Tanking and the Provoke skill

How would you prefer that a tank draws enemy attacks?


  • Total voters
    18

Tehprince

Someone
Veteran
Joined
Sep 28, 2017
Messages
58
Reaction score
6
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMXP
A lot of RPGs have some kind of heavy physical character whose main benefit is their high defense. Due to the fact that enemy targeting is normally random, many of these systems create some sort of "Provoke" skill, to manage threat, and keep enemies targeting the aforementioned tank. How exactly would you balance that ability?

If the skill makes enemies target only the tank, he/she would either die very quickly, or the game would be significantly easier since the tank is holding up, preventing your other characters from ever taking a hit.

If the skill just increases the chance that the tank would be targeted, by what percentage should threat increase? If it is too low, players will feel like they just wasted a turn. If it is too high, it may as well be the previous entry on the list.

How would you prefer that a tank character does their tanking?
 

gstv87

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 20, 2015
Messages
1,909
Reaction score
917
First Language
Spanish
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I balanced my game by having enemies with an AI of "flanker" which makes them target active tanks automatically.
Tanks make the enemies switch their AI to "aggro", actively looking for ways to damage the character, as opposed to debuffing, or trying alternate tactics.
Which for enemies based on support, totally nullifies them.
For flankers though, that's exactly what they want.... and that can get out of hand if you can't spot them.
 

Failivrin

Final Frontiersman
Veteran
Joined
Jan 31, 2017
Messages
213
Reaction score
206
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I've never been the type to play tanks (usually I gravitate toward characters with high speed stats). My current project has characters with fairly balanced stats. If the player wants a tank, they have to make it themselves with creative combos of skills, spells and equipment. On the whole, I think it's a more interesting challenge for the player than simply gaining a character who has high defense and knows Provoke.
 

sciencewarrior

Overzealous Technician
Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
22
Reaction score
7
First Language
Portuguese
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Although I answered "the chance that the tank is targeted increases", there are way too many variables for a definite answer. For example, you could a skill that worked 100% for the first enemy, and then decayed after each attack that hits the tank. Or you could boost the defense at the same time that you draw aggro, making the skill overall more attractive and reducing the need for a specialized tank.
 

Wavelength

Pre-Merge Boot
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
4,622
Reaction score
3,885
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
In a game with a normally-random targetting system, I'd prefer "Provoke"-like skills to increase the chance of being targeted. If the skill is very short-term, e.g. one turn, it's reasonable to have the tank be able to take all attacks that turn (perhaps even multi-target attacks, by way of the Substitute property).

In a game with a full Aggro system (I've found this to be a really nice feature in creating strategic combat), the Provoke-like skill should usually play straight into the system, raising the character's Aggro levels significantly rather than ignoring Aggro levels entirely. However, it would still be reasonable to have certain skills that can get around Aggro levels entirely (such as a Taunt that forces all enemies to target the tank, or a Hide action that forces all enemies to not target the user), as long as they are very short-term. Making these Aggro-ignoring effects too long in duration will make the Aggro system (which should be part and parcel of battle strategy) pointless.
 

Basileus

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 18, 2013
Messages
268
Reaction score
404
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
I think it's problematic to look at skills like Provoke in isolation. Unless it is literally the only type of Crowd Control in your game, then you have to compare it with all other forms of CC the player has access to.

The most important thing to consider is: What types of CC and status effects exist in your game? Most RPGs give a variety of abilities that affect enemies and can help control what they do. These can be broken down into a few types.
  1. Hard Lock-down: These are status effects like Stun, Charm, Stone, etc. that completely deny the target any action. Forcing the enemy to miss a turn is far more powerful and game-warping than simply redirecting damage with a skill like Provoke. If you have a lot of these effects then a Provoke isn't necessary at all since it's just a weaker effect the player won't bother using. If these effects are rare or on long cooldowns a Provoke could be a good low-cost alternative so the player can save their Stun for something else.
  2. Soft Lock-down: These are effects that limit certain actions and may cause the enemy to lose a turn or make their turn less effective. Using a Silence effect to block spellcasting can make caster enemies waste their turn, while an effect like Berserk to change enemy behavior (force them to do a physical attack) will render casters ineffective since their attacks will be weak but not completely block their turn/damage.
  3. Debuff: These effects don't actually change what the enemy does, they just make those actions weaker. Lowering a strong physical attackers Strength will lower their damage without preventing them from attacking. A good Strength Down debuff that lasts several turns can actually prevent more damage than a full lock-down that prevents 1 action.
The way your Tanks will actually use these skills depends entirely on how the rest of your party functions. The available classes, stat distributions, and abilities will determine what your Tank actually needs to do. Check your party to see how many characters can heal, how many have buff/debuff skills, and how many can use forms of CC mentioned above. The use of Provoke will then depend on how your Tank functions on the team.

If your team has low CC, then the Tank's Provoke might be the only way to keep enemies from grouping up on your casters and rogues so it might be good to have a self-targeting skill that draws attention to the Tank. If your other characters have lots of ways to negate or mitigate enemy actions, then the Tank doesn't need a strong Provoke so it might be better to make the Provoke target a single enemy so it can be used to stop powerful enemies while letting the weaker enemies continue to target your squishier party members.

Don't be afraid to get creative with these buffs and debuffs. You can do a lot more than just directing attacks - you can also punish enemies for targeting the wrong characters. Provoke can even apply a state onto the Tank's allies so that if they get attacked that turn the enemy is punished, possibly negating or lowering the damage your allies take in the process. Or it could be a state applied to enemies that triggers if they perform certain actions, like damaging them and/or stunning if they use a physical attack...which can then be combined with a Berserk effect for enemies that don't use physical attacks normally.
 

Tai_MT

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
5,272
Reaction score
4,494
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I... don't believe in traditional roles in RPGs. "Oh, it's a tank, it has high HP, high defense, and uses Provoke or Shield Bash or whatever else". I don't like that. I want to surprise my players and force them to drop the (my personal opinion) absolutely stupid and silly archetypes of MMOs.

My tank has exactly one skill that draws enemy fire. "Cover". All it is, is a 3-6 round Substitute skill. It can raise Defense a little as well, to take some of that damage that he's covering for. Okay, so why is he considered the tank, you ask? Every skill he has revolves around buffing party defense or evade, or whatever... as well as using his Defensive stat as an offensive one. He gives the party Evasion percentage (magic or physical). He buffs defense of the whole party for 3 turns. He's got standard amount of HP (no more than any other character), but he's got 3 times the Defense, so he will take hits for you and possibly even keep you in the fight, even if not directly. He can tank some hits and spend turns healing the party with items (I have no dedicated healer class, you must heal with items if you wish to heal in combat or out of combat at all, without an Inn, even funnier is that he doesn't even get a buff to Pharmacology like another of characters, so he's not even the best candidate for handing out potions).

As for your dilemma with raising the targeting rate of allies. I actually gave that skill to a "Jack of All Trade" type character. Basically a rogue. He can use it offensively or defensively (depending on your preference in leveling up his skill". It's called "Threaten" instead of Provoke. If you use it defensively, enemies target him more frequently and he gets a small boost to his Defense stat for 3 turns. But, if you use it offensively... His critical hit rate goes up. Seems kind of weird to do that, right? What's the point of raising his Critical Hit Rate when he's provoking every single enemy to target him? Well, you can equip an item on him to give him a very high rate of Counter Attack as well. Suddenly, he's cleaning the whole battlefield by using his "Provoke" skill and landing Critical Hits all over the place. He can also use his "Threaten" Ability in conjunction with another of his skills that gives him a percentage chance of reflecting magic at the caster. Casts his "Reflect Magic" and then after that, casts "Threaten" and suddenly he's deflecting all the magic attacks to the casters. This character, however, does not have stats to "Tank". They are meant to be used to draw fire from enemies to either use that offensively or defensively.

"Provoke" in this instance is a tactical choice and not what a player should be doing every single turn. I don't like designing skills to be things that are, "this is what you use every single turn no matter what, because doing otherwise is stupid". So, my actual tank character doesn't get Provoke. Meanwhile, one of my Rogue characters does. In this instance, "Provoke" is also a skill that can built on, built around, expanded, altered, played around with.

My point is... Why does that Tank have to draw enemy attacks at all... to be a tank? The point of a tank is to keep everyone alive, right? Or, make their chances more survivable. Granted, it's the easiest way to make the tank keep everyone alive. Easiest as far as programming is concerned anyway. Lessee... 3x HP of any other character... 3x Defense of any other character... Give Provoke skill. Give Sword and Shield. Bam. Done. Boring. Typical. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Nearly everyone designs a Tank this way. From AAA to Indie devs. To JRPGs to MMORPGs. Why not differentiate your Tank some?

That being said... If I have to go with the boring "default" archetype of Tank character with the boring and "Default" Provoke skill... I prefer it just make the Tank targeted more instead of "enemies only target the Tank", because at least there's still a chance someone takes a hit other than the Tank and battle doesn't feel so... Easy Mode. But, I like a little strategy in combat, a little bit of randomness, a little bit of "you can't prepare for everything, but you might be able to react well to something you didn't predict". Most combat systems rely on players being proactive about 95% of the time... and restarting the battle after losing the other 5% to be better proactive in combat. I like my combat to be half proactive (you prepare for combat before it happens, you know what skills to use against specific types of enemies, you have strategies planned out ahead of time) and the other half... reactive (the enemy throws something at you that you didn't expect, they get lucky and wipe someone, they use your tactics against you, they throw a wrench into your usual plans of combat, they do something you had no way to prepare for and even a restart doesn't make preparing for that easier, etcetera). Combat remains interesting and engaging if you cannot negate everything an enemy does... or most of what an enemy does. It engages when it teaches you things and punishes you for complacency.

My advice about a Tank character with Provoke is just to see what else can you do with it. My answer was to say, "How can targeting this character be useful other than just drawing fire?" and that giving Provoke to a Tank was too overpowered and broken if I designed the Tank in the usual fashion. I rolled with that answer. Maybe you'll find a different answer that works better for you. I encourage you to try new and interesting things. Play with all the tools at your disposal in the Engine. Did you know that you can make a state "Contagious" to others in combat? You can really do some fun stuff in RPG Maker if you look at it.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Latest Threads

Latest Profile Posts

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders is finally being ported to PC. I loved playing that game on the original Xbox.
A friend told me to stop making nomnom or gulping noise when eating or drinking. Plot twist of my life. I thought people can't hear that!
Inside you are two wolves. They take in oxygen while getting rid of the Co2 gas in your body...
Ah wait, sorry. Lungs. Not wolves. that'd be silly. Wolves are huge. You probably couldnt even fit one wolf inside you.
Tag: hack and slash | gameplay: point and click. Me: "How tf two are related to each other?"

Forum statistics

Threads
94,407
Messages
920,731
Members
124,197
Latest member
FJS
Top