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Author Topic: What Do You Think?  (Read 7229 times)
Le Joueur
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« on: February 05, 2002, 09:09:01 PM »

Quote from: Marco
Mike is right--if points are tokens of relevance (not, as you said, particles of character class), then you should simply pay some percentage (out of 100, probably) based on how often you want it to come up.

That's a really clever way to combine Mike's 'first value,' an efficacy measure, with his 'second value,' an priority to the narrative.  You know, if I were creating only a mechanical system, I'd drop whatever I had and go for that.

While we're on the topic, I am really quite curious what people think of the 'fundamental particles of character class' idea; I find it very novel, and I would never have thought of it without the stimulating discussion on the Forge.  Let me take this chance to thank all of you for it.

Quote from: Marco
I may be in the vast minority--but I love points--I love crunchy chargen. There's something almost artistic in working out a character--working within a conception of give and take--and being rewarded for it with a cleverly made (IMO) character.

You are exactly the type of player we created the player-chosen 'challenge limits' for.  In game theory terms, this kind of "Solo Play" can be very satisfying.  I personally enjoy it very much.  In my experience, I have never seen a system that makes a separate issue of "Solo Play."  I like it, so I included it.

Fang Langford
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Marco
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2002, 06:48:05 AM »

Quote from: Le Joueur

While we're on the topic, I am really quite curious what people think of the 'fundamental particles of character class' idea; I find it very novel, and I would never have thought of it without the stimulating discussion on the Forge.  Let me take this chance to thank all of you for it.


I like the idea--it sounds brilliant--and it's fascinating ... but ...

I don't think I understand it. I mean, I know what all the words mean--but classes are discrete bins--and construction systems are partial-spectrums (i.e. the system may not cover *every* concievable character--but all possible characters meet on some grid).

How, functionally is a scattershot point different from a GURPS point? I see a philosophical difference--but Thief ranges from highwayman (strength based fighter) to cat-burgular (dexterity based AD&D thief) to con-artist (Intelelct and personality based).

In the GURPS/Hero/Whatever sense of the word, class is sort of profession/intent--if Scattershot's points bought "Thieving opportunities" for the character, I'd agree with you.  They don't--that's up to the GM to provide.

You can argue they do (under techniques)--but then so do GURPS's points--if I make a Thief in GURPS and the GM doesn't let me steal things, I may have a vaild complaint. Also if the GM runs a kidnapped-by-aliens game where there's nothing to steal, the Scattershot point-mechanics (as described) don't seem to let me narratively create a thieving opportunity. Again, if they did that, I might agree that they were character-class.

It may be the fact that you use fewer points in Scattershot than in GURPS--making it easier for the GM to figure out your intent--but (as noted) Difficult skills cost more--they do more--but they aren't necessiarly more important to character concept--so again, I'm not sure I see it.

Quote

You are exactly the type of player we created the player-chosen 'challenge limits' for.  In game theory terms, this kind of "Solo Play" can be very satisfying.  I personally enjoy it very much.  In my experience, I have never seen a system that makes a separate issue of "Solo Play."  I like it, so I included it.

Fang Langford


Well, the "character challenge" isn't what I like *most* about playing--but it is something I enjoy (just as I enjoy tactical combat so long as it isn't to the detriment of the story). I'm not sure why you're calling it Solo Play, though.

-Marco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2002, 08:34:48 AM »

Fang,

I add a little "Me too!" to every one of Marco's questions. He phrased precisely what I was struggling to ask, regarding your last post.

Best,
Ron
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2002, 08:54:25 AM »

Quote from: Marco
Quote from: Le Joueur
While we're on the topic, I am really quite curious what people think of the 'fundamental particles of character class' idea; I find it very novel, and I would never have thought of it without the stimulating discussion on the Forge.  Let me take this chance to thank all of you for it.

I like the idea -- it sounds brilliant -- and it's fascinating...but....

I don't think I understand it. I mean, I know what all the words mean -- but classes are discrete bins -- and construction systems are partial-spectrums (i.e. the system may not cover *every* conceivable character -- but all possible characters meet on some grid).

[I moved your question down a bit.] I see a philosophical difference -- but Thief ranges from highwayman (strength based fighter) to cat burglar (dexterity based AD&D thief) to con artist (Intellect and personality based).

Right, you've almost got it.  Back in the day...AD&D had, what 8, 'bins' (Fighter, Cleric, Druid, Magic-User, Illusionist, Thief, Assassin, and Monk)?  Your examples (Highwayman, Burglar, and Conman) describe more discrete classes.  Doing something like that with 'house rules' would create something like 25-40 character classes as each breaks down into smaller and smaller units.  If you keep this up, it gets to the point of just selecting abilities that have no attachment to 'class' ideals any longer; that's what point systems are good at.  They even go farther allowing you to customize proficiencies to different levels.

And that's all fine and good.  For a point-based system.

One of the strengths of class-based systems is a kind of implicit niche protection.  Your character gets to shine at (in your examples) thieving jobs.  Other characters do well in other situations and the gamemaster has some idea what they need to facilitate to give everyone 'their time in the sun.'  This becomes decidedly difficult in point-based systems; I think that's why there are those informal 'classes' in Champions (Brick, Spy, Esper, Gadgeteer, and et cetera).  It's a way to deal with those issues.

Scattershot attempts to split the difference; on the technique side is the Sine Qua Non.  The extra stress placed on certain aspects of the character are usually built around a player-defined 'niche.'  Going into the game with these explicit 'niches' helps both the gamemaster and the players handle things 'the old fashioned way' without formalizing (read that forcing) exact classes.

Quote from: Marco
How, functionally is a Scattershot point different from a GURPS point?

On the mechanical side, Scattershot's points are 'too big' to become the 'sand' that GURPS builds its 'castles' out of.  Yet Scattershot's 'fundamental particles of character class' are much smaller than AD&D’s 'shipping crates.'  (Contents: one 'castle,' no assembly required.)  In the last edition I got, GURPS did not have any mechanics that worked to protect niches (or even instructions on how that might be useful).  Likewise, the first edition of AD&D (I never got any others) had precious little material allowing you to 'customize' your character.  (What I have heard about the proficiency system may be filling that void; I haven't had a chance to read it.)

While one might compare Scattershot's points to the 'wooden blocks' of character creation, I hope that the Sine Qua Non technique will be able to turn them into the 'lego bricks' of this part of play.  The lego bricks are bigger and not as multifunctional as grains of sand, but they create a clearer appearance of what you want more quickly and tend to be a bit more durable over the long run.  That's what we're looking for in Scattershot's design, metaphorically.

Quote from: Marco
In the GURPS/Hero/Whatever sense of the word, class is sort of profession/intent; if Scattershot's points bought "Thieving opportunities" for the character, I'd agree with you.  They don't; that's up to the GM to provide.

Again, I have to apologize for not getting any of Scattershot's techniques up yet; bear with me.  Scattershot's points are meant as a passive request for "thieving opportunities," the Sine Qua Non is supposed to shout it loud and clear (and the points therefore must back that up).  We could have gone for a character class mechanic with extensive features for customizing them, but we never could get past the prejudice that placed on certain types of characters (a prejudice we opted to avoid for our Generalist system).  We could have gone for a straight out point-based system, but then we'd have needed to add yet another system for niche protection (a style of design I never managed to make work).  We wound up with what you see (well the lesser half, some techniques are coming soon, I promise) here.

Quote from: Marco
You can argue they do (under techniques) -- but then so do GURPS' points -- if I make a Thief in GURPS and the GM doesn't let me steal things, I may have a valid complaint. Also if the GM runs a kidnapped-by-aliens game where there's nothing to steal, the Scattershot point-mechanics (as described) don't seem to let me narratively create a thieving opportunity. Again, if they did that, I might agree that they were character-class.

Unless you go beyond GURPS’ printed materials, there is no way for the gamemaster to inherently know that your character is a thief.  It could be obvious by design and deduction, but there is nothing in GURPS about recognizing and catering to that (last time I checked).

It's still a valid complaint, but not one GURPS is designed to handle.  Part of the reason I continually go on about 'shared gaming' is because I am preparing techniques specifically along those lines.  According to the basics of the 'game creation' techniques, a gamemaster will not simply "run a kidnapped-by-aliens game" without knowing full well what you want to do with your character.  Likewise, you will not create "a thief" not having any idea of what game will be run with them.  Under the shared 'game creation' idea, you bring your thief-inclination to the game and the gamemaster offers his alien-kidnapping-inclination, the game that gets created will either have to suit both or some kind of happy compromise.  (And no, we aren't having a lot of luck putting the actual practice into words.)  Does that make sense?

By points alone, this would not work (at least not with what I have up for Scattershot so far).  I am inclined to believe that mechanizing the rest of it will place too many prejudices on what I'd hope was a fairly creative endeavor.  That's where the techniques will come in.  The way we look at it, the mechanics and the character sheet (there more on it than just the mechanics, like the Sine Qua Non) are a contract between the player and the rest of the group (not just the gamemaster).  They must work together to fulfill the 'thieving opportunities' requested by you, while you are expected to provide the activities suggested by it.  (A thief who never tries to steal, especially when the narrative needs it, is not really a thief, is he?)

Quote from: Marco
It may be the fact that you use fewer points in Scattershot than in GURPS, making it easier for the GM to figure out your intent, but (as noted) Difficult skills cost more -- they do more -- but they aren't necessarily more important to character concept; so again, I'm not sure I see it.

Yeah, that is a bit of a grey area.  Our hope is that one won't take a more effective skill unless they are inclined to use it.  One thing not visible, for the lack of the laundry lists to look at, is that most abilities actually offer a number of skill possibilities.  If you want a Difficult skill, but it isn’t central to the character design, you might need to pick something much like it with reduced Opportunity (the chances of using it are not as frequent).  For example, Locksmith is less likely to be used, but no less effective at opening locks as Lock Picking, so it's cheaper.  (Lock Picking is for doing so under difficult conditions like in the dark, silently, or without leaving a trace.)

Also, one disadvantage we have in our lists is 'hidden past,' with it you can reduce the costs of a group of abilities that you are, in play, inclined to avoid revealing.  Take, well...me for example; I know quite well how to drive a forklift (summer job of long ago), but because I value intelligence and want to be an executive assistant (yes, I really do, and so far I’m doing great: Assistant to Regional Vice President of a National and Office Manager), I never, ever, put this skill on job applications (I have issues with my blue collar upbringing).  So while I have the skill at a high level, I get point(s) back because I will go out of my way to avoid using it.

All this ties into and is explored by the Sine Qua Non Character creation technique.  (I hope, there are so many things to remember to include; thanks much for reminding me.)

Quote from: Marco
Quote from: Le Joueur
You are exactly the type of player we created the player-chosen 'challenge limits' for.  In game theory terms, this kind of "Solo Play" can be very satisfying.  I personally enjoy it very much.  In my experience, I have never seen a system that makes a separate issue of "Solo Play."  I like it, so I included it.

Well, the "character challenge" isn't what I like *most* about playing -- but it is something I enjoy (just as I enjoy tactical combat so long as it isn't to the detriment of the story). I'm not sure why you're calling it Solo Play, though.

You don't have to enjoy it "most" for us to want to include it, do you?  We also offer fairly mechanical tactical combat (if you mean melee) and techniques to know how not to have it bring down the 'story.'  That's two for two, right?

I call it Solo Play (see here), because most people don't make character point allocation a committee effort.  I fondly remember many nights alone, crunching numbers for Champions’ characters.  But do any games I have read mention this as solitary play?  No.

Fang Langford
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Marco
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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2002, 09:15:06 AM »

When we addressed the same concerns you have (and I had a lot of the same concerns) our solution was to come up with archetypes for a given genre--and to make a price-list of special abilities (maybe we're some of those people who need those laundry lists?) based on those archetypes.

Thus if you're playing a thief you can buy things off the thief list (which will let the GM know you're a theif). If you've just got a character with a larcenous heart you can take defects (or get points for a character write-up) that specifies that. Beyond that, there are ways to indicate your character is, say better than average at, say, Lock Picking (skills in JAGS have 4 levels and a roll--they're related in ways--but distinct as well).

Combined, a GM should get a very clear idea of what the character is like.

The Archetype abilities come from a limited pool of points--the "normal character stuff" comes from a general pool of points (there's no movement between them).

Thus, the Archetype-Points are "bricks" and the regular points are sand or maybe "mortar" in your description. Note: there are no strong restrictions on Archetype abilities--if you get the GM's permission you can make a Knighted Theif and buy from both--it'd be strange--but it shouldn't break things. Also: Archetype points can buy some generic things (including meta-game enhancements like "second chance" or "dodge bullet" where the character narrates his way out of a situation--not strongly narrativist at all--JAGS isn't really--but there are some meta-game mechanics in there).

I don't know if there's anything there you're interested in--but that was our take on the same deal.

-Marco
(also of note: in JAGS the more you hit by the more damage you tend to do--and the more agile you are the less damage you tend to take--especially for supers characters).
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2002, 02:30:59 PM »

Quote from: Marco
When we addressed the same concerns you have (and I had a lot of the same concerns) our solution was to come up with archetypes for a given genre--and to make a price-list of special abilities (maybe we're some of those people who need those laundry lists?) based on those archetypes.

For this we provide Exemplars (not as important to 'nail it' with the descriptions, as with archetypes); for variety, each Exemplar includes a number of schedules from which to choose exemplary skills from (that work just like a spell list from that mechanic).  These appear in 'the first time through' of the character creation stuff.  One of the approaches listed in 'the second time through' is taking an Examplar and 'changing things'

Quote from: Marco
Combined, a GM should get a very clear idea of what the character is like.

That should work quite well.  Is there any provision for people who want their own 'archetype?'

Just straying a few thoughts,
Fang Langford
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Marco
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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2002, 06:05:51 PM »

You can create your own archetypes in the sense that the player or the GM can group special abilities as they wish. Since the GM usually controlls the point totals it's somewhat abuse proof (if you play with 24 Weird Stuff points you're going to get some pretty powerful and bizarre characters--oif you play with 4 or 8 it's usually controllable).

1. For making your own special abilities: the costs for weird stuff (generic name for archetype points--in Fantasy it's Fantasy Point Pool) go 1,2,4,8,16... etc.) I think one costs 12 ... but as you can see it's ok, decent, good, quite good, really good, fantastic, extreme, etc.--the Dragon character class in Fantasy is, I think 24pts (with flight, weapons, armor, flame blast, magic use ability, etc.)

2. Archetype groupings imply limits sometimes (in our C-13 universe Colonial Bureau of Investigation agents get things like brief-case gatling guns--things not available to, say Rebuilt-half golems: but that's just flavor--it's quite possible to mix and match).

3. We have a file on Supers Archetypes where you can buy things like social contracts that prevent weaker unarmored characters from getting bulldozed--it isn't finished--it's quite hard to get right. In this case we don't break up by Speedster, Brick, Esper, whatever--we would differentiate by social contract and conventions regarding the character (meta-game stuff).

4. We considered balance to be one of the most important facets of JAGS--a point where I guess it differs radically from Scattershot (and where I'd guess we lose most of The Forge's interest). Still, we wanted to (orignally) make a munchkin-proof game. It proved difficult--but we had some interesting ideas along the way.

-Marco

[Btw: we looked hard at blow-through problems. If your interested in what our solutions are, I can talk about the philosophical decisions we made for JAGS combat.]
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Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
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