*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
April 20, 2014, 12:56:50 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 55 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Numbers on the character sheet  (Read 1973 times)
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« on: April 20, 2002, 12:24:43 AM »

This may belong in Game Design, but maybe it belongs in both.
Quote
Ron Edwards wrote in another thread:
Andrew wrote,
"I dislike character sheets with numbers on them, I'd prefer to have a character sheet that has a written description and history on it, and players should be able to use that description as game system "values" with the help of game system guidelines/rules. Should there be a special name for this? Is there a special name for this? Am I just confused? Any suggestions?"

H'm. Let me break the options down further.

1) Classical situation: numbers on the character sheet, numbers used by player and GM during play for resolutions, etc. Examples: a bezillion.

2) "Hybrid" situation: no numbers on the character sheet, just descriptors, but numbers do exist in the game and are used by the GM alone during play for resolutions, etc. Example: Fudge, Castle Falkenstein.

3) Kozmik situation: no numbers on the character sheet or anywhere else, other means employed by GM and player during play for resolutions, etc. Example: Puppetland.

Andrew, are you speaking only of #3 (which is a big-deal game design thing) or of #2 (which is more of a GM/player distinction and handling-management thing)?

From your perspective, is #2 a version of #1, or is it a version of #3? Or are they three distinct things?


Here's my take on this at the moment.  First of all, no RPG session will use absolutely no numbers.  That's like saying you're not going to breathe air with nitrogen in it anymore.

So the real question is what kind of numbers are you trying to get away from? What do they mean or represent? And what can you put in its place?

I was going to answer these questions but it may prove more interesting to let the Forge members at this instead.
Logged
Lance D. Allen
Member

Posts: 1962


WWW
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2002, 02:08:22 AM »

Quote from: Jack
Here's my take on this at the moment. First of all, no RPG session will use absolutely no numbers. That's like saying you're not going to breathe air with nitrogen in it anymore.


Sorry, gonna have to disagree with you here. It's no less an RPG because it doesn't use numbers. A roleplaying game is loosely defined as any activity where playing of a role is central, and there is a specific system in place for resolving conflicts and tasks. This system may be as simple as the DM simply deciding the outcome, based on their perceptions of the situation, or it may require dice.

In answer to your question, I can't really say. I'd think that your GNS standpoint would factor heavily into it, but it wouldn't be the only defining factor.

Personally, any numbers which attempt to quantify a character in general terms I dislike. The numbers, being specific, ought to describe specific things. Attributes, Skills, HP, MP, all of that is fine in my book. What I dislike is levels, which attempt to make your character more generic. You tell me that you've got a 3rd level paladin, and I have an idea of what your character is like (unless, like me, you try to stretch the boundaries) and their general power level.
Logged

~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Fabrice G.
Member

Posts: 206


« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2002, 09:36:32 AM »

Hi

Jake wrote:
...So the real question is what kind of numbers are you trying to get away from? ...

I particularly hate skill lists, when you have to fill X collumn with dozen's of them.

Well, when I think of it...I also dislike attributes lists !!!
I think that a few are all right, but I dislike having ten to a dozen attributes. Why do I dislike them ? Because they represent an obstacle between me and good roleplay.

I quite prefer generic (?) attributes ala Over the edge or The Pool. IMO, it's bring more freedom in character creation and during play. With few descriptors you're able to get a picture of your character (and that perfectly fit my playing and GMing style).

Well, just my two cents.( but hey, you asked ;)

Fabrice.
Logged
Andrew Martin
Member

Posts: 785


« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2002, 01:16:02 PM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
Here's my take on this at the moment.  First of all, no RPG session will use absolutely no numbers.


I disagree in the case of game system numbers. Take, for example, Fudge. Here's a fragment of character description of a recent character of mine using magic Fudge trait level names:
Quote

In Rhianon’s travels with Tancred, she became Greatly skilled in Perception and Knife Throwing, and is Good with a Dagger and at Running, to detect, disrupt and evade ambushers sent by her family. She’s also Fair at Cooking and First Aid, Mediocre at Riding and Climbing – all learned while travelling, and is Poor at Literacy and Medicine, taught to her by Tancred. Rhianon’s family and the powerful Noble are still Great Enemies because of her refusal to come to her senses in their words. They occasionally send out adventurers, mercenaries and other creatures to capture her and kill Tancred.


Here's the Fudge trait level scale, I use most often:
Legendary
Superb
Great
Good
Fair
Mediocre
Poor
Terrible
Abysmal

And take for example a combat situation like throwing a knife at a bandit, Rhianon's player rolls 4DF (four fudge dice with "+", "-" and blank faces), and gets "+", "+", "-" & " ". Rhianon's knife throwing is Great, first "+" moves to Superb, next "+" to Legendary, then "-" back to Superb, then the blank is ignored. At this time, Rhianon made a Superb knife throw at the bandit, who has to equal that with a dodge roll, or be hurt by the dagger.

Standard Fudge rules use numbers for combat results like damage, but it is possible to replace those with a non-numerical alternative that uses Fudge trait levels for damage and armour levels. This is described on my site, in my S rules.

Now the bandit is hurt and Rhianon has 1 less throwing knife. The "-1" throwing knife is OK with the players and characters because that's a game world number; Rhianon knows how many throwing knives she's got.

Number line manipulation can be short cut by using numbers and addition/subtraction like:

Rhianon's Character sheet:
Knife throwing: +2 (number scale equivalent to Great).

Player's roll of 4DF: +1 (++ - blank)

Player's total: +3 (Superb)

Usually, my players translate Fudge scale levels to numbers, convert 4DF to numbers, then add/subtract as appropriate, then call the number as the example above.

I'd like to remove the magic words of Fudge and Castle Falkenstein, and instead use character description and history to work out game system values on the fly as it were.
Logged

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
Member

Posts: 785


« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2002, 01:34:36 PM »

There's my example here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1799, where I take a character's history and description, and convert descriptors from these on the fly to game system "values". I think it should be possible to use ordinary character description and history, use a definite system of interpreting the descriptors, so getting reasonably appropriate game system information.
Logged

Andrew Martin
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2002, 07:23:58 PM »

I disagree with the FUDGE example, because as pointed out before, FUDGE just hides the numbers with a code. Note, you still do math with them. But Andrew is right in general terms, you don't need numbers per se. You just need hard rules. I can't think of an example (though likely one exists; I remebr some diceless system...) so here's MikesCrappyExampleRPG (MCERPG):

Chargen: You get to list five things that your character always succeeds at.

Resolution: if you attempt soething, and the GM decides that it falls under one of your Things, you succeed. If it does not, flip a coin and on heads you succeed. If you attempt something and do not succeed, you die a horrible death due to brain hemmorhage.

There, complete generic RPG with no numbers in chargen (and only one boolean in resolution).

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Tim Denee
Member

Posts: 154


« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2002, 08:02:01 PM »

Um, puppetland? It's right there in Ron's original post as an example!
Logged
Andrew Martin
Member

Posts: 785


« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2002, 08:51:04 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I disagree with the FUDGE example, because as pointed out before, FUDGE just hides the numbers with a code. Note, you still do math with them.


Just to clear things up a little, it's possible to regard Fudge's Super - Fair - Terrible scale names as magic words or words that hide numbers as Mike Holmes states. That's usually because people have forgotten how they first learned to use a number line then learned the rules for addition and subtraction. They then use the shortcuts of addition/subtraction exclusively, particularly when they come across a new to them game system like Fudge. I've watched my players ask for the numerical equivalent, then use those exlusively as they were trained that way by previous game systems. It is possible to not write the numbers, just place one's finger on the Fudge scale as the trait's level, then shift up and down according to the faces of the 4DF, then announce the final result as a Superb knife throw.

> You just need hard rules.

Yes, that's right. Rules that become/are so obvious that players will think, "duh?! Why is he bothering to write/tell us this?! It's sooo obvious." Magic.

Here's some hard rules that avoid hard game system numbers.

Just describe your character in writing, with a brief history and current description. Make sure that the other players can understand it and that the character is compatible with the other players. Note it's not necessary that the character be compatible with the other characters! Characters can instead be NPCs, tools, vehicles, locations or scenes.

When your character's actions conflict with another character, compare your character's appropriate descriptors with the opponent's appropriate descriptor. The character with the highest descriptor allows their player to decide what happens. If the appropriate descriptors are roughly equal in power, flip a coin to decide the winner. If the odds are more to one side than the other, use this (special procedure). Numerous foes add more descriptors to that side. If one side's descriptor totally overwhelms the other side, that side wins. If one side has no appropriate descriptors, the other side wins. Note that Characters can instead be NPCs, tools, vehicles, locations or scenes.

As the winning player describes what happens, this could involve more conflicts which are then decided appropriately as above, comparing appropriate descriptors and determining a winner who gets to describe what happens next. This can produce a nested stack of description like russian dolls. Players must "return" the description before proceeding onto the next event.

For example, two modern day gang members, Igor and Strad, are playing/fighting a duel with Russian Roulette .38 revolvers in the street at night. They've spun the cylinders of the revolvers, agreed to walk 10 paces, turn and fire. Igor's player states, "After 9 paces, I spin around and fire my revolver at Strad, because I'm a sneaky rat." Strad's player states, "my girlfriend, Irina, notices and warns me, calling my name, and I hear Igor's quick movement." Igor's player, states "I'm too quick for Irina and Strad to react in time. Players (use procedure) and determine that Igor was too quick for Irina and Strad to react in time and so gets to fire at Strad while he can't move.

Play now proceeds to the checking for a bullet in Igor's revolver, with players deciding that "1" on rolled D6 means that the bullet is in the right position to be fired (Russian Roulette). D6 is rolled, Igor's lucky, and "1" comes up. So proceed to firing the shot.

Igor's got no special skill with revolvers, but then Strad isn't dodging at the moment, so players decide it's probably 50/50. Igor's player again gets lucky, and hits Strad, so Igor's player narrates that Strad falls over with a bullet in his back, then Strad's player interrupts, "I stagger forwards with the impact, then turn to face Igor, raising my pistol." Strad's player taps the character equipment description revealing a concealed bullet proof vest under his jacket.

Igor's player disputes this saying, "there's a chance the bullet could have got through." The players agree that as this game (drunk russian gangsters) is a gritty setting, it's reasonable that the bullet could have gotten through. So players assume there's a 1% chance of getting through a bullet proof vest and roll D100, getting 95% and so no difference.

Strad's player recaps, "I turn to face Igor, and raise my pistol, speaking in Russian like the original Dirty Harry, 'are you feeling lucky?', and slowly pull the trigger." Igor's player says, "I dive and scramble for cover behind the dumpster at the side." Strad's player says, "coward!", I release pressure on the trigger and spin the cylinder around loudly, calling out, "hey! What about now? Feeling lucky?", while moving around to beside Irina, and keeping Igor's location in my view.
Logged

Andrew Martin
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2002, 04:59:54 AM »

Quote from: Wolfen
Quote from: Jack
Here's my take on this at the moment. First of all, no RPG session will use absolutely no numbers. That's like saying you're not going to breathe air with nitrogen in it anymore.


Sorry, gonna have to disagree with you here...

Slight miscommunication on my part here. By no RPG will never have no numbers I mean that numbers are such a basic tool to human endevor that they'll be there somewhere, whether it's real life stats (can bench 180 lbs.) or more mundane crap like page numbers or number of players. A completely numberless system will make use of numbers in some way.  Numbers are just a part of life and to try to completely cut numbers out of an RPG is like writing a novel without using the letter "E," Insanely dificult and ultimately pointless.
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!