March 11, 2022

Hi there! Wanted to think out loud about how attributes work. It’s been awhile since I thought out loud about design stuff.

Attributes: A history

So Attributes (or Approaches) are a standard LUMEN feature: they usually describe the way you’re going to tackle some obstacle and you roll that number of dice. In a typical LUMEN game that’s usually where they start and end. There are typically three of them.

In APOCALYPSE FRAME I took this a little further by having them add to resources: Vigor, Tension, and Ammo. This feels pretty good in practice, so I wanted to carry that idea a little further.

The original version of ANOINTED that I quickly mocked up had three Attributes: Strength, Skill, and Knowledge. How this worked was:

  • Strength added to Health and Capacity (max equip weight before penalty).
  • Skill added to Stamina (actions used to be strictly 2, then moved to infinite, then moved to the current situation).
  • Knowledge added to Focus and Grace uses (it used to heal a flat amount and have varying uses rather than the opposite).

Strength, Skill, and Knowledge also added to Move Harm.

After mocking up what some characters looked like with this, I decided it didn’t feel great:

  • There are no “classes” as such so the net effect was that there weren’t very many “builds”. I’m not looking for wild diversity of options here because Armaments take care of most of that but it felt a little more weightless than I’d like.
  • Harm based off of an attribute made it mostly obnoxious to do anything other than harm = attribute or multiple of attribute, which makes it hard to keep numbers low and I want to keep numbers low.
  • I like the idea of there being two kinds of magic that feel different, keying off of two different stats. I think that’s an interesting tension that mirrors the dex vs str dichotomy - even Bloodborne does this a little with bloodtinge vs arcane and it’s cool.

I like that every attribute gates both resources and is required for weapons, I briefly considered splitting this to 6 stats (“active” vs “passive” for each) and decided against it. So I added one and split out some capability. This brings us to our current setup with 4 stats:

  • Prowess: Health and Capacity, required for heavy weapons. (I moved away from Strength because I try to avoid alliteration in parallel structures like Attributes.)
  • Skill: Number of actions, required for skilled weapons.
  • Conviction: How powerful Embodying Grace is, required for using prayer talismans.
  • Knowledge: Focus, required for using rune sorcery implements.

Attribute thoughts for the future

I think this works, but can still be improved. My current reservations with this are as follows:

  • Stamina being static while so many other things (including number of actions) aren’t feels limiting in a weird way.
  • Same with number of uses of Grace.
  • It’s a little weird that all spellcasters want Conviction so badly because it increases their Focus restoration.

So I’m thinking I’m going to tweak these around a bit in the following way (Prowess/Skill are the same).

  • Conviction: Stamina, number of uses of Grace.
  • Knowledge: Focus, amount of Health and Focus restoration from Grace.

For this configuration, this is what each Attribute brings to the table:

  • Prowess: Contributes durability. Prowess Armaments are typically high-stamina but action-efficient.
  • Skill: Contributes flexibility and mobility (spending actions to move/use items/embody Grace makes more sense at high Skill). Skill Armaments typically benefit from the ability to use multiple actions.
  • Conviction: Contributes short-term (stamina) and long-term (Grace uses) endurance. Conviction Armaments typically provide utility (healing, buffs, etc) or indirect offense (staggering/debuffing instead of damage, etc).
  • Knowledge: Contributes to special offense and recovery. Knowledge Armaments typically provide direct magical offense or directly offensive buffs.

So each combo of two stats has a general playstyle “orientation” based on typical Armaments/usage:

  • Prowess/Skill: Great durability and mobility/flexibility.
  • Prowess/Conviction: Great durability, staying power, and utility.
  • Prowess/Knowledge: Great durability and the ability to use maneuvers frequently.
  • Skill/Conviction: High utility and flexibility.
  • Skill/Knowledge: Great mixed offense.
  • Conviction/Knowledge: Best/most spellcasting.

Eventually I want to introduce things that specifically reward all of these combined approaches as well as make specialized (one-attribute) approaches feel rewarding through high-requirement abilities. The plan is to make Attributes beyond 5 soft-scale with 2 memories needed to raise each, to a max of 10, to encourage this a bit. I’m also probably going to bring back some +Harm/Effect for high Attributes for certain Armaments too and tweak various tags/abilities.

Until next time!

Hi there! Wanted to think out loud about how attributes work. It’s been awhile since I thought out loud about design stuff. Attributes: A history So Attributes (or Approaches) are a standard LUMEN f...

(Read the original itch here!)