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Chogokin

History Question about Characteristics

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Hello. I've been a member of this forum for a long time, but not at all a participant. However, my interest in running a d100 game has been rising lately. Now, I've got a number of iterations of the d100 rules, and I've got access through a friend to many more, spanning many years of d100. I've noticed that in earlier d100 rules (I've seen Stormbringer 4th), Characteristics are generated on straight 3d6. In the Elric! rules, they were generated on 2d6+6. In CoC 6th edition and the Big Gold Book, Size and Intelligence are 2d6+6 and the other five are on 3d6. This seems to have been standardized across other more modern editions of the rules. Going back to Stormbringer, depending on what race/culture your character came from, there could be other major modifications to your results, including rolling other dice and adding or subtracting those values from your initial scores.

I'm curious as to when the decision was made that SIZ and INT should be on an 8-18 range, and what the thinking behind it was.

The reason I ask is that the last d100 game I ran was M-Space (using the Reflux adventure). I ran it with some players who are veteran gamers, although more of the power gamer/dungeon-basher mindset rather than the roleplayer mindset. Using the standard point-buy system, they very quickly identified what characteristic levels would give them the greatest mechanical advantage, and designed characters to exploit that. Such behavior is understandable, but when acting as a GM, I always find power gamers to be very tedious and unpleasant to deal with. I've tried to put a bit of thought into other forms of character generation. '4d6 drop the lowest' appeals to me, because I like characters to be heroic, but the ranges on SIZ and INT spoil the flow a bit.

I'm considering five options presently:

1. 4d6 drop the lowest 5 times, 3d6+6 drop the lowest 2 times. Allocate the latter two rolls to SIZ and INT.

2. 4d6 drop the lowest 7 times, assign minimum of 8 to SIZ and INT.

3. 4d6 drop the lowest 7 times, no restrictions on how the results are allocated.

4. Devise a standard array of 5 + 2 values and allow the players to allocate the results as they see fit, allocating the 2 results set aside for SIZ and INT separately from the other five characteristics.

5. Devise a standard array of 7 values and allowing the players to allocate the results as they see fit, with no restrictions.

Any historical insight or present opinion would be of great value to me. Thank you for your attention!

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I don't know much about the history of characteristics - more than you have already noted - but to me it always felt like a logical progression: Siz and Int are very unlikely to go below 8 in a human. The other characteristics are slightly more flexible. 

Point buy systems are always possible to exploit by power players unfortunately. In those cases, going for random rolls is a good option. As for myself, I would use the second option in you list. 

I'm sorry to hear your initial test of M-SPACE didn't turn out the way you wanted. I hope it will get better as you and your players find a few shared concepts to work from. 

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I appreciate the input! 

Yeah, I think that option 2 does present a good combination of what I would call 'ease of use' and aligning with the presumed intention of the modern SIZ and INT ranges. I have to admit that I am also drawn to the 'wildness' of the earliest incarnations of the d100 system, though. Another concern of mine is how to incorporate modifications for non-human species, but I'll save that discussion for later posts.

I did want to say that M-Space is a very inspirational set of rules, and I believe I've still got a copy of BRP Starships 2.2, back before you ported things to the Mythras Imperative. The issue with the game I ran was a mismatch between the player goals and the GM goals, and I'm responding to it by trying to get out and meet new people. ;)

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I don't know when the change to SIZ and INT was made.  It was somewhere between RuneQuest 2 and 3, but quite possibly first appeared in one of the other stablemates.

In fantasy games such as RQ, it does make sense, especially for SIZ.  In RQ2, it was quite possible for a dwarf (SIZ 2D6 with an average of 7) to be larger than a human (3D6 with a minimum of 3).  The smallest dwarves (SIZ of 2) were almost the same size as the smallest human.  The smallest elves (SIZ 2D4+4 minimum of 6) were quite larger than the smallest humans (SIZ of 3).  RQ3 made the smallest humans larger than an average dwarf, and larger than the smallest elves.

In a game that doesn't have races smaller than humans, it perhaps doesn't make as much sense to have SIZ of 2D6+6.

 

It is perhaps harder to justify the change to INT, other than very few players (yes I know some do exist) like to play truly moronic (INT 3) characters.  Stupid ones, perhaps yes, but not ones with an INT that low.  Also, by having the lower human INT range set at 8, it better allows scope for fantasy creatures that are really stupid (but still sentient).

 

 

Perhaps (completely conjecture here), the reworking and emphasis of knockback in RQ3 made playable characters of very small size potentially problematic.  Remember that paradoxically while RQ (the game system) was ground breaking in having monsters with the same full stats as the "player races" and thus potentially opening up a plethora of playing races, Glorantha is quite relatively opposed to this (with the notable exception of Trolls which seem to be a fan favourite) and mixed race adventuring parties seem to be less common in RQ than in D&D (where they are almost a staple).

 

And yes I am aware that some people do play rogue dragonewts, newtlings, trollkin, baboons and even elves and dwarves, but far less frequently than in most other fantasy RPGs.

 

 

 

 

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Hi Chogokin,

I think I can help to explain the history of the attributes.

Originally, there was RuneQuest. RuneQuest used a 3D6 scale for human attributes, much like most other FRPGs at that time (D&D). Since Strombringer and Call of Cthulu were derived from RQ (or, to be more accurate, the 16 page BRP booklet  was derived from RQ, then used as the basis for Chaosium's other RPGs). 

Then, around 1982, Chasoium produced the Worlds of Wonder boxed set. WoW was a very simpled set of 3 RPGs that gave a basic fantasy, Superhero and SciFi setting by expanding upon the BRP booklet. Now to make the characters a bit more heroic, especially for Superworld, 2D6+6 attribute rangers were introduced. Also, to deal with situations such as super strong characters lifting and throwing big objects such as trucks and tanks, SIZ values were given for various objects. 

WoW led to the Superworld boxed set, released in 1983.  Superworld  gave a formula that allowed people to work out just what SIZ an object of a given mass would be. This formula matched up with the SIZ values given for objects in WoW, and with the new average SIZ of 13 (2D6+6). 

Also in 1983, Chaosium produced RuneQuest 3. Since RQ3 was going to be more of a generic RPG, not tied to Glorantha, some changes were made to make the game more generic. RQ3 also incorporated the new SIZ values from Superworld, with a few alterations at the extreme values. This was probably done partly to expand the SIZ scale to allow for animals and races that were smaller than a human, which was hard when the minimum human SIZ was 3. A minimum SIZ of 8 gave them more wiggle room to work with and  could allow for a mouse, cat and dog to have difference SIZ stats. It also helped with giving PCs a higher hit point total, and made races suck as Ducks and Hobbits a bit more durable. Now at the same time, the decision was made to do the same with INT. I suspect that was probably so they could add fixed INT scores to animals to make them more viable as familiars. 

Since then, Chasoium have kept and used a variant of the  Superworld/RQ3 SIZ table (with errors) in most of their  RPGs, and have eventually changed INT and SIZ to 2D6+6 in CoC and Stormbringer/Elric!  Hope that helps.

 

BTW, if you want more heroic character's I suggest just going with 2D6+6 for everything rather than 4D6 drop lowest. That way you are assured that the dice wont sick someone with a with  3 or 4 stat.  

 

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

BTW, if you want more heroic character's I suggest just going with 2D6+6 for everything rather than 4D6 drop lowest. That way you are assured that the dice wont sick someone with a with  3 or 4 stat.  

That's pretty much what I do for PCs with all BRP games; just make every core characteristic generated with 2D6+6. Works well.

Edited by Mankcam
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2 hours ago, Mankcam said:

That's pretty much what I do for PCs with all BRP games; just make every core characteristic generated with 2D6+6. Works well.

It is what Basic, the french edition of BRP, chose. The only problem is that it gives a quite high average (13). Now, with the BRP system, skills are much more used than characteristics, so it is not a real problem. 

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Oh, and to clarify things a bit. I'd just use the 2D6+6 for PCs and keep the NPCs at 3D6. If everybody has heroic stats than it all just balances out at the higher stats become the new norm, and then nobody really has heroic stats. 

 

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Stormbringer 1e had an interesting characteristic generation system, that I seem to recall from other BRP games as well, characteristics were rolled on 3d6, but after a character's nationality was determined the characteristics were modified accordingly.

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Yes, it was pretty wild, apparently. Not exactly balanced, especially if you rolled up a Beggar of Nadsokor, but it definitely had a certain primal vigor...

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Yeah, depending on where you were from you could be adding a few points or even a few dice (2D4) to some stats. Strombringer 1E was not all that balanced-probably due to Ken St. Andre. Like T&T a character could wind up completely outclassed. Sorcerers in particular were so powerful that other characters had little chance against one. 

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Balance? Not in Stormbringer 1e.  That was, for us, part of its charm. But the fact that two players could sit down to roll up characters and one end up with a blind beggar from Nadsokor and the other a Melinibonean Noble Warrior Sorcerer Priest with bound Demon armour and weapons did make writing adventures a challenge.  A very Ken St Andre game.

Modification of a character's attributes according to where they were from, iirc, carried over into at least some versions of King Arthur Pendragon. Its an option I like for humans only settings as it allows some differentiation.

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38 minutes ago, DavetheLost said:

Modification of a character's attributes according to where they were from, iirc, carried over into at least some versions of King Arthur Pendragon. Its an option I like for humans only settings as it allows some differentiation.

Not so much where you were from, as cultural background. Celts had better CON, Saxons better STR, and so on.

SDLeary

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I've long ago lost my original boxed (1st or 2nd ed) CoC, but as I recall it included the 2d6+6 INT as most Lovecraft characters were on the more intelligent side (well except for that bit about poking their noses into places they didn't belong which isn't too smart). 

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For dealing with min-max, I have a system. I spent some time studying the skills in Mythras. I counted how often each characteristic was used, and which skills were likely to be repeated (such as multiple instances of Craft or Lore). I then generated a comparative value for characteristics. I give a PC a value of 13 in all characteristics (along with a table of average SIZ and STR ratings for various cultures):

STR = 1,  CON = 1,  SIZ = 1,  DEX = 2,  INT = 3,  POW = 2,  CHA = 1*

So if a player chooses to lower his INT from 13 to 11, he gains 6 points to spend on other characteristics. But if he lowers his CHA from 13 to 11, he only gains 3. To raise his DEX to 15, he needs 4 points. etc, and so on. 

*Charisma, by the way, should actually be a 2, not a 1, based on the number of skills affected, and the impact of the IP bonus. However, I needed to counter a common PC tendency to dump CHA down to 7. 

I use the same multipliers for permanent attribute training: each point is 4 weeks of training and 5 IP, with the exception of SIZ, which cannot be trained. So you can train up your STR from 14 to 15 using 5 IP and 4 weeks. But to raise your DEX from 14 to 15 costs 10 IP and 12 weeks.

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On 12/5/2017 at 10:39 AM, DavetheLost said:

Balance? Not in Stormbringer 1e.  That was, for us, part of its charm. But the fact that two players could sit down to roll up characters and one end up with a blind beggar from Nadsokor and the other a Melinibonean Noble Warrior Sorcerer Priest with bound Demon armour and weapons did make writing adventures a challenge.  A very Ken St Andre game.

Yeah. It had it's charm, but was very "hit or miss".

On 12/5/2017 at 10:39 AM, DavetheLost said:

Modification of a character's attributes according to where they were from, iirc, carried over into at least some versions of King Arthur Pendragon. Its an option I like for humans only settings as it allows some differentiation.

Yup, it was in all versions of KAP and even showed up a little in RQ3. But the modfiers were generally lower than what you got in SB1

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On 12/5/2017 at 11:19 AM, SDLeary said:

Not so much where you were from, as cultural background. Celts had better CON, Saxons better STR, and so on.

SDLeary

Except in KAP Culture IS where you are from. There are no Cymri in Russia. 

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Historically my (pretty unreliable) memory is that 2d6+6 for Int and Siz began in RQII Trollpak

The earliest sighting I can recall for '2d6+6 for everything' came from an article or letter's page letter in a very old edition of White Dwarf about PC Knights in PenDragon

 

If you worry about the higher than average average why not go for '2d6+3 for everything'? That reduces the swinginess and keeps average* average

Then if you want to give access to the highest level of characteristic for heroes allow a couple of +3 modifiers for species/culture/homeland/caste/vocation/cyberware as desired

 

* for a given arithmetical model of average

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14 minutes ago, Al. said:

If you worry about the higher than average average why not go for '2d6+3 for everything'? That reduces the swinginess and keeps average* average

* for a given arithmetical model of average

Or 4d4+2 (6-18, strongly belled to the 12 at the center)

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4d4+2!!!!  Noooooooooooo!

Is there anyone who does not hate rolling those blasted  4 sided dice?

I’ve seen people roll d8 and halve it or d12 and third it instead of using those little pyramids of annoyance.

 

And yes I presume you were not really serious.

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9 hours ago, pachristian said:

For dealing with min-max, I have a system. I spent some time studying the skills in Mythras. I counted how often each characteristic was used, and which skills were likely to be repeated (such as multiple instances of Craft or Lore). I then generated a comparative value for characteristics. I give a PC a value of 13 in all characteristics (along with a table of average SIZ and STR ratings for various cultures):

STR = 1,  CON = 1,  SIZ = 1,  DEX = 2,  INT = 3,  POW = 2,  CHA = 1*

So if a player chooses to lower his INT from 13 to 11, he gains 6 points to spend on other characteristics. But if he lowers his CHA from 13 to 11, he only gains 3. To raise his DEX to 15, he needs 4 points. etc, and so on. 

*Charisma, by the way, should actually be a 2, not a 1, based on the number of skills affected, and the impact of the IP bonus. However, I needed to counter a common PC tendency to dump CHA down to 7. 

I use the same multipliers for permanent attribute training: each point is 4 weeks of training and 5 IP, with the exception of SIZ, which cannot be trained. So you can train up your STR from 14 to 15 using 5 IP and 4 weeks. But to raise your DEX from 14 to 15 costs 10 IP and 12 weeks.

That sounds very well thought-out! I had honestly not considered going so far into the skills as a way of determining balance. I only recently acquired the full Mythras rules, and have been mostly working with the BRP compendium, with the end goal of doing a Sword and Planet sci fi setting. Given the vast proliferation of d100 systems in recent years, now I'm in kind of a pick-and-choose mode, where I'm looking at all the different interpretations of the system and pondering what I like best out of the bunch.

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2 hours ago, Mechashef said:

4d4+2!!!!  Noooooooooooo!

Is there anyone who does not hate rolling those blasted  4 sided dice?

I’ve seen people roll d8 and halve it or d12 and third it instead of using those little pyramids of annoyance.

 

And yes I presume you were not really serious.

What, you mean the Caltrops of Doom? I love those dice, and look for any possible excuse to use them in games!

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