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November 5th, 2008, 23:03
The latest Scars of War blog update talks about breaking out of a mindset and how that changed the character system:
The fundamental change to character creation was the move to Build Points, a concept I ripped directly from Shadowrun, although Iím sure a number of other systems use the concept as well. The basic idea is that you have a number of points with which to build your character and a pool of character options to choose from. Each option costs points, and you can spend on these features until your points are depleted.
Sounds fairly familiar to normal stat buy systems, right? Not quite. The fundamental difference is that your build point pool is shared across ALL character creation options. In a standard point buy system you might have 10 points to distribute on attributes and 100 points to spend on skills. All characters within that system will have the same number of attribute points to spend, 10.
In a build point system you would have say 120 points, which you choose to distribute across attributes AND skills as you see fit. You can spend more on attributes if you want, but that in turn leaves less points left over to spend on skills. Characters arenít guaranteed to have the same amount of distributed attribute points.
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November 5th, 2008, 23:03
As one of the disdained minority who believes fervently that game mechanics are the very soul of an RPG, I find the post interesting. However, I don't think blogface makes a great argument for his system. The reason to keep starting skills and starting attributes separate is clear: Skills should increase easily (either use-based, or experience-based), whereas attributes should increase slowly or not at all. Look, it's in the name: Attribute means something fundamental about yourself. Skills are what you pick up along the way.

In his own example, he shows how skills increase when you gain experience, but he doesn't mention attributes going up via experience. With that in mind, I'm not goning to be eager to take points away from my attributes to put them into starting skills. I'd be stuck with the low attributes for the whole game (maybe), and the skills I buy will just put me a little ahead of the curve. F that, you shortsighted blogface. That approach didn't work for mortgages, and it doesn't work for my characters.
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November 6th, 2008, 03:31
Sounds pretty much like GURPS, which worked well enough as I recall.
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November 6th, 2008, 08:34
Blogface? What the…?

The reason to keep starting skills and starting attributes separate is clear: Skills should increase easily (either use-based, or experience-based), whereas attributes should increase slowly or not at all.
They do AFTER character creation. But character creation is taking into account your entire childhood/teen years, essentially. The choices you make will dramatically affect how your character comes out, for example a person who plays sport all through school is going to be a lot stronger than that same person who spends all his time on a computer (cough me cough), right?

Within initial character creation you are essentially choosing all that history, so attributes are far more malleable at that point.

Attribute means something fundamental about yourself.
I'd argue that attributes, even once you are an adult, are more malleable than that, especially the physical ones. Go to gym, take up running, learn ballet. Watch how dramatically you can change your strength/endurance/agility via practice. You can certainly change those at similar speeds to how quickly you can learn to be an expert with computers/physics/medicine. In fact it would probably be a lot quicker for you to become a good (not necessarily great) athlete than a decent doctor. But, this is a game, and I'm not aiming for realism, just an enjoyable facsimile. So attributes are harder to increase than skills AFTER character creation.

In his own example, he shows how skills increase when you gain experience, but he doesn't mention attributes going up via experience.
After character creation it is possible to increase your attributes via certain traits which represent extensive practice. These traits are expensive in terms of XP, so you can't just spam the increases to get a demi-god. There also have limits to how much each trait can increase a stat past their starting level, so there is that to bear in mind.

With that in mind, I'm not going to be eager to take points away from my attributes to put them into starting skills.
That's kinda the point. I don't want it to be easy for you to just choose attributes OR skills. You must balance them. There is also a limit to how many points you can put into attributes, so you cannot just make a character who is godlike in everything and hope that compensates for having almost no skill levels in anything.

Also, to be clear, while attributes provide benefits to a broader range of actions, they aren't as focused as the individual skills. In other words, taking the Melee skill provides more of a direct benefit to your attack rating per level than increasing your Agility. If you spread your points mainly around your attributes you won't be as good in specific fields (like combat) as a character who buys the focused skills in those areas.

F that, you shortsighted blogface.
No need to be hostile, I'm certainly willing to discuss and clarify my post.

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November 6th, 2008, 19:53
Hey Gareth, I posted some game environment interactivity questions for you on the Scars thread under RPG discussion in the AoD forums. Can you reply to them when you have a chance?

I Laos posed the question whether you can put up a FQ here, on AoD forums, and on you're forum with you're descriptions and replies to some of our questions about the game and gameplay.
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November 6th, 2008, 21:36
Oh, I have a need to be hostile alright. I'm an ancient, nerdy man living with a hot little 22 year-old roommate who walks around in skin-tight sweat clothes that show off her every delectable curve while failing to cover her perfectly flat midriff. And she's sweet and friendly to boot. I emit hostility and carbon dioxide with roughly the same frequency.

That notwithstanding, I see what you're saying. I further concede that if you're designing a game, you've got a responsibility to yourself to bring your own vision to life. Further further, I of course remember games like OK now I don't remember for sure, but Megatraveller maybe or was it Twilight 2000, where character generation involved picking previous careers for your characters (in four year chunks), and the longer you had them work pre-game, the more skills they had but the older they got, the more their attributes sagged. And that was pretty cool.

Oh tee oh aitch, the biggest reason for keeping attributes and skills separate in character creation lies in balancing. It seems to me that it's hard enough to balance skills relative to themselves, and attributes relative to THEYselves. If you've got a common pool of points to be spent on both, then you have a far trickier dance of balancing to do.

And here is where the "natural" schism between attributes and skills comes into play. I certainly hear and agree with your point that a good exercise program will increase your strength and endurance tremendously. But what about the other, less fix-able attributes? If someone has an IQ of 80, that IQ isn't going up via mental gymnastics. If someone has lightning fast reactions, then training his marksmanship will make him a killing machine, sure. But if someone is slow on the draw, or naturally clumsy, all the marksmanship training in the world won't do much to help him overcome his natural shortcomings.

Traditionally, to the extent that anyone's thought about it, this has been the divider between attributes and skills. Attributes represent a raw potential, and skills represent ever increasing competency. I guess in my mind, the limiting function of attributes is what forces hard choices at character creation, since you have to make tradeoffs that enable eventual greatness in one class of actions while condemning yourself to eternal mediocrity in another.

But on reflection I see that this is just one way of doing it. You know, my favorite game Jagged Alliance 2 has a character creation system where attributes and skills and health are all priced equally. And that worked out pretty well too.

Ultimately, while you may envision the job of balancing skills versus attributes as falling on the player, I view that task as yours. To the extent that a point system undervalues an attribute relative to an important skill, or vice versa, I end up feeling constrained because I don't want to gimp my characters. My poor, naive characters are counting on me to make sure that I don't make any decisions that stop them from reaching their full, kiltastic potential by the end of the game. I dream of a system that is so well balanced that a sensible person cannot gimp his guys, but I know that's a harder thing to imagine than to produce.
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November 7th, 2008, 00:00
While we can't host a separate Forum for SoW, I'd be happy to Pin a SoW FAQ type thread where Gareth could post all the key details of his game in our General RPG Forum.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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November 7th, 2008, 00:38
I have to disagree on the strength/endurance analogy: while exercise can (and _will_) make you stronger, there's always someone out there who'll do more with the same amount of exercise. And, regardless, at one point, it just comes down to how you're built. Just saying, though, I think the system is interesting this way too.
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November 7th, 2008, 14:58
@ Buckaroo : Sorry for not answering your questions on ITS, I will do so asap.

Thanks for the offer Corwin, really appreciate it.

However, something far cooler than a FAQ thread is coming soon, I'll update you all when the time comes.

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