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Writing with "skill points" in mind

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Old December 5th, 2017 (2:06 PM).
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Fawful_X Fawful_X is offline
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    Do you ever write, or make notes with the concept of a skill system (such as Fallout's SPECIAL system, or Dungeons and Dragons' stats) in mind in order to show yourself where Char 1 can improve, and how that compares/contrasts with Char 2? If you do, how do you handle it?

    Personally, I feel like it is a rather useful writing tool as it helps me evaluate a character's strengths and weaknesses, and allows me to more properly plan situations that challenge the heroes (and maybe even the villains!) by adjusting events to tests their ability to get out of harrowing situations and work as a team, along with giving me an idea on how a character can improve in certain parameters.

    As for how I handle it, I personally set down four aspects of a character in the form of Combat, Agility, Charisma, and Support, and give them five levels of competency. While there is definite room for interpretation for these aspects, I use them in order to get a better idea on what would properly challenge a character (such as giving a combat challenge to a character who isn't especially well-versed in fighting) and coming up with a solution that utilizes their skills to great effect (i.e. the ineffective fighter instead chooses to support an ally fighting another enemy, and by doing that they can easily take them out and then focus fire on the original threat).
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    Old December 5th, 2017 (6:22 PM).
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    Astinus Astinus is offline
       
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      It's funny that Bard mentioned dice rolling in his post, because the idea behind this thread reminded me of a criticism I heard about the DragonLance book series, which is based on D&D. That--at least the beginning of the series--it reads like you can always hear the dice rolling in the background of every scene.

      I don't keep any numbered stats for my characters when writing. Mostly, I just think of their personalities and what they would do in a particular situation. Like I have two characters that don't work well as part of a team. So, to challenge them, I force them into situations where they have to work with the rest of the team.

      It's fine if you do keep sheets like this, but let the story flow as it needs to. Writing just based on characters stat sheets and dice rolls could lead to a situation going really wrong when you need it to go differently. (As DragonLance shows, because the campaign the first book was based on ended with everyone dying. Not a great start to a trilogy when everyone dies halfway through the very beginning!)
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      Old December 6th, 2017 (10:36 PM).
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      I think using "skill points" can be done if executed well, like the podcast series The Adventure Zone where the McElroys were able to craft a very fun D&D campaign that listeners enjoyed (and I think sometimes they allow some flexibility). But yeah, me personally I don't do that myself since I don't get hung myself on stats. Only exception is if I'm checking info on Pokemon where the stats are already there.
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      Old December 7th, 2017 (1:08 PM).
      Ice Ice is offline
       
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      Quote:
      Originally Posted by Bay Alexison View Post
      I think using "skill points" can be done if executed well, like the podcast series The Adventure Zone where the McElroys were able to craft a very fun D&D campaign that listeners enjoyed (and I think sometimes they allow some flexibility). But yeah, me personally I don't do that myself since I don't get hung myself on stats. Only exception is if I'm checking info on Pokemon where the stats are already there.
      I adore TAZ, but I think the switch from DnD to an actual written medium is quite big. They were using game play mechanics, because they were actually playing a game.

      Stats to me seem to miss out on a lot of nuance. A social stat, or a charisma stat, doesn't allow to display the immense nuance social interaction takes. Some characters are bad with the other gender, with people in positions of respect, with children. Some characters get through social interaction through intimidation, others through smiles and others with a more formal sense of diplomacy. The only thing one could really measure in stats is physical feats, but even then you need to keep in mind the way surroundings and circumstances effect that.

      Overall, I'd just really advice against stats, and advocate for an extensive profile, or a clearer sense of character.
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      Old December 9th, 2017 (3:35 PM).
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      Venia Silente Venia Silente is offline
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        Honestly, at most I use a sort of skills point system in order to categorize my Pokémon characters' overall progress and variance in battling ability, but not for hard -not even medium- commitments of "who would beat who in a fight". (Not that I don't know who would beat who, but that's a different bowl)

        Given that it's also a system developed only partially, and mostly for fun, I don't want to commit to it either. Basically Pokémon are categorized into seven "combat statistics" such as elemental prowess, resilience and maneuverability. I was given the idea from JoJo and decided to give it a try.

        Still, as said above, I advocate towards having a strong sense of character - enough, ideally, that your characters can think on their own and are able to keep a consistent voice and agency without your direct interaction, though that's more a "beauty in the eyes of the reader" thing.
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