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Author Topic: Multiple character-resources  (Read 592 times)
Llogres
Member

Posts: 16


« on: April 18, 2010, 11:07:50 PM »

I had a thought on experience points and rewards in games.
The classic approach to have the GM hand out experience points and money (sometimes in form of items) doesnt feel right for what i want for my game.
So i thought about splitting experience points in different groups and making money just one of those resources.
After just a few minutes of thought i ended up with the following resources and what you spent them on:
- Fighting (Improve fighting skills such as weapon training)
- Skill (aquire general skills like pickping locks or riding)
- Magic (learn new spells or improve learned spells)
- Knowledge (aquire specific knowledge like creating poison or basic profiency in a foreign language)
- Social (learn how to behave in front of the king or how to persuade people)
- Wealth (buy a new shiny sword)

So at character creation each player gets some amount in each resource he can spent on his character. I thought it would be a good idea to make spending those resources an option but not a neccessity. For example all unspent Fighting resource could give a small bonus when in combat, but spending it on Swordfighting would help you more when fighting with a sword (and be of no use when you have to fight with an axe). Your unspent wealth could determine what kind of food or accomodation you can afford while traveling, but buying a new sword might require you to spent those points.
In addition to the points you get on character generation the characters are awarded points upon completion of an adventure. (A classic dungeon crawl might be rewarded with a wide mix of all the resources except social, whereas an espionage mission might reward you with knowledge, skill and social)

Of course this would require a big list of thing to be bought with those resources. A few examples to make the idea more clear:
- Learn Basics of Swordfighting (Requires 3 Fighting and 1 Skill), gives you +1 on all attack rolls using a sword
- Learn Picking Locks without Tools (Requires Skill 4 and Basics of Lockpicking), you don't need any tools to pick locks
- Learn about the Heraldik of the East (Requires Knowledge 2 and Social 1), whenever you try to identify a noble house of the east you get to add +5 to your Roll
and so on...

So as always i got some questions:
Any ideas which resources could be added to the list, or which could be split into two/combined into one?
Will this make resource management complicated?
What style of play do you expect will be encouraged/discouraged by this system?
General comments and experiences with similar stuff are greatly appreciated!
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Chris
Jim D.
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Posts: 20


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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2010, 06:10:34 AM »

The system you describe here reminds me a bit of the experience system in Fable -- they had four categories of experience which were, loosely paraphrasing, combat, agility, magic, and general.  The first three are obvious; the last can be spent on anything.  Of course, the method you used to defeat an enemy determined the form of experience you got out; you always got general, and some of whatever category.

White Wolf discusses (but doesn't necessarily mandate with rules) that you shouldn't be able to shoot a bunch of monsters in an all-night standoff, and then when the smoke clears, spend the three XP you picked up on a rank in Computers.

It's a common enough attitude, and I agree that it makes sense to gain proficiency in what you've trained in most.  So I say go with it.

The weird thing is, your system is and isn't simultaneously complicated.  Reaping what you sow is straightforward, and compared with the litany of stats present in a lot of simulationist/gamist games (D&D, GURPS, etc.), six resources is hardly unreasonable, depending of course on the complexity of the underlying system.  Not knowing this, I like your method as is.

That said, my personal preference leans more toward simple systems these days (Dogs, White Wolf in some respects, my own OneShot system); the idea of an encyclopedia of skills to buy rubs me the wrong way a bit.  It always sucks to buy rank 4 in Rapier and then realize "Oh, crap, I didn't see Dual Wield; wish I'd bought that instead!"  That's where the complexity starts coming in.  So, in your shoes I might either keep your list of skills short-ish, or better yet, eschew using those resources as a form of currency altogether and simply test them directly!  That is to say, having Fighting 3 makes you better with all weapons than Fighting 2, or having Magic 4 gives you x more spells than Magic 3.  (Using this method, I'd make each level harder to reach than the last; say you need 10 "experience points" to go from Fighting 1 to 2, and then 20 more to go from 2 to 3, etc.)

Not saying what I'm discussing is necessarily right, or right for your game, but it's something to think about.
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Llogres
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2010, 07:10:08 AM »

Thanks for taking the time to comment Jim, greatly appreciated!
I came to the conclusion that having this great list of skills that are basicly just one-liners is not really what i want.
So here a few more thoughts and edits on the first post:
Each resource-category gets a few 'Talents' on which those resources can be spent.
Whenever you make a roll you pick the closest talent (which means every roll you could possibly intend to roll would be covered by a talent), and depending on the talent you roll a specific amount of dice.
So for example fighting would have 2 basic talents: melee and ranged fighting

At character creation (or improvement) you can spent your resources to:
Improve a Talent (add dice), a very expensive option
Specialise your Talent, for example: improve fighting with Longswords (get bonus dice, those are rolled but you have to pick the ones you dont want to use)
Learn a general Trick for your Talent, one per rank in the talent (examples would be enable double attack for all weapons)
Learn a special Trick for your Specialy (for example learn how to deal a strong blow with your Longsword)

Those are the for options you would have in the game. Nothing more nothing less.
The further you improve your Talents, the further you can improve your specialities and learn new general Tricks
The more specialities you have, the more special tricks you can learn

This pretty much only requires lists of Tricks, which can easily be extended during actual play(testing).
The cost to increase a Talent or Speciality would be fixed, and depending on the Talent simply use different resources.

I imagine Tricks to be a crossover of something like D&D's Talents and simple Skill applications. Tricks can use mixed resources but they are always bound to a Talent (for general tricks) or Speciality (for special tricks). The maximum amount of Tricks you can have is always limited by Talents and Specialities, so in order to get a large repartoire of tricks a character willl always have to improve his talents and specialities.

I hope this all makes sense.
Any thoughts?
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Chris
Jeff Russell
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Posts: 44


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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2010, 11:51:01 AM »

Hi Llogres, I hope you don't mind if I hop in with a few thoughts because I'm working on some multiple character-resources of my own!

First of all, as Jim said, it's kind of a lot of categories, which is complicated, but they're straight forward, so that's not too bad. That being said, when you start tracking all of those categories, and the GM has to figure out stuff like "well, let's see, Alfred got 1 Fighting point, 1 skill point, and um, 2 wealth from this encounter because of some deft sword work, and Bob got 1 Magic Point, 1 Social Point, and 2 wealth because of his witty magic words, and Carl got 1Knowledge Point and 1 Fighting Point and 2 Wealth points because he recognized the Raging Monkey Foot technique of the Wombat clan warriors" it might become a lot of book keeping. On the other hand, the fairly straight forward sub-categorization you're talking about might make it easier to deal with, and judging by the number of powers and feats and other options presented in 4E D&D and some other games, some players can, will, and will even enjoy, handling lots of bookkeeping/option choosing.

So much for some specific comments, here are the thoughts I've been having on resources recently. I think what makes resources interesting is a) how you earn them, b) how you spend them (duh so far) and c) the tension between different ways to use them. If you'll excuse the economics talk, opportunity cost is a big concept to me. I'll give a brief explanation in case it's unfamiliar (if it is a familiar term, my apologies!): opportunity cost means the cost you "pay" by giving up one option in favor of another. So, when you spend an hour reading a book, you pay the opportunity cost of an hour playing a game, or working out, or watching a movie, or talking to your family, or whatever. The reason I find this concept so fascinating is because it's *always there*. And in RPGs, it can be brought to the surface and focused on in exactly the way that you think will be most exciting.

You mentioned the idea of spending your various category points for a small one time bonus, versus saving it for permanent improvement of skills/talents/tricks/what have you. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. I think to make the players really *care* about these different categories, you need to make sure each category presents multiple compelling choices, and then they have to make them. If it's obviously better to just up the talent and ignore tricks, nobody's gonna use tricks no matter how cool they are. Or if it's always better to spend points on bonuses, who needs better talents? I think the opportunity you have with this many categories is to give each category a compelling set of choices to make regarding what to do with those points. Then they become a vital part of the play experience instead of just a middle step to the better abilities.

But that's just how I've been thinking about them recently, and it might be too much focus on the wrong subsystem of your game, if so, sorry to go off on a tear there.

Jeff Russell
Blessings of the Dice Gods - My little blog on games and game design
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Jeff Russell
Blessings of the Dice Gods - My Game Design Blog and home to my first game, The Book of Threes
Jim D.
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Posts: 20


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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2010, 06:47:10 AM »

That's definitely tighter and more succinct.  A handful of categories and straightforward specialties should keep the complexity of the system down.  If I'm reading this right, you can improve (for example) your combat across the board, or spend fewer points to specialize but only be good in one attack form.  That makes sense.  I'm assuming those stack, so if you have (say) Fighting 3 and Longsword Specialty 2, you're rolling at rank 5?

The only pitfall I see now is balancing.  Make sure your options are equally viable through playtesting, because if you have one that's superior to all others, no one will touch anything else.  Double attacks are dangerous; make sure there's a cost for using it that's proportionate.

As a bit of an aside on that topic, consider Big Eyes, Small Mouth 3rd Edition.  Kind of an odd system, but they keep it fairly simple with 2d6 rolls for everything, and a point-buy system for character traits.  Included in the system are four options for improving combat skill:  increasing your Stat scores (Body, Mind, Soul), which cost 10 points, and increased your bonus by one-third point only, but helped other rolls.  Buying "Melee Attack" or "Ranged Attack" gave you a +1 bonus to a particular combat form at the cost of 4 points.  Buying "Attack Combat Mastery" gave you a +1 bonus to all attacks, and cost 10 points.  Buying "Extra Actions" gave you an additional tactical action (effectively an attack) every round, and cost 15 points.

See the problem?  Taking the bell curve into account, you gained +10% chance to hit on average for every +1 bonus you had, tapering off as it went higher.  Your effective damage output, by necessity, also increased by 10%.  Spending 15 points for "Extra Actions" gave you a 100% increase in damage output, as there was no penalty for making multiple attacks.  It wasn't long before I had every character in the game I was GM'ing with three actions, and chomping at the bit for four.  In subsequent campaigns under the system, I disallowed the ability altogether.

Sorry, I know, long tangent for a minor point, but it gets the idea across.  There's a lot of thinking to be done for game balance, and the tighter the ship you run with stats and abilities, the easier it is to balance and keep things in check.
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Baenlynn
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2010, 06:52:59 AM »

Llogres, I like the idea and briefly considered doing something similar with my own system inspired by oblivion (i.e. use dependent advancement) but I could never wrap my head around a way to reduce the amount of accounting required to something I was happy with, so I dropped it.

I do remember one game though, I played a couple of sessions of many years back (I think it was a WW game, but I'm not sure), the GM used a rule where in order to advance any skill with XP earned from that session that skill had to have been USED in that session. Perhaps, taking that scenario as a means of simplifying your current idea. For example: perhaps resources are allocated to a category depending on how many skills/stats in that category were used during that level/session.

This does not solve the problem of characters who have one skill in a category they rely on heavily (perhaps a rogue who relies solely on crossbows in combat) while most of their skills are elsewhere. Although points spent in your average system could likely reflect the structures such a system puts in place.

This is by no means a complete idea, but I hope it proves helpful.
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Llogres
Member

Posts: 16


« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2010, 04:49:13 PM »

Thats a lot of wonderful input, thanks guys!

Jeff: You really got me thinking about 'opportunity cost', because so far i think because of all the split resources you're not really giving up something when you pick a certain skill. Picking Longswords you don't really worry about Axes, because like in most games you have one weapon and thats what you use when you fight. But so far i havent thought of anything good and i'll just keep on thinking...

Jim: The Skills don't stack on top of each other. To use your example: If you have Fighting 3 and Longsword 2, you would roll 5 dice, but only keep the best 3. If both options would provide an equal bonus, everyone would just pick one of those options. I totally see how your example with BESM applies. The way i thought about Double Attack was: If you want to make two attack: Simply split your dice in whatever way you want. That way it comes with a cost, and players have the choice between 2 equally strong attacks or dealing a strong and a weak attack. It even could be upgraded into an unlimited number of attacks, which of course would be limited to the ammount of dice you have. Perfect for getting rid of a minion-horde.

Beanlynn: So far i don't think i want to go with 'you get better in what you use',  because that proved to be a dead end for me as well. I think giving out the same resources to every player (based on the adventure) is just fine, that way i don't need to keep track of individual actions.

I might come back with a few more thoughts soon, for now i need to sort through a lot of ideas. Thanks again everyone!
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Chris
Jim D.
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Posts: 20


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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2010, 08:52:46 PM »

@Llogres, In re: multiple attacks, I confess I do like the notion of splitting dice pools.  I'm sure there's some kind of cute way to math it out and maximize your damage potential by making two, three, or whatever number of attacks, but rolling a single die or two at most for each of, say, three attacks, exposes you to a lot of variance, and RPG players in my experience tend to be risk-averse.  It's a lot more about "feel" than anything else.  If having a "Multiple Attack" option means you either do or don't have the tactical option of making multiple attacks, it becomes useful without being overpowering.
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