Mechanika Inwazja Note 160123 State Of Mechanics

The character sheet has several functions, one of them being prescriptive and another one is to be descriptive. Now, the current problem is, that we do not really have all of those things properly set in the system. We have managed to correct the attributes (now called inclinations), but the skills do not match it.

In the random blind test I have done with a friend of mine, I have found the character sheet to a person who is into the boardgames but not role-playing games. His first question was why is it called “what can she do” as a character sheet field, while the answers were “journalist”, “Street fighter”. Basically, he expected to see skills, while we have a mix of skills and professions. For a new person, seeing something like this, would be a problem.

This leads to another problem which T identified – skills might be broken. We have a set of skills with different width (journalist versus tracking), and it is very hard to calibrate is my skill already in the proper width band or is it too wide or too narrow. This is less of a problem for us, though we do create imbalanced characters because of that; this is a major problem for other players, especially those who are not experienced in this particular system and approach.

Also, new eight stat system (inclinations) has been introduced and it seems more natural, more “what we would expect”. Unfortunately, there seem to still be some attributes which may be more important than others in terms of the intensity of how often they will be used during a normal role-playing session. Because of having completely flexible skill system, it is impossible to actually prove that those attributes are of similar intensity in terms of usage; or at least of similar importance during the gameplay. Not having this leads to creation of so-called “dump stats”: stats you can easily set to lowest possible to maximize the power of the character.

A suggestion has been made by Miaushi: to browse through rigged dice and enumerate all the skills that are present over there on the various character sheets spanning all the systems recorded on the rigged dice. Then, try to converge all those skills into the blandest and most general variant possible and see how many actual skills we really use. Then, to preserve the descriptive function of the system, this skill has to be able to be named differently, while still referencing the original name. Something like the record below:

<original skill name> - <descriptive implementation with flavor> - <power value>
Melee weapons – blademaster – 6

That way we would be able to create a set of skills which would actually have similar width and we could test if all the skills are balanced against the inclinations; this would identify the key problematic stats and key dump stats (if fortitude is used by 15 skills and supernatural is used by three skills, then the supernatural is like charisma in AD&D).

Having a set of skills we would be able to actually create packages; being able to say “I am a journalist” helps the players much more than picking all the skills of the want. So we could do something like this:

- documents – very fluent with documentation and old papers - 6
- manipulation – can make others look bad in front of camera – 4
- gossip – starts and gets gossip easily – 4

Which then could mean you could create a character using, say, three professions and two loose skills. This would require a lot of work from the system designers and creation of those packages would be a Really Hard Work stuff, as an advantage the NPC and character creation would be very, very simple. You could simply select: “I am a journalist who used to be a taxi driver and as a hobby I raise fish” and you have three professions already being able to simply add two loose skills for flavor. This would work perfectly with inclinations system we use as stats. But, hell of a work.

A very good way to start all of that would be to select about 15 characters from the literature. Druss the Legend from Gemmell, Sam Vimes from Pratchett, Verity from Resnick… Overall, 15 characters from different type of fiction which should be able to be created in our system and create their profiles. For example, “in our urban fantasy system we expect those 15 characters from the books to be possible to be created: X, Y, Z”. For our science-fiction system different 15 characters would be selected. This leads to one result, actually: we would have a test sample if the character sheet works properly in terms of both the descriptive and prospective function.

And let’s be honest: having Granny Weatherwax play a game of chess against Honor Harrington and seeing the possible results would actually be quite a fun side effect of testing the mechanics.

On the side note: after this is done, I would have to look at the “magic is broken” complaint T has. The magic is a tool at this moment and it has nothing… “Special” connected to it. It is exactly what I want, but I know it is definitely something T does not want. Also, I can see several possible improvements of the system currently, so after the character sheet and the mechanics are cleaned the magic shall get a pass as well.

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