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  1. #1
    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
    Thief River Falls, MN

    A Different Attribute System

    I've been thinking about trying something like this out and wondered if there were other thoughts on it or if it is a completely bad idea or not.

    First I am mostly thinking in terms of 2nd Edition AD&D. Tweaks could easily be done to apply these concepts to other rules.

    Starting out I'd like the characters to only be able to achieve the class minimum that they choose. The rest of the attributes would be just above having a negative penalty with at least one attribute having one negative penalty. Why? Giant strength is a staple in most games and with some of the recent movies juxtaposing giants and dragons next to human sized images there seems to be a great gap. I want the PCs to feel more human at the start of the game. Olympians can achieve 18 /00 strength in the weightlifting event after many years of training, but it becomes their life. So, to simply allow every PC to start with those attributes leaves little room for improvement and no appreciation for having it, rather it becomes a staple. Counter point: they are the heroes of the campaign, therefore they should be so endowed. Response: Under this system they can but they aren't static and can go beyond what they previously could, it is just a matter of starting out weak.

    Attribute improvements:

    Effective class level: +1 per, ECL is used to determine multi/dual class by experience total not actual class levels to avoid spamming low level class leveling for more attribute points.

    Training Action: Can add to skills or attributes, both of which would likely take more and more time to improve skills beyond the first couple levels. I'd also think the training + would have a limit of something like up to +5 at most and would suffer from atrophy faster than aging effects so maintaining it would require training actions. This + would be tracked separately to allow the base attribute to be added to it and not suffer from atrophy the same and for tracking training time. Tracking training atrophy could be optional and justified by the lifestyle of the PC maintains it to simplify things.

    Bloodline Strength Category: Blooded tainted, minor, major, great, and true would all add to the base attribute score as determined by the DM and player. I figure something along the lines of (if not more) tainted +8, minor +12, major +16, great +20, and true +40. These values I had used for a point buying system so they shouldn't translate to base attribute + points, but who knows, perhaps you could make it work that way.

    Regency Points: Instead of increasing a bloodline they could be used to increase attributes. The cost in RP to bring up an attribute could be something like by a factor of 10 for the intended level. Possibly make a success check too.

    Why make this change?

    I view the game as a constant scaling up of the characters. The game seems to default to giving characters a bunch of magical items in order to gain power. Tomes are filled with them. But what if we played in a Vos campaign setting where Belenik rules? Would this not seem to make the Vos live up to their reputation? They investing in their own personal strength and followed by those that value it? Like the Anuireans who invest in their hope for empire. It gives the blooded the fortitude of being an adventurer right away if they so choose. I think it gives more to the adventurer vs. regent and allows for progress w/o spamming magic items and encouraging a low(yet rich and powerful) magic system. After all if you are going to give up a point of Con or some XP to make an item, why would you make a +1 sword, then a +2 sword, and then a +3 sword, and then a +4 sword etc to accommodate adventuring progress?

    Base class requisites:

    Only these requisites would be used when determining the character's starting attributes. Warrior, Wizard, Rogue, Priest.

    A starting PC could only have the minimum of these classes to start as their highest attribute. This would most likely be a 9.

    Then the growing through the level and increasing their attributes would be a main part of character development. For a wizard they'd be concerned with being able to learn more spells and cast level 9 spells as they aren't given that right away.

    Classes like Paladin and specialist wizards would be only accessible after they achieve the dual-class requirements for a second/third class. Therefore these classes become something like the prestige classes.

    Dual-class and multi-class rules would change. Rename them both to multi-class. Use the dual-class rules with the following changes. The PC can use all their abilities w/o xp penalty. They choose which class to gain xp in before the adventure. They can switch what class to level as they declare. They must meet the requisites of dual-class attributes to become that class. HD would = first class of choice. Likely this would encourage warriors. This makes sense in this kind of world.

    This is probably very clunky as I post it in this form. Things like a mage becoming a specialist and their spells cast per day. When it comes to mages becoming specialist a simple statement saying they abandon access to other schools, maintain their level and simply convert to the specialist like when a general ed. major declares a major for a degree or something to the effect that it is the natural path of mages to perform in this way. A paladin from a warrior seems to work in that it is just a new class. What about a priest to a paladin and spells cast or a ranger into a paladin? It is definitely not perfect.

    Is this doable?

    Likely most players would reject this and go with having the standard attribute system. What is the pay off? I envision this as a system for allowing for demi-gods and to become greater beings as they campaign goes on and PCs survive into long life and great heroic deeds. For example the Gorgon seems to have his stats justified under something like this. More so under the point system I used to figure out starting attributes that were higher, but without the +1 attribute per level rule. Rhuobhe was a perfect match actually just using the bloodline strength and point buy system. So bloodform templates could also add some attribute +s. Over all I want a system that can go all the way up like the original D&D to immortals rules. I want it to be seemless though. That is to say that at level x you become a god and new rules apply to you, you are no longer a powerful character but a much more powerful entity beyond the constraints of the class system. In fact I want the gods to be nothing more than powerful demi-gods like the serpent. Walking the face of the world and such having a domain interest like a king to a kingdom as a god to their temples. Thereby, risking offending a god can have some real consequences if you end up meeting them in person. But, yeah that is another story altogether.
    Last edited by Magian; 06-24-2013 at 04:48 AM.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

  2. #2
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Chelmsford, Essex, England
    In an epic campaign the issue is being "born of dust" - the starting character is likely below average compared to joe peasant - they need to gain several levels just to equal the norm which i suspect will be disheartening for those who yearn to play nascent gods.

    In a "realist" campaign a problem is high levels where the constant scaling leads to quasi-godhood and a single high level PC can defeat armies (already an issue of course albeit trimmable with restricted magic).

    I'd suggest that the start point would be average with one good and one bad stat - the bad stat then hard to increase and the good stat easier to increase than the others to root the character archtype somewhat - you then get someone start who is at least average but not entirely bland.

    Another option would be to have a maximum magic co-efficient based on level, beyond that all magic items are limited-use (like potions and scrolls) unless transferred to someone whose bloodline/whatever can focus on maintaining the enchantment - that way you reduce magic to a few key items for everyone enhancing the effect of the underlying stats.

  3. #3
    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Thief River Falls, MN
    After looking it over some more I've decided to combine the training attributes with the +1 per level as the honing of skills and training aspect that I wanted. If a character reaches effective character level (ECL) 20, then they get +19 to their attributes from start.

    The buying pool I am considering allows for them to have all 14s to start. That would allow for 5 17s and 1 18. That seems reasonable to me for a high level hero.

    The bloodline strength package would then add even more depending on what category it was. I haven't worked out translating the point packages for each one.

    Then racial bonuses I'd allow but not include the negatives.

    Other bonuses like becoming a monster or creature from bloodform or turning into a one would also be used. Vampire +str, Lich +int, or lycanthropes.

    These are likely going to become my standard rules in some form or another as I develop them. It is not necessarily going to happen that every character will get to level 20 or become some sort of monster and gain a bunch of 20s. I will however be creating NPCs that will go up against my PCs that will have done something similar and would like something that I can use other than just fiat to make these characters.

    I have since reconsidered starting low and going with the more normal start with the buying system allowing for all 14s. This allows a character to get a couple 18s if they wish and even 18/00 for warrior str. The racial bonuses will allow them to surpass this max of 18 cap for the buy system if they wish to focus and be extreme. Say for example a fighter with 19 str at start. The costs would lower their other attributes extremely in order to get this and multi-classing would be difficult to achieve, but not impossible. Also the sacrifices made for such a focus would be multiple.

    I think that relaxing the multi-class restriction would be what I'd do too. The way I view it is the campaign world is a struggle for survival. Not everyone can, but most can function as a warrior and that is natural in just about any world. If it turns out that becomes a base class for these rules simply for the extra combat prowess and fortitude, then by all means it is as I intend. Not every character destined to be a powerful wizard will be fortunate enough to have a family that can sponsor their education or be lucky enough to be noticed by a master to be picked up as an apprentice. All the while they can still function as an adventurer while they save up for their personal goals.

    Along with the goals let me explain how a wizard can work. It is required to be blooded. Not all characters that are capable of using magic are. So in comes the Magician class. If they decide to one right at the start or go into it after some military career, it is up to them. But Magician is open to likely every PC. From there they just need a bloodline. If they get one, then they can go into the mage class. After that if they want to become a specialist, then they'd have to meet the requirements of dual-class (or something similar) for attributes in the class.

    Class morphing: For a lack of a better term this is how I view what I'd do with a character that followed the above career path to become a specialist wizard. When they go from Magician to mage, they'd drop Magician and become a generalist mage. Then from there if the become a specialist wizard, then they'd drop mage and become a specialist. Kind of like in the old final fantasy or warsong games.

    Something like this I envision for priests as well. A kind of magician-like class like an acolyte that is limited in their scope until they meet the requirements of a true priest of their deity. Maybe even require them to be blooded to have higher spell access like that of the wizard.

    Paladin I would simply have them work normally but have high requirements in order to become one. I want to limit them, the true paladins. I wouldn't morph fighter and paladin though. It would logically flow, but I prefer to reserve morphing for spellcaster classes at the moment to address potential spells per day issues. So rogue abilities and muti-classing rogue assassin or some such may need to be addressed.

    I envision starting out at the base classes for each character and going from there. I would prefer PCs to start out not blooded and try this system out. After the trial run I'd like make some other changes. The whole intention is to allow less arbitrary rules in the way of the logical. Dual-class rule is clearly broken. Multi-class is too integrated. I envision something more flexible. Although it may go against the historic class system as it is quite liberal in its view, so too is fantasy. I mean the 3E system seems to be clearly setup for multiple class changes. I don't see why not free it up for 2E.

    Any imbalances can be addressed through mechanics changes or NPC buffs. We can give the Gorgon the ability to destroy many units of men as if he were a tank, but if we are DMing a PC that even gets close to his level of power we think the game is broken. Tanks are killable by one man if you know what you are doing. Power doesn't necessarily scale up the entire campaign, unless you are in a boxing arena where it is pure fisticuffs and no hitting below the belt. Scaling up a campaign isn't even remotely reached if you have a party of Gorgon-like PCs. In my mind scaling up is turning the newest spell from fireball into supernova. Obviously a step or two in between there likely. But the Gorgon isn't even hitting the ceiling of the game rules, he is only on the cusp of it. I could see however if he had multiple planets as part of his empire or some such thing.

    As far as a demi-god like character being able to defeat armies I'd say that isn't very likely. Given the science of physiology and mathematics a group of 5-10 men could easily subdue the Gorgon and lock him up and take him to a dungeon cell where he can no longer cause anyone any harm any more. We think about the rules of combat and magic, but I think we forget the rules for overbearing. Armies amazingly enough have that power.

    We can easily imagine Sauron in the beginning of Lord of the Rings movie batting men away like they are grains of sand or see our heroes crushing units in those chinese hero video games. In the latter example most of the men in the unit sit there and watch while they could encircle. This is one of the main reasons a zombie horde is so scary. I'm sure that such a thing if it ever existed could take down a horse or bull or even an elephant. But somehow we can't see an army of humans overbearing something? I mean the first thing you are going to do in combat is tackle the guy with the gun if you don't have one, even if he is twice your size rather than stand their and let him shoot you if you have no cover. I think the gap here in thinking is expecting D&D to function like a boxing match when we have MMA rules that apply. So if you have a PC or group of PCs that are demigods, then you can show them their weaknesses with the overbearing rules and have them pinned and at the mercy of their opponents.

    There are ways to counter act a single being's power. Simply put, a guy has a bag of infinite grenades and he is wearing bullet proof armor. Given the right scenario this guy can do a lot of damage. However, if you are smart about it you can take him down.

    Now a dragon on the other hand... Ever hear of swarms of army ants?

    Maybe I am missing something, but the character powers in D&D are limited and those limits can be exploited for game balance if necessary. My apologies if this post is mottled, I am going over it a couple times and adding a few ideas.

    Magic items growing as the PCs grow, could also be implemented with an RP investment into an item or artifact. Say you get that +1 sword from the wight on your first adventure, but you don't ever find another magical sword. It becomes the "King's sword" for your campaign. Why not allow RP to boost its power some how? I'd think King Arthur would do something like that for Excalibur. I am not sure I like the idea of items growing in proportion to the PC's level arbitrarily. I like the idea that they need to invest something in it. Then again I did change my training rules to something like that.

    How about for a scaffolding for such a system we could say, +1 item requires X RP to become +2 item. We could implement a cap based on ECL to something like limit of +1 per 3-4 levels. Maybe add some kind of bonus for their bloodline category, since items like these should be encouraged to be heirlooms.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

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