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I'm curious. What does everyone expect of non-combat roles? Will they be purely skill-based, or will we have statistics to raise/determine our ability with certain skills? Will they overlap with combat skills?

 

Let's say PE uses 5 main attirbutes for combat:

 

STR - +dmg with melee weps, increase maximum equipment weight

AGI - +dmg with ranged weps, +evasion

CON - max life, stamina regen rate

INT - +dmg with spells, +accuracy with weapons

WIS - +max mana

 

Lets say these are all the planned non-combat abilities for PE

 

Sense traps / Awareness

Disarm Traps

Lockpicking

Pickpocket

Persuader/Intimidator

Sneak/Stealth

Alchemy

Metalsmithing

Leatherworking

Research - required to utilize certain books in the game to acquire skills or knowledge, allows you to decipher ancient texts/languages in dungeons, or something

Haggling

Instruction - able to teach things you know to your companions or NPCs

Seduction - differs from persuader/intimidator in that you can be a very ugly but persuasive person (Hitler)

Cooking

First Aid

 

Should these things scale off your primary stats? I can think of one good reason for this - simplcity. It would be easier to balance a game where there are five core stats and they determine everything. It's also easier for people to pick up and it gives all stats meaning even if you're not particuarly interested in them for class X.

 

However, I can't help but think it's too simple. The problem with a system like this I think, is skills like intelligence and agility (or dex, whatever the final system will be) end up being necessarily to advance/take-up 80% of the skills available. To me, it seems like these skills either need to be independent and be purely feat-based (you have level 5 feat of first aid, which maybe only requires an intelligence of 8 or 10 at most to take, so long as you character level is 15 or something [where first aid 5 is max rank and level 15 is close to max level]) or they need to scale off a second set of tertiary attributes:

 

Charisma

Appearance

Dexterity

Academics

Kinesthetics

 

These five attribtues govern nothing about your combat-related abilities and are raised independently (but perhaps they should sometimes interact with the core attributes; ie, when you level up, maybe you can choose between having one extra core attribute point or one extra non-combat attribute point; or maybe you can sacrifice certain combat stats at character generation for more non-combat skills).

 

The idea behind this would be that there would be some overlap. If you get a high Kinesthetics attribute, you can become adept at Metalworking, First Aid, Sneak, and Awareness. If you get a high Academics attribute, you could become adept at Metalsmithing, Alchemy, Research, and Instruction. A single non-combat attribute might also have second-tier effects, ie, if you have a very high Academics score, you can't become a master at pickpocketing, but maybe you can read a book about pickpocketing you find in a store somewhere, and acquire a low level skill for it. Maybe a dextrous person can still become very good a cooking, but not reach master level. Having a mix of mediocre dex/academics might combine to allow you to master cooking, while dex/charisma do not.

 

What are everyone's thoughts on these ideas?

Edited by anubite
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I see what you're getting at, but I'm not really sure just how it would be fixed. Maybe instead of separate stats to pull from, there could be sort of a set of non-combat perks/feats (to use common terms) that you get to choose? Maybe your main stats could still give bonuses (Like INT to crafting and such), but lesser ones. That way, you have a third layer in the mix. You could have, for example a super strong warrior who was fairly dexterous and could have a crafting affinity or something, so you'd get a bonus to the crafting group of skills (purely for example). You still couldn't have 9 Intelligence without taking a decent hit to your crafting cap, but you wouldn't have to have 14 Intelligence JUST because you wanted to craft (if the skill's bonuses were based solely off of Intelligence, which may not provide much else to your Warrior besides crafting competency.)

 

I dunno. There are a lot of specifics to work out there, and I'm only using D&D game system examples.

 

There definitely need to be more skill-cap ranges for all skill groups than "Awesome" and "Teh suck." Just because you're a lumbering, flat-footed Warrior doesn't mean you should be incapable of hiding, should you so choose to improve your stealth skills. You should just be way worse at it than a masterfully nimble thief.

 

And there should still be an overall cap, essentially. If you're more deadly in combat with a sword than 3 Mages of the same Level, you should really have to take a bit of a hit in speech and social skills, stealth skills, crafting, etc. To put it overly simply, you shouldn't be able to master everything. But, you shouldn't have to take a hit in combat effectiveness just to take up some non-combat skills, which is why I think something like a separate group of traits might be in order specifically for non-combat skills (at least as far as the more commonly implemented systems go.)

 

Separate stats could work, I suppose. As I said, though, I'm not sure exactly how.

Edited by Lephys

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I think that these should be the attributes that PE uses(and their combat uses)

  1. Strength: + Damage, +Hit(Melee), Carry Weight, effects combat skills
  2. Dexterity: + AC, +Hit, Reflex save
  3. Constitution: Health, Stamina, Stamina Regen rate,
  4. Intelligence: Potency of spells/prayers(damage, duration, save DC, spell penetration, etc.), Skill points per level, Spell amount
  5. Willpower: Potency of spells/prayers, Will save, spell amount(per day or whatever PE ends up using), Spell resistance
  6. Perception: +Hit(Ranged)

Now it looks like that some attributes play more of a role in combat, but this is where skills can come in....

 

Strength, Constitution, and Willpower would probably have the least use in skills of all the attributes. I honestly can't think of a way that Willpower or Constitution could be used for more than a few niche skills, while the majority of skills that would benefit from strength are very hard to implement outside of PnP. Dexterity obviously would impact skills such as stealth and pickpocket, Intelligence would impact the "knowledge" and crafting skills, and Perception would impact pretty much everything else. I would also argue that Perception can possibly effect every skill in some way. So while Perception would be the least valuable skill for combat it would be the most valuable for skill use, with the opposite true for Willpower(ironically these are fused together in D&D for Wisdom).

 

I was a bit tired when I wrote this, so if I missed something please let me know.


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I've never personally liked the intelligence = skillpoints design, mainly because... well, even people who aren't "intelligent" can have a wide array of skills and be experts in various fields. I guess "intelligence" is a very hard "stat" to reason. I think most games treat intelligence as "academic smarts", I mean, a 6 intelligence character shouldn't even be capable of abstract thought, let alone properly wielding a mace without kill himself. Likewise, it introduces a balance issue, because if you want to have a character that can max out a particular non-combat skill quickly, he needs to be naturally intelligent. And if you're going to make intelligence a stat only useful for spellcasters and not fighters of any sort, then it basically makes it so intelligence is "worthless" and non-combat skills are "weak" for non-casters and abundant and strong for casters. This is naturally a "binary" system that's hard to balance - everyone is going to build spell casters that dump at least half their points in intelligence without thinking. I'd like to ask the players of PE to think about their stats when they distribute them. Do they want a smart spellcaster, or a strong spellcaster? There should be an obvious upside and downside to either idea and I think either idea should have the potential at least, to work. The same goes for an intelligent fighter vs a dumb one.

 

It's why I tied +accuracy to my intelligence stat in my first post, so that there is sufficient reason to get intelligence as a fighter. Of course, I don't know what Obsidian will do, but I don't like pinning all of your non-combat focus on one core stat (intelligence), that's what I'm trying to avoid, because this creates a min/max imbalance. Similarly, strength/agility/con/wisdom would also be useful for casters and non-casters (providing some spells can crit in PE). Granted, I don't want to go into the discussion of how combat stats should work, but if we're going to use combat-stats to help determine the effectiveness of non-combat abilities, we should make it so that we aren't forcing players to min/max their attributes. Attributes should serve as a means to help you find your role, not confine what roles are possible and viable.

 

If you're strong, Metalwork should come naturally. Sure, Metalworkers probably aren't Oafs, but I think that's what the stat system is trying to represent. We separate strength, constitution, dex, agility, wisdom and charisma apart from general intelligence because we want to create a system which is capable of rendering diverse individuals. People can be very bad at 'traditional' academics, do poorly in IQ tests, et cetera, and they can still be more than adequate at working with their hands, crafting things out of leather and steel. They might also be very aware and sense the world around them. They might even be good with first aid or pick pocketing. Even the most base of a character one can roleplay - an animal - is intelligent in some capacity and is very skillful in what it does. Otherwise, it would be dead or not exist or something. Stat systems aim to describe how this intelligence expresses itself and they aim to do it in a balanced way. If we let the general stat "intelligence" govern maximum skillpoints, it basically means the "Wizard" archetype can be a master first-aid-sneaker-pickpocket-orator while the mighty warrior can shave potatos. I think people are a little more diverse, even if the Wizard is so smart he can expain why e^(pi*i) = -1.

 

If combat-attributes are going to effect non-combat skills in any capacity, combat attributes shouldn't determine how many skills you can have or the rate at which you master skills. They should just determine the maximum aptitude for skills or their success/fail rate. No? Maybe there's another system that could work, but I want to advise Obsidian to make character generation systems that let us create a diverse number of viable characters and not feel like we're "shoe-horned" into a role we don't want to play.

 

If combat attributes don't play a role in advancing non-combat skills, then I think we've helped make the system more accommodating, if more complex than perhaps is desired.

Edited by anubite
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^ Well put. It might cost a wee bit o' realism, but your choice of class or your stat allocation for the purposes of combat shouldn't be tied so closely with your non-combat skills.

 

I like the idea of Intelligence contributing to combat for non-casters in some way. I mean, it would definitely affect your precision with weapons, and, in turn, possibly also your critical chance? High strength means higher damage, but not necessarily higher critical chance (you're not necessarily going to be any more strategic with your strikes just because you hit hard.) And, sometimes Dexterity is brought in for things like that, but that doesn't really affect your judgement of distances and wind calculations and such, so I've always wondered how much sense it made for it to improve your ranged weapon damage, for example. I know that's partially in place oftentimes to distribute the importance of the various stats throughout the class lineup, but, still...

 

*shrug*. I think finding a way to make all the stats be more important (most likely in different ways) to all classes would be a good start for the stat system, regardless of how the affects on non-combat skills are handled. I've definitely always hated that huge discrepancy in rather-necessary things like skill points, though, when based upon a stat like Intelligence.

Edited by Lephys

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Well, there are lots of ways to do the combat attributes. I, of course, want all the combat-attributes to contribute to every class in the game in some meaningful manner. I think we have to give up realism to some extent, if our stat system is going to be basic. If we constrain combat attributes to five or six, and we have more than five or six weapon types or damage types, already we're going to have trouble expressing something in a realistic manner.

 

I'm a martial artist, though I'm not trained in any traditional weapons. I don't know how "my" intelligence, dexterity or agility factor into my ability to fight. I do know that I've practied a long time - so I think martial arts are more about practice than anything. Martial arts about training to hone your reactions, so they are sharp and precise. So I suppose finesse and practice is more important than anything, but it's reasonable to say that I needed intelligence to get where I am, I also need some amount of strength to make my attacks count, to there might be a minimum requirement to become a master at some martial skill, but to say that increasing one's strength by 2 makes damage 2 more is not the case in real life. I don't think we necessarily want to try and emulate real life when designing these game systems, but to try and express the abstract notion of intelligence and how it creates effective and interesting combat classes.

 

If we make all attributes useful to all classes, then we invite... well, my first guess would be n! ways to make a character (where n is the number of core combat attributes). You can focus evenly on all attributes, you can focus on only two, four, or maybe just one. Making such decisions at character generation as interesting and seemingly viable as possible, is good design, because it invites imagination. It allows players to express a role they want to play (ie The barbarian whose strength is unmatched, but is in all other ways feeble).

 

If I were to design an RPG (well, actually, I might as well admit I'm programming my own small RPG at the moment, it's using this stat system right now):

 

Strength = +%Melee damage, +Maximum weight (your equipment load cannot exceed this weight)

Agility = +%Damage with ranged weapons, +evasion, +accuracy (evasion is % increase, accuracy is flat) -- gear in my game gives a flat evasion "rating" that checks against accuracy, so if you take lots of agility but use armor that doesn't give any evasion rating, agility only increases your accuracy

Constitution = Maximum life

Intelligence = +%Spell damage, +Critical strike chance (+ flat %)

Wisdom = Maximum mana

 

The reasoning behind my attributes is that I could create a Ranger with high agility and then let the Ranger wear plate armor by spending the remainder of points in strength. This ranger would have low maximum life and mana, but would shrug off physical damage well and do accurate physical damage, but not crit very often.

 

I could create a warrior with balanced distribution of all stats, he would be good with critical strikes, life, mana, and weapons of all kinds, and could switch between using a bow and using a melee weapon with equal efficiency and could wear medium armor. He may have trouble against opponents that are heavily focused in physical or spell damage.

 

I could create a mage with high agiliity and wisdom, casting tons of bow-based spells that perhaps scale off increased spell damage (I suppose I might change the term to 'magical damage' I dunno).

 

Obsidian will no doubt create their own system, but I've considered alternative systems to my system and I just don't think it's any fun to ask a player this:

 

If you are playing a warrior please only put points in constitution and strength. Towards the end of the game you may put a few points in dexterity or willpower if you want to hit more accurately or have more energy/mana.

 

If you are playing a rogue please only put points in dexterity/agility. Towards the end of the game you may put points in strength or consitution.

 

If you are playing a wizard please only put points in intelligence and willpower. You may put points in constitution at the end of the game if you want.

 

Because that sort of begs the question: Why even have an attribute system? Why not have classes get stats given to them per level without our consent? It's not like anyone is going to sanely distribute points in attributes that serve a significantly lesser purpose than a class's core attributes.

 

Secondarily, it encourages min/max play. An "ideal" RPG in my mind, at least on the number-game side, has a "min/max" route for each class - I mean, it exists, it's not like we want players to find out how to min/max our game, but there must always be a way to maximize your gains and minimize your losses. The ideal RPG though, obfuscates how one achieves this. Because this is the heart of the RPG in my mind, a statistical crunch to find the most optimal set-up. The more mechanics and freedoms players have, the harder finding this ideal threshold is. The harder it is, the more exciting it is to experiment, to let yourself loose. To not think too hard about what you're doing. You're having fun at character creation just making something that comes to you. Then you see how it works out in-game and determine how actually effectve it is. You make adjustments as the character levels up to accomodate for strengths and weaknesses. I would call this "play".

 

In the "un-ideal RPG" you go onto the character generation screen and frown because there are only one or two options; you've done them before or you've already analyzed the numbers in your mind and know what's optimal. You execute a build anyone could have come up with and then you beat the game just like everybody else. It isn't like you even made a choice, because the answer was so strikingly easy. There was no "play" - maybe there was a game to it, maybe it's still a good game in some capacity, but the "play" was completely absent from it. To make a brief analogy, I felt this way all last year while I was playing League of Legends. As you might know, itemization in that game is rather poor - there is generally an "optimal build strategy" for each hero in the game. It may or may not be a fun game, but there's no play for me - I can't deviate from any build to see how it works because I'll be called a troll or accused of throwing the game. Math is at work for their justification, that my ideas are not as effective as the standardly accepted build, even if my nonstandard build might have some context effectiveness.

 

The phrase "gameplay" contains the word "play" but I don't think many people analyze the difference between "game" and "play". Games are structured. Play is not. I think good games offer both kinds of umm... "order". A good RPG lets me take a rogue archetype and let it cast spells - this creates an interesting dynamic. Can a rogue-mage get into a better position and be more effective than a pure mage? Maybe you want to build a templar character - plate with spells - I'm sure everyone at some point wants to do this kind of build, but a bad stat system can't support it, because it says, "Magic is strong and is balanced by low defenses." A good system says, "Magic is strong when invested in. Armor is strong when invested in. If you invest in both, you will have strong magic and strong armor. But, your opponent may be strong in physical damage and critical hits - what if critical hits are very effective against armor? What if you need good evasion to defend against critical hits? But you cannot have good evasion, armor and magic, but maybe you can have "pretty good" of all three?" It's basically a linear system of equations, where you're trying to balance the strength of each variable so they all cancel out. Very simple linear systems are easy to maximize, while complex ones could be computationally impossible.

 

With regards to non-combat attributes, adding more variables to a system of equations makes it naturally more complex, harder to maximize ones gains. Tying them to core attributes does make itemization easier to manage and players grasp the game quicker, but neither may be what we need or desire. In my game, attributes provide flat gains, while feats and armor provide percentage based gains, rarely flat gains (thus, your attributes significantly determine how your items effect you, but do not rule out the possibility of using unusual items). I guess it's inevitable that when designing a system, we imagine how items will factor into the equation. Will there be any items that alter aptitutde at non-combat roles? Will there be a lockpick of +2? Or will we only need the same lockpick all game long...? How can we make non-combat stats or items interesting...? These are all design decisions that should be considered in use with the entire non-combat system.

Edited by anubite
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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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If I got it right, the current take at PE is that they plan to base dialogue options on your stats. That would of course strongly call for non-combat stats. In fact, if you go that way then INT and CHA should probably only represent your ability solving and conversational abilities and maybe be tied to some non-combat skills, but not tied to spell casting or combat.

 

I know there's no way that this will actually happen though. :cat:

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Well, the system could be feat based entirely. Use a skill point to raise your diplomacy score. Every class gets the same max number of skill points (maybe you can buy a few in exchange for attribute points or something).

 

Alternatively, they could use the VTM system - every skill is in essence an attribute.

 

1_Blood_Buff.jpg

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