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Delterius

Could the value of attributes be made more tangible?

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By that I mean that often what character attributes represent is very abstract. Especially since character attributes are, as with most CRPG mechanics, centered around combat, which (in D&D, I believe) is also mostly about abstracting a large number of things into single coefficients. This isn't a bad thing per-se, but I think that slightly less often, other game mechanics make those attributes more tangible, which can be fun.

 

Hitpoints are a good example of what I mean. Its best seen as a abstraction of endurance (health), luck and character skill, with a certain amount of hitpoints representing a variable which depends on the maximum amount of hitpoints that character has. Instead of being a fixed amount, '1 hitpoint' mean different things (different qualities of wounds) to different characters - characters of different level and different classes might mean different skill or health.

 

I don't think I explained it very well, so I'll link to a better article for reference: http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/explaining-hit-points.html

 

So if Hitpoints themselves are so abstract, observing how strong your character is with combat information alone also becomes abstract. When you have two fighters with different values of Strenght dealing different amounts of hitpoint damage, it becomes very clear who's the physically stronger fighter, it says so in their character sheet, but that's not really tangible.

 

However, what I think is pretty neat is that the inventory system makes the values of strenght a bit more tangible. Instead of comparing how much damage those two fighters deal, now you can straight up and see how much stuff they can carry around with ease or difficulty.

 

A similar thing, I believe, happens with spellcasters and their relationship with magic. Though magic doesn't actually exist, the amount of spells a mage can memorize per spell-level depends on the intelligence score, giving a more tangible, if not fantastic, medium of comparison than, say, difficulty checks on your spellcasting.

 

Which brings me to what the thread's about. I'm hardly the biggest D&D buff out there, my experience with the system limited to the CRPGs. So I wonder if similar examples can be found for the other attributes.

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For the D&D scores when I first played it in tabletop version the friend who introduced it explained the attributes something like the following

 

"Ten is the level of a completely average person in that ability, while 18 is someone who is world class in that skill, so for instance in the physical attributes Olympic athletes would generally be 18 in their relevant scores. A twenty or above represents the very very top of that ability in the world, so Stephen Hawking might have 20 in intelligence, while a top end doctor might be an 18. Charisma and Wisdom are a bit less demonstrable, but work on the same principle. Obviously people with very high scores are more common in fiction than real life"

 

I think project eternity should ideally work on a proportional ability score system rather than a "to infinity one" where you can end up having 7 points in wisdom and 126 in strength because that just is very very abstract. So for D&D I'd say its something like:

 

4: Toddler

6: Average 8 Year Old

8: Average 15 yeard old / Below Average Adult

10: Average Adult

12: Above Average Adult

14: Gifted Adult

16: Greatly Gifted Adult

18: Brilliant Adult

20: One of the top few on the planet

 

Perhaps some sort of indication ingame could suggest where this stands, or use the fallout system of havign atrributes capped and with each level of each one having a specific name.

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I think project eternity should ideally work on a proportional ability score system rather than a "to infinity one" where you can end up having 7 points in wisdom and 126 in strength because that just is very very abstract.

 

Full agreement there, though I think being a clear 'minimum stat' and a clear 'maximum stat' sounds just as important. Systems with never increasing attributes remind me of level scalling and fake progression that kinda mess up storytelling.

 

I just remembered the one-word descriptions of your attributes from PS:T. Though not as clear as the weight from the inventory system, that was also neat.

Edited by Delterius

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Sorry, what's your question/point, again?

Hit points suck, because they are inconsistent and arbitrary. A blow, dealing -10 HP, dealt to a character with 11 HP is a hideous, devastating strike, leaving him on the brink of death. The very same blow dealt to the very same character, but 10 levels higher and with 100 HP total is nothing but an itchy scratch. Which raises a whole lot of hard-to-explain-from-a-logical-standpoint situations.

 

This kind of problem is easily avoided in settings with fixed number of health level, like in World of Darkness. And I heartily concur that this kind of system is a lot better if it weren't suffering the terrible effects of random dice throws. However, if the random part is normalized (i.e. not linear like in dice with every result having approximately the same chance of occurring, but average results happening a lot more often than extremes), it could work quite well.

Edited by Heresiarch
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World of Darkness has a lot of damage systems though. You have aggravated, lethal, and blunt (and I think one more?). WoD is also significantly less focused around combat than D&D. Although I've never played the PNP game, judging from its mechanics, I'd hazard that combat is very fast-paced and quick? It shouldn't last very long, given the low life pools of everybody involved.

 

I think it's very hard to create a system which is both fun and mirrors some kind of realistic logic. Yes, it's weird that a 11 hitpoint character can become a character with 10 times those hitpoints, but I don't think it's making things too weird - someone with 11 hitpoints obviously isn't very skilled at combat. When they get hit, they obviously don't know how to mitigate the damage they take. Of course, a sword to the chest is probably going to kill ANYONE who isn't protected by some crazy magic - it's hard to simulate combat in any meaningful manner when it must happen in copious amounts, to a small number of combatants.

 

In real life, combat is QUICK. A fight between two street thugs can be decided in one punch usually. People mugging somebody - the conflict is over in under thirty seconds. Two martial artists are exhausted after a minute's worth of fighting. Warriors clash in giant waves and slaughter each other, they grow tired even quicker. Encounters in a video game can last several minutes - where players trade a large number of blows. Where players block a large number of blows. It takes just as much energy to block or parry a blow, as it does to get hit by one. It takes a lot of energy just to evade and dodge an attack. Fighting is tough and tiring, even for someone who is at their peak of physical fitness.

 

If we're aiming for realism, you can only replicate that kind of thing in a game where combat is something you can actively avoid, where mortality is high and so is replayability. Because you'll be dying/losing a lot, when fights come down to who gets the first blow, or who can land a devastating counter-offensive. I don't think it lends itself well to cRPG design and that combat in a game like this IS an abstraction of real combat. It's an attempt to make combat more "fair and regular". Because dice rolls are random, or at least for cRPGs, psuedo-random. When you extend a fight out to 2+ minutes of casting spells, swinging sword and absorbing blows, it reduces the effects of chance and makes things feel impactful and fair. In real life, the loser is often left confused as to what happened. The victor might not even remember or understand how he won the fight, it was so clutch, so fast, so reactionary, so random.

 

Although I'm not a fan of the game of throne's series, this youtube video isn't too far off from how a drawn-out fight can happen.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZSFpeLEAok

 

As you can see, the obvious strategy used here was "wearing down the opponent". Attacking causes heavy fatigue, especially when it's wild and unskillful. You don't see this accurately represented in most games, where attacking a lot leaves you significantly vulnerable due to fatigue. But it's probably one of the major strategies in any 1v1 combat, medieval or modern. I'm not so sure this is "fun" for a cRPG, though it might be fun to simulate such systems for an action/fighting game.

Edited by anubite

I made a 2 hour rant video about dragon age 2. It's not the greatest... but if you want to watch it, here ya go:

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Sorry, what's your question/point, again?

Hit points suck, because they are inconsistent and arbitrary. A blow, dealing -10 HP, dealt to a character with 11 HP is a hideous, devastating strike, leaving him on the brink of death. The very same blow dealt to the very same character, but 10 levels higher and with 100 HP total is nothing but an itchy scratch. Which raises a whole lot of hard-to-explain-from-a-logical-standpoint situations.

 

This kind of problem is easily avoided in settings with fixed number of health level, like in World of Darkness. And I heartily concur that this kind of system is a lot better if it weren't suffering the terrible effects of random dice throws. However, if the random part is normalized (i.e. not linear like in dice with every result having approximately the same chance of occurring, but average results happening a lot more often than extremes), it could work quite well.

 

Well it's no secret that HP is a complete abstraction of anything faintly resembling reality, but an Infinity Engine styled game really isn't the place to be coming up with a real to life system as the concept of HP (or stamina) plays a significant part in the balance of the thing. If everyone had realistic HP then more or less any attack has the potential to die from the smallest attack spell to a dagger hit which, particularly in the context of a fantasy game just would kill strategy. There would be literally no way anyone could survive, say, chain lightning or cloudkill for instance.

 

As for dice, I love the dice throws, because the results (except at critical fail) are always modified anyway by your characters skills and attributes to the point where you have a realisitc idea what's going to happen regardless of your throw, and it adds a degree of tension to proceedings that you just wouldn't get if everythign were linear with a system that people can easily understand.

 

Much as I appreciate some people would love a realistic combat RPG, project eternity is at its very conception, a spiritual successor to the Infinity Engine games and that's never been what those have been about in the slightest.

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Sorry, what's your question/point, again?

 

Its hard to explain and english isn't my native language, so bear with me.

 

D&D is heroic fantasy, it deals with things fantastic and improbable that you'd see straight out of a novel. Like a supposedly normal person surviving chain lightning and so on. To simulate that, the rules could be either very detailed on the coincidences necessary for a lucky hero to survive improbable odds, which would bad for a PnP game, or very abstract, relieving the players of more complicated math and allowing for creative storytelling - that is, you take the circumstances a kind of damage was dealt, such as a mage casting fire and brimstone, apply the random result of unexpectedly the spell dealing subpar damage at (relatively) ordinary hero and chalk it up to something like miscasting (where other rules apply) or some other coincidence.

 

Its like reading a LP of Baldur's Gate where the player can freely interprete the dice rolls. If <Fighter character> underperformed in battle, it could be due to anything the player can larp (imagine, interprete) and the story told via the mechanics is only limited to imagination or how much of it the player is willing to apply. Maybe he tripped on the corpses of the skeletons you just killed, he might have a pretty low WIS score after all that pumping of STR.

 

However, if the game systems only elaborate on combat, then there's a disconnect between the player and the virtual reality. I think that if all we have to picture a character are the abstraction of combat, the only way to, say, deduce how physically strong a fighter is is to compare him to another fighter - and the damage each fighter or differing abilities deal to someone else's hitpoint bar. The result is that you can easily tell who's the stronger fighter (it says so in their character sheet) but you can barely connect to a more ample reality.

 

Or rather, what I'm trying to say is that if the devs elaborate the game's virtual reality beyond simply combat, and integrate those secondary gameplay systems to attributes (such as the inventory system's weight allowance being connected to the attrib. of Strenght), then you get a clearer picture of the character. A character that deals <damage> under <X-Y> rolls may be stronger or weaker than another, but you know a character better is he's as strong as being able to carry XXX pounds.

 

My question/request and the whole point of the thread is if you can do that to other attributes than strenght. If there's a way to integrate Dex, Con and such to systems other than combat - and if people agree there's really a point for that.

Edited by Delterius

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