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Character Sheet Stat Balancing

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ssm
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I am working on a simple 2 player card battle game using blackjack as the base. That part is done. Now I am working on character cards, which mostly come into play at the end for scoring.
Right now I am going about it the way I always have- Attack, Defense, Health- with a total for those 3 that each character will meet. ie: 25 total, so one may be 11 A, 7 D, 7 H, another would be 8 A, 12 D, 5 H. They always total 25.

I am wondering if anyone can point me to something that really delves into creating character stats in a 'proper' way? Something that explains the ins & outs of balancing character stats.

It works as it is, but I would like to explore different ways to do this.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

questccg
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Whatever works best

I don't think there are "default" character stat systems. Unless you go with something like the d20 system by AD&D. There are also newer systems such a FATE or Fudge ... you can take a look into those. Both are for RPGs. So dungeon delving applies in this context.

Aside from that you can look at other "Dungeon-esque" games such as Heroscape which has both a configuration restriction and a simple combat mechanic.

It's hard to pin point you in a specific direction -- because there are so many ways that combat and stats work together. That's the challenge: once you are happy with your stats, now you need to design a combat-resolution system which will allow players to actually PLAY the game.

But I've given you a couple of systems to take a look at. So good luck!

JohnBrieger
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I don't think there is such a guide

I don't think there is such a guide, as doing that type of mathematical balancing is different for each game. Keep in mind you aren't really balancing the "stats" as much as you are balancing the character as a whole. So to do that, you need to balance by looking at the impact of each stat on the game.

So adding all the stats to 25 only works if each stat impacts the game stat the same amount.

Then there are things like how you want the game to feel. You might want every character to have a baseline minimum health, and a maximum amount of damage that's less than that so that there are no characters who can kill another character in a single blow etc. These design decisions are just examples, but it shows how your stats should be tied into the play experience of your game.

For example, in Beneath the Mists, we wanted people to success SLIGHTLY more on offense so that damage gets done, but defenders win ties in our system, so the average offense stats are slightly higher than the average defense stats.

So it really is a case by case basis.

I'd be happy to chat balancing any time if you have specific questions!

X3M
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Balancing

Balancing a game, really depends on how your combat mechanics work.

There is no clear guide on it. Since each game needs its own guide. But it helps finding that guide, by simply putting it to a test.

Experimenting with extreme figures.
Don't stick with close to average numbers. Then you can't see possible mistakes that might have slipped in.

Try the maximum and minimum. 23 to 25 and 1 or even 0.

Can they all work? Or are there reasons why they don't work?
0 health is a given, of course. A character without health can't live.
But what about 0 defence or 0 attack?

If a character dies really, really fast with 0 defence. Perhaps defence should not simply be added up to health. But it is more of a factor instead.
In most games that I know. If defence and health are used together. They multiply somehow.
And if attack needs to be able to break through some defence. Than a higher number works in a faster growing number of cases.

Maybe adding the 3 stats up isn't the best way to go with. But I don't know your combat mechanic either.

ssm
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Thank you everyone so far. I

Thank you everyone so far.
I have grabbed the reference document for Fudge & will go through it soon.
The system works with extremes to very balanced numbers.

The game works the way I have it, but not well. I now realize I how need to balance it. I am interested in how other games determine the stats with abilities, I have never read about it. What you said John & x3m helped kick in a different thought process.

questccg
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Oh and BTW...

FATE used to be "pay-as-you-like"... Now it seems they have changed their policies to be $5 USD for the FATE Accelerated and "core" systems. That's too bad -- because I got a couple copies of each FREE a short while back.

I also grabbed a copy of Fudge a while back too! I have a copy of the 1995 Edition... Which was also FREE too...

But look around at other games that might be in the same "domain". It will give more ideas how they have designed their stats/combat systems. You also need to figure out are you using cards and dice too or purely stats like Magic: the Gathering (for example).

This is my 2nd try at designing a combat system, this one is a little more complete -- but is sort of based on the FATE ladder (in principle).

Cheers.

Mosker
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Thought and question(s)

Many of the crunchier RPG's--or at least the ones with 1000's of pages of regularly used if not core rules--lead many players to a "min-max" situation, where something is used as a dump stat and everything the player does works toward maximizing strengths.

That said...

ssm wrote:
...Now I am working on character cards, which mostly come into play at the end for scoring.

With this in mind, how important are the stats to the actual in-game interactions? Also, how does your theme fit into this? Does the player have multiple characters, and if so, how does balance affect success? (One of my favorite Internet RPG memes reminds us that The Hobbit had a herd of dwarven warriors, one novice thief, and one wizard) Can lack of balance be more fun? Can it succeed? How long is the game? In a short game, chaos, lack of balance are not necessarily fatal flaws.

ssm
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The stats don't play in until

The stats don't play in until the very end. 1 character per player. It is relatively short to play.
I have figured out that I need to balance the stats with the possible cards each player ends up with.

Right now it is 12 hands of blackjack head-to-head with modified rules, the players have a random character, and keep the cards won during a hand. Each card has actions/abilities, but those ultimately deal with scoring, like anytime a joker is played you get it when hand is done, or discard 6 hearts, or number of spades are doubled.
When the hands are done the cards are totaled, then the character stats go against each other with health as a rollover.

It works well, but I was playing it where you didn't know the character until hands were played, but decided to allow characters to be seen to allow for more in-game decisions and tailoring win/loss for your character & how it benefits that game.

The way I was doing it worked and changed the outcome about 50% of the time (I got killed in bj part but came back to win by 1-4 points in the end).

pelle
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FATE rules are (were?)

FATE rules are (were?) creative commons licensed, so anyone can share copies for free if they want to, even if they might cost $5 when getting a copy from the company that makes them.

ssm
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Fate came out of the Fudge

Fate came out of the Fudge system. The F in Fate apparently at one time stood for Fudge.

questccg
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Fudge is more stat-based

ssm wrote:
Fate came out of the Fudge system. The F in Fate apparently at one time stood for Fudge.

Well for one thing, Fudge still uses stats. FATE uses a more "abstract" type of representation... You don't have STR = 10 (Strength), instead you have abilities that are on a ladder like Good = "Bash down doors quickly as if it was cardboard".

Something like that. I'm not sure how FATE handles "combat" either. I think my own stat/combat system is more like "Fudge" even though I looked at the FATE system first.

I have stats -- but very simplified.

And then each stat has its own ladder like 4 (Novice), 5 (Familiar), 6 (Average), 7 (Expert) and 8 (Master), this could be a "Holy Mace" (Basic attack).

Each enemy has a "Resistance" value, like "7" for an Ogre. If your "Holy Mace" has been unlocked to the "Average" (6) level, you need to roll +1 or +2 to inflict wounds on the Ogre (7 or 8). You roll two (2) Fudge dice... And depending on the outcome, you roll a Damage die and apply damage tokens to the enemy (in this case the Ogre).

Very simplified -- but also flexible enough for delving and earning experience (XP) which allows you to "upgrade" your character or earn some more "Mana" for spells.

But so far, I'm very pleased with the system. It seems like it will work nicely and have some depth.

questccg
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Depth and a bit of realism too

What I LIKE about my "Stat/Combat" system is that it adds REALISM to the encounters.

For example, let's say a Wizard is using a "Ceremonial Dagger" and has unlocked it to "Average" (or 3). Now if he were to attack an Ogre with resistance "7" -- it would be IMPOSSIBLE. And I like this because it adds realism.

How can someone with only a Dagger inflict wounds on a big, bad Ogre... And that's something else I like about the ladders, they allow players to CUSTOMIZE their characters such that maybe that SAME Wizard has an "Oak Staff" and unlocked to "Average" (or 5)... Now it's possible - but not probable...

So since they are Wizards, for this big brute, they'll have to use MAGIC or spells to defeat the Ogre...

Note: It also helps me refine the "Resistance" level of the enemies such that it is gradually possible to encounter more and more tougher opposition -- but still be able to win the encounter...

questccg
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Fudge dice

I also decided to purchase a set of 12 pearl OLYMPIC Fudge dice.

I think they look pretty decent! I will use them for my ONE and only prototype of the game...

In my game it's 2 dice per player and therefore anywhere from 3 to 6 players.

X3M
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ssm wrote: I am interested in

ssm wrote:
I am interested in how other games determine the stats with abilities, I have never read about it.

Abilities are often special properties that you assign to a character. These are the hardest to balance. And even I recommend here to do trial for error.

Unless they are purely math based as well. Then you might attempt to get a formula for it.
I have math based abilities. But I had to study my basic combat mechanic for a long time. Including all the abilities that I had thought of until the next ability. And I still had to do the trial for error, just to prove to myself that the formula was correct or not.

questccg wrote:
How can someone with only a Dagger inflict wounds on a big, bad Ogre...

I had Snipers, defeating the lightest of tanks. Then I went for special abilities. Like a shifted ammount of "accuracy" on unit types. On top of my basic system.
I tried/trialled a lot for this one, since it is one of the most important factors in a game, named; "LOGIC".
Still seeking to simplify it one step further though.

"Hey there, good looking fudge dice!"

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