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Is there value in adding the ability to give yourself handicaps?


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Hello, this is my first post and contribution to Project Eternity.

 

I just watched Josh Sawyer's response to project eternity's attribute system and its pros and cons on youtube (reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMrUo9K9_-s&list=UUormzAJ-LQ2frWbBLcqxIfg). It got me thinking that it would be neat to have the ability to handicap yourself in minor ways, for instance -2 Reflex Defense on a character that otherwise has a good Dexterity score to both intensify the experience and allow more unique concepts into the game, mechanically. These "flaws" could also be present on certain NPCs which could make them more layered.

 

I suppose a caveat to this system would be to lock it until the player has already beaten the game (after all, you shouldn't be handicapping yourself until you really know what you're getting into). I'm just curious if most people think this would be extraneous and ultimately not useful, or if they were flavorful enough, something players would be interested in. I suppose that personally I would enjoy such a system, especially if each "flaw" had at least one payoff at some point in the game (ie- some quest/event/NPC that recognizes your condition within the game).

 

Also, I'd love to hear a developer chime in on whether this type of thing was under consideration or not. Finally, I'd like to point out that something I loved about Baldur's Gate was that each NPC had something unique, rule-breaking mechanically, that was generally not overpowered but just interesting. Layers like this can give a lot of texture to replayability, in my opinion.

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Realistically, most people who want their experiences intensified would prefer the Trial of Iron/Path of the Damned modes than by weakening their character.

 

Traits, that balance a weakness with a strength, are always popular (inevitably some more than others; I'm looking at you, Gifted).

 

If you're talking pure weaknesses, people tend to kick up a fuss about stuff like that even if it's balanced in.

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It makes for a much more interesting story when the character's plot is more centered around a particular weakness, instead of a weakness just being used as a trade-off at character build time. For that reason, weaknesses are probably more useful when implemented as core characteristics in your companions.

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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As long as it's a blatantly optional thing (such as "I'm clearly, voluntarily, spending fewer stat points at creation than I could have") and not simply the player first having to figure out which build options end up being relative handicaps and which ones are pretty much better in every way, then selecting the handicapping ones... I'm all for it.

 

The sheer ability to make a character worse than the status quo, for your own reasons, voluntarily and clearly? Great. The only qualms I have are with the argument that horrible character builds should exist in the game (which can't be known to be horrible until you try them and/or read a bunch of post-release wikis about the game, etc., to see how all the build options play out), and that THEY should serve that purpose, instead of a much-more-straightforward character creation option to cap point gains or something (which is not only more sensible, but also probably easier).

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 you may be correct in that it does not appear that someone will be able to handicap their character. I suppose that is to be expected given that Mr. Sawyer had said long ago that he wanted a system in which it was difficult to make a terrible character (AD&D fighter with 9 STR & 3 CON, etc.). I suppose the closest that players may be able to do this is build (and play) their character in as diametrically opposed manner to their class as they can manage.

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I always love traits that come with a tradeoff, like the background traits in Fallout or Arcanum. Not only does it feel more flavorful than just stacking on the bonuses, it also gives the powergamer in me something to obsess over. :p

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Weaknesses can be fun in party based games. Adds some flavor to your characters and something extra to roleplay with, or simply another variable to the game that might make a simple situation more interesting. If one of your characters is afraid of the dark, traversing underground or in caverns could be an issue, or if someone has a weaker fortitude, you have to keep a more careful eye on him/her. I remember this being implemented fairly well in JA2 and Avernum (Avernum gave you an experience boost for weakness traits, however, and an experience penalty for strength traits, so there is a tradeoff there).

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  • 3 weeks later...

As a DnD player with a character that rolled both 'Brash' and 'Weak Willed' traits and who speaks with a rasp due to an old neck wound (a nightmare to RP), I must say that I would love the inclusion of back stories that tweak stats, or even training that you can recieve as the game progresses, that allows for you to take a hit in some stat or ability to improve another. If these are clever and well written into the game, they could make your character a little more unique and less like the visual representation of an excel spreadsheet.

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I'm of the opinion that allowing one to impose restrictions on oneself is as far as should be gone with that. Allowing people to not spend all of their stat points or take a feat at every level, for instance, is fine; however, I wouldn't want some setting somewhere that says "restrict feats by one" or "have two less possible stat points". I'd be all for curses or improperly treated wounds or such granting penalties such as the proposed -2 Reflex, however. That'd be neat.

 

If I want a more challenging experience, I'll generally do so by assigning myself certain rules for a particular playthrough. I often play Baldur's Gate or  Icewind Dale in that manner, limiting the number of times I can reload or eliminating them entirely, and setting rules about where I can or can't pick up new party members and such (and I typically play without making use of resurrection at all).

 

I dislike flaw systems. I'm not entirely sure why, to be honest, but I've never liked them in any game that has had them. Perhaps it's because I believe that such things should be chosen based purely on character building and roleplaying reasons and not to gain an advantage, and such systems often have the flaw giving an advantage as well.

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I feel handicaps were done well in GURPS. You receive a pool of finite points to distribute as you wish among various skills and abilities. Selecting skills, abilities and positive attributes costs you points while selecting negative attributes, ie handicaps, increased the size of your pool.

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To be honest, I didn't really have the option for handicapping my character in the games I've played till now and I don't think I would really do it if I had the choice. It might be more RPG-y to do it and I don't have anything against having a choice, but I want my hero to be a hero. Of course, you can have a flawed character who can still be a hero inspite/despite those flaws, so it's a very interesting concept as well. Especially if the game recognizes that.

 

So, bottom line, it's really interesting, but I personally can do without =)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not a fan of systems that tie a +ve and -ve effect together but I am a fan of systems that have +ve and -ve separately and you have to finish your character creation neutral.

 

Maybe I should explain with some examples;

I don't particularly like the Fallout 3 system where I have options like

You are lightweight and nimble gaining +1 to agility but -1 to strength.

 

I like the cortex rpg system where I might see something like;

You are lightweight and nimble gaining +2 to agility. (+4)

You have a low pain threshold, you lose one action point if you have taken damage since your last turn. (-2)

You are a kleptomaniac and compulsively steal. (-2)

 

Those aren't genuine examples from their systems but just examples.

 

The cortex system assigns scores to each virtue and flaw so you can balance them appropriately.

 

Also, note that the final example is a roleplayed flaw (though perhaps you could write a rule for a game where you need to pass some sort of willpower test to stop yourself when in a store/house).

 

Essentially I prefer being able to pick my own virtues and flaws rather than having them pre-bundled.

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Tim Cain said he was a min-maxer and I that he didn't mind at all allowing players to play that way. I think this is one of the ways to accommodate that style of play.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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  • 3 weeks later...

I always love traits that come with a tradeoff, like the background traits in Fallout or Arcanum. Not only does it feel more flavorful than just stacking on the bonuses, it also gives the powergamer in me something to obsess over. :p

 

 

Ooooooh yes !! if only they bring those back  :wub:

Matilda is a Natlan woman born and raised in Old Vailia. She managed to earn status as a mercenary for being a professional who gets the job done, more so when the job involves putting her excellent fighting abilities to good use.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Age has yet to be handled well (if at all) in games.  The best example of ageing heroes finding their place in the world was presented for me in Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty.  I strongly recommend anyone capable of human emotion read those books, or watch the series.  

So with respect to a CRPG, I'd like to play a game where my character  has been physically and mentally moulded by their years, and Torment/Arcanum(background) style has interactions with the world based on those experiences.  Similiar to what InXile might be planning for Wasteland 2 - let's say my character has served time, then I meet a notable character that was a prison warden at a notoriously corrupt prison.

 

If my character can eat cake at whim, that'd be great too.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I feel handicaps were done well in GURPS. You receive a pool of finite points to distribute as you wish among various skills and abilities. Selecting skills, abilities and positive attributes costs you points while selecting negative attributes, ie handicaps, increased the size of your pool.

This. Daggerfall had a similar system which allowed you to choose special advantages and disadvantages, and the net effect of these then affected how quickly you'd advance in skills. That being said, I'm definitely one of those people who'll handicap themselves just for the challenge, especially if the game in some way acknowledges the handicap in e.g. how NPCs react to you, as opposed to it just being a stat penalty.

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I feel handicaps were done well in GURPS. You receive a pool of finite points to distribute as you wish among various skills and abilities. Selecting skills, abilities and positive attributes costs you points while selecting negative attributes, ie handicaps, increased the size of your pool.

This. Daggerfall had a similar system which allowed you to choose special advantages and disadvantages, and the net effect of these then affected how quickly you'd advance in skills. That being said, I'm definitely one of those people who'll handicap themselves just for the challenge, especially if the game in some way acknowledges the handicap in e.g. how NPCs react to you, as opposed to it just being a stat penalty.

 

 

Definitely, if i find an rpg i like i tend to really wring out as much of the dialogue and references as i can by choosing character variations over several playthroughs.

Edited by Gyges
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Realistically, most people who want their experiences intensified would prefer the Trial of Iron/Path of the Damned modes than by weakening their character.

 

Traits, that balance a weakness with a strength, are always popular (inevitably some more than others; I'm looking at you, Gifted).

 

If you're talking pure weaknesses, people tend to kick up a fuss about stuff like that even if it's balanced in.

The newly released Transistor does it pretty well.  You don't get "weaknesses" but you get optional mods you can run that simply buff the enemies or give them new powers.  In exchange you gain extra EXP.  I think in general it is best that if you are giving your character an outright weakness it needs to either be a sort of "RP" thing like your character is addicted to chocolate or it has to come with an equally powerful bonus.  Such as you take double damage from fire element attacks but only half damage from ice.

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The problem I've found with weakness of that sort is that while they are supposed to give more roleplaying opportunities, they actually end up being a min-maxers best friend.

"Wizards do not need to be The Dudes Who Can AoE Nuke You and Gish and Take as Many Hits as a Fighter and Make all Skills Irrelevant Because Magic."

-Josh Sawyer

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The problem I've found with weakness of that sort is that while they are supposed to give more roleplaying opportunities, they actually end up being a min-maxers best friend.

 

I don't see that as a problem but an opportunity.

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The problem I've found with weakness of that sort is that while they are supposed to give more roleplaying opportunities, they actually end up being a min-maxers best friend.

 

 

I don't see that as a problem but an opportunity.

The problem as I see it is that because of this they tend to not be balanced well at all. So it's not about interesting trade offs anymore but things you're required to take to have the most mechanically powerful character. And it just seems messed up to me when Flaws become the key to getting the most power out of the system.

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"Wizards do not need to be The Dudes Who Can AoE Nuke You and Gish and Take as Many Hits as a Fighter and Make all Skills Irrelevant Because Magic."

-Josh Sawyer

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I feel handicaps were done well in GURPS. You receive a pool of finite points to distribute as you wish among various skills and abilities. Selecting skills, abilities and positive attributes costs you points while selecting negative attributes, ie handicaps, increased the size of your pool.

 

is this the same thing as giving self a handicap? for example, many fallout traits had a bonus and a handicap. the thing is, the handicaps could frequent be nullified or ignored. sure, gifted gave you a penalty to skill points, which were easily overcome by putting some o' those extra ability points into intelligence. small frame would result in a decreased carrying capacity, but would boost agility by 1... and that additional agility point could actually be spent on any ability.

 

giving self handicaps so as to be getting a "better" character is typical in pnp rpgs, but it always stuck us as a bit silly. 

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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I feel handicaps were done well in GURPS. You receive a pool of finite points to distribute as you wish among various skills and abilities. Selecting skills, abilities and positive attributes costs you points while selecting negative attributes, ie handicaps, increased the size of your pool.

 

is this the same thing as giving self a handicap? for example, many fallout traits had a bonus and a handicap. the thing is, the handicaps could frequent be nullified or ignored. sure, gifted gave you a penalty to skill points, which were easily overcome by putting some o' those extra ability points into intelligence. small frame would result in a decreased carrying capacity, but would boost agility by 1... and that additional agility point could actually be spent on any ability.

 

giving self handicaps so as to be getting a "better" character is typical in pnp rpgs, but it always stuck us as a bit silly. 

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

I'd argue it's still very much a handicap. Gifted gave you penaltly of -10% to all skills, and even if you put all 7 SPECIAL points gained into Intelligence, you were still left wanting for whopping 148 skill points over all 18 skills (for FO1), with the bonus from INT accounted for. +7 INT would give you 14 extra SP per level, with -5 from Gifted, so it wouldn't be until level 17 (21 being the maximum in FO1) that you could've have recouped the penalty to your skills. Of course, you'd get the advantage of the massive INT bonus all the while, but especially in the beginning would be at a serious disadvantage skill-wise. Same with Small Frame: A quick calculation reveals that the only way to nullify the Carry Weight penalty with the one SPECIAL point gained would be to have Strength < 1 / (25/15 - 1) = 1.5, giving after the increase STR of 2, which would be a rather serious disadvantage on its own.

 

The point is, the advantages gained from the traits may trump the disadvantages, but it can't be said the former would automatically nullify the latter. You get a better character in the sense it's more focused on the things you consider more important, but there is still a price to be paid for that.

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what, so we is ignoring inherent bonuses from abilities? naughty. the thing is, only some serious fallout apologists is thinking gifted ain't broken. am recalling josh has mentioned this a few times, so if you really wanna slog through with gifted, give it a shot with him. he is the developer of poe after all, and his opinion is gonna have more relevance to poe.  and small frame... you is joking, right? assume you is building a sniper character, or virtual any character. how important is a decrease in carry weight compared to a stat increase you can functional use on anything? between your pack mules (sorry, companions) and the car and other options, carry weight is a minimal important aspect. is not just str that impacts FUNCTIONAL carry capacity of your party. 

 

fallout guys is the only ones who can't see how woeful unbalanced it is. weird.

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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