Modes of Character Advancement

November 18, 2007

D&D has levels.  A whole packet of relevant stats increase all at once.  This encourages playing to gather experience to get to the next level, so you can get higher stats and new toys (i.e. feats, prestige classes, and so forth.)  That causes all sorts of interesting play effects.  Depending on how you want to play, this may be a good or bad thing.  It’s not how I want to play.

L5R has a point buy system, combined with insight ranks (i.e. levels.)  Since the cost of raising stats increases as they go up, this encourages balancing stats out to find the cheapest point cost to get to the next level.  But balance isn’t nearly interesting as imbalance, so this isn’t how I want to play either.

I haven’t played 4e Shadowrun, but as I remember from the older editions, it simply has experience that you spend for more goodies.  Point costs go up as the stats go up, but there’s no “next level” to shoot for, so there’s really no reason not to spend them all on raising whatever you like.  This seems decent.

But if the degree of difficulty simply goes up as the characters become more capable, isn’t this sort of like an endless staircase?  So…why have character advancement?  Why not simply have character change?  I may have to track down some systems that do this.

A New Philosophy on My Goals for Roleplaying

September 29, 2007

How often do people say things like this?

“Roleplaying should be fun.”
“Remember that the point is to have fun.”
“If it’s not fun, don’t play.”
“We’re all here to have fun.”
“Can we stop analyzing everything, and just have fun?”

Quite a bit, in my experience. I always bought it without questioning. Shame on me, I should know better than that by now…

In a forum thread about the question of valuing game experiences that aren’t fun, I finally realized that the question originated in the opposition between “fun” and “painful.” As long as fun is my goal, I can’t find value in games that are painful, because these things are opposites. Fun is not pain, and vice versa. But I found myself conflicted, because I think there is value in those sorts of experiences. There is simply no other way to explore that ground without screwing up my real life badly. So…fun can’t be where the value comes from. And if that’s the case, then fun isn’t really my goal, despite what others may tell me. So what is it, at the deepest level, that unites experiences with personal, subjective value?

Answering that question led directly to my new philosophy of roleplaying:

“Roleplaying should be fulfilling.”

A new place for thought in theory ;)

September 25, 2007

After some discussion over on KF about whether it was an appropriate place for discussing theory, I’ve set up a new forum for talking about theory.  I suspect a decent portion of my thought will germinate over there before finding it’s way here.

Gaming Responsibilities; What I’m Thinking About

September 13, 2007

Another link.  This one is on how responsibilities are divided among a group of roleplayers, and on a paradigm different from the traditional arrangement.

 I’ll have some original thought once I’m farther along on absorbing all these things I’m reading.  Much of my OT energy (original thought, not operating thetan) is going into a private conversation on the Knife Fight regarding combining my theory of choice with Mendel’s theory of even lower level interactions (based on views.)

Geek Social Fallacies

September 12, 2007

I found these informative. Looking backwards, some of them, in myself and others, seem to be causes of at least a portion of the social difficulties I’ve experienced.

Techniques I like and dislike

September 3, 2007

These are simply my preferences.   No judgment on whether they are good or bad, just a list of what I like and don’t. 

Frontloading (In general, doing as much setup as possible ahead of time to get to the meaty bits more quickly.  In particular, using background or other pre-game techniques rather than deciding character attributes through in-game exploration.)

NPCs with depth (secrets or non-apparent motivations, perhaps not even related to the plot)

Adventure hooks that contain

  • a variety of information (enough for multiple party members to pursue them in parallel)
  • the promise of appropriate rewards for multiple characters

World elements that connect to and introduce other world elements

Proactively pursuing my character goals

Reacting to world events

The magician’s choice (where each path leads to the same place)

GM-induced party conflict

Being “prodded” (wherein a situation calling for action is introduced with no indicator of what to do.  Also known as “partial proactivity [near the bottom of the page].” )

My Payoff, Sockets, and Goals

September 3, 2007
Payoff Explore ideas/concepts through imagined experience




Character (part 2)


Construct a psychological model of the character (goals, values, personality) that incorporates a concept to be explored and includes conflict, inconsistencies, and questions to be answered related to that concept

Interact with world elements that address (relate to, highlight, or mirror) internal psychological issues

Make choices that involve character conflicts, inconsistencies, and questions

Kairosis – Change the psychological model (internal) by reflecting on character experiences (external)

There are other sockets that are much less important to reaching my payoff.  Two of those are social and system.  (If I want to socialize, I prefer other activities to gaming.  The system isn’t usually particularly involved in my character’s psychological makeup.)  Hopefully this makes somewhat clearer why I game, and what I hope to get out of it.  I hope it also serves as a reasonable demonstration of how a socket relates a goal to a payoff.