Alternative XP Cost System

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Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2017 2:18 am

Alternative XP Cost System

Postby Rocketeer » Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:38 am

In other discussions on these forums, certain thorny issues have been pointed out that have their roots in the cost system for XP expenditure [For example, see Mastery Perk and Rules rationale behind cost of Super Attributes/Skills]. Torg Eternity uses two different types of cost scales for attributes and skills. A linear cost scale is used for initial attribute and skill assignments during character creation, and then a rising cost scale (i.e. 2x new value) is used when spending XP to raise those same attributes and skills. In addition, a third different type of cost scale is used for Perk purchases, and it too uses a rising cost scale.

One of the items that gets mentioned as an issue has to do with building an experienced character to replace an existing character (due to character retirement, death, etc.). The XP system can be gamed for a more optimized build, by assigning some attributes very low values (e.g. 5 or 6), while assigning other attributes very high values. This is done with the foreknowledge that the player will never actually need to play such a vulnerable and unbalanced character, because XPs will immediately be spent to raise the lower attributes to more respectable values. Since it is much cheaper to raise lower attribute values with XP than it is to raise higher values, a more optimized character can be built. So, the new replacement character can actually be more powerful than the character being replaced, even though they have the same XP level.

Other issues arise when dealing with Perks. The overall cost impact of some Perks depend on when that Perk is purchased. For example, assume the goal is to have a Nile Empire character with a Dexterity of 15, and the character currently has a Dexterity of 11. If the player spent XPs to raise the Dexterity to 13 and then purchased Super Attribute (with the Power Enhancement for a net gain of +2), the total XP cost would be 50 + Perk Cost. If instead, Super Attribute was purchased first and then the Dexterity was further raised to 15 through normal attribute increases, the total XP cost would be 58 + Perk Cost. So, even though a Super Attribute might be a core feature of the character concept, it is more cost effective to delay acquiring that Perk until the attribute can be raised to the its normal maximum.

Also, there is a tendency to avoid Perks that seem less useful, even though they may fit the character concept well. This is not only because of the initial XP expenditure to acquire the Perk, but because, due the rising cost of each subsequent Perk, they will also raise the XP cost of every Perk purchased afterwards.

These things tend to encourage developing a character based on numeric optimizations, rather than on character concept.

On the other hand, if a linear scale were used for both initial character creation and XP expenditures, then players couldn’t game the character creation system when building experienced characters. For example, if increasing an attribute always cost 20 XP, regardless of the value of the attribute, then the cost to increase an attribute from 5 to 6 would be the same as increasing an attribute from 12 to 13. So, there would be no XP cost benefit to starting a character build with attributes at the extremes of 5 and 13. Also, Perks like Super Attribute, that add directly to an attribute, wouldn’t effect the cost of later increases to that attribute. I also prefer the simplicity of a linear cost system, fewer and simpler calculations.

As a GM, the character progression in Torg Eternity has been a bit too rapid for my tastes, so I was planing on reducing XP awards to slow things down. Instead, I now plan on keeping the XP awards at 5 per Act and implementing a linear cost system with costs for XP expenditures that runs a bit on the high side. For, example, 5 XP per skill point increase, 30 XP per attribute point increase, and 15 XP per new Perk.

Here are a few comparisons between the RAW and this alternative linear system. Using the RAW, the cost to raise a skill from +1 to +5 would cost 14 XP, while using the linear cost of 5XP per skill point would result in a cost of 20 XP. With the RAW, raising an attribute from 8 to 13 would cost 110 XP. Using the linear system of 30 XP per point would result in a total cost of 150 XP. Purchasing 5 Perks using the RAW would cost 45 XP, and using the linear system of 15 XP per Perk would result in a cost of 65 XP.

A GM that likes faster character advancement might chose lower XP costs. For example, 3 XP per skill point increase, 20 XP per attribute point increase, and 10 XP per new Perk.

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Re: Alternative XP Cost System

Postby utsukushi » Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:18 am

That looks like a neat way to control advancement a little bit. If you think about it, as your game goes on, I'd defiinitely be interested in hearing how it seems to work out over time!

The truth is, while I do think it has its issues, I don't actually think the XP system is, like, intrinsically broken, or anything. This is one of those places where I think I might have done it differently, but I don't dislike what they did -- all of the things that can be seen as weaknesses in it can also be seen as strengths, and some of those strengths lie in places we haven't really seen yet.

For example, yes, replacement characters are likely to be stronger because they can game the system a bit better. And yes, like I talked about in the thread on Super Attribute/Skill, at extreme levels this can result in a significant disparity that I could see frustrating players. But for the most part, those players can, if they want, retire their characters and make new ones themselves, doing the same thing. As long as it's basically available to everyone, I think it's OK. It reflects the team getting stronger, not just the individuals, and I kind of like that. It's maybe not perfect, but it definitely has its charm.

Perks is where I worry you might actually be creating a problem down the line. We've already seen places where those sub-par Perks are balanced not by their cost, but by being prerequisites for later Perks that are really good. This is definitely true in the Light Perks right in the core book; we've seen it with some of the Edeinos Perks... it's definitely something they're doing. (It's even been hinted that Speed Demon might become one of these. We Shall See... :) ) The increasing cost of Perks makes Perk Trees more interesting over time, and I'd worry that flattening them out will have longer term problems that are harder to see.

Sword of Spirit
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Re: Alternative XP Cost System

Postby Sword of Spirit » Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:35 pm

I like it. I'm probably going to stick with my solution (I described it on the other thread) for now, but if that isn't giving the results we like, going with your faster advancement values probably would.

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Re: Alternative XP Cost System

Postby Sunrunner » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:32 pm

And this is why you have respends. It happens all the time in comics and stuff where suddenly the hero goes and does an training montage and comes back 2 months later with radically better skills and such. If PCs die and some one comes back super optimized you can just allow the current characters to respend and rebuild their character from 0XP when they take a month off to go due some intensive training ect. This will be happening for a while organically as the new cosom books come out as suddenly new options that were not previously available will come out and letting the character repsend so they can take advantage of them is not uncalled for.

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Re: Alternative XP Cost System

Postby videopete » Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:51 am

The respend is also built into the system via Transformations. Dont like your character find a cool reality and start spamming 4 point contridictions. Till you trigger a change.

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