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View Full Version : Attribute Meters (a possibly terrible idea)

JCarter426
2017-04-17, 07:54 AM
Recently I was reading about an RPG system (I don't think it's relevant, but it was Big Eyes, Small Mouth) and had a random idea: What if attributes like Strength and Dexterity did not function as hard numbers, but instead resembled health and mana meters?

Before I elaborate any further, I have a caveat: this is just a thought experiment, not intended as a modification of any specific system. So I might use specific terms from specific systems, but that's just for reference; don't assume there are any specific rules in play. This is an entirely new, imaginary system, without any set rules.

But as much as I've been thinking about it, I can't figure out a way to make it work in any practical sense.

The first, more obvious issue is that the addition of more meters means having to keep to keep track of more things. So I'd want to limit it to three meters, with a possible fourth if the system used mana or whatever points for magic. Although my first thought for these meters was Strength, Speed, and Willpower, I realized that one of them probably still has to be health, because I don't think there's a way to work that into the above without it seeming confusing or gimmicky. Perhaps if the meters were something like Body, Mind, and Spirit (I guess BESM did become relevant) you could get away with including health in Body. But that's not the sort of thing I was going for, because my initial idea was centered around strength and speed, which are very obviously both Body. So I've had a hard time deciding what the meters would even be in this hypothetical system.

The second, more subtle and devious problem, lies in the very rules themselves. The system I first imagined may sound intuitive and realistic on the surface - it does to me, at least - but as soon as the parts start interacting, it becomes more complicated and difficult to predict. Take, for example, the simple idea that as you do things that require muscle, you become tired and less able to do things that require muscle. In some hypothetical math terms for the system, you make a Power Attack that does x extra damage for that round (if it hits) for the cost of y Strength points. If your melee attack role is based on Strength, then with your Strength reduced your attacks become less accurate, reflecting that overexerting your strength has tired you. That's also more or less how the D&D Power Attack functions - sacrifice accuracy for more damage. The difference, here, is that if all Strength roles are calculated from the Strength meter, then once you have spent these Strength points, all future Strength rolls will be at a reduced value*. In other words, the more you use special attacks, the worse you become at all your attacks. That may be realistic, but I imagine that it would make for some annoying gameplay. The more things you do, the worse you become at all the things. You'll have to weigh temporary advantage over its cost in the long term. Such a system would probably result with me being too cautious to use any abilities. Or more accurately, at first I would use too many abilities so I gradually become worse at all the things and lose, and then I'll be too cautious to use abilities ever again. There may be ways to combat this problem - for example, a regeneration system that lets you recover points you choose to spend within a reasonable amount of time - but it still seems like an inherent flaw in the system to me. No matter what, risk assessment would be a large aspect of the system.

Like I said, this is just a thought experiment. I'm just wondering if there's any merit at all to such a system, since I do think it more accurately reflects combat than the usual d20 rules. You aren't always at 100% effectiveness until you reach 0 hit points. Stuff happens that makes your abilities better or worse. That's the goal anyway. But putting it in practice is a headscratcher, so I'm interested in a second opinion. Or perhaps there's already a similar system I could look at?

*Unlike D&D Power Attack, this would also affect the damage rolls of future attacks, assuming a system that still uses Strength for both attack and damage rolls in melee. Again, there are no assumed rules here, but I thought I'd point that out so it doesn't have to be pointed out to me, because I am aware.

The_Jette
2017-04-17, 10:37 AM
imo, your system sounds interesting, and possibly fun. It's more realistic, with the idea that using strength actually uses up strength. In real life, fights don't last more than a couple of minutes, and at that point both parties are exhausted because you're putting a lot of strain on muscles and using explosive power instead of sustained. And, in fights, the reason why the person who keeps his head is usually the one who wins is because the other person is the one exhausting themselves early. Of course, if the early attacks overwhelm their defenses, it was a bad idea to hold back. If I were to use this system, I would want a regeneration system included as a possibility, but not something that everyone gets all the time. It would allow for a Wolverine/Deadpool character who can push themselves to their physical limits and count on their regeneration to keep them going, versus other characters like Luke Cage, who rely on their superhuman strength to do similar feats. I like it. It would work really well for a gritty world that wanted the players to really pay attention to their abilities instead of just rolling the dice and seeing where they land.
Sorry about the comic book references. Those were the closest comparisons I could come up with.

Deepbluediver
2017-04-17, 01:46 PM
Did you have a particular system for in mind this would work with? I'm only really familiar with 3.5.

It actually sounds like a decent way to handle a sort of fatigue metric, which to my knowledge D&D has never really handled well. There are two potential problems that I could foresee, although keep in mind my experience with non D&D system is very limited, so these might be irrelevant.

First, tracking changes to it. If these meters fluctuate up and down frequently or have checks/saves associated with their changes, I'm worried it will bog down gameplay.
Second, if anything has to be calculated every time something changes, that rapidly gets very complex. Saying that (just for example) your bonus on attacks is equal to your current Speed-gauge (5 = +5, etc) is fine; saying something like a value of X in the speed column means a value of Y on bonus to attacks gets clunky and again, would likely slow down gameplay.

jqavins
2017-04-17, 03:08 PM
The more realistic one tries to make a system the more complicated it becomes; this is news to no one. Nowadays, nearly all of us have at least one computer that we habitually carry around with us, and quite likely one or two more that we can. I've long thought that the solution to complex game systems is character management software which can handle the details. You're fatigued, which reduces your hit probability by some nonlinear function? No problem, your tablet, phone, or laptop tells you what your hit chance is this round and that's that.

Of course, someone has to write the software first.

OK, I like the idea in general. I envision it this way, if it can be done on everyone's computers. If not, then this is too complicated but might be a place to start.

There's only one new meter: stamina (Sm). As you exert yourself, your stamina runs down. As your stamina runs down, a number of other things are recalculated.
Stamina regenerates much faster than health, but still takes time. Lets say, for example, that HP and Sm scores are about the same when full. Where HP come back at one per day of rest, Sm comes back at 10 per day of rest and 5 per day of light activity.

Or maybe it comes back with light activity but only up to a point, so getting it all back requires rest (or magic.)
There should be an analog to healing magic that restores it.

Generally, the familiar attribute scores (the six for D&D or other sets for other games) are all reduced as stamina goes down, but not linearly, and not equally. Being slightly fatigued has little or no effect, but when over half of your stamina points are gone a big penalty can come on suddenly.
Penalties start coming on a different stamina levels for each attribute. For instance, a person moderately fatigued might start losing a little strength but not dex. By the time dex is effected noticeably strength is half gone. By the time dex is half gone it's even started to effect how well you observe and think.
Any or all of things like hit chance, damage, active and passive defenses, saves, spot checks, whatever, can be affected by being heavily fatigued, and it's all computed automatically, based on how the attribute scores have been reduced.
Rules for non-lethal damage and knock-outs are all the more worthwhile here, since being heavily fatigued is likely to make someone more prone to passing out but probably not more prone to dying.

Use two different HP meters, one lethal and one non-lethal. Lethal weapons do 75% lethal damage and 25% non; non-lethal weapons (like fists and quarterstaves) do 75% non-lethal and 25% lethal.
Fatigue effects the non-lethal meter, but not the lethal meter.
Healing spells need to be figured out.

JBPuffin
2017-04-17, 03:18 PM
I think it's not as crazy as it seems - essentially you turn your attributes from stats into pools, which decrease when you take damage or certain actions. I prefer either limiting which actions drain or having somewhat sizable pools (some way to make sure that an opponent's attack hitting is substantially more damaging than Power Attack under most circumstances). You don't have to have health be a stat; all health does is measure how long you can keep going, and your system can do that without such a stat.

JCarter426
2017-04-18, 08:44 AM
If I were to use this system, I would want a regeneration system included as a possibility, but not something that everyone gets all the time. It would allow for a Wolverine/Deadpool character who can push themselves to their physical limits and count on their regeneration to keep them going, versus other characters like Luke Cage, who rely on their superhuman strength to do similar feats.
Just to be clear, I meant regeneration for the combat resource meters, not regeneration for health. Although I could see the benefit in making either optional.

What I was thinking before, though, was something like a regeneration of 1 point per combat round, with some abilities costing as little as 1 point to activate, making them almost mechanically identical to their d20 counterparts (since you'd get the point back the next round). Higher tier abilities would cost more points, and it would take a few rounds to get the points back. The regeneration rate could be determined by abilities and/or feats so character builds could still vary.

Did you have a particular system for in mind this would work with? I'm only really familiar with 3.5.
Not a particular system, no. I'd like to design my own someday, so I often tinker with ideas like this. So for the sake of argument, it would be a new system with all the rules written around this mechanic.

First, tracking changes to it. If these meters fluctuate up and down frequently or have checks/saves associated with their changes, I'm worried it will bog down gameplay.

Second, if anything has to be calculated every time something changes, that rapidly gets very complex. Saying that (just for example) your bonus on attacks is equal to your current Speed-gauge (5 = +5, etc) is fine; saying something like a value of X in the speed column means a value of Y on bonus to attacks gets clunky and again, would likely slow down gameplay.
I'm not really worried about the calculations for my purposes, but making the math simpler does usually make the system more intuitive. I'm not sure what the exact math would be, but I imagine it can't be as simple as 5 = +5. Even if it were a much higher number, though, perhaps it could be rounded down based on the tens digit, so 50 = +5; 22 = +2; etc.

There's only one new meter: stamina (Sm). As you exert yourself, your stamina runs down. As your stamina runs down, a number of other things are recalculated.
I am having doubts as to whether strength and speed would need to be tracked separately, but for some reason I'm still inclined to have more than just stamina. I guess I'm afraid of having one stat affect so many things. If there were an attribute for raising stamina (Constitution being the obvious choice) that would give it a lot of weight. Same deal if there's a feat (such as Toughness). More things rely on that one stat, easier it is for a single choice to become overpowered compared to the alternatives.

Generally, the familiar attribute scores (the six for D&D or other sets for other games) are all reduced as stamina goes down, but not linearly, and not equally.
I'm not sure if I would have it affect all attributes. I see the reasoning for that, but I'm worried that would possibly break the system. Or to be more accurate, I'm not sure about having stamina specifically affect them all. I had thought perhaps separate ones for mental and physical fatigue. Physical fatigue would obviously affect attack and defense rolls, and the system's equivalent of reflex and fortitude saves. Mental fatigue would not come into play as much for most character builds, being more important for spellcasters and any "mind over matter"-oriented build, but would also be useful in representing the effects of psychic attacks or losing morale. That goes down and your will saves go down, you're more likely to be dominated, frightened, confused, etc.

I am curious about your reasoning for the idea based just on stamina, though. Why not equally or linearly? I know the real answer is because things are never that easy, but do you have any specific reasons?

Rules for non-lethal damage and knock-outs are all the more worthwhile here, since being heavily fatigued is likely to make someone more prone to passing out but probably not more prone to dying.

This is a bit of a tangent, but since you mentioned it, that's another key mechanic I've been fiddling with. I haven't decided on the specifics yet, but my general idea is similar to what you've described, a health bar for physical damage and another for endurance, or whatever you want to call it. However, I would have it, or at least I've thought about having it, so all damage is dealt to endurance rather than health, except in some specific cases - critical hits, seriously dangerous stuff like fire, probably certain spells, anything obviously lethal. A normal hit would be considered one that was defended against, but doing so has tired the character. A lethal hit actually hits the character, both tiring and wounding them. You run out of endurance, you pass out. You run out of health, you die. (Or go into critical condition with rules for that, whatever.)

My reason for that is based on two things that annoy me. First, I think it more accurately reflects healing than the usual systems, which have characters' health reduced to next to nothing, and then after using a spell or item they make a miraculous recovery. In the new system I've described, challenging encounters would usually only result in characters being knocked out or incapacitated in some way; when they recover, they have minimal wounds that can be realistically treated. The second reason is that, in computer roleplaying games, I have many times had my health reduced to next to nothing, and then the game's wound mechanic, or lack of access to healing, or some such resulted in frustrating gameplay after the fight was over. A video game is different because they design difficult encounters and expect you to keep reloading until you win. This is an entirely subjective thing, but I feel that once the fight is over, my job is done. I've accomplished the goal of defeating the boss or whatever. I don't care to be penalized for how effective I was at doing that later on. I've already beaten the boss. I know I could do it again. I'm not interested in reloading to see if I can do the same thing but slightly better, because there isn't as much of a payoff for me there. So personally I'd enjoy a system that's light on permanent physical damage, at least in that context.

I'm not sure how this would come into play with the other meters here, though. I'm wary of having one all-encompassing stamina meter because my endurance system is basically a replacement for the health meter, so it would feel like abilities were being fueled by health, which I feel should be a gimmick saved for only special occasions. Granted, it wouldn't be actual health in mechanical terms, but... I don't know, it feels a little weird to me.

I prefer either limiting which actions drain or having somewhat sizable pools (some way to make sure that an opponent's attack hitting is substantially more damaging than Power Attack under most circumstances).
So, a large pool with low power costs and a slow regeneration rate - that would describe it, I think. You can't self destruct just by using Power Attack over and over if you're getting the points back over time, and those few points would certainly be less than a standard damage roll.

You don't have to have health be a stat; all health does is measure how long you can keep going, and your system can do that without such a stat.
I suppose that's true. You only need one stat to serve as the get to 0 and you pass out/die mechanic, or perhaps it's any of them getting to 0, or all of them getting to 0. It's technically playable. But I think everyone (myself included) is just too attached to having health.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, everyone. :smallsmile: I'm digging through my files to check my past self's thoughts on the system and I'm going to think it over and then try to come up with some more concrete mechanics, so I'll have more specific rules you can pick apart.

Deepbluediver
2017-04-18, 08:59 AM
I'm not really worried about the calculations for my purposes, but making the math simpler does usually make the system more intuitive. I'm not sure what the exact math would be, but I imagine it can't be as simple as 5 = +5. Even if it were a much higher number, though, perhaps it could be rounded down based on the tens digit, so 50 = +5; 22 = +2; etc.
The would work too I think. I still worry about tracking changes to it, but the main benefit to using larger values is that you can stack buffs or debuffs to affect speed without having it get to crazy or gamebreaking.

jqavins
2017-04-18, 02:42 PM
I am having doubts as to whether strength and speed would need to be tracked separately, but for some reason I'm still inclined to have more than just stamina. I guess I'm afraid of having one stat affect so many things. If there were an attribute for raising stamina (Constitution being the obvious choice) that would give it a lot of weight. Same deal if there's a feat (such as Toughness). More things rely on that one stat, easier it is for a single choice to become overpowered compared to the alternatives.
The way I see it, this stat doesn't so much control as influence many things. It controls how long you can exert yourself, stay awake, etc., but because of the non-linear effects on other attributes it is not a major influence unless you are really exhausted. See below for more explanation.

I'm not sure if I would have it affect all attributes. I see the reasoning for that, but I'm worried that would possibly break the system. Or to be more accurate, I'm not sure about having stamina specifically affect them all. I had thought perhaps separate ones for mental and physical fatigue. Physical fatigue would obviously affect attack and defense rolls, and the system's equivalent of reflex and fortitude saves. Mental fatigue would not come into play as much for most character builds, being more important for spellcasters and any "mind over matter"-oriented build, but would also be useful in representing the effects of psychic attacks or losing morale. That goes down and your will saves go down, you're more likely to be dominated, frightened, confused, etc.

I am curious about your reasoning for the idea based just on stamina, though. Why not equally or linearly? I know the real answer is because things are never that easy, but do you have any specific reasons?
Just my own observation of my own experience. I know that medically speaking they say that mental and physical fatigue are different things, but my personal subjective experience is of just one state of tiredness, and that tiredness effects my performance in many ways. If I'm a little tired it makes no real difference, if I'm pretty tired it makes a small difference, and once I get really tired things go downhill fast; hence non-linear effects. And my performance in various tasks does not fall off all with the same degrees of tiredness; first I'll feel a little weakened, then a little clumsy close behind, then I start failing to notice things, and my ability to reason is the last thing to go; hence effects that are unequal as well as non-linear. It's all based on subjective self-observation.

I see it this way, more or less:

At character creation time, everyone has a the same base stamina value, let's say 50.
High or low Con (or equivalent) affects this by, let's say, ±10.
A D&D-like feat or GURPS-like advantage may increase it by, WTH, another 10.
A GURPS-like disadvantage may lower it by, why not, 10.
The number goes up with level (D&D-like) or can be bought up with character points (GURPS-like) or something.
Attributes like Str, Dex, Int, Etc. are not effected at all until stamina is reduced to something below the unmodified new-character base, so let's call it 40.
From 40 down a little way, Str is reduced slowly, and from somewhere around 25 to 15 it plummets, then more or less bottoms out at a large penalty.
Dex behaves similarly, but not even starting the slow decline until, say, 35, and plummeting from 20 to 10.
Int, likewise, starts down slowly at 30 and plummets between 15 and 5.
At zero you pass out.

Note, Con is not affected, so losing stamina points never results in a reduction of the base stamina score or HP. That's a change. I stated earlier that all attributes are reduced by being heavily fatigued, but that was a mistake; Con (or equivalent) shouldn't be, and I guess others might not be either. The numbers are all just straw men, and for what I described about losing observantness before reasoning I should have used four attributes being reduced. None of this is meant as even close to a finished proposal.

This is a bit of a tangent, but since you mentioned it, that's another key mechanic I've been fiddling with. I haven't decided on the specifics yet, but my general idea is similar to what you've described, a health bar for physical damage and another for endurance, or whatever you want to call it. However, I would have it, or at least I've thought about having it, so all damage is dealt to endurance rather than health, except in some specific cases - critical hits, seriously dangerous stuff like fire, probably certain spells, anything obviously lethal. A normal hit would be considered one that was defended against, but doing so has tired the character. A lethal hit actually hits the character, both tiring and wounding them. You run out of endurance, you pass out. You run out of health, you die. (Or go into critical condition with rules for that, whatever.)
Tangent, yes. Like all tangents it is contacts, and like many it makes contact at an important point. That point being, and I think we agree here, that going into a fight worn out should have far more effect on your chance of being knocked out than on your chance of dying (unless the enemy kills you when you're down, or course.) So once you make rules for being tired it really cries out for this.

You don't have to have health be a stat; all health does is measure how long you can keep going, and your system can do that without such a stat.
I would mesh this with the non-lethal damage stuff. The non-lethal meter is the same as the fatigue meter (see above) while the lethal meter, i.e. traditional hit points, remains as it's always been.

Grod_The_Giant
2017-04-18, 02:52 PM
I think Gumshoe games do something vaguely along those lines? If I'm remembering correctly, you wind up with a die pool for each skill, and every time you make a check you subtract so many dice, roll them, and that's your result. That might be a good way to approach it? Possibly with a limit to how many dice you spend at once, to keep you from blowing everything on a single check and one-shotting the boss.

5a Violista
2017-04-18, 05:10 PM
Upon reading the first post, I immediately thought of another game I played recently that has a similar concept: Betrayal at House on the Hill (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrayal_at_House_on_the_Hill).

In it, every character has 4 attribute-meters: Speed, Might, Knowledge, and Sanity, with the two former as physical and the two latter as mental. Each of them have a nonlinear meter based on the strengths of each individual character. For example, Madame Zostra (see spoiler below) has a high potential for sanity and speed, while knowledge and strength have a flatter curve, and sanity's lowest value before death is 4 (while the others quickly go down to 2 or 1), and both Knowledge and Might can be damaged once more at starting base level than the other two before death. Other characters have higher potentials in other stats, or different minimum values, or more linear curves or more exponential curves, and so on.

https://robinsurbanlifestories.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/betrayal2-e1413980504221.png

In it, Speed is how many spaces you can move in a turn, Might is how many dice you roll at a time for attacking with physical attacks, and all four stats are used in various rolls/saves/etc. Things you find can modify what they do (such as a weapon that changes your attack stat to Knowledge and lets you target mental stats). Whenever an attack happens, it either targets your physical stats or your mental stats. (Generally, physical attacks, being bitten, or falling through the floor damages your physical stats while insanity-causing things target your mental stats). If you're damaged by a physical attack by, say, 3 damage then you have to move either Speed or Might down by a total of 3 blips (your choice which it causes to decrease, and how much each is affected). Healing can increase your stats; gaining a weapon can increase a stat by a set number of blips, and so on.

There is no set "HP" meter, because all your meters together act as some sort of hit point system. The way the stats interplay adds to the mystery the game tries to convey; how the meter works (and how quickly it can change) really adds to the horror element of the game.

This hypothetical attribute meter concept could work similarly to that game: I feel four stats, with two mental and two physical, is a good and simple concept. During character generation, you put together your nonlinear meters. Spells, damage, equipment, and so on directly modify the level the meter is on.

tl;dr, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a game that uses a similar metered attribute system and it works well for the type of game it wants (which is a mystery-horror game).

JCarter426
2017-07-01, 03:06 PM
I think Gumshoe games do something vaguely along those lines?

Upon reading the first post, I immediately thought of another game I played recently that has a similar concept: Betrayal at House on the Hill (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrayal_at_House_on_the_Hill).

Ah, I'll look into both of those, thanks.

I haven't had a chance to work on my system much recently, but I'm hoping to take another crack at it over the summer.

HisHighestMinio
2017-07-01, 07:28 PM
I played a system similar to this recently. Waking Dreams. You have a pool of Character Points (CP) which you have to allocate between your special abilities (Distraction, Rage, etc.) and your stats (Str, Int, Agi, Cha, Sta, and Luck). The amount of points tells you what dice to roll.
Then you have to "invest" to activate your special abilities or add to your rolls. You can do normal actions like attacking and dodging without investing, but if you wanted to you could to get a bonus on your roll. To activate your special abilities, you have to invest.

Certain parts of the system didn't work so well, but it seemed reasonably balanced and functional. Unfortunately, our DM didn't really know the rules so I don't have much practical experience with it. For one thing, he started us with 1000 CP instead of the recommended 100, so we were working outside of the game's assumptions.

JCarter426
2017-07-03, 10:31 PM
Hmm, I'm not sure if that's what I had in mind. Plenty of systems have some sort of pool for temporary bonuses - Fate points, Force points, etc - but that's not what I was thinking of. I was thinking of each attribute being its own individual pool. The idea that special abilities would deplete them is more of an ancillary idea.

Deepbluediver
2017-07-04, 12:45 PM
Hmm, I'm not sure if that's what I had in mind. Plenty of systems have some sort of pool for temporary bonuses - Fate points, Force points, etc - but that's not what I was thinking of. I was thinking of each attribute being its own individual pool. The idea that special abilities would deplete them is more of an ancillary idea.
The main issue I see is, as I said before, tracking changes to each one of your attributes. It's hard enough in a regular pen-and-pencil game, where only 1 stat (HP) is constantly going up and down, and while the rest often get bonuses or penalties they tend to be fairly static within any single encounter.

I've played a few board games that had attribute meters, but usually they also provided special cards with sliders or or something like that you to make it easy to keep track of what was what. I guess if you're playing D&D you could use something like dice as a "turn down counter" to keep track, assuming players don't mix them up.

Your idea is certainly interesting, it's just one that with all the different moving parts it might be better suited to a videogame, where all the tracking and calculations are handled automatically. In the end I suspect that not matter how fun or balanced it is, whether people use it or not is going to come down to how many different meters there are to track and how often they change.

SirBellias
2017-07-04, 04:13 PM
I believe Numenera also does something like this. I haven't played it in an incredibly long time, so I may be remembering it incorrectly, but you have three main stats, which all act as resource pools and hit points. You could spend them for bonuses and special effects, but if you do that too much you won't have any left to survive your enemies attacks. It may be worth looking into.

jqavins
2017-07-05, 10:27 AM
Your idea is certainly interesting, it's just one that with all the different moving parts it might be better suited to a videogame, where all the tracking and calculations are handled automatically.
As I mentioned in post 4, paragraph 1, having all the moving parts managed automatically doesn't mean it can't be a table top game. Of course, someone has to write the software, but it clearly could be done. When I win the Power Ball and have all time I want, maybe I'll do it. But then, there is at least one in-game character management program already out there (Hero Lab) and I wonder if it can already handle something like this; it's highly (but not infinitely) configurable to handle custom game systems, but I don't know if that goes this far.

Nifft
2017-07-05, 11:06 AM
I believe Numenera also does something like this. I haven't played it in an incredibly long time, so I may be remembering it incorrectly, but you have three main stats, which all act as resource pools and hit points. You could spend them for bonuses and special effects, but if you do that too much you won't have any left to survive your enemies attacks. It may be worth looking into.

Yeah I came here to mention Numenera.

Seconded (and @SirBellias, your recollection matches my own).

Deepbluediver
2017-07-05, 11:57 AM
As I mentioned in post 4, paragraph 1, having all the moving parts managed automatically doesn't mean it can't be a table top game. Of course, someone has to write the software, but it clearly could be done. When I win the Power Ball and have all time I want, maybe I'll do it. But then, there is at least one in-game character management program already out there (Hero Lab) and I wonder if it can already handle something like this; it's highly (but not infinitely) configurable to handle custom game systems, but I don't know if that goes this far.
Yeah, it's certainly by no means impossible, it's just something that you have to playtest a lot to make sure it works in execution as well as it does in theory.

I'd strongly recommend a system with more abstraction, so your "stats" where things like "Fight", and "Trivia" (knowledge), and "Social", and whatever numbers you had in that was your straight bonus or penalty to a check or roll, as opposed to D&D's system where your attributes (Strength, Dex, Int, etc) in turn create bonuses for OTHER stats that have to be recalculated, like Armor Class or Skill Checks or Caster Level.

clash
2017-07-05, 12:42 PM
I kinda like this idea and may try it out in my homebrew system. In my system all of the stats are between 1-100 and arent used in any other calculations on the character sheet, so it would be simple to turn each of those into gauges (65/65 instead of 65) then every time you attack with strength you lose say 5 or every time you evade you lose 5 and these stats recover on a short rest I am thinking.

Deepbluediver
2017-07-05, 01:01 PM
I kinda like this idea and may try it out in my homebrew system. In my system all of the stats are between 1-100 and arent used in any other calculations on the character sheet, so it would be simple to turn each of those into gauges (65/65 instead of 65) then every time you attack with strength you lose say 5 or every time you evade you lose 5 and these stats recover on a short rest I am thinking.
I'd be interested to hear how it goes. Keep in mind that that when talking numbers, there tends to be an inverse correlation between flexibility and ease of tracking and calculating.

What I mean is, if your range goes from 0 to 5, then every movement up or down is a 20% change, but at least no one ever has trouble with the math. Trying to make something worse-than-normal though, with say a 2-count change, tends to really hamstring (or buff) the success rate. If you go from 0 to 10, you can do shifts of 1 for normal stuff, and shifts of 2 for crits and things like that, and it's still pretty easy. If your scale goes from 0 to 100, then you can have things be 4/6/8/whatever to get EXACTLY the right amount of buff or nerf, but when players start having to do mental math for 62 minus 18, gameplay slows down a tad and the tendency for mistakes rises. It's all about balance.

clash
2017-07-05, 01:03 PM
I'd be interested to hear how it goes. Keep in mind that that when talking numbers, there tends to be an inverse correlation between flexibility and ease of tracking and calculating.

What I mean is, if your range goes from 0 to 5, then every movement up or down is a 20% change, but at least no one ever has trouble with the math. Trying to make something worse-than-normal though, with say a 2-count change, tends to really hamstring (or buff) the success rate. If you go from 0 to 10, you can do shifts of 1 for normal stuff, and shifts of 2 for crits and things like that, and it's still pretty easy. If your scale goes from 0 to 100, then you can have things be 4/6/8/whatever to get EXACTLY the right amount of buff or nerf, but when players start having to do mental math for 62 minus 18, gameplay slows down a tad and the tendency for mistakes rises. It's all about balance.

Ya I think I would use static easy numbers. Maybe 5 and 10.

JCarter426
2017-07-05, 01:54 PM
Your idea is certainly interesting, it's just one that with all the different moving parts it might be better suited to a videogame, where all the tracking and calculations are handled automatically.

Of course, someone has to write the software, but it clearly could be done.

Yeah, it's certainly by no means impossible, it's just something that you have to playtest a lot to make sure it works in execution as well as it does in theory.
Yeah, like I said, just a thought experiment for now, so I don't care about the calculations... if the system turns out to be worth pursing then I'd definitely look into a software solution. It might even be a good excuse for me to practice Python.

I'd strongly recommend a system with more abstraction, so your "stats" where things like "Fight", and "Trivia" (knowledge), and "Social", and whatever numbers you had in that was your straight bonus or penalty to a check or roll, as opposed to D&D's system where your attributes (Strength, Dex, Int, etc) in turn create bonuses for OTHER stats that have to be recalculated, like Armor Class or Skill Checks or Caster Level.

Hmm, I see your logic but I'm not sure if it can work in practice for everything. Armor class seems doable, because we can take the route that been done before and make dexterity the primary defense mechanic and then armor is for damage reduction and Armor Class is for nothing because it makes no sense... but I doubt it will work so smoothly for every other composite stat.

It does apply to most of the other things I was thinking of already, though. Attack and damage rolls - replace strength or dexterity with the current strength or dexterity value. Special attacks - strength attacks use up strength, speed attacks use up speed. But in that case, the farther we go away from the stats themselves, the more problematic becomes. If strength and speed are combined into stamina, then the meter becomes a modifier for other stats for sure.

I believe Numenera also does something like this.

Yeah I came here to mention Numenera.
Ah, interesting. I'm not familiar with Numenera at all but I did back Torment on Kickstarter, I just haven't had a chance to try it. So I'll definitely check that out.

I kinda like this idea and may try it out in my homebrew system.
If you do, let me know how it goes. :smallsmile:

jqavins
2017-07-05, 03:08 PM
[T]here tends to be an inverse correlation between flexibility and ease of tracking and calculating.

What I mean is... but when players start having to do mental math for 62 minus 18, gameplay slows down a tad and the tendency for mistakes rises. It's all about balance.This is a good point, but...

Of course, someone has to write the software...It might even be a good excuse for me to practice Python.Such a software solution obviates the need to keep it terrifically simple. I'd still suggest keeping it comprehensible; as a player I wouldn't want to be told "Your abilities will worsen as you get tired" or "as you use them, but don't worry about the math." You want something that can be written out and easily understood, then let the computer manage it.

Also, in thinking about writing such software, I quickly realized that it would have to be done for multiple platforms simultaneously; do it for - at least - windows, Android, and iOS so everyone's phones, tablets, and laptops can handle it. And probably MacOS, but I don't know how many A pple fans would be bringing their MacBooks to a game and not have an iPad or iPhone too. And Linux wouldn't hurt, but I know that if I had a Linux laptop I'd be perfectly content to bring my Android tablet, so Linux is optional if I'm a valid example.

Deepbluediver
2017-07-05, 10:29 PM
Hmm, I see your logic but I'm not sure if it can work in practice for everything. Armor class seems doable, because we can take the route that been done before and make dexterity the primary defense mechanic and then armor is for damage reduction and Armor Class is for nothing because it makes no sense... but I doubt it will work so smoothly for every other composite stat.

It does apply to most of the other things I was thinking of already, though. Attack and damage rolls - replace strength or dexterity with the current strength or dexterity value. Special attacks - strength attacks use up strength, speed attacks use up speed. But in that case, the farther we go away from the stats themselves, the more problematic becomes. If strength and speed are combined into stamina, then the meter becomes a modifier for other stats for sure.
Story time! The creator of a webcomic I like(d) (it's finished now) called Leftover Soup had 2 of his characters discussing gameplay systems and eventually making one of their own. The cool part of this is that the author and artist is a multi-talented individual and actually WROTE UP the game system that his characters created and posted it online: http://www.leftoversoup.com/AndTheBeatGoesOn.pdf

Of all the simplified systems I've seen (I certainly don't claim to be an expert) that one seems to come off well above average IMO. It is heavily combat-focused (and has some setting-specific rules) but I think it would be worth a look to see how it handles things like offense and defense for keeping your system from turning into a tentacled horror of overlapping rules and esoteric formula from beyond the veil of time and space and Gary Gygax.

Knaight
2017-07-06, 03:07 AM
I mostly came to this thread to mention Cypher System (Numenera and similar) and GUMSHOE (Trail of Cthulhu, Night's Black Agents) as games that had already done this. It's a proven concept.

jqavins
2017-07-06, 10:34 AM
imo, your system sounds interesting, and possibly fun. It's more realistic, with the idea that using strength actually uses up strength. In real life, fights don't last more than a couple of minutes, and at that point both parties are exhausted because you're putting a lot of strain on muscles and using explosive power instead of sustained. And, in fights, the reason why the person who keeps his head is usually the one who wins is because the other person is the one exhausting themselves early. Of course, if the early attacks overwhelm their defenses, it was a bad idea to hold back. If I were to use this system, I would want a regeneration system included as a possibility, but not something that everyone gets all the time. It would allow for a Wolverine/Deadpool character who can push themselves to their physical limits and count on their regeneration to keep them going, versus other characters like Luke Cage, who rely on their superhuman strength to do similar feats. I like it. It would work really well for a gritty world that wanted the players to really pay attention to their abilities instead of just rolling the dice and seeing where they land.
Sorry about the comic book references. Those were the closest comparisons I could come up with.
I've been bugged by the emphasis on attribute meters as attribute pools, as I didn't recall that being the point of the thread, so I went back to the beginning to check. I was wrong, that does seem to be what Mr. Carter had in mind. But I'm going to give one more plug for the fatigue notion that I introduced earlier, then I'll quit harping on it (unless others want to continue discussing it.)

The quote above is post #2. The Jette seems to both make my point and deny it at the same time. In saying "using strength uses up strength" (s)he advocates pools. But is saying "fights don't last more than a couple of minutes, and at that point both parties are exhausted..." (s)he seems to be supporting the fatigue notion. And yet, that very sentence continues "because you're putting a lot of strain on muscles and using explosive power instead of sustained" referring only to strength (muscles) being exhausted. I don't think that last bit is realistic. After those few minutes, the combatants may be feeling weak, but they are also both winded and probably slowed and possibly a bit muddle-headed.* If it's realism one is after, I still believe that a single fatigue meter that affects many other things indirectly is a better way to go than various attribute meters that can be tapped as pools individually. I'm not advocating the specifics that I wrote out above; that was only a quick try at something that might work, and only as an example of what I'm talking about, not an actual proposal. Still, I think fatigue is the way to go.

* In this case, it's probably because the acute increased oxygen demand by the muscles affects oxygen availability to everything. And yes, there's also lactic acid building up in the muscles, which affects strength more than other things, but then weakening the muscles this way affects one's ability to make rapid movements, so it's Dex too. I'm going off on a tangent into unnecessary specifics about which I'm not an expert, and we all know that trying for more and more realism invariably leads down deep and winding rabbit holes.

Deepbluediver
2017-07-06, 11:09 AM
I've been bugged by the emphasis on attribute meters as attribute pools, as I didn't recall that being the point of the thread, so I went back to the beginning to check. I was wrong, that does seem to be what Mr. Carter had in mind. But I'm going to give one more plug for the fatigue notion that I introduced earlier, then I'll quit harping on it (unless others want to continue discussing it.
When you think about it, isn't the current system kind of like a meter already anyway? The meter runs from 0 (zero) to whatever your normal baseline score is, and it can go higher with buffs. The fact that it only shows a single number at a time instead of a scale is just cosmetic.
The idea behind and attribute pool seems to be that your score shift with almost every action you take.

That's just how it looks to me anyway.