Innocence Seekers: The Black Rose – Rethinking stat caps and MP

This post will detail some of the things I’ve been thinking regarding how stats work in the Innocence Seekers video games. Lately, I’ve been thinking of overhauling what I’ve done regarding stats and equipment in Innocence Seekers, and some changes will be made to avoid any potential devolution of battles into “rocket tag”. This post will also detail some of the other overhauls I’ve been considering.

First off, a bit of history regarding my concepts of character stats. The very first concept I had conceived, possibly even before I had even begun working on Innocence Seekers, was considerably tame in comparison to the current concept. This involved a maximum level of 100, five-digit HP totals, and five-digit damage. At the time I was very much a fan of seeing attacks reach the damage cap (which in the first concept was either 99,999 or 999,999). I don’t quite remember what the stats actually were, but they included ATK, DEF, INT (which I had originally conceived as MAG) and RES (I can’t remember what I originally called this stat). DEF and RES, like in the current concept, were subtractive, and there was no concept of scratch damage (i.e. if DEF/RES is high enough, then attacks will do zero damage).

The second concept again largely involved five-digit HP totals, but I increased the level cap to 999. Interestingly, I decreased the starting stats (from around 2,000 down to somewhere around 60 for HP, and ~500 to ~15 for the other stats). It is from this concept that I conceived the six stats as they are in the current concept: ATK, DEF, INT (again, originally called MAG), RES, HIT and SPD. I believe the damage cap was 999,999 in this concept.

Of course, that all changed when I started playing Disgaea. I have to admit, I immediately fell in love with the huge damage totals and stats one may find in the series (there’s a video on YouTube of someone dealing 17 trillion damage with a single attack in Disgaea 5, which the game displays as “17T” on the unfortunate enemy, and through cheating I once got myself on the receiving end of over 1.24 quadrillion damage, shown as “1247T” on my unfortunate Slime, which I had specifically chosen due to its Star weakness; the cap I believe is 184 quadrillion while I thought the cap was 184 quadrillion, like in Disgaea 4, some experimentation suggests that the cap is lower by at least a half). As such, I increased the level cap, first to 9,999, then to 65,535. I then thought about how to make my stats even higher (given that each level up only increased each stat by 10-20).

My fourth concept was the culmination of the attempt to increase stats even further. I experimented with using “essences” to increase stats separate from level ups, but ultimately decided to change the growth equation to a quadratic equation. Because this would give so much MP that one would never conceivably run out of it at such high levels, I also altered how MP worked. This gives a HP cap of 40 billion, and stat caps of 9,999,999,999. MP was often in the hundreds. Damage could conceivably reach a trillion without further multipliers, and the damage cap when further multipliers were taken into account is one shy of ten quadrillion.

Now on to my overhaul. I may return MP to its old equation (originally, MP was around a tenth of HP), but in return allow for spells and techniques to be upgraded with a corresponding exponential increase in MP cost. This will ensure that huge MP totals will remain relevant at high levels. Because I plan to implement bosses with so much HP that it would take very long to defeat them, I won’t go overboard with MP costs. HP, on the other hand, will be multiplied. Typically, HP is scaled by a factor of four relative to the six stats (reflected by the fact that base HP is around four times that of the other stats); however, with skill upgrades leaving HP at x4 will only lead to “rocket tag” battles where it is dodge or die (and given the aformentioned bosses, you can see what will happen). What I will do is allow the HP scale factor to increase to 16 over the course of the main story (up to level 100, usually), and allow it to go all the way to a hundred in the post game.

The equation for the six stats will not change. However, I will increase the stat caps from 9,999,999,999 to 999,999,999,999 (by a factor of one hundred), and allow the base stats to be multiplied by up to four (this will stack with the x100 scaling applied to HP, giving a total boost of x400). MP will initially begin with a x0.4 multiplier relative to the six stats; however, this can be increased to x4, like the other stats. In addition, I will overhaul stat-increasing items, and allow Seeds to give individual stat points rather than increase base stats directly. The total contribution will be capped at 300 billion for the six stats and MP, and 30 trillion for HP.
The final stat caps will be 99,999,999,999,999 for HP and 999,999,999,999 for all other stats. Base stats are capped at 12,000 for HP and 3,000 for other stats, before any additional multipliers. Damage will not be capped, at least without taking into account limitations in the data types used to calculate damage.
The following are the stat caps while only taking into account base stats and multipliers:

  • HP: 257,823,876,240 at x4 multiplier, 25,782,387,624,000 at x400 multiplier
  • Other stats: 64,455,969,060 at x1 multiplier, 257,823,876,240 at x4 multiplier

It should be noted, though, that the base stats of enemies may exceed 3,000, although typically only post game enemies (not random dungeon enemies) have such high base stats.

(On a side note, I will follow Disgaea when it comes to huge damage numbers. This means that a “total damage” counter will be shown detailing the amount of damage dealt up to that point, and the damage numbers that appear over affected units will be marked with “k”, “M”, “G”, “T”, and extremely rarely “P” to denote multiples of a thousand, a million, a billion, a trillion and a quadrillion respectively. These multipliers will be used starting at 100,000 damage, which will be denoted as “100k”, and the number of digits actually shown will be between three and five. In the Chinese, Japanese and Korean versions, their corresponding native systems will be used, and one to four digits will be displayed; again, the multipliers will be used starting at 100,000, shown as 10万 in Japanese and Simplified Chinese, 10萬 in Traditional Chinese, and 10만 in Korean. Subsequent multipliers will be 億/亿/억 for a hundred million, 兆/万亿/萬億/조 for a trillion, and 京/亿亿/億億/경 for ten quadrillion.)

It should be noted that even if the level cap is 65,535, the enemy level of a particular floor of a particular random dungeon may exceed that number. If that is the case, instead of capping enemy stats at their level 65,535 values, every additional level beyond the cap will increase stats by 0.003 per cent of the level 65,535 values. This can potentially result in “level 655,350” enemies (found in floor 100 of a level 65,535 dungeon; enemy level increases by 1/11 of the dungeon level every floor) having around 240 billion in all stats except HP.

Note that the multipliers described above also apply to enemies in random dungeons (as well as storyline enemies, although their multipliers are fixed, considering that there are no “Stronger Enemies” bills or Cheat Shop settings in Innocence Seekers). For enemies in random dungeons, the multipliers depend on their level.

Enemy HP multipliers:

  • Lv 1-19: x4
  • Lv 20-29: x5
  • Lv 30-39: x6
  • Lv 40-49: x7
  • Lv 50-59: x8
  • Lv 60-69: x9
  • Lv 70-74: x10
  • Lv 75-79: x11
  • Lv 80-84: x12
  • Lv 85-89: x13
  • Lv 90-94: x14
  • Lv 95-99: x15
  • Lv 100-255: x16
  • Lv 256-511: x18
  • Lv 512-767: x20
  • Lv 768-1,023: x22
  • Lv 1,024-1,279: x24
  • Lv 1,280-1,688: x26
  • Lv 1,689-2,047: x28
  • Lv 2,048-2,456: x30
  • Lv 2,457-2,865: x33
  • Lv 2,866-3,274: x36
  • Lv 3,275-3,683: x39
  • Lv 3,684-4,095: x42
  • Lv 4,096-4,914: x45
  • Lv 4,915-5,733: x48
  • Lv 5,734-6,552: x51
  • Lv 6,553-7,371: x54
  • Lv 7,372-8,191: x57
  • Lv 8,192-10,921: x60
  • Lv 10,922-13,651: x65
  • Lv 13,652-16,383: x70
  • Lv 16,384-19,659: x75
  • Lv 19,660-22,935: x80
  • Lv 22,936-26,211: x85
  • Lv 26,212-29,487: x90
  • Lv 29,488-32,767: x95
  • Lv 32,768-65,535: x100

Enemy stat multipliers:

  • Lv 1-511: x0.4 MP, x1 other stats
  • Lv 512-1,024: x0.7 MP, x1 other stats
  • Lv 1,024-2,047: x1
  • Lv 2,048-4,095: x1.25
  • Lv 4,096-8,191: x1.5
  • Lv 8,192-16,383: x2
  • Lv 16,384-32,767: x3
  • Lv 32,768-65,535: x4

To improve stats separately from level ups, items must be used. Firstly, Seeds improve stats by a specific numeric value, and are obtained either as a rare drop from enemies (the strength of the Seeds scales with the enemy’s stats) or as items found within dungeons (the strength scales with dungeon level). Essences directly improve base stats, and are typically obtained as a reward for completing random dungeons (the strength of Essences are fixed at 20 for HP and 5 for other stats). Both Seeds and Essences have descriptors which indicate which stat it improves:

  • HP: Vitality
  • MP: Mana
  • ATK: Strength
  • DEF: Endurance
  • INT: Intellect
  • RES: Spirit
  • HIT: Dexterity
  • SPD: Agility
  • All: Growth

The probability of a Seed improving one stat being dropped by an enemy is 30 per cent multiplied by the relative amount of experience given by the enemy (e.g. an enemy that gives 10% EXP will have a 3% chance of dropping a Seed improving one stat, while bosses have a 30% chance). Growth Seeds have a probability of dropping that is one tenth that of the other seeds, but certain abilities can guarantee that a Growth Seed is dropped. The strength of a Seed is equal to 0.2 per cent of the original enemy’s stat(s), rounded down and not including equipment, if obtained from an enemy (low-level enemies may only drop Vitality Seeds, or no Seeds at all, due to their low stats). Seeds found within dungeons are similar, and their strength is calculated as if they were obtained from an enemy with 600 base HP/150 base stats of the same level as the dungeon’s current floor.

Essences are obtained by completing random dungeons. There is a 30 per cent chance of obtaining an Essence that improves a single stat, and a three per cent chance of a Growth Essence (the other 67 per cent represents the chance of obtaining equipment). While base stats are capped at 12,000/3,000, until one completes the main story at least once, characters may only use up to 18 of each Essence other than Growth Essences (Growth Essences are treated as all eight of the other Essences packaged into a single item). Reaching the cap via Essences is tedious; a better way to increase base stats is by starting over from level 1 (in the case of generic units, they can also change class with the same procedure), which gives a bonus to base stats based on the cumulative amount of levels gained (which has no hard cap).

And since this post is about stat caps, I’ll talk about equipment stat caps. In addition to overhauling the stat system, I’ve decided to overhaul how equipment works. One of the more difficult things about designing equipment given such huge levels is actually having something useful for each level range; after all, what’s the point if when you can have 100,000 in all stats the most powerful weapon only gives +6,000 to ATK? I’m not sure what the original concept was, but the pre-overhaul concept involved “modules” that could be fused to increase the effects they have on stats. While this does fit into the setting, it won’t do if I were, to say, make a prequel set a thousand years before the events of Innocence Seekers: The Black Rose.

As such, I’ve decided to replace modules with enchanted weapons and accessories. The girls’ magic devices will no longer contribute anything to stats or resistances, only contributing their preferred weapon types. And since trying to make up hundreds of different names for each piece of equipment is daunting (I have to admit, I am impressed that the people at Nippon Ichi Software were able to make up so many names for each piece of equipment in Disgaea; for starters, there are over 40 of each weapon type), I’ll allow the player to give them names. Regardless, each piece of equipment is effectively a blank slate, distinguished only by its type and “rank”.

Equipment falls into a number of types. Of course, there is the difference between weapons, armour and accessories.
Weapon types:

  • Fist (ATK/SPD)
  • Sword (ATK)
  • Spear (ATK, also increases DEF)
  • Axe/Hammer (ATK, penalises HIT and SPD)
  • Bow (ATK/HIT)
  • Gun (HIT/SPD)
  • Staff (ATK or INT)
  • Book (ATK/INT)

Axes and hammers are treated identically in this overhaul, except maybe for a few special techniques (whose effects will be identical between the two types). There are also two types of staves, distinguished by their attack stat (the staves that use INT will be called “wands”), but neither have any special techniques. Not listed above are “healing sticks”. While these technically use RES as their attacking stat, they cannot be used to attack enemies, and are primarily used to augment healers. Also not listed above are “magic” weapons, which improve INT in addition to their usual stats, with the exception of books, where “magic” only denotes that the weapon’s normal attack is magical (like magic wands) rather than physical, and staves, whose “magic” weapons are wands.

Armour increases both DEF and RES, and only comes in one type. Accessories come in multiple types, such as glasses (HIT), shoes (SPD) and sacred gems (all stats). Regardless of type, only four of these types of equipment can be equipped on to a character (although, it is possible to equip, say, four suits of armour, or four pairs of shoes, no matter how ridiculous it sounds).

Anyway, that’s it for the equipment types. Its “rank” is a number from 1 to 100, which determines its starting stats, as well as the level of random dungeons associated with it. Each rank corresponds to an experience level, which I’ll list below:

  • Rank 1: Lv 1
  • Rank 2: Lv 5
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 4.
  • Rank 23: Lv 93
  • Rank 24: Lv 100
  • Rank 25: Lv 120
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 20.
  • Rank 39: Lv 400
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 60.
  • Rank 48: Lv 940
  • Rank 49: Lv 1,024
  • Rank 50: Lv 1,150
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 150.
  • Rank 55: Lv 1,900
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 300.
  • Rank 65: Lv 4,900
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 350
  • Rank 73: Lv 7,700
  • Rank 74: Lv 8,192
  • Rank 75: Lv 9,200
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 1,200.
  • Rank 80: Lv 15,200
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 2,400.
  • Rank 90: Lv 39,200
  • Each subsequent rank increases level by 2,800
  • Rank 98: Lv 61,600
  • Rank 99: Lv 65,535
  • Rank 100 is a special case; the stats of rank 100 equipment are hard-coded, and there are often several different rank 100 equipment of the same type. Regardless, random dungeons associated with rank 100 equipment are level 99,999 (the maximum dungeon level).

The rank of equipment found in random dungeons depends on the enemy level of the current floor, up to a maximum rank of 99. However, equipment of rank whose associated level is higher than the dungeon level can only be obtained through either stealing from an enemy or clearing a room; reaching a room exit, a gate or the stairs will not give you such equipment, and treasure chests will not contain such equipment. Many pieces of rank 100 equipment can only be obtained by defeating the dungeon boss (located at floor 100) of a random dungeon associated with a piece of rank 99 (or 100) equipment (and the item obtained will be of the same type).

Equipment types, like units, have base stats, which differ between types. The main difference is that these base stats are usually lower, and most have zero base stats for most stats. Regardless, the equipment type base stats are only relevant when first generating equipment at level 0, as each piece of equipment has their individual base stats, which correspond directly to their level 0 stats. Note that the HP multipliers listed above still apply, but not general stat multipliers (the general stat multiplier is fixed at x1, even for MP).

Now on to the equipment stat caps. The cap on equipment base stats are one trillion for HP and ten billion for other stats at rank 100; lower ranks have lower stat caps which correspond to base stats of 1,200 HP/300 other stats. While these caps seem a lot lower than the unit stat caps, they do not take into account the level of the piece of equipment itself, which at level 100 would give stats ten times the base stats (each level increases the stats of equipment by 9 per cent). This would give a total contribution of ten trillion HP and one hundred billion other stats per piece of equipment, which, if base stats and contributions from Seeds are at their respective caps, allow the final stat caps to be reached.
Actually getting a piece of equipment to its stat caps is a rather tedious process. Because random dungeons associated with equipment can be entered repeatedly, regardless of whether the boss is defeated, increasing base stats can be done indefinitely. This is done by finding an Item Spirit and reaching it so one can use a Seed on it (which will cause it to disappear). This improves the corresponding base stat of the piece of equipment by ten per cent of the strength of the Seed, rounded down (which translates into a 100 per cent increase in level 100 stats, rounded down to the nearest multiple of ten; this means low-strength Seeds may have no effect). Item Spirits cannot be found on the first ten floors of a random dungeon, or on a floor that is a multiple of ten, and only appear once for each dungeon mid-boss (found every ten floors, except floor 100) defeated. Once one has used a Seed on an Item Spirit, its corresponding dungeon mid-boss will reappear (i.e. using a Seed on an Item Spirit on floor 26 will cause the boss on floor 20 to reappear).
To prevent abuse of the above, each of the dungeon mid-bosses can only appear three times until the dungeon boss on floor 100 is defeated. Once the dungeon boss is defeated, the mid-bosses can each appear for an additional three times. Once 54 Item Spirits have had Seeds used on them, the dungeon boss must be defeated again before the mid-bosses (and hence the Item Spirits) appear again (like before, for an additional three times, giving a total of 27 Item Spirits). This can be repeated indefinitely, and is made less tedious by the fact that the player can simply warp to any visited floor when entering the dungeon.

Along with overhauling how stats work, I’ve also had a rethink about how turns will work in the games. The original concept was that SPD determined turn order in some way, with units possessing higher SPD having fewer “ticks” between turns. Needless to say, this makes SPD exceptionally important in gameplay, and if I were to adapt the Rainbow Grid battle system to an SRPG format (which I’m considering), one would have high SPD units being able to wipe the floor with literally the entire battlefield before its enemies could even act, making pretty much nearly every other non-attacking stat (well, you still need to be able to actually damage the enemy) useless (from this TV Tropes page, in some games, speed may be the only thing that matters).
For an example of what I’m talking about, the post game in Phantom Brave (the only Nippon Ichi Software SRPG that uses clockticks to determine turns) heavily emphasises SPD. Weapons that penalise SPD (such as axes) become near-useless because of said penalties, and since SPD is itself an attacking stat for some abilities, this makes a build that only focuses on SPD viable. Combined with the damage formula used (which is similar to that used in the first two Disgaea games), which largely makes DEF and RES irrelevant in the post game (although they can be used as attacking stats), and the fact that unlike in Disgaea HP is only around 1 to 1.5 times the value of the other stats at all levels, you get units that can only be stopped by enemies who themselves have high SPD, as everything is a one-hit-KO (in some cases, attacks may deal eight-digit damage, when the HP cap is only seven digits). It is no surprise that Nippon Ichi’s next game, Makai Kingdom, went back to alternating between the player and enemy (although it retained the freestyle movement and ability to throw things out of the battlefield altogether).
To avoid the above pitfalls, I’ve decided to abandon the concept of relying on clockticks, and opt for a more traditional “player turn-enemy turn-player turn-enemy turn” turn mechanic. This will also make combination attacks feasible. The active party headcount limit will still be four for the traditional Rainbow Grid battle system, but in the tactical version, I may increase this to ten.

Anyway, that will be it for this blog post. The next post regarding my overhaul will focus on spells and techniques.