Matched Pairs

edited November 2006 in Story Games
I currently have part of a game rolling around in my head, and one of its operating principles is matched pairs. That is, pairs of stats that are either opposed or must have resources divided between them - more in one at the expense of the other. Although this has worked flawlessly for part of the design (ship combat), I haven't yet extrapolated it to characters. I'd like to. (And before someone suggests it, I'm aware that Pendragon's Passions work on this principle, but I can't lay hands on a copy in short order.)

So, for character "stats," what would make for good matched pairs? For example, I see Reason vs. Intuition (or Logic vs. Emotion) as a good one. Basically, I'm looking for matched pairs of tools a character might use to solve problems and negotiate conflicts. I don't currently have any bias about the nature of resolution, so physical, mental, psychological, social, and educational stats are all fair game. What I'd really appreciate is just people's ideas to get me jumpstarted.

Thanks in advance,
MDG

Comments

  • Why not let players establish their own pairs? Maybe your game has eight stats/concepts and they need to be placed into two thematic, opposing columns however the player likes.
  • Hmm. Possibly, but I was considering a more homogenized approach, for speed and ease of play. I would rather the players focused on a few other peripheral character bits rather than making up stats.
  • I was thinking of it as a matching exercise - "OK, you've got STR, CON, DEX, WIS, INT, and CHA - pair them up. Stats in opposition say something about who your character is and what is important to them, because you'll be putting three of those in the Light Side column and three in the Dark Side." Or whatever.
  • Ohhhh, Jason speaks madness and awesome.

    I too had a similar concept that I playtested once or twice before I scrapped it (it was years ago), but it basically had these five stats which you ordered any way you want, and it formed a "This trumps this, this trumps that, this last one trumps the first" star of sorts, so the characters could choose which stats were their most powerful ones, etc. The players really liked that they could choose which stats were important to them and which specifically were their hinderances.

    After that, I had some skills (5 major ones: Melee, Missile, Influence, and two important others I forget now) which the players could link to the stats they wanted to, again putting in what they were good and bad at.

    I did it differently but the result was similar: One dude had his highest stat be Reason, and his highest skill be Influence (He logically and calculatedly manipulates people into doing his bidding) and his lowest stat was Strength and lowest skill was Missile Weapons (indicating that he was weak, and that he was never trained as a soldier). He also had Spirit in the middle of the road, with Melee linked to it (indicating that he had a good force of will, and that his combat actions were mainly based on confidence, determination and the like).

    It's kind of a blobby version of your idea. And I'm with Jason: Let the players decide their highs and lows.

    And damn, I'm thinking that this would make a great toolkit item for an S-G20. :-)

    -Andy
  • What's the setting like? You should set your pairs up to highlight the themes and/or genre conventions that you're playing with. Like, the Reason/Intuition split is good, but you could just as easily oppose reason with Strength (for a Sword & Sorcery setting) or with Magic (if your world were to involve some technology vs the arcane conflict), to pick a couple obvious ones.

    So where is the game set? Are those ships you mentioned enormous star cruisers manned by rigid naval officers or earthly sailing vessels crewed by swashbucklers and rogues?
  • To continue on Jason's vibe, imagine this:
    "OK, attributes range from 1 to 20. Split your attributes into two groups. The Light Group gets you 18, 15 and 13. The Dark Group gets you 2, 5, and 7. Match the attributes into pairs."

    OK, so I have:

    Light - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Dark
    Dexterity 18 <-------> Constitution 5
    Charisma 15 <-------> Strength 7
    Intelligence 13 <-------> Willpower 2

    Normally you have to roll under your ability on 1d20 to succeed (or whatever, modified by unlinked skills, etc).

    But if you do something "evil", you can "flip" the numbers. So if you do an evil act, your Willpower goes to 18, Strength 13, Con 15. Thta sort of thing.

    -Andy
  • edited November 2006
    Welcome to Pendragon, Andy. I hope you enjoy your stay.

    EDIT: I kid. Pendragon has paired positive/negative passions you can slide around on, but the ends are in direct opposition.
  • OK, frankly, I wasn't sold on Jason's notion, but when combined with Andy's, yeah, OK, awesome. I already had in mind a rock-paper-scissor notion (Training beats Cunning, Cunning beats Luck, Luck beats Training), so that adaptation should work. I also like the five star pattern, as a character sheet is starting to occur to me. I'm thinking Force (physical strength), Grace (physical dexterity and agility), Acuity (intelligence and mental capability), Charm (sociability), and Status (class, rank, and positional power). As for what trumps what, I'll have to think about it for a bit.

    FYI, this is for a space opera game idea I've been kicking around for about a week and a half now. It's really starting to gel in my head. Thanks, guys!
  • Jamey, to answer your question, it's a space opera game inspired by the likes of Banner of the Stars, Last Exile, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica (the new one). High melodrama against a backdrop of a larger struggle. I'd give you more detail, but it's kinda nebulous right now - I'll post something more definitive when I can shark up something a setting thumbnail.
  • I would suggest you check out Andrew Kenrick's Dead of Night, which uses 4 sets of paired character stats, 10 points to divide between each pair.
  • I'm thinking Force (physical strength), Grace (physical dexterity and agility), Acuity (intelligence and mental capability), Charm (sociability), and Status (class, rank, and positional power). As for what trumps what, I'll have to think about it for a bit.
    Maybe do as Jason and I were suggesting (if it works at all) and let the player's decide for themselves which trump which for their own actions? Or did you have something else in mind?

    -Andy
  • Also Levi's Cog Wars, which does the 5-part rock/paper/scissors thing really well.
  • Gah! This is exactly what I'm working on for my soooper-seekrit project.

    I'm going the route of using abstract concepts that fit the setting. For example, Fire is paired with Ice. Fire is aggressiveness, attack, and ruthlessness. Ice is resistance, defense, and protection of others. That sort of thing.
  • I really like the idea of pairs that are not obviously opposed. Or maybe it's just that if I see another Reason vs. Intuitition split my eyes will roll all the way into the back of my head and stay there. I think letting players match their pairs gives them an opportunity to get something across about their character in a much more interesting way than if they are just choosing from some existing pairs.
  • edited November 2006
    Posted By: Matthew GandyOK, frankly, I wasn't sold on Jason's notion, but when combined with Andy's, yeah, OK, awesome. I already had in mind a rock-paper-scissor notion (Training beats Cunning, Cunning beats Luck, Luck beats Training), so that adaptation should work. I also like the five star pattern, as a character sheet is starting to occur to me. I'm thinking Force (physical strength), Grace (physical dexterity and agility), Acuity (intelligence and mental capability), Charm (sociability), and Status (class, rank, and positional power). As for what trumps what, I'll have to think about it for a bit.

    FYI, this is for a space opera game idea I've been kicking around for about a week and a half now. It's really starting to gel in my head. Thanks, guys!
    The Cog Wars uses a five-way rock-paper-scissors mechanic. The stats are Grace, Cunning, Daring, Patience, and Zeal.

    ...Damn, I love synchronicity.

    EDIT: Beaten to the mention of my own game. I am so lame.
  • Levi, if you were lame, I wouldn't have mentioned your game.
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