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Nefar

RPG Design Elements (Brain Storm)

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Hi all, Currently I am in the process of developing the design document for my game(more importantly my rpg system). I came to realize that many people re-invent the wheel to many times or come up with something somebody else all ready thought of. I have decided to start a database that has common items all rpg designers can draw from. I am planning to comb an electronic dictionary word by word and catogorizing every word I find into an rpg element category. For example the word agility can fall into the following categories, Ability, Trait, Skill. Another example the word douse can fall into the following category spell. And yet another example the word slime can fall into the following categories race, creature. Before I begin this long and exhaustive journey, I would like to have all the top category tree elements fleshed out. My Question to all of you is, what rpg categories can you think of or remember from past pc/tabletop rpg games? Examples of what I have so far are Category--------Item List Description-----Name, Gender, etc. Attributes------Strength, Charisma, etc. Race------------Elf, Goblin, etc. Government------Enclave, Kingdom, etc. Profession------Theif, Wizard, etc. Alignment-------Good, Evil, etc. Persona---------Behavior, Beliefs, etc. Traits----------Inherited Modifiers, Small Frame, Gifted etc. Perks-----------Gained Modifiers, Drinker, Kamikazee etc. Skills----------Active Actions, Evade, Jump etc. Talents---------Passive Actions, Artist, Cobbler etc. Spells----------Typhoon, Bolt etc. Equipment-------Sword, Dagger, Potions, etc. Creatures-------Slime, Dragon etc. Your time and help is greatly appreciated. [edited by - Nefar on April 28, 2003 2:54:54 PM] [edited by - Nefar on April 28, 2003 2:57:48 PM]

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Oh, nifty. Its about time we got list of this stuff. Though be prepared for people like me to use it as a list of what-not-to-do.

So, anyways, heres an exerpt stuff from Dogma2001 ( http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010129/adams_01.htm )
# # # # # # # #
4. There shall be no knights, elves, dwarves or dragons. Nor shall there be any wizards, wenches, bards, bartenders, golems, giants, clerics, necromancers, thieves, gods, angels, demons, sorceresses, undead bodies or body parts (mummified or decaying), Nazis, Russians, spies, mercenaries, space marines, stormtroopers, star pilots, humanoid robots, evil geniuses, mad scientists, or carnivorous aliens. And no freakin'' vampires.

Justification: Self-evident. If you find that doing without all of the foregoing makes it impossible to build your game, you are not creative enough to call yourself a game designer. As proof, note that it does not exclude any of the following: queens, leprechauns, Masai warriors, ghosts, succubi, Huns, mandarins, wisewomen, grizzly bears, hamsters, sea monsters, vegetarian aliens, terrorists, firefighters, generals, gangsters, detectives, magicians, spirit mediums, shamans, whores, and lacrosse players. One of the games that made it to the finals of the first Independent Games Festival was about birds called blue-footed boobies, so forget you ever heard of George Lucas and J.R.R. Tolkien and get to work.
# # # # # # # #

That should give you a nice list.

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Well, I disagree with Inmate2993. I think that the more conventional classes and characters can be a vital island of familiarity in an otherwise new and innovative system.

I remember having a terrible time with the Ogre Battle games. Learning all those new stats and battle dynamics, being concerned with morale and compatibility between my units, and waging a stylized war while mastering these unfamiliar systems was almost too much for me to handle. If I had been forced to learn the inherent traits of Masai warriors and detectives while doing all that, I''d have put that game away and left it there.

So don''t shy away from things just because they''re new. I think it''s inconsistent to keep gameplay mechanics while vilifying old writing elements, and I think it''s reckless to try to change absolutely everything about a genre with one game. I advise you to take what you like and create what you need. But all of this is off-topic.

With regard to the thread''s purpose, the list Nefar put up in the first post seems pretty exhaustive. However, it only seems to address things-in-the-world, or characteristics of things-in-the-world. Should game design aspects like combat engine, trading system, time scheme, and viewpoint be factored into the tree, or have I misunderstood the nature of the list?

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To be a little clear, I''m not asking for specific items such as elf, goblin, etc. I''m asking for general categories. What mechanics define an rpg character and its enviroment.

Its Description
Its Attributes
Its Race
Its Government
Its Profession
Its Alignment
Its Persona
Its Traits
Its Perks
Its Skills
Its Talents
Its Spells
Its Equipment it uses
Its Creatures it deals with
+ Any new ideas?

Iron chef is getting the idea, only include things-in-the-world and characteristics of things-in-the-world. Adaptable to any system.

My goal is to cover old themes and even brush up on new themes people miss on. I figure by covering the whole english language, I covered everything. A sort of rpg reference dictionary/database.

I would hate to think I already covered everything in that list.

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What about world geography, both natural and unnatural (which I''d personnally split into two).

So:

Natural Geography -- Mountains, Forests, Magical mushroom fields etc.
Unatural Geography -- Castles, Towns, Wizards Towers etc.

Also religion (although that could fall under Government, Persona or creatures in a way).

Religion -- God, Goddess, Diety, Spirit, scriptures, laws etc.

Hope thats kind of on the right track . If I think of any more I''ll post them.

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according to inmate, u have to create a new language/ writing, to be original, so people in game speaks a whole new language, u have to read dictionary that come with the software box inorder to play it

lol @ inmate

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Inmate brings up a good point, but I also disagree. I actually like having things common in games. I see an orc, and I can instantly make some assumptions without having to read into it too much. Same goes with Elves, I know about Elves from other games, and they are often treated similarily. It''s called learning curve, and familiarity with the elements cuts down on the time it takes to learn your game.

That''s a really complete list you have there. Everything I tried to think of was in there. One thing that came to mind was religion, but I think you cover that in beliefs. Another possibility would be to flesh out your ideas regarding equipment some more.

Characters
Affinity: Maybe have some sort of affinity to an element, weapon, or race

Weapons / Armor
Weapon Type
Weapon Quality
How it is used (fired? slash? cleave?)

Terrain
Terrain type (desert, marsh, ...)
Terrain weather patterns

I dunno, just some _VERY_ random ideas there. Maybe you can find some useful piece in all the junk I wrote

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I just thought of karma/luck from religon, and yes terrain and buildings help, both added to list. I also added nature/weather.

Im going to break down the main categories in to sub-categories.

Example) Creature->Animal->Bird->Parrot.

So general opinion, is the list complete?

Keep ''em coming if you can think of more main top categories, thanks.

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Peon''s suggestion about affinity reminded me of a half-formed idea I omitted in my first response. I had a very vague sense that ideas of relationships between individuals and groups should somehow have been included in the list. Party alliances, aversions, the elemental and equipment tendencies Peon mentioned, and other such inherent or acquired affinities are a specific sub-set of the inherited and gained modifiers mentioned in the original list. I''m not sure how to fit them in, but it''s something to think about.

When this reaches an advanced stage of development, I think it needs to be put somewhere more permanent than this board. This is an important tool, the end result of a process that every game writer/designer has to perform to some degree. If this list is filled out and categorized as it could be, then it''ll be invaluable. Good thinking, Nefar.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
As somewhat mentioned by gardenponds, in some games, there is a attribute/quirk system... where attributes, anything positive to a character, would be a plus value and quirks, anything negative to a character, would be of a negative value and you would get so many points to spend. You could add more points to your spending by taking more quirks to your character. For example, let us say you had 2 points to spend; I could spend it by getting an attribute worth 2 points, this list would be bonus things that are not normal to your character, you could pick wealth and start off with more gold or pick a feat or something like that. If you wanted to pick more than one attribute you could pick a quirk and that might be -2 points so it adds 2 points to your total spending pool. So you might choose to have a wealthy, darkvision character who has a bad left arm.

I am sure you could come up with a different name if you are trying to be original but it is just an idea.

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I don''t think that would be a good system. Im all for having inherited attributes that are negative, and think that a character should have a few talents and a few weaknesses, but at no time during the game should the player be called upon to assign a shortcoming to his character or "downgrade" a skill in order to bring balance.

If such a system must exist, I would prefer the (horribly unpopular, and rightly so) "atrophy" system seen in games like Final Fantasy II (not FFIV). Disused skills will decrease minutely after a battle sequence, and used skills will improve minutely. Rather than raising levels and seeing "SPD UP! STR UP! LUK UP! AGI UP!" cycle across the screen, each battle ended with a report of what went up or down. This applied to weapon skills, attributes, magical abilities, etc. This is a more feasible implementation, and it serves the dual purpose of preventing universal mastery of all disciplines and keeping the game interesting for more experienced players. If anyone''s had a chance to play Wonder Project J, you''ll remember that different skills and attributes were needed for different situations, and some abilities actually had to be "unlearned" in order to progress through the game. With this system, a character can be reinvented time and time again.

However, I propose a combination of the two. I think that a character who was a high-level knight for a few months, then laid down the sword to study magic, should retain an elevated measure of knightly skills and attributes. Let the old shopkeeper who once was a great archer dust off his bow to defend against the increasing numbers of highwaymen, and by God let him still outshoot those young bandits. I''ve always been enamored of the "oldschool" concept, and I''d like to see it recognized in a long-term game.

But all of this is academic. In conclusion, I''d rather not see "acquired disadvantages" or "assigned shortcomings" on the list, although I confess that to be complete, it should at least include them as bad ideas. Okay, forget me. Put them in.

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I think Inmate does make an important point in that a lot of that stuff he mentions is terribly cliche. I understand what Nefar is trying to do though and it sounds useful.

Anyone know where I can learn more about the game involving blue-footed boobies?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I never said it was a good idea/bad idea to have quirks. Personally I don''t like it either, but it should at least be included in the brain storming as to trigger ideas, hence the point of brain storming.

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Think outside the box!

The most common ''category'' of any RPG:

GOALS - What the player/character will attempt to accomplish in the game world, which can be a combination of an infinite number of different things. If more people thought this out first, RPGs just might be even more satisfying to their players!

Goals-------Personal, Team, Assisted, Mutual, Long Term, etc.

Another to consider - EVENTS

Events------Time, Current, Past, Present, Future, Triggered, etc.

Oh yeah, don''t forget - LIMITATIONS

Limitations-Limit, Stalemate, Full, Used, Completed, End, etc.

Go deeper!!!!!

- Christopher Dapo

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To the list I added, all still in brainstorm phase.

Beliefs
Faults
Guilds
Education
Emotions
Tolerance
Sickness
Sanity
Buisness/Commerce
Fate/Destiny
Social/Clout
Ideas
Family/Society
Love
+ any previous comments from replys (great ideas, all of you)

The whole research process will take some time, since the english language is pretty large(dictionary combing is very tedious), but I will see what I can do about sharing the finished project.

-thanks nefar

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