Well, this is the third major thread I've posted. If anybody is unfamiliar and wants to change that, here are the first two. I will be using terminology from the other two. (I DID make a few errors in the first and second thread's calculations. Those have been fixed.)
Basically, this thread explains the main RPG element of these games, at least as far as character stats and levels go.
There are three separate levelling systems. These are "Ability," "Competence," and "Experience." Of these, ability is by far the most important, followed by competence and finally experience.
Ability is the average of your ten attributes, thus it takes ten attribute increases to up it. These increases are difficult to get, and gaining even a single ability level is difficult, so this level contributes the least to your total level. However, attributes are more valuable than skills or experience, and the selection of feats and perks (especially feats) is the best for attributes and ability levels with more choices and lower requirements.
Competence is the average of your skills, however many there may be in that particular game. This means it takes a number of skill increases equal to the number of skills present in game to increase it. (The system has a total of 30, but not all are in every game. There WILL always be a multiple of three, because there are three evenly split divisions. More on that later.) These increases are not especially difficult, and even getting 30 of them isn't as hard as 10 attribute increases, especially for a jack of all trades character. This makes it the best source of feats, and a better source of perks than ability. It also contributes more to your total level, so going after traits is easy for a skill-heavy character. That said, skill points aren't worth much on their own, especially in combat and at low levels. (In fact, it can be literally worthless in combat at the start of the game in much the same way as experience is all the time.)
Experience is an independent value, with the amount of experience per level equalling L*(L-1)*500. So 0 at first level, 1000 at 2nd, 3000 at 3rd, 6000 at 4th and so on. Every level gives 10 feat points, so it is a good source of them, and each level comes with a perk point. It also contributes the most to your total level because experience practically rains from the sky. (Seriously, everything gives XP and in large numbers. ) However, the feat and perk selection is rather sharply limited. It takes ~1000 feat points and ~150 perk points to get every single feat and perk available. Once you have everything, it's just a way to bump up your total level, as experience is worthless on its own.
You probably understand the concept of this just fine and why it matters, but why I'm talking about it before attributes, skills, feats, perks or traits is a bit less obvious. Simply put, age is a major determining factor for starting levels, progression and potential. It's usually more important than your characters sex, (not always) and might be more important than species or the setting equivalent depending on exactly how divergent they are. There are ten age groups in the system, which are divided into five categories. The categories are used to determine any age-dependent dialogue or reactions, and exactly what version of the base model and texture (they aren't that different, and I imagine they'd be edits of a template) is used. The ages within the categories are really just used for statistics and have a few minor tweaks made to them to prevent them from looking exactly the same. Age also impacts scale, as ages 1-5 are smaller than 6-10, but this varies from species to species. (Size is important, and smaller size is a large net disadvantage.) Age 6 is default, and represents a young adult. In humans, this would mean late teens to early twenties.
Age impacts starting ability level quite a bit. The first six ages have the same starting ability level (10) even though their individual stats are different. Every age group beyond that loses a single ability level, as all attributes drop by 1. Age also impacts competence, as competence level is 6 for the youngest and increases by 1 each age group beyond it. (More on that in the skill section.) Finally, age has the biggest impact on base experience level, as starting experience level is equal to age.
Beyond this, potential and progression drop dramatically as a character ages. Potential is impacted the most for ability and the least for experience. Progression is impacted the most for experience and the least for potential. Skill is intermediate for both. The last thing age impacts is healing, with younger characters healing slightly faster than older ones if all other things are equal. (They usually aren't.)
The term "healing" is a little misleading as well. This applies to the regeneration of all expendable derived stats and the dissipation of all detrimental biological effects. That includes some things like stamina regeneration and fatigue dissipation that are not technically "healing" but are still covered under the effect.
As a result, characters older than standard start off better in most things due to their higher total level and thus greater number of feats and perks, but progress very slowly and are less able. Younger than standard characters are just as able, but are smaller, less competent and less experienced making them much worse to start with but their faster progression and greater potential make up for it. (Well, if you're good enough to work with the disadvantage. These games are hard, that's a big if. Especially since the disadvantage can be initially huge.)
As a general rule, characters younger than standard lack a great deal in strength and resolve, but do slightly better in most of their other stats. The only attribute not really impacted is charisma.
Age group 1:
Ability level 10, ability potential 100, ability progression 200%, competence level 6, competence potential 100, competence progression 250%, experience level 1, experience potential 150, experience progression 300%, healing 150%.
Age group 2:
Ability level 10, ability potential 90, ability progression 180%, competence level 7, competence potential 95, competence progression 220%, experience level 2, experience potential 140, experience progression 260%, healing 140%.
Age group 3:
Ability level 10, ability potential 80, ability progression 160%, competence level 8, competence potential 90, competence progression 190%, experience level 3, experience potential 130, experience progression 220%, healing 130%.
Age group 4:
Ability level 10, ability potential 70, ability progression 140%, competence level 9, competence potential 85, competence progression 160%, experience level 4, experience potential 120, experience progression 180%, healing 120%.
Age group 5:
Ability level 10, ability potential 60, ability progression 120%, competence level 10, competence potential 80, competence progression 130%, experience level 5, experience potential 110, experience progression 140%, healing 110%.
Age group 6:
Ability level 10, ability potential 50, ability progression 100%, competence level 11, competence potential 75, competence progression 100%, experience level 6, experience potential 100, experience progression 100%, healing 100%.
Age group 7:
Ability level 9, ability potential 40, ability progression 90%, competence level 12, competence potential 70, competence progression 80%, experience level 7, experience potential 90, experience progression 75%, healing 95%.
Age group 8:
Ability level 8, ability potential 30, ability progression 80%, competence level 13, competence potential 65, competence progression 60%, experience level 8, experience potential 80, experience progression 50%, healing 90%.
Age group 9:
Ability level 7, ability potential 20, ability progression 70%, competence level 14, competence potential 60, competence progression 40%, experience level 9, experience potential 70, experience progression 25%, healing 85%.
Age group 10:
Ability level 6, ability potential 10, ability progression 60%, competence level 15, competence potential 55, competence progression 20%, experience level 10, experience potential 60, experience progression 0%, healing 80%.
Some of this is highly misleading. It is highly unlikely that in any of these games enough time could elapse for a character to actually age a noticeable amount, much less move up an age group. In only one of my current game ideas is there any possibility of it including an aging feature. This is intended to be a permanent choice made in character creation, nothing else.
These things really need no introduction. You've played RPGs before, you get the basic idea. Species is present in all, but is not selectable by the player in the near-future setting. Subspecies is present for some species in both the science fiction and fantasy as is body type for others, and that's fine because gameplay-wise they are very similar. Element is only available in the fantasy. The only selection in the near-future game is body type. (Default, power, endurance, agility, physical and mental.)
Species determines size, model and texture, starting stats, skill distribution (see below) and specials. As the species (well, the player species) are intended to all be balanced against one another, the smaller species always have more useful specials to offset their smaller size. Subspecies does not determine model and has a limited impact on starting stats, skill distribution and specials, but does impact texture. Body type only impacts starting stats and sometimes specials. Element impacts spell selection and resistances. (Not division, but reduction, immunity and weakness.)
Example: a default human female in age group 6 (with base stats, you can tweak them in chargen) is SC 10 with 10s in every stat. (They're actually the template for the system.) As a human, her special abilities are small base immunities, higher than normal expendable derived stats (integrity, health, stamina, will and so forth) with a slight neutral bent (humans tend to be neutral, rather than lawful or chaotic) and both the "cheat" and "apex" AI factors. (Animals without the "apex" advantage are outright terrified of humans, and the "cheat" advantage means humans do not obey natural laws like the abandonment of the lame to predators.) Appearance wise, she's ~180cm (significantly taller than a normal woman in the real world) and ~90kg (also a bit high) but otherwise largely normal. She's in decent shape with slightly toned muscles, but also has a bit more than the ideal amount of body fat. She has C-cup breasts, but it's not like those have any practical purpose in-game.
Doesn't really need much explanation, I would imagine. Not a big factor, it only impacts attributes and appearance. Even the attributes are not impacted much, usually just a loss on one or two and an equal gain in another one or two. For default AG6 humans, for instance, a male has 15 upper body strength but 5 dexterity where a female has 10 in both. Not only is the change fairly small, it's also well within the amount you can tweak stats in character creation. (You can change stats up to 50%, with a total change of no more than 25 between all the attributes available.)
There are ten attributes within this system. These are intended to be balanced against one another, and although they do not overlap their uses intentionally do. They advance through exercise and training. Attribute points are gained through use or training sessions, and to get to a level you need a total of L*(L-1)*500 points. For example, having an UBS of 10 means having 45,000 UBS points. Getting to an UBS of 11 requires 55,000 points, so you will need 10,000 points to advance from 10 to 11. Your potential varies from one attribute to another depending on their total. In age group 6, your potential is five times your starting value. It rises by your starting value each age group younger and drops by the same each age group over.
Upper Body Strength: (UBS)
A measure of physical power in the subject's upper body or equivalent. (For example, the anterior half of a quadruped.) This measure is largely determined by the arms, chest and abdomen. It impacts upper body melee damage, equipment usage, lower body power attack damage, strength checks, grappling, swimming, throwing power, climbing and attack rate. It has a small impact on recoil, guarding and encumbrance. It is not critical to most builds, but at least a little UBS is required by everyone so it's important not to let it get too low. Melee builds use UBS more than most others, and it is vital to heavy weapons users.
Lower Body Strength: (LBS)
A measure of physical power in the subject's lower body or equivalent. (For example, the posterior half of a quadruped.) This measure is largely determined by the legs, pelvis and abdomen. It impacts movement speed, lower body melee damage, encumbrance, upper body power attack damage, strength checks, climbing, swimming and jumping. It has a small impact on grappling and guarding. It is important to everyone mobility matters to, and mobility matters to everyone at least a little bit. Melee builds find this to be as important as upper body strength because they require speed to function and the involvement of the lower body in power attacks makes the attribute important in anti-armour capability as well.
A measure of the general health of the subject's body. This measure is largely determined by blood volume, cardiovascular health and sugar reserves. It is primarily responsible for maximum health and stamina, impacts all biological effects, (poison, disease, fatigue, so on) and slightly impacts strength checks and grappling. Important to everyone because it impacts their survivability and their longevity.
A measure of the physical durability and toughness of the subject's body. This measure is determined by skin thickness, tissue sinew content, bone thickness, the overall strength of all living tissues, the renal and immune systems, and other defensive structures within the body. It is primarily responsible for DD and DR, bleed time, the integrity of all body parts and impacts all biological effects. Important to everyone because it impacts their survivability.
A measure of the metabolic speed of the subject. This measure is determined by the digestive, respiratory and metabolic systems. It impacts recovery, chemical effect magnitude and duration. It impacts attribute gain, but more than anything else it really shines against disease, with a strong enough metabolism no infection will pose a threat without some serious extenuating circumstances. It's important to everyone, especially in the long run.
A measure of the physical flexibility, spatial reasoning and motor control of the subject. In that order. This measure is determined by the range of motion of joints, the flexibility of tissue, the sensitivity of muscles and nerves, the cerebellum, parietal lobe and temporal lobe. This attribute has a small impact on everything and a large impact on nothing. It is important to everyone and is the best attribute for a jack of all trades.
A measure of the subject's senses, attention to detail and awareness. This measure is determined by their sensory organs, temporal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe and to a lesser extend the frontal lobe. It impacts visual effects, draw distance, sound clarity and so forth. Its most important effects are visual processing, such as cloud transparency and lighting effects, as well as object highlighting and outlines. Perception also impacts the precision of the sights on a ranged weapon, target lock range, precision and third person accuracy. It's important to everyone, but most important to those who use ranged weapons.
A measure of the subject's logical reasoning, memory and learning ability. This measure is determined by the frontal lobe, especially the prefrontal cortex, and most especially the hippocampus, but the entire brain impacts it. (Actually, to some degree every primarily mental attribute is impacted by the entire brain.) This impacts skill and experience progression, mental attribute progression, all mental checks and to a lesser extent will regeneration. This attribute is important in the long run to everyone, especially in the long run.
A measure of the subject's social ability, intuition, context awareness, emotional strength and force of personality. Charisma is determined mostly by the frontal lobe, although the parietal and occipital lobes to factor into its function. It impacts all social skills, base disposition, karma, disposition gains and losses and all positive psychological effects for the subject and the strength of psychological effects they spur. It is important to a player in social functions, in everything from negotiation to managing underlings.
A measure of the subject's discipline, focus, determination and willpower. Resolve is purely a personality trait, and as such is determined primarily by the frontal lobe. Resolve determines maximum will and will regeneration, has a slight impact on all skills and mental effects. It reduces negative emotional and psychological effects, and has a small effect on the strength of psychological effects. It also influences physiological effects in their relation to mental attributes, and both reduces pain and speeds its dissipation. Resolve is an important x-factor for every player, and is best for tactical players who seek to use psychological effects such as morale and dominance.
I really do not have time to list each and every goddamn skill and what they do. There's a total 30 in the system, not all would be used by each game. There would have to be a multiple of three due to the system, however. There are three classifications of skills, "instinctive," "natural" and "acquired." Instinctive skills are skills you can always do and can only practice, never learn. These advance fast and have no checks, only effects. Natural skills are skills you always understand but cannot always do as they have more sophisticated functions and tricks to them you don't always know, so you need to both practice and learn. These advance at an intermediate rate and have a small number of checks. Acquired skills are skills you do not inherently understand, and must be taught. These advance slowly and are only used to make checks.
Instinctive skills cannot be taught by teachers or learned from books, as they have no special tricks to them to learn. The only means to increase them is pure practice, but they are advanced easily with little issue. These skills are (by default) capped at 100, but each age group above or below 6 adds or removes 5. Expect these to hit the cap relatively quickly, especially those related to combat. These are always passive, impacting only the use of a given skill.
Natural skills can be taught by teachers but cannot be learned from books, as they require both learning and practice. The player will advance slowly in these without instruction, but quickly with instruction. These skills are (by default) capped at 75, but it is modified by age in a manner similar to that above. Expect these to also hit the cap relatively quickly, but only if you seek out teachers. These are usually passive, impacting the use of a given skill, but are often used to allow checks and to the likelihood of a check succeeding.
Acquired skills can be taught by teachers or unlocked by books, as they require learning. The player cannot advance in these skills naturally. Instead, they must unlock uses of the skill and then use those uses to gain skill levels artificially. A teacher can teach a use and a skill level as well. There are always five uses of the skill, and by default the player may acquire ten points from each, but each age group above or below 6 allows for one more or less point to each. This means that each acquired skill is really a set of skills, kept together for convenience, but that's not really important. These are slow going, and expect to hunt out the uses one at a time, especially since some uses require previous uses and four uses of every skill requires a single fifth "basic" use. These are never passive, they only allow checks and increase the likelihood of a check succeeding.
Increasing a skill one rank requires a number of points equal to one hundred times one more than your current rank, or 100(L+1). So increasing a skill from 0 to 1 requires 100 points, from 1 to 2 requires 200 points, from 2 to 3 requires 300 points and so on.
You know how this works. You get XP from actions, kills and accomplishments. Total of L*(L-1)*500 to get to a given level. It's easy to work with, and XP practically rains from the sky. Moving on.
Traits are largely neutral effects you don't have to take any of. These have an upside and a downside, which are roughly equal. These are used to focus a character on a specialty. These can do things ranging from increasing skill gain but penalizing ability gain to increasing the speed of one movement mode while slowing another. Some traits have multiple ranks that each require separate trait points, and some traits cost multiple points.
Perks are large, individually potent effects that enhance a character a noticeable amount and usually have a higher cap on how much they can impact them, but are few and far between. You gain one perk every level, and your selection of perks depends on where they come from. (Ability, competence or experience.) Further, all perks have requirements you need to meet that range from your levels to individual relevant stats. (Such as an ability perk requiring X ability level and Y amount of one attribute, or a competence perk requiring N competence level and S amount of one skill. Experience perks only require a certain level.) Most perks have multiple ranks that each require a perk point, and some perks cost multiple points. Unlike feats, perks can actually add new abilities, rather than enhance old ones.
For instance, there are several long chains of perks that build a solid, visible HUD. Normally, there is no HUD. There's a reflexive alternative for some things, such as visual filters representing the health, stamina and will bars. These perks fill in those bars, give ammunition counts, show crosshairs, minimaps, enemy health bars and so forth. Adding more ranks to them would increase detail on these parts of the HUD.
Feats are the backbone of a character's capability. They are easy to gain in large quantities, and although not significant individually they add up fairly quickly. Every feat has multiple ranks to it that each require separate feat points, and some feats cost multiple points. Experience feats are given every level, competence perks are given for each skill increase and are directly tied to that skill (for instance, increasing the grappling skill would give a feat point only useful for grappling-oriented feats) and ability points are much the same, but for attributes. Feats are a good way to quickly, significantly and subtly increase your capabilities. They are more important overall than perks and traits, are each feat is just as good as a skill increase. They are not, however, as important as your attributes. Having a large number of starting feats is most of the reason older ages start overall stronger.
Size is impossible to change once you enter the game proper, and is a huge influence on your capability and play-style. Smaller size is a net disadvantage and requires more effort to use its advantages than large size does. Size is a square multiplier to integrity, health, stamina, breath and mass. It adds a multiple of itself to DD for most damage types. (Usually 0.05) It does not impact bludgeon or concussive DD. It also divides stealth modifiers linearly, and it is a cubic multiplier to stamina usage. It also impacts your hitbox, the equipment you can use, what size of equipment you use most effectively and so on. However, the benefits of large size greatly outweigh the drawbacks, especially for more casual players who aren't willing to put effort and patience into things like stealth. And in the short term, lower stamina use and breath build isn't as important as low integrity and health values. Smaller, lighter gear isn't as effective as larger, more potent gear. A number of means are used to increase the efficacy of smaller characters from better abilities for small species to better potential and progression for smaller age groups. Size is a float, not an integer, but all species have an integer value for the sake of simplicity, and the multipliers for age groups are only down to the first decimal place for the same reason. (I do not want to go beyond the second or third decimal place if I don't have to.)
Well, that's really all that comes to mind. I know there's more I'm forgetting and I'll add it once I remember, but for now this is what I have.
Edited by Jeremy Williams, 31 May 2013 - 01:51 PM.