Diablo® III

Overall Character Synergy

Posts: 29
I want to open a discussion about character synergy and see how the community feels about it. I see a lot of discussions around specific points like permanence, the rune system, and auto-attributes, but nothing that really addresses the character as a whole.

Let me start by saying I have followed the previously mentioned points rather closely and have discussed them in-depth with friends but have yet to post on this forum (I also do not have the beta, but my friend does). Until very recently my thoughts were in-line with many of the RPGrandparents here. However, I entertained the possibility that it’s time to move passed the ARPG’s of old and explore what Blizz has been saying about moving forward. After some exploration I agree that ARPG’s were “broken” in the sense that they were backwards; your character used to dictate your actions, rather than the way (I now think) it should be. Your actions should dictate your character.

This seems to be the direction that Blizz is moving; however, I feel the current character is lacking synergy in D3. What I mean by synergy is how importantly different aspects of a character relate to each other, and how all aspects together create a cohesive character.

Let’s use a Barbarian as an example under the current system:

You choose skills that fit how you want to play. As you progress you will hunt for items to complete your character with regard to the skills you chose. As a barbarian you will probably aim for items that give you maximum strength (in lieu of other attributes) due to the damage and armor benefits. We have yet to see if dexterity (dodge), intelligence (resistances), vitality (health), and other modifiers will play a meaningful role over strength with regard to the Barbarian later in the game.

The character synergy is as follows ( diagram: http://picturepush.com/public/7661214 ):
*Actively, means it is a user choice; passively, means it applies via game mechanics
  • Runes actively influence (mouse) skills
  • Skills actively influence stats (many skills do +armor and +damage)
  • Stats passively influence skills (damage applies to +%damage in skills)
  • Attributes passively influence stats (strength increases damage for barbarians)
  • Gear actively influences attributes and stats (+strength and +damage)

Since attributes only passively influence stats, and gear actively influences attributes and stats, you could remove (or hide) attributes altogether with minimal changes to the current system (e.g. change all gear to do respective stat increases instead). I feel this represents a problem with low character synergy. Now, imagine the following addition:
  • Skills actively influence attributes. Direct damage skills would give +strength, evasive skills would give +dexterity, etc.
  • Runes actively influence attributes. They would modify the +attribute type or amount on the skill
  • Attributes passively influence gear (gear has attribute requirements)

These synergies would make attributes have a meaningful role in the cohesiveness of the character. The character flow would now go like this:

You choose skills and runes to compliment they way you would like to play. Your level and build determines your attributes (offensive builds would have more strength, evasive builds would have more dexterity, etc). Your attributes would determine what gear you can wear (due to requirements) at your level.

This could be done in such a way that you would not be restricted from wearing any individual piece of equipment. For example, if you wanted to wear a plate as a wizard, you may have to wait 3 levels (until you naturally have enough strength), or you would change a rune/skill to one that gives you more strength, or you would put on a pair of +strength boots, so you could wear the plate now.

A specific example could be: you are a wizard and you have a plate that gives +100 int with 10k defense, but it requires 50 strength more than you have. You also have a plate +50 int with 6k defense, that you can wear. Now you could wear +50 strength boots (instead of +50 int boots), and wear the better plate. You could also change "evasive" (+50 dexterity) skill to "damage" (+50 strength) skill, and wear it with no other equipment changes.

I think the addition of these synergies would give your character a more in-depth and cohesive feel and promote a better role-playing experience.


Currently attributes and stats are basically the same. So currently we could ignore attributes if items added the direct stat (+ barbarian damage and +defence instead of +strength).

This means the total makeup of a character comes down to chosen skills and items. The way these two aspects currently interact doesn't make the character feel “whole”.

Possible solution:
Have some skills do +attributes and items have attribute requirements. This would give attributes meaning and help relate decision making on items to builds.

Edit: Changed the TL;DR to a better explanation
Edited by Havoc on 2/26/2012 7:58 PM PST
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I like this for sure. I feel like there is definitely a disconnect between gear and character, and this would probably help with that.

This doesn't actually require any fundamental changes on Blizz's part either really ... the only thing I see being a problem is having to implement an attribute requirement on all the gear. But since attributes are preset at a given level, it should be pretty easy to set the gear requirements of any particular item type to appropriate levels. As Jay said, their number balancing is just a giant spreadsheet, so copy and paste!
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While I understand what you are suggesting, I think many people would balk at such a complex interaction. It would become very difficult to make decisions about where you would like to go with your character on an itemized level. At the moment, a new item can be seen to directly influence your damage or defensive capabilities, I worry that with your system this becomes far more difficult to interpret.

I like the idea behind your suggestion, and think retroactive stat modification from skills would be interesting, but worry about decision making for those not into setting up spreadsheets. Your example is actually a good one for my point, when you get the new item, you no longer know if it is advantageous to put on. You must take into account the possibility and subsequent implications of re-organzing your skills every time you find a new item. including the possibility that other gear equipped will no longer be viable with the new piece.

While this in depth character synergy might be more natural to some, it makes decisions difficult..
Edited by D3BETA on 2/26/2012 5:37 PM PST
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You've lost me. This sounds like a very complicated way of doing what the game already does.
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Posts: 29
02/26/2012 05:47 PMPosted by D3BETA
You've lost me. This sounds like a very complicated way of doing what the game already does.
I edited my TL;DR in my original post to summarize the idea a little better.
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02/26/2012 05:35 PMPosted by D3BETA
it makes decisions difficult..

I've never understood blizz's stance on this. I WANT difficult decisions. Hmm do I take 2% damage or 1% crit ... hmm should I wear those boots with str so I can wear that armor for more defense even though I have awesome int boots (and I want int).
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Posts: 29
02/26/2012 05:35 PMPosted by D3BETA
While this in depth character synergy might be more natural to some, it makes decisions difficult..
It is more complex due to having more variables; however, I think any changes to increase character synergy at this point would increase complexity.

I think the decision making would be less difficult than you worry about (needing spreadsheets). It would come down to two basic scenarios:
  • You meet the requirements. The decisions making is the same as now.
  • You do not meet the requirements. It would be similar to previous instalments; however, you would also have the option to change skills/runes.

The attributes granted from skills could be done in an intuitive and complimentary way such that they could help with the item decision process. If you cannot wear an item, it probably isn’t optimized for your current build. Although, it would still let you get very creative.

Also, skills with +%damage could be restricted to attributes other than respective damage attributes (strength for barbarians) to prevent “at a glance” confusion over actual damage.

Aside from this system, how do you feel about the current level of character synergy?
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@pointblank, difficult decisions ARE in the game, you have exactly the situation you are talking about. what I was refering to was complicated decisions, sorry for the confusion.

@havoc: First, I am glad to see some well structured sanity on the forums now and again, and I thank you for that. To address your two points:

First, the option to change your skills is far more complicated due to the fact that you will presumably be wearing 10 different pieces of gear. Simple enough to switch from an evasive oriented rune to a damage if you need or want the strength to use a new axe, but what happens when changing that skill lowers your dexterity and you can no longer use your evasive themed boots which require more dexterity.

Second, I think the current level of synergy is OK. While I agree your thoughts towards skill interaction create a much deeper level of synergy, I enjoy the synergy found in creating unique builds through skills and runes. Take the following example:


Frequent use of abilities with long cooldowns will activate the vision quest allowing for rapid mana regen and a continuous use of bats for a primary attack. Minions hold back the majority of enemies and uniques and champions are dealt with by massive armies and subsequent buffing by the big bad voodoo. While this synergy doesnt incorperate stats or gear, the complexity already there is pretty satisfying.
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