"Weight of Destiny" Rating

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"Weight of Destiny" Rating

Post by Admin on Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:41 am

This idea recently came to me, and I believe it's one we've touched on but only verbally and very vaguely. The idea of "Weight of Destiny" (title subject to change) is that of how important the character is. This applies both to the world and to the character's owner. An idea I've thrown around is that newer players create characters that don't really have any detailing applied to them. They are mostly blank slates. This is necessary because more powerful characters, whether that is in strength, magic, or politically, are awarded to trusted players who have proven themselves worthy. This way, a player who is worthy of having a general of a major army isn't given control of that character the day they join, nor do they have to roleplay that character's entire ascension through the ranks, especially if the character began as one that would never really become a general.

This blank slate concept is also necessary because permanent death is a very real thing in this system. If a new player spends hours designing a character only to have them die in a few weeks due to a single poor decision, that newcomer will be disenchanted with the system and will likely never return. Encouraging a blank slate policy rectifies that problem. If a player becomes attached to the blank slate character, they may begin to flesh out their actual history and lead on from there, or choose another character with more privileges assuming that the moderators and administrators grant them those privileges.

This also encourages more 'elitism' while not necessarily demanding it. If you improve as a roleplayer here, you'll be allowed to create more important characters. If you don't wish to improve, then you'll still be able to roleplay, but you'll have to work a bit harder anyway.

Where the "Weight of Destiny" Rating idea I've come up with figures in is where the "importance" of the character and permanent death comes to play. It doesn't really matter if a farmer is murdered in his home by a simple strike from a thief, but a general of a major army wouldn't be worthy of a such an end. Not everyone will be able to roleplay characters that defy death or pull off near-misses. If everyone did, then we'd have immortal shopkeepers in addition to plot characters, and the commonfolk would succumb to the Arena syndrome we've been trying to get rid of. However, the Arena syndrome isn't entirely a bad thing. Some characters should be overpowered. We just can't allow everyone to be.

The "Weight of Destiny" Rating helps with determining how possible it is to decide permanent death. It ranges from pretty much worthless to being an integral "plot" character.

A character with a worthless destiny will probably never change things in the big picture in their life. They probably won't assassinate a member of the royal family, they probably won't start a revolution, they probably won't find an artifact of major power. I say probably because I like to keep the stance of "Anything is Possible" in this system. A street rat might, perchance, slit the throat of a noble when that noble is particularly vulnerable and the street rat probably never knew the noble's true identity. It is a possible event, but unlikely.

A "plot" character is more easily explained, as we have a few of them currently in existence and they all suffer from Arena syndrome. I probably have the most, with two most notable being Acria and Sazil. These characters are necessary for certain plots devised by the developers to come to fruition, and are basically given immunity to anything that would impede that plot coming to pass. Acria might be faced by a captain of the guard and his men, but they won't be able to kill her. They may be able to maim her, among other things, but her presence is necessary for the story to unfold.

That overpoweredness is balanced by restriction of use. Acria isn't applicable in many situations, especially in campaigns, due to her nature, and neither is Sazil due to his position and responsibilities. However, who cares if a worthless character was caught up in some mess, as long as it makes a bit of sense (no teleporting between regions).

Those are of course extremes, but they are necessary to be laid out to properly explain their effect on permanence of death. If two characters with worthless destinies find eachother at odds and aim to kill one another, they can both do everything they can to inflict and resist death. Such a fight could last a long time or mere moments before one falls depending on when a mistake is made and who made it. However, if a plot character were to be in conflict with a worthless character, if it is likely that the worthless character will die, they will probably just die.

This is similar to the dichotomy that exists in the Exalted system, between the Exalted and mortals, or in Rifts, with Mega-Damage and Standard-Damage. In the former case, mortals may be treated as fodder and instantly lose to an Exalted. In the latter case, if a human is hit with a common mega-damage weapon, they are likely, at a minimum, vaporized.

With those extremes defined, the relative threat of permanent death can be established based on the degree of the characters' "Weight of Destiny" Rating. If they are the same, then both characters are of equal threat and the result likely relies on who makes the first mistake. If there is a gap, then one is less likely and one is more likely. and roleplaying should follow suit. The larger the gap, the more likely the character with the higher rating can basically say "you lose."

When groups are considered, the gap effects should be considered to be multiplicative, rather than additive. That is, there will be diminishing returns. If fifty worthless characters confront a plot character, the plot character will still in all probability win, but it will be far more challenging than facing one opponent. The same will be true against a hundred; more challenging than fifty, but they will not add up to a plot character.

This is also a delicate concept and should not be considered with rigidity. Just because one character holds greater weight in the world than another does not mean the owner of that character can god-mod their way to victory. However, it also doesn't mean that the other character should only have normal difficulty killing the character with greater weight in the world.

This also doesn't mean that a character is doomed to be worthless or will never fall from their status. A character may forge their destiny and prove themselves to be of more worth to the world than previously thought, or a character may squander their potential and show themselves to be nothing more than a glorified extra.


This concept is also far from actual implementation. A lot of discussion needs to happen to decide how much this will actually affect the system.
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Re: "Weight of Destiny" Rating

Post by CromTheConqueror on Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:19 pm

This idea recently came to me, and I believe it's one we've touched on but only verbally and very vaguely. The idea of "Weight of Destiny" (title subject to change) is that of how important the character is. This applies both to the world and to the character's owner. An idea I've thrown around is that newer players create characters that don't really have any detailing applied to them. They are mostly blank slates. This is necessary because more powerful characters, whether that is in strength, magic, or politically, are awarded to trusted players who have proven themselves worthy. This way, a player who is worthy of having a general of a major army isn't given control of that character the day they join, nor do they have to roleplay that character's entire ascension through the ranks, especially if the character began as one that would never really become a general.

I think this is a solid idea. I still think a certain amount of detailing is required but not to the extent that were currently demand. It should help noobies, saves times, and most importantly does a lot toward helping the death issue later.

Where the "Weight of Destiny" Rating idea I've come up with figures in is where the "importance" of the character and permanent death comes to play. It doesn't really matter if a farmer is murdered in his home by a simple strike from a thief, but a general of a major army wouldn't be worthy of a such an end. Not everyone will be able to roleplay characters that defy death or pull off near-misses. If everyone did, then we'd have immortal shopkeepers in addition to plot characters, and the commonfolk would succumb to the Arena syndrome we've been trying to get rid of. However, the Arena syndrome isn't entirely a bad thing. Some characters should be overpowered. We just can't allow everyone to be.

I still do not believe any character should be overpowered. Are some characters going to be more powerful than others? Sure. Will some characters feel comparably underpowered facing Acria? Absolutely. But overpowered characters as an isolated term is not neccessary. The emphasis should be placed on not putting yourself in a situation where you would die but increasing the chances of surviving if you do.


A character with a worthless destiny will probably never change things in the big picture in their life. They probably won't assassinate a member of the royal family, they probably won't start a revolution, they probably won't find an artifact of major power. I say probably because I like to keep the stance of "Anything is Possible" in this system. A street rat might, perchance, slit the throat of a noble when that noble is particularly vulnerable and the street rat probably never knew the noble's true identity. It is a possible event, but unlikely.

This makes plenty of sense but I want to clarify something here for my own purposes. Progression of blank slate character should be a priority. In other words RPers should never feel as if the blank slate can't become an intergal component of the plot.


A "plot" character is more easily explained, as we have a few of them currently in existence and they all suffer from Arena syndrome. I probably have the most, with two most notable being Acria and Sazil. These characters are necessary for certain plots devised by the developers to come to fruition, and are basically given immunity to anything that would impede that plot coming to pass. Acria might be faced by a captain of the guard and his men, but they won't be able to kill her. They may be able to maim her, among other things, but her presence is necessary for the story to unfold.

I agree some characters are important to the plot but frankly I don't believe anyone should be immune. Sure is it going to be more likely for Acria to escape a situation? Sure. And it probably has a lot more to do with the fact that she is a boss who can kill shit than anything else. But if she gets in a fight with that captain of the guard the same rules apply to her as everyone else and she should be more than capable of dying if the guard plays his cards right and Acria isn't reserved enough to escape.


Those are of course extremes, but they are necessary to be laid out to properly explain their effect on permanence of death. If two characters with worthless destinies find eachother at odds and aim to kill one another, they can both do everything they can to inflict and resist death. Such a fight could last a long time or mere moments before one falls depending on when a mistake is made and who made it. However, if a plot character were to be in conflict with a worthless character, if it is likely that the worthless character will die, they will probably just die.

Agreed.


With those extremes defined, the relative threat of permanent death can be established based on the degree of the characters' "Weight of Destiny" Rating. If they are the same, then both characters are of equal threat and the result likely relies on who makes the first mistake. If there is a gap, then one is less likely and one is more likely. and roleplaying should follow suit. The larger the gap, the more likely the character with the higher rating can basically say "you lose."

I think this applies more to the situation. As a higher rated character in a pitched battle is more capable of saying they fought the good fight and the other team loses. But frankly the higher rated character is probably going to be a greater warrior (most likely I suppose) and therefore stronger.

When groups are considered, the gap effects should be considered to be multiplicative, rather than additive. That is, there will be diminishing returns. If fifty worthless characters confront a plot character, the plot character will still in all probability win, but it will be far more challenging than facing one opponent. The same will be true against a hundred; more challenging than fifty, but they will not add up to a plot character.

Absolutely not. If five characters get together with a decent skill level and confront a plot character and put them in a situation to die then the plot character should die. That simple.

This is also a delicate concept and should not be considered with rigidity. Just because one character holds greater weight in the world than another does not mean the owner of that character can god-mod their way to victory. However, it also doesn't mean that the other character should only have normal difficulty killing the character with greater weight in the world.

Sure.

This also doesn't mean that a character is doomed to be worthless or will never fall from their status. A character may forge their destiny and prove themselves to be of more worth to the world than previously thought, or a character may squander their potential and show themselves to be nothing more than a glorified extra
.

Sure.

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Re: "Weight of Destiny" Rating

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:33 am

CromTheConqueror wrote:
I think this is a solid idea. I still think a certain amount of detailing is required but not to the extent that were currently demand. It should help noobies, saves times, and most importantly does a lot toward helping the death issue later.

Yep, we're on the same page.

I still do not believe any character should be overpowered. Are some characters going to be more powerful than others? Sure. Will some characters feel comparably underpowered facing Acria? Absolutely. But overpowered characters as an isolated term is not neccessary. The emphasis should be placed on not putting yourself in a situation where you would die but increasing the chances of surviving if you do.

Yes, that should be the emphasis. I did not mean that "Overpowered characters are necessary." One of the major end goals of the project is to end up having the players drive the world themselves. What I meant was that there will be characters that have special powers that make them seem far more powerful than others, that is 'overpowered'. The issue is making sure that the existence of such characters is kept minimal.


This makes plenty of sense but I want to clarify something here for my own purposes. Progression of blank slate character should be a priority. In other words RPers should never feel as if the blank slate can't become an intergal component of the plot.

Absolutely. That's what I meant in the last bit of the post, that even if you come from humble origins, you can forge your own destiny which may lead you to literally anywhere. However, the other point I was trying to convey was that RPers should never feel as though they are only limited to their beginning characters. They can forge on with them, or they can create new characters after they have some familiarity with the system and the roleplaying standards that the community will have.

I agree some characters are important to the plot but frankly I don't believe anyone should be immune. Sure is it going to be more likely for Acria to escape a situation? Sure. And it probably has a lot more to do with the fact that she is a boss who can kill shit than anything else. But if she gets in a fight with that captain of the guard the same rules apply to her as everyone else and she should be more than capable of dying if the guard plays his cards right and Acria isn't reserved enough to escape.

Right. What I was trying to say was a bit less literal though. It isn't "Haha, I have a plot character, I laugh in your face as I do silly things and kill you and even though you stabbed me I wasn't wounded, lolololol." It's more of an increased freedom to interpret the situation to your benefit, especially when making an escape. Roleplaying is, and always will be, an absolute must (after all, this is a story-driven non-numerical system). They can't do anything that doesn't already make sense. However, they can do things that are perhaps more unlikely if it benefits them in order to escape death. Plot immunity isn't a shield that blocks arrows or nulls spells, it's something that must be carefully and craftily used to deal with bad situations.

I think this applies more to the situation. As a higher rated character in a pitched battle is more capable of saying they fought the good fight and the other team loses. But frankly the higher rated character is probably going to be a greater warrior (most likely I suppose) and therefore stronger.

True. Though what I was saying has to do with roleplaying and how we never take control of another player's character. This is essentially "Hey, player of this character my character has been fighting. It's pretty clear that I've got the upper hand and my character has just issued a blow that is more likely than not a fatal one, and it's not that likely you'll be able to move out of the way. Unless you think you can solve the conflict by non-violent means, I believe your character should die." If it's a farmer against a thief, then the advantage has to be really clear. Otherwise, it doesn't need to be that great of an advantage (though an advantage must exist) and the request would naturally be more compelling.

Absolutely not. If five characters get together with a decent skill level and confront a plot character and put them in a situation to die then the plot character should die. That simple.

I think here is where we disagree as to the nature of plot characters. At least initially (in my opinion), to drive the story, there must be elements pulling the strings. As designers, we are entitled to craft that story as we see fit until such a time that the community begins to drive the story themselves. At that time, "plot" immunity will cease to exist, as those characters will be nothing more than powerful individuals who are important. This also isn't literal invulnerability that can be waved about as I said before.
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Re: "Weight of Destiny" Rating

Post by CromTheConqueror on Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:52 pm

I think here is where we disagree as to the nature of plot characters. At least initially (in my opinion), to drive the story, there must be elements pulling the strings. As designers, we are entitled to craft that story as we see fit until such a time that the community begins to drive the story themselves. At that time, "plot" immunity will cease to exist, as those characters will be nothing more than powerful individuals who are important. This also isn't literal invulnerability that can be waved about as I said before.

I don't disagree with the idea of an overarching plot ideal from the developers. But the end objective of a roleplaying site is to see the story driven forward by character (in other words the players). As such it is mandatory that the overarching plot ideal remain fluid. In other words it adapts and shifts based on the actions of the characters. For example were five characters of decent skill get together and hunt down Acria and for legitimate reasons are in a situation where it is viable for her to die - then she should have the option of dying. Simple as that. Then we as the developers will adapt the structure of the plot and the characters we control based on that.

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Re: "Weight of Destiny" Rating

Post by GrayWatch on Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:00 pm

I flat out do disagree with the ideal espoused that some character should be (functionally) immortal for plot reasons. If you want Event A to happen so badly then don't make one character responsible for it. Put a faction or a power bloc or an ancient cult or something behind. Sure players can tear that group a new one, but it's a group. You can always just say "but there was at least one member you didn't get and he completed the arcane ritual / assasinated the heir / convinced the king to <do stupid shit>.

I admit, in terms of functionality it's almost the same thing. In terms of not driving players to rage over the super speshul DM character that can't be killed or stopped it's much better. Groups can always have particularly charismatic, or dangerous characters if you want to put a threatening face on them, but these characters should be able to die. Basically I'm advocating a plan where everyone can die.

A "Weight Of Destiny" thing might give the player a bit more leeway in interpreting things or being permitted to "generate" scenery, and thus make it harder for them to die, but fundamentally Acria vs Random Farmer #103 should have a small, but non-zero chance of Acria getting impaled by a pitchfork and then subsequently giving the farmer the unsettling question of how best to dispose of a body. Unless he has pigs. In which case the answer is rather obvious.
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Re: "Weight of Destiny" Rating

Post by Admin on Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:09 am

CromTheConqueror wrote:
... until such a time that the community begins to drive the story themselves. At that time, "plot" immunity will cease to exist, as those characters will be nothing more than powerful individuals who are important. This also isn't literal invulnerability that can be waved about as I said before.

But the end objective of a roleplaying site is to see the story driven forward by character (in other words the players). As such it is mandatory that the overarching plot ideal remain fluid.

Then do we really disagree that much? I'm saying that until we reach that point, the developers are in charge of generating interesting events, since PCs likely aren't going to be able to do anything too interesting for a while.

Also, I'm not necessarily talking about an overarching plot that affects the entire world. The plotline I have in mind for Acria involves a lot of things, but it focuses mainly on her. Her actions will not have major repercussions in the world (Until Final Acria and the Champions campaign).


GrayWatch wrote:I flat out do disagree with the ideal espoused that some character should be (functionally) immortal for plot reasons. If you want Event A to happen so badly then don't make one character responsible for it. Put a faction or a power bloc or an ancient cult or something behind. Sure players can tear that group a new one, but it's a group. You can always just say "but there was at least one member you didn't get and he completed the arcane ritual / assasinated the heir / convinced the king to <do stupid shit>.

I admit, in terms of functionality it's almost the same thing. In terms of not driving players to rage over the super speshul DM character that can't be killed or stopped it's much better. Groups can always have particularly charismatic, or dangerous characters if you want to put a threatening face on them, but these characters should be able to die. Basically I'm advocating a plan where everyone can die.

So what you're saying is the same thing I'm saying, just I'm saying "not right at the start" and you're saying "immediately"? The 'group' issue can also be quite annoying to the player-base, but of course we won't be so illogical to repeatedly say "not -all- of them died in that mass extermination you guys performed for the third time..." In my opinion, that could even be worse than giving a plot character functional invulnerability. The character's actions must be repeatedly, logically justified. The group just has to say "We didn't all die" or "We had another cell operating over here." That said, the group idea isn't a bad one, it just needs to be executed properly.


Other than the (slight?) disagreement over plot characters, is the idea itself concerning non-plot PCs fighting other non-plot PCs a good one? That is, anyone can die, but the players of the characters who are more important have an easier time saying "This has been going on for a while, I have the advantage in the fight, and this is probably going to kill you, so your character should probably die now." in less forceful words?
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Re: "Weight of Destiny" Rating

Post by GrayWatch on Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:08 pm

I think I misspoke. I'm not entirely certain how to properly articulate what needs to be said here.

It involves the momentum of events, the recurrence of specific threats, the memetic attraction of fungible power, and it's corroding influence on humanity of it's bearers.

Sometimes things happen and there's not a whole lot anyone could have done about it, save as a delaying action. There are times when the creative, motive force of events is intransient, and more a function of the human condition rather than the madness or corruption of any one person or group of people.

I think the core idea here is that...how to put it?
Ah.
Okay a lot of fantasy books and video games (particularly RPGs) make a few assumptions. For a structured narrative with one central authority with a clear beginning and end these assumptions are wonderful. They make for good motivations, and satisfying conclusions.

But we're not making a structured narrative and once running we won't have a central authority over what is and is not going to happen, and while individual adventures of players may end, the overall narrative shouldn't. And these assumptions not only require, but force either a conclusion to all adventures, or sloppy writing and character degeneration.
We want to violate these assumptions.

And we actually can with one simple concept we have to really hammer home because everyone is going to come in trained to accept those prior assumptions.

Altruism has no reward.

I know it sounds like I'm rambling here but bear with me for a few more minutes.
If we hold true to that one concept, and remind people of it during character creation, then populate the world with sources of fungible power, then we don't need invulnerable plot PC's or inevitable groups, because the players themselves will provide all the conflict that we will ever need.

I see too many stories that end with "and then the hero returned to their backwoods town and lived happily ever after". Well the problem there is if altruism has no reward then the hero returns to the farm and finds it choked with weeds and there's a drought, and his adventures taught him nothing about running a successful farm, and he's not making enough to eat well and it's not fair, he saved the world and he deserves better, and because his adventures did teach him how to use a sword and lead men, and raise a revolution, and make someone a king... Well, the conclusion is obvious. And the events are self-perpetuating as a new hero rises up to stop the violent rebels...
In a world where all the PCs' and (important)NPCs' motivations were created with the "no altruism" rule in mind they fight not to "Save the kingdom" or "free the princess" but instead are fighting for their own happy ending. And in grasping for that happy ending they are almost inevitably denying it to others, whom will try to do something about that.

The trick isn't provide DMPC's of super-duper unstoppability to provide plot hooks. That is a bad idea. It generates a sense of futility when you can't stop them because their degree of success or failure is predetermined. You might kill them. Eventually. But not until they've done X and fulfilled their plot role. It gives the sense that your actions don't matter.

Instead we should provide the players with a world already in motion, where conflict is self-perpetuating. Fighting for your happy ending might get it for you, but it will spark someone else, somewhere else, perhaps a world away to start a new conflict, searching for their happy ending. Deciding to walk the path of peace and not grasping for your happy ending only causes the ongoing conflict to never stop.

Let the NPC's die or fail at any stage by any action of the players. If they fail? It does not matter. If they succeed? It does not matter. All that matters is that you keep the players from a satisfying conclusion, unless that conclusion would spark another player/established NPC to start a conflict.

Basically a world where ending conflict causes new conflict, and refusing to start conflict only causes ongoing conflict to grow out of control.
Considering the fluff around Kar'kaish, I think this system would fit like a glove.
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Re: "Weight of Destiny" Rating

Post by MidgetNinja on Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:50 pm

BI makes a good point, and upon reflection he makes a lot of good points, but I also think he's kind've tactfully ignoring several points Chaos, or at least through the use of hyperbole, making seem as though he is.

Look, total player control is a good idea in principle, but speaking as a guy whose done DM runs before, it's only inviting pure nonsensical chaos in execution. Now this is a method to both avoid that, and encourage good rp skills, and directed semi controlled plot arcs, and I'm personally a fan of it.

I think there should be a limit too it, and the characters given shouldn't be as overpowered as BI seems to think they are, but aside from that I'm all for it.

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