It's time to change the way stats work and are rolled

Started by Roon, February 12, 2024, 09:09:16 PM

Stats have been a touchy subject since... forever, I expect. It seems we have a thread or two discussing this issue every year, and while there are some who insist that everything's just fine and nothing needs to change, it's clear that a lot of players feel differently about it. Since changes to the stat system are on Halaster's list of items for the seasons project (even if an actual overhaul is on the "stretch" list), I think this is as good a time as any to really talk about the issue.

There are two particular problems with the way stats have worked all these years:


1) Stats are not created equal. While an impeccable equilibrium between all four stats for all characters is probably both a pipe dream and also kind of unrealistic (surely strength should matter more than wisdom for a mercenary), they could still be brought closer together in usefulness. There was a semi-recent change to the way strength and agility perform, and although it was a step in the right direction, the destination is a ways further down the road and one step didn't get us there. Issues:

- Strength is still better than agility. That's probably fair enough in and of itself - I think the reason we place such emphasis on physical strength in real life is because it just counts for more - but I don't think agility was buffed enough. The bonus to minimum damage is barely noticeable, even for elves on the upper end of that race's agility spectrum, and even less significant for non-elves. High agility also makes it more difficult to raise your combat skills, so many of that stat's inherent advantages diminish over time because you simply miss out on skillgains that less agile characters will gain by not having those bonuses. In a game where failure is the only way to gain, this is a problem, especially for elves who don't really have the option to "build" any other way.

- This is a little tangential, but in my experience, the overhaul of weapon quality vastly favors large weapons. This is a blow to weaker characters. Absolutely every weapon I've seen of 'very good' or 'amazing' quality has been some sort of bastard sword, two-handed spear, or other large weapon that characters without high strength are penalized for using. Doubly so because agility-based characters are encouraged to go with dual-wielding, since that's formally the agility style, whereas two-handing is only worth doing if you're strong. It doesn't seem like anyone bothered to make light weapons above 'good' quality.

- Wisdom is almost irrelevant to anyone who cares at all about the physical stats. It just doesn't do enough. Its effects on the skill timer are largely irrelevant because non-combat skills are easy to raise no matter what your wisdom is, and combat skills quickly become so hard to raise that having a fast skill timer isn't helpful. If you're lucky to gain one point every 10-20 hours of play, it doesn't really matter whether your skill timer is two or three hours. Instead, wisdom should affect your chance to gain on a failure for the skills that work that way, or the number of points you gain for skills that go up by a varying number of points each time. This would make the stat much more worthwhile for everyone.

- More on wisdom: its bonus to perception skills is completely dwarfed by agility's bonus to stealth skills. You need a rather high wisdom to have any bonus at all, and an equivalent amount of agility gives more to stealth skills than wisdom does to perception skills. You also don't get a penalty to perception skills unless your wisdom is so low that probably only half-giants need to care about it. This creates a situation where you can safely ignore the stat with the knowledge that it cost you nothing. Increasing the bonuses to perception skills and raising the floor at which penalties arise will make the stat more worthwhile even for combat characters. As it stands, there's just no opportunity cost to ignoring wisdom.

- Endurance is reasonably balanced as far as hit points and stun go, but I don't think its impact on stamina is big enough. When it comes to travelling on foot, there should be a noticeable difference between low and high endurance. There currently isn't. We could easily double the amount of raw stamina that endurance gives, and also make stamina recovery much faster for characters with high endurance. I think it should be feasible for a human, half-elf or dwarf with high endurance to travel on foot, so long as they aren't trying to get from one end of the Known World to the other in one day.


2) Stats are way too random. You could make two characters of the exact same age, class and race, and one might come out EX/EG/VG/G while the other gets VG/AA/BA/P. This is just not okay. Stats have way too big an impact on a character's coded capabilities for this degree of randomness to be acceptable. It isn't 1995 anymore. The entire gaming industry has moved on from such relics of the distant past, and even in the niche realm of RPIs, nothing good comes from having such a vast gulf of random, undeserved potential between one character and the next. It leads to wanton suicides, it determines a character's likelihood of longevity (and therefore your chances of plot involvement, leadership positions, karma awards and general enjoyment of the game), and it just has no place in this day and age. Arguments:

- Randomized stats were okay in the ancient days of D&D when gameplay revolved around groups of IRL friends sitting at a table, everyone on the same team, with a Dungeon Master who could throw Steve a bone because his character had awful stats or put a little extra pressure on Bob because he was a godlike monster through sheer luck of the dice. D&D also features countless ways to change your stats through magic items, widely-available spells, and so on. Armagedddon does not have any of these things that mitigate the setback of rolling poor stats, or the advantage of great stats.

- In a game with universal FFA PvP, it just isn't healthy to have this degree of randomness. Stats have a very big impact on your character's coded potential, especially in melee combat, and a game that boasts a motto of "murder, corruption and betrayal" cannot afford to have a stat system that makes makes such a difference in your potential to live up to this motto. In many cases, the actual life that your character has lived counts for less than the stats you rolled at creation, and this is simply not conducive to a good storytelling environment.

- Since the "go-to playstyle" of Armageddon is a mundane human character, it is much too easy to roll up one after another who all have very unfortunate accidents after two hours of play until you finally figure out how not to drown in the Silt Sea once you roll AI/EX/VG/VG. This level of randomization rewards cheating, plain and simple. It also makes karma/spec-app characters much more vulnerable to the dreaded curse of "oh for fuck sake, my highest roll was Very Good," and then you're stuck with that. No good comes of this.


I think there are three possible solutions to problem #2:

1) A simple points-buy system. It's not my personal preference because it's very gamey, but it is undoubtedly a fair way to handle it. Anyone who has played just about any D&D-inspired game in the last twenty-five years knows how this works, so no need to elaborate.

2) A much less granular system where you choose one Poor, one Average, one Good and one Exceptional stat. Things like age, class and temporary effects can then shift these along the scale that we're familiar with, but everyone's base stats are the same, with race determining what actual numbers are behind these descriptors. This is particularly fair to new players and those who don't have much familiarity with the code, erasing practically any opportunity to min-max for an optimized setup. Maybe the option to choose between EX/G/A/P and G/G/AA/A, for those who want a more balanced spread. I think it's the most roleplay-centric approach where nobody ever has any possible reason to complain about the outcome.

3) A fixed pool of total stats that is rolled with a degree of randomness that determines the spread, always with the same final sum (according to race) which is then adjusted by things like age and class. It leaves room for characters to be different but removes the chance for anyone to be objectively better or worse than the norm. You might roll highs and lows or a more even spread, but the sum of your parts is set in stone.

Whatever solution is chosen, I really think one of these will massively improve the game, at the cost of... nothing, to be honest. Who benefits from the way stats have worked up until now? What is lost from changing it? When someone insists that things should stay the way they were, it always makes me think: "are you just trying to protect an advantage you make use of?" To be perfectly honest, I have never heard an argument in favor of the current stat system that didn't make me think the person voicing it was either full of shit or uninformed.

I think over the years of discussion on this, the best idea has been:
1) Keep the random generation, perhaps even as the default.  Make it the only way to get 'amazing' stat rolls, but at the cost of risking a poorer roll as well.
2) Add an option to do point buy, but make it so that you do not have enough points to have truly great stats.  Instead, you've got the ability to have one great stat at the cost of the other 3, or all decently above average, etc.

I do like the random rolls in the game.  And I don't think people should be able to just 'choose' the great stat rolls just because they want to play uber warrior.  But they can theme it.  And if you want to risk it, you might play uber warrior stats (though most of the time, I personally die when I get awesome stats, haha).

If there were a time to inspect it, I would agree it's now, but I'm not sure if that's on our plate with whatever else is getting done (this stuff is time consuming, you know).
She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together. --J.D. Salinger

I am on board with the idea of altering "Prioritization" to Roon's second idea.

I know I am playing a fighter. I want strength to be high. On a scale of 1-20, I am looking for 14.
So you let people set "I want VG strength" but VG spans 2-4 points.

Randomness, but still at a range you want.
Quote from: IAmJacksOpinion on May 20, 2013, 11:16:52 PM
Masks are the Armageddon equivalent of Ed Hardy shirts.

Balance stats so their benefits and penalties are more equally weighted for various skills/purposes.

Point-buy system, tried and true and tested and used across the majority of roleplay games everywhere, it just works whenever you're expected to design a character archetype and roleplay it for any extended length of time. The fact that a player can be left feeling cheated or upset from a random stat roll is not conductive to keeping people in play at your gaming table. Some people don't care if they roll bad stats, but some/many do and it's a definitive hit to the enjoyment they feel when they first login with a concept they're excited to play and have been dreaming of where that character might be months from now.

I'd love to see the higher ends of stats be gated behind in game progression in some manner, whether that's character birthdays, training, skill-use, clan-based, daily-logins or whatever. Maybe you can only point-buy to 16 agility at character gen, but through play you get the option to add a pt to a stat, eventually being able to reach your races cap of 19 or whatever. Accessible sources of progression and reward give people something to reach for.

-Balance the pros cons to stat weights across the board and how they interact with skills to encourage multiple class archetypes.
-Switch to point-buy, remove randomness.
-Racial attribute maximum only reachable through in game progression.
Arm quotes from the days of old:
Runner - Where are you?
Byn Sergeant - Just sittin'... in the shade... of the Shield Wall.
Runner - You fell didn't you?
Sergeant - Never speak of this.

February 15, 2024, 09:02:17 PM #4 Last Edit: February 15, 2024, 09:05:57 PM by Lizzie
I think maybe one way to improve stat rolls:

You get your roll, based on the RNG plus the formulae for race, age, guild, etc.  No prioritizing, you get what you get. No stats in this roll will be higher than "extremely good."  Keep in mind there are already built-in bonuses for certain things already, and those are factored in to this roll. So it's /likely/ that a 25-year-old 8 ten-stone human combat-heavy main guild is not ever going to roll a "poor" strength.

And THEN - you can apply an extra 10 points, and allocate them however you want. If you get a below average strength on that combat character you can add the whole 10 points to it. Or if you get a decent strength stat but sucky wisdom, you can add 8 points to that, and top off your "above average" agility with an extra 2 points if that floats your boat.

It doesn't have to be an extra 10 points, it could be some other number. I'm being arbitrary.

Point is: get the stat roll however you get it - maybe even still allow a reroll/reroll undo. But allow for added bonus allocation, and make it so everyone gets the exact same bonus, however many points that is.

Another option would be to have a total point allocation opportunity. Four attributes, 300 points. Assign them however you want. You can try to even them out, or you can make one attribute heavier than another, and even out the middle two. You custom-create your stat allocation, but no one gets an AI, and the higher you allocate for one stat, the fewer points you have available to allocate to the others.
Talia said: Notice to all: Do not mess with Lizzie's GDB. She will cut you.
Delirium said: Notice to all: do not mess with Lizzie's soap. She will cut you.

February 15, 2024, 10:29:05 PM #5 Last Edit: February 26, 2024, 09:19:52 PM by Dresan
If you remove the randomness we'll just get cookie cutter builds that min-max.

That said rolling above to below average across the board hurts but usually re-roll takes care of a case of tremendously bad luck. They removed penalties for super low strength, I've had no issues playing with elves with just 'good' strength but reckon I could probably now play with above average or perhaps average, but would still not put this my lowest priority with an elf though. If they were just a tad more generous with carry weight at low strength levels that would change.

Wisdom does need love since even elven wisdom is lackluster,  I did see my elf shrug off some interesting things that could be attributed to high wisdom but unsure. I think the staff should be more transparent with this stat in the documentation. Though let me just add strong stealth is a positive to the game. 

The only changes I would like to see is:
1. A slightly stronger bonus for your first priority but for everything else let RNG Jesus take the wheel.
2. I would like to see age stop reducing/increasing max stat levels and only take effect at super advance age levels. (minor gripe but there it is)
3. I would like to see a spice overhaul, current spice code is a hinderance to various aspects of the game.

Other than that I want to see code added to let people choose +1 to any stats (with limits) or +1 boost to any skill (with limit) to any mundane race/class combo, not so much to help with stat rolls/grind but rather as a way to further entice people play mundane race/classes.

Most of all, I just want this kind of nonsense to no longer be a thing:

Your strength is above average, your agility is extremely good,
  your wisdom is poor, and your endurance is average.

>reroll self

Your strength is now extremely good, your agility is now exceptional,
  your wisdom is now good, and your endurance is now extremely good.

Quote from: Dresan on February 15, 2024, 10:29:05 PMIf you remove the randomness we'll just get cookie cutter builds that min-max.

What stats I've rolled has never changed the way I play my character, just the effectiveness of it. I don't even know what you could mean by 'builds' honestly, you choose your guild and your priority before you see what your stats are. The only thing I can even imagine is not taking a subguild and then taking a subguild based on what stats you get? But even then what stat is your highest and lowest wont change so I don't understand the logic here. Armageddon isn't like dnd, there's no feats, skill points or anything like that, the only 'build' choices are your stat priority, race, guild and subguild.

Maybe I don't understand but I don't how this would effect the variety of 'builds'.
I was told this game was full of twinks, all I found was power gamers.

"bruiser build"
Class/Subclass with high bludgeoning and defensive capabilities like parry and disarm
stat rolls - VG strength minimum, will be using two handed so dumpstat wisdom. Point Buy for 18 strength, 15 endurance, 9 wis 9 agility (or whatever)

Thats how "builds" would happen. The 'ideal' way to build a concept.
Quote from: IAmJacksOpinion on May 20, 2013, 11:16:52 PM
Masks are the Armageddon equivalent of Ed Hardy shirts.

Honestly if it means that same min maxer isn't able to suicide for exc/eg/eg/vg and has to at least pick some sort of strategical weakness it's better than now. And I don't think 'just raise every stat to above average as a base' is a solution, because I've literally seen that on a "similar" game, and then the people obsessing over stats just up the bar of what they consider unplayable in an unreasonable fashion.

Just do some simple stat arrays that vary based on race that prioritize one stat without dumping any others, plus an even one. 

IDK the random stats add some flavor too.  I rolled a dwarf with ai agility and poor strength and it was kind of a bias breaker.  He was fast and weak and relatively intelligent so his skills went up fast.  Combat was awful, but he managed to stay alive for 30 days played.  He died to a <redacted> while exploring <redacted> and would have died even if he had more strength. 
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