Barf Forth Apocalyptica

hacks => blood & guts => Topic started by: lumpley on June 25, 2010, 03:25:38 PM

Title: how the stats balance
Post by: lumpley on June 25, 2010, 03:25:38 PM
The battlebabe and the driver are exceptions, but for the rest of the characters:

Each stat line sums to +3.
The first +2 counts as +2, but a second +2 counts as +3.

Not much to it!

The battlebabe:
The battlebabe balances same as the others, then gets +1cool. This isn't, as it happens, a stat thing, it's a move thing. For moves, the battlebabe is a "you get this 1, plus choose 2" character, same as the hocus, but the move that all battlebabes get is +1cool. I chose to list it right in with the stats instead of as a move for more complicated reasons, having to do with cool as such, to serve imbalance between the stats in the game. It's easy to get +1weird, for instance; it's hard to get +1cool.

Imbalance between the stats is an essential part of the game's color-first design, by the way. Balancing the stats overall would be counter to the game's design philosophy and goals.

The driver:
The driver balances 1 down, to +2, when she's not in her car.

Now, most of the characters get 2 character moves, but some get 3. Maybe I'll talk about that next.

In going through the characters' stats to make this post, I spotted two exceptions. On one line the driver balances to +1 insted of to +2, and on one line the operator balances to +2 instead of +3. I'm going to look closely at those before I go to print and work out whether I have stat-imbalance reasons for them, or if they're just mistakes.

-Vincent
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Matt Wilson on June 25, 2010, 03:30:41 PM
Quick: "stat imbalance" means...
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: lumpley on June 25, 2010, 03:41:27 PM
Like how there's no debility to get -1weird, but there are a zillion moves to get +1weird. Acting under fire is, take Apocalypse World as a whole, less reliable than opening your brain to the world's psychic maelstrom. Characters who are really good at acting under fire are rare, compared with characters who are really good at opening their brain.

You can see it in the moves-by-stat index, too. Some of the stats (for instance, weird) have way more moves associated with them than others.

Thus: overall stat imbalance.

Now, the stats DO balance, but not mechanically. They balance on color, on detail-of-fiction. This is what makes your decisions during character creation and improvement consequential; it's what keeps the characters from converging mechanically and becoming interchangeable as they develop.

-Vincent
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Matt Wilson on June 25, 2010, 03:57:10 PM
So does that imply that weird is a stat that's really at the heart of AW's color, then?
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: lumpley on June 25, 2010, 06:02:32 PM
Huh. Maybe it does. Weird is what keeps the game from being Twilight:2000, after all.

-Vincent
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Michael Pfaff on June 25, 2010, 06:19:02 PM
Funny this got brought up today because as I was working on my "Dark Sun" hack, I was taking a look at stats and trying to figure this out.

I broke it down as follows, but I also was wondering a couple things:

A) What happens when you add more stats? Does this mess with the balance? For example, in my hack I have 6 stats (not including Hx) vs. 5 in AW. I decided to keep the same numbers and just have the sixth stat =0.

B) Why didn't you let the player choose stats as they desire instead of putting 4 "sets" of stats to pick from? Did you just not want people making ineffective characters? (i.e. putting -1 in Cool for Battlebabes or something)

Here's what I mean and what I'm considering for my hack:

The Stats
Choose one set:
+2, +2, -1, -1, =0, =0
+2, +1, +1, -1, =0, =0
+2, +1, =0, =0, =0, =0

Apply each bonus to one stat.

For example, a Warrior might choose:
Str+2, Dex=0, Con+2, Wis-1, Cha-1, Int=0
Str+2, Dex+1, Con+1, Wis=0, Cha=0, Int-1
Str+2, Dex=0, Con+1, Wis=0, Cha=0, Int=0
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Jeff Russell on June 25, 2010, 06:37:36 PM
Okay, that's pretty much what I had figured out from reading through the playbooks to figure out how to make one.

I didn't catch on that cool was a harder stat to improve, though. I did notice limited high sharp scores.

I'd love to hear how the number of moves worked out, cos I inferred that it was "have 2 moves usually, but some guys get one and pick 2, and gunluggers get 3". I figured gunluggers got more as part of their "obvious move is the right move" thing going on - they don't have other complicated stuff going on, they're just good at what they do.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Gregor Vuga on June 25, 2010, 06:46:05 PM
Michael, have you looked at Tony Dowler's Apocalypse D&D hack yet? He uses the standard D&D stat array and basic moves for those stats. Since Dark Sun is essentially and AD&D game, maybe you two should cross-pollinate.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Michael Pfaff on June 25, 2010, 06:52:04 PM
Michael, have you looked at Tony Dowler's Apocalypse D&D hack yet? He uses the standard D&D stat array and basic moves for those stats. Since Dark Sun is essentially and AD&D game, maybe you two should cross-pollinate.

I have, and it's very cool. I'll likely steal some stuff from it. :)

The main difference between Tony's game and what I'm working on is that his hack is very old-school, dungeon-crawl oriented and I'm looking to make the DarkSun hack closer to the default Apocalypse World with different playbooks to suit the DarkSun canon. Or, AW with DarkSun paint.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Shreyas on June 25, 2010, 10:36:24 PM
Since Dark Sun is essentially and AD&D game, maybe you two should cross-pollinate.
This isn't really true; DS never really fit in with the other D&D settings mechanically or in color. In 2e it's got its own whole set of classes and restats for races because the ones in D&D just don't work.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Yokiboy on August 28, 2010, 12:27:23 AM
Each stat line sums to +3.
The first +2 counts as +2, but a second +2 counts as +3.

Not much to it!
Well maybe there's a little bit more to it. There are at least 16 stat lines that are 1 point lower than the rest for that character (this is counting the Maestro D' and Faceless, only 14 without them). I did a bit of analysis on the characters, to get the feel for them, and the results are available in a PDF file on my site (http://erdtman.com/story-games/apocalypse-world/).

Google Docs would not let me upload any files at the moment, otherwise I'd share the spreadsheet directly.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: amnesiack on August 28, 2010, 10:28:54 PM
Well maybe there's a little bit more to it. There are at least 16 stat lines that are 1 point lower than the rest for that character (this is counting the Maestro D' and Faceless, only 14 without them).

I think the "second +2 counts as +3" is pretty important in Vincent's analysis vs yours.  Most of the "low" rows you have marked have two +2s, which would make them total out the same as the other blocks if you counted the second +2 as a +3.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Yokiboy on August 29, 2010, 02:52:02 PM
I think the "second +2 counts as +3" is pretty important in Vincent's analysis vs yours.  Most of the "low" rows you have marked have two +2s, which would make them total out the same as the other blocks if you counted the second +2 as a +3.

Ah yes...

Each stat line sums to +3.
The first +2 counts as +2, but a second +2 counts as +3.

That should indeed make a difference. Allow me to redo my analysis.  :)
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Yokiboy on August 29, 2010, 06:51:50 PM
And it did make a big difference. Now, of course, my stat line summaries are the same as Vincent's. Only the Driver's stat line #3, and the Operator's stat line #4 are low by one point each.

However, I did have fun with the analysis of the characters, and it will help me creating new custom characters.

I will upload the new version of the PDF document Monday morning, as I'm unable to do so at this time.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Allison on September 16, 2011, 08:42:24 AM
Sorry to necropost, but serious question:

Did the "one-point-short" stat lines of the Driver and Operator ever get fixed? In the playbooks I downloaded (wasn't more than a few months ago), they're still a point short. I don't know why it's been bugging me, since I haven't played a Driver or Operator, but someone in a game I'm in is playing a Driver and using the one-point-short line and so it's been sitting in the back of my head whispering to me like the goddamn maelstrom.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: lumpley on September 16, 2011, 12:29:34 PM
Only the gods are perfect!
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Allison on September 17, 2011, 05:58:27 AM
Oh, I'm aware. I'm just wondering how they should be amended, or if you decided to leave them that way for balance reasons or something along those lines.

NINJA EDIT: The gods are perfect? Even that sounds awfully idealistic for you, Vincent.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: lumpley on September 18, 2011, 01:53:56 PM
I don't remember whether I had a good reason, so I'd have to do some serious reverse engineering and rethinking to decide whether and how to change them. It's very possible that there's a good reason, having to do with the fundamental asymmetry of the stats and how those two playbooks in particular fit into it.

Feel free to change them yourself if you decide to, but I'd just play with them as is. (And do, in fact.) Being 1 stat point down isn't the worst thing ever. Clearly that driver's player decided that the stat line was worth it for other reasons, right?
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Allison on September 18, 2011, 04:53:47 PM
For the Hard, yes; she's a combat driver. (It appears to be the only Driver line with Hard+1. Hard is a pretty damn powerful stat, as I learned playing Daryl the Muscle who is a bloody fucking runaway freight train who has been described as a "murderous gorilla" by her enemies and a "monster" by her own goddamn employer) so I could see that being the reason--but none of the other playbooks put that kind of premium on Hard. Then again, none of the other playbooks are driving a 3-armour tank with 3-harm close/far area machine guns strapped to the sides that also gives them a +2 on aggro/seize rolls, so that might be a loaded comparison.

The Operator, however, doesn't appear to have anything remotely like that going on. The stat line is kind of boring and doesn't really have anything that seems to be at a premium (just Cool+2 Hard=0 Hot=0 Sharp+1 Weird-1). It couldn't be that it's a line with Sharp+1, as the Operator gets other stat lines with good Sharp and no such premium. It's also not that it gets a penalty to neither Hard nor Hot, as there's an Operator line that actually gets +1 to both of those (and it's the only Operator line that gets a positive Hard, and it doesn't even have a Sharp penalty, just the same Weird penalty 3/4 of the Operator lines do--Cool+2 Hard+1 Hot+1 Sharp=0 Weird-1). I could see balance reasons to put a higher premium on Hard+1 for the Driver, but the Operator line genuinely comes off as in error, unless there's something I'm missing.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: lumpley on September 18, 2011, 06:18:27 PM
I remember that about the driver! Yes, the driver's stat line is correct. Otherwise the driver could start play with Hard+4.

The operator looks like an error to me too. My advice is: choose one of the other stat lines, or a dumb error on the designer's part will screw you out of 1 stat point.

Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Allison on September 18, 2011, 06:42:02 PM
I remember that about the driver! Yes, the driver's stat line is correct. Otherwise the driver could start play with Hard+4.

Could it? I know it could get up to Hard+4 (in their vehicle) inside of one advancement, but I wasn't aware it could start that way (small difference). I was thinking a stat point added into that line would be in Cool, Hot, or Weird (Cool seems appropriate for a combat driver), not bumping Hard up to +2, which would actually unbalance it again by the standard Driver formula.

(Brief off-topic Driver Q: Is the power+2 looks+2 0-armour weakness+1 car stat line supposed to be a motorcycle?)

The operator looks like an error to me too. My advice is: choose one of the other stat lines, or a dumb error on the designer's part will screw you out of 1 stat point.

Push MC to make a hard move, MC disclaims responsibility instead. Ain't that the nature of the beast. *fistshake*
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Pheylorn on February 17, 2012, 03:14:39 PM
(Brief off-topic Driver Q: Is the power+2 looks+2 0-armour weakness+1 car stat line supposed to be a motorcycle?)

That is certainly what I would use this for. It doesn't need to be exclusive though, after all the chopper's bike profile includes 1-armor so there is no reason a driver's bike couldn't have armour too. I think this profile would work also for cars like dune buggys and the like.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: derendel on November 02, 2012, 11:19:05 PM
On the topic of stat balance, I'm curious about the Quarantine.  He seems to average out to +4 if you ignore the weirdness about his weird.  Are the generally suboptimal results for his weird supposed to be a net negative?
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Paul T. on November 06, 2012, 12:06:49 AM
Vincent,

I'd love to hear why some playbooks get 2 moves and some get 3. In some cases, I can see various other factors accounting for "balance", but in others I can't (e.g. the Skinner). Will you still speak about this sometime? Or have you already?
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: gregpogor on November 06, 2012, 11:58:39 AM
I'd love to hear why some playbooks get 2 moves and some get 3. In some cases, I can see various other factors accounting for "balance", but in others I can't (e.g. the Skinner). Will you still speak about this sometime? Or have you already?

I'm not Vincent, but the Skinner's special is crazy powerful, and their hot+2 base makes it a reliable tool.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: lumpley on November 08, 2012, 01:27:59 AM
I don't remember particulars about the skinner. I can say a couple of things:

I deliberated long and hard about every playbook, whether it gets 2 moves or 3 moves to start (or some other number). The question I always asked myself is: "given everything else here, are 2 moves enough to create a whole starting character, or does it need to be 3?" I don't know if I can say any more about the idea of "a whole starting character," but that's what I went by.

The specials are all totally exempt from any of my balancing considerations. Basically I considered the characters as though they would never have sex, and then added their sex moves once they were otherwise complete.

-Vincent
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Paul T. on November 08, 2012, 02:50:19 AM
Thanks!

Some deliberate thought + gut feeling works as an explanation for me.
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: Oldy on November 10, 2013, 08:55:04 AM
Fascinating reading all these "under the hood" discussions about the system and design decisions. Thanks for being so accessible, Vincent
Title: Re: how the stats balance
Post by: lumpley on November 10, 2013, 12:29:52 PM
Sure thing!

-Vincent