How we understand things depends in large part on how we see them. That to a good degree depends on how we frame them, and that relies to a great extent on how they are explained to us but those who first introduced us to the subject.
The creationist rejects evolution because the very idea of evolution contradicts what he was told early in life of how it all began. The skeptic rejects the existence of the sasquatch because he was told earlier that such an animal could not exist in North America because their ancestors had no was to get here from Asia. In both cases, creationist and skeptic, their rejection of the respective ideas comes from what they had earlier learned, and education they have accepted on the authority of those who taught it.
In the field of role playing guides—RPGs—our first exposure to how our characters are described in numerical terms came in the RPG Dungeons & Dragons—D&D. The a character is described in terms of 6 characteristics ranging in value from 3 to 18—which suffices in an RPG that was limited to figures presented on the human scale, but which sort of breaks down when an individual appears in a much larger size.
The characteristics also selected to represent a character present a further problem, for not everybody has the same understanding of what they mean. A term such as “Strength” or “Intelligence” do have a certain meaning, but not everybody understands them exactly the same way. In addition, our characteristics are also held to represent different aspects of us. Strength represents the physical, Intelligence the mental, but when you get right down to it both can be said to be representations of the physical, with Intelligence representing how capable a person is in what he has in the way of brain capacity and his ability to use it.
How characteristics are determined also frames how we see them. When a player rolls 3d6 for each in a particular order he may sometimes end up with such as Strength and Dexerity having values of 18 and 3 respectively; which is possible in reality, but often indicates a serious problem in the individual.
By and large our statistics tend to be interconnected. The genius is very often strong as well as smart. In his case the Physical is related to the Mental. There are exceptions, but most are rare.
In the end we are all integrated as individuals. Good health most often means good coordination, good strength, good intelligence, good wisdom, and good social skills. With but a few exceptions being smart also means being wise—except among the young, and being wise often means being skilled in social situations.
But our tendency is to segregate the characteristics because that is how we were taught to deal with them. In addition in some RPGs the designer takes the practice to an extreme, with FATAL for example presenting a total of 20 characteristics in five groups, which don’t always have a role to play in all but a few occasions.
Then you have one such as Mythus, where the Attribues—as they are called—represent interconnected aspects of a figure; such as how capable he could be, how powerful he is, and how swiftly he can bring an aspect or Category into play. But because of how we were taught to see characteristics in an RPG we tend to ignore that in favor of how we were told to handle such matters.
The fact that RPGs began originally as wargames also affects how we view them, for in a wargame the goal is to engage in combat. Even when the attempt is made to make social aspects a part of play we tend to present such as a part of conflict, a part of combat, the mechanics we use shaped to resemble how combat is handled. We either won’t see that there are other ways of handling it, or we can’t see.
You get right down to it, it is our stubbornness that limits how we can handle matters, for we much prefer to handles things in certain ways having learned earlier in life that that is how you do it.
And in case you’re wondering, this does need to be rewritten because I kind of wobbled about with it. I let the stream of consciousness stuff carry me away. But you can look at this as an example of my thinking on the subject and do some thinking of your own. Call this a rough draft and let your mind wander afield.
Before I write up the section on Birth Rank and Age in Mythus I thought we’d have a look at the matter of families in RPGs
The Importance of Family
When playing an RPG there are times when a player would much rather not have to bother with complications such as family. Here he’s trying to play a rough tough loner type who doesn’t need to be saddled with kinfolk and the like. Likely he’s thinking of a lone-wolf type character, such as Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name from the old spaghetti westerns or some like character. There’s a problem with that.
First, lone wolves are not really all that common. We all have relatives somewhere, and we may just run across them from time to time. And even if we are currently a lone wolf, our parents and siblings at the least had an impact on us.
Our personality, our skills, our nature come largely from our relatives, and not always our parents. Our birth rank also plays a part, for the first born is often quite different from the second born.
But most importantly, the big advantage having a family gives the player is, enemies and allies. His brother could be assistance against the big bad. His sister could be the big bad. And Dad could be backing his sister because she is his daughter. To make matters even worse there could be times when the player’s character could be required to take his sister’s side in a matter; sometimes when she’s in the right, sometimes because his sociey demands it of him, and sometimes because he really has no choice.
And a family—when you’re on good terms with them—can be a resource. You could borrow Dad’s horse, use Uncle Ned’s heirloom magical wand, most anything. Keeping in mind that they could ask favors of you. For that is what patrons are for, to provide assistance while at the same time getting you into trouble.
And having kin gives you a certain reputation, for most folks are going to know about your family and by rather reluctant to get on your bad side. Or, they may decide that they could use you against your relatives. Having a family can get complicated.
For players and GMs it’s, take advantage of a character’s family. Have fun with it. Aunt Sally could get her nephew out of trouble, just so she can enlist the young man’s help in stealing the local duke’s Wand of the Latter Three, which is rumored to weld together living flesh at a touch. Or he and his friends could be given the task of leading Dad and his friends from his brother’s escape route and they had for a land where the two boys can live happily and peacefully as husband and wife.
And should the character’s be burdened by lots of gold and treasure, there’s nothing like a family for disposing of it in one manner or another.
So give them families, give them trouble and strive, for roses have thorns and a bed of roses aren’t exactly comfortable to sleep on.
This is an example of how the matter is handled in Mythus. At what age one’s Heroic Persona starts at under the standard mechanics can range between the age of 12 and 80―in a civilized land it can go as high as 99. If you can’t choose an age then the default is 25’
That age is in Class 4, where your HP starts out with his base STEEP in his Vocation’s K/S Areas. He starts out in a younger class then he subtracts the number of points of STEEP as indicated below. Should you decide that he’s going to start adventuring when he’s in an older class, then he gets a bonus to STEEP that is the bonuses of the older classes added together.
Let’s say that Mardis―a 76 year old great grandfather and scholar―needs to go out on an adventure for the first time to get some medicine for his ailing great-grandson. Being his age he gets another 450 points of STEEP to add to his K/S Areas.
Age Class Ages STEEP
When subtracting STEEP you need to take at least half from those K/S Areas under the HP’s Vocational Trait; The rest can then be taken from either of the other two Trait K/S Areas. When adding STEEP you must add at last half of the bonus to the HP’s Vocational Trait K/S areas, then divide what remains to the other to Trait K/S Areas.
Since Mardis is a Scholar―a Mental Trait Vocation―his player would need to add at least 225 points of STEEP to any Mental K/S Areas he has, with any STEEP left over going to the HP’s Physical or Spiritual K/S Areas. And when it comes to adding STEEP to a K/S Area the increase can only be half of the original. So if Mardis had a base STEEP of 12 in a K/S plus an Attribute of 15, then his starting STEEP would be 27 and his player would be able to add just 13 bonus points to the K/S, for a total STEEP of 40.
In addition since he’s 8 age classes past 5 he gets to add 1 bonus K/S Area for each Trait that he has with a value of 90 or better. That means a possibility of 24 extra Areas at a value of 2d6+Attribute, one per Trait, which means he could have gotten 3 K/S Areas when he turned 36, another 3 when he turned 41, and so on and so forth. Though you don’t have to add them in one big gulp you could add each bonus K/S over the course of the years.
Now to top this off, for every year past the age of 35 the HP gets a 1d10 in added STEEP. But for every year he is under 25 he would lose 1d10 in STEEP. This is in addition to any STEEP gained or lost for being in a higher or lower age class. Considering that Mardis is some 41 years older than 35 his player would then get another 41d10 in STEEP to add to the great grandfather’s K/S Areas. BTW, I added the minus 1d10 to STEEP for each year younger than 25 because I’m mean; Gary was a bit too soft hearted to do anything like that.
When it comes to this bonus STEEP the same rules apply as for any bonus STEEP gained for aging into a high age class. At least half into the Vocation Trait, the rest into the other two traits, and no more than an extra amount of STEEP equal to half of the Area’s starting STEEP.
And just to make things even more complicated, it is my recommendation that you make your adjustments year by year instead of doing it all at once
That’s pretty much how I’m handling previous experience in Mythus, you of course are quite welcome to handle it the way you prefer.
Of course your preferred system would handle matters differently, which leads me to ask; how does your preferred system handle previous experience, or how would you see it handling the matter?
I’ve noticed that some people don’t really know how to socialize in an RPG. Something about mechanics getting in to way, or of needing mechanics to make sure things are fair. I have to ask, why not use the mechanics as suggestions and advice.
Let’s say you cast a dweomer on a target that makes him think your character is an old friend of his. How are you going to handle that?
That’s simple, you’re an old friend of his. How do your old friends in real life handle you? Well then, use them as an example. They’re apt to be friendly. They may ask what you’ve been up to and how you’re doing. Most likely they’ll want an introduction to your new friends, though they may have trouble with them for some reason.
And what if they just happen to know one of your new friends, and the two of them happen to be enemies?
Just remember that your characters don’t have to be all that doctrinaire regarding the people you know, even the big bads. And sometimes the big bad is an old friend of yours from long ago that you did forget.
Marcus the Reprehensible: Timeas the White! When did you become a paladin? Last I saw you the Bishop was hauling you off for the graffiti you did on the back wall of the chapel.
Party Wizard: No, Tim, I cast nothing.
And do it all in character. That’s the key, doing it all in character.
And I know that there is more to say, but I’m running out of stuff. I’ll address this matter again when I’ve had time to do some cogitation.