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Author Topic: Classes Vs. Reality  (Read 27668 times)
contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #30 on: May 22, 2002, 07:50:11 AM »

random thought: niche protection in sim-oriented RPG's is the "what do we do" bit.  Thats why some games as mentioned ask which class you want to be first thing - they are asking "what do you want to do".  Problem of course is that player may not know yet.
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leomknight
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« Reply #31 on: May 22, 2002, 10:04:57 AM »

Mike,

Interesting questions. First, the problems I mentioned were momentary, "Hey! How'd you get better than me?" instances, not long term sore spots. For example, we had 2 characters, Ben the Bad and Andre the Giant (I know, corny). Both started out on a par skill wise, but Andre was bigger and stronger, thus the more dangerous swordsman. As time wore on, Ben's skill improved to the point that he actually had a 15% edge on Andre (RQ uses % dice). Andre's player got a bit miffed that he was no longer the most dangerous swordsman in all Alentor, but he was still a badass, and still cut quite a swath in combat. The next time I handed out experience, Andre's player did spend some on  sword skill, but also on his already considerable strength. In short, he created his own niche.

Second, I made my decisions based on discussions with my players. They were bored with the same old classes (this was before D&D3 came out), I found a game with more flexibility. They disliked random improvement, we came up with a solution. They also worked as a team. Often, there were negotiations during character improvement, like "Oh, I already have that spell. Why not try this one?" or "Maybe you should take Healing too, just to be safe." They also backed each other up. No one was entirely without magic (in RQ anyone can use it), nor was anyone helpless at combat. They each had their fortes, but they could also pinch hit.
 
You're right on the money that this might not work with other groups. We've been playing together for over twenty years off and on, and early on realized the advantages of working together and ironing out disagreements. Ultimately, in two years of weekly play, it only came up two, maybe three times. In a less congenial group it might have caused resentment.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #32 on: May 22, 2002, 10:55:39 AM »

Niche protection may not be necessary in some games, but as I've said, in many of the games I've played with open ruled character creation, the needs of the campaign would drive player choices in skills to learn.  If there's a lot of combat, you pretty much have to learn a first aid skill, even if you do not see your character learning it.  If its politics, it's be negotiation.  

You could say classes are a rule that work both for limiting players and GMs as well.  Rules are the written contract between all players.

The one other benefit of classes is that many do support a form of game balance, even if it doens't make "realistic" sense.  The classic "I fight all day, but now I can swim better?!?" argument is also a part of the game balance issue.  Using ROS as an example, it doesn't have "classes" perse, but uses skill packages, but you have two choose 2 of them.  By doing so, you are given a lot of skills it makes sense your character would have, but not necessarily the sorts that munchkins would pay for.

Of course, is the major flaw here that the classes are predefined?  Would it be better if you could make your own class?  This is essentially what Over the Edge and Donjon do, and I don't hear complaints about "limitations".  Or is it the idea that your character will be trapped with a limited set of knowledge for their existence?  Again, I don't hear complaints about the two previous games concerning this either.  I doubt many people will play their characters through 5 to 10 years of existance, where major life changes show up, the equivalent of changing classes or alignment.  

Any thoughts?
Chris
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #33 on: May 22, 2002, 11:08:01 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei
Would it be better if you could make your own class?  This is essentially what Over the Edge and Donjon do, and I don't hear complaints about "limitations


I don't think this is true. Class ain't a description of what the character does...it's a description of what the player does -- what his or her role in the game is to be. Everyone has the same role in Donjon (they just have different "color" to explain what it is they're doing). OtE doesn't have roles at all...it's in the "play anything, anywhere, anywhen" vein, just tied to a specific setting (that frankly, allows anything).
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Eric J.
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« Reply #34 on: May 22, 2002, 01:31:19 PM »

You all make valid points, and I can see that my thoughts to justify the niche problem are needed.  I don't think that bidding would work any better than discussion between player and Gamemaster. Anyway, in my system, you don't have to wory about two people making the same type of character because of one simple reason... Specialisation!  My skill system makes each player as individual as possible in many ways. First, is the fact that I turn skills into skill categories. It increases the character generation time by about 30% but also increases their satisfaction.  When two people maximize in the same skill, they can become rivals.  Using different aspects of the skill, they learn to beat eachother.   Example: Computer hackers try to destroy eachothers' systems form two different locations. They both have Program Hacking (or whatever skill category it fits into).  One has 40% more than onother's.  Luckilly 140% (I'll call him X) and Mr. 100% (Y) have different specalizations. One has "Virus Creation" and the other, "Firewall creation".  This could turn into a roll-playable battle instead of the traditional single skill check. There are some obvious flaws that come with this, but I hope that I can get over them.  I guess that I can't comment on the niche problem further because I've never found it.  I'll post my transition of Classes and levels to the inverse at the oppropriate thread.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #35 on: May 25, 2002, 02:10:23 PM »

Quote from: Pyron
First, is the fact that I turn skills into skill categories.

This is vaguely similar to skill cascades in Space: 1889 and skill spheres in Swordbearer.

Quote
 When two people maximize in the same skill, they can become rivals.  Using different aspects of the skill, they learn to beat eachother.   Example: Computer hackers try to destroy eachothers' systems form two different locations. They both have Program Hacking (or whatever skill category it fits into).  One has 40% more than onother's.  Luckilly 140% (I'll call him X) and Mr. 100% (Y) have different specalizations. One has "Virus Creation" and the other, "Firewall creation".  This could turn into a roll-playable battle instead of the traditional single skill check. There are some obvious flaws that come with this, but I hope that I can get over them.  


OK, because I'm sick of always being a negative prick all the time, I'm going to try to stay positive here.

I find the idea of using different aspects of a skill intriguing. The example you gave doesn't really illustrate whatb this can do, though. Could you give a little more detail on this conflict?

As written what we have is two characters, one with 40% in a skill on the other attempting to do each other in, as it were. I don't see the depth you do. If X is the virus maker and Y is the firewall maker, then X's virus will have a 40% chance, all told of overcoming Y's Firewall.

Is there another element, besides dicerolls- I'm assuming even rolling for our purposes, that I'm missing?

What are the obvious flaws? Call me dense but I'm not sure what they are.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2002, 10:13:58 PM »

You're right on that Jared.  OTE doesn't have roles, but by limited a player to pick only three things that can describe your character, it creates a focus.  You know that whatever 3 things you pick have to first be the most important things about the character, and second, be interesting enough for you to keep playing that character for the campaign.  You can't think, "Well, I'll just multiclass later..."

But those 3 that you pick will define your role for the campaign.  It does give you the ability to customize a character to exactly what you want, without be caught in a preconceived notion, but it also limits what your character is going to be about.  In terms of classes or archetypes, or character creation in general, a great deal of color and setting can be conveyed by classes.   Whitewolf and L5R being the most notorious examples.  

By no means am I stuck on classes as a good thing, but they have proven useful in some games, and I'm interested to see exactly what their value is.  I can say as a major fan of Feng Shui, despite several folks taking similar archetypes, each person played a unique individual.  It is very interesting to watch as folks with the same set of skills branch out and become very different, whereas, in most games with skill based definitions the characters tended to become more alike...

Perhaps its that classes provide a base set of skills that assures your character will have some protagonization in the game.   For example, you can choose to pour a buttload of points into a few skills in GURPS, and you will find yourself stuck in many situations.  You can choose to spread them all out, and find yourself the "backup guy" in all of them.  Classes have a way of unifying exactly how much specialization/generalization you need for a game.  I'm sure the same can be said of skill sets, but I haven't seen it done properly yet.

Hmm, thought just crossed my mind, game balance is about protagonization more than a fair game... :P

I suppose the major issue here is 1) making sure your character is good for something(protagonization) while at the same time 2) not restricting players via ridiculous limitations(ask Elric about D&D wizards only using daggers...)

Whadya think?

Chris
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Eric J.
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« Reply #37 on: May 26, 2002, 09:12:48 AM »

You summerised much of what classes do.  The problem I have, is that while classes make you a protagonist, they just don't make any bleamin sense.  How do NPC's fit into classes?  How do you make your character go in a different direction for NPCs?  How could you represent multi-classing in reality anyway? If you ever look at a class system transelate people that weren't based for gaming purposes they are almost always multiclassed.  I can see their use, but their function is most usefull for gamists, which I am not.  If any one brings up D&D as an example of posative class use, prepare for me to make a VERY long hate post against D&D.  I won't go into details now, but I am just warning you people that my hate for D&D goes very deep and has never had a place on the Forge to be fully represented.  I am giving fair warning for this action, so please don't blame me for the consequences.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #38 on: May 26, 2002, 09:56:36 AM »

Quote from: Pyron
You summerised much of what classes do.  The problem I have, is that while classes make you a protagonist, they just don't make any bleamin sense.


They make plenty of bleamin sense if you understand the context in which the classes were created and are meant to be used. To court danger, I will use old basic D&D as my example since it's an example I'm most familiar with.

The game is about monster killing. Plain and simple. Therefore the classes are defined by combat abilities or what is traded off for lower combat abilities.

    [*]Fighters have the highest combat abilities since all the do is fight
    [*]Thieves are second-rate fighters but they gain the sneaky git skills, picking pockets, climb walls, etc. Which supposedly balance out this loss of combat prowess.
    [*]Magic Users have the weakest fighting abilities but they trade that for the "offensive" spells.
    [*]Clerics have the "defensive" spells, healing and such, and the ability to turn undead in exchange for being restricted fighters (no edged weapons)
    [*]Elves are a combination of both fighter and magic user. Not as good as either, but it's both!
    [*]Dwarves gain raical abilities and some nifty underground abilities (find/disarm traps etc) for being second-rate fighters.
    [*]halflings gain wilderness abilities for their restrictions in combat. Handy if you're playing a dungeon-only campaign
    [/list:u]

    Now, some of this stuff has some kind of justification attached to it. i.e. Magic Users can only use a dagger because they've only been able to learn to use a dagger because of the amount of time it takes to learn magic.

    This is just so much hugger-bugger. The real reason is because the magic user exchanged the use of other weapons to be able to cast magic spells. That's the real reason. These justifications don't stand up to too much scrutiny and they weren't meant to (Clerics cannot use edged weapons because of their devotion to their god. Which god?)

    Now, this is all a gamist example. If you're not into gamist play, then fine. I'm sure someone could give an example of a narrativist or simulationist class system. (guys?)

    Classes may not be very realistic, but neither are any RPG mechanics. Let's be honest here. All RPG mechanics take liberties with what they mean to represent. Some more than other, perhaps, and "realistic" is a matter of personal taste and POV.
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    Ron Edwards
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    « Reply #39 on: May 26, 2002, 02:31:54 PM »

    Hi Eric,

    I guess my call is that classes - of the kind we're talking about - are not intended to be "realistic." It might be hard to relate to this, but for a lot of people ... they just don't care. As long as the classes are strategically separate and interdependent (ie you "need" a cleric, a thief, a wizard, a fighter, etc), that's all they want.

    Now I'll be one of the first in line to say that I'm not very happy playing a game that's designed that way - in which the game-designations are primarily strategic. Due to my play-preferences, I prefer my game-designations to make a lot of sense regarding the type of story being created, or to make a lot of sense in the game-world, or both.

    For an example of the first, in an old game design of mine called Fantasy for Real, the classes (or types, as I called them) were Babe, Bad-ass, and Brain. They were only used out-of-character discussion; the characters in the game-world didn't classify themselves this way.

    For an example of the second, in Legends of the Five Rings, there are two simultaneous class systems at work: samurai or shugenja, as well as five or more "clans" to pick from. Once you pick these, you are very strongly locked into a set of definite game options. Both of the category-sets were specifically rooted in the culture and thoughts of the game-world.

    Best,
    Ron
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    Bob McNamee
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    « Reply #40 on: May 26, 2002, 04:54:02 PM »

    A game I liked had an interesting advancing skills thing...Warhammer Fantasy RPG that I played in back 10-12 years ago.

    One thing I liked about Warhammer Fantasy RPG game was that all characters had professions.  These gave you avenues of advancement in stats and skills... and they were your characters in game profession as far a everyone in the world viewed you. You could also change from one profession to another (certain professions had exits to other ... like Beggar into Thief) We had a situation where one PC became indebted to another PC and became his Bodyguard to pay it off... forget what he changed from.

    D&D classes etc make a lot of sense when you consider what the inspiration for the game style came from... very much the Conan, John Carter of Mars styles of Fantasy...especially the combat style (the I fight for an hour through the rabid worshippers of the snake God until I reach the temple altar, leaving the Temple steps piled in bodies, until I take on the Evil Priest just proir to him sacrificing the Virgins)

    Bob
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    Bob McNamee
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    Eric J.
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    « Reply #41 on: May 27, 2002, 09:25:08 AM »

    Professions would be a good example of classes working.  This is because it restricts you at a level that makes sense.  The mechanical portion of it and the in-game representation are parrellel.  That allows for character guidelines and diversity in party.  It also negates much of what classes shouldn't do: Detract or add to or from inherint combat skills.  Your profession should govern skill and combat advancement, but shouldn't decide inherent ability.  This shouldn't be done to the extent that it is in D&D.  How can a mighty fighter have the HP of a rat?  Explain how using a template and nothing else can be fun.  It gives you almost no choices, even in ability scores.   Ever been a DM and found out that your entire party rolled 13s and below on all scores? Then two of them roll a 1 for HP.  Yes, you CAN modify that, but then you get back to the argument that all RPGs are equal and that it's only GM and Player ability.
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    Jack Spencer Jr
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    « Reply #42 on: May 27, 2002, 10:48:15 AM »

    Quote from: Pyron
    Explain how using a template and nothing else can be fun.


    Eric,

    This seems to be the crux of this discussion, at least as far as you're concerned. Fact is, we can't explain this to you because you simply do not see the value in it. If we could, the previous two pages in this thread would have done so.

    All we can do is point out that other people do find fun in this and that's the way it is. Some people enjoy playing without choices, at least the sort of choices we're dealing with here. Some people  enjoy the challenge of rolling all 13's in their sats and 1 for hit points just to see how far they can get.

    Some people also enjoy Dr. Pepper. There is no accounting for taste.

    And that's it. Many of us here can't defend classes because we argee with you because also prefer to not use them. But because we prefer another way of doing things does not mean that classes are completely devoid of merit or that everyone should wake up and stop using them because they won't. They like them.
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    Valamir
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    « Reply #43 on: May 27, 2002, 11:00:30 AM »

    Part of the problem Eric is you seem to be confounding D&D Classes with Classes.  This is basically the sum of your arguement against classes thus far

    I hate D&D
    D&D uses Classes
    Therefor Classes are bad.

    It just doesn't hold water.  ANY rule mechanic can be applied in a way that doesn't work well.  If you feel the way D&D uses the concept of classes doesn't work well, that's all well and good; but it says NOTHING about whether the concept of classes is a legitimate and effective mechanic.

    You need to realize that "classes" DOES NOT EQUAL "what D&D does"

    D&D is ONE means of using the concept of classes to depict character effectiveness.  It is not the ONLY means of doing so.

    MANY other games use classes.  Sometimes their profession based (like Cyberpunk), sometimes their culture based (Like L5R, or Vampire), sometimes their category of power pased (like Brave New World), sometimes their specilization based (like 7th Sea), and sometimes they try to combine a whole bunch of different divisions into one package (like D&D).

    Point is, there are many ways to skin a cat.  You don't like the way D&D does it.  Fine, a lot of people do, a lot of people don't, a lot of people couldn't care less.  What other class based games have you actually played that found the idea of classes didn't work for?
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    Eric J.
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    « Reply #44 on: May 27, 2002, 12:10:38 PM »

    Please. I find it offensive when some one tries to summerize my arguments for me.  The princibles of classes and D&D's use of them are very distinct.   I have made very valid arguing points in the past posts. Please argue against thoes instead of inferences you made about me and my experience.
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