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    Belial_the_Leveler's Avatar

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    Default Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    OK, I'll give the example through DnD rules. The game system runs as follows;

    1) Characters and monsters have the six basic ability scores, starting from the normal score of 10. Those ability scores have their normal DnD benefits - and penalties, if appropriate.

    2) For each point a base score is higher than 10, the character gets a special ability associated with that score. Those specials replace class specials, feats and other character options. For example, a character with 13 strength might pick two combat feats and a low-level maneuver while someone with 13 intelligence might pick a familiar, the ability to memorize from and write into a spellbook and an item-crafting feat.

    3) Abilities are separated into physical, skill and magic. Your attack bonus and number of HD for hp purposes is equal to your number of physical abilities. Your skill rank cap and number of HD for skill point purposes is equal to your number of skill abilities. Your base caster level is equal to your number of magic abilities.

    4) A base ability score lower than 10 gives you special disabilities instead. For example, someone with low intelligence might be illiterate, someone with low constitution might be susceptible to disease and so on.

    5) No special ability (spells included) give a bonus or increase to ability scores. They all give an enhancement bonus to actions governed by that ability. The same applies to penalties, ability damage and ability drain.

    6) Minor magic items such as potions, scrolls, tokens, anything giving cosmetic changes or offer conveniences and services can be bought for cash as normal. Major magic items that give combat bonuses must be attuned to, taking up slots like special abilities do. For example, a magic sword that helps you kill powerful enemies might require strength and dexterity to use or you might cut yourself, and a ring that allows you to fly or telekinetically move objects might need intelligence or charisma to control or you get mishaps. Very powerful items might require more than one slot, even.

    7) Characters advance by increasing ability scores. A a lvl 1 fighter might have scores of 13/10/11/10/10/10 being a green recruit with only a few combat specials, while a lvl 8 "commoner" might have scores of 11/16/12/18/10/24 and be the very successful merchant lord that climbed up from a common background and now owns most of the town, with many specials about subterfuge, resources, allies and influence. The lvl 20 sorceress with scores of 16/30/20/20/14/40 would be a being of great power, having dozens of spell slots, SLAs, metamagic feats, high skills and major physical prowess both from extensive experience and magical experiments and items providing physical defenses.




    Does such a system seem interesting and capable of catering both to character options and character flavor without delving too much into optimization since the ability score increases, number of specials and availability of items is effectively limited to your level?
    Last edited by Belial_the_Leveler; 2014-10-21 at 06:24 AM.

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    While innovative, what is this system supposed to simulate? The class system shows a hero go down an archetypal path while point based systems describe how people gather skills in a more realistic way.
    Your idea doesn't really model any concepts of our world or a fiction. It would make more sense if you replaced the classic 6 stats with some other stats.


    Scratch that, after thinking about it, this system actually makes about as much sense as the other two.
    Last edited by GorinichSerpant; 2014-10-21 at 12:08 PM. Reason: a change of heart

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    I like it, though it basically seems like it's multiclassing made into the core game. (To see what I mean, try replacing stats with class names. For instance, replace Strength with Fighter and Intelligence with Wizard. The mechanics as you've stated don't change.)

    The one concern I do have is that it leads to minmaxing, based on what I'm assuming. I'm guessing that when you raise a stat, you get abilities that benefit from having that stat in high amounts. (e.g., raising Strength gives you feats that tend to benefit from having a high Strength) This means that it's exponentially better to raise one or two stats and leave the others low.
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    This is very close to point buy, with points being called stats and also used mechanically for various things.

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    The system is meant to have both archetypes and gradual learning. Ability scores are effectively increased in a point-by-point basis but abilities tied to them are still labeled in a way that effectively groups them by archetypes. The advantage is that players can have the benefit of both systems.

    The system also ties character power to ability scores because hey, the guy who is a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat is going to have way higher intelligence than just a scientist - with a side dose of charisma to boot.

    As far as multiclassing goes, it is integrated into the system but not mandatory. All ability scores have abilities of the three different types. For example, an intelligent fighter would pick tactical abilities with his intelligence instead of the wizard's spellbook, familiar and crafting wondrous items.

    Min-maxing is possible but gives less returns. Remember that classes no longer have a BAB or class HD - they need Combat abilities to get them. They also no longer have class skills and skill points per level - they need Skill abilities to take them. So the caster who puts everything into Magic will have a dismal attack bonus for his orbs/rays, dismal skill ranks, and dismal hit points and defenses.

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    Sounds like something I'd be willing to hear out. I would reserve judgement for when more information is available though.

    Especially regarding the skills because done poorly this will take the problems I already have with the skills in the game and make them much much worse.

    Though I don't want to end on a sour note. I like the idea. Probably because of how I got into the hobby in the first place, more customization is something I'd be happy to see.
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belial_the_Leveler View Post
    Min-maxing is possible but gives less returns. Remember that classes no longer have a BAB or class HD - they need Combat abilities to get them. They also no longer have class skills and skill points per level - they need Skill abilities to take them. So the caster who puts everything into Magic will have a dismal attack bonus for his orbs/rays, dismal skill ranks, and dismal hit points and defenses.
    Shouldn't a high magic stat make you better at casting magic?
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    By level 20 though, you aren't capturing a wizard. A character lives to level 20 by being the most ruthless, lucky, capable, and paranoid bastard around. A wizard is throwing around a 30+ Int score and has, entirely in character, planned contingencies for his contingencies. He may well be running around with flat out total immunity to harm, he does not walk outside without an entire bevy of defensive magics around him and enough magic items to buy himself a nation.

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    Caster with high magic would be good at casting more and more powerful spells. Not so good at aiming them in combat though - whether rays/orbs, touch spells or spells with weaponlike effects, they'd need to be backed by combat ability. Of course, said casters could eschew such spells entirely and go for area or targeted spells instead.


    Regarding skills, the skill ranks one would have would be the base statistic witwhich to make rolls, much like attack bonus is for combat abilities and caster level is for magic. The individual special abilities for skills would provide just as varied effects as maneuvers or spells. For example, leadership and exceptional persuasion would be specials for diplomacy and bluff. Having animal companion(s) would be a special for animal handling. Crafting artifact-level weapons/armor out of rare or inherently supernatural materials would be a special for crafting.

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    What advantages does this have over class based or point build systems?

    Because, to be frank with you, I can't see any. What do you think they are.
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    Over class-based systems, characters aren't locked to existing classes and having to follow a strict leveling system. In addition to multiclassing better and combat and skill type characters not falling behind casters, it also offers more total options. It has combat, skill and magic abilities for each attribute and if each character focuses on the minimum of 2 attributes, there are 225 combinations of ability types alone.

    Over point-based sytems, it has the advantage of integrated flavor. It offers more guidance and links between character flavor and mechanics than an entirely open-ended system. Also, since it gives a large number of existing specials instead of players having to build their own, it would be possible to balance it a lot better than purely open-ended systems and inexperienced players would be able to play without having to learn enough to be ability designers themselves.



    At least, those are the advantages I'm seeing. Of course, the big problem is that such a system would require loads of work to design and finalize...

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belial_the_Leveler View Post
    1) Characters and monsters have the six basic ability scores, starting from the normal score of 10. Those ability scores have their normal DnD benefits - and penalties, if appropriate.

    2) For each point a base score is higher than 10
    How are you generating these ability scores? Rolling? Elite array?

    Also, why not start the stats at 0, and have +ability scores and -ability scores? This seems like it would be a little more elegant.

    the character gets a special ability associated with that score. Those specials replace class specials, feats and other character options. For example, a character with 13 strength might pick two combat feats and a low-level maneuver while someone with 13 intelligence might pick a familiar, the ability to memorize from and write into a spellbook and an item-crafting feat.
    This sounds all right so far. I use a similar system for my rules-light game ("Six by Six").

    3) Abilities are separated into physical, skill and magic. Your attack bonus and number of HD for hp purposes is equal to your number of physical abilities. Your skill rank cap and number of HD for skill point purposes is equal to your number of skill abilities. Your base caster level is equal to your number of magic abilities.
    This seems needlessly complex and counter to your concept of a "point-free" game. You get skill ranks and hit points. Also, it would be more easily phrased using "equal to points above 10" instead of "equal to number of special abilities."

    If you use 0 as benchmark and +/- ability scores, you can just say "add your ability score to attacks."

    4) A base ability score lower than 10 gives you special disabilities instead. For example, someone with low intelligence might be illiterate, someone with low constitution might be susceptible to disease and so on.
    Fair. Similar to flaws.

    7) Characters advance by increasing ability scores. A a lvl 1 fighter might have scores of 13/10/11/10/10/10 being a green recruit with only a few combat specials, while a lvl 8 "commoner" might have scores of 11/16/12/18/10/24 and be the very successful merchant lord that climbed up from a common background and now owns most of the town, with many specials about subterfuge, resources, allies and influence. The lvl 20 sorceress with scores of 16/30/20/20/14/40 would be a being of great power, having dozens of spell slots, SLAs, metamagic feats, high skills and major physical prowess both from extensive experience and magical experiments and items providing physical defenses.
    This part still feels point-based, at its core. However the idea of using ability scores as your sole means of progression is a good one.

    All in all, not bad, but obviously needs some polishing.
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    1) Ability scores start at 8 and players get 15 increases at 1st lvl, thus arrays of 12/11/11/10/10/10 are the normal. An array of 18/13/8/8/8/8 is also possible if you want to play someone like Raistlin with ginormous Intelligence but both phyically pathetic and the wisdom of a lemming. Players are given 4 increases each subsequent level, no more than 2 applicable at a single ability. Alternatively, the GM may give the increases gradually as rewards between levels.


    2) I have been considering entirely eschewing "levels" and using the following mechanic:
    Attack bonus = 1/2 combat abilities + STR modifier
    AC = 10 + DEX modifier + either AC bonuses or 1/2 combat abilities.
    Fortitude = CON+CHA modifier
    Reflex = DEX+WIS modifier
    Will = CHA+WIS modifier
    Hit Points = (combat abilities+1) x CON modifier
    DCs = relevant ability modifier +10, OR relevant ability score - 10, whichever is higher
    Skill cap = number of skill abilities.
    Skill points = Cap x INT modifier.

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    I'd playtest that.
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    Isn't this just levels-by-another-name?

    What exactly is the difference between "I increase my Str by 1, giving me access to various combat-related abilities" and "I gain a a level of Fighter"?

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belial_the_Leveler View Post
    1) Ability scores start at 8 and players get 15 increases at 1st lvl, thus arrays of 12/11/11/10/10/10 are the normal. An array of 18/13/8/8/8/8 is also possible if you want to play someone like Raistlin with ginormous Intelligence but both phyically pathetic and the wisdom of a lemming. Players are given 4 increases each subsequent level, no more than 2 applicable at a single ability. Alternatively, the GM may give the increases gradually as rewards between levels.
    So far the basics sound good, but not the specifics, for example:

    Why are you using the D&D ability scores? You could use whatever you want, for example:
    Strength
    Agility
    Dexterity
    Constitution
    Intellect
    Resolve
    Charisma

    Or
    Body
    Intellect
    Charm


    Or (to go along with the 'physical/skill/magic' split)
    Physique
    Cunning
    Magic

    Or whatever you want, I'd in fact argue that the D&D scores are the worst to go by.

    I'm fine with the generation method though.

    2) I have been considering entirely eschewing "levels" and using the following mechanic:
    Attack bonus = 1/2 combat abilities + STR modifier
    AC = 10 + DEX modifier + either AC bonuses or 1/2 combat abilities.
    Fortitude = CON+CHA modifier
    Reflex = DEX+WIS modifier
    Will = CHA+WIS modifier
    Hit Points = (combat abilities+1) x CON modifier
    DCs = relevant ability modifier +10, OR relevant ability score - 10, whichever is higher
    Skill cap = number of skill abilities.
    Skill points = Cap x INT modifier.
    Okay:
    Attack and AC: it works, but there must be a more elegant way to do it.
    Fortitude, Reflex, and Will: Are they needed? If we have these, what purpose does AC serve? Armour might as well be DR, with Reflex being the primary defence against attacks (or fortitude, but I prefer that as a way to avoid toxins and being moved about by others).
    Hit Points: how does damage scale? You might be able to get away with leaving it as CON modifier (which I would do, but I prefer characters to be squishy), assuming that damage remains fairly constant.
    Skill points: why don't you ust give players INT skills, which have a bonus equal to the number of skill abilities they have?

    Also, this might be better off in the Homebrew forum, as it seems to be getting into mechanics.
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    Spitballing on my previous post and some others here.

    Abilities: It doesn't matter how many or which ones you use, that's a matter of how granular you want them. You can stick to the six d20 stats, but consider that you could reduce them to 3, like-
    Body (str, con)
    Move (dex, speed)
    Mind (int, wis, cha)
    Spirit (magic, supernatural)

    Either way, I suggest getting rid of the over/under 10 and instead make it over/under 0, as if you were only using ability modifiers. Starting characters should be, by default, all 0s (average), but allow them to increase a score at the cost of decreasing another score. If you want higher-powered characters, give them X number of boosts.

    So you could have
    Body: -1
    Move: 0
    Mind: +1
    Spirit: 0
    For a bookish, weak character.

    For each number over 0 in a category, you select an advantage in that category. For each number under 0, you select a flaw in that category.

    When it comes to checks, you just roll d20 and add the +/- of your relevant ability, with modifiers from your advantage/flaw if applicable. It might be worth considering making this a d10 system instead, though, depending on the range of power levels you anticipate reaching.

    So, climbing a fence could have a DC 5, our guy would roll d10-1. For combat, you roll Body vs target's Move.

    Characters can still progress by giving them a +1 to ability score, topping out in this system at 5 for "normal" humans. They get to decide to increase a strong aspect or shore up a weakness.
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    I very much like the 6 abilities of DnD because they're neither so many as to be overly complicated nor so few as to be impossible to distinguish between archetypes. Archetypes on physical power (STR), resilience (CON), speed and coordination (DEX), knowledge and reasoning ability (INT), perception and intuition (WIS) and appearance and force of personality (CHA) are not just classic - they're a old as human civilization.


    As for eschewing ability scores and going right for modifiers, an odd score is still going to give an extra special ability under this system so it's still a useful differentiation. Also, values under 10 might be below human average but they should not be negative - however weak a mouse might be it can't actually have negative strength since it can move objects. Last and most important, the 3d6 roll for ability scores gives a bell curve for basic human capabilities, which very much fits the type of distribution we have IRL. I want to keep that for comparison and statistical purposes.

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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    the feel I'm getting from this is very much, though, you should give other systems a thorough trying-out. unless you've done that, and still decided that this is what you wanted to center your system around; but you're presenting basically something which suggests a very d&d-centric worldview and tbh that's rarely a good sign.
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    Default Re: Game system that is neither point-based nor class-based?

    I've played GURPS, Mutants and Masterminds and World of Darkness for over a decade now, with a side order of DFRPG since it first was published. I've been playing DnD for over two decades. The DnD-centric approach is because I want something that is both complex and archetype-based.


    Frankly, I believe the DFRPG works better than DnD and if you remove the skill caps could be allowed to progress however high up you want it to (not that it's really needed - in DFRPG wizards gain the equivalent of Epic Spellcasting as apprentices). But most people prefer a more rules-heavy approach to their gaming.

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