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Point-based / Class-based systems of advancement

 
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Lago_AM3P
Duke


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 1276

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 3:49 am    Post subject: Point-based / Class-based systems of advancement Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Problems with point-based systems: Characters can amount to a huge amount of suck by investing in one area too much while neglecting other things, or investing too little in a lot of things.

Solution: Force characters to spend a minimum amount of points (or give it to them for free and give them less points, it's the same thing) on 'vital' things to advance the game, such as attack and defense.

Problems with single class-based systems: People can feel as though they're locked into the rails for character advancement.

Solution: Offer lots of classes. A cubic assload. 200 pages. Then beat the game designers into making sure that they're all balanced against each other. And just to make the pill easier to swallow, offer stupid spoon like equipment and skills and feats to make people feel like they're more unique and stuff.

Problems with open-multiclassing systems: It has the problems and advantages of both systems, depending on who the game designer is.

Solution: Uhhhh... we're still working on that. We haven't come up with a really good answer yet. Final Fantasy d20 is by far the best effort, but there are still some problems.

That sound about right?
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Lago_AM3P
Duke


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 1276

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 3:51 am    Post subject: Re: Point-based / Class-based systems of advancement Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Also, I forgot another disadvantage of single-classedness. If you ever want to change your schtick at any point in time, you should just roll up a new character. Of course, you can also have classes designed like the druid and/or cleric, where it is almost impossible for you to have a schtick that's banned to you.
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FrankTrollman
Serious Badass


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 27147

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 6:22 am    Post subject: Re: Point-based / Class-based systems of advancement Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Point-based systems also have the problem of "roll up a new character". So do open-ended multiclassing systems. That's pretty much locked in once you've made any trade-offs at all.

It goes like this:

Problem: If you invest anything - be it points, class levels, or training time - into an ability that you no longer want, you are going to be ten pounds of suck compared to a character who invested the same anything into abilities that are still wanted.

Solution A: Make sure that all abilities are desirable in some way to all characters. Uhhh.... so that means that however much sword-skill you picked up should still come in handy even if you decided to make your character into a naked frost dancer. I don't know... how you would do that.

Solution B: Offer people access to catch-up options that trade in character concepts you no longer want. This can be Rituals of Transformation, or Nar Demonbinder classes, or whatever. Just because noone has ever made one of these that wasn't extremely broken before doesn't mean it can't be done.

Solution C: Let people make new characters.

Solution D: Make new abilties scale up to total power automatically. If people don't have to invest points or levels or whatever you use into "still being good at what you do" relative to your power level, the new direction of your character won't be as costly. While those levels/points/whatever you dropped into Sword Dancing will never come back - at least you can keep your Sword Dancing up while still having your new schtick - Drunken Fire Breathing operating at full steam.

-Frank
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erik
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 4929

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 11:33 am    Post subject: Re: Point-based / Class-based systems of advancement Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Something kind of imbetween point based and class based would be EarthDawn's leveling system (referring to 1st Ed- I know nothing of Green Ronin's 2nd Ed).

New class levels are gained by having a minimum number of class skills equal to the level.

Roughly, having 5 skills at level 2 is the requirement to become level 2.

Someone could seriously hose himself by buying extremely expensive cross-class skills and never becoming good at anything, so that system utterly fails at preventing stupid people from crippling their characters mechanically, but it's novel enough that I think it is worth noting.

My group of peers has basically quit DnD for the time being, and EarthDawn is our current drug of choice. The more I work on making a balanced classless d20 system, the more it looks like Earthdawn (I prefer their usage of 6 stats to DnD's, for example, or the easy swapping of spell "slots" and no limit of spells per day, and damage often being tied to character power rather than the spell itself).
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RandomCasualty
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 3511

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 10:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Point-based / Class-based systems of advancement Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't think it's possible to prevent people from making stupid choices, short of eliminating the choice altogether.

The problem is synergy, and try as you might, it's difficult to have everything synergize well, unless you want people good at everything. Basically you've got a couple of options to stop synergy and none of them are all that good.

1) Cap the synergy stacking. That is, only X synergy feats can be active at a time. So if X is four, if you were makling a scimitar attack, you could use power attack, cleave, weapon focus and weapon spec on one attack, but not improved critical as well. If you wanted to use improved critical you'd have to not use one of the other four to open a slot.

2) Try to have everything give universal benefits. So you take a feat, and you become better with ranged weapons, melee weapons and spells simultaneously. It just improves your basic offensive in all catagories. This basically leads to the paradigm of less stats. You have one stat 'offense' and that's it for attack ability.

3) Allow each ability its own *phase*. This would lead to a huge number of actions and is pretty much unworkable, but still a possibility. Basically it means that if you're a caster and a fighter, you can cast and fight as one action. If you have improved trip, improved disarm and improved bull rush. You can do all three of those to someone with one of your actions. The problem of course, is the huge amount of die rolls this would lead to. YOu'd have people at high levels with dozens of status effects stacked on. So this isnt' a great idea really.

4) Accept the existence of inferior builds and let people rework their character's levels and feats during downtime, so they can constantly dump or improve on stuff they took. This has obvious problems with stuff like item creation feats and other downtime abilities, but it could work for normal play.

5) Allow no synergy at all. This means everything is a separate manuever, similar to a spell. If you want to use "sneak attack" then you can't use your normal fighter attack with it, it's a special rogue only attack. If you use "cleave" you can't use other stuff with it, and so on. This leads to actually a more tactical game, in which PCs are more concerned about strategic couinters as opposed to collecting all the bonuses, but it's notoriously difficult to balance.
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The_Hanged_Man
Knight-Baron


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 636

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 10:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Point-based / Class-based systems of advancement Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't know why you can't just rechoose things as you level. As in, everything - classes, feats, skills, whatever. What game-driving benefit comes from past choices being static? AFAICT, it's mostly b/c Gygax liked laughing at people who choose to be Half-Orc Wizards.
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RandomCasualty
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 2:38 am    Post subject: Re: Point-based / Class-based systems of advancement Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The_Hanged_Man wrote:
I don't know why you can't just rechoose things as you level. As in, everything - classes, feats, skills, whatever. What game-driving benefit comes from past choices being static? AFAICT, it's mostly b/c Gygax liked laughing at people who choose to be Half-Orc Wizards.


It's all the RPG element, and nothing to do with strategy or powre. If you're playing characters generally it's not very cool where Superman goes from being the muscle to the brainiac in one session, then switches back agian. You don't want Aragorn to be able to pick up the skills of a 20th level wizard one session then switch back to a fighter, because it's just not good for the story.

Basically you just don't want people to totally forget how to cast spells or fight after 2 weeks of downtime, and that's the reason.
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