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I've got this BBG going ( http://ninjawars.net ), and the character stats currently are simplistic. I'm looking to add a few stats to the current 1/2 (strength and maximum hitpoints, essentially). I've come up with: (strength (unchanged), speed, stamina, and some others that are somewhat interesting wildcard stats). However, I'm not satisfied with how boring the effects of some of these stats are, because they're very linear. Better stat, better effects of the stat, but the stats don't interact with each-other, there's no Rock-Paper-Scissors interaction, having more is always better all the time.

So what I'd really like is to see examples of interesting character stats or effects of stats?

Examples that I can think of off hand:

Call of Cthulu's Insanity stat (things get really weird/chaotic if you start losing sanity)

White Wolf stats, to a certain extent (the stats themselves have some basic effects, and all skills effectiveness base themselves off of stats as well)

What are some other ways people have used stats to check out?

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You should really watch this video: Extra Credits: Choice and Conflict –  Jonathan Hobbs Jan 11 '11 at 3:04
    
Eh, the only point I really think is concrete enough in that video to be applicable is the consideration of the mario mushroom, i.e. that there can be simple ways to add to the conflict. –  Kzqai Jan 13 '11 at 1:28
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6 Answers 6

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I don't think it's relevant to what you're doing, but the most interesting way I have seen so far is in Amnesia: The Dark Descent (by the makers of Penumbra).

The basic principle of the game is that the character does not have any memory of what is going on, and you are alone in a castle that is alive - that is, something is chasing you, but you don't know what. You have to try to escape, whilst avoiding the monsters that will chase you around and stopping yourself literally going insane.

You cannot actually fight - one of the reasons its so scary (meeting a monster is certain death) - so there's less attributes, but you have 2: Health and Sanity. Instead of having '100/100 health', you simply get a description - 'A few minor cuts and bruises' or 'Struggling to walk'. And then low sanity made the screen go all weird.

I much preferred this over the standard 'you have 15/200 health left'.

An idea I was planning on using for my RPG:

Instead of a 'hit points', 'constitution', or 'strength' stat, you instead have 'upper body muscle' or 'arm dexterity'. It's very much a BODY PART + STAT system, but it makes more logical sense. I mean, if you worked out at a gym in a game running, then you would have much stronger legs, but having your hit points going up would be very generic - I have strong legs, so therefore getting hit in the chest doesn't do as much damage. In the same kind of way, a high strength would usually equate to a direct damage bonus. With a sledgehammer, this makes sense, but there's only a certain amount of power you can apply to a katana, say.

EDIT: I have remembered another stat system I was very fond of: Fallout 3.

It had your usual 'base stats' - strength, endurance, luck, perception, agility, intelligence etc. Then there were a number - I think about 23 - other stats. These stats actually defined your character more. For example, a high strength meant you could carry more equipment, but not necessarily meant you could do lots of damage with a baseball bat. In the same way having a high energy weapons meant you could do a lot of damage with a laser rifle, but wouldn't necessarily mean you were very agile.

Then each of the base skills had a trickledown of a few points to other skills - every point in strength gave about 1.5 points to melee weapons, for example. This made me as a player consider my stat choices much more than 'durrr shove it all in < weapon I'm using >'.

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Making things more realistic/sensible (to a certain point that is) usually adds to the game experience (not always), but it certainty eliminates those moments of "This is ridiculous!" –  Michael Coleman Jan 11 '11 at 18:07
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I like the simplicity of the health/sanity concept, and the purpose that that brings to the game, which is, presumably running away/surviving as best you can. –  Kzqai Jan 13 '11 at 1:51
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The way Shadowrun's core stats shook out, if you think about them abstractly, was interesting to me:

               Offense      Defense      Speed
Physical       Strength     Body         Quickness
Mental         Charisma     Willpower    Intelligence

If you have underlying abstract roles defined for your stats like that, the ways they wind up used come very naturally.

The main thing I don't like about that stat layout is that "perception" winds up being the same thing as "intelligence", which frankly lacks verisimilitude in a big, bad way.

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Personally, I've kinda settled on the idea of leaving intelligence "stats" as aspects of the character that have to be intelligently/tactically acheived by the player... In other words, if you want your character to seem smart, make them act smart using your own intelligence. If you want them to seem stupid, have them act stupid. If you're not that smart yourself, that's a limitation your character is going to share... Perhaps that's mainly because it's hard to imagine how really really intelligently stated characters should make such stupid decisions. –  Kzqai Jan 13 '11 at 1:49
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So you're speaking about some Rock-Paper-Scissor interaction? The simplest and wide-spread way to do this, would be by using character types instead of character stats for this behaviour. I.e. every character has to be either "Rock", "Paper" or "Scissor" and depending on which types are fighting you can multiply your stats with a certain factor.

I.e.

if(opponents(rock, scissor))
rocks_strength = rocks_strength * 1.5;
if(opponents(paper, scissor))
scissors_strength = scissors_strength * 1.5;
...

and so on. That's how I would go in your case. You can also add more complexity if your boost different stats for different types and/or add additional clauses (i.e. the stone gets doubled stamina if his opponent is a scissor with a higher strength)... There are really a lot of possibilities...

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That's how RuneScape does it. Although I found the idea of a warrior attacking a archer [and warrior can't kill ranger] at point blank kind of weird. And a magician should kill 'em both. –  muntoo Jan 11 '11 at 3:09
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one possible solution would be to have some basic stats and some derived stats. For example you got strength (S) constitution (C) and mass (M). Hit point could come from C+M, while speed would come from S-M (mass could add to your basic hit point, but you're slower). if you got a derived stat (or bonus/malus) for falling, it could come from agility and mass, and so on.

regards
Guillaume

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While Constantin's solution for player classes is valid, another possibility is to force the player to create his own class similar to what is done in Demon's Souls.

For those not familiar, with each level the player can add 1 point to any stat (speed, magic, strength, vitality, stamina, etc.). Now while this can lead to stats being linear and not giving an RPS type mechanic (a fully upgraded character will have access to all stats), you can limit the player's ability to do this by making the level scaling incredibly high at later levels or just limit them to a certain level so that all stats cannot be 99. In either case, you end up with players forced to lean toward speed, power, vitality, etc. types of builds which will create an RPS mechanic.

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What game did this and did create an RPS mechanic? (DSouls did not - the story bosses were all equally approachable by one of a few different builds, and there are two dominant endgame PvP builds, which are killer vs. griefer, not RPS.) –  user744 Jan 11 '11 at 19:39
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For the story bosses, the point is that the bosses were approachable by different builds but in different ways. I see the question as asking about interesting variations, not necessarily rock MUST beat scissors, etc. For PVP, there are trade-offs mostly among vitality, strength, and dexterity especially at lower Soul Levels. What I am suggesting is giving an artificial cap so that there are these same trade-offs among stats like health, strength and speed for example. –  acmshar Jan 12 '11 at 0:33
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"Design Patterns of Successful Role-Playing Games" is a free (by-nc-sa) ebook dedicated to using the concept of patterns in the design of roleplaying games.

It is available through http://legendaryquest.netfirms.com/ (last item under 'downloads').

This tome of information is quite a tough read, but great for easing the design of roleplaying game systems and finding a common base in communication about them.

The book introduces a diagram language for modelling conflicts/tests in rpg systems visually and contains a bunch of sample diagrams of existing (pen and paper) rpg systems.

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