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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 163 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Troll Slayer] Characters and attributes  (Read 1766 times)

Posts: 468

« on: February 09, 2006, 04:26:38 PM »

First off, why attributes?

Troll Slayer will have a combination of attributes and skills. I like this combination because of the differentiation in characters it provides. Attributes as relatively fixed quantities provide long term definition of the character. Skills are more changeable, though Troll Slayer will not be an open skill system (and especially, skills will be focused on combat - you won't find a basket weaving skill in Troll Slayer).

So the tentive attribute list:

Mana Points

Strength and Dexterity both modify combat skills, though differently. Melee attack always uses both. Defense uses Dexterity, but with a parrying weapon, Strength can come into play, however, the amount of Strength that comes into play is limited. Grappling is dominated by Strength. Missile attack is Dexterity only. Strength also allows one to use bigger weapons (more damage). Constitution provides hit points, and limits how much Strength can be improved by magic. Size is derrived from Strength and Constitution (for creature design, it's actually usually done the other way).

Talent is only used by spell casters. Will Power is used both offensively and defensively in spell casting. Mana Points are used to power spells and most magic items.

Alertness is used primarily for determining encounter distance.

The above is all mostly inspired by Cold Iron, but a couple areas I'm not sure I want to go the same old way:

1. Cold Iron allows attributes to be improved with level, though how much they can be increased in the future is determined during chargen (random rolls originally, point buy as I play now). I'm starting the question the benefit of this. Partly, the character is not realized until much later (but can vary wildly from character to character), sometimes effectively never. But I'm also thinking it adds an unecessary complication. If the improvements were not constrained by initial chargen, it would allow for change of focus during play, but unless radical changes are allowed, even that doesn't accomplish much.

2. As I start to re-think the role of spell casters, I wonder if they really need two attributes. Also, Cold Iron requires two rolls for a spell to succeed, a concentration check plus a saving throw. Talent modifies the concentration check, while Willpower modifies the saving throw (the save is actually rolled by the target so the Willpower affects the save DC). Missile spells use a to hit instead of a save (based on Talent).

3. I also wonder how to massage things so you can't build a bad character. Right now, in my Cold Iron game, there are actually three magic stats (one for clerics, one for mages, plus Willpower - the cleric and mage attributes both do the same thing, so really could be a single attribute), so one could create a fighter, and dump all one's points into the magic stats. Even if one is making a caster, one might dump enough points into magic stats as to leave the character too fragile in combat (we have seen this in the past few weeks of play).

I also want to re-think the attribute ranges. Human attributes in Cold Iron (as I currently play) range from 8-24, with 10 giving a +0 modifier, 12 a +1, ... 20 +5, 23 +6 (and then it starts ramping up from there, 26 +7, 30 +8, 35 +9, 41 +10, following a geometric curve). This range means that non-humans who have higher than human maxima don't get all that much (30 is the maximum I use, a whopping +2 better than human max, and rather inefficient). One thought would be to change the geometric curve, but it works well for very large (and thus strong) creatures. Another would be to limit humans to 20, making a 26 being well above human, and not too expensive, and a 30 being really awesome, but expensive.

If I get rid of the attribute improvement, one might think to cut the numbers by half, or just use the modifiers (but that would discard the geometric curve which is nice). The geometric curve would get clunky in the range that PCs actually interract with it if the numbers were cut in half. Another little bit that has a nice effect, hit points equal Con bonus +5 per fighting level, minimum of Con. This gives large creatures lots of hit points at 1st level, but they don't get more for many levels.

Of course I'm starting from scratch, so I shouldn't follow Cold Iron's path blindly. But that geometric curve is something I like. Hmm, the size->strength chart isn't linear (it uses the square cube law to be really technical), so one possibility would be to convert size directly into a strength bonus. And either ignore the fact that strength buffing is suddenly effective for high strength monsters or just cap the strength that can be buffed. In Cold Iron, since strength buffing adds points to strength, it's rarely cost effective for monsters who need a buttload of strength to get a measly +1 to hit, they will almost never see the benefit for defense, though they would likely get some damage bonus also.


Frank Filz
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