Tuesday, October 8, 2013

CORPS - The attributes of a character

When we sat down to start on making what would become CORPS one of our first questions was how were we going to define our characters.  Normally RPGs will have character attributes that help define a persons physical and mental capabilities.  Since D&D was one of the influencing factors of the game we had to ask, were the classic 6 attributes from of D&D or other D20 systems enough?  Could we just throw down Strength, Constitution, Dexterity and the rest and call it a day or did we want to explore more abstract/unusual attributes like Sanity in Call of Cthulhu?  After some debate and decision we came up with a set of 8 attributes that would make up a character in CORPS.  After we had gone through our first iterative process of the game we slightly redefined the attributes from what they were to 4 primary attributes and 4 secondary attributes.  The high level classification for the groups were that primary attributes were specific to a particular build and is what was needed by players for their offensive and combat capabilities.  Since the game is literally called Combat Oriented Role-Playing System, pretty much every character will want to focus in on one or two of these four attributes.  The secondary 4 attributes are more universally desired because they primarily help support the players defensive capabilities.  While we had had the same 8 attributes around since the beginning of our design iterations the exact definition of what each attribute did has evolved along the way.  Currently we have the 8 attributes that can range between 9 and 22.  They are:


The measurement of a character’s raw physical power, strength is a primary combat statistic that determines your bonus to hit and damage with heavy weapons and your damage bonus with balanced weapons.  Strength also determines your character’s lifting/carrying capacity and is used as a bonus for 2 skills.


The measurement of a character’s health and fortitude, constitution is the primary stat for determining a character’s hit points and is the stat used for Fortitude saving throws.  Constitution is used as a bonus for 1 skill.


The measurement of a character’s fine motor skills, agility is a primary combat statistic that determines your bonus to hit and damage with agile weapons, and your hit bonus with balanced weapons.  Agility is also used with 5 skills


The measurement of a character’s speed and reflexes, quickness determines a character’s defense bonus against physical attacks, as well as Reflex saving throws and initiative.  A high quickness score can also increase your character’s base speed.  Quickness is not used with any skills.


The measurement of a character’s intelligence, reasoning is a primary magical statistic determines your hit and damage bonus with high magic and slightly increases your character’s power points.  Reasoning is used with 7 skills.


The measurement of a character’s appearance and ability to influence others,  presence is a primary magical statistic that determines your hit and damage bonus with wild magic and also slightly increases your power points. Presence is used with 4 skills.  

Self Discipline

The measurement of a character’s willpower, self discipline is the primary stat for determining a character’s power points.  It also slightly increases a character's hit points as well as being used for Will saving throws.  Self Discipline is used with 2 skills


Intuition increases all of the character's saving throws as well as applying to initiative. Intuition is used with 9 skills.  

So now this brings up a few questions.  The first being, a lot of these attributes affect skills, but what are these skills?  Well I'm sure that'll be around for another post.  Moving on there are a few other hints about the combat system used by CORPS.  We have initiative, saving throws, physical defense, hit points, power points (mana/magic) and a few other things found in most RPGs.  What is perhaps one of my favorite concepts of our system is the use of physical defense.  At first it can seem a little daunting because there are 4 types of physical defense but they are all variants of the same thing.  Each used in specific situations.

*Note: One thing to keep in mind is that this game isn't your normal d20 system.  In fact the standard dice roll is instead 2d12.  This gives a bit more variation but it' something to keep in mind which looking at the values used below.

  • Active Defense (Melee Defense)
    • Active Defense = 12 + Armor + modified quickness + Equipped Weapon Skill
    • The most commonly targeted defense.  Your active defense is how well your character can avoid an attack that they can actively defend against.  Your active defense is determined by your armor, quickness stat bonus, and how well trained you are with your currently equipped implement or weapon.
    • Bob the Knight is a young knight.  He wears Platemail armor and is skilled with his longsword.  Bob isn’t terribly quick with 14 quickness.  To figure out Bob’s total active defense we can take his base defense of 12 + 6 from his armor + (2/3) from his quickness modified by his armor which is rounded down to 0 + 1 because he is skilled with his weapon.  The net result is that Bob the Knight has an active defense of 19.  This means an enemy would need to score a 19 or higher on their attack roll in order to land a damaging blow on Bob.
  • Ranged Defense
    • Most characters do not have an active range defense.  If you are trained and equipped with a shield your range defense is equal to your melee defense.  Some other talents and skills allow you to defend against range attacks using your melee defenses with a penalty. Such as some spell casters have knacks where they can defend against ranged attacks using their active defense -1 or 2.
  • Unarmed Defense
    • Unarmed Defense = 12 + modified quickness + ½ strength + Unarmed “Weapon” Skill
    • This defense is primarily used when your character has been grappled by an enemy and you are attempting to defend against wrestling or close combat attacks.
  • Passive Defense
    • Passive defense = 12 + Armor + passively modified quickness
    • Your passive defense is your defense against physical attacks that you can not properly defend.  This is commonly the case against range and area attacks if you do not have a shield or some form of cover, if you move carelessly past threatening enemies, or you get stunned.  
  • Best Active Defense
    • This is not a defense per se, this is just a term for your best active defense.  You are able to use your best active defense against blast attacks, as well as range, area and line attacks with cover.

While this might seem confusing at first on a character sheet it's really easy to read.  Defense is lined up like:
AD:20 RD:15 UD:19 PD:15.  It also provides a lot of interesting situations like a character running towards an archer in an open field.  The archer would be targeting the character's ranged defense, which without a shield or a special knack will generally be the same as their passive defense.  In the case of the defenses listed above that would be equivalent to a +5 to hit which is pretty massive as opposed to attacking the character with a melee weapon.  At the same time, an archer might find a warrior barreling down on him with a shield which negates a major benefit of  having a bow.  Of course there are also examples where you could have someone highly trained in hand to hand combat who could easily get in close and bypass someone's shield and weapon putting them at a disadvantage.  Now just think of the possibilities you could encounter with such a simple set of defenses each used in particular situations?

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