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Default Sinister Design - The Evolution of RPG Character Creation

September 26th, 2012, 00:40
Sinister Design's Craig Stern wrote an editorial on the evolution of character creation in RPG's, how they came about and what they mean in todays RPGs.
"Now you might say, “Who cares? I’m playing this game to role play, not to create a super character.” That’s a good attitude to have, but why don’t we really test it out? Role play someone who is not skilled in combat or movement/stealth skills. Someone who is skilled only in areas that don’t play into the game’s emergent systems. It almost doesn’t matter which game we pick to perform this experiment in. Try to successfully complete–oh, say, Fallout 2–by role-playing a scientist. Go ahead. Roll up a new character and put all of her points into the Science skill. No save scumming, now. Or how about a scientist-doctor? Maybe one who loves hiking. Stick all your points in Science, Doctor and Outdoorsman. See how well that works out.
"Better yet, don’t. I’ll save you some time: you are going to die. Repeatedly. With few opportunities to level up, your character is going to stagnate, and you are going to struggle to get much of anywhere in the game unless you are already intimately familiar with its details. (Of course, there’s no point in having a discussion about game balance using someone who knows how to speed run the game in under 30 minutes as our reference point.)
"The point is, cRPGs aren’t pen-and-paper role-playing games. There’s no Dungeon Master to appeal to with creative uses for your characters’ various skills. Every last skill check that applies to a non-emergent game system has to be incorporated into the game in advance. The average player’s skills are useful in direct proportion to the number of times the game checks for them. Skills which are rarely used may serve a role-playing purpose, but they can also completely undercut a player’s enjoyment of the game by making survival and progression extremely difficult based on front-loaded choices the player is forced to make blindly."
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September 26th, 2012, 00:40
i just made progress in Dark souls . woohoo, new bonfire
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September 26th, 2012, 03:28
Actually, those skills are pretty useful in Fallout 2. I see the point, but might have been better to pick a different game.
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September 26th, 2012, 05:26
Kind of neat that Brian Fargo weighed in on the article.
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September 26th, 2012, 10:12
“Who cares? I’m playing this game to role play, not to create a super character.”
Who cares? Most players, who play so called RPGs to build up a monster of characteristics a and run through numbers to determine the best path to optimization.

The article does not hold water. It starts from the now common and well spread misconception, that what is called elsewhere skirmish games, when ported on computers, turn into RPGs.

Role playing happens through situations. in a skirmish game, combat is central. In a RPG, situations are central. Combat can be one situation, among many others.

From this confusion, the failed conclusion: scientists, or anyone pushing for non combat skills (or something) are naturally at a disadvantage in a RPG.
They are not. They might be in a skirmish game though.

In a RPG, the possibility is naturally excluded: a player is fed with situations to build up her character into his role and as consequence, it is not possible for a character to gain experience by facing situations that are not related to the underlying skill or talent.
Not possible for a scientist to gain experience in science from situations that are not related to science.

As players keep depicting games that are mainly skirmish games as RPGs, there will be flawed conclusions.
In a skirmish game, there is no issue when a experience system rewards without causation. There is nothing wrong when a character grows more stealthy because the player chooses to spend the experience points on the stealth talent while the character never went stealthy and only kill brutally opponents.
In a RPG, this disconnection between the cause and effect is often the evidence that the underlying situation to allow roleplaying is not provided in the first place.
No situation, no roleplaying possible.

The other failed conclusion is that you roleplay a character by allocating points in a progression system. Which is another non sense as roleplaying is independent of a system of progression. Roleplaying happens in a fixed characteristic system.
Between two levels and without any progression system, you roleplay in a RPG.
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September 26th, 2012, 18:01
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
Who cares? Most players, who play so called RPGs to build up a monster of characteristics a and run through numbers to determine the best path to optimization.

The article does not hold water. It starts from the now common and well spread misconception, that what is called elsewhere skirmish games, when ported on computers, turn into RPGs.

Role playing happens through situations. in a skirmish game, combat is central. In a RPG, situations are central. Combat can be one situation, among many others.

From this confusion, the failed conclusion: scientists, or anyone pushing for non combat skills (or something) are naturally at a disadvantage in a RPG.
They are not. They might be in a skirmish game though.

In a RPG, the possibility is naturally excluded: a player is fed with situations to build up her character into his role and as consequence, it is not possible for a character to gain experience by facing situations that are not related to the underlying skill or talent.
Not possible for a scientist to gain experience in science from situations that are not related to science.

As players keep depicting games that are mainly skirmish games as RPGs, there will be flawed conclusions.
In a skirmish game, there is no issue when a experience system rewards without causation. There is nothing wrong when a character grows more stealthy because the player chooses to spend the experience points on the stealth talent while the character never went stealthy and only kill brutally opponents.
In a RPG, this disconnection between the cause and effect is often the evidence that the underlying situation to allow roleplaying is not provided in the first place.
No situation, no roleplaying possible.

The other failed conclusion is that you roleplay a character by allocating points in a progression system. Which is another non sense as roleplaying is independent of a system of progression. Roleplaying happens in a fixed characteristic system.
Between two levels and without any progression system, you roleplay in a RPG.
Do you also have a definition of "gobbledygook"?

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September 26th, 2012, 19:02
Originally Posted by RPGFool View Post
Do you also have a definition of "gobbledygook"?

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I was thinking the same.
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September 26th, 2012, 22:35
Originally Posted by RPGFool View Post
Do you also have a definition of "gobbledygook"?

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Never heard or read that word. Contrary to RPG.

But you should have one since you use that word… Or you dont mind using words you do not know the definition of. Something like that.
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