For years, GemStone players have been expressing their hopes for additional ways to measurably advance their characters after cap–beyond merely maxing out already-existing skills. While there’s no definitive consensus on the best system to implement, there’s never a shortage of passionate players pushing for progress with their long-time characters!
And it’s no simple discussion either. On the contrary, many players and GMs alike recognize both a need for and the difficulties with implementing continued meaningful goals for post-cap characters.
During a very brief recent discussion when GM Meraki asked what players want from post-cap, Darcena referenced a forum thread from late 2018 and asked me to dig it up. While I was at it, I dug up several more–and then I decided not to stop. With post-cap being a particular passion of mine, I kept on gathering and it morphed into what you see now, which is:
I’ve gone through ten years and hundreds upon hundreds of posts on the official forums (sourced further below in this post) to organize representative quotes into an 11-page special report for your perusal.
Like with the cleric survey, comments were typically chosen for being succinct, thorough, specific, unique in view, or unique in the way they were articulated.
Enjoy the read!
Table of Contents
Part 1: What’s the Problem?
Players explain why they’re bored at cap despite (or even because) it’s the pinnacle of leveling. Some think dev priorities are better served elsewhere, particularly in the past, but in the present day even multiple GMs recognize a problem for maintaining post-cap players’ interest.
Part 2: Post-Cap Points
We move on to how to fix the boredom problem. Players describe a perk system, gaining or trading exp to earn points spent on unique abilities–or perhaps just increasing skill caps. Critics say it defeats the purpose of the level cap and either leads to overpowered characters or meaningless upgrades. Possible solutions involve limiting the number of active abilities or adding mutual exclusivity.
Part 3: Character Differentiation
Players tackle another angle to resolve the problem of potentially overpowered post-cap skills by introducing skill trees and other tradeoffs, adding extra layers of character diversification and identity. The major objection: it might be too grand in scope to be feasible to develop any time soon.
Part 4: Scaling Up or Down
Rather than introducing complicated new systems, players propose either scaling pre-cap enemies up to cap in instanced areas or the ability to scale capped characters down to lower levels. Criticism and challenges involve some enemies being too trivial even when scaled up, the way this would affect loot farming, and scaled-down characters being overpowered relative to first-time characters.
Part 5: Remorting
Avoiding all the problems of scaling enemies up or characters down, players propose a more legitimate deleveling, starting from scratch in a new profession and building toward having the power of two professions. Critics raise challenges to the difficulty of implementation, the possibility of overpowered characters, the in-game logic of losing previously-known abilities, and the impact on long-running CHE and MHO events.
Part 6: Full or Partial Multiclassing
Players consider the possibility of gaining some or all abilities from other professions, but are met with the challenge of whether this increased individuality for characters within a profession comes at too great a cost to the individuality of professions themselves.
Part 7: Going Sideways
Once more considering some of the problems faced in the current state of post-cap, players contend that semis have the greatest longevity regarding meaningful goals. Players make dueling cases as to whether squares or pures have it worse in their primarily-sideways growth, tackling the situation from several angles.
Part 8: Powers That Be
GMs weigh in on dilemmas with the implementation of post-cap abilities, including matters of undertuned or overtuned difficulty. One GM seeks feedback regarding a proposal to address power creep by halting progress in the ordinary skill system in favor of a new post-cap-specific system. Players respond in just about every way imaginable.
Part 9: Enhancive Convenience
Players consider allowing characters to gain enhancive bonuses tied to the character, thus avoiding concerns of power creep by increasing convenience while leaving the power ceiling alone. A similar alternative proposes phantom level benefits. The latter sees the objection of overpowered characters; the former sees the unspoken objection of various nerfs to the enhancive system.
Part 10: Non-Mechanical Perks
Bypassing all balance concerns, players raise the idea of entirely non-mechanical benefits like new verbs, character-bound fluff items, or alterations. The primary rebuttal is disinterest.
Part 11: The Salad Bowl of Commentary
In lieu of a conclusion, this smorgasbord draws in perspectives from across the board. From reiterating the problem to acknowledging what’s good about the current skill system, from proposing solutions to facing down the challenges with those solutions, players tackle the matter of post-cap from more angles than ever before, rounding out a very nuanced discussion.
Quotes throughout this report were taken from the topics listed below:
June 13, 2010 – Post-Cap Reward/Perk System
November 14, 2010 – Post-Cap Reward System
November 13, 2011 – Adventurer Milestone Points (AMP)- Alternative to Post-Cap Point System
March 22, 2012 – Post Cap Character Design and Skills
November 6, 2013 – Post Cap Points
August 8, 2014 – Post Cap Rewards Etc.
August 28, 2014 – Post-Cap Idea! (let it GROW!)
August 8, 2015 – Post cap suggestions
January 29, 2016 – Post Cap Killing Power vs. Fresh Cap Killing Power
September 2, 2016 – Post cap advancement updates?
June 4, 2017 – Game Design Concepts: Post-Cap/Level-“stone” Perks
July 30, 2017 – Post Cap Profession Conversion
July 13, 2018 – Post-cap advancement
December 21, 2018 – Capped Hunting Idea
December 24, 2018 – Warmages
December 25, 2018 – Paragon Points
December 29, 2018 – Post cap goals
December 30, 2018 – What’s your top 5 things you’d like to see?
January 1, 2019 – What are the top things you’d like to see from post-cap dev?