My "SPECIAL" System

So it is about time to implement my stat and upgrade system in Sand. I know what you are thinking... "Shouldn't that have been one of the first systems you implemented?". Well yes, but not really. I instead worked on the core 'fun' of the game by really fleshing out the base-building section of the game. Now it is time to work on some of the RPG elements.

So I love Fallout 1 and 2. I've mentioned this before, they are some of my favorite games. I love the SPECIAL system in both it's simplicity and complexity in role playing. I wanted to mirror this, but also poke fun at and completely change it. So I decided to add my own NORMAL system to the game, but with a significant twist. When you add points into the NORMAL system you actually get worse at something in the game. So I started with some common negative traits we all have or struggle with. So here is what I have so far:

N - neediness (health - [mental health])
O - obesity (more food/health items needed to heal) 
R - recklessness (luck - crit/fumble/weapon-jam chance)
M -materialistic (build costs)
A - apathetic (charisma - higher base score needed for recruits)
L - laziness (move/build speed)

These are by far not set in stone and are subject to change (especially when I get feed back from you all). I am not sure I've seen a core system like this before. I bet someone has done it though; it just makes sense really. This opens up several game play options. I can increase or decrease a stat based on an action you might take. For example if you make a certain decision at the end of Ellie's quest line (selling certain objects that you didn't ask for) you might gain one point in apathy but decrease one in neediness.

Anyway let me know what you think of this purposed system. Do you like it? Should it be changed? Can you think of better words for my NORMAL system? 

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the name "obesity" seems really tacky. reading this, my instinctive reaction was "really?" it reads inconsistently. the others listed are genuine personality flaws but "obesity" is just a rude word for "fat," which is a physical characteristic that is outside of anyone's control.

the game mechanic is fine, but it seems like it could easily be rolled into one of the other stats (a reckless character applies a bandage poorly reducing its effectiveness, a high maintenance character uses more supplies than they need out of fear, etc). it does sound less impactful than the others, but of course you could always refine & expand it.

i've been playing the game for a few hours and i've been pretty sucked in. the basebuilding gameplay loops are really satisfying. you have a good vision

i don't know exactly how advanced you want the dialogue system to get, but it could be interesting to have high or low stats in a specific "skill" alter dialogue options. a player could choose to RP, for example, a neurotically industrious character with high neediness but low laziness & have it come up when other characters speak to them. i think having it be a pure gameplay thing is also fine.

i do also really like the idea you mentioned in response to another commenter where high stats unlock positives/special abilities in exchange for the penalties.

Hum, what would be a better O word then? I thought of obsessive but couldn't think of what stat to affect. I am glad you like the game!

Maybe more xp needed? Or I could use obtuse?

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Be careful, players don't generally like it if you take away capabilities/make them worse, particularly if they can't see it coming. This is why this sort of thing isn't generally done. 

There's a IGDC talk somewhat related to this by a guy who worked on magic the gathering for 20 years called something like 20 lessons from 20 years. 

That is a good point. I'd definitely make sure you'd know how a decision will change your stats. Maybe I'd just make them improve not get worse?

You could do both, have a benefit and a negative, then people could choose what they want to specialise in.

I'd also recommend mixing and matching, so for example increasing charisma in one circumstance increases laziness and in another circumstance increases materialistic. That would cause players to be able to choose what they'd like to excel in, and where they don't mind taking penalties. I also think that you should either get an equivalent positive bonus to negative penalty for an action, or a better positive bonus than negative penalty.

Finally I'd say you'll probably want to make it so that each choice either has a lot of different options so people don't have to choose things they don't like, or a choice where they can avoid stat changes completely. 

Unfortunately all of this relegates the stat system to  a very secondary/minor role in the game, meaning that interesting interactions coming out of being obese or something else will likely be missed by most players as the different negative stats are deemed to be a bad things and players will try to optimise away from it. 

If instead you'd rather the stat system be rather forefront in the game but you also don't want people to feel rather annoyed every time they get hit with a new penalty two alternatives I have are:

 *  having 'skill bundles' where you get a new skill or abililty but it's bundled with a negative trait, and rather than having a slow slider (obesity from 1-100) you just have 'mildly obese' 'obese' 'very obese' stacking skills, each with their own stats. This gives tangible reward at the same time as the penalty, rather than just having 'some numbers go up' and 'some numbers go down', making the whole thing feel a bit more meaningful. 

 * Turning the whole system on it's head and have the negative traits actually be good things, e.g. if you're lazy maybe people pay you more to do stuff because they know you don't want to do it? But instead of having it be an outright boon have it be reflected in world interactions (e.g. talking to characters) and make it very obvious that those bonuses (e.g. extra dialogue options) are a result of having a high penalty skill.

For the last option you'll also need to teach the player really early on about the in-world bonuses, for example having a player start with the lazy stat and show in the first area that they can take a nap in a random bed (only because they have the lazy stat) and give them a bonus (e.g. a new npc pops up) because they did it.


humm these are a good ideas. I could even have certain abilities that are only available if your stats are high enough. Laziness could sleep in any bed and it could heal you. Obesity could let you eat raw food without cooking. Materialistic could multiply resource chances. Apathy could effect mission awards. Neediness could allow more companions or have them heal you after battle. Recklessness could spread your unluckiness to everyone.

Thanks for the comments! This could go deeper then I imagined.

Very nice!

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That's a great way to change, although I think move and build speed could be merged with obesity. For the L, I think you could use either:
    Loudness - Text Size ;)
    Lethargy - Hunger and Thirst depleting speed (cuz you'll faint more often)

yep like those too!

This is hilarious! :D  Made my day to read this. It's very... oddball but I'd love to try it out! 

lol thanks! Oddball fits my style and game for sure :)