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Ability "Scores"


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#1 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 12 June 2000 - 12:33 PM

Here's another one from the Manifesto! Who decided that higher abilities were always better? This may sound stupid, but hear me out. Sometimes, it is a character's weaknesses which make him a good character. In my eleven some years of table-top roleplaying, the best characters I've ever had were those with low attributes. In the beginning, when roleplaying was very much a game modeled after board games and the like, they were called Ability "Scores" denoting that it was always preferable to have higher scores. But interestingly enough, D&D didn't allow you to "raise" them either! I know the reasons this doesn't make sense, but step back a bit and look at why it does. Not for everyone, certainly, but in a system based on escapism and playing out a "role" (BTW this is MMORPG, i think) weaknesses make for a dynamic character as strengths do. This could be another arguement for static attributes, which I'm not defending, but I'm intrigued by the idea. Maybe advancement is a crock... Damn. That would be a lot of my time wasted, right? This post was brought to you by the letter "Land", and the number "Fish!" Edited by - Landfish on 6/12/00 6:34:22 PM

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#2 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 12 June 2000 - 01:05 PM

I don''t have any thoughts on the ability restriction, but something you wrote, LF, started a few neurons:
Why not have attributes that can be in excess as well as be under-developed. For example, being outgoing {a fair level of self-esteem} can help when bartering/haggling, but taken to the excess of being overbearing {too high a level of self-esteem} won''t help at all.
I''m not saying that a player should have to constantly be lowering or raising an ability, but be aware that while some circumstances warrant an ability, other situations will suffer from it. Possibly a range could be used, and as long as the appropriate level of an attribute is in that range, the character will respond positively.

#3 WhiteWolf   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 12 June 2000 - 01:15 PM

That''s an idea - have bad things happen occasionally for high ability scores.

For example - every D&D fighter wants high strength. How strong were swords back then? A fighter with strength 18(90) will be breaking swords twice a day!! Unless he gets a nice magic sword of course.

Regards,
WhiteWolf

#4 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 12 June 2000 - 05:29 PM

I had an idea once where character creation was based off of selecting various "terms" to decide your character. For instance, you might select "Swordsman" which would give your character bonuses toward learning swordplay. Also "Gentleman" which would affect social standing/attributes (?), and "prefectionist" which would give a certain curve to your learning skills.

The result is actually a character: The Gentleman Prefectionist Swordsman, an archetypal theme of sorts. Rather than a collection of statistics, you''ve created a personality.

Here''s the best part: with each new "term" you acquire, it halves the strengths and weaknesses of all the other types. So if you have 5, all your bonuses and handicaps are at 1/5 the power. You then allow a minimun of two terms per character.

A character creation system that creates a CHARACTER, not some numbers in a cookie cutter class. You couldn''t actually TELL the players the bonuses, or they might be looking for the "best" thing to be! Numberless system, voodoo! What do you make of that?

This post was brought to you by the letter "Land", and the number "Fish!"

#5 nes8bit   Members   -  Reputation: 275

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Posted 12 June 2000 - 05:31 PM

quote:
Original post by Landfish
Here''s another one from the Manifesto!


Stop calling it that!!!!!!!!!!!!

*cough* communist *cough*


------------------------
Captured Reality.

#6 Hase   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 12 June 2000 - 10:41 PM

I have to disagree

(This is in respect to the WhiteWolf post)
As much as weaknesses contribute to a good RPG experience I feel strongly that having negative aspect to high ability scores would kill the whole "experience and upgrade" thing.

Don´t get me wrong, strengths and weaknesses are what make it so much fun but when you have to watch out that you don´t become too strong everyone will be going for the "middle", ending up with an average allrounder.


And as for:

"A character creation system that creates a CHARACTER, not some numbers in a cookie cutter class. You couldn''t actually TELL the players the bonuses, or they might be looking for the "best" thing to be! Numberless system, voodoo! What do you make of that?" - Landfish


Isn´t looking for the best thing to be what RPGs are about (partially)? I have played a lot of games with good stories but character stats systems that were so crude that you couldn´t really influence anything.
I like the number crunching, figuring out what to do when to get the best results.


I would split the char screen.
"Fixed" attributes on one side:

stuff like strength, intelligence, charisma, vitality, endurance ... (the more the better)

those can´t be modified much (except strength and endurance maybe) in the course of the game. THis has the advantage of giving you a much more stable character to work with and it avoids chars that max out at the high end.

"traits"
like how stubborn one is, willpower, pain resistance, beliefs (ethics), ... the basic "character description" (does he think lying is ok, how about killing - good for combat but not exaclty the party talker..)..

these should also remain more or less fixed, but the player can do some work on them and they have both positive and negative effects.

and then Skills.

these you can increase up into the blue (investing more and more "points" as you go along). No negative effects there, it´s NEVER going to be bad if you can hit a goblin´s eye with a rock from 300 ft away blindfolded ...





#7 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 13 June 2000 - 12:31 AM

There have been a few systems where ability scores are fixed, and only skills can rise. I think this system can work well.

I also like the idea of, instead of randomly generating ability scores, having a set number of points. Therefore, for any kind of ''strength'' that you give to your character, there will be an equal and opposite ''weakness''.

You could even have ''contradictory'' stats, where you get X points to distribute between the pair. Examples (which can easily be argued against, but they are just here to make the point. Besides, measuring abilities with numbers is arbitrary anyway so don''t get too upset ) :

Strength/Intelligence
Social Skill / Nature Skill
Psionics / Willpower (open mind / closed mind concept)
Attractiveness / Scariness

etc. Those are crap but you could do better

#8 Shadow Mint   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 13 June 2000 - 01:09 AM

Personally, I like the idea of having characters which get stuck with what ever they are; you get rolled a character with generic output for values (moderatly strong) etc. You can then extend those attributes like any other skill:

Train and you get stronger, study you get more learned, well read.

In the underlying system, give basic stats like strength, etc. a value from 0 to 100%, whr 100 is the maximum strength. Then give each character a maximum score for this (randomly determined).

So all characters start as default, then select aptitudes like magic, might, etc. Which determines which values are pushed up and which are not (for maximums). It''d give characters a bit of personality I think. Also help to have more than just a standard set of seven attributes.

As a player you never become aware of what your actual scores are; only a generic sort of thing ("you are very strong, your strength is amazing, etc"). Somethings, no matter how hard you train, you can never get up as high as you''d like...

It would certainly mean players would not be game to just suddenly ditch a character because they found that when they rolled the character up, the character got a "bad" set of stats...because by the time they find out, the character would be considerably skilled already.

Just a final note on skills: I like the way the merc mud system works; when you create a character, you select a number of special skills you character will gain access to as they level up. The more skills, the more experience you need to level up.

But to level up always takes the same amount of xp; you just get less and less (and finally 0) for monsters which are weaker than you.

Nothing amazingly new there; but the way its implimented is cool, imho. Any class can select some skills, some only avaliable to certain classes / races. Good fun.

#9 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 13 June 2000 - 03:55 AM

quote:
Original post by Hase

I have to disagree

(This is in respect to the WhiteWolf post)
As much as weaknesses contribute to a good RPG experience I feel strongly that having negative aspect to high ability scores would kill the whole "experience and upgrade" thing.

Don´t get me wrong, strengths and weaknesses are what make it so much fun but when you have to watch out that you don´t become too strong everyone will be going for the "middle", ending up with an average allrounder.



Wasn''t quite what I was getting at. I was thinking of a more temporary change in an ability. Something like some of the adventure games do; you pick a way you want to act, and then talk. This way you would elicit a different response.
I''m not saying only affect the personality or simply pick a new degree of an ability.

I envisioned that some situations require you to be extremely proficient in an ability in order to complete the scenario, others extreme deficiency.

---Sonic Silicon---

#10 Niphty   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 14 June 2000 - 03:36 AM

Honestly, the reason people show ability scores to the player is because they''ve all agreed that there''s no real way in english to provide accurate detail of the players'' scores.

If you do something like this.. think about personalities. How do you know if the player wishes to play a snotty character who always looks down on others and sees only himself? this kind of person would believe they had it all, no matter what they really had. So even if you did impliment a system of word-based representation, people would eventually figure it out. it goes from "fair" to "good" to "great" to "excellent". So instead of writing out things and wasting a lot of time, developers give people numbers. the only way to accurately do it is to have all people have some hidden stat of "how well do you know yourself?" and the modify what they should see by that. but you can''t do that because it detracts from the fun of the game. So, it''s a catch 22

J

#11 Captain Goatse   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 14 June 2000 - 04:28 AM

This is very, very, very hard issue...

I can hardly see any other ways to express characters capacities/abilities than numbers describing his basic abilities like Strenght or Agility. At the end these are just computer games and you/I can''t implement anything even close to real life.

I don''t think it''s the way either that you just choose skills and after it it''s all you have, nothing more. It''s limited, way too much far away from real life. It''s not good to be close real life or too far away from it.

Numberless system, impossible, since computer uses 1 and 0. When we get super biotec computers after hundreds of years after this it could be possible, but not now. How would you handle hitting in combat situations?? Or showing players experience?? You can''t do that.

Someone said something about temporary increasement? WTF is that? If I start jogging every morning before I go to work, my stamina increases. My endurance grows and I can become even more stronger, so if player whacks 200000 goblins before he starts doing his quests doesn''t his fighting skill improve, at least agains goblins?

I''ll take example, Fallout(2), It''s one of the most versatile single player RPGs, but could you think about it with some sort of personality system without any other way to increase? Well, I couldn''t. Of course it *could* work in MMORPGs or whatsoeveres, but what I expect from typical RPG is to waste some baddies, do some quests and have fun. I don''t think it would be accepted by burgerplayers if their characters would be personalities as cool it could be.

Then another thing, how would/could you handle experience? If someone could tell me how to evade numbers I would be hella-happy, since now you guys have show only poor speculations what it *could* be. One way could be stuff that has been written by story writer, but then the game would take step closer to books which I consider a bad thing.

Althought some players like Basher rules where you create hellowa charachter who kicks everyones ass and hardly dies, but I as a desinger prefer rules where you can''t kick too much ass. I have made rules for my current game, they were bashing based so that I could get cool combat system and even make it so that you can be good fighter, but then I "unbalanced" it so that the player must have some social skills instead of just having Huge Gun and lotsa Ammo. I also added possibility loot everything, so that finally you can be real thief without constantly doing hide in shadows tests. Those rules are purely based on numbers which is probably good thing, because there must be way to show player how he is doing, what he is doing, how well is he doing and where he is good at.

As I said this is very hard problem.

PS. Oh, The Great Fish of Land, shall I ask from thy highness what is thou current project? Is it commercial one?


Time comes, time goes and I only am.

#12 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 14 June 2000 - 05:15 AM

Okay, since I''m the one who keeps bringing up the whole fluctuating ability thing:

I wasn''t saying that you wouldn''t have a steady increment in abilities with training. I was suggesting supplementing it with temporary changes. Say, a character whacks you leg just enough so you limp. This would lower your speed for a while until either you got it healed or your body healed it for you.

The same method could also be applied for characterisitcs. A player using a barbarian character wouldn''t get too far with convincing royalty to help him out, usually. He could buy a spell that would allow him to talk elloquently for an hour. This is what I meant for a temporary change in ability. And if you still don''t get what I mean, try playing one of the recent Might and Magics.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Back to the post topic:

I agree with LF about not telling what bonusses you get for playing out a personna. Usually the name of the personality type gives enough description that you shouldn''t be asking what it enhances anyways. I believe that''s what LF was getting at.

As for "regular" stats, they probably should be represented as numbers. I do like the idea of having certain statistics fixed {or only having a narrow range of change} along with ones that can be changes. It would definately increase the likeliness that you''d have to add a member to you team because there''s no current member than can learn an ability that''s needed in your quest. {We are talking about MMORPGs, right?}


#13 Hase   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 14 June 2000 - 10:17 PM

On the contrary, you HAVE to tell someone what personality boni/mali you get, otherwise your character devellopment is more or less a shot in the dark.

Besides, if the personality affects other stats someone will just do the work an try everything out until he´s got the stats.

The temporary stats change idea is nothing new, it´s just skill-increasing/decreasing items or events. It´s been done, but, as in your example, it kills the whole idea of a personality/character.

If your barbarian can buy a conversationalist spell at the shop around the corner you´ll probably end up with the "average optimum" again -> no matter what you start out as, you´ll level out your deficiencies with items/spells....
So in the end it wouldn´t matter what character you played.


The only thing that can make a good RPG experience is strengths and weaknesses that can ONLY be countered by good roleplaying.
If your Barbarian is a daft dumbass you´ll have to live with it and work with it, maybe you´ll have to cope with not being invited to banquets and such, not just shoot up some personality drugs and be the toast of the party for the evening.


#14 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 15 June 2000 - 03:35 AM

quote:
Original post by Hase

On the contrary, you HAVE to tell someone what personality boni/mali you get, otherwise your character devellopment is more or less a shot in the dark.


Hmm, I was thinking of it as a modifier. I''ll have to think about it

quote:

Besides, if the personality affects other stats someone will just do the work an try everything out until he´s got the stats.


Could you elaborate.

quote:

The temporary stats change idea is nothing new. . . but, as in your example, it kills the whole idea of a personality/character.

. . . you´ll probably end up with the "average optimum" again -> no matter what you start out as, you´ll level out your deficiencies with items/spells....
So in the end it wouldn´t matter what character you played.


Erg! My bad! Guess Landfish is right when he says mixing all these ideas together can be bad. Maybe it shouldn''t be such a drastic change when it''s beneficial.

quote:

The only thing that can make a good RPG experience is strengths and weaknesses that can ONLY be countered by good roleplaying.
If your Barbarian is a daft dumbass you´ll have to live with it and work with it, maybe you´ll have to cope with not being invited to banquets and such, not just shoot up some personality drugs and be the toast of the party for the evening.


Oh! But that''s fun! Hmm, now where''s that jackass booster I got the other day...



#15 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 15 June 2000 - 12:11 PM

SonicSilicon: I think that we could concievably blend all these ideas into one, I just don''t think a human being could possibly design it. You''d go insane. That''s why I''m trying... =)

Plus, concealing bonus/minuses will have the intersting effect of discouraging leveling. Or any attempt to conciously "increase" a skill. Say what you will, but I think it''ll still be good. Knowing your character is a "swordsman" archetype is generally enough to know that if you use a sword you''ll get good at it. How good you are rarely matters, because you shouldn''t be picking fights anyway, unless you think you can take it. It doesn''t really come up, since this is only in character creationg, determining what you are byassed toward learning faster. Actual stats should be displayed to the character in SOME way, but that''s another thread...

#16 Hase   Members   -  Reputation: 313

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Posted 18 June 2000 - 09:45 PM

Sonic Silicon -

if you don´t tell a player their modifiers someone will just sit down with a mug of coffee and try everything out. They´ll go through character creation several times, putting the same amount of "points" on a skill/stat/whatever and then compare the results. You can easily figure out the modifiers then.

A primitive example:

select Barbarian, spend equal amount of skill points everywhere:

str 6, ch 3, in 3

then select Mage, do same as above and get str 3, ch 5, in 4

then if you spent x points on each (say 1) you´ll get bases for Barbarian (5,2,2) and Mage (2,4,3).

It does not matter if your character creation system is far more complicated than that (skills affecting each other, skills increasing by a raised/lowered factor), except making it very hard to balance it out it´ll just mean that the players will spend more time doing math.


#17 SonicSilcion   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 07:37 AM

Now you''re getting it, Hase! See, if a person futzes around all day figuring out the system, some one else will be out actually gaining experience. In addition, these modifiers won''t directly affect a stat. Instead they''ll be counted as additional points during a level up. Nothing huge, mind you, like a couple extra hit points. Also, it would only work for a certain amount of time or level-ups. A ''point of limited return'', if you will.

But this won''t be limited to stat boosting. There''d be augmentations that have a tangible effect, but have to do with missions and sub-quests, not stats. Using one of these types of alterations, you''ll notice that certain quests are easier to accomplish with it on, while others are more difficult. I hope this explains it more clearly {but with my luck I probably confued the tar out of you /( }

#18 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 08:34 AM

I think that Hase had a good idea with the seperation of traits the character has. One way you could break it down is that a person has three different "areas of measurement".

Call one of them attributes (for familiarities sake), these would be things you can develop with training. Running, swimming, weight lifting, all these incorporate your body growing and developing. Not really influenced by how many goblins you hack down or what quest you complete, rather the time and effort you take to train your character.

Another one would be skills. These are things you learn. It''s what school is for. Sure, punching and kicking a punching bage all day will make you stronger, but practicing a form, technique, thats what makes it a skill. Even though things like sword play and martial arts are physical, they take thought and learning to develop.

Last, and I think most overlooked in all games (table and computer), are the traits. Is the character polite? Learns quickly? Can s/he remember the king''s nephew''s son''s dog''s name?
These things can''t really be changed no matter how you grow, it''s just the way you are. People don''t change, so neither should your characters.

Just some thoughts.

#19 pacman   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 08:36 AM

Argh!!! The above post was from me.

#20 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 12:46 PM

Ok, here''s an idea for improving the stats system.
1. A stats starting point remains for the entire game
2. The power of stats fluctuate depending on ingame situations like: At start of day str = X %, at mid of day str = Y % and so on.
3. The lower a stat the more it fluctuates.So a magic str potion would affect someone more with lower str.

This makes the player treat their character like a living thing rather than a sculpture that he''s working on. i.e. my weak swordsman can become the incredible hulk if i look after him.

Another way of balancing stats is to remember certain facts like muscle is heavier than fat so someone very strong would also be very heavy. This extra weight then effects the characters co-ordination and balance.

- The question mark is the symbol of interaction -

Paul




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