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Strengths and flaws?

character creation traits flaws build perks

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#1
amycus89

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I don't think the devs have talked too much about how the character creation will be yet, but one thing I loved from both arcanum and fallout were the different strengths/flaws/perks that could make your character feel much more unique. Often times though, they are usually made to make the character stronger in some way, with only a small penalty at something at most (since most people don't want to gimp their character voluntarily). While I would like that too of course, I would also be happy to see some more serious flaws.

 

I actually googled a little about this and found this page:

http://www.dandwiki....wiki/3.5e_Flaws

 

Some examples from there are:

1) Favorite target = For one reason or another, you find yourself the chosen target of the enemies your party fights.

2) Fear of magic = You find magic incredible frightening.

3) Narcissistic = Your devotion to your own beuty tends to be distracting

4) Pyromania = You love setting things on fire and watching it burn!

 

Now, I can think of a few ways on how to go about this. Either once could simply be FORCED to pick at least, say 2 of these traits to continue the character creation, so one would normally pick the least worse traits for the character they are going to build. OR, you woud at the end get these 4 traits chosen randomly for you. Of course, there should be a button to "reroll". Kinda like the dice rolling when doing your stats in the Baldurs Gate games. Usually I hate dice rolling for stats, but I think I would like a system like randomizable traits like these for some reason.

 

To make an example for the latter, say that we are trying to do a sorcerer of some kind. Trait (1) is obviously quite the weakness for a very squishy character, and um, trait (2) would certainly be an "interesting" choice for a sorcerer... (3) Is a really small weakness, and can even be "desired" for your character depending on how you want to roleplay. Trait (4) would probably add some extra damage to your fire spells, and might also lead to some extra conversation options... Or lack thereof, if you see a village burning you cant bring yourself to stop it, and instead just admire it...

 

Now, imagine the same scenario, with the difference that we are trying to build a tank like character. Suddenly (1) becomes a strength and not a weakness, while the others become mostly smaller annoyances to different degrees.

 

Of course, there is one major weakness with a system like this: You might WANT to play a narcistic character, but keep clicking the "randomize traits" button over and over without it ever showing up - and when it does, the other traits are the worst possible for your specific character. It might be an idea to give the OPTION to select these traits manually, one by one. Maybe letting this be an option unlocked after the first time you beat the game?

 

Thoughts?



#2
aluminiumtrioxid

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Or, y'know, "pick a merit at the price of a few attribute points in chargen/pick a flaw for a few extra points", like in, say, literally every tabletop RPG ever?


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#3
Kveldulf

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Arcanum was by far the most amusing character creation of any PC game I played. No other comes close to the wild career selection (and unfortunately nowadays they're 'politically incorrect') - Idiot Savant, Escaped lunatic, Arsonist, Technophobia, Afraid of the Dark... to name a few.



#4
Abel

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Arcanum was great for this.

 

But, i really don't want a random choice. I generally imagine a background/story for my character. And these kind of traits can be helpfull. But randomizing them may, in most cases, end up with a character profile i didn't want, contradicting the back story i wrote. Giving the choice to pick one, two, three... or none is the best to me.



#5
Lephys

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Or, y'know, "pick a merit at the price of a few attribute points in chargen/pick a flaw for a few extra points", like in, say, literally every tabletop RPG ever?

 

It's a good system.

 

The alternative is to not balance the two, so that you can just pick 7 merits and -5 flaws and be an uber-person. Given the two choices, I'd go with balanced "merits" and "flaws" (whatever their names).

 

The games that don't let you pick them separately tend to just pair them up anyway, a la Arcanum or Fallout.

 

"You get this good thing, but also you kind of suck like so..." etc.



#6
Leferd

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Doesn't seem like it would take too many resources to set this up and would be fun to play around with. They had this included in the Fallouts, NWN2, and IWD2 too.

#7
Plutone00

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True, but it would be nice to see a story or some purpose behind it. Doesn't even need to be anything major. Let some event happen and have character start hating undead or whoever, recieving a bonus to attack against them as oposed to simply choosing abilities at level-up screen.


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#8
Lephys

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True, but it would be nice to see a story or some purpose behind it. Doesn't even need to be anything major. Let some event happen and have character start hating undead or whoever, recieving a bonus to attack against them as oposed to simply choosing abilities at level-up screen.

 

... Why not both? o_o

 

I don't mean choose "bonus to undead attack attempts" at creation, AND gain a bonus to undead because of your developed-along-the-way hatred for them. I mean, why not allow for both types of bonuses, in general?

 

Some things come from your character's background, and other things develop along the way. It's not as if the things you did before you were "adventuring age" are all significant enough to affect your character, but nothing in your extensive travels throughout the game's story is that extensive. OR vice versa.

 

That's two separate quite-enjoyable aspects of RPGs:

 

1) What are you starting with, and how is it distinct?

2) What are you ending up with?

 

Allows for an awful lot of tree branches of gameplay experience. :)


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#9
Plutone00

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I'm all for it. But  the story should make those options at character creation to actually mean something aside from just selecting a bonus from a list.


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#10
Lephys

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I'm all for it. But  the story should make those options at character creation to actually mean something aside from just selecting a bonus from a list.

 

Agreed. I think the best approach is to essentially not allow any Perk (to use Fallout terms as an example) to duplicate a character creation Trait, and vice versa. They should be distinct things. Not "Because of growing up with your dad, you get +2 to Bow Accuracy," then later on, when you level up, some "Bow Specialization -- +2 to Bow Accuracy" option pops up. Not that I mean nothing else in the game could affect something that your Trait affected, but the Traits (character creation distinctions) should really be more significant than a simple augmentation to a number.

 

I think the gender-based traits that are so common in RPGs now are a perfect example of at least how to use a unique criteria for an effect. For example, "You gain a bonus to reaction from females, but suffer a penalty to reaction from males." You might already have a stat, in this example, that governs your reaction from ALL NPCs. But, now your trait is doing something no amount of change to that stat could do. Or, if some Perk down the road gives you a bonus to Reaction modifier, your trait STILL sets you apart.

 

I'm not saying make everything gender-based, haha. Just... it's a good example of the way to make Trait effects distinct amid all the other bonuses and options, both at the point of character creation AND throughout progression.


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#11
Ganrich

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I liked Arcanum for this in particular.  With that many options you couldn't have everyone of them have meaning (or any real meaning), though.  Really it is more and less meaning, or less and more meaning.  I would prefer the former as the effects they tend to entail are pretty trivial in most games anyway.  Although they can be pretty cool at times. 

 

I think character creation should have backgrounds and traits though.  Backgrounds give some meaning/reactivity, and perhaps alter some stats/skills/etc.  Traits have a bonus and a negative that flesh the character out further.  My one gripe on Arcanum is that some of the Backgrounds seemed more like traits and others like genuine backgrounds.  EG:  Background = Raised on a Farm (increases Endurance), Son of a Preacher Man(High Resolve), Forest Rat (higher constitution).  Trait = Eagle eyes (Increased Perception for spot checks at a distance, but decreased at close range), Hater of the Arcane (Lower Willpower, increased damage to magic users), Iron Flesh (Increased armor rating, lower dexterity score).  This way you get your reactivity with a few backgrounds and your huge array of traits with little to no reactivity. 

 

Backgrounds could have negatives as well, but those can be overcome to some extent in Attribute distribution.  This would require character creation in the order of Sex, Race, Class, Background, Trait, Attributes, Skills, etc. 


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#12
rjshae

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Or, y'know, "pick a merit at the price of a few attribute points in chargen/pick a flaw for a few extra points", like in, say, literally every tabletop RPG ever?

 

That... would be a false statement since it wasn't in AD&D.

 

Personally I like penalties that are neutral tradeoffs rather than, say, allowing you to pick an extra goodie. Thus, you may have lost and arm and so be unable to wield a two-handed weapon, but your remaining arm has been strengthened through exclusive use giving you a bonus to melee strength effects.


Edited by rjshae, 29 December 2013 - 05:50 PM.


#13
PrimeJunta

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@rjshae IMO the problem with tradeoff perks is that quite often they end up being "greatly strengthen this thing I'm going to use all the time and greatly weaken this thing I wasn't going to use at all anyway." I.e., they get munchkiny very quickly. It's very rare to feel you're actually losing something in the exchange.
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#14
Cubiq

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I don't like the sytem where you get a penalty for every bonus you pick, because that never works on your first playthrough. You don't know how useful your bonus will be in that game, so it's better to not chose anything at all or you may end up even weaker than normally not chosing anything.

If i take a lockpicking bonus with some kind of penalty attatched and the game has only a few locked boxes in the game, or if there is not actually anything useful for your type of play or your type of class in those boxes you will come out worse than not choosing anything.

Same goes for certain type of feats like in fallout where you attack 20% faster but you miss 20% more often, won't actually help new players as you usualy dont know the mechanics well enough for it to be of any use to you and you may end up in worse position than if you picked nothing because you're wasting more bullets with that feat.
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#15
Lephys

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@rjshae IMO the problem with tradeoff perks is that quite often they end up being "greatly strengthen this thing I'm going to use all the time and greatly weaken this thing I wasn't going to use at all anyway." I.e., they get munchkiny very quickly. It's very rare to feel you're actually losing something in the exchange.

 

This is true. It might be best to pair them. Of course, I think taking out the super generic ones helps. Like, in Shadowrun's system (PnP Shadowrun, btw), you have Edges that basically just boost a stat, and I think Flaws that just drop something else.

 

If you eliminate those from the pick-and-choose system, it's immediately a lot better in that regard.

 

Of course, a lot of that is also much easier to make relevant in PnP than in a CRPG. You could pick something you think you'll never use, only to have your DM/GM pepper its necessity throughout your campaign, 8P.

 

Also, in Shadowrun, in particular, I think you could basically choose as many as you wanted, so long as they were balanced (positive Edge points and negative Flaw points). In a CRPG, you'd probably need a lower cap. Imagine if, in Fallout, you could just choose ALL the traits (with their paired pros and cons). :)

 

@Cubiq:

 

I agree with you as well, although I'd argue that that's much more a problem of specifics than it is with the system itself. Nothing made the game not have much desirable stuff in locked things (in your lockpicking example), or prevented the devs from giving you some idea of how useful each stat/value is. If you put a skill into a game, for example, that ranges from 0-100, and there's hardly anything in the entire game that requires more than 60 in that skill, then you either needed to cap the skill at a lower point or you needed to include more stuff in the game that requires more than 60 skill. Otherwise, your design for those last 40 points is pretty useless/lopsided, as the system is claiming that the skillpoints are of global base value.

 

It's like having a Swords skill and a Maces skill, and having 100 swords in the game, but only 3 different maces. If there's a trait that makes you better with one but worse with the other, it's not the trait's fault that the game's designed to pretty much ignore mace-users.


Edited by Lephys, 30 December 2013 - 04:16 PM.

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#16
PrimeJunta

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Actually IMO your swords/maces tradeoff trait is an example of something you shouldn't have, regardless of the number of swords and maces in the game. This is a classic "I don't want to use swords anyway" non-trade-off. Cf. the various weapon specialist builds in D&D. You'd practically have to balance the entire game around that trait to make it non-munchkiny. I can think of ways to do that, of course, but a trait that forces you to reconsider pretty much the entire game is probably not a good example of a balanced trait.


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#17
Lephys

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Literally the only purpose of the swords-and-maces example was to point out the relationship between trait/bonus design and game content design. I was in no way pitching the idea that it was somehow a good idea for a trait.

 

But, since you happened to bring it up, I'll roll with that, as it actually still pertains to my point. Your assessment of it as a "non-trade-off" is assuming it's a trait in a game whose design doesn't revolve around content that requires the use of multiple weapon types per character. Not that PoE necessarily does, but, the point is once again that, IF the game's content supports it, then it's really not a bad trait. You can't fault the choice the system offers you in choosing a trait any more than you can fault the game for not validating that choice in any way.

 

Like I said, EITHER the trait is out of sync with the content, or the content is out of sync with the trait. Only the designers can really say which is which, because it depends upon the circumstances and intentions of the game's design.

 

This is all just in response to the sentiment of "that's a bad method of trait-offering at character creation, because the game's design could just not back that up as an actual trade-off."


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#18
PrimeJunta

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Nope. They're still munchkiny non-trade-offs, at least in all (or nearly all?) really existing games.

 

You'd have to have significant numbers of mace-immune and sword-immune critters in the game, and make them also immune to alternative attack methods available for both mace and sword specialists, and, in a party-based game, make it so that the sword-specialist couldn't move to a useful support role when encountering sword-immunes. Otherwise there's very little downside to making half your party mace-specialists and the other half sword-specialists. I.e., you'd be balancing the entire game around that trade-off, it would be both limiting and extremely contrived. Much simpler to just not have that trade-off perk available in the first place.

 

I can only think of one type of game where this would be a genuine trade-off, and to my knowledge nobody's made that game yet. An extremely resource-scarce one, where weapon maintenance is a big gameplay element. Think Fallout with one-tenth the amount of stuff in it, and weapons costing ten times as much. In that kind of situation, being able to competently use whatever happens to be available is a genuine advantage, and trading that off for specialization would bite.



#19
neo6874

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Nope. They're still munchkiny non-trade-offs, at least in all (or nearly all?) really existing games.

 

You'd have to have significant numbers of mace-immune and sword-immune critters in the game, and make them also immune to alternative attack methods available for both mace and sword specialists, and, in a party-based game, make it so that the sword-specialist couldn't move to a useful support role when encountering sword-immunes. \

 

 

Not entirely sure where you were going with this one ... 

 

Most cRPG games (IMO) kinda break things because they list the weapon as ineffective even if you should be able to damage (i.e. it's bad design).  For example, in BG, you've got someone with a standard shortbow & arrows, fighting some skeletons (say in the 4th level of the Nashkel Mines).  You'll get "Weapon Ineffective" notices even though you SHOULD be able to damage them on a max damage roll.

 

In my (limited) PnP experience, very few creatures are actually "immune" to damage from the "wrong" damage type ... but have DR enough that it's kinda pointless (e.g. skeletons you'd probably want a club for, rather than wasting arrows).


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#20
Lephys

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Nope. They're still munchkiny non-trade-offs, at least in all (or nearly all?) really existing games.


I don't understand why you're arguing a hard "nope" here. They're still munchkiny non-trade-offs... under certain circumstances as you yourself just stated.

I'm also still baffled by the astounding amount of importance placed on the specifics of existing games. As if the most important factor to publishers in making a new game is simply the logical/functional feasibility of design decisions, and not "How can I make people want to by this, irrationally or otherwise?"

For the third (? and final) time, my entire point is that the badness of a design decision is pretty heavily, if not solely, dependent upon the context of the rest of the game's design..

Having a choice between mace effectiveness and sword effectiveness is only bad if the game doesn't make you miss one or the other. It's not just some inherently problematic choice.

And just because a bunch of games repeat crappy design choices doesn't make crappiness the only possibility for those implementation goals.
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