Nothing particularly revolutionary here, but I wanted to set out a bare outline for the kind of skill system I’d like to see in a multiplayer virtual world RPG.
Skills would be mostly non-magical and reflect a single verb. Once learned skills could be improved over time or through use (I’m still undecided on which of these systems for skill improvement I prefer). Skills would be more effective at higher skill levels.
Examples of skills would be things like swords, maces, shields, unarmed combat, swimming, fishing, alchemy, tailoring, blacksmithing, languages, archery, stealth etc.
All characters would have the potential to learn and eventually maximise every skill in the game.
While skills would take care of most mundane character actions any magical or extraordinary abilities would come from a separate talent system. Talents would be binary and represent a single verb. Think of talents as magic spells or special attacks. Some examples might be a fireball spell or a frontal AoE weapon attack.
Each character would have a total of six talent slots that they could use at any one time with a larger pool of available talents to choose from.
Talents could be swapped out freely but would trigger a long global cooldown. The intent is that players cannot change their talent build in combat situations without a heavy penalty.
There would be two separate mechanisms for gaining talents; guilds and items.
There would be ten talents for each guild closely related to its role with characters getting access to these talents as they gained rank within the guild. Three of the six available talent slots would be for these guild talents. If the character left the guild they would lose access to guild specific talents.
This assumes a system where guilds are permanent player run organisations within the game world (as opposed to player formed social groups common in today’s MMOs). You could do a similar thing in a more traditional class system by linking talents to levels instead.
Talents would also be tied to special items within the game. The specifics would depend on the fiction, but think of gems or runes or some other mystical item that gives the holder special powers. Mechanically what’s important is that they are items that could be looted, dropped or traded between characters. Each talent item would allow the holder to use a single talent. Three of the character’s six talent slots would be available for item talents.
Talent items would be randomly generated as loot, quest rewards or crafted by characters. The more powerful the talent the rarer it would be. The most powerful talents could even be unique.
The system could be made more “classless” by reducing the number of guild specific talents and/or the slots available for them. A completely classless system would have no guild talents and all six slots available for item talents.
- Characters can learn all skills with no total cap;
- Magical or extraordinary abilities will come mainly from talents rather than skills;
- Characters can have up to six active talents but can swap them freely outside of combat;
- Access to talents is granted through guild membership and special talent items;
- Talent items can be crafted, looted or given as quest rewards with the most powerful talents being the rarest.