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Author Topic: [Remos] Betrayal of Design Goals?  (Read 2270 times)
David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« on: December 28, 2009, 10:53:17 PM »

I've nearly completed my game. But I'm finding that I've betrayed some of my own design goals. The game I've made is somewhere between tactical decision making and story now.

I wanted to make "Races" matter less in my game than in other games.  But I'm finding that some races are just too powerful at what they do.  The bonuses they have are often too tempting.  I think any bonus may be too tempting.  Should I just resign myself to the fact that people who want to excel at savoire faire are going to pick one race, and the fighter type is going to pick the other?  Or should I try and diminish the bonuses or remove them altogether?

Part of the problem, I think, is that the fiction has many races being rarities.  But inevitably, groups are made up of the rarest races in the game. However, I totally understand why the players are playing the exotic races... they've already played a dozen other humans or near-humans.  How do I model scarcity into the game so that it conveys the proper flavor without becoming cumbersome? 

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Catelf
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2009, 03:45:30 AM »

Hi.
Do you know of the System Shadowrun uses for this?
If no, check it up, or ask, and i or someone else'll explain it.

Other than that: Diminish the Bonuses and/or Add/Worsen the Flaws for the specific Races.

Creative Cat
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2009, 07:07:46 AM »

Well that is a long standing problem of the FRPG genre.  Right from the Tolkien model of a multi-racial party in a context in which the races were distinctly localised.

I can't think of any way to get around it without applying brute force in an unsatisfactory manner.  I do however question why fantasy needs multiple races at all; it'c become a convention with little point to it.
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2341


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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2009, 08:27:19 AM »

Hmm. How about a point economy across players during chargen. Certain character options (play a Squire of Scannet, or a worshipper of Ighty) give a player points they can't use themselves, but can gift to other players, and other character options require these points. So, it becomes a conversation:

"Hey guys. I think I want to play an Aedheric Ghostelf, but I'd need two gift points. What are you guys thinking?"
"Well, I could totally play a Coi Shieldbearer, which would give me two points to gift to you. But I'd want a Marn Shield, so I'd be looking for a gift point from someone else."

Explain how Shadowrun does it Catelf.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Catelf
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2009, 01:44:54 PM »

Ok, .... explaining the "Shadowrun way" on this:
Essentially, things like Basic Attributes, Skills, Resources(including Magical), most be noted in a Priority Order, like A, B or C.

You get the most Points in the Area you Give Priority A, and less to that one you place in B, and the least to that in C.

However, there are two more things that MUST be Prioritated as well, Namely Metahuman(Race) and Magic.

So, you have A, B, C D, and E!               (I really think SR has down to F, but this is how it works.)

The limitation, is that you Must place, for instance, Metahuman/Race in Priority C, B, or even A, if you are supposed to have a "non-human" alternative, meaning that you'll definitely will have less in one other Prioritated Area. (They used to force Priority A to all Metahumans, but has since changed them to needing B or C.)

Putting Race in A, for instance, means that you don't get any Points from this Priority, and since A gives the most Points to place, otherwise, it is not a Priority one sacrifices lightly for the buff of being .... something else than Human.

This makes at least all power players seriously consider a Human instead of an orc, for instance ..... And several others as well.

Infomative Cat
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2341


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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2009, 03:02:34 PM »

Hey, that's sharp. Thanks.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2009, 06:09:05 PM »

Well, I'd say that most every race is balanced with every other race. It's just that certain races are better than other races.  Elves make perfect warrior-mages.  Humans are fantastic jack-of-all trades.  Kitmal are awesome spies. Pershek are fantastic shield warriors.  But if you take a Pershek and make a mage, you're going to be at a disadvantage.  The only thing I can think of doing is weighing each advantage with a disadvantage.  Make elves better at fighter magic, but worse at healing magic.  Make Pershek stronger with a shield, but make them slower to attack while using a shield.

Quote
I can't think of any way to get around it without applying brute force in an unsatisfactory manner.  I do however question why fantasy needs multiple races at all; it'c become a convention with little point to it.

A view I know you share with Eero. I can think of a dozen reasons to have races. All those reasons have to do with an individual's preference. Personally, I remember thinking races were really cool when I first started playing D&D. In my current game, I never really made the decision to have them, I just thought that's what games did. Maybe I'll choose differently next time, maybe not.

For Shadowrun, why would you put race as anything but C? 

I like the idea of gift points. I think I may be wandering between two design goals.  One is to have the simplest system possible (what I have now).  The other is to have a robust system that's more complicated. In some ways, I like the idea of having a really in depth character gen.  On the other hand, I've seen people brand new to the system make their characters in 30 minutes, including some explanation to how the game is played. 

I think I may be wandering between two design goals.  One is to have the simplest system possible (what I have now).  The other is to have a robust system that's more complicated. 
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dindenver
Member

Posts: 928

Don't Panic!


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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2009, 09:42:02 PM »

Dave,
  One thing that comes to mind for me is the unisystem solution. In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer game allows you to play a Witch and a Librarian in the same campaign. The trick is, the Witches and Slayers get their full powers. While, the Librarians and Jocks are less powerful, but they get plot points that they can use to get last minute saves and miracle coincidences that occur in their favor. Maybe you need to include a mechanic like that that gives "sub-optimal" characters a bonus of some kind.
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Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
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Catelf
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2009, 01:42:32 AM »

Hm, i may have been a bit ... muddy, in my description of the Shadowrun System, so to answer your question:
Quote
For Shadowrun, why would you put race as anything but C?
Simply, you can require that the Player MUST put "Race" in Priority A, or they won't get to play that Race!
Since you want the non-humans to be really rare, then to force Priority A would be more effective.

However, you say that they are well Balanced, just that they become easily far better within a certain profession, and that you want to avoid that this results in all spies being Kitmal, for instance.

Well, there may not be any way around this, because if the Races really currently is well balanced, then any way to limit them through penalties and/or boosts will unbalance them:
You may need to reconcider the balance, even.

I'm clearly with you on the idea of keeping races(although, i don't like the word "Race" in cases when they are really different Species.....)

Confounded Cat
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David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2009, 10:17:08 AM »

Quote
I'm clearly with you on the idea of keeping races(although, i don't like the word "Race" in cases when they are really different Species.....)

I don't actually use the term race in my game, I use the term "Origin." I only said race for the purpose of being understood.
In my game, you choose an Origin which can be several different things.  It can be an upbringing, "Tundra Born (Human)" It can be a transformation, "Werewolf (Human)" It can be a species, "Kitmal." It can be chance, "Destined (human)."  It's possible to obtain more than one Origin, as well.  (You could be a Werewolf, Destined, Tundra Born Kitmal... although you'd have very little of anything else)
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Catelf
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2009, 03:43:09 AM »

Good idea!
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JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 469

also known as Josh W


« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2010, 06:37:09 PM »

In my hypothetical eventual game, I tried to start with the differences of cultural history to my races (basically I'm aware of how you can use them to flag up cultural stereotypes and people's relationships to them, so they are working like more extreme versions of cultures), based on their differences from others, and working back from there to how that would express itself in conflicts. Mostly, I'm leaning towards setting starting skills by background and letting them range from there, possibly with culture specific skills.

In other words, mechanically people from different races can be similar, but if so it's because one of them is giving up his culture and sort of living between two of them.

That might change, but the idea is that to create a wizard from a magic-less race (someone always wants to do it) you will end up magically equivalent to someone else, but with a tortuous backstory which is actually represented on the sheet (via some kind of lifepath system/culture trait acquisition probably).

Can you use this kind of thinking? Make characters of uncommon proficiencies not disadvantaged but weird? I presume that's pretty much why they'll be picking that combination, for it's story effects. It seems to fit with your characterisations of origins as well. But it may be that you want persistent differences between the groups as this model does tend to mush people together over time (sort of almost a goal). Do you really want werewolf horseriders beating out natives despite the horse's natural fear of them?

Other solutions:
The D&D 3 method of "a prestige class for every bad combination", adding some extra melding rules that only that combination can get, very liable to under or overcompensate.
Create the traits so some players can compensate for each other, so those closer to being jack of all trades can assist each other in their respective fields.

But what about the other side, the optimal build? Well one classic way to dodge optimal types of anything is to make their success more conditional, sort of as Catelf has suggested, but I would actually go more with things under your control, such as having disadvantages in certain situations. Stick it on the interconnect between the group and the environment, and make it flexible enough (ie a tendency to be unobservant leading to people having to compensate for them rather than kryptonite!), and you should be able to add advice so the GM can autobalance for the group.

Also why are these guys rare? Do they not have many babies?

I like Paul's idea, it suggests to me having a point's score for the whole group, that is not power (directly), but unlikelyness! If your problem is that people are creating groups that stretch suspension of disbelief, then just stick that level of suspension of disbelief right in there, as a dial that people can shift as they like, and as they do, gain an idea of the norms of the setting.
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David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2010, 11:41:47 PM »

Well, this is the biggest thing.  One of the races can fly. I've balanced every race against that ability, which is a powerful ability.  That means every race has these traits that make them as powerful as the ability to fly. Unfortunately, those traits have made the races highly polarized.

I have this really neat idea that's basically a spin off of shadowrun's ranking system. Right now I'm really infatuated with the idea, but I'm trying to figure out if it actually fits into THIS game. 

Basically, the way it works is you choose a Race, a Birthplace, a Status and a Class.  There's also skills.  You then rank each one A, B, C, D and E.  For races, you would get the ability for the rank you chose and every one lower. In order to take that race, you'd have to allocate AT LEAST the rank equal to the bold lettering (because it's a physical attribute). For example.

Pershek
A.  +2 Str, +1 Vit
B.  Enrage
C.  Mane of Thorns
D.  Pershek's Swiftness
E.  Body Slam

Human
A. Human Versatility
B. Human Spirit
C. Human Ingenuity
D. +1 skill
E. +1 Cha

2) For birthplace, there'd be similar boons to race. 
3) For status, you'd get a caste (A would be be high nobility, E would be penniless street urchin).
4) For classes, mages would have to be class A.  Every other class gets 1 to 5 class abilities depending on the rank chosen.  (In my game, you get character points that allow you to get class abilities of your choosing, so that's taken care of).   
5) For skills, you'd get 10, 8, 6, 4 or 2 skills depending on your ranking. 

This goes back to, "How complicated do I want to make my game?"   It certainly makes it more crunchy, but the whole game already ends up in the realm of crunch anyways. 
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Catelf
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2010, 12:39:55 PM »

Okey....

How's this then:
First, the Flyers.
If they are bird-like, know that birds in reality has a hollow bone structure.
This may also make them easier to  get hurt .......
.............................................................................
Also, your interpretation of the Priority system reminds me of a Mechanism that's often been used by White Wolf in their Storytelling Games.
It clearly allows for "Kin" or even "Hybrid" versions.

Since you now have worked the Origins into 5 "Levels", then, to limit the use of Origins, you may not need the Priority System ........

Like this:
When Origins is to be chosen, allow only 5 Points("Levels"), not more.
So, you can make a Character thar has 1 "Level" each of Human, Pershek, Flyer, Tundra Born, and Kitmal,
OR a Full 5 "Level" Werewolf, OR  2 Kitmal & 3 Human, and so on!

Hm?
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David C
Member

Posts: 262

lost in the woods...


« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 11:30:06 PM »

I never properly answered Joywriter. 

<quote>Also why are these guys rare? Do they not have many babies? </quote>

They're only rare in the part of the world the game takes place in.  I guess I think that for story purposes it's more interesting if only a few people in the group are foreigners.  It's kind of like old westerns where one guy is an Indian. If the whole group was Indians, it wouldn't be special anymore.  In addition, it would be really weird and out of place for a group of Indians to be running around and enforcing the law. 

I find the D&D way of fixing things to be sloppy and inconsistent.

Catelf, that's an interesting idea. For some reason though, I feel like it is more "gamy" than ranking. Like, as soon as you're spending a pool of points, it isn't about which origin you choose, but how far you can stretch your points.  I know that's true of the ranking system as well, but it's a more forced constraint. 
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