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May 27, 2012 / Wythe

d6 RPG: further thoughts on refining ability scores

From the archives. This well-thought ramble proves that games are hard as shit to design.

This by P.D., notes from a bed and breakfast somewhere in Maine:

  • I’ve been thinking about PM’s suggestion (twice now) that some sort of arbitrary limit to 6 ability scores is counter-productive. I think there are two reasons that it could be important to have 6 primary traits. 1) aesthetic elegance. as a system, it feels good to have things line up evenly. Granted, this doesn’t make much of a good god damn of difference if the evenly lined-up system doesn’t actually accommodate play. however, 2) intuitive-ness. One of the thing’s we’re doing is trying to make the rules more intuitive (and therefore both easier to teach and more satisfying to use). That’s part of the reason for using the 6 archetypes. There are ways in which they are very intuitive. Flavor-wise. However, mechanically, they are not so intuitive. If the abilities we pick are important to play, then there should be some type (or class) that is the best at each of them. A new player knows… OH… the [blank] is about [trait].
  • That being said, I think it’s unreasonable to imagine that all relevant game mechanics will be contained in 6 numbers. I even already extended the canon to include combat mechanics, and hell, HP is already different from one’s Body/Strength score. so. that’s fine. So, I’m not against coming up with other metrics, but I think that having a CORE 6, with each relating to a CORE 6 classes/archetypes is a good thing to strive for. Part of the confusion may be the co-constitution of the two. As in, we are working in both directions. WM suggested the archetypes, and we are trying to follow their logic toward specific traits, BUT we’ve also played a ton of DnD, and know what kind of traits we’re used to using, so are looking for archetypes that fit them. It’s a little futzy to be doing both logics at once, but I think it’s do-able.
  • I think the one thing most stuck in the craw of this conversation is PERCEPTION. I submit the following meditation on PERCEPTION:
    • As of now we’ve proposed that it be 1) part of Quickness 2) part of Will (Wisdom) 3) part of Luck 4) it’s own ability score 5) a skill?
    • I think Perception being it’s own ability score is not ideal. It just seems boring. Like, I have all 2’s but I roll better than anyone on… perception checks? Not a fun character. But of course, you could roll it in with other things, but then it’s just part of something else, which is what we’re suggesting anyway.
    • Is perception being a naturally attentive soul? a hyper active person? being trained in looking a certain way? just getting lucky? PERCEPTION ROLLS COULD BE ANY OF THOSE
    • As for quickness—Reflex/Reaction/etc.—I think it makes sense that the Madman have good perception, but Quickness, as a Stat is already really important to A LOT of things. So maybe it’s a balance issue to just have that Archetype get more fun things to do?
    • I can see Perception going with Will/Wisdom, but we’re kind of painting the Saint as a slower deliberate archetype, and Perception feels more like a split-instant kind of thing…
    • Luck? This seems to take perception out of the realm of TRAINING and into just randomness. is that gross? do we like the idea that people can train to be good at noticing things?
    • At the end of all this—I say we think about how PERCEPTION checks are used. I think the fact that there is a PERCEPTION skill often leads to gross short cuts. “I roll a Perception Check.” What if Players simply asked “what do I see” and when appropriate, the DM could say “roll a quickness/will/luck check.” or can say “you don’t see anything” there are so many different reasons and ways someone could notice something, why reduce all of them to one score, and not let DM discretion based on scenario? I say abolish perception. If you really want — make it a quirk or feat or something.
  • As for Wisdom—I was originally going to call the Saint’s key trait Will and not Willpower. Mostly just because of length? I wasn’t aware of the seemingly large disparity between the two words. I defer to WM. However, as it seems Will is still a possible idea—I make a case for it. To me, the question becomes, when do you roll against this attribute in the course of play? 1) to resist temp. insanity 2) to stop bleeding 3) to snap someone out of insanity 4) any time you’d make a “will save” in DnD 5) sense motive? 6) before performing some terrible potentially suicidal action. To me, Will makes sense is those contexts. but maybe I’m missing potential? I think Humor makes sense if we were penning an essay, but would be too confusing to any average player. I think Intuition is good in general, that and Vision, but I imagine myself being confronted with a terrible horror and the DM saying, “the sight of it might drive you insane: roll intuition.” like INTUITION seems to have little bearing over whether or not I can keep my shit together in the face of insanity. dunno what the answer is. part of this is the working in both direction problem. we know we want a “priest/healer” cause that makes sense for mechanics. We know we want “the Saint” cause that makes sense archetypically, but… What makes someone a GOOD HEALER? Fuck if I know.
  • Quickness vs. Reaction. I like Quickness because of it’s intentional ambiguity. it could mean quickness of body or mind. Reaction is good, but makes me think only of REaction and never action. It sounds reactive rather than active, which seems not quite right to me.
  • Body vs. Strength—I don’t really like using the term BODY for whatever reason – it seems to me to imply too much and be vague. I think either Strength of Constitution would make sense, but it might be weird to have either one now mean both and more. Physique or Athelticism or Prowess or Power or Health or i don’t know…just not Muscles.
  • Damage: I think that a Shotgun SHOULD kill an average character in one blast. FUCK YES. I have an average STR/BOD/CON and guess what, if I got shot with a shotgun odds are I would die. So I don’t think that’s a problem at all. I think a character’s HP needs to be tied to their BODY (whateever we call it) score. Which means it can’t be JUST that score (characters with 2 and 3 hitpoitns is two small for any variation). Therefore it needs to be proportional. Intuitive-ness says make it a proportion of x6 (we use it for everything else) and that’s how I got the numbers. Also, I like it because it means that you can have melee attacks simply do BODY damage, and it’s probably going to be 1/6 of a character’s HP. So, if you have two average characters, and they are fighting, they’ll each only land solid damaging blows 50% of the time (due to the dodge system) and it will take 6 solid connections to the head or body to incapacitate one of them. That makes sense to me in terms of a realistic modeling of a fight. Which is not to consider charaacters who might have quirks that give them damage resistance or extra HP or attacks or what not.
  • I say no subdual damage.
  • We haven’t really talked about Skills. I think we can use the altered system you guys already brewed. We’ll need to tweak the Ability pairs, as there are now new abilities. BUT here’s how they should work (i say) whatever rank you have in that skill, you roll that many d6’s (just like combat) then, you ADD the values of your two relevant abilties to RESULT of the multiple d6’s, So if I have a rank of 2 in politics (or whatever), I would roll 2d6, get a 3 and a 5, totaling 8, then add my Intellect (2) and my Charisma (3, I’m the mimic) for a total of 13. So trained and with good CHA, I can easily make a roll of DC 10, which puts a low to average DC at 10 which is nice. 15 would be very tough.
  • Another thing we haven’t really talked about: EXPERIENCE POINTS. and LEVELS. I have some ideas about this, but I want to make some rather radical suggestions about these two points, just not right now. soon.
  • I think we should also consider things from the other side—let’s think about (or just play) a random game and see what we want to model/do/accomodate that these rules don’t handle or handle WRONG and then add change tweak.
  • I do really really like the multiple d6’s and the archetypes and abilities (that we ALMOST have nailed down). I think this is good!
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