Statistic based system/mechanics in Roleplaying

Discussion in 'Role Play Discussion' started by Krowley, May 30, 2014.

  1. Krowley Super Moderator

    Jun 18, 2008
    One of my Roleplays uses stats for a turn based RPG mechanic during powerfl bosses and I was curious if anyone ever considered/tried using such a thing.

    For fantasy or adventure means, people will have many special abilities and maneuvers they can perform throughout the story. But my question is, how limited can they be? Yes, it involves a certain amount of writing knowledge to know when your character has probably reached their limit, but I'm curious if anyone ever considered putting in a level system to help balance things out.

    Say I have a character who controls electricity. That kind of power can be immensely shocking against an opponent (Pun intended) If they are inexperienced, it would be pretty hard to do a "May god strike him down" move if he's still becoming accustomed to his powers. This is where I think the stat/level based mechanics can prove very useful. As roleplayers, we have a certain respect for growth that our characters go through, which is why I find the RPG level up system comes in really handy. You can't do something you haven't gained through increased attributes. You're limited to the potential your character gains with each level.

    I also think this can help the roleplay last longer. People can become more invested to see their character reach their maximum potential (Of course an interesting story is a real help to this) To watch as you bud from a small newbie to an almighty threat is one of the many things that attract me to the RPG genre.

    So what about it? Ever considered it?
  2. Boy Wonder Dark Phoenix in Training

    Aug 31, 2008
    I tried something similar for a Game Thread in the Playground, a turn-based statistic game based on Dissidia where KHV members were the characters, just with a Final Fantasy Class. The only thing actual participants had to do, however, was decide on their next move and PM it to me and I'll type out a battle using their chosen attack, stats, and remaining stats (HP, defense, etc.).

    When it comes to an actual RP, I've seen these come and go and the trend never really stuck on because of the amount of thinking it took from the RPers. It takes a little away from the flow of enjoying the character and actually imagining that character as opposed to, say, a trading card game where you're constantly aware that you're playing a game and keeping up with stats. That said, it also puts more strain on the RP-Maker because s/he has to keep up with everyone's stats and stuff to make sure it's going smoothly and adjusting the story constantly depending on the outcome of one, sometimes minor, altercation.

    I mean, RPs tend to be much more...imaginative and creative-oriented where throwing statistics into it would just -and I do not mean this in a bad way- restrain some people from participating or enjoying it.

    Don't get me wrong, I would not mind at all participating in one, but I always have reservations about it. I need to plan out my posts a bit more, something I may not have time to do, before taking the time to actually making the post. I also don't want to have to expect my RPers to put that amount of dedication into the RP because, from my point of view, RPing should be a creative and immersing experience where it's more character based, but definitely much more story-based.

    I don't think I could put the patience into making a legit Role-Play based on that mechanic, probably copilot one, though, to share the responsibility and take off some strain to better immerse myself into the experience. Otherwise, I would stick to a gaming thread. I know not everyone's like me and that's fine, to each their own, but this is personally what I, as a Role-Player/hopeful author/RP-Maker see that's wrong with that mechanic. The strange part is that I am much more mentally inclined towards logic than imagination (I took a test once and I was over 75% logic over creativity; I can't remember which half of the brain is which at the moment).

    That said, there are also different variations of stats, how important they are to the role-play itself, and rare cases where it doesn't have to be turn-based.
    [DOUBLEPOST=1401519775][/DOUBLEPOST]I'd like to add that it also adds a sense of realism into the RP that I personally am not looking for. I mean, yeah, you shouldn't powerplay or godmod, but it's a bit restricting because everything is set-in-stone once an action is decided. You can't really add a personal touch to some factors. In your example, maybe one character is simply better at taking an electrical shock than another, even if it's something simple as a higher pain tolerance; that may afford him/her in a normal battle an extra chance to turn things around. Or maybe there's a slight boost in speed due to seeing an opportunity, but you can't do it because your speed stat allows the other person to go first. There are also certain things that I think you can't give a number to and the boost/buff it would normally give a character fails to translate; Let's say Ron Parker (completely original name I came up) spends his adventure trying to rescue his kidnapped sister, but finds out the bad guy killed her. In a climactic scene, he's about to be struck down by the bad guy when his sister shows up, safe and sound, having been saved by...whatever. I would like to think that would give Ron a huge morale boost that in most fictional storylines would give him a power boost to turn the entire battle around. How do you give a number to that boost, what stat does it affect, when does the boost take place (before or after the bad guy's RPer posts the final blow?), and is that fair to other RPers who didn't get a boost, even if maybe they knew his sister?
    Last edited: May 31, 2014
  3. tamale Ice to see you!

    Nov 19, 2010
    Cisgender Male
    The Realm of Sleep
    I've liked the RPs that I've been in with this kind of system—KH: SOS; The Velvet Room—but Bueno brings up good points about it in relation to storytelling. The stats and movepool stuff makes it feel like it's a video game, which worked for SOS and The Velvet Room since they were based on existing video game series (Kingdom Hearts and Persona), but that sort of system or feel might not work for all types of RPs.
  4. Ego Imperium Twilight Town Denizen

    Jul 10, 2009
    I reject your reality, and substitute my own.
    Throwing my opinion into this years-old topic.

    Now that I've had some experience in stat-baserd RP systems to compare to my approximate decade's worth of more freeform-based systems, I feel it would be appropriate for me to voice my thoughts, and (lightly) vent on my thoughts on both methods. This train of thought is coming from someone (myself) who has considered utilize numeric applications to moderate combat in my own projects. Though I've never been able to realize the full function of the system that I had constructed, that, and my more recent experiences here have helped to form my take on using stats. It should be noted that the opinion I'm sharing is based, pretty much exclusively, on the application of stat systems within the context of text-based roleplaying, as that seems to be the primary, if not sole, medium through which RPing in this particular section is engaged in.

    Broadly, I find that stats in this context, like most other methods of moderating RPs, comes with both a beneficial and a detrimental aspect. There are some things that stat-driven setups can achieve that freeform can't; likewise, there are aspects of roleplaying that can be captured more effectively in the absence of numeric systems.

    The most beneficial element that I've found comes in tow with using stats is the idea of definite limitation. Roleplayers, more often the inexperienced than the epxerience (though the latter have proven just as guilty when they do so), aren't always inclined to remain mindful of the limits of their characters; even people who have supposedly been RPing for five, ten, even fifteen years, will drift into actions that exceed their own character's abilities, or otherwise undermine the abilities of another player's character. Sometimes this is done intentionally, other times it is accounted as an honest mistake on the part of the player overestimating their own character. Either way, it can result in conflict between players and GMs. Stat mechanics can serve to curb most of that potential for overstepping limitations.
    Having a number given to things like how strong or tough, or how much power they can put out before being drained of mana/chi/whatever energy they function on, establishes a clear, measurable ceiling for just what a character can achieve. It leaves little room for debates on the matter of "my character is stronger/faster/tougher than yours." It removes or at least reduces the x-factor that is a person's code of honor that would otherwise dictate how far their character can go before they falter or fall, and, in a sense, puts every characters strengths and weaknesses onto a somewhat more balanced playing field. Overall, the stats can assist in allowing players to play to their character's strong points against their opponent's weak points without being met with their strengths being mitigated/marginalized.

    As far as detriments go, I'm in disagreement with the statement from Boy Wonder as posted two posts above this one: I've found that stat systems have more of a tendency to reduce the level of realism of an RP. This largely comes down to the rigidity that systems tend to lean towards. The numbers and how they interact within the practical function of a given system will, almost always, present a smaller pool of effective actions that a player can make in-character. A statistic system simply can't account for enough of the potential actions that a character would realistically be able to take in any and every given circumstance. Mixed with a pool of defined abilities, a numeric system can sharply impede and sideline creative solutions to in-character situations.
    Case in point from a recent experience: my character was helping rescue civilians from a burning building. From the start, I was clarifying that my character was using a cloak (that he has been portrayed as wearing) as something of a screen to put between himself and the flames; as little as that would be worth, in reality, it would have been a viable means to reduce injury from the fire itself, as it would have meant less direct contact of the emitted heat to the character's body. Within the same situation, it was clarified that using an Air-based spell would have done nothing to preserve the character, where as outside of the limitations of the stats and ability pool, a flow of air pushing out from and/or around a character could have been argued as an effective means by which to project the fire and the heat thereof away from the character, thereby reducing the damage that would have been taken. Part of that, of course, boils down to the willingness of a GM to bend the mechanics of their own system to reward ingenuity on the part of the player.
    Other limiting factors in stat systems arising from combat stem largely from the restricted set up of movepools, to effect that maneuvers and tactics that could, theoretically, be easily achieved by any character (IE - Dodge Rolling, taunting or distracting opponents, etc.) are frequently employed as defined abilities that (seemingly) can't be utilized by a character until the GM has declared that they can have them; any character portrayed as being in even relatively decent shape, for example, would realistically be able to perform at least a manner of a tuck-and-roll maneuver, even if not a perfect, gymnastic level somersault. Beyond that, numeric systems generally don't tend to be inherently able to account for combative elements of battle such as movement, positioning, and spacing between combatants. Moreover, these systems lean towards probability as the driving mechanic of whether or not and how badly a character takes a hit, which, in the reality of combat, isn't so much at play; even if an attack can't be fully avoided, even "partial" evasion in the sense of orienting oneself to take a hit in a less detrimental way (IE, sidestepping to take a sword thrust to your arm or shoulder instead of your chest, or such that the blade only makes a glancing blow).

    So in this sort of way, while stats can be used to good effect for keeping peoples' senses of pride out of their in-character play by providing defined limitation to their characters, they also can't account for the vast plethora of variables that are present within reality. Personally, I've found that when it comes to balancing power, one of the better ways to do so while maintaining an RP's friendliness towards creative play, is to establish more simplified power scaling, such as tier lists, which breakdown levels of power and skill based on feats that a character can perform.
  5. cstar stay away from my waifu

    Dec 19, 2008
    I am generally in agreement with most of Ego's points here, especially in regards to the rigitiy of these systems. It depends on the host of the rp though. I'm in one rp where talking with the RP owner makes it very easy to help get the stats in a direction you'd want to go, while another one forces you to just kind of take what you get and deal with it.

    The flexibility is a big deal, and this is specifically light chaser: at the beginning there really weren't any aggro abilities available and I wanted my character to be built as a tank so I went to arch to ask for an ability on it and that essentially gave everyone a "special snowflake" ability. So I was able to build my character as a beginning keyblade wielder with a tank lean (granted now two other people are like that but eh).

    Now over in SOS, I have a character that I want to essentially build as someone who can essentially move so fast and manipulate time at their leisure that she can seemingly defeat her enemies in the blink of an eye. Obviously it's a bit unrealistic an expectation, even though my character has hit the rank of master there. But the point is I wanted to build it so she's really fast and really loves throwing spells. But it's nearly impossible to work this sort of play into the system that we have.

    Now, both of these rps have drastically different systems. SOS has a brawl/bodyguard fight system, and a boss system. In the boss system, we all look like chumps. But once we hit brawl missions we can flavor our fights however we want without it effecting stats. So like, we suddenly have an infinite amount of MP and HP and our gauges basically become full for the purposes of flavor and we can do combo attacks you've never be allowed to pull off in the boss fights.

    LC uses a system that is the same for boss and random encounters. There are abilities that can only be used with bosses, but overall the system is exactly the same. This makes it so characters stick at roughly the same combat level for both encounters, so characters aren't unstoppable badasses in random encounters and barely hanging on in boss fights.

    Now, I think there's benefits and drawbacks to both systems. I think LC's mechanics ground everything in the same level but as a result the creativity and flexibility has to go into character development and backstory rather than boss fights. SOS makes it so all of the creativity of the RP shows itself in brawl missions and then everything else becomes stagnant.

    Now, I have seen an rp that tried to do a "levelling" system that made it so a character became stronger through their own training montages and their abilities as a result became whatever the RPer wanted it to be so long as people tried to not become unbalanced. But the problem with that one is slightly discussed in another thread

    I don't know where the happy medium is. I know some people prefer combat over character moments in these types of rps. I'm the opposite. But I understand the want for flexibility.

    (btw in that fire scenario you described, I also had my character decked out in fireproof stuff. He was trained for firefighting type situations in his homeworld because of his villages constantly being burned down so his stuff is built to not burn. And that didn't factor in either. In this situation it comes down to 'the need for the rp owner to push the story/threats' which I might make another thread for just to discuss in detail there)
  6. Ego Imperium Twilight Town Denizen

    Jul 10, 2009
    I reject your reality, and substitute my own.
    I'm there with you on the matter of preference to character over combat. Generally, I even value character over plot, though that's mostly out of my belief that the characters should be the driving force behind the plot (opposed to a GM acting as a hand-of-God, of sorts); that's a discussion for another thread on another day though. I've come to enjoy being able to play my character as person rather than a glorified chess piece. If I want to put my focus into combat, I'll go to a place where I make a competitive challenge in that regard; but those instances don't typically function by way of stats.

    The end goal, as I see it, for any stat system developed for an RP, is to keep the players/characters relatively in check, so as to avoid battles becoming a long, drawn-out, and more over, ridiculous ordeal where no one is willing to give their opponent(s) an inch in terms of offensive success. I'd say that a good medium could be in the construction of a stat system that's based more within a broader "pay to play" mechanic. Kind of like how LC as the AP/MP stats that diminish when our characters act offensively (replenishing in the next post in the case of AP). I'd say that a similar system could be applied to defensive/evasive actions, which would somewhat relieve the aspect of rigidity. That, as well as giving some concessions to the spell/ability system to give leeway to creative uses thereof; IE - character in burning building uses an Aero spell, which, by effect, creates a flow of air around them, which would, by the nature of air's effect on fire, reduce the risk of damage from the fire directly (just using that because it's the best example I've got).