Basically I want to know if the following three characters are the same

character A health 10 strength 3 defence 2

character B health 100 strength 30 defence 20

character C health 1000 strength 300 defence 200

In traditional RPG games health/mana ranges from 0-9999 and the other stats are 0-999, is this just a tradition or is there a mechanical reason for it?

What would be the pros and cons of using each character above as the base model if there are any differences. I am think is all aspects so what affect it will have on battle maths, player perception, game balance.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ You have given us some numbers asking how they will affect complex game mechanics without giving them too. There's no way to tell. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for the second part, big numbers seem appealing to a large audience of gamers, but numbers too big can get out of control. Imagine a character with 283413 HP, weapon dealing 81654 Dmg and so on. Or a character with 7 HP and a potion restoring 2 HP. Kinda reminds of a while back. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I dont have any complex mechanic yet, this is to help design them. I was talking in general what affect do different ranges of numbers have on game mechanics. \$\endgroup\$
    – Skeith
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:20
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this could be a good question but right now you're asking what's the meaning behind a bunch of arbitrary numbers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tony
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


Generally speaking, this comes from a number of different factors, both technical and psychological.

For one, early RPGs had technical limitations imposed on them as to the number of differentiable values, especially in the era of 8-bit and 16-bit processors in game consoles. The maximum range of 8-bit integer values is 0-255, and for 16-bit integers, 0-65535. (In addition, I won't even go into how difficult it would have been on early platforms to represent decimal values.) This left a very limited range of relevant values for game designers to work with, so they (mostly) chose ranges which allowed decent levels of differentiation and gameplay balance, allowing for probabilistic and stat-based strategies to be created (think Pokemon's damage system), while still being within the ranges allowed by the processor.

In the above comment, the concept of aesthetically-pleasing numeric values is touched upon. These numbers are easy for us as humans to grasp, since they avoid what I like to call "zero shock" and "decimal/fraction shock". They are integers, which means we don't have to deal with differing scales or having to interpret decimals mentally, but they don't have an excess of wasteful information (extra zeros), which is not relevant to quantifying the importance of the value itself.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, I'd make the argument that most early design considerations regarding RPG numbers were ported straight from D&D, Rifts, GURPS, et cetera. Early jRPGs and early cRPGs would cling very tightly to the stat-levels and the engine concepts from the pen and paper equivalents, and instead diverge in the aspect of gameplay, rather than the underlying engines. That doesn't make his question any more easy to answer, but I think the initial problem was dealing with numbers which could be interpreted by a human, on the fly, rather than a 16-bit register. \$\endgroup\$
    – LetterEh
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 18:51

In addition to the other posts, consider how a larger health pool will allow you to better control stats at a finer level.

Case 1:

Max_Health = 10, Min_Damage = 1 (10% of max HP)

Therefore if your character receives the minimum amount of damage from an enemy, the highest health your character can have is 9, or 90% health.

Case 2:

Max_Health = 100, Min_Damage = 1 (1% of max HP)

Now the health pool is much larger and you can reduce (or increase, etc) the player's health to 99, or 99% health.

This also applies to the use of player attributes such as Strength, Intelligence, etc.


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