Stat Gain without the Lame

How should stats affect gameplay in rpgs? Having them make the character stronger just makes the game easier so, do you have any alternatives?

As opposed to affecting what else? Appearance?

I know I already largely covered this topic in a previous post:

On the other hand, grinding versus not grinding can be like a form of self imposed challenge, but that doesn’t really tend to work out.

The alternative is not having stats make the character strictly stronger, only different, but that makes it so stats are no longer a form of positive feedback.

One schema you could pull is having something like say the Megaman battle network 3 style system, and having characters pulled to different ends across various archetypes based on how they express themselves across the game, maybe starting at a balanced state between the archetypes at first, then gaining stats in each category while losing stats on the opposite end, like in a 5 stat system you might represent it visually like a pentagon, and as one corner grows longer as the stat grows bigger, the two on the opposite side are depleted, where in a 6 stat system you would get the less interesting example of gaining one and losing another, unless you were more clever and linked them across to two stats on the opposite side. If the math checks out then you could guarantee that the net value of all the stats is always consistent, so there’s no permanent stat loss. More complex stat systems could be built if stat gain was always compensated by an equal amount of stat drain elsewhere.

Draining from 2 stats at a time, rather than a linear gain and drain relationship between single stats creates the dynamic where you can build one of the two stat you’re draining without undoing the stat building you’re doing on the opposite end, allowing for you to simultaneously build two stats that drain from each other, at the cost of the other stats those two drain.

But that’s just one possible idea.

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