the point at which you can use a new one ("Argh! I only need a good green enchantment to finish my Magi-slaying set!")

I'd also consider it a good idea to starkly divide sections of the game in which you fight particular enemies, with particular weaknesses. Make those weaknesses pretty easy to discover (ie, via a popup window by "inspecting" the enemy) and have a heavy impact on the damage dealt (or the effectiveness of status effects, etc), and ensure that the game is specifically alerting the player to changes of enemies in the scenery. ("Ohh...you're going to look for her in the Anke Mountains? Be careful up there! The 'Rakne' birds have been attacking anyone daring to venture in there! And their wind gusts are nothing to laugh at!")

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I'm a bit affraid that spliting all the enchantments into parts would create a ton of different items which will pollute the inventory. Also there is the problem that acquiring parts of enchants the player does not even want would be frustrating - "oh another part of that thing i don't even need, meh". However i do like the buildup concept! In fact it might even be the solution i need: allow the player to remove an enchant after defeating X enemies. With a bit of tweaking this might prove to be a good solution. Have an upvote good sir! –  PeterK May 24 '13 at 15:16
    
Yeah, I think I tend to like the idea of "charging something up" more than having "X available uses, total". Players don't waste all of X item, they don't horde the ones they pick up, and they feel pressured to make use of it as soon as it's available - otherwise further "charging" goes to waste. –  Katana314 May 24 '13 at 17:12
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You say you want to do a lot of things but dont't want a lot of natural consequences to happen. You will eventually have to compromise.
I think you could borrow a lot from the design of diablo 3 gems mechanic.

Equipment will be enchantable.
I recommend your equipment to have a quantity of "enchantment slots", you can create your equipment with a number of slots and raise that number later as a progression. If you choose to have the player change gear later slot quantity will be one more design option to balance the gear.

Enchantmens will be removable
You want the enchantments to be removable but the process not to be too trivial. As you already pointed, having the component for the disenchant being random loot favors farming. You can solve that by having an NPC do the deed in exchange of a price in currency, which gives you more flexibility to balance the cost.
In diablo 3 you can recover the gems, in torchlight you have to choose between destroying the gear to get the gem or destroying the gem to clear the slot.

How about a craft system?
While just destroying the current enchantments to open space for more powerful ones is a solid option, you can also opt to have your enchantments back, or maybe, its raw material, which could be used thru recipes, or a combination system to create new enchantments. The materia fusion system of FF Crisis Core would be something to look into.

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Thank you for your suggestions, though i'm affraid they are more suitable for a bigger project with a real in-game economy than for my little game. I should have been more clear about the size of my project, sorry. You are right though that i'm kind of trying to avoid "natural consequences". Finding a good compromise here will be the key it seems. –  PeterK May 24 '13 at 15:18
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Each enchantment could have two properties: a level and a durability. The level would be the strength of the effect, while the durability would determine how long the spell lasts. To be more specific, the level will determine what percentage of damage is absorbed by the enchantment, and the durability tells how many total damage points can be absorbed.

Whenever the player wants to apply a spell, the enchantment is added to his armor. There is a charge-up time, which means that the enchantment does not take effect immediately. Also, the enchantment is not removed from his collection of spells. It has infinite uses, but must be reapplied every once and a while to replenish the durability in order for the effects to remain.

In order to prevent the cycle of reapplying spells to feel repetitive, the enchantments should have a high durability, so that the player will find an upgraded enchantment within only a few reapply cycles.

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