Broken_squirrel

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Hello Everyone, 


I've been told that some people have a play-style that is adverse to using self-damage skills even if the net benefit of using the skill/ability is positive. They simply refuse to use a skill/ability if it deals damage to their party or character.


Do you use skills/abilities that deal damage to the player as part of its cost? Which abilities of what games do you use?
 

Milennin

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I've had the thought of creating a character with a skillset that revolves around using his own HP instead of MP to use skills with, and then have those skills refund the HP, either partially, fully or even more than what was offered. Never made something like that, but it's something I'd like to play around with sometime...


For my finished game, I have a character who can cast Taunt on herself, but as a drawback, she'll receive 25% more damage from enemy attacks and spells. It's linked to a strong healing ability though, so if she gets low, she can drop her vulnerable Taunt state and heal back for a good amount. In addition, that same healing skill will also deal damage to all enemies equal to half the damage she received while under that state, creating a risk vs. reward scenario. Keep it up longer to build up a powerful hit-all spell. But keep it up for too long, and she'll risk dying before she gets the chance to use it.
 

Andar

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This "problem" or opinion has two parts to consider - on one side it is a balancing question if the added effects of the skills are worth the damage to the user.


But the other side is that if those skills exist, the player needs to think and take care of not using them in case of an actor with previous damage that might result in actor death on the use of those skills.


And that divides the players into two groups: those who want to play for fun without thinking (often looking for games that allow attack-bashing and grinding), and those that want their games to be a challenge (those who also like games with "iron man" options where the saves gets deleted if their actors are killed and so forth).


The decision wether you offer such skills or not will also affect which players you get as a result, and you should make the entire game targeted on that group, because these two parts are usually exclusive - you can't have a game that is basically easy going with skills that risk the player, and if you want to offer such skills to the "iron man"-players, then you can't make the rest of the game a fluffy walkthrough but have to make it challenging as well.
 

Harosata

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Hm, Warcraft and Hearthstone has some self-damaging spells.  In fact, the Priest's Shadow Heal (heals a lot but ticks damage afterwards) is something I plan to put in my game.  With a well-timed Holy Word: Shield, the damage can be negated.  But I can understand what you mean since there's a Priest talent that kills the player when messing up the rotation (which I don't take).


Like Bloodborne's Chikage (a sword draining your HP), self-damage skills are seen as a super-risk since your HP is more affected by the battle than MP even with the damage boost and healing takes away precious time for damage, but certain builds or skills can negate the HP loss.


Hm, now you got me thinking of an enemy that sacrifices a quarter of its HP when attacking and increases its damage based on its HP at the time.  
 

Kes

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There are at least two categories of self-damaging skills, both of which I have used and which (I think) illustrate well the different attitudes many players bring to them.


The first sort includes things like heal the party but at the cost of reduced DEF that turn.  For a long time this was the only heal available in battle (I had no dedicated healer) and no one complained.  Later in the game for various reasons, including helping to ensure that the character who could heal didn't become an obligatory member, someone else got a healing skill which was stronger, but part of the cost was a loss of HP.  And generally, people said they didn't use it.


My reading of why that was is very simple.  The first sort deals with the possibility of damage - only if that player is hit does the down side take effect.  The second sort has the certainty of damage, HP is lost in the very act of healing.  This is not always a very logical choice, given that you are going to be facing enemies who can have all-party attacks, and therefore the first character will be hit, and might be also hit by single target attacks as well in that turn.  However, it is in conformity with the many studies done on how people actually respond to risk, rather than on what they say about their response to risk, as well as all those studies showing that generally speaking, people are not very good at calculating real risks.


In that game I also had a character who dealt more damage the lower his HP was, so that at really low levels he could dish out a phenomenal amount.  Even so, many players said that they usually healed him up before that skill could kick in, because they would rather not risk him being knocked out - even though they realized that they could get a slower ally to use a healing potion on him after his turn.  This is a form of avoiding self-damage.


So what you have heard is correct, many players avoid self-damaging if they possibly can.  The important thing is to try and allow for those who avoid and those who don't, so that everyone has a viable strategy. i.e. that different characters have different skills which have different pros and cons.  If the general skill texture is rich enough, people won't mind.  It's when most skills are pretty vanilla that the odd self-damaging skill stands out as something probably to be avoided.
 
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When I was a kid, I absolutely never used moves that damaged my characters.  In games like Pokemon or Dragon Warrior, I always tried to rely on the characters and not bother with a lot of healing items, basically a stingy, risk-aversion kinda personality strategy.  Star Ocean 2 sort of changed my mind about this, because it had a system where any sort of physical skill cost HP to use, but balanced it out with a lot of healing abilities.  Then in Star Ocean 3, running out of MP would also result in KO, and while this initially sounded like a bummer, it became something fun to exploit against enemies.  But even now, if given the choice of a self-damaging move or something else, I'll usually pick something else.  
 

Basileus

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I think that self-sacrificing moves can be very powerful and engaging gameplay features as well as story features if developed enough, but most people tend to avoid them be just smacking people with Attack is seen as better than hurting yourself just to do a little more damage. It's probably best to make it an optional skill tree or party member that the player can opt into if they wish rather than something forced on them. But it can be loads of fun and I've seen it done excellently in 2 games:


Final Fantasy IV: This is without a doubt the mastercraft example. The main character, Cecil, actually begins the game as a Dark Knight in service to a kingdom that has him do some pretty amoral things that start to weigh on him. Fitting his starting role, he gets an ability which sacrifices some of his health to nuke the entire enemy side of the field. This is just plain amazing early game and most players will probably use it for some easy grinding to help out Rydia - a mage character who starts out very low level - since she'll be your only party member for a bit. The game is pretty good at making you actually use the skill and rewarding you well for it. But the real payoff is later in the game. Having resolved to mend his ways and stand up against his own kingdom, Cecil goes to the Mountain of Ordeals where he can class change. But the trick here is that all of the enemies on the mountain are undead...so they basically negate his self-sacrifice ability which is dark elemental type. Then Cecil has to fight a solo boss fight against a dark version of himself that represents his inner darkness. Naturally, his inner darkness spams his self-sacrifice ability every turn to nuke you down. But the catch is that in the way to win this battle is actually to defend instead of attack. If you fight fire with fire, then you just burn down your HP even faster. But if you take the high road and focus on defense, then you can keep your HP up while your opponent kills himself. The fight completes Cecil's main character arc by showing both Cecil and the player that true self-destructive nature of "the dark side" and allows Cecil to class change into a Paladin, losing his self-sacrifice skill in exchange for healing magic and being able to take attacks for his allies.


Magic the Gathering: This is definitely the pure strategic choice of example. Being a tabletop card game, the numbers of cards you have access to is an important element of the game, and having more cards in your hand than your opponent is very good tactically. Cards are used to deal damage to your opponent's Life total while protecting your own. Then along came Necropotence. It has 3 effects: 1) Skip your own draw step 2) If you discard a card from your hand, remove that card from the game 3) Pay 1 Life to remove the top card of your deck from the game and add it to your hand you next discard phase (which is the end of your turn). On the surface this card looks utterly terrible - you can't draw cards like normal and have to pay life to draw anything, and you can't discard cards so you can't even combo it with cards that let you bring things back from the Graveyard, and on top if it all you don't even actually "draw" the cards so you don't get them instantly. And yet this card completely changed the entire metagame of Magic. It's self-sacrificing, but by changing your mindset you can get an enormous amount of power for that sacrifice. The extra cards you get cost no mana, meaning that 100% of your mana can go into casting spells that directly hurt your opponent and/or heal yourself instead of paying to draw extra cards. You can use the effect to have a full hand every turn, draw enough cards each turn to always be able to play a Land card, and always have more mana and more available spells than your opponent. And since you skip your draw step you don't lose the game if you run out of cards in your deck, since you never have to draw from it. It completely changes how you have to play the game, but if you base your play-style around it then the sacrifice becomes an awesome advantage. Necropotence completely changed how even the game's designers looked at the game - instead of every Life Point being a precious thing that brought you closer to defeat as it went down, it became another resource to be spent to ensure your victory. Because the only Life Point that matters is your last.


There is a ton of tactical decisions that can be made when you can use your own HP as a resource, but the payoff has to be really good - either in magnitude or just effects that you can't get any other way. If you base a combat system on it or even just one character, then it can offer a lot of fun gameplay for people that don't mind taking risks. But just throwing it into a combat system not designed for that kind of risk/reward pattern can just feel superfluous and is probably why many shy away from them when they see them.
 

Chaos Avian

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Shin Megami Tensei series in regards to self damaging skills. Up until SMT: Strange Journey, all physical skills cost HP to use and although the stronger physical attacks ate up larger quantities of HP, the damage output was always more than worth it. Sure the games are known for being difficult and being high risk, high reward (glares at Nocturne and Persona 3), but apart from most bosses, battles are won within 1-3 turns and any damage could either be healed off in or outside battles. Plus the physical based demons usually had enough HP to accommodate such skills. And interestingly enough fans (myself) included found that the change for all skills to universally MP costing was a bad decision as it nerfed ALL physical demons as they naturally had much lower MP than their magic based counterparts (not to mention even in late-game where magic demons didn't have the HP to survive most boss attacks...).


But aside from that, in general I actually am a fan of HP costing skills, or skills that hurt the user (such as recoil) since most of the time I do find it to be worth the loss. Take 50 damage to HP in order to attack and kill the enemy, use MP (which most of the time is harder to refill than HP) or hold back and suffer anywhere between a 50 - 150 HP loss? I'd take the former, especially if HP recovery is easily done via items, magic, passives, etc.
 

Oddball

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i think i know how to appeal to both groups at the same time. have some skills were there is an option to pay hp for a bigger and/or different and/or added effect


this would make all skills considered by both groups and even make those skills used in different ways in different situations both adding loads of strategic decisions, depth to the game while allowing a few skills to be usefull through out the game


of course, thats only my opinion
 

Lord Semaj

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The attack has to pay off and I find people are more willing to use self-damaging abilities if 1) the dmg is small or 2) the effect is a gamechanger.


Having a Berserker mode that a raging barbarian can activate in exchange for gradual health loss or paying small amounts of health to use overpowered attacks are small enough damage outputs that the player is only concerned with long term damage rather than short term threats to your survival.  They're willing to use self-damaging abilities like this when the circumstance isn't too risky.


On the flip side, paying large chunks of health to activate a field wiping megadeath nuke or using half your health to resurrect fallen party members are decently meaningful effects that they will get used often.  Players may save them as trump cards if they don't feel like gambling with their lives but they will see play.


What I don't like seeing personally are skills like Agate's Wild Rage from Trails in the Sky.  It replenishes his special bar giving him immediate access to one of his ultimate attacks but it costs him 70% of his max health and can even cause him to commit suicide (losing all the energy you just gained).  Since the specials are just better damage than normal attacks and not truly the gamechangers some limit breaks can be, the risk of losing him to a turn of monsters attacking is too great.  So it's only worth using the attack if it's either going to finish off the target or a well-timed heal is waiting to save him.  If a skill is neither low risk nor godly, I'm just not going to use it much... it was almost never used during boss fights and was mostly used to fill up CP during normal monster battles so I could start the next fight with a strong attack (healing out of combat each time).
 

AMGLime

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What I don't like seeing personally are skills like Agate's Wild Rage from Trails in the Sky.  It replenishes his special bar giving him immediate access to one of his ultimate attacks but it costs him 70% of his max health and can even cause him to commit suicide (losing all the energy you just gained).  Since the specials are just better damage than normal attacks and not truly the gamechangers some limit breaks can be, the risk of losing him to a turn of monsters attacking is too great.  So it's only worth using the attack if it's either going to finish off the target or a well-timed heal is waiting to save him.  If a skill is neither low risk nor godly, I'm just not going to use it much... it was almost never used during boss fights and was mostly used to fill up CP during normal monster battles so I could start the next fight with a strong attack (healing out of combat each time).



One thing you're ignoring is that Agate COULD Wild Rage, but it was made more effective when he used True Gladiator Accessories. He'd Wild Rage, have 200CP and then instantly nuke one enemy for massive amounts of damage. He'd hit normally for 1-2k but his Second S Craft is able to hit for 10k+ every other turn. Him and Estelle are the boss killers in the second game, her because of her overall balanced kit and her S Craft and him because of Wild Rage S Crafts, have someone heal him or give him an HP Regen and bosses are cake walk in that game. That combination itself, is insanely godly later in the game, but is all about risk vs reward early on and is a different playstyle.


Personally, I like the idea of using HP as a Resource. My one character is designed around that fact. His skills cost him HP, and deal damage. They're also able to Crit, and when they Crit he regains health based on the damage he dealt. So he uses his HP to deal damage, and if he does more damage he gets HP back. Or take into consideration FFIV, in the original Cecil consumed health to deal dark damage to all enemies, making him a very potent group killer. In FFIV DS it instead consumed 20% of his current health to make his Auto Attacks deal increased damage for a few turns, making it a buff instead. Or look at Bravely Default Dark Knights, they have skills that consume different percentages of Health to do different things, single attack, group attack, etc. They also have it so that if they kill stuff, they get health back.  The concept is really cool, and an alternative playstyle.
 

Ultima01

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Personally, I like the idea of using HP as a Resource.

Maybe I've played to much Persona 4 Golden, but I kind of agree with this statement.  It could make battles more fun, allowing you to, for example, justify necromancy in a setting, or balance physical skills, like Shin Megami Tensei did, without relying on TP the way some VX Ace games do.  Like Basileus said earlier with Necropotence, the only Hit Point that really matters is your last.


This is probably why I have a class in my game built entirely around HP-costs.  The Soul Bender is my game's answer to Final Fantasy's Dark Knight.  If it weren't for the HP costs, the Soul Bender would be a tank class almost on par with my game's Knight/Paladin job, with some decent defensive abilities to close the gap.  However, the Soul Bender's offensive repertoire is much stronger for it, and considering the shortage of tanky characters, you'd be stupid not to have a healer regardless.  Not only are most of its attacks pretty damned powerful, but a few even get stronger at low HP.  The fact that it's consuming HP for all of these attacks means that it can utterly wreck anyone stupid enough to leave it alone.  It's a very fun alternative playstyle that, just like Necropotence, treats HP as another resource to be managed.
 

ChrAndGow

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HP as a resource is a nice thing, but you know what would make it even better?


When missing hp is like a resource too. There are some berserk like characters that get stronger if they lose HP and there are many ways like ressistance strength speed or special skills. Its risky but even more interesting, a example would be Huskar a Dota 2 Hero that modifies his attack to add burning damage but looses health with every attack, with missing life his attack speed increases and his resistance gets bigger and bigger. This isn't a example for a turn based system but it would work and I would like it.
 

Lord Semaj

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It's not even hard to make a character whose attacks use his current HP versus Max HP as part of the attack calculation.  Quick and easy Berserker.
 

Crabs

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I remember that ragnarok online has some skills that use HP as cost or drawback.


Ninja has a skill called "final strike" (killing stroke in iRO). It removes all HP from the character as cost, but use this amount to deal damage.


Paladin's sacrifice ( Martyr's Reckoning in iRO) removes 9% of his HP to deal 140% of the amount sacrificed as damage.
 
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Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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Personally I'm more of the type that doesn't want to use HP-costing abilities if the game doesn't make me need to do so... I played a lot of Persona games for example but survived not using the physical abilities that much since they require HP to use..
This is mostly the case on RPGs that I played.


As another example, in DotA I like using that troll guy who uses his HP to deal damage to enemies for two of his skills, and he has a skill that makes him resistant to magic as his HP is lowered so it's kinda acceptable to use his hp-costing skills.


TBH if the output is huge and can compensate for the HP cost then it's pretty considerable to use those abilities. It really just depends on the balance of the game. As long as it's at least a double edged sword, it's acceptable but if it inclines towards just too much risk with not so high rewards, it's kinda a no-no.
 

Ryaryu

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HP cost involve risk in battles. If it involves self-driven risk, a lot of players will not use it.


However, you can turn this to your side: making HP-driven skills extremely powerful, and you can add ever more gambling, making some HP skills ever stronger the with less HP. But no player will use self-driven risk skills if you have no ways to recover from it quickly. If you use an attack that consumes a lot of your HP, you need to recover it fast otherwise you'll die. So you need means of fast healing so the players will have a safe spot to return to while using HP skills.



It's like the Berserk skill that doubles your damage but makes you unable to discern between enemy and ally. Normally you won't use such a skill, but some players can prepare the other allies with defensive and evasive buffs, debuff the enemy party and unleash the Berserker, taking the risk of receiving all the monstrous berserker damage but preparing themselves to handle the risk.


If you give them the right tools, your players will be willingly to use your high-risk skills, but keep in mind that most players actually run from this kind of play-style.
 

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