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Seari

A Flawed Design

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Pillars of Eternity is a Role-Playing Game. One would think that role-playing would be important in a game like PoE, and that it's systems would be designed around it. That is however just not the case with the attribute system.

 

This thread will be about the attribute system and it's effectiveness in making a character from a role-playing perspective. It will not be about attribute balance. It is also aimed at PoE's lead designer, Josh Sawyer.

 

 

I'm going to compare Obsidian's Neverwinter Nights 2 attribute system(d&d) to Pillars of Eternity. I'm not saying the former has a perfect system, it does't. It is flawed, but it works for role-playing.

 

First let's take a look at NwN2 attribute system and ask ourselves what every attribute does for our character, purely role-playing.

 

-Strength

 How strong is my character? Physical strength.

-Dexterity

 How agile is my character? Motor skills.

-Constitution

 How tough is my character? Healthiness.

-Intelligence

 How intelligent is my character? Smarts.

-Wisdom

 How wise is my character? Knowledge, common sense, good judgement, perception, enlightenment, faith and religion.

-Charisma

 How charismatic is my character? Attractiveness, force of personality, ability to lead.

 

All of these attributes make sense and it is easy to build and describe a character with them, because they are intuitive. You can tell what each of them does just by looking at them. Wisdom and Charisma are however "flawed", but that doesn't mean that they don't work. Let me explain.

 

Wisdom and Charisma encompass a very wide set of characteristics(for lack of a better word), and a lot of times you have to choose between these characteristics when building a character. Let's say you want to make a wise character but you don't want him to have strong faith. So you pump Wisdom and you just turn a blind eye. Let's say you want to make a fearsome orc character that has a very strong personality. So you pump Charisma and you turn a blind eye, because he's really ugly. You choose between these characteristics.

 

Now let's look PoE's attribute system and do the same.

 

Dexterity, Constitution and Intelligence remain the same. Strength, Wisdom and Charisma are either missing or replaced.

 

-Might

 How mighty is my character? How powerful is my character? Physical strength? The ability to be effective at something? No idea. Apparently it's the strength of a character's soul and physical strength.

-Perception

 How perceptive is my character? Insight? Sherlock Holmes? The ability to perceive something through your senses.

-Resolve

 How determined is my character? Stubbornness? Devotion? Faith? The determination to solve a problem.

 

Perception is just a subtype of Wisdom and a poor replacement for it. Resolve is interesting, because it's kind of missing in d&d, but I guess one could put it under Wisdom, but not really. Perception and Resolve don't work in a 6 attribute system, mainly because charisma is sacrificed to make room. Might could work as a replacement for strength, if it actually effectively replaced it. Currently it's confusing and it doesn't work because it describes a character's physical strength and the strength of a character's soul. Might has the same problem as Wisdom and Charisma do in d&d, but to a much greater extent. Basically you have to turn a blind eye to make a character who is physically weak, but has a strong soul.

 

The current attribute system does not work for role-playing. You can't describe a character with it, and it is unnecessarily confusing and unintuitive. I understand that Obsidian wanted to do a unique attribute system that is different from d&d, but this just doesn't work. It is a flawed design.

Edited by Seari
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The current attribute system does not work for role-playing. You can't describe a character with it, and it is unnecessarily confusing and unintuitive. I understand that Obsidian wanted to do a unique attribute system that is different from d&d, but this just doesn't work. It is a flawed design.

Current attribute system actually really works for role-playing in and outside of combat. Especially outside of combat. What's gimping the system is Perception and Resolve. Hopefully that will change soon :) I have an idea to solve it.

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Yeah tbh getting a bit sick of those Tartyanco, doesn't add anything to the discussion acting like that.

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I like MIG, PER, and RES from a role-playing perspective, tbh. MIG is a teeny bit problematic b/c of the corresponding lack of a physical strength attribute, but not really a huge issue IMO. The problem with PER and RES is entirely from a balance/game mechanics perspective if you ask me. The role-playing is fine. 

 

Thread on how to balance those coming up from Sensuki and I, btw. :)

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There have been plenty of threads on this before the beta. Attrubutes in an RPG are always tricky, especially the role-playing aspect of it. Disredarding if the attributes are fitting for creating a character, I'd much rather see the attributes, regardless of what they are and how they are defined, as important and carrying a lot of weight, systemically, story-wise. Right now in Poe, they are not, that's not worthy of a RPG, IMHO.

 

Back to the attributes themselves. Overall, I have come to accept them, like I've said earlier. They are different from my beloved D&D, but they are actually similar to other fantasy genres. Even the seemlingly weird Might attribute, which now contains magic damage and healing, on top of physical power (cf. The Last Airbender).

Right now, I find Perception to be the most boring of them all. It should be covered by Intelligence and Dexterity, more or less.

 

Resolve, I absolutely love, especially in the context of "enduring pain and punishment", "withstanding ill effects", almost like a will check or something.


*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Yeah Might is a problem, as I've said. Charisma is missing and wisdom is poorly replaced.

 

edit: Yeah I like Resolve as well, it's missing in d&d.

Edited by Seari

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There is nothing to add to this discussion. It's just nonsense. We have something like three thread running on this subject, but people keep expanding its footprint.

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Baldur's Gate portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale 2 portraits for Pillars of Eternity


 


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Yeah Might is a problem, as I've said. Charisma is missing and wisdom is poorly replaced.

 

edit: Yeah I like Resolve as well, it's missing in d&d.

Resolve bundles the willpower aspects of DnD wisdom with charisma while perception is the other half of DnD disdom.


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I've quite grown to like the ability list as well, mechanical problems aside.

 

As to the DnD stats, I never liked Charisma. It's way too one-dimensional.

 

Picture an intimidating person.

 

Now, picture a charming person.

 

Then, picture a persuasive person.

 

Then, a consummate liar.

 

Then, a natural leader -- someone who gains and retains loyalty.

 

At least I get rather fundamentally different types of persons in ecah case. The consummate liar or the charmer would likely not be very intimidating, the intimidating one would probably not be particularly charming, and so on.

 

It never made sense to me that one stat governed all these, and more. I much prefer P:E's approach of breaking these up between different abilities.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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D&D's six attributes are honestly pretty terrible. Dexterity conflates agility and manual dexterity, Wisdom conflates willpower, perception, and wisdom, and no one can really agree on what Charisma is. I think Might is the only weak point in the PoE system. It's just a bit too abstract. With only six attributes, you're always going to have to make compromises.

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Yeah I'm fine with the removal of Charisma. The poster child for "dump stats" since its inception - a "purely non-combat" stat if I ever saw one. Much prefer the more elegant "everything helps in and out of combat" design goal. In a game with heavy focus on both combat and dialogue, the player shouldn't be forced to spend limited resources between the two systems (as an attribute system with clearly "combat-only" or "non-combat only" stats would do)..

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The current attribute system does not work for role-playing. You can't describe a character with it, and it is unnecessarily confusing and unintuitive. I understand that Obsidian wanted to do a unique attribute system that is different from d&d, but this just doesn't work. It is a flawed design.

Current attribute system actually really works for role-playing in and outside of combat. Especially outside of combat. What's gimping the system is Perception and Resolve. Hopefully that will change soon :) I have an idea to solve it.

 

 

After watching your videos over the last couple weeks and thinking about it myself, I think you are correct regarding Perception and Resolve.  I think the current attribute system is an improvement upon D&D though which I never liked because there were truly dump stats that did absolutely nothing for certain classes, ie: Charisma.

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I agree to an extend. Especially Might is an attribute that is so universal it doesn't add anything to the role play.

 

Powerful wizard with a strong soul -> Might

Powerful wizard with a weak soul -> Might

Hard-hitting meathead with lots of strength but weak soul -> Might

Fast and agile rogue with a strong soul but small build -> Might

 

You pretty much can't build a non-mighty character.

 

The other attributes don't really add up roleplay-wise all the time either (low Intellect but high Perception? Weak soul (Might) but great Character Strength (Resolve)? You get the idea...) but I feel Might is the major problem.

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Pillars of Eternity is a Role-Playing Game. One would think that role-playing would be important in a game like PoE, and that it's systems would be designed around it. That is however just not the case with the attribute system.

 

This thread will be about the attribute system and it's effectiveness in making a character from a role-playing perspective. It will not be about attribute balance. It is also aimed at PoE's lead designer, Josh Sawyer.

 

 

I'm going to compare Obsidian's Neverwinter Nights 2 attribute system(d&d) to Pillars of Eternity. I'm not saying the former has a perfect system, it does't. It is flawed, but it works for role-playing.

 

First let's take a look at NwN2 attribute system and ask ourselves what every attribute does for our character, purely role-playing.

 

-Strength

 How strong is my character? Physical strength.

-Dexterity

 How agile is my character? Motor skills.

-Constitution

 How tough is my character? Healthiness.

-Intelligence

 How intelligent is my character? Smarts.

-Wisdom

 How wise is my character? Knowledge, common sense, good judgement, perception, enlightenment, faith and religion.

-Charisma

 How charismatic is my character? Attractiveness, force of personality, ability to lead.

 

All of these attributes make sense and it is easy to build and describe a character with them, because they are intuitive. You can tell what each of them does just by looking at them. Wisdom and Charisma are however "flawed", but that doesn't mean that they don't work. Let me explain.

 

Wisdom and Charisma encompass a very wide set of characteristics(for lack of a better word), and a lot of times you have to choose between these characteristics when building a character. Let's say you want to make a wise character but you don't want him to have strong faith. So you pump Wisdom and you just turn a blind eye. Let's say you want to make a fearsome orc character that has a very strong personality. So you pump Charisma and you turn a blind eye, because he's really ugly. You choose between these characteristics.

 

Now let's look PoE's attribute system and do the same.

 

Dexterity, Constitution and Intelligence remain the same. Strength, Wisdom and Charisma are either missing or replaced.

 

-Might

 How mighty is my character? How powerful is my character? Physical strength? The ability to be effective at something? No idea. Apparently it's the strength of a character's soul and physical strength.

-Perception

 How perceptive is my character? Insight? Sherlock Holmes? The ability to perceive something through your senses.

-Resolve

 How determined is my character? Stubbornness? Devotion? Faith? The determination to solve a problem.

 

Perception is just a subtype of Wisdom and a poor replacement for it. Resolve is interesting, because it's kind of missing in d&d, but I guess one could put it under Wisdom, but not really. Perception and Resolve don't work in a 6 attribute system, mainly because charisma is sacrificed to make room. Might could work as a replacement for strength, if it actually effectively replaced it. Currently it's confusing and it doesn't work because it describes a character's physical strength and the strength of a character's soul. Might has the same problem as Wisdom and Charisma do in d&d, but to a much greater extent. Basically you have to turn a blind eye to make a character who is physically weak, but has a strong soul.

 

The current attribute system does not work for role-playing. You can't describe a character with it, and it is unnecessarily confusing and unintuitive. I understand that Obsidian wanted to do a unique attribute system that is different from d&d, but this just doesn't work. It is a flawed design.

I must agree. I find the "classical" stats better, not because of nostalia but because they define what a character is and is not without the need of an ambiguous discussion of what the attributes even mean or entail. Attributes should give your character character and should make a distinct difference

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 dbz-logo.jpg with guns. Wait a second... that doesn't sound so bad actually. Soul power infused bullets! Soul power infused muscles! Soul power infused everything. This game is basically Baldur's Gate Z :lol:

 

@@Zansatsu

Now all we need is dragon ball like items that increase your attributes. Let's call them soul something. Soul fragments? Forgotten souls? Soul of a hero. :lol:

Edited by Seari
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 dbz-logo.jpg with guns. Wait a second... that doesn't sound so bad actually. Soul power infused bullets! Soul power infused muscles! Soul power infused everything. This game is basically Baldur's Gate Z :lol:

 

@@Zansatsu

Now all we need is dragon ball like items that increase your attributes. Let's call them soul something. Soul fragments? Forgotten souls? Soul of a hero. :lol:

 

Now you've got it!

 

I realize your post was tongue in cheek, but I honestly do think that to some extent, this is exactly how their narrative world works. Not as ridiculous as DBZ, obviously, but a similar idea. The strength of your soul determines how effective you are at hurting and helping.

 

It's unorthodox, to be sure - but it's a perfectly reasonable way to do things in their narrative world. I think a lot of people are just coming in expecting a Forgotten Realms-esque setting, when this really isn't one.

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Yeah tbh getting a bit sick of those Tartyanco, doesn't add anything to the discussion acting like that.

 

The irony is that he always calls other people a troll....I see most of his post as more troll like than anything anyone else posts.

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Now you've got it!

 

I realize your post was tongue in cheek, but I honestly do think that to some extent, this is exactly how their narrative world works. Not as ridiculous as DBZ, obviously, but a similar idea. The strength of your soul determines how effective you are at hurting and helping.

 

It's unorthodox, to be sure - but it's a perfectly reasonable way to do things in their narrative world. I think a lot of people are just coming in expecting a Forgotten Realms-esque setting, when this really isn't one.

 

Yeah I did kind of write it in a sarcastic manner, didn't I? :lol:

 

I actually really do think that "Baldur's Gate Z" is a badass idea and I love it! I just had a revelation about the attributes, and I think they're p. awesome from a role-playing perspective. They still kind of suck designwise and I hope they make them more interesting (no percentages and all those things).

 

Yeah you're right about the d&d expectations, hard to look at something from a different perspective once you're that used to something.

 

Also I was being serious about some kind of soul items that you could find that increase your attributes, exactly like the tomes from Baldur's Gate. Those were really fun to find and they encouraged exploration.

 

edit: First they would have to make attributes more impactul to make these "tomes" worthwhile.

Edited by Seari
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Current attribute system actually really works for role-playing in and outside of combat. Especially outside of combat. What's gimping the system is Perception and Resolve. Hopefully that will change soon :) I have an idea to solve it.

 

Sensuki,

 

When you do your attribute thread, it may help to have game visuals to highlight your points. Or other types of visuals if you can't do screen shots from the game. Percentages can get lost in translation or misunderstood but when you see it in the game world, a lot of people will have context and decide if pumping an attribute like INT is worth it. Dependant on spells of course.

 

To take a post from the Codex you could do something like this. 

 

F236gBU.jpg

 

Of course doing it for all spells is asking too much. But this example highlights to me that even an INT of 3 is still viable for AoE priest spells like Consecrated Ground.

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We have charts & graphs. You can't get any visuals for like how much extra damage Might does because damage is a roll, and Might adds is a percentage based on the type of attack.

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Which is one argument for eliminating the randomness from damage altogether. Make it a flat number, with only Accuracy with miss/graze/hit/crit adjusting damage. It would be a good deal more transparent.


I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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