[MUD-Dev] Statistics

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Sat Nov 3 03:07:31 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Ben Chambers writes:

> What statistics do you consider necessary to define a character?
> I am planning on using a 100% skill based system, with no levels,
> where the more you do something the better you get at it.  The
> problem is I was hopping that the skills would be defined by the
> host.  The set of skills that seem most logical to me are:

>   Strength - How capable of physical feats this character is
>   Constitution - How resistant to physical damage he is
>   Intelligence - How quickly he learns new skills Wisdom - How
>   well he retains learnt skills

> The problem is I can't figure out where spells and stuff would
> come in.  So I came up with this:

> If you reduce the system down to JUST the capability to learn and
> the retention of what is learned, Strength is no longer a
> statistic, but rather a skill.  The problem is too many things
> would be dependent upon this one skill.  The obvious solution (in
> my mind) is to define a basic skill for each item, and than any
> skill that you perform (attack) uses a modifier for how proficient
> you are with this weapon.  This however becomes to complex again.

My best thinking on this to date is that the definition of a
character's abilities come through a DAG (directed, acyclic graph)
of abilities. That DAG includes a first tier of abilities, of
course, and that first tier is comprised of things traditionally
considered as attributes.  But by naming them like abilities, they
merge into the standard expectations of abilities.

Three obvious ones are to cover Strength, Manual Dexterity and
Agility.  They get renamed to Strong Action, Dexterous Action, and
Agile Action.  I discard the use of Intelligence and Wisdom because
they're just used for deciding magic use.  Instead, I came up with
analogs to the physical abilities: Strong Channeling, Dexterous
Channeling and Agile Channeling.  Obviously, I'm going with a mana
channeling system that I won't go into in detail.

The last, constitution, is replaced by the Tolerating Pain ability.
The amount of damage that your character can take is derived from
its size more than anything else.  It's generally fixed per race and
doesn't change over time.  The Tolerating Pain ability determines
the character's ability to continue with its other abilities after
taking damage.  Specifically, it controls the character's ability to
concentrate, but I won't get into that either.

All additional abilities are taken from these base skills.

This system is targeted at the 'infinitely flexible character',
where the player specifies how skill points are pushed into the set
of available skills.  These statements can be made at any time
during gameplay, but alterations require time to take effect.  If
all points are put into one set of skills today and the player
changes the skill point allocation into a completely new set of
skills tomorrow, it might take a week for the changeover to
complete.  In the process of changing, the original skills degrade
slowly while the new skills improve.  During the example week that
it takes to change, the character is a hybrid between the old and
new skill sets.

Given that statement, I control the abilities that my character has
to perform strong actions, dexterous actions, etc, which further
controls the effectiveness of the character's higher order
abilities.  If I pump lots of points into melee weapon skills and
leave the base dependent skills at near zero, then the character is
going to be severely handicapped in its use of the skills, despite
having significant knowledge of those higher order skills.

The physical appearance of the character is divorced from the
knowledge of Strong Actions and such.  So it becomes possible for a
character that looks strong to be weak and vice-versa.

Lastly, the thing that most people jump on with such a system is
that all players will pick the one 'best' solution to the game.  My
response to this is that a game needs to have many goals so that
players can juggle and balance skills to match their prefered play
styles.  This means that the player uses that character to get
involved in military, economic, political and social entertainment
in the game world.

As for dealing with weapons, my approach to that is that all skills
apply to all objects in the world.  I can try to cut a diamond with
a chair, juggle chairs, fight opponents with chairs, sit in chairs,
burn chairs and many other things.  Not all will make much sense and
attempts will fail, but pretty much anything can be attempted.  The
abilities themselves are focused on a result, not an item.  The
skill is Parry.  Parry is possible with a stick, an iron rod, a
sword or any number of objects.  Maybe even a chair.  If the skill
is Thrust, it may be that only items with sharp points have any real
application there, but that's the critical element.

How to create the effect?  Well, each item can be modeled for each
skill (my preference) or each item can have many characteristics
recorded, and the skills can key off those characters.  Things like
length, width, weight, etc.  The modeling of an item for a skill
means that the skill can structure a private data store in whatever
way is most effective for it, ignoring the vagaries of all other


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