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I'm creating an old school top-down grid based RPG, where you enter random encounters every few steps. I want to know what kind of systems or guidelines there are for creating the leveling and stats system for such a game. Right now I'm just sort of guessing based on intuition and it's clear that that isn't going to work for very long.

For example, let's say I have a max level cap of 50, and 10 dungeons. The ideal would be that the player should need to gain about 5 levels per dungeon in order to stand a chance in the next dungeon, but that the monsters in the current dungeon can't provide enough XP to skip the next dungeon (within a reasonable amount of time anyway).

The easy route that I can think of would be to just define every enemy as worth 1 XP, and then set the amount of XP required for the next level in increasing increments, so that I only really have to track number of kills (level 1 --> 2 would be 10 XP, or 10 kills, level 2 --> 3 would be 12 XP, or 12 kills, etc.). But that's boring. As a player myself, I like to see the numbers related to my actions get larger over time (i.e. at level 1 --> 2 as 10 XP, but level 2 --> 3 as 150 XP, etc.).

And that's not even counting for stats like Strength, Vitality, and so on. But that in itself is a whole other question: are there any kinds of formulas for stats and their effects on each other? For example, enemy has 50 armor, and my guy has 30 strength. That is considerably more armor than strength, so I would expect my hit to be pretty weak...but how can I calculate those statistics to get a final damage number?

Are there any guides or any kind of "standards" for such basic systems? Even if "every game is different," I still need to learn the absolute BASIC ideas for "most" games. I have questions such as, "if you have an agility-like stat, what is a common way to determine dodge rate?" and so on.

EDIT: I found this after posting, but I'm gonna include the link here if someone else stumbles across this with similar questions. Balancing Player vs. Monsters: Level-Up Curves

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

You are asking ten questions at once, and some of these require whole books to answer. Still, let me try to give you some pointers before the question is closed by a moderator:

Try these websites to learn some basics about balancing. Follow the links and book recommendations if you want to learn more:

Balance and pacing:

Battle mechanics:

My advise is to NOT copy the mechanics of other games, especially if they're as crude as your "agility, armor, strength" characterization suggests. Read the whole http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com series and use the techniques described there to design and test your own system.

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Awesome, thanks. Ironically it seems like figuring out a system that is perfectly "imbalanced" as the second link suggests is going to be harder than it was to actually get the game itself up and running. –  CptSupermrkt Aug 24 '12 at 15:09
Welcome to game design! :D –  BerndBrot Aug 25 '12 at 8:51
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