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Linda

DISCUSS: CharGen & System Changes

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Its true that some flaws aren't ones that should be brought up in roleplay regularly. The ones we had in mind personally were Defects. They should be played up and those we would like to reward people for playing up as they have no other system effects.

For a while we wanted to pair them with a set of Advantages, positive character traits basically, and if you earned points for playing Defects, you could spend it on invoking Advantages. Not quite sure how to do that, however. But Defects are something we do want to reward people for playing up.

It's cool to have some sort of reward system in place. But, hopefully not so much that it 'hurts' those characters who don't have explicit defects.

I think the only way to work it would be to have players submit logs showing that the defect is in play? Which would have to be read by someone.

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If we added something like that, we would allow players to take additional defects if they wanted to. But yes, it shouldn't be an unbalancing system.

Logs are a possibility.

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1) CharGen: Assets & Flaws

There are two things I’d change to the asset and flaws system. 1) I’d make more of the assets and flaws visible to other players on the character sheet. For example things like famous mentor or tainted heritage, so other players can react to it. I mean the info would be in their history of course, but, I don’t know I find seeing the flaw or asset there in black and white seems like a stronger cue for RP to me. 2) Possibly expanding the list of things to be famous or infamous for.

2) CharGen: Stats

I think the stats are fine as they are.

3) CharGen: Skills

I like the skills as they are as well. I think a courtly skill set makes sense on some level, but then so does the required skills for a noble upbringing.

4) CharGen: In the event of changes...

Yes.

5) Advancement

I’m happy with the XP and SP system. The only suggestion I’d have is to possibly have a way to exchange an SP for XP. As for re-CGing in the case of tier advancement. I’d be up for it, though I’d like a way to keep my XP and purchased assets mostly because I’ve spent a lot of time working for those.

5) Rumors

I think when the influence system starts being used for gaining positions at court we’ll see the rumor system be used more. Right now it’s okay, but I think a lot of people don’t use it and so the people who do put up rumors are a little disappointed that what they put on there isn’t more widely known.

6) Influence & Renown

I like the idea of it. Would like to know more about how it will work eventually.

7) Female Characters

Again I think this is something that will be improved by the intended changes to influence and renown. Since female characters don’t have to buy weapon skills or need high physical stats they’re more likely to have higher stats when it comes to the political skills and mental stats which would make them valuable allies to have in seeking positions in court.

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1) CharGen: Assets & Flaws

There are two things I’d change to the asset and flaws system. 1) I’d make more of the assets and flaws visible to other players on the character sheet. For example things like famous mentor or tainted heritage, so other players can react to it. I mean the info would be in their history of course, but, I don’t know I find seeing the flaw or asset there in black and white seems like a stronger cue for RP to me. 2) Possibly expanding the list of things to be famous or infamous for.

We have discussed making more assets & flaws visible in the past, though the more its expanded, the more you get into potential exceptions where its not the case that it should be known for a particular character. Possibly we could limit it to anything affecting reputation. Not influence, since some of those would be of a more secret nature.

More infamy & fame qualifiers are a possibility, we'd be happy to take suggestions.

5) Advancement

I’m happy with the XP and SP system. The only suggestion I’d have is to possibly have a way to exchange an SP for XP. As for re-CGing in the case of tier advancement. I’d be up for it, though I’d like a way to keep my XP and purchased assets mostly because I’ve spent a lot of time working for those.

I think its probably better to come up with more ways of spending an SP than allowing it to be exchanged. XP glut is always an issue.

In the event of a reCG, earned XP that hasn't been spent would definitely be kept. Purchased assets would be kept, but not sure yet if they'd be counted towards the new limit or not. As in, if you're a IV who has bought two asset points, leaving you at 6, you might not get any more assets when you move to a III since III's get 5 in CG.

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1) CharGen: Assets & Flaws

How do you feel these work? As I only really have experience with the assets that there is no code for (Resources, etc) I find that their main usage is in justification for plots and other purchases. They work fantastically in +jobs.

As for Flaws, I think Unlucky was perhaps slightly too harsh...it gives a 1% failure rate on coded checks, but jousting, for example, runs some 4+ checks for every command, so in reality the effect is much harsher than it implies. Then again, without ensuring that the 1% only applies to the final outcome, I don't know how to make it any better...solid number don't get any lower than "1".

As for defects, enemies, and so on...a lot of what has been said here is true. Players ought to play their character's defects to a higher degree, though there's not a lot that can be done to regulate that...without letting every character know everyone's flaws. Perhaps adding that to the standard +cdb info, or a new command that will display the assets and flaws of all the characters in whatever room a player is in, so he or she can take stock on what is around them. Of course, that has the potential to run rampant too...but it's something.

Are there too many or too few assets and/or flaws? I think the more the better, especially with more and more players joining. We all want to individualize our characters, and having assets and flaw combinations that are unique helps that. Not that I'm saying there aren't enough currently...just as the game expands more, so should the pool of choices.

Should we only have assets and flaws that have direct system effects? No no no, god no. I love my assets that can only be used for justification. I mean, I'm sure you could argue that something like "Wealthy" has a system effect because it adds 50 to your base influence, but beyond that, all it really is is an rp hook, and a solid reason to +jobs being able to spend money on a party, for example.

Do you have any suggestions for what to add and/or remove? I think when it's time to add more assets, you'll know what to add, because folks will be clamoring for it.

2) CharGen: Stats

How do you feel these work? Beyond a solid explaination of how different stats effect which coded things, they work just fine. Most of us know that Dex is good for melee, but few know that Nim is used for jousting, for example. They work fine, they just need to not be so word-of-mouth. ;)

Should there have been a group for social stats such as charisma, even if they could only be applied against NPCs and through Staff-judgement? Don't we already have something that can be used for that? Wit comes to mind. And you can't be naturally persuasive if you aren't perceptive to what people want, etc. And while knowing and doing are two different things, I think that the doing part is something that players should role play. Staff can certainly judge whether or not a player is playing his character charismatically...or if the question is how to judge a character during a +jobs, whether there is no interaction, the old "how would you be trying to accomplish that?" comes to mind for how to judge it.

Although this is probably my inner DnD player screaming to please, please not make me have to spend points on a charisma based set. If I had to spend points on how pretty/inspiring I am, I wouldn't have any left over!

3) CharGen: Skills

How do you feel these work? Excellently, though some could go with further explanation. For Husbandry, what aspect exactly is being looked at? Or one we've discussed in game, hunting, is it just tracking the animal, or also bringing it down? ...and while we know the answer to that now, a brand new player wouldn't, without asking someone.

Are there too many or too few? Unlike assets, I think more is not always better, since it means that my character will be lacking in more and more things should you guys add more. There are just the right amount, I say.

Should there have been social skills such as persuasion, even if they could only be applied against NPCs and through Staff-judgement? But there already are! Just use the appropriate non-combat skill. Is the person trying to get a better job? Use his Politics. Are they acting properly while trying? Check their etiquette. We have so many skills that are persuasion derived, that if you added Persuasion, it would be like adding "Melee combat" for knights who are all trained in very specific weapons. What's the point of taking the specific sub skills, if you can have the big one?

Should there be more skillgroups than Combat or Scholarship? For example a group for Courtly skills that require taking a Courtier asset, just like Combat requires a matching asset. This would probably require more skills that fit in with that group and possibly a reworking of the Noble pool of points. I'm not opposed to that, so long as the skills I've already invested in come back to me for use in that group. Or if things like politics, etiquette, etc, are all included.

4) CharGen: In the event of changes...

Are you willing to re-CG if there are significant changes to the system? I would shudder to do it, but I would.

5) Advancement

How do feel XP & SP work? I like it. I like that it goes slowly...other games have lots of twinks who've amassed points by being friends with the right people or exploiting the weak xp policy. I never have to fear anyone telling me I haven't earned something here, though.

What else do you want to be able to use XP & SP for? Xp should be exclusive for skills, stats, and assets, as it is now. There's no reason that you can't naturally earn more for yourself with just those three. Sp should continue to be used for something special - advancements for your character that you don't have access to with Xp alone, or wouldn't for a very, very long time.

If we decide to go ahead with tier advancement (mainly IV to III), are you willing to re-CG? This would probably mean a loss of XP already spent on skills and any assets purchased would just be counted towards the new limit, not added on top. So long as the heavy investments are accounted for. Let's say you have a very balanced character, but one skill is outstanding, even to be above the next tier's level. Well, that shouldn't be lost, simply because you're advancing tier. That wouldn't make ic sense, especially.

5) Rumors

How do you feel this works? It could be used more, but that's on our heads, not yours.

6) Influence & Renown

Far from working as it should currently, but what do you think of the general idea? That is, being able to measure your influence and your renown against others and being able to use influence to improve odds at getting court positions. As a general idea, it's fantastic. Didn't really work a year ago, when there weren't so many vying for anything, but with the increase in players, I see the system getting back on its feet.

7) Female Characters

No, not how you feel they work. ;) But is there anything we can do with the CG or the other code to make it better for female characters? Not qualified.

8) Other comments

The various combat-related systems are not brought up separately because other than the jousting, they are not what we see as close to complete solutions. We'd love to have a full-fledged combat system, but with just the one code, it isn't very feasible. However, if there's anything you'd like to see done with the current systems or any other additions you'd like to see that are CG or System related, let us know. I brought up my suggestions for the combat system elsewhere. We're good. :)

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1) CharGen: Assets & Flaws

How do you feel these work? I think they work well.

Are there too many or too few assets and/or flaws? I think the proportion is fine, as well as the options to choose from.

Should we only have assets and flaws that have direct system effects? As long as players remember to take it into account, no. Even some that have direct system effects can be a challenge (like Famous), as someone needs to view the sheet or you have to make an OOC comment, which can be awkward.

Do you have any suggestions for what to add and/or remove?

2) CharGen: Stats

How do you feel these work? I don't know what contributes where all the time, especially as far as percentages of the code go - so I know that Int contributes to rumors, but how much? If I want to play a PC that is simple like Hodor, does that mean Int 1? Int 10? What about a clever man like Petyr Baelish - Int 60? 80? If an Int 60 Subterfuge 50 Intrigue 40 character sets up a rumour, where is that compared to, say, an Int 45 Sub 30 Intrigue 20 character as far as efficacy? Certainly, one will do better than the other - but is it by a magnitude of 10? 30? 2? - An idea of what the various Stats contribute to, code wise, would be useful as a player is trying to set up or properly RP, with an idea of where they _should_ be, versus where they are and how they may be interacting.

Should there have been a group for social stats such as charisma, even if they could only be applied against NPCs and through Staff-judgement? I don't think we need something like this.

3) CharGen: Skills

How do you feel these work? A possible list of their uses (where appropriate) next to their names in CG in the MUSH or on the page might be useful. What exactly *is* chivalry: knowledge of its existence? Detailed knowledge of its intricacies? Does Hunting just mean tracking, or bringing the animal down (in combination with bow & arrow? spear? What do you 'need' to be an effective hunter)? What about Husbandry - if someone wants to be a competent falconer, do they need to have Husbandry 20, Hunting 30?

Are there too many or too few? I think there's a round number, though female characters sometimes feel as if they're all cut from the same mould, and stepping outside that mould can cause a pariah-state.

Should there have been social skills such as persuasion, even if they could only be applied against NPCs and through Staff-judgement? I don't think so.

Should there be more skillgroups than Combat or Scholarship? For example a group for Courtly skills that require taking a Courtier asset, just like Combat requires a matching asset. This would probably require more skills that fit in with that group and possibly a reworking of the Noble pool of points. Yes. :)

4) CharGen: In the event of changes...

Are you willing to re-CG if there are significant changes to the system? Yes.

5) Advancement

How do feel XP & SP work? I think the system works fine.

What else do you want to be able to use XP & SP for? I haven't had much of a reason to use SP yet (having just gotten my first!) and so I can't really speak to advancement.

If we decide to go ahead with tier advancement (mainly IV to III), are you willing to re-CG? This would probably mean a loss of XP already spent on skills and any assets purchased would just be counted towards the new limit, not added on top. - As long as the XP would break out even, or higher (and could be justified as banked to slowly raise the character), yes. I'm not a fan of the "and instantly, you're six times better for no apparent reason!" thing - but having people RP the increase in ability slowly by training as they joust, training a falcon, etc. would be useful.

5) Rumors

How do you feel this works? Not badly, but I'd like to definitely see "Gossip" or an anonymous thing thrown up for things that might be worth noting, but would look funny coming as rumors. As an example, one player noted to me that they were surprised a certain character's actions hadn't shown up in +rumors yet, and I noted that I knew my PC wouldn't comment on it because she didn't want to be viewed as a rumourmonger and possibly slandering someone. Yet simple notes, such as "Katla hasn't been seen for three days, and all guests have been refused to her apartments" might be relevant for RP and interaction, but throwing up a rumor about myself, or asking someone else to, just... feels weird.

6) Influence & Renown

Far from working as it should currently, but what do you think of the general idea? That is, being able to measure your influence and your renown against others and being able to use influence to improve odds at getting court positions. I think it would be good. Also, some independent ways (maybe you can with +jobs now?) to gain or spend your influence, such as commissioning artisans to do something (write a document, patronise a mummer's troupe, etc).

7) Female Characters

No, not how you feel they work. ;) But is there anything we can do with the CG or the other code to make it better for female characters? I was comparing my sheet with someone who was a Tier IV, and male, and his response was "Wow, I'm a lot better than you in certain areas", because of the Knight asset. There's no real comparative one for ladies, and a Courtier Asset/skillset might make sense to reflect them.

8) Other comments

I'd like to see, even if it's not often needed or referenced, a hard breakdown of percentages and contributions for the coded aspects, since I think it would help people when they're trying to build a character that is themed around "strong in X", but then they find out they actually can't do X at all because they put their points in A, B and C -- and not D and E, which is actually what the code draws on.

Something else that might be useful would be a Language: X skill, as there are at least 10 different tongues in the ASOIAF setting (not counting the Free Cities dialects individually). Cap the skill at a certain level, and allow it to be bought different times for different languages, and possibly set up a mimicry of the +whisper code. I know it exists out there in different MU*s, just not sure on how the code is arranged. We have High Valyrian but possibly expanding it more could allow some more 'flex' for different character types (the scholarly sorts).

We have two chargen examples for random characters; consider doing a sample CG of Sansa and Catelyn, Robb and Ned, perhaps Varys and Littlefinger, as of A Game of Thrones (not necessarily all 6, but it might be useful). That would give people an idea of not just the 'common' stuff as seen in the sample CGs already existing, but relate it in terms of characters whose skills they know.

Yes, I recognize a lot of these might seem "dumbed down" or "beginner", but I have also found that there is a lot of things hidden away that are word of mouth, and may seem very familiar to people who have been around for 6+ months, but for new players coming in, I think they'd be very useful. I'm willing to work on putting any of these (and other) suggestions into an implemented form.

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3) CharGen: Skills

Should there be more skillgroups than Combat or Scholarship? For example a group for Courtly skills that require taking a Courtier asset, just like Combat requires a matching asset. This would probably require more skills that fit in with that group and possibly a reworking of the Noble pool of points. Yes. :)

We're seeing a lot of backing for this idea, so we will be considering if it is doable. Though the work of re-CGing may just make it impossible -- it has been hard enough to get people to replace their Hostage flaw, and then all the CGed-but-not-played characters...

8) Other comments

I'd like to see, even if it's not often needed or referenced, a hard breakdown of percentages and contributions for the coded aspects, since I think it would help people when they're trying to build a character that is themed around "strong in X", but then they find out they actually can't do X at all because they put their points in A, B and C -- and not D and E, which is actually what the code draws on.

Something else that might be useful would be a Language: X skill, as there are at least 10 different tongues in the ASOIAF setting (not counting the Free Cities dialects individually). Cap the skill at a certain level, and allow it to be bought different times for different languages, and possibly set up a mimicry of the +whisper code. I know it exists out there in different MU*s, just not sure on how the code is arranged. We have High Valyrian but possibly expanding it more could allow some more 'flex' for different character types (the scholarly sorts).

We have two chargen examples for random characters; consider doing a sample CG of Sansa and Catelyn, Robb and Ned, perhaps Varys and Littlefinger, as of A Game of Thrones (not necessarily all 6, but it might be useful). That would give people an idea of not just the 'common' stuff as seen in the sample CGs already existing, but relate it in terms of characters whose skills they know.

One reason we've held off from posting how stats and skills affect certain code in more detail is that with combat, at least, its prone to change massively if we do a full system. The other reason is we're concerned it will encourage min-maxing for combat, which already does show up in a lot of CGs.

But maybe something more generic can be done, to indicate what skills and stats you want to focus on for various concepts? One could risk cookie-cutter characters, of course... But if we could come up with enough suggested concepts, with varied suggestions for setups, yeah, that I can see.

Languages ... I don't know that could be worked in, to be honest. It would take up a lot of skills and we know so little about how mutually intelligible the various dialects of Bastard Valyrian are. Beyond High Valyrian and Bastard Valyrian...are there really any that would be used?

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We're seeing a lot of backing for this idea, so we will be considering if it is doable. Though the work of re-CGing may just make it impossible -- it has been hard enough to get people to replace their Hostage flaw, and then all the CGed-but-not-played characters...

One reason we've held off from posting how stats and skills affect certain code in more detail is that with combat, at least, its prone to change massively if we do a full system. The other reason is we're concerned it will encourage min-maxing for combat, which already does show up in a lot of CGs.

But maybe something more generic can be done, to indicate what skills and stats you want to focus on for various concepts? One could risk cookie-cutter characters, of course... But if we could come up with enough suggested concepts, with varied suggestions for setups, yeah, that I can see.

Languages ... I don't know that could be worked in, to be honest. It would take up a lot of skills and we know so little about how mutually intelligible the various dialects of Bastard Valyrian are. Beyond High Valyrian and Bastard Valyrian...are there really any that would be used?

Drawing on some previous gaming & storytelling experience:

Having some template idea characters can give new players a clue on what is out there and how it can work. They likely will make additional tweaks to flavour their own idea and concept ("I want a master hawker who raises his own hawks", having Hunting and Husbandry, versus "I want a master hawker and hunter", where there's less Husbandry and more Riding); I doubt you'd see loads of characters coming in with identical stats - but for a PC who wants to be known as an excellent, oh, archer - the code might not exist to really facilitate it, but they can know "You'd need Archery 50, Reflexes 50..." to be the level they want to, even if it's RP'd out instead of backed by code.

Having some example characters with very different sets could show the breadth and different type of characters that staff/admins want to encourage and how to take a character with almost identical sheets and make them very different. A Young Unmarried Noble Lady could be created, and then just a variety of things swapped out - Music at 40 changes to Stewardship at 40, Calligraphy at 40, Merchantry at 40, Hunting at 40 etc. Even if the rest of the sheet is identical, those are five different young ladies.

In my experience, there are also people who would pick more "flavour" things than necessarily the hard-coded ones, to round their characters out. Whether it's only adding Ghiscari to the list, or throwing a few more out (Dothraki, adding the Free Cities dialects as an option in addition to High Valyrian, etc), people just might choose to add that for more flavour to their concepts. If no one does, no loss, but there may be traveller concepts or scholar concepts that might want it (particularly as a way to give people an incentive, perhaps, to play maesters and to work up some plots that might deal with more scholarly things).

Another thought would be working on different sorts of plots that target different skill sets, particularly the ones that you would like to be encouraged. If admins want to push for greater use of, oh, singing and music and composition amongst ladies: run a ladies' music tourney (sort of like the one for a certain wedding, with seven singers). Have a planned hawking competition for the autumn, where those with high skill can show off their birds and perhaps net a prize. Encourage ladies to do needlework that gets donated to the septs by having the septs acknowledge the excellently done work by the Ladies Such-and-Such in a Roleplay post, or a set rumour. Having been in a LARP organization for a number of years.. despite the push for "do it for flavour, do it for charity, do it because it's right"... often, the small reward of a cookie in some fashion elicits a better response, particularly when a role model is called out that people can strive to emulate, especially if they see a reward. Gamers are like ducklings... they want to be where the cool stuff is, and sometimes that's just seeing your name as acknowledged by Their Graces or the Most Devout or the like, even if there's no truly mechanical benefit.

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