The Elder Scrolls

Character Skill VS Player Skill: A Ramble

TheElderScrolls5 - Character Skill VS Player Skill: A Ramble

In oblivion and skyrim, if a player is skilled enough, then they can open any lock of up to very hard/master difficulty with just a single lockpick- the only things stopping them are the locks that require keys.

In morrowind, each time you use a lockpick, the lock has a chance of opening- however, with high level locks or unskilled characters, that chance can be below 0, making the lock impossible to open. Other options for unlocking things include alteration spells (the higher level ones are impossible to cast at lower skill levels), scrolls (open 100pt unlock scrolls only appear at high levels), and enchanted items (there are no open 100pt stock items, you must either be skilled in enchanting or pay an enchanter tens of thousands of gold in order to make one).

I personally prefer morrowind's system, because there are nearly no locks in the game which are completely inaccessible- theoretically, once a player becomes an expert locksmith, they can enter any location they so please, including vivec's palace, which is impossible to enter at lower levels due to its level 100 lock.

I've brought this up to other people, but they always seem to prefer the tes4-5 system. They say it provides more freedom. But does it really, when a significant portion of locks in the game are completely locked without the key, even if your character should really be able to unlock it if they wanted?

Quest/world designs become much more believable when they are based on the skill of the character rather than the skill of the player. For example, the lock on the door to vivec's palace. When you see it, you go "my character isn't prepared to go in there yet". If it had used the alternative, and it were a "requires key" door, it would make you go "well I guess that's a quest location and the devs don't want me in there yet". It not only kills the immersion, but just feels kind of lame.

Lockpicking isn't the only example. The same thing applies to many aspects of the game, including combat.


I know chance-based combat is unpopular. That's because many people prefer a system of player skill over character skill. I don't, I think it makes more sense that if a character is unskilled with a weapon, then their opponent will easily dodge their attacks, no matter how skilled the player behind that character is. The character skill system makes you play as your character, rather than using the character as a vessel for yourself. In skyrim, player skill is integrated via the stagger and block systems. A skilled player may be able to time their blocks and power attacks so that an enemy is constantly stunned, and does a minimal amount of damage if they manage to break out of the stun. This may feel better for more skilled players, however it kind of forces less skilled players into turning down the difficulty. Turning down the difficulty doesn't actually solve the issue, however- the less skilled players are still unable to use their blocks and power attacks in the same ways. All it does is obtusely nerf the stats of enemies, which doesn't provide the players with the same opportunities as those more skilled than them.

Of course, many games (a vast majority of them) are all about player skill. Those games are games for the player, though. Roleplaying games are more for the characters, for roleplaying. Does it make sense that one level 1 character is a dozen times stronger than another because they've mastered the stunlock system? In a video game sense, yeah, but in the context of the fictional world, not really. The character hasn't earned that skill, the player has.

Sorry this was a bit of a ramble, I didn't plan to make a post this long. Let me know what you think, even if you think I'm wrong, just don't be an ass about it.

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