Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Really Just An Encounter Table

Applying the methodology from two posts ago, where a child grows to age 10, I gave an average of 42 for the six stats gained. It does occur to me that some of earlier’s misconception could be cleared up by pointing out that the distribution of strength and other abilities progressively would allow for any particular stat to be above 12, even for a peasant ... and I said as much on Monday, though I failed to bring this up earlier. C’est la vie.

(As an aside, I’d like to mention at this point that the number 42 resting on the backs of peasants is a rather apropos coincidence – but I digress)

But going over it, we have given the child collectively from 12 to 72 points of abilities (average 42), bringing it to age 10. This is the moment of decision. For most of the population, the child has effectively reached its full, mature potential. Without further training of some sort, the child will not get any more intelligent, or wise, or strong, etc. If a classic peasant, he or she will get about the business of living, tending the cattle, sowing and reaping the field, etc.

On the other hand, the child may have some opportunity to improve – because of its social class, or through familial connections, or through gaining an apprenticeship and so on. The child may run away and take work in a chain gang, as a hawker, collector of materials, a porter, a street harlot or successful beggar. Any one of these would suggest a greater strength (raw labor), intelligence (the hawker), dexterity (prostitution) and so on. It is the progression from youth along some moderate profession that allows the youth to continue to improve his or her ability stat.

At no time did I state emphatically that a peasant was doomed to remain a peasant from the moment of birth. I made no genetic argument. I said clearly that is it the lack of education that limits the peasant to the suggested stat distribution.

And as such, the offspring of any existing person could establish themselves in any given ‘status,’ depending upon how they are treated from the moment of birth. A peasant child could rise to the level of king – given the necessary training and opportunity – as easily as a king’s bastard child tossed into the wood could find itself raised to be a peasant.

There is the typical story of Oedipus and hundreds of others, where blood tells the tale of how abandonment cannot hide the truth of a great being – but these were tales, after all, told to soothe the egos of the upper class. I think it quite likely that Oedipus, his feet nailed together, should have died exactly he was meant to die. Certainly, most abandoned children do die.

That said, I still leave room open for Oedipus to get lucky and climb the social ladder anyway. The system as designed works both ways.

Now, Carl has asked how I distribute the classes, having determined the number of leveled persons, and to that I answer, loosely. I have sat and thought about it, and made calculations, that I will include here, but with this provisal – I don’t use these figures, except in the widest sense. At no time have I felt limited by the numbers in determining what class of NPC a party may run across. I admit, I don’t give very many of those classes which, by these numbers, do not occur often.

In calculating the likelihood of a specific class, I apply two characteristics. The first is the likelihood of an individual possessing the stats necessary to BE a given class. A cleric needs a wisdom of 9, a paladin needs a charisma of 17 (and other minimums), an assassin needs a strength of 12 and so on. All of these minimums are available in the player’s handbook.

When you calculate the likelihood of a particular individual of adherent status (3d6 for all stats) or better having the necessary stats, you get the following table:


The hardest classes to qualify for are the monk, the paladin and the ranger, in that order. The fighter is slightly harder than the cleric, mage or thief because the Player’s Handbook adds that the fighter must have a constitution of 7 or better, while those other three principal classes have no second required characteristic.

Obviously, there would be people who would qualify for more than one class, but I don’t need to calculate that, since I am only working out the pass/fail ratio for those who wish to be each specific class.

Moving onto the second characteristic. This would be the minimum age for the class in question – and for simplicity, I use the human table for ages. Obviously, I could create a separate age system for every kind of race, but I don’t need the headache – one template works well enough for me.

I have modified the starting ages for character classes in my world from the DMG, but they are approximately the figures the gentle reader would expect. The youngest age each class can be are as follows: cleric (21), druid (23), bard (26), fighter (15), paladin (20), ranger (18), mage (26), illusionist (31), thief (19), assassin (20), monk (24). These are slightly higher than p. 12 of the DMG, but not adversely so.

This presumes that our 10-year-old child starts at once, that he or she has the necessary statistical minimums (or will have them by 15 – see Monday’s post) and that they can keep up the level of work. If they don’t develop those minimums, it is assumed they failed.

Taking each class, and presuming a 15% drop out rate per year for the first ten years, and a 5% drop out rate thereafter, I get a series of numbers which limit the likelihood of classes based upon how long it takes to learn the class. Far fewer mages, therefore, make the cut than fighters, because a mage must keep at the training for 16 years, while the fighter is done after 5.

Admittedly, the drop out rate is fairly ad hoc – and I could mess around with it in a number of ways to produce numbers I’d be happy with. But what I say is fuck it – its my world and I will produce the numbers I want. You reading this can go produce the numbers you want. All I really offer here is a methodology.

All right. I’ll try to make this as simple as possible. Monday’s table gave 215 leveled persons out of a total of 29,092. I calculate the remaining ‘graduates’ for each class by starting each class with the same number of persons and reduce them by the above drop-out rate, and then multiply that number against the class minimums table given above.

So now I have a a different figure for each class, allowing me to compare them to each other. Using Monday’s table for the ratio of leveled persons to non-leveled persons, I can calculate out the number of each class per 100,000 persons:


Crazy, huh?

13 comments:

noisms said...

This is clearer, but I'm interested in this bit:

On the other hand, the child may have some opportunity to improve – because of its social class, or through familial connections, or through gaining an apprenticeship and so on. The child may run away and take work in a chain gang, as a hawker, collector of materials, a porter, a street harlot or successful beggar. Any one of these would suggest a greater strength (raw labor), intelligence (the hawker), dexterity (prostitution) and so on. It is the progression from youth along some moderate profession that allows the youth to continue to improve his or her ability stat.

So far, so good. (Although I'm not sure what dexterity has to do with prostitution - greater limberness?) But at some point you're going to get into muddy waters. Strength and Constitution (and Dexterity too, probably) are very much "use it or lose it" stats. Anybody who does any sort of physical exercise will know this. This is particularly true of Constitution, which gets progressively worse with lack of physical exercise. What happens to the Constitution (not to mention Charisma) of children who train as illusionists and thus are engaged in book learning from the age of 10 to 31? How do you reflect the fact that certain stats are likely to decrease over time?

And what about age? Does an 86 year old liege who has inherited his title still get 4d6 for stats?

Alexis said...

DMG, p. 12.

James C. said...

@ Greg: What would you then base the likliehood of any given class existing if not ability requirements? Or, how would you alter the requirements to be less arbitrary? I'm not sure I understand your incredulity and wonder from what basis you would then make assumptions on actual numbers if not ability scores.

My curiosity is genuine, I'm not trying to bait you. I've personally wondered about this myself but have come up with no preferred method so far.

James C. said...

"...Strength and Constitution (and Dexterity too, probably) are very much "use it or lose it" stats. Anybody who does any sort of physical exercise will know this. This is particularly true of Constitution, which gets progressively worse with lack of physical exercise. What happens to the Constitution (not to mention Charisma) of children who train as illusionists and thus are engaged in book learning from the age of 10 to 31?"

Re: Noisms comments above, I beleive this is where the abstraction and randomness of the ability scores themselves must be admitted by all. The illusionist with the high Constitution score must have gone hiking between lectures and study and begun life as a rather fit individual. In Alexis's online campaign, my cleric has rather high physical stats... he didn't get that fit studying at the seminary.

This particular aspect of Alexis's system seems involved or concerned with finding a logical place in the world for what were the randomly determined stats and the objective and specific character class entry requirements... he's building here from the top down (so many characters already exist, where do they fit?) rather then the bottom-up (would kind of and how many of each character class would this world logically support and generate?), so to speak.

Carl said...

Crazy-awesome, Alexis!

Thanks for the methodology! I'm pretty excited to get home and apply this to my own game.

Greg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alexis said...

Editor's privilege, Greg. You were not contributary, either. If you cannot usefully contribute to the discussion, you have no place here.

As regards the practice of editing out reader's comments upon published material, I draw your attention to the long tradition of journalism. You may read my position on the editing of my blog here.

I am unashamed.

James C. said...

Of course, the unfortunate result Alexis is that I look like I'm arguing with myself. At least the controversy didn't involve helicopters and the real-world this time.

Alexis said...

Don't take it poorly, James. From previous comments it is possible to work out what you're arguing against.

James C. said...

I know. I was only going for some much-needed levity, my man.

Carl said...

I hate it when I miss the troll.

PatrickW said...

I had something puckish to say, but am choosing not to.

I have been very interested in the statistical outcomes of these discussions on stats. The spread of classes per 100,000 persons is particularly interesting as it underscores the difference between what the game puports to be the spread and what the rules actually make likely. I always felt thief was the default class - who knew it was actually fighter?

Alexis, thank you for presenting all this. It has been very informative and thought provoking.

Alexis said...

Well, truth be told Patrick, the thief, mage and cleric are all the easiest classes to apply for. This could be modified very easily, by insisting that mages must have a minimum 9 dexterity, that clerics have a minimum 9 charisma and that thieves have a minimum 9 intelligence. In fact, all of the above numbers could be easily modified by either raising or lowering various stat requirements.

For example, why does the monk, who cannot have strength bonuses, absolutely need a 15 strength? Why not a 14? That's still unusually high, but dropping all three stats - str, dex and con - would greatly increase the number of monks.