Making my own system; Would you play a game that discourages min-maxing by design?

11 posts / 0 new
Last post
As the title says, I'm making my own game system, but I do not want to send the wrong message: The game as I have made it so far discourages min-maxing, though that does NOT mean it discourages optimizing. A min-maxed character in this game will be just as bad as a thinly-spread jack-of-all-trades. That said, it's probably a good idea if I explain what I mean.

More info in the spoiler block.

Show

The game I'm making is, at its most basic mechanical level, like a combination of World of Darkness and the various Warhammer roleplaying systems. Basically speaking, every action you take generally requires the addition of two stats and whatever other modifiers that apply, which creates a range of numbers which you would want to roll within using percentile dice in order to succeed. Depending on the action you take, the degree of success, if there is one, requires another roll using other dice. In addition, characters are improved by spending from two pools of experience points that are used for different things: Regular experience points, which mostly buy attributes and skills and only rarely are used to buy special abilities (think feats); and Professional experience points, which, being the opposite, are mostly used to buy special abilities and are rarely used to buy attributes or skills.

Now, as far as what I mean by "discourages min-maxing," I mean that for any given role you play, there will never be any one stat that you always want to raise at every opportunity no matter what, leaving other stats in the dust. Take, for example, the standard melee warrior whose only role is to hit things and get hit by things. Most of you are already thinking that Strength is that one stat. But in this game, it isn't. Of course, Strength influences his rate of hitting the enemy and how much damage he deals when he hits. But remember what I said about how rate of success is always determined by at least two things? That means that you'd actually add Strength to one other attribute (usually Agility or Constitution, depending on your weapon; Agility would be added when attacking with Blades, Flails, Spears, Staves, and so on, while Constitution would be added when attacking with Axes, Hammers, Maces, Picks, and the like) to determine whether or not the warrior hits. No matter what the warrior's secondary attribute is depending on his weapon, he wouldn't want to ignore the attribute he isn't using for attacks; Constituion influences how well he can take a hit, and Agility adds to Strength in determining how many times he can attack per round.

Then there's the other stats. Among the 9 attributes in the game (Physical: Strength, Constitution, Agility; Mental: Knowledge, Instinct, Wisdom; and Personal: Willpower, Morale, and Charisma), we've covered Strength, Constitution, and Agility. But the two other important stats to a standard warrior are Instinct and Morale. Instinct not only helps the warrior defend himself by dodging or blocking attacks or seeing through tricks, it also helps him take advantage of times when the opponents let their guard down (the equivalent of Opportunity Attacks). And if you don't want your warrior to run away at the first sign of danger, you'd better not dump your Morale.

That's one Primary stat, two stats competing for Secondary, and two more for Tertiary. And that's just on a standard warrior! If you want to play a combat savant with an actual set of techniques, you'll also want Knowledge; those who want to reason for themselves and contemplate why they fight and who should be fought against want Wisdom; a raging barbarian and/or action hero who can suddenly summon vast amounts of power from seemingly nowhere wants Willpower; and a gallant knight who inspires the locals to defend themselves, or even a thug who searches for answers through the interrogation of prisoners, will need charisma.

And then there's Skills! Granted, a melee warrior isn't nearly as skill-dependant as most other classes, but they still need Athletics so that they may jump and do other things to move on surfaces other than flat plains; they also need Endurance so that they may overcome diseases, do hard labor for long hours, or travel great distances without getting tired; and finally, what the hell kind of warrior isn't scary? Intimidate is also a must. But then there's those other warriors who are more than just bodies that hit and get hit. A self-sufficient warrior will want Armory, Medicine and Nature, for sure, and maybe a bit of Artisanship (kind of like Craft). A martial artist will definitely want Combat Arts, and if they fight bare-handed, they'll also want Manual Dexterity and possibly Medicine. A tactically-minded scout would want Locks, Perception, Stealth, Strategy & Tactics, and Traps. There's many more for archetypes that rely on different skills.

Granted, there's plenty of XP and PXP at character creation to afford most of the basics, but the same principle remains. An effective character in my game will avoid min-maxing.


Does this sound like a good idea?
I'm all for any game that puts role-playing ahead of roll-playing. Mini-maxing is okay, but not as an end in itself, not as the goal of character design. Your character should be a person, someone with depth, contradictions, goals, fears, strengths and flaws. The goal of an rpg should not be to "win" the game but to tell an exciting and compelling story through the actions of your character...
I'm all for any game that puts role-playing ahead of roll-playing. Mini-maxing is okay, but not as an end in itself, not as the goal of character design. Your character should be a person, someone with depth, contradictions, goals, fears, strengths and flaws. The goal of an rpg should not be to "win" the game but to tell an exciting and compelling story through the actions of your character...



While I certainly agree with what you're saying, I'm not sure you're getting the point of this thread. What I'm asking is whether or not people will want to play a system which discourages min-maxing as a means of optimizing a character mechanically, which has little to do with whether or not a character is being effectively roleplayed.
Hey Jadebrain,

I design RPGs myself. It's a lot of work, so I know what you're going through. I think the idea of a game based on avoiding min/maxing is a fine idea and a good plan in principal. I've actually seen a couple of indie game systems which do pretty much what you're saying.

I've played both Warhammer and created a character for a game system which totally 'obliterates' you if you try to min/max. (I created a powerful wizard but with only 1 hp, on armor, and no morale).

If you're open to advice, here are my thoughts:

Creating a game system to intentionally discourage min/maxing is like trying to create the 'perfect' system. It's almost impossible. There will always be some munchkin somewhere who will find a way to power game your system. If you do create a totally min/max resistant system, kudos. Please let me know because I've never actually found one which is totally impervious (it would be quite the accomplishment and I'd love to see it and throw it at a few munchkins I know).

Also, on a personal level, I'm not really sure I like the idea of a too balanced system which you can't min/max. I think just a little bit of min/maxing is a good thing. Not too much, mind. I'd personally aim more for a relatively balanced system focusing on role-playing (like Samloyal pointed out) rather than a perfect impervious to min/max system.

However, if it's your dream to do so, I encourage you. There's nothing like passion and perserverance to get something done. I'd really 'love' to see a system truly impervious to min/maxing. It's just a very tough feet to pull off.

Overall, I like your game idea in general. If it ever takes off, please let me know where and how I can get a copy. It looks really cool. Do you have any more info on the system? A world-lore, any other mechanics-orientated innovations? Horror Rules has a great Fear system and I noticed your Morale idea seems to mirror that great idea, kudos.

I hope you do well with the game.

Best Regards,

David.
David L. Dostaler Author, Challenger RPG (free)
I'm all for any game that puts role-playing ahead of roll-playing. Mini-maxing is okay, but not as an end in itself, not as the goal of character design. Your character should be a person, someone with depth, contradictions, goals, fears, strengths and flaws. The goal of an rpg should not be to "win" the game but to tell an exciting and compelling story through the actions of your character...



Well said. I totally agree with you, Samloyal. Do you know of any such games I could find?

--David

David L. Dostaler Author, Challenger RPG (free)
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I've played both Warhammer and created a character for a game system which totally 'obliterates' you if you try to min/max. (I created a powerful wizard but with only 1 hp, on armor, and no morale).

...

Also, on a personal level, I'm not really sure I like the idea of a too balanced system which you can't min/max. I think just a little bit of min/maxing is a good thing.



This pretty much sums up how my game discourages min-maxing: There are many things that are important to any given character build, and ignoring any of them for too long will give your character a great weakness that makes the character in question less powerful than if the attribute was never ignored, no matter what was gained in its place. Basically, while a character should still have a focus in order to keep them from being a master of nothing, the player should also give deep consideration to how much attention is given to each of his or her character's attributes, rather than focusing solely on one or a small number of attributes.


Overall, I like your game idea in general. If it ever takes off, please let me know where and how I can get a copy. It looks really cool. Do you have any more info on the system? A world-lore, any other mechanics-orientated innovations? Horror Rules has a great Fear system and I noticed your Morale idea seems to mirror that great idea, kudos.



If you want, I can PM you with some more information, as getting into all those details here would probably take away from the purpose of this thread. As for where/when it takes off, it probably won't be published for a long time, as I'm still making and playtesting the content (though so far, the feedback from my players has been very positive); it'll probably be sold locally here in Maine at first, then it might spread to other regions, and that's if it sells well enough.
Yeah, sure. Feel free to PM me. I don't get on the WOTC boards all the time, but I'll be sure to read it. I'm glad the playtesting is going well. Hopefully, you'll have a few copies out in Maine before long!

I also agree with you about the point you made above concerning the 1 hp wizard. That's pretty much the whole problem: and what your game addresses. It'd be really cool if your game fixes min/maxing to an extent that makes it balanced and fun for the players.

Good luck with the playtesting. Tell me how it goes!

--David
David L. Dostaler Author, Challenger RPG (free)
It sounds like something similar to what I did with my homebrew d20 game. I found that by applying two stats to every action, you were actually more optimized by having scores that were spread out instead of maxing one or two scores.

However, this doesn't really change min-maxing. All you're doing is changing how the min/maxer goes about optimizing his character. New players may not catch on immediately, but once they do they'll still be min/maxers, their sheet will just look very different than if they were playing a game of D&D.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
It sounds like something similar to what I did with my homebrew d20 game. I found that by applying two stats to every action, you were actually more optimized by having scores that were spread out instead of maxing one or two scores.

However, this doesn't really change min-maxing. All you're doing is changing how the min/maxer goes about optimizing his character. New players may not catch on immediately, but once they do they'll still be min/maxers, their sheet will just look very different than if they were playing a game of D&D.



Perhaps we have two differing definitions of "min-maxing," in addition to the once-again misunderstood purpose of this thread. I, personally, have always defined min-maxing as a means of optimization which sacrifices stats deemed unimportant in order to enhance stats which are important, thus implying a single-attribute or otherwise very-few-attribute dependant build; you seem to be defining min-maxing as optimizing in general. Furthermore, with that said, the purpose of this thread isn't to ask if people will play a game that discourages optimizing; the purpose of this thread is to ask if people would be willing to play a game where an optimized character would avoid min-maxing (as per my definition) as much as he or she would avoid being spread too thin.

So far, some of the feedback in this thread, as well as feedback in playtesting, seems to be in favor of this concept, and I have yet to hear any objections.
Yes, Jadebrain, I agree. If you can pull it off, it'd be great. :D

Bone_Naga: Ha ha, long time no see! Thanks so much for your help with my game system a while back. You're in the game credits and it's now getting 10,000+ downloads a month on Amazon. It used to outrank "Angry Birds" in the game section. :P That confused some people, so that's where you get the bad reviews from before I updated the description.

Anyway, playtesting a new version now. I won't forget your awesome help and support with the game.

David L. Dostaler
Author, Challenger RPG a Free Roleplaying Game

P.S.

If you want to see what the playtesters are cooking up for the new version. You can check out the new blog on the game (banned by Google for unknown reasons) here: www.challengerrpg.com/

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the new system (if you're not too busy with other things).

Best Regards and Many Thanks, David.

P.S.S.

I sent you a PM offer of a free copy of the new print version of the book (postage paid by me), right? If not, terribly sorry, please PM if you're interested.
David L. Dostaler Author, Challenger RPG (free)
Yes, Jadebrain, I agree. If you can pull it off, it'd be great. :D

Bone_Naga: Ha ha, long time no see! Thanks so much for your help with my game system a while back. You're in the game credits and it's now getting 10,000+ downloads a month on Amazon. It used to outrank "Angry Birds" in the game section. :P That confused some people, so that's where you get the bad reviews from before I updated the description.

Anyway, playtesting a new version now. I won't forget your awesome help and support with the game.

David L. Dostaler
Author, Challenger RPG a Free Roleplaying Game

P.S.

If you want to see what the playtesters are cooking up for the new version. You can check out the new blog on the game (banned by Google for unknown reasons) here: www.challengerrpg.com/

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the new system (if you're not too busy with other things).

Best Regards and Many Thanks, David.

P.S.S.

I sent you a PM offer of a free copy of the new print version of the book (postage paid by me), right? If not, terribly sorry, please PM if you're interested.


Dude I'm glad to hear it. No I never got the PM. In fact I didn't hear from you at all for a while so I figured that maybe it had slown down or died off and I've been very busy with work and I moved so following up on it wasn't too high on the priority list. I'll shoot you an email.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
Sign In to post comments