Setting Variable Skill Caps?

Soooo…I have this thing I’d like to do, and I can’t figure out how to do it. (If there isn’t a way, such is life, but I figured I’d ask before giving up.)

My game has (or will have, only the first one is finished) three Acts.

You have four base skills, Sturdy, Cuddly, Keen and Fierce. (Hey, you’re stuffed animals. Cuddly is important.)

At the moment, there’s a level cap on the base skills, at 25. It is relatively easy to hit this cap in the first Act.

I would dearly love to raise the skill cap–but only after the character has reached Act 2. Otherwise if somebody just grinds like hell through Act 1, they may find the rest of the game a cakewalk and be bored.

Is there a way to link the level cap to something? The only workaround I can think of is a rather clunky one–If Act 2, If Cuddly 25 = trigger Must card that strips Cuddly and replaces it with Super-Cuddly at 25, and have all further skill checks be against Super-Cuddly. (Or perhaps it would be easier just to have the transition card to Act 2 automatically strip those out. But again, clunky.)

Is there a way to make a variable level cap, where you can only increase past X if you have quality Y?

You could also do it clunkily by having separate branches (if act 1, increase cuddly by 1 if <=24 – if act 2 increase cuddly by 1 if <49)

The other option is to make cuddly a pyramid quality. that means it takes increasingly more grinding to attain each subsequent level. When you succeed or fail a quality check, you get change points. You get more change points for trying (and succeeding or failing) challenges that are way more difficult for you. So the character may breeze through the first 5-10 levels. But if they keep grinding the same challenge, once they pass it the returns diminish. It takes 1 change point to attain level 1, 2 to attain level 2, three for level 3 and so on.

For example, I have grade school, high school, and college in my game. In grade school, the challenges are about 10. Hard to do, but it quickly increases your mind to about 10 or 12, then it starts taking a really long time to level. When you graduate and go to high school, the challenges are set at about 15 which makes it easier to grind up to another level.

So if cuddly is a pyramid quality, and your act 1 challenge is only at 10, it’s going to take an exceedingly long time to grind to 25. In act 2, you can unlock a branch that’s a challenge of 20 (or whatever is appropriately higher). It’s a really good way to naturally make the player averse to continued grinding.

You can combine this with - in your grindy locations, shut off the branch if the player is above a certain level. If you don’t want them to pass 25, disqualify them from the grind branch unless they are level 24 and below.

Grind branch requires max act one and <=24 cuddly difficulty of 10, second grind branch difficulty 20 requires min act two and max act two and <=49 cuddly…

If you combine this and some sort of penalty such as injury or insanity for failing a challenge, it will clue the player in real quick that they can’t just grind the hell out of the branch.[li]
edited by HanonO on 7/12/2013

I’m already doing a fair amount of that–shutting off the branch over a certain level, and they’re already pyramid qualities. Since I don’t want Act 2 & 3 to be seriously grindy, though–this is when the plot kicks up!–I may just be stuck…