Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dump those stats

Today I made the dubious decision to do some reading on the Pathfinder forums.  I found a curious debate on stat dumping and watched with glee as people tore at each other over how to deal with it.  In any version of DnD I have seen, and indeed in most RPGs, characters have stats that have practically no benefit to them so they set them as low as possible to get more points to maximize their high stats.  Of course there are many different ideas on how to deal with this.  Some people insist that characters with a 7 Intelligence be actively roleplayed as being learning disabled or that 7 Charisma characters must be pariahs or victims of hideous deformative scarring.  Others just figure that everybody is going to do it, so why worry if all the characters are super overpowered and every fighter is dumb as a post and every wizard is weak as a kitten?  Of course nearly everybody is ugly and offensive aside from the few classes that need Charisma.

The best part of the whole schmozzle is that nobody thought to suggest that perhaps all stats should provide some kind of mechanical benefit!  Obviously it would be very strange if fighters were more powerful in combat if they were extremely handsome and had a winning smile rather than being strong but if Charisma had some kind of benefit people wouldn't feel *obligated* to trash their Charisma or foolish if they bothered to make it decent.  Of course DnD would need a pretty substantial rewrite to achieve this but it seems to me that being really clever should have some kind of benefit in a fight!  Being good looking might be a harder sell, though...

In skyRPG I spent an enormous amount of time coming up with a system that avoided stat dumping.  I wanted every stat to matter in a fight to everyone so that people could avoid the choice between decent roleplaying and being good at things.

Strength - Physical damage reduction (by letting you wear heavier armor)
Dexterity - Physical avoidance
Constitution - Hit Points
Intelligence - Determines turn order
Wisdom - Magical damage reduction
Charisma - Magical avoidance

Now everything matters.  Of course some stats are going to end up mattering more than others because a Marksman uses Dexterity to hit more, Strength to do more damage, and Intelligence to determine their Energy but those stats are noted as favoured stats.  You get a specific pool of points and upgrades that go into your favoured stats and another pool into your non favoured stats.  Want to have a really low stat for roleplaying purposes?  Go nuts!  You will, however, be weak in that area.  Want to have one massive stat?  Go nuts!  It won't make you overpowered though.

What I most like is that putting points into Intelligence is good for a Fighter type.  You go first!  Smart!  How about Charisma?  You shrug off spells!  With your ... winning smile?  Want to build a strong Wizard who uses heavy armour?  Do it!  One of the defining goals of skyRPG is to make it so that people can play the widest possible variety of interesting archetypes without being ineffective.  It is possible to build a bad character and it is possible to optimize your play but ideally there should be many, many ways to build a character that is numerically comparable to everybody else.

Note:  Both class names and stat names may not reflect the actual names of things in my RPG.  They have been made generic so it will be easier for people other than me to know what the hell I am talking about.

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