February 23, 2009

Stat Progression

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 11:06 am

Over in our forums Skynet has been tweaking Iridium V1 combat. One of the issues he expressed is the progression of stat bonuses. I am a fan of “If you have a 1-20 stat range, a 21 means SOMETHING BIG”. He prefers a more linear progression of stats. I have heard this criticism in reviews of Iridium and I appreciate it but I like the idea of a curve. Why? Because you often see how an elf or a human hero is strong beyond that of a normal men, perhaps even super naturally strong. This is not because of a girdle of strength or galoshes of might but because of the nature of the hero. It is in him.

Now, I am not saying Skynet is wrong (and I am actually helping him change the system) but I wanted to give my rationale behind stat progression as a design choice. So, what do you think? Linear or curved?


  1. I’m not familiar with Iridium, so this is a more general take on the subject matter.

    First question: What do that stats do? If the stats have a linear effect (like D&D 3rd, where each 2 points adds 1 to relevant rolls), claiming that, say, 20 is somehow utterly superior to 18 just does not cut it. If there is nonlinear effect, or very significant effect (even if linear), it might be credible.

    Another factor is, how often and easily do stats increase in the game? If stats increase all the time, linearity is a good choice, though diminishing returns might even be better. If the stats are fairly static or increase very slowly, the curve does not matter that much, as character generation can be designed so as to give the desired distribution anyway.

    Comment by Tommi — February 23, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

  2. I see what you are getting at Tommi.

    Iridium Stats are, in short, human ranged 1-20. It gets progressively harder to raise stats (you pay for the next stat rank;i.e. 5×10 to go to next level) in a system that generally awards 4 or so XP per session. Stats are pretty static. They also do not often go down permanently;i.e. certain wounds can reduce your stats temporarily as you recover. They are meant to represent bigger and bigger steps as the stats increase, so think of a 2x curve.

    So, non-linear but not random;i.e. 20 is superior to 18 more so than 18 is superior to 16.

    Comment by bilbo — February 23, 2009 @ 4:14 pm

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