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Reputation vs. Alignment System

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questccg
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In "Monster Keep" (MK), I have defined two distinctive SYSTEMS that are part of the game (or could be depending on your feedback).

Reputation System:

There are nine (9) Races, each one having its own Reputation. They are:

  • Paragon
  • Noble
  • Honorable
  • Mercenary
  • Neutral
  • Anarchist
  • Corrupt
  • Outlaw
  • Diabolic

Alignment System:

  • Lawful Good
  • Neutral Good
  • Chaotic Good
  • Lawful Neutral
  • True Neutral
  • Chaotic Neutral
  • Lawful Evil
  • Neutral Evil
  • Chaotic Evil

Game Classes:

  • Humans - Order
  • High Elves - Life
  • Dwarves - Storm
  • Gnomes - Technology
  • Wood Elves - Nature
  • Dark Elves - Chaos
  • Undead - Death
  • Giants - Frost
  • Orcs - Fire

For various reasons, I find the Alignment system more "of value". It RE-GROUPS classes into different categories. My problem is that this is Copyright material from AD&D ... But I have a work-around for the presentation of this system...

The Reputation system presents as described each classes reputation. While cool, it seems to be a bit "redundant".

So my question is?

Can someone "think-up" a SYSTEM which could be like the AD&D Alignment system ... but be inspired by the "Reputation" system??? I'm trying not to infringe on the AD&D Alignment system.

Specifically let me show you what I have already...

Instead of "Good/Neural/Evil", I have "Heroic/Mercenary/Villainous"

But what I NEED is a REPLACEMENT for "Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic"... And I was thinking along the lines of "religion" or something similar. I think I'm onto "something" ... just need some HELP to figure out the LAST bit.

Anyone have any thoughts???

questccg
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Some of my early "thoughts" are...

"Civilized/Impartial/Savage"

But I'm not so sure it's as GOOD as "Heroic/Mercenary/Villainous" classification... For "Good/Neutral/Evil"

Definitely need some INPUT...!

Some analysis goes like this:

  • Civilized: respectful, obedient, controlled.
  • Impartial: unbiased, neutral, fair.
  • Savage: fierce, violent, uncontrolled.

Is this "not too bad"???

I'm not sure... I'm trying to work with class "Behavior", how the race "behaves" in its existence...

  • "Dwarves" are Heroic but Savage.
  • "Wood Elves" are Mercenary but Impartial.
  • "Undead" are Villainous but Civilized.

It KINDA works... what do you guys think???

questccg
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Here is what I have ... doing some more "research"

Heroic/Impartial/Villainous: To define their "character".

Civilized/Temperate/Savage: To define their "behavior".

  • Heroic and Civilized = Humans
  • Heroic and Temperate = High Elves
  • Heroic and Savage = Dwarves
  • Impartial and Civilized = Gnomes
  • Impartial and Temperate = Wood Elves
  • Impartial and Savage = Dark Elves
  • Villainous and Civilized = Undead
  • Villainous and Temperate = Giants
  • Villainous and Savage = Orcs

I think this "pretty decent"??? Any one care to share his/her thoughts on the matter...? I know it's still not 100% perfect!

Many thanks.

questccg
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Some additional "thoughts"

questccg wrote:
Heroic/Impartial/Villainous: To define their "character".

Maybe Heroic/Neutral/Villainous might be better!? Since it seems like being "Impartial" means "just" and "fair", where as Neutral means "un-involved"...

questccg wrote:
Civilized/Temperate/Savage: To define their "behavior".

I really like this triad of "behaviors".

"character" (or Personality) is "what we are" and cannot change. Where as "behavior" is "what we do" and can be changed.

Tim Edwards
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I don't think 'impartial'

I don't think 'impartial' works. The rubric sounds strange and the descriptors look unambiguously 'good' to me.

Also, 'civilised' (sorry for the British spelling) might not be the best word. Although I would accept that 'civilised' doesn't mean 'the good guys' because a civilised society might also be incredibly nasty, the word has strong positive connotations.

Perhaps 'orderly' might be a replacement. It could describe King Arthur's Court - and Nazi Germany.

Likewise, while 'savage' needn't mean 'bad guys', it has that connotation. Other than the antiquated 'noble savage' term, it's a stretch to expect people to take 'savage' as anything other than horrible and violent.

Maybe, 'wild' is a more flexible term?

So:

Orderly vs Wild?

for labelling the 'middle' category, you have to think carefully about that it actually means. If an orderly race emphasises law and structure, and a wild race despises formal laws and emphasises individualism, the middle category would be a race that -

- is flexible
- is pragmatic

Maybe those could be useable terms, or something similar?

I dunno. It's a nuanced issue. This is just food for thought.

Tim Edwards
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Ah, I didn't read this in

Ah, I didn't read this in time. Yes, I think 'Impartial' makes more sense in that set.

wob
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i think you mostly have it

i think you mostly have it questccg. you could replace "savage" with "anarchic" or even "nihilist". "civilized" could become "righteous" .
luckily your writing in english, so your words can almost mean anything. the language is such a mongrel, and an old one, that most words have several definitions ( "set" has over 450). better still the differences between the definitions can vary from barley a change at all to completely unrelated and ,more often than is useful, the complete opposite (an auto-antonym eg. dust)
my point is that as long as you explain the differences at the start you should be fine.

FrankM
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Other dimensions

How ingrained are good/evil and law/chaos into the game system? It sounds like these are culture-level measurements, and that individuals would have a reputation of how well they live up to those cultural norms. There are, for example, Hofstede's cultural dimensions, though they were developed several decades ago and could use an update on some of the labels.

  • Power Distance: Egalitarian at the low end and hereditary systems at the high end
  • Collectivism: Individualist to "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few"
  • Uncertainty Avoidance: Fine with uncertainty to neurotic with preparations (real-world societies all rank medium to high on this)
  • Masculinity: Basically measures the gap in expectations across genders, which in the original surveys linked with more respect for individual heroism (obviously two distinct traits, may have been too correlated in the late 60s to early 70s to separate them)
  • Long-term Orientation: Immediate hedonism at the low end to generation-spanning thinking at the high end
  • Indulgence: At the low end society "controls gratification ... by means of strict social norms" and at the high end individuals have "relatively free gratification of basic and natural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun"

Not saying these exact dimensions are what you need, but the best way to avoid your game looking like it uses a good/evil axis and a law/chaos axis is to not use a good/evil axis or a law/chaos axis.

For example, a mashup of "collectivism," "masculinity," and "law/chaos" would be the degree to which individuals are praised for personal heroism/initiative or being an effective cog in the machine.

let-off studios
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Alignment Usefulness/Utility

What is the purpose of alignment in the game? Is this just flavour and theme-related stuff, or are there actually mechanically-related consequences of these alignments interacting?

What would be the consequences in game of having "Outlaw Humans" or "Noble Giants"?

questccg
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Ok ... so there are some questions to answer - first

The goal of the "Double-Axis" is to allow for "re-grouping" into categories the various races... A race governed by "Martial Law" might have a strong penchant for battling "lawful" races... So the "Badlands of K'hor", the world of the Savage Orcs, would engage into conflict races with diametric values. So NEXUS card can have bonuses depending on the "realm" the players are battling in...

Secondly I wanted to use the "re-grouping" (in whatever logical shape possible) to categorize a SET of races. If I say "Heroic", this corresponds to three (3) races: Humans, High-Elves and Dwarves. What changes is the "struture" and behavior socially: Civilized, Moderate and Savage.

I am trying HARD to use a "Double-Axis" but have something different than AD&D (not because of the copyright... just for creative design). And I've read about "Personality" vs. "Behavior" where somethings are part of who we are taught to be (belief system and core values) and then there is how people act (which is behavior and based on beliefs/values but can be influenced).

The reputation system would be of GREAT value, if this was like a PERMANENT stat where players could evolve, like in a RPG-type of game. Sadly this is NOT that type of game and keeping tabs on reputation is not the direction I want to use for my game. Like it was stated you could have "Noble Giants" and "Outlaw Humans". This system could be from -4 to 0 to +4 ... Again good for RPGs, bad for my game... Just does NOT work.

And so I want to eliminate the Reputation system.

But I want to *keep* the "Double-Axis" and my goal was to have some kind of system that groups Heroes from Villains and then some secondary axis which has "some kind of other meaning".

And the reason I want this is because abilities like "Just Cause" from the Duke (Warlord) is: "If there are any 'Savage' units around this card, it has a boost of 5 morale." So there are abilities that measure up with the axis and affect score and result of battles.

Therefore they are groupings of races that offer a way to define how each of the races reacts to another.

Something along those lines...

let-off studios
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Eliminate Redundancy to Save Time

questccg wrote:
And the reason I want this is because abilities like "Just Cause" from the Duke (Warlord) is: "If there are any 'Savage' units around this card, it has a boost of 5 morale." So there are abilities that measure up with the axis and affect score and result of battles.
Then what I suggest is that you scrap the alignment system completely, and in the example above you could indicate "+5 to Morale when commanding Dwarves, Dark Elves, and Orcs."

This removes an extra lookup function, and the thematic link is the function of the card, not some arbitrary alignment system.

questccg
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Instead of referring to "this card"

I really am partial to the "Hero/Villain" paradigm. But I'd like something in the MIDDLE.

I HATE "Neutral" ... It sounds awful.

Hero/???/Villain.

"Mercenary" as in solider for hire ... Seems to be somewhat ... okay... "As long as the terms of the battle suit his/her purposes... etc".

But I'm still not 100% happy with this either.

Any suggestions???

Update: After a TON of searching, Googling, looking for synonyms and checking definitions... I can't find "dung"!

questccg
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My conclusion is...

Somebody needs to define a NEW WORD! (LOL)

It's got to be "clever" to work... Like "Arriviste" is like a social climber but can also have a bad connotation. "Merc" the abbreviation of "Mercenary" but it too doesn't seem right. "Freelancer" is sort of the direction I was heading for...

BUT in French we have the TERM "Pigiste" and it means "Freelancer".

PIGISTE is an amazing word in FRENCH. Need HELP to coin an English word that is similar...

What I seem to have found is the WORD: "Freeman". I still don't like it.

Mosker
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A different perspective.

Heroic vs. mercenary vs. villainous got me thinking

Much of what you're dealing with involves broad classifications for actions. Mercenary is a motivation. Heroic/villainy are instinctive reactions.

Instincts, motivations or actions--which works best with your game (setting and mechanics)? The labels should follow.

FrankM
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Between?

Would it break your system if instead of axis-1 and axis-2 you had triad-1 and triad-2?

Heroic - Insular - Villainous

Ordered - Dynamic - Savage

questccg
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So more freaken Googling with the input...

And I came up with "Hero" / "Maverick" / "Villain"

We know that the common definition for "Maverick" is "trendsetter" but the term also means "unorthodox or independent-minded person". That's pretty freaken close!

Other definitions are: "individualist, nonconformist and free spirit."

I seem to think this is the BEST NOUN. "Insular" as an Adjective is good too. But I wanted to say "Hero" does this... and "Villain" does that... ??? is in the middle.

I kinda like it... As a NOUN what do you guys think???

An Example: The "Bard" has the "Horn of Plenty" ability. it is: "If there is a Maverick in this row, both of these cards Gain 1 Skill."

Mavericks will be all about combinations of cards. Like sharing effects. The Heroes are all about "defeating" Villains ... And I think the Villains will be "doing" "Evil deeds" which are moving cards around the play area to rid themselves of the "Heroes" (LOL)! Not 100% certain. These are "experimental" ideas at this point in time.

To me "Maverick" sounds pretty decent.

wob
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the word "anodyne" works well

the word "anodyne" works well for neutral. its a term for pain killers, but also it means to have no strong or discerning qualities. as an insult it means insipid and dull, but more generally its neutral, bland but with a medieval feel.

ceethreepio
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Alternative idea ...

Or ... and you probably won't like this, but dump the simplistic characterisations completely and go for something more nuanced?

Rarely are people 'evil'. A few are, but most work towards their own goals, which just happen to conflict with what's already there. Labelling someone as a freedom fighter or a terrorist - often depends on the observers point of view.

You could say that 'evil' is perhaps characterised as having a goal that satisfies an internal need, whilst not caring about the external impact. E.g. 'Evil' Characters often talk about ruling the world. But even a cursory examination of that goal may find it stems from a desire to 'fix the world', but being unable to overcome the normal systems that govern it.

questccg
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But it doesn't work for "character" representation

wob wrote:
the word "anodyne" works well for neutral...

What I am trying to resolve is the "Hero / Villain" paradigm. And offer a neutral name between both.

I think "Maverick" is pretty good. Because we know it is a "characterization" of a person and describes their own "moral" system of beliefs: unorthodox, independent, free thinking, etc. Everything that a NEUTRAL character would have as "core" values.

And the term "Maverick" itself, because it defines a "character" (Personality) and it pre-supposes certain "behaviors" which tend to make such a person, less likely to be "Heroic" or "Villainous" depending on the exact CIRCUMSTANCES.

Note: To me the term evokes "choosing your own path" that is somewhere in the MIDDLE of Heroism and Villainy. Something which is "middle-of-the-road" not meaning 100% Neutral ... but "choice" of actions based on their moral compass and whatever it is that compels them.

questccg
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A compromise between BOTH "systems"

I am thinking that the BEST solution is a "Reputation" System with less options. Something like the following:

Hero / Maverick / Outlaw / Villain

And as some of you have suggested, instead of one "entire" race having a specific "stat", EACH CARD will have his/her own "reputation". This is a bit of compromise about what it was that I was thinking about... But it makes a LOT of sense... And as some of you have suggested, why rely on an "axis-based" solution, when a linear one may be simpler to comprehend and sufficiently different from what is AD&D in the market.

I chose four (4) instead of five (5) because I felt the incessant "Neutral" sneaking into the mix... So there is no "neutrality" per se. But a "Maverick" follows his/her own path according to his/her morals and values but tends to be more fair and just, whereas the "Outlaw" does similar but tends towards more egoistic behavior which is more self-centered...

Let me know what you all think! Is this a better compromise???

questccg
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Using this "Reputation" system has some benefits

Going back to the AD&D Alignment system, we have something like this:

Good = "Hero + Maverick"
Neutral = "Maverick + Outlaw"
Evil = "Outlaw + Villain"

This is a good way of describing the "Reputation" system using the AD&D Alignment axis for (Good/Neutral/Evil) characters.

I have abandoned the "Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic" (or my re-branded version) classification... because I didn't get the feeling like ANYONE "cared" about it TBH. As @Let-off suggested, I can just refer to the "RACES" directly and it doesn't require supplementary work/effort to figure out which are the races in question.

FrankM
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Nice and simple

This is nice and simple, and you could even have a card that has different reputations under well-defined circumstances.

Victoria VonWulf the Human is a Hero except during the Full Moon phase when she's an Outlaw with a different set of skills.

Smarty McGadgetpants the Gnome is a Maverick unless attacking or attacked by another Gnome, in which case he enters a hypercompetitive Villainous rage which replaces his usual set of buff abilities with a different set of de-buff abilities.

Sparroscent the Elf is a Maverick unless she has at least one Villain on her side, at which point she operates as an Outlaw. Unlike most reputation changes, Sparroscent's can change during a turn and even during a battle.

apeloverage
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questccg wrote:My problem is

questccg wrote:
My problem is that this is Copyright material from AD&D

The division between Law and Chaos comes from Michael Moorcock and Poul Anderson.

The idea of combining this with a division between Good and Evil doesn't seem original enough to attract copyright.

let-off studios
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Alignment + Race Clarity

questccg wrote:
I have abandoned the "Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic" (or my re-branded version) classification... because I didn't get the feeling like ANYONE "cared" about it TBH. As @Let-off suggested, I can just refer to the "RACES" directly and it doesn't require supplementary work/effort to figure out which are the races in question.
Well, to be fair, you've already done a tremendous amount of work behind-the-scenes, at least in terms of how you want the different races to relate to one another. I think that's completely necessary and admirable, for sure!

To clarify, my main point is that as far as the player is concerned, stating terms explicitly - instead of forcing the player to do extra reference lookup steps - helps keep the game moving while preserving your original intent. The player won't be bogged down looking at every card and condition related to alignment. I know you always prioritize evocative artwork, so my assumption is that you'd be looking for game art that clearly depicts the nature of the card being considered: human, dwarf, elf, etc. Again, this helps with the fantasy battle theme you've established.

Personally, I imagine that repeat plays will help the typical player intuit your original thematic connections, for example: when certain generals work better with specific, discrete races.

You've laid the foundation here, even in this discussion thread. That will certainly be helpful in clarifying your design process for the various races, factions, and special effect/hero cards. It sounds to me like you're in a good place.

questccg
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Very interesting ... Great ideas there!

FrankM wrote:
This is nice and simple, and you could even have a card that has different reputations under well-defined circumstances.

Victoria VonWulf the Human is a Hero except during the Full Moon phase when she's an Outlaw with a different set of skills...

This is cool having a 2nd print of a card with a different composition.

Similar to what you are suggesting, a character such as "Victoria VonWulf" is a Human Hero but when it's a Full Moon, she transforms into a Werewolf Outlaw with different set of characteristics.

What is real NEAT is that this could be "in essence" what "Monster Keep" is all about: some Heroes have an alter ego. And the good thing about this is that instead of "transforming" which could be difficult, the two (2) cards while in play can offer some kind of "tangible" bonus.

IDK - Yet. Just some early thoughts... But very interesting indeed!

questccg
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From a discussion with a Game Store Manager

apeloverage wrote:
questccg wrote:
My problem is that this is Copyright material from AD&D

The division between Law and Chaos comes from Michael Moorcock and Poul Anderson.

The idea of combining this with a division between Good and Evil doesn't seem original enough to attract copyright.

Yes well the point the Game Store Manager was making during our discussion was NOT to use the "DIAGRAM" of the AD&D Alignment. It's not so much the terms that are copyright (because I have seen other games using them in print), but the diagram depicting the Axis is "copyright".

This Manager, she told me another game tried using the Axis diagram and were sued by TSR (a few years ago) for using their diagram.

There are ways around this too. Don't get me wrong... But I wanted something a bit more "original" and with all the help here, I think I have something GOOD! A good place, probably better than anywhere I've been before... (but probably still somewhere in Limbo!)

Note #1: Why I say "Limbo" is because we are still waiting for quotes to return from China (and our deadline was today 15 May)... But there have been questions and this means "delays". Our tentative deadline for November 2019 is further away than I had hoped (I thought we could get it all done by August 2019). Three months is by far no small stretch... And so I must wait... I can't launch any games ... Otherwise backers will be furious that I'm asking for another game to be financed and my last one still hasn't shipped. Go figure?!

So definitely WAITING!

Note #2: And the "DIAGRAM" I am talking about is very well-known, it is something like this:

Lawful Good Neutral Good Chaotic Good
Lawful Neutral True Neutral Chaotic Neutral
Lawful Evil Neutral Evil Chaotic Evil

Well it seems like this "Tabular" Alignment "Chart" is Copyright WotC. The Store Manager says if I put that into my "rulebook"... It is highly likely that I am infringing on a copyright. I can't say if this is TRUE or not. It could be some urban legend also... IDK TBH.

In any event, I have chosen to use a "Linear Chart" and have defined my own terms. No Copyright issues with that... So I'm in the clear!

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