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Default Age of Decadence - What is an RPG?

January 29th, 2008, 01:15
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
@asbjoern- consider this build:
Medium armor
long blade
marksman
destruction
restoration
——
armorer
alchemy
security
sneak
alteration

I think you've got all the bases covered. Melee? 2 majors and a minor. Caster? 2 majors and a minor. Stealth? 2 minors and a major if you think long range assassin via marksman. Ranger? 2 majors. Cleric/support? 1 major and 2 minors. You can attack via melee, magic or range. You can loot via bash, spell, or lockpick. You ccan heal via spell or alchemy. The only thing missing is the diplomat approach, which could be added by replacing armorer with persuasion. There's a few archetype compromises (like medium armor on a caster), but I call that an all-everything character.
But what prevents you from saying your character is trying to be a Jack-Of-All-Trades? It can be easily explained from a role playing perspective. I just don't see how that build would be unrealistic or somehow overpowered. A pure mage is still going to be more magical then you are because they will be better at other magical schools for example. Wouldn't you be able to get good at several different thing things in real life if you spend the time on them? In my opinion raise skills by doing is the most realistic way to treat character advancement. I can identify with it because that how it works in real life, instead of this whole "level up" craze. Wth is a "level" anyway?

Sure classes have their place, and letting players be awesome in everything is bad, but why not let them be decent at several things at once? And if not, there are other ways to deal with this. For example, Betrayal at Krondor had skills improve by use system, but Mages and non-mages were separated by the fact that only some people had Magical talents and training. Mages were restricted by being forced to use Staffs as weapons, which are obviously not as good as a sword and they didn't get to practice as much martial skills because they would often be in the back casting spells instead. So in the end they wouldn't be able to kill enemies with one or two hits, but if you could keep enemies off of them they could kill off the entire enemy party with one spell. Of course there were other balancing in the game, such as magic taking their Health, but I digress.
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January 29th, 2008, 02:10
Originally Posted by Holly Avenger View Post
Anytime I hear "game X's system was fine as you could choose to not use / ignore feature Y" it always sets alarm bells ringing. Any well thought out system should not require the player to make such choices to maintain balance or challenge.
I disagree. I submit that there is no way to make perfect gameplay for all players, since we all define it differently between each other and even with ourselves over time. Given that, I like (or at least completely forgive) games that err on the side of flexibility and leave it to you to establish your own boundaries. While a line in the sand must be drawn (else you end up with a mushy, pointless world simulation and nothing else) I find that the line is more often drawn in spots more restrictive than I'd prefer.

I know some folks are unfortunate in that they find exercising self-control distracting in a game, and therefore this argument boils down, like so many here, to personal preference. This is similar to my distaste for save-points or other restrictive save scenarios, because I'm always worrying where the next one will be and would prefer to have the option to save-anywhere even if that allows me to abuse the system (similar to abusing a skill system allows for a "superman"). As long as I choose not to abuse the system, I can retain the challenge without being pressured by an unpleasant game mechanic. Fortunately, I'm able to do so without loss of immersion.

I don't want to confuse anyone into thinking that I feel Morrowind or Oblivion are superior RPGs because they allow this flexibility. They have other flaws, although I found them much more palatable than many here. But I don't consider this particular argument against them as having much merit, at least to my own tastes.
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January 29th, 2008, 04:59
Originally Posted by Sergius64 View Post
But what prevents you from saying your character is trying to be a Jack-Of-All-Trades? It can be easily explained from a role playing perspective.
Because of the second half of the platitude, "Master of None". The Morrowind Jack-oat can have identical skills as masters. All of them. At the same time. Dat's jus wrong. There's no choices to be made. No consequences to suffer. Character development is made moot.

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January 29th, 2008, 13:46
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Anyone who is either unable or unwilling to distinguish between an identity and a role has no hope of ever explaining RPG. Most video games don't offer much beyond a mere identity, so I can sort of understand the difficulty.
I regard this comment as important: There's a slight, but noticeable difference between "assuming an identity" and "playing a role".

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 29th, 2008, 14:22
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
There is no "balanced" RP game system either among cRPGs or face-to-face ones. It is the great goal of many to somehow accomplish this but despite 30 years of effort there still isn't one that really is even close.
Perhaps so, but there is still a continuum. Oblivion is less balanced than Morrowind, which is less balanced than NWN(2).

I think a pretty good way to look at it is through the "dominant strategy." If a game has a single strategy that's clearly and unambiguously better than any other strategy it provides, it's unbalanced.

By this measure, Morrowind and Oblivion are unbalanced — the "Jack of all trades" approach is clearly the dominant one, since it gives the most flexible options for dealing with any situation, without any significant penalties.

Conversely, NWN2:MotB is comparatively well balanced, since a carefully built, equipped, and played fighter/duelist/weapon master wielding a pair of rapiers is just about as lethal as a carefully built, equipped, and played sorcerer/arcane scholar of Candlekeep. Similarly, either build will hit situations that are more challenging — or offer more possibilities — than for the other build.
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January 29th, 2008, 15:09
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
By this measure, Morrowind and Oblivion are unbalanced — the "Jack of all trades" approach is clearly the dominant one, since it gives the most flexible options for dealing with any situation, without any significant penalties.
No, not at all. You would waste countless hours building an all 100 stat character in either game and that character would be NO more effective than one that had 100 in a few selected stats. What's the use in either of having 100 in all the weapon skills when any one will do? There aren't any weapons that are particularly effective in some situation where some other weapon won't do just as well, especially to someone with a perfect skill.

Conversely, NWN2:MotB is comparatively well balanced, since a carefully built, equipped, and played fighter/duelist/weapon master wielding a pair of rapiers is just about as lethal as a carefully built, equipped, and played sorcerer/arcane scholar of Candlekeep. Similarly, either build will hit situations that are more challenging — or offer more possibilities — than for the other build.
It is easy to build uber-munchkin characters in D&D and with the computer games there is no GM to say "Uhh, no". They released a bunch of them as downloads for NWN (the original). One could always do over a thousand points of damage with every blow against evil things. Take down those big bad bosses with one swing! Another one always did like 100 to 200 to everyone within 10 feet. Mow through herds of foes like they aren't there!

Let's see, ahh, here is a discussion on abusive NWN2 builds: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=736265
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January 29th, 2008, 16:44
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
No, not at all. You would waste countless hours building an all 100 stat character in either game and that character would be NO more effective than one that had 100 in a few selected stats. What's the use in either of having 100 in all the weapon skills when any one will do? There aren't any weapons that are particularly effective in some situation where some other weapon won't do just as well, especially to someone with a perfect skill.
Yes, that was my point precisely.

It is easy to build uber-munchkin characters in D&D and with the computer games there is no GM to say "Uhh, no". They released a bunch of them as downloads for NWN (the original). One could always do over a thousand points of damage with every blow against evil things. Take down those big bad bosses with one swing! Another one always did like 100 to 200 to everyone within 10 feet. Mow through herds of foes like they aren't there!
That's true, but beside the point, the point being that there is no *single* obvious dominant strategy in NWN2, and therefore NWN2 is better balanced than MW or Oblivion. It would, naturally, be even better balanced if such munchkin builds weren't possible.
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January 29th, 2008, 17:52
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
That's true, but beside the point, the point being that there is no *single* obvious dominant strategy in NWN2, and therefore NWN2 is better balanced than MW or Oblivion. It would, naturally, be even better balanced if such munchkin builds weren't possible.
I don't see what this *single* obvious dominant strategy is in MW or Oblivion. Master all skills? That takes forever and you simply don't need to train most of them. Even if you want a character to rise to the top of all the possible guilds, you'll only needs some skills at 90. I played through MW and both of its expansions with a Warrior, didn't need no magic or thief stuff. Sure I trained Security for the chests, but thats pretty much the only thing required.
Oblivion was seriously flawed by the fact that the game was easier if you trained your minor skills and never leveled, so there was no real point to advance in it at all. So lets leave Oblivion out of the argument.
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January 29th, 2008, 18:06
Master the 10 skills I posted earlier. That's no different mission than what you did with your warrior, but clearly superior due to the added flexibility. Built in Munchkinville, doncha know.

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January 29th, 2008, 18:15
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
No, not at all. You would waste countless hours building an all 100 stat character in either game and that character would be NO more effective than one that had 100 in a few selected stats. What's the use in either of having 100 in all the weapon skills when any one will do? There aren't any weapons that are particularly effective in some situation where some other weapon won't do just as well, especially to someone with a perfect skill.
See previous post
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
It is easy to build uber-munchkin characters in D&D and with the computer games there is no GM to say "Uhh, no". They released a bunch of them as downloads for NWN (the original). One could always do over a thousand points of damage with every blow against evil things. Take down those big bad bosses with one swing! Another one always did like 100 to 200 to everyone within 10 feet. Mow through herds of foes like they aren't there!
Those NWN1 munchkin builds were level 40. I would hope, by the time you max out the epic levels that you would be rather godlike. That said, as PJ points out, the NWN implementation of the D&D system doesn't belong on the "perfect" end of the spectrum either—just far closer than MW.

Lawdy, they're iceskating in hell. PJ and I are fighting on the same side. Oh well, truth, justice and the Ameri….ummm….maybe I'd better stick with truth and justice so I don't make my new ally puke.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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January 29th, 2008, 18:18
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Master the 10 skills I posted earlier. That's no different mission than what you did with your warrior, but clearly superior due to the added flexibility. Built in Munchkinville, doncha know.
Yep, this is the "Jack of all trades" dominant strategy I meant.
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January 30th, 2008, 08:15
Originally Posted by Sergius64 View Post

I can identify with it because that how it works in real life, instead of this whole "level up" craze. Wth is a "level" anyway?
I and many many others don't want every RPG element to precisely mirror everyday reality. RPGs, especially Fantasy RPGs, and especially High-Fantasy RPGs, are escapist forms of entertainment, sometimes with dreamy artistry and creative whimsy attached to the endeavour and project. If you want real life accuracy, then look towards simulations and the FPS genre instead.

Levelling up of characters has been a foundation of RPGs since the early-mid 1970's, when RPGs were in tabletop form with pencils, paper and dice. Fallout and Baldur's Gate are 2 good examples of games with relatively infrequent level-ups which don't induce massive leaps in character power from the previous level to the new one.
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January 30th, 2008, 09:53
It would be totally possible to create a level-less, practice-based character development system that isn't exploitable la Morrowind/Oblivion. The Call of Cthulhu PnP game has something a lot like it, in fact.

Just tie skill improvement to results rather than actions. So, for example, if you defeat a monster with your sword and shield skills, you have a chance of improving them; the tougher the monster, the bigger the probability, and below a certain level of difficulty the probability drops to zero.

Throw in books, trainers (with costs, in money, time, or items, and with level limits), and "entry requirements," and you can set very precise limits on what your character can learn and when.

(By "entry requirements" I mean things like masters only accepting students that share their ethos, or having to choose some (costly) innate talent on character creation in order to be able to use magic; that sort of thing.)

Would this be "better" than a traditional level-up system? Dunno, perhaps, perhaps not, but it would be a viable alternative. In particular, it would make it possible to create a role-playing game where the numbers are "hidden" — they would still be there, but the player would only be able to get at them indirectly.
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January 30th, 2008, 10:26
Agreed. But I'm not excited by that game - I like planning and building characters and that works best with a traditional system.

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January 30th, 2008, 10:58
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Agreed. But I'm not excited by that game - I like planning and building characters and that works best with a traditional system.
You could plan and build a character with this type of system as well. You'd still know what your basic strengths are — you determined that at character creation, and you'd certainly have to have *some* way of seeing how they develop. So instead of assigning points to skills, you'd be actively seeking out masters, looking for opportunities to practice, or buying/searching for books.

It would open up a raft of motivational drivers that are missing in the traditional system. The "quest to find a master" and "quest to please the master" tropes would get more depth, as the connection to your character development would be direct (i.e., the stuff you do immediately affects your skills) rather than indirect (i.e., the stuff you do gains you XP or items you can use to assign points to your character). You could structure entire quest lines, or alternative solutions to quest lines, not only around what skills the character has to have to do them, but what skills the character can/will learn while doing them.

Once more — not necessarily better, but different, and it would offer some interesting new possibilities IMO.
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January 30th, 2008, 14:28
Much in the same way I love Pepperoni Pizza, I love RPGs with infrequent level-ups which induce modest increases in character power and abilities, especially when it's in a fantasy setting (which is by it's very nature, divorced from the everyday reality we experience). Realistic character constraints or character development which adheres to our current human limitations really doesn't interest me at all.
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January 30th, 2008, 14:43
Originally Posted by Arpyjee View Post
Much in the same way I love Pepperoni Pizza, I love RPGs with infrequent level-ups which induce modest increases in character power and abilities, especially when it's in a fantasy setting (which is by it's very nature, divorced from the everyday reality we experience). Realistic character constraints or character development which adheres to our current human limitations really doesn't interest me at all.
Why do you think this approach should necessarily be "realistic" or "adhering to our current human limitations?" All it does is rewires the connections, as it were — your in-game actions plug in directly to your skills, instead of having it go through a visible "switchboard." It doesn't say anything at all about what those skills are — it could be necromancy and evocation just as well as swordsmanship or lockpicking.
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January 30th, 2008, 15:16
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Why do you think this approach should necessarily be "realistic" or "adhering to our current human limitations?" All it does is rewires the connections, as it were — your in-game actions plug in directly to your skills, instead of having it go through a visible "switchboard." It doesn't say anything at all about what those skills are — it could be necromancy and evocation just as well as swordsmanship or lockpicking.
The visible switchboard approach is more divorced from our current reality, more abrupt and overtly displayed, and that's why I and millions of others love it, and don't desire or clamor for an alternate system.

If you are tired of of Pepperoni Pizza and RPGs with level-ups, then clamor all you want - but don't assume everyone else shares (or *should* share) in your subjective desire for something else.
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January 30th, 2008, 15:27
*clamor, clamor*

I like PJ's idea.
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January 30th, 2008, 15:37
Fallout 1 & 2 had great level-ups in the way they were modest and subtle. Your primary mental & physical attributes were basically set in stone, and numerically puny (in comparison to the modern FPS-RPG nonsense, where you have massive leaps into the 100's). So, once you chose your attributes, you basically chose your character's identity and overall capability. The perks (feats) were minimal, and the skills numerous and diverse enough so that most of the time you'd be increasing them in relatively small increments/percentages.

The level-ups on BG 1 & 2 were similar in principle, in that the primary mental & physical attributes were basically set in stone at your initial character creation design of choice - you had to live with the consequences of that design choice, and all of the limitations (and benefits). And when the level-up did arrive, it was never overwhelmingly power-inducing : often, you'd get just one little extra asterisk besides your weapon specialty.

Also, the level-up HP increases in both games were modest as well.

(Gosh, I just LOVE those Pepperoni Pizzas… I NEVER tire of them !)
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