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Author Topic: Responding to the Invitation  (Read 7373 times)
M. J. Young
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« on: November 08, 2002, 11:59:47 PM »

Please don't think me ungracious; I really do appreciate being invited to the forum. I have too much on my plate as it is, and my wife would shoot me were I to take on another forum. Scattershot sounds very interesting, and if I didn't have a million things undone with deadlines looming over me, I would eagerly devour what's here.

The idea that players are going to spend points to build their characters, but they have an unlimited supply of points, is intriguing, but I'm not entirely sure what it gets you. You and I agree in principle that the best way to create a character is to imagine what you want and then translate it to game mechanics. In Multiverser, that transition is done directly--jot down the attributes, skills, equipment, and any description that matters, all in game terms. In Scattershot, it seems that you use points to buy what you want, but you have an unlimited supply of points. Now, I can see where this might control character creation in a psychological sense, through a, "my goodness, look at how many points I've spent, I'd better stop" notion. On the other hand, if a player either has absolutely no concept of an appropriate number of points to spend (such as, has never played a point-based system) or gets his head around the fact that there really is an infinite supply of points, that psych benefit flies out the window. You could tell players to imagine the character they want and then express it in game mechanics without going through the motions of spending points. After all, what's the difference between
Quote
Let's see, my strength, let's push it up to thirteen...fourteen...fifteen...yeah, fifteen is right, put it there

and
Quote
Let's see, my strength, let's add a few points, spend three points to get thirteen, four more to get fourteen, five more to get fifteen...yeah, that's twelve points on strength, gives me a fifteen, that's what I want

in any aspect of the creation process? The points seem superfluous to me; but then, I haven't seen the thread that explains them (or the game--and I sincerely apologize, but my workload here at the moment has been incredible for months, and even coming to the Forge at all was a crazy idea).

I think you misread my statement that a certain approach was realistic and made for better stories. It was phrased to suggest that it was each of these independently, not that they were dependent upon each other. Realistic stories can be very dull, and good stories can be very unrealistic. I wasn't exactly arguing in favor of randomized systems (like you, I use a system that attempt to create a concept to a character directly) but making the case for them. That case includes that it creates characters of different levels of ability, which is on the one hand more like real life and on the other hand better in most stories, two unrelated ideas which are both supported by that. Point based systems, when they use limited numbers of points (which they do, apart from yours), tend to create characters of equalized ability, which is unrealistic and less interesting in stories (again, unrelated ideas). But I agree that character involvement is more important to player enjoyment than either equality or inequality.

I hope I can actually look at Scattershot sometime. I've been promising Seth that I'd do a Multiverser conversion for Alyria before he goes to press, so that's a lot higher on the list, and I've got a lot of other pressing matters. But it sounds interesting--as you said in another thread, it's interesting how the same priorities can result in very different games.

--M. J. Young
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2002, 12:43:32 PM »

Hello and welcome to our show ;)

Quote from: M. J. Young
The idea that players are going to spend points to build their characters, but they have an unlimited supply of points, is intriguing, but I'm not entirely sure what it gets you. You and I agree in principle that the best way to create a character is to imagine what you want and then translate it to game mechanics. In Multiverser, that transition is done directly--jot down the attributes, skills, equipment, and any description that matters, all in game terms.

It was a long hard trip to understand what I've got (even for me), but the first step is not to think in terms of "an unlimited supply of points."  You can see how that creates the idea that points are in need of limitation.  Do you think in terms of Multiverser characters as written with an unlimited number of words or concepts?  Probably not.

It's a tough shift, but necessary to understanding how Scattershot's Development Points work.

Quote from: M. J. Young
In Scattershot, it seems that you use points to buy what you want, but you have an unlimited supply of points. Now, I can see where this might control character creation in a psychological sense, through a, "my goodness, look at how many points I've spent, I'd better stop" notion. On the other hand, if a player either has absolutely no concept of an appropriate number of points to spend (such as, has never played a point-based system) or gets his head around the fact that there really is an infinite supply of points, that psych benefit flies out the window. You could tell players to imagine the character they want and then express it in game mechanics without going through the motions of spending points. After all, what's the difference between

Quote
Let's see, my strength, let's push it up to thirteen...fourteen...fifteen...yeah, fifteen is right, put it there

and
Quote
Let's see, my strength, let's add a few points, spend three points to get thirteen, four more to get fourteen, five more to get fifteen...yeah, that's twelve points on strength, gives me a fifteen, that's what I want

in any aspect of the creation process? The points seem superfluous to me; but then, I haven't seen the thread that explains them

That's okay.  I haven't done a good job explaining Scattershot's Development Points by themselves yet.  So far all I have is a discussion of how such points might work, comparing character classes to point-based systems.  At the point of initial Persona Development, the points are...pointless.  They only become meaningful when the group gets together.  When the players compare how many points they have to the number of points the other players have.  As Scattershot is a 'shared gaming experience,' this is when the players decide how well their Personae relate; the points make that a bit more explicit (but no system is perfect).

(And by the way, just as a point of information, Scattershot uses a point-for-point set up; a Strength of 13 costs 3, 14 costs 4, 15 costs 5 total, not cumulative.)

Quote from: M. J. Young
I wasn't exactly arguing in favor of randomized systems (like you, I use a system that attempt to create a concept to a character directly) but making the case for them. That case includes that it creates characters of different levels of ability, which is on the one hand more like real life and on the other hand better in most stories, two unrelated ideas which are both supported by that. Point based systems, when they use limited numbers of points (which they do, apart from yours), tend to create characters of equalized ability, which is unrealistic and less interesting in stories (again, [as] unrelated ideas). But I agree that character involvement is more important to player enjoyment than either equality or inequality.

I know that was terribly naughty of me, but I didn't want anyone to take your words literally.  And I completely agree with you about the 'realism' (which I often instead call verisimilitude) and less interesting.

The points in Scattershot are a way for the group to negotiate the relativity between characters.  If there is any kind of "psych benefit" it'll be had at this point; my hope is that in having to 'count out the points' a player will have gained a better idea of what is crucial to the Persona concept (called Sine Qua Non) so they may negotiate better.  I consider the composition of a group to be entirely up to the group and choose not to put limitations on that from a design point of view.  I may suggest a few based on the game's Genre Expectations, but I haven't seen any value in making those kinds of hard limitations.

After that (and unlike games where point-based cut-offs that pretty much abandon points after character generation), the points inform the participants how the player wants to play the Persona.  The gamemaster can orchestrate opportunities for the Persona; the players can 'make room' for that kind of play.  This is why Scattershot has, at times, an aggressive in-play Persona Development system, to maintain this presence throughout the game.

Quote from: M. J. Young
I hope I can actually look at Scattershot sometime. I've been promising Seth that I'd do a Multiverser conversion for Alyria before he goes to press, so that's a lot higher on the list, and I've got a lot of other pressing matters. But it sounds interesting--as you said in another thread, it's interesting how the same priorities can result in very different games.

Thank you.  I look forward to it.  Don't worry about a presence in this forum; I appreciate any attention (and it's pretty quiet right now).

Fang Langford
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Bankuei
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2002, 12:34:46 PM »

Fang,

I've been mulling over the idea of protagonism and character concept for a long time, and it's finally clicked with me that your point system is basically a signpost as to the most important parts of character concept.  

Would you have a GM or player take note of the top 3 or 5 things that points have been spent into in order to define a character and work towards emphasizing and bringing out that concept in play?  

Second, would you have any guidelines for GM's and players in order to create not a balance in Gamist terms, but a balance to emphasize Narrativist play?  For example, if I want to present a major villian who will be tough, but not impossible to beat, how much higher can I rate his skills and abilities before he's too tough?  How do xp dice play into this factor?

Chris
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2002, 01:54:08 PM »

Hey Chris,

Quote from: Bankuei
I've been mulling over the idea of protagonism and character concept for a long time, and it's finally clicked with me that your point system is basically a signpost as to the most important parts of character concept.

That was what I was getting at in the Fundamental Particles of Character Class.  I think the most important part of emphasizing "the most important parts of character concept" is getting them into play without another player 'stealing your thunder.'  As I understand it, that's the essence of protagonizing in role-playing games.  I tend to think of this as 'niche protection' (but I've been told I'm using those terms wrong).

Quote from: Bankuei
Would you have a GM or player take note of the top 3 or 5 things that points have been spent into in order to define a character and work towards emphasizing and bringing out that concept in play?

That kinda defeats the purpose of spending points on anything else doesn't it?  (Which is actually something you can do too.)  Likewise, it's really hard to create a point-based system that captures everything one might want to be important about their Persona.  That's why I also created the Sine Qua Non Persona Development Technique.

The point expenditures are meant to accent fields of efficacy or narrative impact of the character.  All the rest of the 'fuzzy concepts' are supposed to be captured by the Sine Qua Non.  If you abandon anything after the fifth most expensive expenditure you may lose a lot of the depth a person may have designed into their Persona.  I do think that one must be more mindful of the 'top five,' but don't let them overshadow the whole Sine Qua Non.

Quote from: Bankuei
Second, would you have any guidelines for GM's and players in order to create not a balance in Gamist terms, but a balance to emphasize Narrativist play?  For example, if I want to present a major villain who will be tough, but not impossible to beat, how much higher can I rate his skills and abilities before he's too tough?  How do xp dice play into this factor?

The problem is that you are thinking in terms of strictly points to emphasize the 'toughness' of a villain.  The ways which a villain is tough are included or implied by a game's Genre Expectations.  One kind of thing a Genre Expectation includes are Sequences.  They are invoked to align the narrative more with the expectation.  Thus, if your villain is tougher, like in professional wrestling, you expect them to win early on; a player can rack up Experience Dice (called Gimmes) by 'letting them win' at that point (and by beating them during the climax).  This is one way a Genre Expectation is constructed to aid in Thematically Ambitious [<-two links->]Auteur Approach (Scattershot's rough analog for making primarily Narrativist decisions throughout a game).

If you don't follow the Genre Expectations, you don't get any reward.  Besides that, there's Referential and Gamemasterful sharing and Self-Conscious play, all orchestrated by the Genre Expectations.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "a balance to emphasize Narrativist play."  Except the different ways of empowering the players as implied by the Proprietorship Mechanix used in Referential and Gamemasterful sharing during Self-Conscious play, I don't know how you mean to 'balance' Narrativist play.  Can you explain?

(I've got a headache, so I'm gonna stop typing now.)

Fang Langford
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2002, 07:03:26 PM »

Quote from: Fang Langford a.k.a. Le Joueur
At the point of initial Persona Development, the points are ...pointless. They only become meaningful when the group gets together. When the players compare how many points they have to the number of points the other players have.

Thus the points are a way of comparitively valuing characters once they are created. In essence you give each player an unlimited supply from which to build his character, but then when the group gets together they compare what they've spent and so get some idea who has the "strongest" character.

The question then is what value has this information thereafter? Does it impact how the spotlight will be shared? Do players with less costly characters have certain advantages which compensate for this? Can someone say, "No, that character is just plain too strong for the game we've envisioned, get rid of some of that"?
Quote from: Again Fang
(And by the way, just as a point of information, Scattershot uses a point-for-point set up; a Strength of 13 costs 3, 14 costs 4, 15 costs 5 total, not cumulative.)

The funny thing is that I picked those numbers out of the air entirely, without any knowledge that those were even valid numbers for attribute values.


So we have players who in private build characters; the characters can cost anything, but when they get together they have to reveal the costs to each other. This then does something useful in play preparation that I have not yet grasped. That would be?

--M. J. Young
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2002, 08:46:21 PM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
Quote from: Fang Langford a.k.a. Le Joueur
At the point of initial Persona Development, the points are...pointless. They only become meaningful when the group gets together. When the players compare how many points they have to the number of points the other players have.

Thus the points are a way of comparatively valuing characters once they are created. In essence you give each player an unlimited supply from which to build his character, but then when the group gets together they compare what they've spent and so get some idea who has the "strongest" character.

I'm not sure how I can communicate this.  (It is one of the things I'm struggling with for the formal write-up of the game.)  I'm trying to write Scattershot as a 'concept first' game.  You come up with the Persona's Sine Qua Non, what they 'really are,' and only then convert it to points.

In practice, that's how it has gone; you figure out who you want to be, then count up the points it takes.  This isn't ordering a new car, 'do I want this package or that, how much are they?'  'Oh, you have as much money as you need.'  It's like a recipe, 'here are the ingredients you need, add them in any order and mix well.'

The only Approach I've seen that is concerned with points during the entire process are people who self-select as Joueur players.  One of the Techniques that has cropped up for Competitively Ambitious Joueur Approach players is 'challenge limits.'  The players collectively choose a target number and then, taking that as their 'design challenge,' build Persona to that limit.

Really, the bulk of the playtesters have created characters 'points last.'  They make up the character, assigning abilities and powers to a rarefied character concept (generated by the Sine Qua Non Persona Development Technique) using the Exemplars from the Genre Expectations as a thumb-rule, then they count out how much it costs.  (Note, 'private Persona Development' is uncommon and not expected; many times the whole process takes place as a group.)

Quote from: M. J. Young
The question then is what value has this information thereafter? Does it impact how the spotlight will be shared? Do players with less costly characters have certain advantages which compensate for this? Can someone say, "No, that character is just plain too strong for the game we've envisioned, get rid of some of that"?

Compensate?  That sounds suspiciously like your looking for some 'balancing mechanism' underlying the rules.  We depend upon the group to find its own equilibrium of spotlight time.  However, unlike a lot of games I have read, we don't expect them to work it out for themselves.  Our instructions have always included dialogue about being conscious of spotlight time issues; the 'current totals of points' are a way of making who is likely to dominate spotlight time by efficacy more explicit.  This allows the people who supply the components of structure and direction to the narrative (like a gamemaster in traditional games) to 'play upon' Persona who might get the 'short end' because of Development Point inequality.

One thing not immediately evident (something of a late entry) is that Scattershot has something of an aggressive 'Design in Play' Persona Development system.  This in no way limits people who prefer to design their Personae prior to play, but even those characters develop.  Likewise this DiP Mechanix are used to account for potent in-game acquisitions.  (Say Bilbo decides to keep the ring?  How does that count for the character's efficacy?)  When a Persona 'takes on' something that gives it notable efficacy (even if the player is just 'trying it out' before making it permanent), this is used to develop the character.  Putting on addition Development Points is relatively easy and these go for this kind of change.  That makes it vital to keep track of 'current totals of points' as play progresses.

"Plain too strong" is exactly one of the most common reactions to certain designs.  There are a number of reactions beyond "get rid of some of that."  For example, players can offer alternatives that result in the same efficacy by 'redesigning' elements; perhaps the player didn't realize additional field of flexibility based on their initial development.  Another is 'backgrounding' it; this often comes up with a character that has a long list of 'professional skills' taken for completeness, but not expected to see much use.  (This is one of the reasons that Sine Qua Non is so vital, it helps the participants work things out this way.)  And yes there are times the group will either ask the player to alter/replace their character or the 'vision of the game' get altered.

Quote from: M. J. Young
So we have players who in private build characters; the characters can cost anything, but when they get together they have to reveal the costs to each other. This then does something useful in play preparation that I have not yet grasped. That would be?

"In private" is not a requirement, but an option.  (That was one of the main purposes for including Solo Play in the Mechanix.)  I guess I never saw it as "reveal," it always plays out as 'share.'  Probably because so much of the game is written around the idea that everyone shares responsibility for how well the game goes and at least tries to empower everyone in that direction.

Per my article on "The Fundamental Particles of Character Class," Scattershot has 'fat points.'  Instead of spending 5 points to raise a stat 1, instead of using a progressive cost scheme of diminishing returns, it costs exactly 1 point to raise anything 1.  What this results in is Personae of as low as 12-25 points in construction.

When the group finishes their Personae Development together this has an effect similar to "I'll make a thief."  "I wanna make a ranger."  "Okay, that means some wilderness adventuring."  "I want a magic-user...."  "Me, too!"  "Hang on, somebody has to take a cleric, is that okay."  "Sigh, ya I can do that."  Except it comes out much more flexible than that.  Likewise, each Genre Expectation comes with a number of Exemplars (like archetypes from the genre or character classes or example characters).

When everyone brings their Persona 'to the table,' you get rid of 'everyone wants a magic-user' problems (or at least a game that won't support such, because 'where the game will go' can be adjusted too).  This is also why Mystiques are an important component of the Techniques too; you don't have to 'give it all away' (not even to the gamemaster), but you will be more likely to know if your Persona's 'niche' will be 'intruded upon.'

Since at the point of sharing everyone's 'public development,' the game is being primarily formed in all minds.  If the game is structured where the gamemaster prepares a fair amount of 'input' into where the game will go, this will give them a good idea of what to expect in terms of what the Persona are capable of and what the players expect to do.  (In games where more members supply direction, this is where the form opinions of what to do.)

What I'm wondering is, most of your questions suggest a bias towards point-balanced gaming (this is a viable style and one potential Approach).  Words like "unlimited," "compare," "strongest," "compensate," and "reveal," sound like some kind of equality is expected based on points alone.  In early development, this proved to be problematic, not only because of how the different Approaches treat points differently, but because groups have very different dynamics of who needs how much spotlight time.  Is this the perspective you are coming from?  Provided I can identify the Approach you would take with the Mechanix, I think I can offer the additional Techniques that come into play for that specific Approach.

I'd be glad to offer any kind of help or answer any questions you might have.  This has been a very stimulating discussion (and is getting me closer to being able to explain the 'concept first' quality of the game).  Thank you for taking the time to return to this thread.

Fang Langford
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2002, 10:58:14 PM »

It seems to me that character generation systems ultimately are limiters; they are designed to be limiters. In every case, they have the function of establishing the minimums and maximums for characteristics of a player character.
    [*]Dice-based and other randomized systems do this essentially by determining the possible range for each ability. In a well-designed system of that sort, player characters will predominantly be better than the average bear, as it were, and the degree of difference between them will be sufficient to make play interesting without causing one character to dominate every situation.
    [*]Point-based systems, in the main, achieve the same outcome by limiting the total power that can be purchased for a character, and allowing the player to spread that power in whatever generalist or specialist manner desired. In most such games it pays to be a specialist, because there aren't enough points to be "good at everything" and being "above average at everything" doesn't play well. Thus the differences between characters arise from the choices made to prioritize one aspect over another, because prioritizing is essential. I have more than once played characters who were generalists, whose objective was to be at least competent at everything and then to get better at everything over time. There would always be the temptation to create the superb generalist, the jack-of-all-trades who could do everything, and do everything well, the character we only meet in fiction, such as The Great Leslie (in The Great Race). The limitation of points prevents this character from being created, and so prevents one player from dominating the game because his character can "do everything".
    [*]Ability pool systems are similar. If everything the characters need to know how to do is dropped into a pool and then divided among the players equitably, you again prevent anyone from dominating the game. If I understand it aright, Amber is something like this; certainly Fred Wolke's wonderful card-based system of character generation for that game is. You can't have something if someone else has it.
    [*]Even modern "narrativist" character creation games have these built-in limiters. A game will often say something like, "give your character five descriptors", and think that this has eliminated the limitations. What it has done is shifted the limits to those descriptors. I can now use those descriptors either as a generalist or as a specialist. If I use them for specialization, I'm going to be very good in a limited area; if I spread them out, I'm going to be adequate in more things.
    [*]At first blush, Multiverser would seem to have ignored all of these limiters. The rules start with the idea of creating yourself as a character, and thus the limitation for most characters is whether they adequately and accurately define the players. Thus if you declare yourself equal to an Olympic medalist as a swimmer, the referee might well challenge you to provide some sort of evidence that you're that good, whereas if you merely say that you've got professional training as a life guard and were a member of the swim team in college you'll probably get professional, but not expert, level in this. But then, the rules allow you to play the "not I" character as well. At this point, the player is imagining what he wants to be. If he takes a character from elsewhere, such as playing James Bond or Luke Skywalker or "My elf fighter magic user from the D&D game we use to play", the limitations carry over from there. But if he merely says, "this is my character idea," it could be absolutely anything, and there are no mechanical limits on that. Yet there is a subjective limit included: the player has to clear his character with the referee. Personally I can barely imagine a character I wouldn't approve; but then, I can always bring the level of the game up to match the level of the character.[/list:u]
    Now, it seems to me that you're really trying to do the sort of character creation Multiverser uses: create the idea, then convert it to stats directly. But you've got these points in the middle, the function of which seems to be to facilitate evaluating the relative power of the characters in the game. Yet clearly from your examples the points don't tell that. If I'm going to play the Dr. Zarkov character, I'm going to have a massive amount of skills in sciences and technologies. For the sake of completion, I'll probably have everything from astral navigation to glassmaking. It's going to cost a fortune to be complete--yet it's not going to make my character more potent or even more important than Flash Gordon, whose points are all in looks, strength, agility, and courage. The point system tells me how many points I spent; it doesn't really tell me anything about how strong a character I've created. That's too subjective.

    I've never used a point-based character creation system; I've used point-based character improvement systems. I'm not exactly looking for how your points limit characters or impact design decisions or influence play. I'm looking for why you have the points at all, as opposed to just going directly from character concept to character stats.

    Perhaps this will help explain; let me suggest an alternative way to do it.

    Each player takes a piece of paper and writes up a character concept. He includes the name of the character, any description he thinks important, and an idea of who the character is (your sine qua non) including what kinds of abilities he has without reference to system mechanics. Thus for Dr. Zarkov, "brilliant scientist whose theories put him a bit outside traditional scientific circles and thus forced him to develop skills in a vast array of technologies in order to continue his work building equipment to explore space". For Flash Gordon, "All-American football player in the handsome hero mold with plenty of physical prowess but not a lot of emphasis on education". Now once those papers are written, everyone passes his paper to the player on his left. That player reads over the paper and considers, if I had to translate this character into game terms, how would I do it? He converts the character to game stats, and gives it back to the player who wrote the concept. Obviously the Zarkov character will have a high intelligence and a lot of appropriate skills in the sciences and technologies, and the Gordon character will have high strength, agility, stamina, and maybe personal skills.

    At no point in that did you need points. The points don't add anything to the effort that I can see. And this is my problem with the unlimited points system you're using: the points don't add anything. I have to decide how strong Flash is based on my concept of how strong Flash should be, whether I do that by saying, "Flash has a 17 strength, so that's 7 points" or just "Flash has a seventeen strength".

    I find it difficult to imagine that you've included a point system which
      [*]doesn't limit either maximum or minimum character power
      [*]doesn't adequately measure character power and
      [*]doesn't impact game play[/list:u]
      Thus I'm looking to find out what the points actually do, besides create the illusion of a limiting system. Now, maybe that's all they have to do; maybe if the players have to "spend points" on their character abilities it doesn't matter that the points are free and unlimited as long as the psychology of spending them impacts at some point. But for someone who has no concept of how many points are appropriate to spend, and for someone who really grasps that there are no consequences for "overspending", that's lost. You say a typical character runs about 25 points. How does the game respond to the character that comes in at two hundred fifty points? That might not be gamist system breaking; that could very easily happen with a player trying to create a very strong generalist, or even a character who is very good in several fields.

      I hope this helps.

      --M. J. Young
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      Andrew Martin
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      « Reply #7 on: November 11, 2002, 11:43:12 PM »

      Quote from: M. J. Young
      It seems to me that character generation systems ultimately are limiters; they are designed to be limiters. In every case, they have the function of establishing the minimums and maximums for characteristics of a player character.


      And the reason this is so, is because the game mechanics usually can't handle an infinite quantity. They're limited to a certain range and precision. If one has a game system which has infinite range and infinite precision, these limits could be easily removed. I've made some hesitant steps in this area with my Ratio system, which has infinite range and infinite precision but potentially infinite dice rolls (one has to take the good with the bad). Unfortunately, Ratio doesn't yet handle opposed rolls in a way that makes sense to experienced players; it also makes me nervous...

      I'm also curious about the points system in Scattershot. I've got players who would take all the points available to them and then some.
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      Andrew Martin
      Bankuei
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      « Reply #8 on: November 12, 2002, 05:47:57 AM »

      Quote
      Thus I'm looking to find out what the points actually do, besides create the illusion of a limiting system.


      After checking deeper into Fang's reply, and his older threads, I see that points basically serve as "importance meters".  Sine Qua Non is effectively a mission statement; a statement about character concept, the points are seeing it in action, the fine print if you will.

      I think the biggest unstated assumption that's going on here is that the social contract is in control and the group as a whole will find a balance for the use of points.  The assumption is that everyone is trying to play intelligently and is responsible and shouldn't require explicit rules to tell you not to design a superhero for a gritty game just as there are no explicit rules telling folks to be cool, not be assholes to one another, or not randomly stab each other with kitchen knives.

      Notice that most of the problems come up in games from that social contract problems, which have more to do with players and the GM not being on the same page about such things, or one player not fitting with the other players.  

      Chris
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      Mike Holmes
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      « Reply #9 on: November 12, 2002, 07:28:58 AM »

      Quote from: Bankuei
      After checking deeper into Fang's reply, and his older threads, I see that points basically serve as "importance meters".  Sine Qua Non is effectively a mission statement; a statement about character concept, the points are seeing it in action, the fine print if you will.


      To be fair MJ, no point system accurately models power if it's allowed to be used for character breadth. Hence GURPS, in the text, says that it's point system does not make "power balanced" characters. The real limit on power for Hero System is not the total points, but the "Active Point Limit" which limits the height of each ability. So you are right, this point system, like others, has no direct correllation to power, but neither does it claim to. In any case, though, this does mean that adding the points together for a total is not particularly useful (except perhaps to note extremely outrageous misuse of the system). BTW, this means that while the Jou..., Jeor.., Gamist players can try to use the system for power balance, they will likely fail. Or rather, the player who plays even slightly out of Pawn stance will suffer.

      But that said, we can look at the claim that the points denote the important character abilities as Chris notes above. The problem with the assertion is that the points that describe each stat don't seem to do anything that the stat's rating itself does not do. If we aren't looking at the total, we must be looking at the value associated with the different stats. But what does 5 points tell me that Level 15 does not?

      So, MJ is right again. The points are an extra step that provide us with no more information than would neccessarily be presented in the form of the statistics themselves.

      So, given that Scattershot is billed as a game to subtly convert the "average gamer" to a new style, how is that gamer, with presumably less theoretical knowledge than MJ or I, designers who cannot figure out what the points are for after Fang has tried to explain it numerous times, how is that player going to understand what these points are for.

      Would the game really suffer without them?

      BTW, I was expecting to hear that the points had an in-game use. That would be a reasonable need. Essentially all stats would be double rated. That said, however, there's usually a way to put both stats together into a single system.

      So I can't even theorize a reason for the points.

      Mike
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      « Reply #10 on: November 12, 2002, 09:31:05 AM »

      Hello once again!

      (I just had to pull this up to the top:)

      Quote from: M. J. Young
      I hope this helps.

      Absolutely, every little bit helps.  I appreciate all the time and effort everyone spend discussing this with me.  It helps me get a handle on how different my perspective is and how to communicate it better.

      You've posted a lot of really high quality information.  I'm going to attempt to break it apart by points, but I hope not to lose the overall message (check and make sure I don't).

      Quote from: M. J. Young
      It seems to me that character generation systems ultimately are limiters; they are designed to be limiters. In every case, they have the function of establishing the minimums and maximums for characteristics of a player character.

      I guess that's the first assumption I've got to tear down.  Y'see, I don't see it that way.  To me a character generation system establishes your 'rights' to the narrative.  Without a character, you cannot affect the narrative in traditional role-playing games.  That's why death is a punishment; it eliminates your ability to play.

      If your superhero doesn't take the flight power, they cannot do anything during 'flying scenes.'  I don't see flight as a limitation but as an empowerment.  You take something for your character and that's what they get to do.  I realize years of playing point-limiting systems breed the idea that the attributes of a character are what you're limited to, it took me a long time to unlearn that perspective, but I'm trying to write Scattershot so that 'what you take is what you get.'

      Quote from: M. J. Young
        [*]Point-based systems, in the main, achieve the same outcome by limiting the total power that can be purchased for a character, and allowing the player to spread that power in whatever generalist or specialist manner desired. In most such games it pays to be a specialist, because there aren't enough points to be "good at everything" and being "above average at everything" doesn't play well. Thus the differences between characters arise from the choices made to prioritize one aspect over another, because prioritizing is essential. I have more than once played characters who were generalists, whose objective was to be at least competent at everything and then to get better at everything over time. There would always be the temptation to create the superb generalist, the jack-of-all-trades who could do everything, and do everything well, the character we only meet in fiction, such as The Great Leslie (in The Great Race). The limitation of points prevents this character from being created, and so prevents one player from dominating the game because his character can "do everything".[/list:u]

        <side note>I love The Great Race</side>

        Point cut-offs mechanically force specialization exactly as you describe, that's true.  But surely that isn't the only way to end up with specialization?  The point being missed here, I think, is that the Sine Qua Non Technique virtually demands specialization (as I've chosen to work 'concept first' into the game).  Saying that you must only list the things that define your Persona, only the things that the Persona fails to be who they are without, is the same as prioritization isn't it?  Imagine having to come up with a bullet point list of 'what makes the character' in plain English; next imagine someone (probably your 'internal gamemaster') asking you, point by point, if any of them can be dropped without 'damaging' the character conception.  That's how Sine Qua Non works.

        You can even take a Sine Qua Non that clearly states your Persona is "good at everything."  In the advice I have offered gamemasters, I've been very clear (and this will make it into an Emergent Technique one of these days) about one thing regarding dealing with players and their characters; "give them enough rope."  If you take a Persona who is "good at everything," that's who they are; something like that doesn't remain a secret for long.  Consider Buckaroo Banzai; he was good at everything and in this case everyone is knocking at his door ("enough rope to hang themselves by.")

        There are two things that would make the Great Leslie a playable character.  First of all he wasn't "good at everything," he was "excellent at anything."  This means, no matter what comes up, you know he'll be great at it.  You don't poor tons of points into the Persona Development of the Great Leslie, everything he is "excellent at" is bought along the way using the aggressive Persona Development Mechanix.  The second thing that makes him playable is that the Genre Expectation of The Great Race isn't about 'doing things,' its about getting into, and out of, incredulous situations.  Professor Fate is every bit as effective as the Great Leslie, except there is a Genre Expectation that all his activities end in hilarious misfortune (until that kicks in, he is quite effective).  [Given that The Great Race is a role-playing game for capturing the high jinks and flavour of the movie.  What I want to know is how you knew that it was one of the test formats for Scattershot?]

        Quote from: M. J. Young
          [*]Ability pool systems are similar. If everything the characters need to know how to do is dropped into a pool and then divided among the players equitably, you again prevent anyone from dominating the game. If I understand it aright, Amber is something like this; certainly Fred Wolke's wonderful card-based system of character generation for that game is. You can't have something if someone else has it.[/list:u]

          That's a really good way of 'protecting niches' (I'm told I'm not using that term correctly so please correct me if I've got it wrong).  Something like this is planned for the guidelines of the latter, group-centered, portion of initial Persona Development.  We intend it to go into detail about 'efficacy overlap,' but allow people to still take the Jack-of-All-Trades with the explicit provision that they must not perform any tasks belonging to the Sine Qua Non of another character except in the case that would cause the game to fail at its Genre Expectations otherwise.

          Quote from: M. J. Young
            [*]Even modern "Narrativist" character creation games have these built-in limiters. A game will often say something like, "give your character five descriptors", and think that this has eliminated the limitations. What it has done is shifted the limits to those descriptors. I can now use those descriptors either as a generalist or as a specialist. If I use them for specialization, I'm going to be very good in a limited area; if I spread them out, I'm going to be adequate in more things.[/list:u]

            That's a very competitive way of looking at comparative character creation in Narrativist games.  It seems to me that such a system would be ideal for efficacy unbalance; take the Great Leslie as an example.  His "excellent at anything" descriptor is going to pretty much overshadow anyone else's batch.  The reason this causes no problem is because, in a Narrativist game, it isn't important what a character can do; all that matters is what they're for.  If you take the "five descriptors" as limitations of what your character can do, then I believe you are missing the point with Narrativism (I can't say for sure, I never feel comfortable with my estimation of what that is).

            Quote from: M. J. Young
              [*]At first blush, Multiverser would seem to have ignored all of these limiters. The rules start with the idea of creating yourself as a character, and thus the limitation for most characters is whether they adequately and accurately define the players. Thus if you declare yourself equal to an Olympic medalist as a swimmer, the referee might well challenge you to provide some sort of evidence that you're that good, whereas if you merely say that you've got professional training as a life guard and were a member of the swim team in college you'll probably get professional, but not expert, level in this. But then, the rules allow you to play the "not I" character as well. At this point, the player is imagining what he wants to be. If he takes a character from elsewhere, such as playing James Bond or Luke Skywalker or "My elf fighter magic user from the D&D game we use to play", the limitations carry over from there. But if he merely says, "this is my character idea," it could be absolutely anything, and there are no mechanical limits on that. Yet there is a subjective limit included: the player has to clear his character with the referee. Personally I can barely imagine a character I wouldn't approve; but then, I can always bring the level of the game up to match the level of the character.[/list:u]

              So you relegate the mixture of the game's characters on the gamemaster's plate?  That works pretty good (but can require gamemasters of some skill at times).  Do you offer any advice or techniques on how to 'clear characters?'  What suggestions do you offer when two people want characters who are clearly of far different caliber?  I'm always curious how other games do that.

              In Scattershot, because we felt it important to support the idea, and feeling, that the game is a shared experience/creation/toy, we decided to get more of this 'clear the character' process into the group effort.  Since everyone has a quick grasp of the character's impact on the game in terms of efficacy or 'plot weight' from the number of their Development Points, they may either adjust their expectations or negotiate.  That eliminates the 'oh I made the wrong character for this game' disappointment.

              I know this is a highly unusual way of doing it, but I can't see any way doing this entirely with a point-based system or a text-based system so Scattershot uses both the Persona Development Points and the Sine Qua Non Technique in concert.  We feel this makes the game 'more approachable' to gamemasters and players who are not confident in their skills as might be necessary in Multiverser.

              Quote from: M. J. Young
              Now, it seems to me that you're really trying to do the sort of character creation Multiverser uses: create the idea, then convert it to stats directly. But you've got these points in the middle, the function of which seems to be to facilitate evaluating the relative power of the characters in the game. Yet clearly from your examples the points don't tell that. If I'm going to play the Dr. Zarkov character, I'm going to have a massive amount of skills in sciences and technologies. For the sake of completion, I'll probably have everything from astral navigation to glassmaking. It's going to cost a fortune to be complete--yet it's not going to make my character more potent or even more important than Flash Gordon, whose points are all in looks, strength, agility, and courage. The point system tells me how many points I spent; it doesn't really tell me anything about how strong a character I've created. That's too subjective.

              (All point systems are subjective; some acknowledge that fact, others insist they are 'balanced.')

              During initial Personal Development, points are shorthand.  They are acknowledged to be subjective.  The problem is the assumption that all skills have the same weight from Genre Expectation to Genre Expectation; that isn't the case.  In a Flash Gordon Genre Expectation, it is clear that the game will not turn on the use of a narrowly defined science skill, therefore you do not split them up into astral navigation, physics, sub-nuclear particle acceleration, and et cetera.  You simply take a 'sciences' skill (and, if desired, make a list that limits the range of sciences the skill is good for).

              The points come up in three ways.  They are shorthand for character efficacy and 'narrative requirements' during initial Persona Development.  They are a mechanism to spending the reward units of the game in the aggressive Design-in-Play Persona Development Mechanix.  And finally, they afford a numerical basis for the effects of the resolution Mechanix (both when using abilities that 'grant skills' or when taking catastrophic injury - like gaining a disfigurement).

              This spreads out where and when the points are used.  One thing I have never liked about most point-based systems is that once you've made your character, you're done with them, the points never come up in the game.  What a waste.

              Quote from: M. J. Young
              I've never used a point-based character creation system; I've used point-based character improvement systems. I'm not exactly looking for how your points limit characters or impact design decisions or influence play. I'm looking for why you have the points at all, as opposed to just going directly from character concept to character stats.

              Well, since making a stat (or average skill or power or ability) higher than 10 costs simply a matter of as many points as it is over 10, this is a pretty thin membrane at character creation.

              See, the problem is you've fallen into the trap of thinking that Development Points are only of use during character creation.  You keep trying to determine why they are necessary at all based on how necessary they are at character creation.  If that were all they were for, you'd be absolutely correct; they're useless.  But it isn't and you can't judge them on that criterion alone.  If you didn't use them for the aggressive Design-in-Play Development Mechanix, if you didn't use them for determining the results of certain situations of die resolution, then yes, they have no use.  However, if they did everything they do but Persona Development, you'd be asking why they weren't there too.

              I think.

              Quote from: M. J. Young
              Perhaps this will help explain; let me suggest an alternative way to do it.

              Each player takes a piece of paper and writes up a character concept. He includes the name of the character, any description he thinks important, and an idea of who the character is (your sine qua non) including what kinds of abilities he has without reference to system mechanics. Thus for Dr. Zarkov, "brilliant scientist whose theories put him a bit outside traditional scientific circles and thus forced him to develop skills in a vast array of technologies in order to continue his work building equipment to explore space". For Flash Gordon, "All-American football player in the handsome hero mold with plenty of physical prowess but not a lot of emphasis on education". Now once those papers are written, everyone passes his paper to the player on his left. That player reads over the paper and considers, if I had to translate this character into game terms, how would I do it? He converts the character to game stats, and gives it back to the player who wrote the concept. Obviously the Zarkov character will have a high intelligence and a lot of appropriate skills in the sciences and technologies, and the Gordon character will have high strength, agility, stamina, and maybe personal skills.

              At no point in that did you need points. The points don't add anything to the effort that I can see. And this is my problem with the unlimited points system you're using: the points don't add anything. I have to decide how strong Flash is based on my concept of how strong Flash should be, whether I do that by saying, "Flash has a 17 strength, so that's 7 points" or just "Flash has a seventeen strength".

              You are absolutely correct.  However, since it becomes an effort in futility to try and compose a list of technologies that Dr. Zarkov is good at, and make sure you capture everything that might come up in an over-the-top, serial, space opera game, how do you appreciate his skills without having him 'hog the limelight' by pulling play into scientific circles?  You can let the gamemaster 'figure it out' or you can create a set up where the occurrences of technologies Dr. Zarkov is able to 'use with impunity' is limited by the same resource that lets Flash 'save the day.'  We made those resources directly tied to the exact same mechanism used 'in the background' of character creation.

              Another mistake you appear to make is assuming that everyone cares how many points go into a character; this is not always the case.  The strangest thing occurred when we began testing the 'give them as much as they want' Persona Development Mechanix.  They didn't know what to take.  "The points are 'too big,'" they said.  "What do we need to take?" they asked.  "Just take what fits your Sine Qua Non," we answered.  "What if that's too many?"  "We'll add it up later if it's important, don't worry about that now."

              And you know what?  No one has ever 'gone nuts' with the points.  Only a few times have we added up the totals and compared them (and those were only the times that the players decided to match points).  You're really putting too much emphasis on what the points do or limit 'up front.'  It only takes seconds to total up the points a character is built with and it isn't necessary in every case.  The most frequent example is when the points are used to point out to a player where they have taken abilities implied that they didn't want.

              So in other words, all you say is "Flash has a 17 Strength."  When someone else sees that, they can go, "That's superhuman, is Flash supposed to be superhuman?"  Or Dr. Zarkov's player can say, "hey, Flash has 19 points, but I have 37; is that okay?"  (And then someone can point out to him about the 'take Sciences instead and buy them as you need them' part.)  You could almost say that, during initial Persona Development, Development Points are optional, just another way of looking at the character.  There certainly isn't any complicated math to them (the resolution system has more math than the points do).

              Quote from: M. J. Young
              I find it difficult to imagine that you've included a point system which
                [*]doesn't limit either maximum or minimum character power
                [*]doesn't adequately measure character power and
                [*]doesn't impact game play[/list:u]

                You've created a list of the common misconceptions about point-based game mechanics here.  Let me explain:
                  [*]No point system (especially coupled with an improvement mechanic) ever truly limits a character.  A barbarian in the senate is not worth the points he's built with, nor is the senator in the jungle.  (Scattershot's points clue the group into the fact that the game will need to go both into the jungle and the senate in order for everyone to be properly validated.  If a player goes to the trouble to spend points on something, you know that's what they want to do; vis a vis the 'rights to the narrative' I was talking about.)
                  [*]Per the barbarian and the senator, it should be obvious that no point system "adequately measures character power." The best I think they can do is indicate player interest.
                  [*]As most character creation point systems are not used past character creation, they don't impact game play (except by front loading it).  (Scattershot does use them in play with both the aggressive Persona Development Mechanix and the application of extreme die resolution outcomes.)[/list:u]I'm beginning to believe you might be calling out problems on a technique of game design you don't care for, for no other reason than you don't like it.  Is this the case?

                  Quote from: M. J. Young
                  Thus I'm looking to find out what the points actually do, besides create the illusion of a limiting system. Now, maybe that's all they have to do; maybe if the players have to "spend points" on their character abilities it doesn't matter that the points are free and unlimited as long as the psychology of spending them impacts at some point. But for someone who has no concept of how many points are appropriate to spend, and for someone who really grasps that there are no consequences for "overspending", that's lost. You say a typical character runs about 25 points. How does the game respond to the character that comes in at two hundred fifty points? That might not be Gamist system breaking; that could very easily happen with a player trying to create a very strong generalist, or even a character who is very good in several fields.

                  I just don't get where you have this idea that "there are no consequences for 'overspending.'"  The consequences are clear; the rest of the group will have clear-cut issues to point to when suggesting that your Persona "doesn't fit" the expectations of the game.  In a game with four 25-or-so characters, the player with a character of 250 points will have to explain both the detail and the efficacy as it relates to the Genre Expectations.

                  Let's toss out my most prevalent example.  Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman is about Superman and his cronies back at the Daily Bugle.  Since we are to assume that Clark and Lois are peers in reporting, the presence of Superman's powers completely blows the point apportionment out of the water.  (Unless you want to suggest that Lois' experience alone matches the points involved in being Superman, but then what about Jimmy Olsen?)  How did such an imbalance happen?

                  Let me speculate.  (We'll assume the series is the game that resulted from a group Persona Development that occurs in a world with no Superman.)  The Genre Expectations chosen for the game is the basic (to four-color) comic book superhero set-up.  Now one player chooses to make a 'damsel in distress' character that's a reporter (not considering the height of powers potentially available, maybe expecting a Batman or Green Arrow type of hero).  Without knowing it, another makes a cub report/photographer for a similar role 'in distress' or maybe as 'a buddy.'   Finally, much to everyone's surprise, the other player makes Superman.

                  So what do you do?  In a point-cut-off system, Superman has to 'dumb down' his character while Lois and Jimmy gotta hunt up more things to spend on; ultimately nobody gets to play who they wanted.  In Scattershot, the group notices that Lois and Jimmy are both newspaper oriented and discusses 'how neat' it would be to poke around in the traditional superhero world from the perspective of newspaper reporters.  The only change necessary is Superman's secret identity becomes a newspaper reporter as well (not a big stretch, I expect anyone who spends that much on powers probably doesn't think much of their secret identity).  Now the game is about superhero reporting (with the periodic 'throw the dog a bone' ending, using Superman's powers); everybody basically gets to play the character they wanted to.

                  And yes, the points didn't mean much on an individual level.  They aren't supposed to.  Points are a tool, you don't use every tool in your box on every project do you?  The people who seem to care the most usually self-select as the Joueur Approach; the Techniques for that put points to the front and usually call for the players to come up with some point-level challenge limits (who can make the best character on 40 points?).  Scattershot can't be made to satisfy every Approach all the time; it is supposed to be available to all but the extremes though.

                  Does that answer the question?

                  Fang Langford
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                  Le Joueur
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                  « Reply #11 on: November 12, 2002, 10:49:21 AM »

                  Hi Andrew,

                  Sounds like you've got a poser, let me see....

                  Quote from: Andrew Martin
                  I'm also curious about the points system in Scattershot. I've got players who would take all the points available to them and then some.

                  Simple question: "And do what with them?"  Will they be able to justify the expenditure in their Sine Qua Non?  (That's why we use both and an example of a different order 'to mix ingredients.')

                  Fang Langford
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                  « Reply #12 on: November 12, 2002, 11:07:05 AM »

                  Thanks Chris,

                  You may have put it into better terms than I have so far.  It's funny how many people seem to think I have Scattershot 'done' somewhere and am just thimbling out information (I dunno, for attention?).  The real state of affairs is that I've gone so far outside of traditional game design that I have a hard time expressing my thoughts so that they may be understood easily.  This is why I consider having a forum a huge boon to the work.  May I use your characterization of Scattershot if it comes up?

                  Quote from: Bankuei
                  Quote from: M. J. Young
                  Thus I'm looking to find out what the points actually do, besides create the illusion of a limiting system.

                  After checking deeper into Fang's reply, and his older threads, I see that points basically serve as "importance meters".  Sine Qua Non is effectively a mission statement; a statement about character concept, the points are seeing it in action, the fine print if you will.  [Exactly; rights to the narrative and all.]

                  I think the biggest unstated assumption that's going on here is that the social contract is in control and the group as a whole will find a balance for the use of points.  The assumption is that everyone is trying to play intelligently and is responsible and shouldn't require explicit rules to tell you not to design a superhero for a gritty game just as there are no explicit rules telling folks to be cool, not be assholes to one another, or not randomly stab each other with kitchen knives.  [I always felt that it said a lot about the state of the writing in the industry that there's this assumption that everyone will want to 'exploit the rules.'  I believe in good gamesmanship and write frequently of expecting it.]

                  Notice that most of the problems come up in games from that social contract problems, which have more to do with players and the GM not being on the same page about such things, or one player not fitting with the other players.  [And I don't plan on writing that part of social contract into any game system.]

                  Let's not forget that I wrote Genre Expectations into the Mechanix as an aid to 'get on the same page' for all involved.  Thanks a lot for the kind words Chris.

                  Fang Langford
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                  « Reply #13 on: November 12, 2002, 11:28:39 AM »

                  Mike and I have discussed this before (thanks for bringing it up Mike) and it's true; the costs for stats are pretty much a 'double' rating.  However, since 'powers construction' for Joueur Approach superhero gaming seats them comfortably (and with familiarity for the Joueur players), points stand well enough during 'very custom' Persona Development.

                  At one point we did actually test 'single rating' on the stats (and other ratings).  A Strength rating of 15 costs, well...15 and et cetera.  It fell flat.  The feedback was that the 'much higher' number of points to create a Persona eradicated the 'importance meter' effect of using 'fat points.'  Following that we considered using a 'zero centered' mechanic (where zero is average); the reaction to that was that it was too counter-intuitive (we have some very vociferous playtesters).  Which left us back at the original (with notes of 'why change what worked?').

                  To be honest, there isn't as much need to track ratings for stats as there is for Advantages, Disadvantages, skills, and powers.  In fact, the primary way of noting character 'importance' isn't by looking at the points, but looking at the number of things listed (we've even entertained the idea of doing away with stats entirely, so few people alter them; again deemed counter-intuitive).  The points only come up, as has been noted, by seeing the concentrations of them (and matching that to the Sine Qua Non).  "Sure he's got 12 skills, but he spent 10 points on these three!"

                  To be fair, I think that I should explain that the 'natural human' ranges of all ratings (stat or otherwise) is 8-14; in playtest, people quickly get used to 'sight reading' the points spent thus without a second notation.  If there were a way to not use points for a part of character creation (the stats) without it seeming counter-intuitive, we'd try it.  (Abandoning points altogether wouldn't work well for Joueur Approaches to combat where Telling Blows result in Disadvantages and the like.)

                  Fang Langford
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                  Mike Holmes
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                  « Reply #14 on: November 12, 2002, 12:04:16 PM »

                  You are arguing in circles. It all comes down to the fact that you need them for the gamist play. Presumably because they are "power balancing" to make it all "fair", right? Or is there some other reason you can explain?

                  But the problem is that you've already pointed out how point systems fail to make power balanced characters.

                  So, why would we want it for The Gamist version if it doesn't work. And why would we want it for the other versions if it does nothing at all for them? It sounds like you are saying that people ignore them in those modes of play anyhow. Which, frankly, is what I'd do with them if I were to play. Just like I do with GURPS, Hero, etc.

                  MJ is right, you haven't demonstrated their usefulness beyond balancing, and they are of dubious use for balancing.

                  Note that I believe you can make a balanced point based system (some sort of balance anyhow). Just that this isn't it, and niether are many systems that exist. Also, there is a potentially different and interesting use for points which is in-game. Which you seem to have, poossibly, but won't let us in on. But as an example, In Hero System, the number of points in a power determine how hard it is to drain for example, or what size pool can contain that power. Very important in play. Not particularly well designed, as far as efficiency goes, but it works.

                  BTW, Fang, the reason people believe that Scattershot is a complete game that you are only thimbling out, is because that's how you present it. It's never, "Scattershot will have x, y, z when it's done". It's, "In Scattershot, this is how this works." It's hard to swallow that you know that any of it works when you don't apparently have an entire system. And if you've actually played it, and know it works, then where's the rest of the system?

                  Do you see the problem? It also makes commenting difficult. There is this feeling that it'll all make sense someday, once we see it all. But until then all we can do is wait. Are you interested in feedback and suggestions, Fang, or are you just here to design a game in front of everybody?

                  Mike
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