Perverse effect of Primary/Secondary attributes

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Perverse effect of Primary/Secondary attributes

Postby Mal Malenkirk » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:59 pm

Obviously I haven't played a high level DA game yet...

But I suspect the forced alternance between increasing a primary/secondary attribute will lead to weird situations.

Example: For a warrior, Constitution is certainly important, but it seems to be the third most important attribute behind strenght and dexterity. So how often do you get to boost it? Any even level that you invest in Constitution is a level that you don't invest in Strenght or Dexterity and then it'll be two level before you get another chance.

Wizards on the other hand... Constitution is a secondary attribute. But it's probably the most desirable secondary attributes. On the other hand, cunning is a primary attribute but just how often will it get chosen over magic or willpower (when possession rules kicks in?).

And so I am willing to put money on the table that at high level, under current rules, the average wizard will have a higher constitution than the average warrior. On the other hand, don't be surprised if many warriors have a higher cunning than wizards. Eh.
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Postby Brokensoul » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:45 am

Just guessing but I think the abilities will be capped at 7, maybe 6 + 1 if you have bonus from background. With that I think the points will be spread around more.

Also, it pays to put points in abilities that are not a main focus.

Example a mage putting points into Dex not to get hit, or a Warrior or Rogue putting points into Magic to resist some of the more powerful spells.

Some people will focus and some will spread the points in the end as long as there is some kind of cap so people are not running around with +17 to rolls they have a focus in I think we will be ok.
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Postby Zapp » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:04 am

I agree it looks like a concern that you will seldom - if ever - manage to increase your "third" primary.

Perhaps the next box set will cap abilities. Perhaps it will not go that far, but introduce a bit of elaboration; where increasing already high stats will cost more.

Just as a quick idea; what about:

You at each level get 4 "levelling points", LPs. Raising an ability costs the same amount of LPs that the ability score will be after the increase (minimum 1). You can save up to half your LPs between levels. If you can afford it, you can increase two scores at once.

Our example (fairly average) warrior PC got the following four scores (the others are irrelevant and could be all zeroes):
Strength 3
Dexterity 2
Constitution 1
Communication 1

Thus, at level 2, you increase your Strength from 3 -> 4. This costs all of your 4 LPs.

At level 3, you increase your Communication from 1 -> 2 for another two LPs. You save the remaining two. You've used six out of the eight points you've got thus far.

At level 4, things get interesting:

You could increase Strength again (to 5) for five of your six LPs. But you could also increase both Dexterity (to 3) and Constitution (to 2). In both cases, you'll use up five points.

A side benefit of a scheme like this is that it mitigates to a great deal a poor starting set of rolls. Even if you start out with low scores, you get to catch up by this scheme, because you can afford to up two scores much more often than the lucky player who started out with great scores.
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Postby Batgirl III » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:37 am

I think you may be seeing problems where none are because you're looking for them. You've identified what seems a mechanical incongruity but forgotten to account for the greatest variable in the system: the players.

Each class has three primary and five secondary attributes, but no two players are likly to agree as to which of those primary attributes is "primary-est" among them. Just to be incribly simplistic about it, Alice may want a Strength-focus He-Man warrior, Bob a Dexterity-focused kung-fu fighter, and Chris a nigh-invulnerable Constitution-focused juggernaut.

More realistically, players will mix and match as they min/max towards their individually ideal build. That they are not given enough points to cover all their bases, frankly, strikes me as smart design... when I play, I enjoy the challenge of having to make tradeoffs; when I GM, I enjoy seeing my players overcome challenges.

Players, overtime and when free of interference, are much better at correcting for mechanical incongruities than any houserule by a Gamemaster can be. The choices of the players will be more individual and of higher utility to that player than a houserule, and any houserule is likly to introduce numerous unitended consequences that impact elsewhere in the system.

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Re: Perverse effect of Primary/Secondary attributes

Postby Balgin Stondraeg » Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:46 am

Mal Malenkirk wrote:Example: For a warrior, Constitution is certainly important, but it seems to be the third most important attribute behind strenght and dexterity.


Constitution for warriors is almost certainly never a dump stat. If anything, for most warriors the least important will be dexterity (if you're tough enough to survive the odd dex failure then there's no need up pump that agility up). Sometimes it's even more important than strength if you can find enough armour to just grind your foes down.

I recall a few players in the early 90's making high strength, high dexterity, low constitution fighters and when asked why claiming that "if I can go first and hit them hard enough they won't be able to take me out". This of course did nothing to save them from all the various forms of indirect damage such as fireballs, falling off things, drowning and other things that generaly involve being tough to survive. I haven't seen that trend much in recent years (although BIoware really took that approach to the companions in the computer game - a bit disappointing really).
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Postby Zapp » Thu Dec 17, 2009 12:58 pm

No, no... nobody's saying it's a dump stat; quite the contrary. The argument is that it would be nice to be able to bump Con once in a while.

If Con is part of the same group of abilities as Str and Dex that means every point of Con is not a point of Str or Dex.

That doesn't make Con a dump stat. It just makes Con not as important than Str and/or Dex.

The point of the thread being that the third ability in the primary group will seldom get any attention. You're probably better off making a character where one of your secondary abilities are in fact "more primary" to you than the third one of your class primaries!

This is of course an intentional encouragement by the designers; despite being slightly obscured (as attested by this very thread).

Zapp

PS. As for myself, I wouldn't say this is "perverse". Slightly counter-intuitive perhaps, but not more than
that. :)
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Postby Balgin Stondraeg » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:41 pm

Zapp wrote:If Con is part of the same group of abilities as Str and Dex that means every point of Con is not a point of Str or Dex.

That doesn't make Con a dump stat. It just makes Con not as important than Str and/or Dex.


How does it make it less important? They're all clustered together with equal favour. I don't see any of those three abilities being more important than the other. Just saying that every point you're putting into something good isn't going somewhere else good is stating the obvious. Mix it up a little. Put them wherever makes the most sense at the time. Given the advancement rate, players are likely to have enough time to consider where they'd like those points to go (it'd not liek AD&D 3rd ed giving you levels at an obscenely swift rate).
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Postby Aldaris » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:05 pm

Also keep in mind that constitution covers more than just increasing HP slightly. It is an attribute that can be tested against, and I can think of many situations where I'd call for such a test as a GM.
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Postby Jairain » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:31 pm

Aldaris wrote:Also keep in mind that constitution covers more than just increasing HP slightly. It is an attribute that can be tested against, and I can think of many situations where I'd call for such a test as a GM.


such as...
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Postby Jekias » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:11 pm

Jairain wrote:
Aldaris wrote:Also keep in mind that constitution covers more than just increasing HP slightly. It is an attribute that can be tested against, and I can think of many situations where I'd call for such a test as a GM.


such as...


Poisons, Disease, Running, Forced March, Resisting Cold environments, Length of time underwater before starting to drown, Resisting Hot environments, being punched in the head

the list goes can go on and on!
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Postby LogosInvictus » Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:35 pm

Zapp wrote:No, no... nobody's saying it's a dump stat; quite the contrary. The argument is that it would be nice to be able to bump Con once in a while.

If Con is part of the same group of abilities as Str and Dex that means every point of Con is not a point of Str or Dex.

That doesn't make Con a dump stat. It just makes Con not as important than Str and/or Dex.

The point of the thread being that the third ability in the primary group will seldom get any attention. You're probably better off making a character where one of your secondary abilities are in fact "more primary" to you than the third one of your class primaries!

This is of course an intentional encouragement by the designers; despite being slightly obscured (as attested by this very thread).

Zapp

PS. As for myself, I wouldn't say this is "perverse". Slightly counter-intuitive perhaps, but not more than
that. :)


Even if we discount the idea that there are lots of things Constitution can and will be rolled against (which we shouldn't), it's also important to note that each point you put into Con isn't just 1 HP, it's 1 HP/level. From a purely mechanical perspective, it seems just as likely that PCs will focus as many points as they can into Constitution in the first few levels (when it's the most beneficial, buying at Con at level 2 means you get an extra 18 HP over the course of your career, 4 is 16, and so on). Really though, it's going to boil down to the build - a character who focuses on Dex and Strength is going to be able to go fast and hit hard most of the time but, as someone pointed out, they're going to be made of glass if they fight something that doesn't go down with their first hit, or run up against something that requires physical endurance to overcome rather than brute strength and agility.
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Postby Zapp » Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:39 am

Thank you for rushing to Constitution's defense! :)

However, you're missing the point. Con was only an example.

The point (directed to the OP) is that the system as written encourages you to find a character concept that does not rely on Str, Dex and Con. For Warriors that is - for Mages, for instance, you should try not to rely on all three of Cunning, Magic, and Willpower!

Let's take an example - if you can come up with a Warrior whose concept, personaly and character is such that he is a great leader, and thus uses Strength, Constitution and Communication as his three main abilities, he will be able to make much better use of his ability increases as he levels up.

(In what way should be obvious)

This is not supposed to be perverse - it's supposed to be an intentional feature, to encourage characters to come up with "more interesting" warriors than strong silent stupid hulks! :)


And yes, I can still agree this is slightly counter-intuitive, because when you first read about "primary abilities" it's natural to think these are the ones the game will let you focus on. (It does, but not all of them. Not to the extent that you can focus on one primary and one secondary)


Did this clear up my take in this thread?

I hope it did,
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Postby LogosInvictus » Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:33 am

Well I certainly understand the point you're making, my issue was with the "Constitution is less important" part of the post I quoted. Specifically, saying which attribute of the three primaries is "less" important than the other two is highly subjective. Some Warriors are going to place a premium on Constitution, Strength and Communication, and some Mages are going to decide that Cunning is more important to them than Willpower or, possibly, even Magic.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that that particular line seemed to support the OP's original point rather than the point you just clarified.

Apologies for the confusion.
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Postby faerieheart » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:52 pm

Archer Warrior is pretty broken because of this. Every level you can increase either Dexterity or Perception.

You increase attack, and defense one level, and increase damage the next. In addition once you get the focuses you can be a stealth/perception god. If you're an elf you've got a chance of increasing both per and dex at 1st level AND getting a stealth or perception focus maybe both, or even better yet Archery focus at first level.

This is a potential god character to nearly every other build, and is far scarier than any rogue archer will ever be as they have to split between dex and per every other level.

Fear the city elf archer warrior as she sneakily kills your ass from the shadows and no one can sneak up on her. Not to mention a defense of god. Oh and better yet, good luck getting to her to attack her in the first place with that insane move of hers for being an elf. She knows where you are before you do, you can't reach her, and you can't find her, she's doing more damage than you, is far more accurate, and if you do reach her you'll likely miss. Oh and since she's a warrior and it doesn't hinder her she can also wear the best armor in the game without penalty on top of it.

Only thing she needs to worry about are the magic/con mages since willpower doesn't apply to magic at all or cunning either. All mages need are magic and con, and for a small amount of mana mages have armor as good as any warrior since they have no reason not to pump every point into magic.

Oh and while we're at it, let's play a rogue that's a strength/con build to beat the warriors out there in melee.

It's sad that the best rogue is a warrior...
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Postby Zapp » Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:03 am

My only comments to this are: have a little faith in Green Ronin.

Hopefully box set 2 will add nuance to the leveling procedure.

Perhaps your level 7 (?) specializations will modify your primaries? Or perhaps there will be ability caps? Who knows?

It certainly isn't that dramatic over only levels 1-5, faerieheart. (If there are no checks and balances all the way up to level 20, on the other hand...)
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Postby faerieheart » Sat Dec 19, 2009 7:39 am

Zapp wrote:My only comments to this are: have a little faith in Green Ronin.

Hopefully box set 2 will add nuance to the leveling procedure.

Perhaps your level 7 (?) specializations will modify your primaries? Or perhaps there will be ability caps? Who knows?

It certainly isn't that dramatic over only levels 1-5, faerieheart. (If there are no checks and balances all the way up to level 20, on the other hand...)


Let's hope, because right now this character can solo the starting adventure without leveling. Imagine it at level 20 without what you're saying.
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Postby Mal Malenkirk » Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:03 pm

I wasn't saying that CON isn't important.

Just that the current design makes it likely that the average wizard/rogue will have a higher constitution than the average warrior as level increase, which is weird.

One can argue that many warriors will focus on constitution, sure. But only compiling info from a significant number of PCs will answer the question definitively. Until then, I have to say that 'Bob the blob', the PC who focuses on HP over attack/defense is a nice counter-argument... But he has never sat at my gaming table in fifteen years. 'Punching bag' is not a very common character concept.

The fact remains that a PC warrior who wants to increase constitution is asked to do so at the expense of strenght or dexterity. IMO That pretty much guarantees the majority of warrior players are not going to bump it very often. At best, once every six level if you pursue a balanced strategy, most likely once every 8 or 10.

It is highly likely that you'll find that a rogue or a wizards bump up constitution more often than warriors do.

Similar argument can be made about other primary stats. You just game a few months and then tell me just how cunning most wizards really are...
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Postby Zapp » Sat Dec 19, 2009 6:44 pm

faerieheart wrote:Let's hope, because right now this character can solo the starting adventure without leveling.

What then does your complaint have to do with the primary/secondary split?
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Postby faerieheart » Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:57 am

Zapp wrote:
faerieheart wrote:Let's hope, because right now this character can solo the starting adventure without leveling.

What then does your complaint have to do with the primary/secondary split?


ok follow me carefully here.

Because you level one primary ability one level
and
one secondary ability another level alternatingly

the con/magic mage and the dex/per warrior archer are both in all ways superior to every other build, especially if the archer is an elf in fact they are brokenly so.

This is only possible because of the horrible split from leveling primary and secondary attributes.

As is playing a archer warrior you can be better with every range weapon and sneakier and a better scout than any rogue can ever be because unlike you the rogue can only add one point to per or dex every other level and one point to something completely unrelated. Whereas the warrior can add a point to both dex and per every level instead of every other level.

For mages, MAGIC adds to everything, attack, damage, magic points, and even armor of you take the spell for it and I see no reason not to. A mage doesn't NEED or really get any more use from cunning and willpower than anyone else. Really mages have ONE primary attribute and the rest are secondary. In fact mages will end up with less cunning and willpower than everyone else as leveling anything BUT magic is shooting yourself in the foot. A mage doesn't need strength, dex can be useful but con is best, and as such mages will eventually end up with more hit points than most warriors who need to level either strength, dex, or con every other level while mages who really only care about magic, and con is always good as a secondary can increase every other level as well.

Wizards are hardier than warriors and dumber and have less will than either warriors or rogues.
Warriors are stealthier more perceptive than and stealthier than rogues.
Rogues are hardier than and stronger than warriors unless the warriors sacrifice dex and con for strength.
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Postby Zapp » Sun Dec 20, 2009 3:26 pm

No. You said you could do it without leveling. The "horrible split" only comes in effect once you start to level.

What then does your complaint that the "potential god character" - the city elf archer warrior - can solo the starting adventure without leveling, have to do with the primary/secondary split?

No wait, don't answer that yet. In fact, let's hold off the discussion until the subsequent box sets have been published. Until then, your alarmist fears are pure conjecture, I'm afraid.

When I asked you to have a little faith in Green Ronin, I meant it. :)

Best Regards,
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Postby Gairten » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:19 pm

I actually had the same thought as the OP the first time I read the rules. I'm not positive how to perfectly solve it, but I do have an idea that might help a bit. I suggest the below with the caveat that I realize we are only seeing set 1 of 4 and that this may be worked out with future rules.

One option might be to force a bell curve on how a player increases those attributes, something like:
- You can't spend much more than half of your primary attribute level increases on any particular primary attribute*
- Same idea for secondary attributes**

* You could increase one particular primary attribute at levels 2, 6, 10, 14, and 18 at most
** You could increase one particular secondary attribute at levels 3, 7, 11, 15, and 19 at most

So for example, if you want your Mage to go hog-wild on Magic, they can only spend a maximum of 50% of their even levels increasing magic, the rest need to go to Cunning or Willpower. If they started with a 4+1 = 5 Magic at level 1, the most they could achieve by level 20 would be a 5+5 = 10 Magic. In this example, the character could also have (in addition to the +5 Magic) either a +5 to their Cunning or Willpower, or +3 Cunning and +2 Willpower, etc.

While a bit heavy-handed, this might help things stay a bit more sane.
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Postby jaguar451 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:34 pm

Aye, but that's six months to wait, and this is the game that we have now....

* Only use of primary/secondary attributes seems to be to split improvement allocations (alternate Primary / secondary), as there doesn't seem to be any benefit to primary attribute; results in some interesting results, such as Warrior Scouts vs Rogue Scouts discussed above

* Rogues need to have Dex 3+, Com 1+, and/or a City Elf background to make use of their bonus talent (aka, pre-reqs not ignored)

* Guess I'm a little surprised that pre-reqs apply, as other than the bonus talent, there isn't much benefit to Rogue over Warrior - primary difference is backstab and +1 faster in Heavy Leather Armor. Guess I'm used to Rogue being more skilled, so expected an ability focus or two.

* Impact of abilities over level during the first 5 levels (which granted improve over time, but having a four vs a two at start in ones primary attribute is pretty big, and takes until level 4 to equal)
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Postby psychodrive » Thu Dec 24, 2009 3:40 am

jaguar451 wrote: * Guess I'm a little surprised that pre-reqs apply, as other than the bonus talent, there isn't much benefit to Rogue over Warrior - primary difference is backstab and +1 faster in Heavy Leather Armor. Guess I'm used to Rogue being more skilled, so expected an ability focus or two.


Thievery and Scouting are rogue-specific talents. Besides that, because of the difference in primary attributes, the rogue is liable to gain more benefit from certain focuses (communication focuses, for instance). Don't forget that, at Level 2, rogues get to use the Pierce Armour stunt for 1sp. In combination with other stunts, or a backstab, this is definitely an advantage. Pierce Armour + Lightning Attack and Pierce Armour + Mighty Blow are great combos, not to mention Pierce Armour + Skirmish.

Mechanically, I see far more differentiation and choice in rogue playing styles than in warrior (ie. the flesh pinata class).

From an RP perspective, it's up to the player anyway (although ideally it should align with their rolled stats whether this matches the stereotype or not).
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Postby Zapp » Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:13 am

jaguar451 wrote:Aye, but that's six months to wait, and this is the game that we have now....

But there are only two attribute increases for each group in the game we have now?

The current rules don't need any rules on this precisely because it only covers levels 1-5: increasing one and the same primary ability both at level 2 and 4 will hardly break the system.
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Postby Zapp » Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:16 am

jaguar451 wrote: * Guess I'm a little surprised that pre-reqs apply, as other than the bonus talent, there isn't much benefit to Rogue over Warrior - primary difference is backstab and +1 faster in Heavy Leather Armor. Guess I'm used to Rogue being more skilled, so expected an ability focus or two.

I guess the intent is that rogues having better and more varied skills than Warriors (if that is even true!) should balance this out.

If you disagree, you might want to check out this :)
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