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Author Topic: Should "ability scores" be comparable to a real world metric? can it be done?  (Read 2243 times)

Godsmonkey

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In my current project, I dealt with this by saying that since the PCs are heroes, they can attempt any task at a basic level of competence, well, except magic.  Skill points are for things characters are really good at.  Then I set the target numbers accordingly.

This is pretty much any skill-based RPG out there.  Lacking a skill doesn't mean you can't attempt something you just RP'd out.  It means you don't get an additional modifier based on a skill.
That's not universally true. Some games do not allow certain skills to be rolled at all without specific training. Even D6 Star Wars had some advanced skills like this.

For some skills that makes sense. Magic for example. Would you want an untrained friend digging into your innards to extract that .45 lodged in your belly? Skills like athletics, or even using a weapon can rely on some innate ability, some skills NEED training.

migo

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GURPS for instance has skills that can be used untrained, and skills that you have to purchase to use. That of course will usually only be found in systems with some level amount of crunch.

mightybrain

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Soldiers stationed in remote bases overseas come back ripped because they do a normal maintenance workout in the morning, pull their shift, then work out again at night just to pass the time.

Working out too frequently is counter productive. A workout, if it is to be effective, damages muscle. You only build muscle when you are resting between workouts and only if you have consumed enough calories and are getting enough sleep. If you arranged your rules system such that simply working out increased strength, then the munchkins would have their characters spending every conceivable non-adventuring hour working out until their strength maxed out. In reality, that doesn't work. A reasonable strength building schedule is a full body workout 2 to 3 times a week. Although some people prefer to focus on different muscle groups on different days so they end up doing more days but with 3 or 4 days interval between workouts on the same muscle group.

I only know all this as I am currently following a strength building programme. Now I've hit my 50s it's become a necessity. I only wish I'd started sooner.

In general D&D assumes you've already undergone training before starting your adventuring career. In basic D&D you do this with your stat point exchange during character creation. In 1st edition AD&D, training is rolled into levelling up. But this doesn't usually alter stats. The only way I'm aware of to improve stats is with magic items or wishes. But by 5th edition characters can bump up their stats every few levels. You can also (optionally) get trained by a master to gain additional feats (some of which include stat increases.) You can also (optionally) pay for training during downtime to gain a proficiency which is usually worth more than a stat increase but only for a specific skill.

RebelSky

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What do I mean?
Statistics is a mathematics discipline that tries to make predictions through models. These models can reveal information in interesting ways.
Humans have capacities for various tasks that can be (to one degree or another) measured and quantified. Showing the range of human performance from the world record (human maximum) to Zero (no function).

We can call the measured capacities a set of related tasks an "attribute". moderately easy to point at muscles and the work muscles can do. looking at the whole person overall as a sort of "average"- allowing training and for various exceptions, can we have a "strength score"?

The same follows for movement, how do we quantify the human range for the speed of movement, the balance of the body, and the quickness of reactions/reflexes?  should hand-eye coordination and the precision of action be a separate attribute (throwing darts, drawing lines and shapes, etc)?

Can the attributes be accurately defined by a model and give us a Metric for comparison? can the metric be Consistent?
Yes, this topic will piss Woketards off likely triggering cries of "Abilist", "sexist", "Racist", and all the "phobes".... sorry. it is going to happen, they can't help themselves.

The rpg Ascendant is a supers rpg that's 100% designed to simulate comic book physics with a true logarithmic game system. At it's core it's a hybrid of DC Heroes 2e and TSR Marvel, but it takes the logarithmic structure of DC Heroes and expands it to it's full potential.

This game works. Throughout the book are examples of real world human achievements that this game pulls off. By achievements I mean people that hold athletic world's records. On page 293 the game shows how the system's math matches up with all the speed records of human movement, like the 100m Run, the 200m Run, the 100 Km Run, the Constant Weight Free diving record, the US Army 2 Mike Run, etc. Ascendant matches up with all of these.

On page 279 there are more examples regarding records for weightlifting, football throw, frisbee throw, the One mile car push, 24 hour car push, etc. And all the worlds records numbers for these match up with Ascendants logarithmic system in every case.

In all these the book takes the numbers, plugs them into Ascendant's system, and shows the math of the game matching the worlds records outcomes.

All of this makes Ascendant pretty unique.

Kyle Aaron

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It can be done, but any realistic metric will gravely offend players as they discover they are not in any way, shape or form adventurer material.

Thus they will demand it be made unrealistic. And then it becomes exactly like speaking to born-again Christians, the Woke and others - the pain of speaking to the deliberately self-deluded.

It cannot truly be done.  ;) Otherwise Hospitals would have been using RPG parameters at Emergency Room triage by now.
Essentially they do this, which is why a 23yo will be given CPR, but a 93yo will not. They are constantly assessing the relative worth of this or that treatment and the prognosis it gives versus doing nothing - indirectly, they are assessing the person's physical attributes. And to an extent their mental attributes, too, since a cogent 75yo will be given priority over a 60yo with severe dementia.

It's indirect, since more than a binary yes/no for each treatment isn't needed in the hospital.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2022, 03:46:15 AM by Kyle Aaron »
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mightybrain

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IIRC STR has load to lift, carry, drag, chance of kicking down a door or bending some iron bars.

A common occurrence in games would be your party needing to escape a trap by bending iron bars. Your 18/00 strength barbarian has a 40% chance, rolls 50 on percentile, and fails. Your 10 strength halfling thief has a 2% chance and rolls 01. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does, you remember it, so it seems a more frequent than it should. You remember it, because it breaks your reasonable expectation. It also breaks immersion. It would probably be better to have the DM roll for the strength of the bars. If the DM rolls 2 or under, either of them can bend the bars (perhaps they have rusted away), 40 or under and only the barbarian can do it, more than 40 and they're going to need another plan.

Palleon

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IIRC STR has load to lift, carry, drag, chance of kicking down a door or bending some iron bars.

A common occurrence in games would be your party needing to escape a trap by bending iron bars. Your 18/00 strength barbarian has a 40% chance, rolls 50 on percentile, and fails. Your 10 strength halfling thief has a 2% chance and rolls 01. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does, you remember it, so it seems a more frequent than it should. You remember it, because it breaks your reasonable expectation. It also breaks immersion. It would probably be better to have the DM roll for the strength of the bars. If the DM rolls 2 or under, either of them can bend the bars (perhaps they have rusted away), 40 or under and only the barbarian can do it, more than 40 and they're going to need another plan.

The problem here is allowing each member of the party a roll for success individually.  Ideally, the encounter is interpreted by them working as a team.  Either the mechanic supports the assistance offering a bonus or extra chance for the player character leading the effort.

migo

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IIRC STR has load to lift, carry, drag, chance of kicking down a door or bending some iron bars.

A common occurrence in games would be your party needing to escape a trap by bending iron bars. Your 18/00 strength barbarian has a 40% chance, rolls 50 on percentile, and fails. Your 10 strength halfling thief has a 2% chance and rolls 01. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does, you remember it, so it seems a more frequent than it should. You remember it, because it breaks your reasonable expectation. It also breaks immersion. It would probably be better to have the DM roll for the strength of the bars. If the DM rolls 2 or under, either of them can bend the bars (perhaps they have rusted away), 40 or under and only the barbarian can do it, more than 40 and they're going to need another plan.

That's a good idea. It could also be extrapolated if the player rolls, the result is what it will always be. Same with the idea that you get to try only once.

mightybrain

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A few years ago my group played The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. There were places in that adventure where it stated that something could be moved by one or more characters with a combined Strength of e.g. 20 or more. As a DM, I liked that approach above the more standard DC20 strength check as it didn't suffer the from the suddenly random strength immersion breaker.

Eric Diaz

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Static objects should "respond" with static rolls, i.e., no randomness.

I'm not the first one to day that, but here is my 2c:

https://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-inverted-skill-roll-and-static-dcs.html
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mightybrain

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The version of The Hidden Shrine Of Tamoachan we were playing was the 5e one in the Tales from the Yawning Portal collection. However I just checked and the text requiring a particular strength to proceed was in the 1980 version. I guess they just failed to "update" it to the new system. But as I say, it played better the way it was.

crkrueger

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The problem is always going to be how Size and Mass affect Raw Strength, and how to separate endurance from damage absorption.

There's a reason powerlifters don't have 5% bodyfat, the actual dimensions of the body and pure mass give leverage and momentum.

I'm sure someone could pump out some formulas after a while, but who needs Phoenix Command 2022?
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Mishihari

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In my current project, I dealt with this by saying that since the PCs are heroes, they can attempt any task at a basic level of competence, well, except magic.  Skill points are for things characters are really good at.  Then I set the target numbers accordingly.

This is pretty much any skill-based RPG out there.  Lacking a skill doesn't mean you can't attempt something you just RP'd out.  It means you don't get an additional modifier based on a skill.

That's not what I meant.  Most skill based RPGs let you try most things, ut with no skill points your PC is really bad at them.  I changed the scale a bit so that PCs have a reasonable competence at just about any skill needed for adventuring even without a skill point.  (NPCs might have negative skill points if they're bad at stuff)

If the probability of success is really low, then you should only call for a check when failure is likely and expected. If it seems reasonable that the PC should succeed at the task described by their player, they just succeed. It's when you think it's a long shot and probably shouldn't work - then you have the player roll.

Functionally it's like a saving throw - you should die, but you get to roll to see if you live anyway. You should fail, but you get to roll to see if you succeed anyway. Like that the probabilities are fine, and it streamlines play. Some players really enjoy rolling dice though, and for them it's better to tweak the probabilities.

I would say that's system dependent.  If it's a simple pass/fail, then yes.  If the system uses margin of success/failure in a meaningful way, then you need to do the check.  Perhaps you have a great success or horrible failure.  Perhaps margin determines how much of a resource is used.  IMO D&D skills are kind of a sucky, shallow afterthought to the system.  I prefer systems with skills better integrated into the whole with meaningful, interesting results.  As an example, in my current project endurance gets used both in athletics checks like climbing, running, etc, and in special combat maneuvers.  If you have poor strategy or bad luck climbing a cliff, then your going to be low on endurance and have a much tougher time taking on the goblins at the top.

oggsmash

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It can be done, but any realistic metric will gravely offend players as they discover they are not in any way, shape or form adventurer material.

Thus they will demand it be made unrealistic. And then it becomes exactly like speaking to born-again Christians, the Woke and others - the pain of speaking to the deliberately self-deluded.

It cannot truly be done.  ;) Otherwise Hospitals would have been using RPG parameters at Emergency Room triage by now.
Essentially they do this, which is why a 23yo will be given CPR, but a 93yo will not. They are constantly assessing the relative worth of this or that treatment and the prognosis it gives versus doing nothing - indirectly, they are assessing the person's physical attributes. And to an extent their mental attributes, too, since a cogent 75yo will be given priority over a 60yo with severe dementia.

It's indirect, since more than a binary yes/no for each treatment isn't needed in the hospital.

  Given in the old rules, a 100 pound military press (and I am pretty sure Gary meant the strict press, not the event that the olympics had become before they got rid of the MP because dudes were turning into contortionists) is a 10 strength, and having taken a look at the average gamer, I have serious doubts many think they could actually be adventurers in the RPG sense.