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Delayed Crystallization of Stats 
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Greater Lore Drake
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Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 7:00 am
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Post Delayed Crystallization of Stats
I was discussing RPGs last night with the family, and I started thinking about something. What if you started out with few knowns about your character and these solidified over time?

This idea seems obvious enough that there's probably an RPG that already does this. I know there are a couple of "Level 0" modules that do something like this to help steer a character to a class, and DCC has something similar. I am thinking of something that goes beyond level 0/1 though. It does end up being a little similar to skill systems or games where all players have all skills but suck at most of them at first. Even most skill system games give you SOME starting stats. This wouldn't give you much at all.

I have this house rule where you get the number of languages you normally would, but you can defer picking them until you need to actually speak it. Then you decide, do you want to "spend" a language pick on this monster or being you want to converse with, knowing that is your pick forever. What this does is make the character form via his or her deeds instead of some blueprint at creation.

I thought, well, we could do this for almost everything. I envision picking a race and class, as these things are probably obvious to one's companions. At least some equipment would be purchased normally.
I've also thought about going classless with this. XP-less play is possible.

After that though:

1. Attributes and Primes
You don't have any scores until you roll against them. You have a pool of points (like the point buy method in the CKG). You can spend the points to make an ability on the spot the first time you need to roll against it. For example, you have no Charisma yet but want to haggle over a suit of armor. You decide you probably don't want to put everything into Charisma, you want to be good but you don't want to sacrifice other stats, after all, you don't plan to be an armor haggler, you plan to be a fighter. So you spend 12 points on it for now. You also decided it's not one of your primes.

Ability scores are special in that you may increase them with points (if you have any left) any time you make a roll, but you may never decrease them.
You may roll against them as non-primes until you decide if they are prime or not, but you can't take back the prime once you assign it.

2. Abilities
If you play classless, you could make all class abilities purchasable from an ability pool (haven't decided how many points yet). Like attributes, you can increase them. For instance, if you are a fighter, and get a second attack at a certain level, instead you can just buy the second attack the first time you decide you need it in combat. There might be some rules like you must have a certain number of ability slots of a certain level before you can buy higher level ones (and you can't skip ahead, you must take the 3rd level variant of your ability before you take the 6th level variant).

3. Level/XP
You can't directly buy a level, but you could determine it with some formulae weighted on the percentage of points used in each pool. In this way, it truly reflects your experience. Since you can only spend points when doing something in the game, points you spend mean you actually did things.

4. Spells
Again, spells would have their own point pool. For divine casters, the currency would be spell slots. You have no spell slots until you CAST a spell (not when you prepare spells). Then you buy the slot. Note you don't get any more than you could possibly have if you played normally. If you are an arcane class, you buy the slot AND a spell for your spellbook. You cannot buy a slot of a higher level until you have a certain number of spells of the lower levels. This means for arcane casters that every spell they ever cast or record in their book besides ones they find is one they have actually used for something at least once.

5. Equipment/Magic items.
Why not have pools for these too? Maybe you can outright buy a few magic items or normal equipment (limited) this way. You can also get it the normal way.

Other:
You can probably think of other pools you can use. Just need to make formulas so they can contribute to level determination.

So, how would this affect the game? The power level would flatten. I'd base pools on the potential of 12 levels. It would be possible to reach high levels of power fairly quickly, which might be a lot of fun for groups that have already done the linear grind 1000 times.

It would create situations where people are hesitant to do things, too. Someone needs the Knock spell and you have points to buy it and cast it but you decide you don't want to spend it that way. Maybe someone needs to pass a Charisma check and no one wants to put an 18 prime in it.

Now, even though the player builds the character gradually, from the character's perspective they already have the equipment, the magic item, the ability, the score. It just wasn't mentioned yet.

Eventually you'll spend all of your points and you'll basically be 12th level characters, defined through experience, in pretty much every way equivalent to a 12th level character played by the book.

This isn't a full-baked idea obviously. I might just play a more skill based game if I wanted to go this route, but the beauty of this system would be it would use all of the regular C&C rules, it's just that you'd level sort of asymmetrically and on a different scale. And since xp wouldn't be needed, looting and killing wouldn't really need to be the driving force of the game (though since characters are fed by experience they are what they eat. If they play all their early games as peaceful diplomats, they'll be ruined for war later.) Since rolling the dice is pretty much the only way to level up, characters that always do the same thing or don't do things that require rolls would be punished for it.

By setting some limits you could also use this for, say, 3 levels of play and then from then on play normally, too.

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Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:06 am
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Mogrl

Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 am
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Location: Arizona and St Louis
Post Re: Delayed Crystallization of Stats
I see that as very doable for any group that wants to do it.

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

Grand Knight Commander of the Society.


Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:19 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:37 pm
Posts: 2165
Location: North Coast
Post Re: Delayed Crystallization of Stats
Good luck keeping all that straight. I like having base scores and a pool to add to them as you play with a +1/4 per level gained or some such.
But class abilities? I like once your a spell caster being more flexible.

Good luck with it, keep us posted how it works.

I would start simple and slow.. KISS

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Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:09 am
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