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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Arduin Eternal Design Notes II

Now, on to the next discussion that helped define the system: attributes.  A lively discussion was engaged over this topic that lasted months.  In time we fell into two camps.  Those who wanted a few attributes and those who wanted enough to cover a spectrum.  Which, I realize means I need to back up and define this culminating point a little better.

Let me try again.

When we opened up the discussion as to what we were going to use as attributes we looked at what we had done in the past and what was popular in games.  In the past, Arduin has had the base six (str, int, wis, con, dex, chr) and a few additions (agil, swim, mech, and so on). It even had the composite stats like MA from the Compleat Arduin version.

What we had in mind was providing enough attributes to contribute meaningfully to the game without overwhelming it.  Too few left a small number of attributes influencing a lot of game mechanics.  Too many meant it could be confusing or overly complicated.  After some lively discussion, application in game was considered the paramount deciding factor.  

A point everyone agreed one was to weight the attributes more evenly.  A problem with previous versions of Arduin and in fact in many games was that the attributes are not even in application or even closely so.  For instance, a factor in Arduin, DnD and other like games was strength, howsoever referred to, was overpowering in application within the game.  It provided bonuses to hit, damage, mobility and a host of other functions.  Dex was often the same.  Con and so on.  Charisma/Physical Beauty, however, was not, and was frequently ignored or made a dump stat.  Wisdom and Int often followed, unless one was playing something that relied on those attributes.  Part of the way to combat this uneven influence was to divest the strength of the single attributes across several (ensuring it made sense at the same time) and to bolster the dump stats by providing them with in-game factors that they could influence.  That being said, we ended up breaking up the unreasonable influence of the common strength attribute into three different ones: Strength, your pure muscular power;  Mass, or your bulk; and Size, your height/length.  These three together formed a composite characteristic of Body, which provided a damage bonus.  Not to mention numerous other things, such as how well you grapple against other things (sans skills, luck and a few other factors, of course).  It also plays a part in your durability and the three attributes work in combination to define your movement, resistance to shock/physical impact, swimming, climbing, what you can wield and other physical activities.  

The dexterity styled attribute was equally broken up and became Reflexes (physical reaction capability), Wits (mental reaction capability) and Adroit (physical capability).   Reflexes and Wits combined to make your CF or Count Factor for those familiar with Arduin.  Essentially your initiative to put it in other terms.  Reflexes and Adroit combined to become your overall Coordination.  You use that to wield and/or use things or tinker with them.

Con seemed neither overpowered or underpowered and was left relatively uniform in application.  It was your health in many terms and left in that capacity.

Making that impact more diversified and balanced was easy compared with the others.  The next four we derived helped bolster the internal and social factors that were often overlooked or considered dump areas. Those were Reason, or pure mental ability; Ego or your internal id and will; Essence, or the life force and drive within; and lastly Charisma or you ability to influence others.  These combined into characteristics to give them strong in-game impact.  Reason and Wits become MA or mental acuity.  MA is used as a comprehension factor for specialized mechanics.  Can you learn a spell?  MA plays a part.  Same for any rune, mental power, song, use of herbs, alchemy and whatnot.  Each attribute alone also contributes.  Reason leverages a bonus to how fast you can pick up skills in the skill system.  Ego affects Fear saves and provides resistance to mental damage and effects.  Charisma plays a similar function as does Essence.  In fact, reason, wits and essence come together to define a person's aptitude or APT.  This is a factor of native capacity for power use, such as magic, mental powers, prayers and so on.  Ego and Charisma made Leadership or LEAD.  Individually Charisma empowers most of the social skills and mechanics, providing a bonus.  Lead is a factor of how widely or greatly you can influence.  How well you pick up on things around you is considered perception: that instantaneous realization of circumstances around you.  Its opposite the studied observation of a situation (which is done via the Recon skill).  Perception or PER is made up of Wits, Reason and Ego.

As you can see the attributes affect a wide array of factors and those outlined above are not even all of them.  We ended up with 13 of them.  More than we had originally considered but just right in the end.  You see, we were looking at the end game, the higher end of game play when we started.  Having too few attributes and their corresponding impacts on the game meant that at high end of play they would be overwhelmed.  Additionally, we wanted the majority of the attributes to provide a "bump" or bonus that could be overcome by another being without the same high attribute via the skill system.  The whole idea that  someone's talent helps them initially but can be matched or perhaps even overcome with great work.

As an important factor was we wanted the attributes (and characteristics) to be on the same d100 scale that we agreed on.  Any rolls against them would be done using the d100 against a target difficulty (TD).  That meant they had to be put on that scale 1 - 100 as well.

Another important decision was to map the attributes to races, like Arduin had traditionally done.  That eased a lot of questions and concerns, since each race had defined attribute ranges instead of a series of random rolls that was then applied to a race, who had a template that gave bonuses.  This moved the focus of character creation off of dice rolls first to race selection first.  That was fitting to Arduin history and worked well with the series of attributes we had devised.

Enough for now.  More later on what came next.

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