Attributes & Priorities: A Design Thesis

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higgins
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Re: Attributes & Priorities: A Design Thesis

Post by higgins » 25 Apr 2015, 04:29

Daeruin wrote:Someone said every priority starts out at tier C, and to get tier B or A you have to choose a lower tier in a different priority. Did I misunderstand?
We have a point buy system to purchase tiers with no default assumption on how you're going to spend on them. However we do point out that if you choose each tier exactly once (much like TROS character creation had you do), you automatically spend all your default points and create a well rounded character with both strengths and weaknesses. That said, choosing all middle tiers spends all your default points also, but this isn't some kind of default package you're handed out to begin with.

As for your standpoint that you'd prefer attributes not being part of the priority system, what about characters that are more or less defined by their well rounded attributes, or the lack thereof? Not sure whether you've read The First Law trilogy, but Logen vs Glokta would be a perfect example of this. Same thing with Jon Snow vs Samwell Tarly. Do you really see Jon and Sam having an equal amount of attribute points to spend?
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Agamemnon
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Re: Attributes & Priorities: A Design Thesis

Post by Agamemnon » 28 Apr 2015, 00:09

higgins wrote:As for your standpoint that you'd prefer attributes not being part of the priority system, what about characters that are more or less defined by their well rounded attributes, or the lack thereof? Not sure whether you've read The First Law trilogy, but Logen vs Glokta would be a perfect example of this. Same thing with Jon Snow vs Samwell Tarly. Do you really see Jon and Sam having an equal amount of attribute points to spend?
This is a big one for me. Conan is never really described as being the most expert swordsman, or really even the most learned at anything. What he is, is a character who is supposed to represent the best of primal man. He's ridiculously strong, and agile, and fast.. he's got indomitable will and a brutal cunning to him. He has extremely high attributes all around compared to most "normal" characters. You could make the same argument for an Alexander the Great style character.

On the other hand, Samwell or Glotka are both characters who would have fairly low Attributes when they appear in their story. You could possibly make the same argument for Tyrion, though he is likely more moderate attributes that are stacked in a specific way.

If all characters begin with the same number of attributes, then to represent these, you invariably wind up with some other category boosting attributes or lowering attributes - likely by perks or flaws.. but at that point you're now expending resources to do the same thing in a more roundabout fashion. Why not just allow it to be done directly?
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
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Daeruin
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Re: Attributes & Priorities: A Design Thesis

Post by Daeruin » 04 May 2015, 03:12

Sorry again guys. I wish I had time to stop by more often. I appreciate the time you take to answer questions and provide insight into your thinking about game design.

I'm not sure I like turning the priority chart into a point-buy system. To me, the point of having a priority system is that you're forced to make hard choices about who your character is and who your character definitely isn't. When you are allowed to make middle-of-the-road choices about competency across multiple areas, it encourages different types of characters.

I definitely see your point about naturally talented, primal characters like Conan versus characters who seem underdeveloped or disadvantaged in some way. I know part of your intent with Bastards is to model great fiction. I guess my response would be that you can't model everything in all of fiction equally well, even if you limit it to fantasy or historical fiction. Within those genres you have pretty vast differences that result in sub-genres each requiring their own model if you want to stay really true to the genre. Hence Blade of the Iron throne which tried to stick pretty close to the sword and sorcery genre. They wanted to model Conan, and they seem to have done a pretty good job of it—even though parts of the TROS based combat system don't actually work very well with Conan-style characters in my opinion. To me, a lot of historical fencing moves feel out of context in sword and sorcery.

If you want to stick more closely to historical fiction, then the importance of allowing people to make characters with super high attributes all around seems less critical to me. Conan is clearly an exaggeration of human capacity, while Alexander the Great's greatness could more easily be explained by other factors (social status, access to resources, historical circumstance, etc.). Clearly he was an incredible human in many ways, but I don't believe that real humans have all that much variety when it comes right down to it.

On the other end of the spectrum, characters like Glokta clearly have other talents, like cleverness and specific types of training that tend to make up in some ways for their lack of physical prowess. I'm sure the specific amount of attribute points and their distribution are arguable, but clearly Glokta has high cleverness and willpower to balance his low constitution and strength. Other characters, like maybe Samwell Tarly, simply aren't worth modeling in a game, in my opinion—unless maybe the game had a different focus. If you look at the actual stories told from the point of view of Glokta and Sam-style characters, they tend to focus much more on intrigue and mystery. The stories told in fiction about that type of character also don't tend to mix well with the stories told about more physically oriented characters—at least, they don't mix well in gaming, in my opinion. Players with physical characters moan about the lack of combat during intrigue scenes, while everyone else tends to get bored during combat. Some of that can be made up for with game design and good GMs, but not all of it. Fiction is different though. Sam and Jon share lots of scenes together, but you only get one POV at a time, and only parts of their individual stories overlap. In table top RPGs, you have to share the spotlight, which makes things harder. But maybe that's just me. I'd be interested to hear your perspectives on that. I'm veering into different territory here.

I also wonder if characters like Glokta wouldn't be better modeled by using a life path system.

As for the mixing of priority categories with attributes and with each other... you've given me some good things to think about there. It's not as simple as saying that the categories should never directly influence each other. You've already got some overlap going on with your major edge that allows specialized magic learning, and combining magic and combat into one proficiency category, and of course attributes having their general influence on basically everything. It's more a question of picking what kinds of overlaps there are and how that influences your game design goals.
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Re: Attributes & Priorities: A Design Thesis

Post by Agamemnon » 09 May 2015, 20:36

We're big on customization of the material regardless. With the suggestions already in the book, you can tinker with it however you please.

Don't like point-buy? Disable it. Force one-thing-per-pick. Don't like characters having variable amounts of Attributes? Remove it from the chart and give them however many points you please, or simply rule that everyone has a "B" in Attributes, or whatever else. Characters too powerful? Limit priority picks or reduce total points. Characters not epic enough? Increase points. Want magic to be more common among player characters? Remove the requirements. Feel free to add categories, remove categories, whatever best works for the game you want to play, or even the specific campaign you have in mind.

From a design standpoint, it boils down to:
When designing a platform like this, it's much easier to have a options up front with the guidance on narrowing those options for a specific experience than it is to try to adapt it to do more after the fact.

Out of the box, the mechanics thus far do exactly what we want them to do, but they are admittedly tuned to our tastes. This is not a negative - any game is going to be tuned to someone's taste. So the best we can do is offer plenty of advice and support for how to fine-tune it to your own.
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
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Daeruin
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Re: Attributes & Priorities: A Design Thesis

Post by Daeruin » 10 May 2015, 23:35

Agreed. I love that you are designing this game with adjustments like this in mind. I'm really looking forward to the game.
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Re: Attributes & Priorities: A Design Thesis

Post by Agamemnon » 11 May 2015, 15:19

Daeruin wrote:Agreed. I love that you are designing this game with adjustments like this in mind. I'm really looking forward to the game.
Regardless of how one might feel about Dungeons & Dragons, from a hobby standpoint there is a lot of design value to be had in playing TSR-era D&D. AD&D was kind of a unique game in that I don't know that anyone has ever played it completely by the book. The DM was kind of expected to remix and modify the game as they played it to suit their needs and preferences in the individual campaign.

That idea of using the official rules as a toolbox has always stuck with me, so we've wanted 'bastards to be as hackable as possible from the beginning.
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
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