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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 58 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Creating a Very Minimal System (and running into trouble)  (Read 1824 times)
mjbauer
Member

Posts: 115


« on: January 23, 2009, 11:21:38 PM »

I decided to stop lurking and actually post something. It's a simple question but it takes a while to set up, so bear with me.

I'm trying to create a d6 system that is intended to be as simple as possible without leaving anything out. I'm aiming for a "rules light" not a "rules lacking" system.

The goals are:
- To keep gameplay fun and fast
- Minimize book-keeping
- Keep rules intuitive so there is no need to refer to tables or charts

In trying to keep character stats to only what is absolutely necessary, I came up with a system that uses primarily one stat for abilities, hit points, initiative, actions, and experience.

Here's how it works: a character has three attributes - Strength, Agility and Intelligence, which will be between 2-6 points. It's the total of these attributes that make up a single number called a character's Resource Score. It represents all a persons abilities both mental and physical.

For example: a character with Str - 5, Agi - 4, and Int - 4 has a Resource Score of 13.

This Resource Score is available each round for a character to use on actions. The character can choose to spend these points (each of which also represent 1d6) on any action they want to perform (with some limitations). The Resource Score was created for simplicity and also to represent the way that multiple attributes are needed to perform most tasks. It also allows for a strength in one area to compensate for a weakness in another.

For example: if a person wants to lift something heavy but they aren't very strong they can compensate if they are coordinated and balanced and smart about how they lift.

A character can choose to spend all of their Resource points on one action (to focus on a single task) or they can split the dice into two or three rolls to make multiple quick actions that are less likely to be successful. If a character is injured it reduces their Resource Score (like hit points) and consequently their ability to do things.

So, here is my question: Does it make any sense to add a social mechanic (ie: Charisma) to the Resource Score?

I think that as it stands it takes a bit of imagination to believe in this system, and I don't want to make it so abstract that it doesn't even make sense. On the other hand I think that my system is lacking the social aspect of gameplay. Originally all social things were placed under Intelligence, but that really doesn't make sense. Being more intelligent doesn't equal being more charismatic. But as my system stands a character can have a low Charisma score but still devote all of their Resources (dice) to try to persuade someone or deceive them (an act which would normally be handled by Charisma). 

I tried to see how it could make sense by writing out how Charisma could be used to compensate for other attributes and how the other attributes could be used in place of Charisma this is what I came up with:

For Agility, Charisma could compensate in the form of determination
For Strength, Charisma could compensate in the form of poise
For Intelligence, Charisma could compensate in the form of wit or cunning

And if a character was lacking Charisma:

Strength could be interpreted as presence, Agility could be interpreted as grace and Intelligence could be interpreted as manipulation.

I think that's a real stretch.

Any opinions? On the issue at hand or the system in general? Thanks for reading.
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mjbauer = Micah J Bauer
Krippler
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2009, 01:33:44 PM »

Depending on how you define intelligence I think you should use it in social most situations. Not all intelligent people are math savvy but shy and an intelligent person certainly have the upper hand over a dumb person in most social situations if none of them have a social skill value.
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Krippler
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2009, 01:35:28 PM »

Or just add a Charisma stat. Are you planning to use it for a type of games where social interaction is gimped compared to lifting heavy stuff and beating the shit out of stuff?
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mjbauer
Member

Posts: 115


« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2009, 03:00:28 PM »

Or just add a Charisma stat. Are you planning to use it for a type of games where social interaction is gimped compared to lifting heavy stuff and beating the shit out of stuff?

There is definitely an emphasis on combat over social interaction. So it's not vital, it just gives the game a little more dimension. Even in a combat heavy game there will be a need, at times, for negotiation, deception, intimidation and taunting.
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mjbauer = Micah J Bauer
Dementia Games
Member

Posts: 29


« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 12:31:28 PM »

Being that circumstances will be much less common for social interaction that would necessitate a Charisma attribute, you could probably leave it as an attribute but not include it in Resources, making it stand alone when called for.
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dindenver
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Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2009, 01:10:02 PM »

Bauer,
  I think your only holdup is the naming scheme.
  Its seems like you have your mechanics balanced for three stats, why not name them:
Will
Wits
Wisdom
  Or something like that. The idea being is to name the stats in such a way that they are multi-purpose. Wits can be mental dexterity or physical dexterity, right? Will can be physical will power or mental/social presence. Wisdom can take on a mental or social connotation as well.

  Its just a suggestion. But, the idea is, instead of tacking on another stat, chang ethe stats you have so they cover your activities.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
Castlin
Member

Posts: 31


« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 04:40:52 PM »

Originally all social things were placed under Intelligence, but that really doesn't make sense. Being more intelligent doesn't equal being more charismatic.
Well, neither does being stronger make you more intelligent, but if you want to stay with 3 stats, you're going to be looking at a lot of leniency anyway.

How do the 3 stats play into the game independently? Does it matter that there's no social score since, as far as I can see, there's really only 1 score for everything anyway?
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Adam Dray
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Posts: 676


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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2009, 09:43:14 AM »

Here's my feeling. You're copying some other game without really thinking about what you're doing, and just cutting out pieces you think are superfluous.

Now that I've been a total dick (sorry), I'm gonna back away from what I said with some important caveats:

* Every designer copies other game ideas. It's what we do. We copy and add our own ideas.
* Every good designer cuts out what is superfluous.
* You're not doing anything wrong.

Okay, if you haven't dismissed me as a rude crank and haven't stopped reading, here are some things to consider. I did get your attention, though, right?

Your goals for play are good, but incomplete. Here are some questions to answer. How do you apportion credibility/authority with your rules? How do you get players to buy into your game? What's the payoff for playing? How do you reward players (a slightly different question)?

Quote
In trying to keep character stats to only what is absolutely necessary, I came up with a system that uses primarily one stat for abilities, hit points, initiative, actions, and experience.

There are some extremely playable games that are simpler in terms of stats.

Look at Annalise, a dark and moody vampire game, for example. It has Vulnerability and Secret (stats rated 0-10), a handful of freeform (named by the player) satellite traits off each of those, Resources (a pool of points), and Claims (words or phrases you write down during play). That's it. All of them have coins on them (a single currency).

Look at Primetime Adventures. You have a couple Edges, a couple Connections, a Nemesis, a Personal Set, an Issue. That's about it.

Look at My Life with Master. A character has two main scored traits, Self-Loathing and Weariness, and a secondary scored trait, Love (based on Connections). The character has two freeform traits: More Than Human, Less Than Human. Every character shares two "locale-based" and scored traits: Fear and Reason.

You might look at games like these to see how other designers create very simple designs. MLwM and PtA have simpler rules than Annalise.

From your examples, I am guessing that you're focusing play on resolving very simple tasks. There are other ways to skin the beast, most of which simplify and streamline play. For example, you can get rid of initiative in a variety of ways (mainly by getting rid of "rounds" or by combining the turn order roll with the "success" roll). If you are looking for crunchy, round-based combat, that's an important design goal to note.

You also should add a main design goal: "I don't want to make it so abstract that it doesn't even make sense." That is not a "duh" design goal. Some games do go the way of abstraction and let the players decide what happens amongst themselves.

For example, in Shock: a Game of Social Science-Fiction, play is divided into scenes, and each scene has some conflict with two outcomes, one for each side and both of which can occur. The player rolls a d10 and a d4, and the GM rolls a d10 and a d4. The d4's modify the other side's d10's before a final result is determined. Each player looks at the modified score to figure out if she achieved her outcome. Both can fail. Both can succeed. One can succeed and one can fail. It's very abstract. You're not bringing in your Charisma or Strength because there are no such traits. The game doesn't care about a character's intrinsic traits in the old-school Ability Score sense. Instead, you've distributed some points on a "praxis" scale that you and the rest of the group decided was important to this SF story. Perhaps its "good vs. evil" or "science vs. faith" or "direct vs. indirect."  Shock: intentionally discards traditional ability scores and skills for this kind of metagaming/author-stance tool so that you can craft stories about social science-fiction.

If none of this interests you, file it away and continue on. I just wanted to let you know that you're framing your questions very narrowly, and I thought that giving you some other things to consider might be helpful. If not, no big deal. Good luck!
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
mjbauer
Member

Posts: 115


« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2009, 01:07:17 PM »

Being that circumstances will be much less common for social interaction that would necessitate a Charisma attribute, you could probably leave it as an attribute but not include it in Resources, making it stand alone when called for.

This may be what I end up doing. I just want to make sure that it makes sense to include at all, and I'm not sure of that yet.
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mjbauer = Micah J Bauer
mjbauer
Member

Posts: 115


« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2009, 01:18:08 PM »

Originally all social things were placed under Intelligence, but that really doesn't make sense. Being more intelligent doesn't equal being more charismatic.
Well, neither does being stronger make you more intelligent, but if you want to stay with 3 stats, you're going to be looking at a lot of leniency anyway.

Ouch. This is something that I hadn't really thought out. I can see how Intelligence could compensate a bit for Strength and Agility, but it really doesn't work the other way. I need to spend some time on that.

How do the 3 stats play into the game independently? Does it matter that there's no social score since, as far as I can see, there's really only 1 score for everything anyway?

I need to figure that out. If there is only one score then there would be no need to roll them or even record them separately, but I'm thinking that (to help give characters some differentiation) that the original Attribute stats will be used somehow. It may act as a limitation (ie: you cannot devote more dice to an act than twice what you have as your Attribute score). It may act as a key to another mechanic (ie: Each Attribute score represents the level or amount of special skills you can learn in that particular area). It may give bonuses or penalties, etc.
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mjbauer = Micah J Bauer
mjbauer
Member

Posts: 115


« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2009, 01:35:49 PM »

Here's my feeling. You're copying some other game without really thinking about what you're doing, and just cutting out pieces you think are superfluous.

I disagree, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about what I'm doing, I just have very little experience in game design and likewise, very little exposure to other games. I do know that I'm not coming up with anything ground-breaking or original, I just want to make a system in response to some of the systems I've seen that I thought were overly complicated.

If none of this interests you, file it away and continue on. I just wanted to let you know that you're framing your questions very narrowly, and I thought that giving you some other things to consider might be helpful. If not, no big deal. Good luck!

I intentionally framed my question narrowly because that's what the forum rules say to do and because that is the specific area I wanted feedback on.

I will definitely have a look at the systems that you mentioned (I know I have a lot to learn).

The reason I posted is because I just wanted to get some discussion started. I've been developing in relative isolation for quite a while and I thought it would help me along to start asking people who know a lot about the subject. So far it's been very helpful. I really do take into consideration all the comments that I get (including the negative stuff).
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mjbauer = Micah J Bauer
Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 01:47:32 PM »

I apologize. I'll back off and try to say something helpful. =)
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
mjbauer
Member

Posts: 115


« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2009, 02:40:24 PM »

I apologize. I'll back off and try to say something helpful. =)

No need. I really wasn't offended (I'm sorry if my post came across that way). I wasn't referring to you when I said "including the negative stuff." I don't really think I've gotten any negative feedback yet. I just wanted you to know that I do consider the feedback I get and I didn't just post here so people could tell me how great my system is. I don't think it's great, that's why I'm asking for help.

Honestly, the more feedback I get the better. It's only going to help me improve.
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mjbauer = Micah J Bauer
Ken
Member

Posts: 196


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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2009, 04:27:19 AM »

I agree with Castlin, when going down the rules-light path, your existing rules will often have to cover more ground to take up the slack. There is no problem with having only three stats, but they would logically be broader, than if you had 6 stats, or 9. In Ten-Cent Heroes, I use three stats: physical, mental (perception, deduction, knowledge, etc.), and a willpower-ish stat that covers mental strength and charisma. Personally, I started off willing to make some sacrifices in detail for the sake of brevity; I'm really happy with the way it turned out, but it did take time to find some balance.

I've never really given it much thought before, but it is kind of funny that when a project is rules light, the stats seem to be the first thing to go. I haven't done an exhaustive study, its just what I've noticed. It probably doesn't matter how many stats you use, its the mechanics that take time away from role-playing during task resolution. If your system is quick and clean, it probably doesn't matter how many numbers you have to plug into it at one given instance.

Now, an interesting point that was brought up before was that really, you only have one stat (Resource) that you can use whole or break up for multiple actions. Why do there need to be three stats to add into one stat so you can break it back up again? Also, not having seen the rest of your character generation ideas, do most characters end up with the same Resource score, but just different individual stats? You mentioned the idea of maybe rolling back the stats to just moderating how you use your Resource score; they may be cool.

As for single-stat games: check out Sync in my signature box; its a one-stat mini-game that I wrote up for a contest. It only uses one stat, and might give some inspiration.

Also, is there a setting or genre that you're leaning towards with this game. From the stat range you posted, it seems like you're just mapping the range of normal human ability (without going into the super-human range), is that accurate? Do skills play any part here?

Sounds like you're on the right track. Keep it up. Good luck.

Ken

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Ken

10-Cent Heroes; check out my blog:
http://ten-centheroes.blogspot.com

Sync; my techno-horror 2-pager
http://members.cox.net/laberday/sync.pdf
dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2009, 09:11:16 AM »

Bauer,
  OK, what about:
Toughness - This can be Mental, physical or social endurance, right?
Wits - This can be Mental, physical or social speed/ability, maybe?
Awareness - This can be physical, mental or social skill/reactions, no?
  The idea is that not only can you use one ability to amplify another, but you can use one ability in the place of anther if needed.
  Does that help?
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo
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