[MUD-Dev] A new game paradigm (was: Star Wars Galaxies)

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Sat Feb 22 16:41:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

On Wednesday 19 February 2003 4:07, Thomas Tomiczek wrote:
> Scott Miller wrote:

>> While I understand the need for a "progression" through a game, I
>> do agree that "leveling" is not the way to do it. What is
>> stopping a game from completely removing leveling all together
>> and use a little of the EQ model, where your equipment is your
>> progression indicator?  I know that isn't a perfect solution, but
>> is much better than forcing everyone of your players to go out
>> and bash bunnies for hours on end. It could also cater to your
>> non fighting players who enjoy crafting better.

> Very well said.

> ACTUALLY I think a lot of the problem, though (there is nothing
> wrong with levels as a "measurement of progress", maybe through
> titles etc.)  is that this all goes back historically to D&D - and
> there levels ARE too strong.

Levels go back to D&D, but I'm not sure that levels are too strong there.

> A linear OR logarithmic curve would be better. Have for example
> levels 1-20 (just a number).

> A level 10 fighter would always win against a level 1 fighter -
> but - damanged.

Let's consider classic D&D or 1st edition AD&D.  A fighter goes up
mainly in three things as he/she goes up in level:

 1.  Hit points

 2.  Ability to hit (~ 5% more likely to hit a given AC per level)

 3.  Saving throws

Nothing else really improves with level for a fighter -- initiative
and armor class are the other two main components of the combat
system, and both of those are not affected by level.

So, take a 10th level D&D fighter and put him/her up against a 1st
level, given the same equipment -- let's say 'chainmail' armor,
shield, and sword.  AC is 4.  So let's see a few stats:

                1st level            10th level

  initiative         1d6                 1d6
  AC                  4                    4
  hit points          6                   56
  roll to hit
    opponent (d20)   15                    9
  damage           d8+3                 d8+3
  attacks/round       1                    1

  (stats are based on the 1983 versions of Basic and Expert D&D, for

So... the 10th level character has a 50/50 chance of winning
initiative.  If he does, he has a (.6 * .75 =) .45 chance of killing
the 1st level character immediately.  If the 1st level character
gets to make an attack (.775 chance), he/she has a .3 chance of
inflicting some damage on the 10th level character -- total of .2325
chance that the 10th level character will take some damage that
first round.  In subsequent rounds, the chance that the 1st level
character is still alive rapidly decreases.  I've worked it out to a
second round, but won't show all the figures unless someone's really

So... one-on-one in this case, the 10th level is almost certainly
going to win the duel, but there's a fair chance (about 35%) that
he/she will take some damage in the process.

> Maybe 5-10 level 1's one after another could take him out, 5 at
> the same time are a problem.

Five one at a time probably won't, since D&D has no mechanic for
getting worse at things as your hit points go down.  Ten stand a
reasonably chance (haven't worked it out, but I'd guess around 30%.)

Five at once would be a problem.  Even if, say, only four of them
can attack him at once, he can only attack one of them a round
(multiple attacks are a feature of AD&D and later "improved"
versions of D&D).  Thus, the first round, three of them would
definitely get to make attacks, and the one the 10th level character
attacks still has a .775 chance of getting to make an attack.
(Again, presuming only four can get in at once, and also presuming
the same equipment above.)

> Three lvl 10 fighters would take out a lvl 20 fighter.

With the same equipment, this is likely to be true... for one thing,
in classic D&D, fighters only gain 2 hp/level above 9, so the level
20 fighter only has 20 more hit points than each of the three level
10 fighters.  If the level 10 fighters use intelligent tactics
(e.g., stepping back when low on hit points to let someone fresher
take attacks), they're quite likely to win.

In classic D&D and first edition AD&D, the big difference that
higher levels tend to make is in equipment.  A first level fighter
might be able to afford chain, a shield, and a sword.  A 10th level
fighter likely has magic platemail armor of +3 or so, a magic sword
of +3 or so, and a shield of +1 or +2... for an AC of -3 or so, a
15% greater chance to hit on a given attack, and 3 extra points of
damage on those attacks.  A 10th level character may also have
something like a girdle of giant strength, giving further bonuses.

Where the real differences lie in fundamental character power are
with magic-using characters -- access to higher power spells is a
*big* bonus.  Outside of equipment, the biggest bennie that level
gives fighters is extra hit points.  The old Arduin Grimoires
altered the typical D&D hit point progression by basing starting hit
points on character race and Constitution, then giving a small bonus
for level.  Humans got a base of 15.  Fighter-types got +5 at first
level, semi-fighters +3.  An additional bonus of 1 point for each
point of Constitution over 12 was given.

Beyond the base, characters got either 1 hit point/level, 1/2
levels, or 1/3 levels, depending on their class.  Thus, a 1st level
human fighter with a 16 Con would have 24 hit points... and at 10th
level, that same character would have 33 hit points.  (Note that in
Arduin, 50th level characters were not uncommon.)

For AD&D, I used my own modified system, which worked like this: all
PCs got their Constitution in hit points at first level.  The
regular hit dice were used as well, but there was no per-level bonus
for Constitution; thus, a "typical" first level fighter would have
about 19 hit points or so, and get another 5 or 6 hit points on
average per level... meaning that you'd have to be 4th or 5th level
typically to have double your starting hit points as a fighter.

> The result is: we need a slower progression leveling system -
> something where higher levels give you less and less return. On
> top of this add equipment, fame and all the other stuff - but the
> "progression" needs to be rebalanced, and MOST games are TERRIBLE
> in this.

Lastly, note that xD&D was intended to be a system where higher
levels took longer and longer to achieve -- that's why the
experience point requirement to increase your level goes up with
levels.  I recall reading a bit that Gary Gygax wrote in the
mid-80s, saying that to his knowledge, no player character in either
Blackmoor or Greyhawk (the two original D&D campaigns) had ever
gotten higher than 16th level... in about 12 years of gaming.

       |\      _,,,---,,_     Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-' 
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) 

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