Thoughts on Stat Types and Skills

So I’m thinking of going with just a few types of stats for the dungeon crawler I’m prototyping:

Strength – how much a character can carry and modifies the damage done with melee weapons
Dexterity – helps determine if a character hits during combat and how well he performs skills like lockpicking
Agility – how well a character moves and dodges during combat and performs skills like climbing
Constitution – helps determine a character ability to soak up damage, whether in combat or due to things like poison. Fairly standard.
Intelligence – overall stat for character’s mental abilities, includes will power in resisting magical spells like illusions, ability to learn spells, etc. I can’t think of a better term for this.

I don’t want to overdo this, but I want some flexibility and “realism” (quoted because I mean realistic in the game world, not necessarily in this one :D). Some RPG systems lump agility and dexterity together into one stat, which I think doesn’t fit. A character could be a great lockpicker but horrible at dodging blows in combat or a great swordsman but doesn’t climb very well, so one stat for both is kind of silly.

For skills, the usual dungeon crawler types of actions will need to be done by a character, besides combat. Lockpicking, the ability to find things that don’t want to be easily found (traps, secret door, etc.), climbing (maybe, for getting out of pits if I implement them), sneaking up on other entities. I’m not sure how deep I want to go here. Implementing skills means dealing with allowing a character to become better at them, and I’ve never really liked many skill progression systems. “Realistically”, a character would get better at things the more they do them, as in games like Dungeon Siege. That’s a good bit of work to handle. Less realistic is allowing a character to “train” at skills by spending skill points. Easier to implement, but just feels wrong.

7 Comments

  1. DaveVoyles says:

    I think you are taking the correct approach with stats.

    I also believe that for stat progression, the best bet is to improve the skills/stats as players use them. Sure, they can put a paperweight on the spacebar to improve their jump still over time, but this definitely is more rewarding than just pumping numbers into the stat pool.

    Then again, I did like that aspect of Diablo where I am always thinking “just a little bit more…. just a bit more….” and knowing that I can get the next piece of armor in a few more levels once I improve a certain stat.

  2. Mach X Games says:

    I think it’s going to require a lot of thinking before I decide which way to go. It may be that stat/skill progression becomes a post-release patch. I’d actually like to finish this . :)

  3. MistyManor says:

    I like the fewer stats approach. Those stats used for all skills.

    Not particulary realistic but I find huge lists of skills become the aim of the game instead of the adventures themselves.

    In Oblivion I stopped leveling up at level 16 because it was no longer fun. Skyrim forces level up for other reasons but I only do it because it is there. I prefer collecting the best armour and weapons and playing the missions to get them.

    Specifically on your chosen stats:
    I like Stength and Constitution for the reasons you have stated.
    In my opinion the terms Dexterity and Agility are too similar and it will confuse people. Agility is correct for things like climbing and making and dodging attacks and I agree it is not right for lock picking. Dexterity is the correct term for the other but is too close in meaning I think you need another word for it, not Dexterity. How about Manipulation.
    I have never liked the use of Intelligence in an RPG. It means something for NPCs but players cannot help but use their own intelligence. I prefer Power or Will for use with magic and perhaps Education as a general skill catch all.

    I hope some of that helps.

    Regards
    John

  4. Mach X Games says:

    I think most RPGers will understand the difference between Dexterity and Agility. As I said, Intelligence isn’t perfect, but I can’t think of something that covers every area from resisting spells to learning things. It’s something that can be changed without difficulty something better comes along.

    Thanks for the comments!

  5. Bitbridge says:

    You might want to add something like “willpower” which helps to resist spells and elemental stuff or something like that. So it’d be Dexterity & Agility (D&A) and Intelligence & Willpower.

    For me, it feels weird to have D&A, but only Intelligence. Of course, I’m not quite sure how well this would perform in a real game. People that want to resist spells, but mainly do dmg using melee weapon (or like to use those) will still be good in using spells, which makes Intelligence as a “defense choice” seem inefficient. It’s like people should use spells to do damage, when they want to resist spells.

    However, you could still say, that people using melee weapons should rather try to avoid spells (Agility). Not really sure, what could be the best choise. Just writing down some thoughts.

  6. Mach X Games says:

    I thought about Willpower, but it seemed unnecessary just for resist spell ability. Maybe changing Intelligence to Mental Strength or Mental Ability to make it clearer? Or would that just muddy the waters.

    “People that want to resist spells, but mainly do dmg using melee weapon (or like to use those) will still be good in using spells…”

    Not necessarily. They would still need the skill to learn spells while resisting spells in innate. A high Intelligence doesn’t mean they can automatically learn spells. It just means they’ll learn skills better/quicker than someone with lower Intelligence. That probably wasn’t very clear.

  7. Bitbridge says:

    Something like “Mental Strength” would actually make it clearer for me and thus make more sense. However, the term “Intelligence” is used in so many games, that people automatically think about magic stuff/spells, so it would probably be better to stick with it. People will just need to know that it helps resisting spells.

    Yeah, your last paragraph made it a lot clearer for me. I guess this should be just fine.

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