Default Rule System

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Default Rule System

Postby Lurking Grue » Thu May 23, 2013 10:12 am

Now that the Beta is looming on the horizon (he said hopefully), I was thinking maybe we should start to discuss the underlying rule system that will be the basis of all modules made with IB. Sure any module maker can modify and customize his/her module's rules with scripting, but the default rule system ought to be robust and solid enough that heavy scripting wouldn't be a mandatory hurdle in "run of the mill" module making (note: I don't mean mediocre with that phrase, but a module that doesn't use loads of exotic/special rules and such).

As far as I know, IB will be using the d20 rule system, AKA D&D 3rd edition (or 3.5e), as its default rule system with some modifications (e.g. Stamina Points). Here's a link to the OGL content of d20 for reference: http://www.d20srd.org/.

So, what do you think? Any interest in rules discussion now? Too early? I, for one, think we should start to discuss these in earnest and lay down the basis for the rules now, but if there's no interest yet, I'm not going to ramble on by myself. However, IMO, by Beta we should already have a solid framework of the rules and most of the variations and differences to the default d20 rules worked out (so that Beta can thoroughly test the rules as well as the coding).
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby slowdive » Thu May 23, 2013 3:34 pm

I think now is a good time. I think most all of the basic foundations are in place, but we still need to fill in all the details. I will be doing a ton of coding over the next 6 days as I will be at the in-laws cabin on vacation. I may not have any internet or it may be very limited so keep the conversations going and I'll check in when I can. Karl is also out for a few more days. Dorateen is nearing release of a mini module. Exciting times for IB!
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby youngneil1 » Sun May 26, 2013 9:18 pm

Good initiative to push the standard ruleset forward. Will join in thinking about this tomorrow.
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby Lurking Grue » Tue May 28, 2013 1:52 pm

OK, let's get this ball rolling. Don't quite know how to handle this the best, but I think we ought to settle character creation first, as it is the characters that are central to the gameplay (and rules). We can tackle combat, experience/levelling, skill checks and all the myriad other rules later, once we have a solid foundation on how the characters are going to be made and what they're going to be like.

Race and Gender

The first thing a player will have to decide, when making a character, is the character's race and gender. These are very game world (module) specific and as such need to be highly customizable - as they are, thankfully. If one simplifies things beyond fluff, race and gender are basically just a preset collection of modifiers, special abilities and skills, which the module-maker scripts to his/her liking and that's pretty much it rules-wise. Because of that, there's not much need to delve deeper into this here, other than to state that the rules for race and gender hinge on other rules (attributes, skills, etc.).

Sidenote: I think it would be good to have a set of basic fantasy races (elves, dwarves, etc.) and perhaps a few sci-fi ones ("lion aliens", "bug aliens", etc.) to go with the base toolset, if nothing else then as examples. These wouldn't be anything but examples really, the module maker would be free to customize or delete them as he/she wishes of course.

Attributes

After the choice of race and gender comes a much bigger and more defining part of character creation, as far as rules are concerned - the attributes (AKA stats, AKA characteristics, AKA ability scores, etc.). AFAIK, IB is going to use the basic six attributes of d20, which are STR, CON, DEX, INT, WIS, and CHA. There is still leeway for a module maker to define how he interprets said attributes in his/her module (let's get that a bit later), but I am unsure if there is going to be room for customization in the range of attribute values (3-18 for humans) and how the attribute modifier is figured (10-11 = +0, 12-13 = +1, etc.). Be that as it may, we still need to lay down the basics for an unmodified IB ruleset and I think the d20 way of handling attributes is adequate here. But I'm just one voice. So comments, please.

I said 'adequate' above, because maybe I would personally have the attributes be a bit "tighter", having the values range from 1 to 9 for humans and have the modifiers increase/decrease for each increase/decrease of the attribute from the average. So, as 5 would be the average attribute value, it would have the +0 modifier; 6 has +1, 7 has +2, conversely 4 has -1, 3 has -2, and so on). This has the benefit of having no slack in the progression, which is good for a point buy system - there are no break points. But I'm okay with the d20 system. It has the benefit of being instantly recognizable by a large portion of RPG and CRPG players.

As you might have noticed, I'm assuming IB uses a point buy system for attributes. This is currently the case and I've read nothing of a possible dice roll system as an alternative. IMO, in a computer RPG there no sense in a dice roll attribute generation. Maybe if you have only limited number of rerolls or something, but all limits one might impose on a player can usually be circumvented easily, so I repeat, I see no sense in generating attribute scores in CRPGs by rolling virtual dice. Of course there are some who like rolling attributes scores for 50 minutes, hitting reroll again and again until a (nearly) perfect set of rolls emerges. Different strokes and all that, so what's your opinion on this? Do we need an alternative dice-rolling method for attribute generation? If so, how will it be limited (or will it have unlimited rolls)? Will it allow placing scores as you wish or will you need to roll in order (first roll is for STR always, etc.)?

I think this is good enough for a start (don't want to bite off too much). Comments, plz!
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby Dorateen » Tue May 28, 2013 2:13 pm

*Raises hand*

Ha! I'm one of those people who love the virtual dice rolling in cRPGs, with accompanying animation, going all the way back to the earliest Might & Magics.

The best version I liked was from the Infinity engine games where you roll for sets of numbers, and then can adjust by subtracting points from one attribute, to increase another. I think at a 2:1 exchange rate, if I remember correctly.

However, having said that, I think the point buy system in IB works well, with the base score of 10 further refined by race modifiers.
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby youngneil1 » Tue May 28, 2013 3:30 pm

Great to see this rolling:

Races already have all the basic necessary stuff right now. Going further down the road they might also grant skill boni/mali as well as racial traits (including traits which are only granted once a character of such race reaches a certain level; some traits might also be flat out drawbacks, lie e.g. a malus to hit rolls during the day). It's a good idea to have a portfolio of standard races go with the toolset as examples.

The D&D attribute system has indeed the merit of being recognizable. It's fairly linear, just requiring two attribute steps for one bonus step (which allows some smaller rewards which not always directly change results; like e.g. an attribute +1 item that doesn't always cross the next bonus barrier directly, but is still something palyers look forward for). I could also arrange with other solutions, but this is likely the easiest one. Which worries me a little more is that attribute effects are not very balanced imho: especially Strength is too important. This can be compensated for by having cool traits require other attributes (that's what I will do), but still STR influence on hit and damage is very mighty. Perhaps have STR influence melee to hit chance and damage in a split way, like (always summed up effects shown): 12-13: +1 to hit, 14-15: +1 to hit and +1 to damage, 15-16: +2 to hit and +1 to damage, 17-18: +2 to hit and +2 to damage... and so forth? Also the role of Wisdom is a little unclear/weak so far - perhaps it could additionally grant extra exp like +5% per extra step? So character with wisdom 18 would gain 20% more exp? Finally, which attribute will affect range attack damage? Will the answer depend on the type of the ranged weapon (thrown: STR, other: DEX or none?) Do ranged weapons get damage boni from attributes at all (or is e.g. high STR just a requirement to use e.g. certain bows)?

Rolling attributes has an old school charm, but indeed it becomes quite the repetition excercize. I like a non-random point allocation system better, but of course rolling could be optional. What makes me thinking is actually the system of point allocation: By how far can stats be lowered (like from default 10 to 3?) How much point will such lowering grant? Will it become more expensive if player tries to reach higher scores in a single attribute? From gut feeling it might work like this: Lowering an attribute below 10 only grants +1 free attribute point for two points lowered. After putting more than 5 points into a single attribute, the cost doubles (e.g. it costs 2 to points to raise from 15 to 16 and thereafter; so going from 10 to 18 would cost in sum 11 points). Min score is 4, max score is 18. Idea here is to make extreme min/maxing bring more drawbacks. All this is done prior racial modifiers are in. These can lower attributes down to even 1 (not lower) and higher than 18 - this makes racial points especially valuable and differentiates races a little more. And of course it should be customizable with how many free attribute points starting characters begin the game (8 at the moment).

EDIT: Changed threshold at which attribute raises consume two points.
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby Lurking Grue » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:57 pm

youngneil1 wrote:Going further down the road they might also grant skill boni/mali as well as racial traits (including traits which are only granted once a character of such race reaches a certain level; some traits might also be flat out drawbacks, lie e.g. a malus to hit rolls during the day).

Yes, both boni and mali (ah, these are the correct plurals of bonus and malus, I take it - my latin is quite rusty... ;) ) would be factored in the racial traits. There actually are both postitive and negative modifiers to attributes in d20 already granted by character's race, but other traits would be possible too, if nothing else via scripting.

youngneil1 wrote:Which worries me a little more is that attribute effects are not very balanced imho: especially Strength is too important. This can be compensated for by having cool traits require other attributes (that's what I will do), but still STR influence on hit and damage is very mighty.

Indeed. IIRC, Pathfinder RPG (which is just a "reskinned" d20) has a much better point buy system. In it, higher values cost progressively more than lower values, as it should be, IMO. I'll check that out once I get home.

As to STR being so dominant, one option would be to use an average of STR and DEX (round nearest) for melee to-hit bonus. E.g., having STR 14 and DEX 10 (avg. = 12) would grant you "only" +1 bonus, instead of the +2 you'd get for solely STR-based formula. Having DEX in the equation has the added benefit, that it makes sense to have your cordination, speed and agility (i.e. DEX) factor in your chance to hit an opponent in melee and not just your brawn and mucle power (i.e. STR).

youngneil1 wrote:Also the role of Wisdom is a little unclear/weak so far - perhaps it could additionally grant extra exp like +5% per extra step?

I'd be leery of adding XP boni to attribute values. But yeah, WIS is a strange combination of traits in d20. Having perception/awareness and willpower be based on the same attribute is not optimal, IMO. That's one of the reasons I've always considered WIS to represent willpower and only willpower. I hope it'll be possible to interpret the attributes as you see fit in IB and run with it. Maybe the names are hardcoded and some formulas beased on attributes are too, but other than that, one would be free to add attribute checks in conversation ann elsewhere as one sees best (like if I consider WIS to represent will only, I wouldn't have any rolls requiring spotting something use WIS as a basis at all).

youngneil1 wrote:which attribute will affect range attack damage?

I would personally have muscle-powered ranged weapons have STR requirements to use them (need STR 12 to use a longbow, frex), but have the damage of said weapons be unmodified by user STR. In effect, the weapon has a set STR itself which determines the damage it does and who can use it. Want more damage? Get a "stronger" bow. THis does in fact resemble the Real World(tm) pretty well, with bows of different pulls. For crossbows the STR requirement would in fact be the required STR to reload the thing, not fire it. Not sure how to easily implement that, though. Ranged weapons not depending on muscle power wouldn't be modified by STR, naturally.

youngneil1 wrote:By how far can stats be lowered (like from default 10 to 3?) How much point will such lowering grant? Will it become more expensive if player tries to reach higher scores in a single attribute? From gut feeling it might work like this: Lowering an attribute below 10 only grants +1 free attribute point for two points lowered. After putting more than 5 points into a single attribute, the cost doubles (e.g. it costs 2 to points to raise from 15 to 16 and thereafter; so going from 10 to 18 would cost in sum 11 points). Min score is 4, max score is 18. Idea here is to make extreme min/maxing bring more drawbacks.

I'll check (one I get home) how it was done in PAthfinder RPG, as I have a hunch they had a well thought out point buy system for d20 look-alikes. But yes, there needs to be limits to min-maxing and higher attribute values need to cost progressively more than lower ones for a point buy system to "hold water".
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby youngneil1 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:26 pm

Great ideas, Grue! Perhaps lets try to get an short overview put together concerning which what attribute could influence:

Generally: All skills already have the "AttributeForBonus" property in the skill wizard. Authors therefore will be able to assign attributes to skills as they like.

That being said, a first proposal for attributes and their effects:

STR:
- damage bonus for melee weapons
- damage bonus to thrown weapons (and other ranged weapons where muscle power directy translates into velocity)
- attribute requirement for ranged weapons that require a certain strength to use them the first place (e.g. bows or crossbows, with the caveat that for crossbows it's about reloading which in turn is a crucial part of weapon operation though)
- certain further weapons and armors might have a STR requirement to actually be able to use them
- certain traits might have a STR requirement
- (only) half strength bonus for melee weapon to hit bonus
- weight carry limits for systems that have individual inventories

DEX:
- to hit bonus with all ranged weapons
- half dex bonus for melee weapon to hit bonus
- armor class
- initiative bonus
- bonus to REF (=reflex) saving throws
- certain further weapons and armors might have a STR requirement to actually be able to use them
- certain traits might have a DEX requirement

CON:
- bonus to HP per level
- (half) con bonus for SP per level (idea: SP representing Stamina Points, required for casting as well as use of other strenuous traits)
- bonus to FORT (=fortitude) saving throws
- certain traits might have a CON requirement

INT:
- bonus to Skill points per level
- bonus to Spell learning points per level
- certain traits might have a INT requirement
- damage bonus for damaging spells
- to hit bonus for spells which should require an attack roll (think: targeted rays)

WIS:
- (half) bonus to SP per Level (idea: SP representing Stamina Points, required for casting as well as use of other strenuous traits)
- bonus to WILL (=willpower) saving throws
- certain traits might have a WIS requirement
- effect bonus for healing spells

CHA:
- certain traits might have a CHA requirement

That's relatively classic 3.5 D&D with the exception of:
a) SP (and CON/WIS influencing them),
b) DEX/STR together influencing to hit in melee
c) STR or DEX as attribute requirement for certain equipment and
d) Spell effect boni of WIS (healing) and INT (damage).

Obviously based on the list alone attributes are in no way of a balanced importance for encounter situations. Then again that's no requirement either. Charisma will have it's main use outside battle, e.g. in conversation situations and while haggling prices. Furthermore some creative trait and skill use might also give those non-combat stats at least some significance during battle (e.g. a Feint skill operating on CHA).

Now, that's just some first brainstorming. Open for all kinds of changes and additions.
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby Lurking Grue » Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:11 pm

Quick reply, as it's late here (little over 1 am), about the Pathfinder RPG's point buy system for attributes. Will reply to above post tomorrow.

In the Pathfinder RPG, there are several "power levels" (or campaign types as they're called in the book) for starting PCs. For standard fantasy, the player has 15 points to spend on his/her character's attributes (for high fantasy it's 20 pts., etc.). There are six attributes, the same as in d20/D&D. They all start at 10 and cost as follows: 7 = -4, 8 = -2, 9 = -1, (10 = 0), 11 = 1, 12 = 2, 13 = 3, 14 = 5, 15 = 7, 16 = 10, 17 = 13, and 18 = 17 points. The minimum attribute value is 7 (when using point buy) and the maximum is 18, before racial modifiers. (Note: negative attribute cost actually gives you points; so dropping an attribute to 7 (for example) would give you 4 extra points to spend on other attributes.)

These rules are published under Open Game License, so I think there ought to be no problems to using them (should we so want).

OK, now I'll head for bed. G'nite!
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Re: Default Rule System

Postby youngneil1 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:32 am

The Pathfinder/OGL way of handling attribute cost seems reasonable, too. It has the merit of some extra progression for 17 and 18 and also allows only going down to 7 (minus race), which in itself stops the flood a little. I like it!
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