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

Matt Chatterley root at mpc.dyn.ml.org
Mon Jun 30 07:29:12 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Sun, 29 Jun 1997, Jon A. Lambert wrote:

[Caliban snipped out]

> > 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.  

Yeah - this is pretty much the classic "D&D" view of levels (X HP, etc,
per level). Of all those using levels today, I don't think anyone with
even half a brain (which is of course not to say I think anyone on this
list is half witted - I mean anyone, not just us!) has changed that
concept in favour of that mythical beast, "realism". The logic is fair
enough for a base definition, of course, and probably true in many stock
bases.
 
>    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*

*giggle* Having a skill orientation, or at least influence on the game
complicates rating power - I'm having trouble writing balance documents at
the moment, and I suspect I'll end up inventing things such as "Combat
power", being the average stats for the players race, and skills for his
level, so that I can bandy them around, and have ratings to refer to.
Level exists as a rough guide for this, but given something of the
variation above, it isn't reasonable to assume that a level 20 has got his
attack skill maxxed, he may have thrown it all into something obscure like
haggling, or fishing.
 
> > 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.  

I'm probably going to leave direct modifications out of their control,
although they can take actions towards them (drink potions, put effort
into training.. nothing that will 100% guarantee an increase - and after a
point, magic becomes the *only* way to get better, and such magic is very
rare, and often temporary). Gaining permanent increases in stats will
typically occur as a result of completing a (relatively for the player)
difficult quest.

> 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.

ADOM uses the concept of "Current and potential" stats, but not quite in
the same way. I track "actual" and "bonus" stats, the word bonus being a
bit of a misnomer. If your actual strength is 10, and your bonus (can be
temporary, or pseudo-temporary, the former wearing off in time, the latter
requiring something to happen to remove or adjust it) is -2, you have an
effective score of 8. Racial maximums are in place for actual stats, and
CAN be exceeded by magic, however; going 1% over the racial maximum has a
5% chance of failure, 2% over is 10%, and so forth, so it is impossible
to get more than 18% over your racial maximum.
 
> 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.  

Perhaps - it definitely wouldn't fit if you just slotted it in, but it'd
be fine if the game was designed with it in mind from the start.

> > 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. 

Heh. :)
 
> > 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.

Same here. The "learning" stat being rather key to some things (answers
getting brief due to lack of time, more detail later on request).   

> > 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.

You'll find out though - interesting to see how mudders cope with a very
different system.

> > 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. :)    

Yup. Also, any mage can cast any spell (assuming it doesnt require a
"specialty" which can only be got after level 10). However, a mage with a
poor fire-magic skill will almost certainly explode.

Regards,
	-Matt Chatterley
	http://user.itl.net/~neddy/index.html
"He can't stop us, we're on a mission from Glod!" - Soul Music (Pratchett)





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