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The Spirit of the Law/Dev. Diary

Posted April 20, 2018 at 07:57 PM by Grim

Right. Now that we've had some time to talk about the letter of the law and how the new experience system is supposed to work, let's talk about a little about why it is the way it is.

There were a few basic complaints with the old experience system that we were trying to address.

One, whether you had a long, involved thread or a short one generally had very little to do with what you got out of it. When everything is stuck on basic one or two experience per thread system, how long the thread is has little impact on what you get out of it.

Two, advancement in Aelyria can be very glacial. Being able to gain more experience faster would allow characters to grow at a faster pace.

Three, a level five and a level one character gains experience at the exact same rate for doing the exact same things. Which creates a situation where a third or fourth level character can dip into a thread intended for first level characters and gain the exact same experience rewards.

Now it's worth noting that there are a lot of models for gaining experience out there. Classic D&D treated gold and experience as essentially the same thing, later on you got experience for fighting monsters, Dungeon World has a system where you gain experience when you develop your relationships to other characters, several games have systems where you gain experience for completing tasks/missions/quests. Classically, Aelyria has veered closer to the Skyrim model of gaining experience, where you gain experience in individual skills rather than as a person. Which made a lot of these potential systems moot.

In the end a system where you get experience for accomplishing certain tasks was what we came up with. Each skill gets three experience qualifiers that can be met separately to get experience.

The first of these is "imaginative or surprising use", this is simple. This is the mod patting you on the back and saying good job, if you managed to surprise your mod or they were otherwise impressed with how you used your skill, this is how they can show their appreciation. I wouldn't overthink this category too much as a player, do your thing, this is there if the moderator is impressed with you.

We're going to skip ahead to the third and do things out of order. Because I do what I want! Also because it doesn't generally merit as much attention as the second. The third qualifier is a little more murky than the others. If the first is a way for the mod to reward you for a good post or an impressive bit of roleplaying, this is here to reward you for plugging your character into something in character rather than just having them float on top of the game world.

It represents a faction repaying you for the time you've spent working for them, essentially. If your PC is part of a faction that would work with a skill you have, then you can use this when you're doing something related to them. So if you're part of a witch coven and you spend a thread trapping people's souls in acorns, then you can probably get an experience in adjuration out of that. It's relatively vague and requires a little common sense in its approach, but we can probably do that. As PCs you should probably remind moderators of what factions and such you are part of so as to help the moderator out, because quite frankly moderators are often busy people and don't always have the time to find out everything about a character.

Then there's the skill specific qualifiers. The second of the three. This qualifier is the one that is the specific to the skill itself, and this was where we wanted to represent the differences in skills and how they would affect a character. For quite a while we considered giving each single skill their own qualifiers, which is proooooobably the most best system from a simulation perspective. The problem is that there are so many skills and keeping track of it all would be nigh impossible. So in order to keep things simple we tried to break it down into something that's specific to each of the various categories of skills without making it too much of a hassle to keep track of.

In order to gain this qualifier you would need to do something that's essential to the nature of that skill. Personally, I feel like the qualifiers for trade skills and vocational skills are the weakest, because they're such lump categories where everything that doesn't fit other moulds go. Anyway, the quintessential mage thing tends to be seeking out knowledge, so we wanted something like that. Think of all of those stories where mages dig through ancient libraries, try to unearth terrible tomes, conduct experiments with magic beyond the knowledge of man, etc. Combat was easy, and probably the one that was the least impacted by this: fight something.

There is some language in there that's worth talking about though: "new", "worthy", "difficult", "deepening". This was done specifically to address what we established as problem three earlier and create something of a narrative arc for characters. By the time your character reaches level four or five, they shouldn't be sparring and doing bar brawls to gain experience anymore, they should be facing more difficult challenges. By the same virtue, a thief shouldn't get the same experience out of pickpocketing a random stranger at level five as they did at level one. You have to up your game, you have to get more creative and seek out greater challenges. Going from pickpocketing people in the streets to planning elaborate bank heists is a good story progression.

Now, it's worth noting that in some ways this does make it harder to gain experience in some things. It might be difficult for your character to gain experience in, say, druidism than your friend who is running around with the animals all the time, has joined a druidic coven in Trysvale, and is constantly seeking out new knowledge. This is by design, if your character isn't doing a lot of mage stuff they will advance slower as a mage, that's just how it is and that's okay. Maybe being a druid just isn't that central to your character concept, and you know what, that's okay. Not every character needs to be a fifth level mage just because they picked it up at some point because it seemed useful and cool.
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