[MUD-Dev] Level abstractions - Realism vs Game Issues

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Sun Jun 29 22:06:11 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> From: Matt Chatterley <root at mpc.dyn.ml.org>
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Level abstractions - Realism vs Game Issues
> On Sun, 29 Jun 1997, Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:
> > I like the idea of doing away with levels entirely, and instead using an
> > array of skills. I also like these skills to increase with practice, but
> > through experience points. In other words:
> Well, if "level" is a measurement of power (standardised), then in a skill
> orientated system, it can easily be thought of as "overall skill level" -
> this translation works well.

   Yes, I'll try to say it another way.  Using level as a waypoint for 
character development, it is logical to assume that a level 10's
sum of skill ranks/abilities would be roughly 10x those of a Level 1.  

   How these might compare in the specific case (i.e. combat) is less than 
clear.  If your available skill pool is mostly combat oriented skills then 
there well may be a "power" differential.  If combat oriented skills 
comprise 25-35% of available skills, like mine, then a "power-based" 
comparison gets fuzzy.  For example a 10th-level character may have 
highly developed cooking/smithing/painting skills and might be woefully
unprepared for sword-fighting a 1st level killing machine.  A redefinition
of power in such a system is in order.  Perhaps power is determined
by drawing ability.  "Harold and the Purple Crayon" comes to mind.
Certainly Harold is almost god-like in his world. *grin*  Perhaps this
is a good theme, sort of mush-like. *poke poke*

> Pretty much sums it up, although: Constitution/Endurance/Stamina
> statistics should be increaseable, although not necessarily by a lot.
> Depending on the influence they have over HPs, you may want to allow HP
> increases without "whole" stat increases (or indeed, fractional stats
> which are continuous, rather than discrete).

I have left stat modifications completely out of player control.  
Characters have two sets of stats, current and potential.  Current
stats may go up or down upon attaining a level based on age.  It's a
parabola effect.  Current Stats will increase initially until such time
as the character reaches their peak (potential).  Following this age peak
stats will stabilize or degrade, some at faster rates (physical stats).
Current stats may also fluctuate during game-play based on disease, 
wounding, toxins, etc.  Potential stats are pre-determined by the system
and can't be exceeded.  Knowledge of potentials is forbidden but a
character will certainly get an idea of their potentials over time.

This is sort of antithetical to heroic fantasy.  Maybe too close to
reality; "making the best of what the Fates give you".  It's definitely
not appropriate for all game types.  

> Increasing your physical
> endurance is easier (depending how good it is - going from couch potato to
> superathlete is pretty damned hard, but going from total couch potatoism
> to being able to jog up some stairs without being out of breath is easier)

I implement this as a skill.  Naturally stats play a part in the ability 
calculation.  Developing this skill would be favorable for wanabe warrior-types.
Wanabe wizards might also develop it; if they have time to spare.  Of course
with all the interesting skills in arcane lore they are likely to ignore
this area.  I'll leave it up to the player.  Schwarzenegger the Necromancer
is certainly a possibility. 

> than increasing something like.. say.. willpower. Of course, the increase
> curve here is pretty much an exponential approach situation, the higher,
> the harder. If you apply "stat decay" like Nathan(?)'s dynamic skills,
> physical stats could become a LOT more meaningful.

Nod.  I've decided that direct skill decay is not appropriate for me.  But
skill modifications have 2-3 stats modifying them.  So skills would
indirectly decay through some of the things I mentioned above.
> Hmm, I have a rather different view on "Mana". To try and put it fairly
> briefly (I'll probably fail):
> The relevant statistics to spellcasting are "Learning" (in the learning of
> the process of casting it, and development of the skills), and "Mana",
> which is a measurement of the characters link to the flow of magic in the
> world (tied into the stuff I spieled on about death in a separate post).
> MPs (Mental Points) are the mental equivalent to SPs (Stamina points), the
> latter dictating physical state (Normal -> Exhausted), as opposed to HPs
> (Hit Points, which dictate injury level, to a degree - although being
> somewhat linked to SPs, if you're tireder, you get hurt more). That made
> no sense, so to state it bluntly: MPs dictate your mental state, from
> normal to mentally exhausted, and are NOT used solely for magic, but for
> anything which requires extra thought or consideration. That means mainly
> magic, which requires mental (and sometimes physical) exertion.
   Interesting.  I keep track of exhaustion points.  It's a derived attribute
based on constitution stat.  It has an enormous impact on skill execution.
I have no idea of its side effects on gameplay.  My suspicions are that it
will add a good deal to game balance.  Only playtesting will bear this out.  
We never used this in FTF P&P play because keeping track of it would have 
slowed the game down to a crawl.  In a computer simulation, keeping track of
these things is a piece of cake.
> Spells also rely on skills (basic casting, offence/defence, and elemental
> strands, as well as a couple of others, from which a spell uses 2-3). The
> skills don't go up/down with use in this way, but it's possible that an
> individual skill may have an effect on them, and I'm also considering a
> sort of "temporary decay" during times of exhaustion, not sure on that.
Yeppers.  I like this idea.  Once you know the "Fireball" spell it takes
a bit of skill to control or direct it.  I think it makes the spell 
system richer.  Sure you can cast a lightning bolt, but "how well" can
you cast it?  Can you reliably hit anything with it?  Shouldn't it be
possible for that fireball to explode 10 ft. from you?  Magic should
be dangerous business, IMO. :)    

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