Experience! Or, how much can you learn in a season?

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Experience! Or, how much can you learn in a season?

Postby Dusk on April 21st, 2010, 7:15 pm

I'm not sure if this should go here or in WD, but I'm trying it out here first and the Big Red Names can move it if they think it's better served elsewhere. :)

So I was having this discussion last night with Morse regarding Alistair's skill levels. And we came across an interesting question - if you're trying to ensure realism in a game like this (which we both are, because we're megadorks and can't let things go XD ) how do you justify a character going from a Novice to a Master within a season or two? In "real life" terms, that's a journey of experience that takes years, sometimes a lifetime. However, the way that XP is awarded in game, it's possible for a character like Alistair, whose awesome and intensely amazing player writes detailed training threads, to be awarded enough skill points to jump two skill brackets.

This brought us to a few questions of how skill XP should be awarded through different levels.

  • How much can you really learn? - If you're a Novice at something, you learn a lot just by practicing it; a novice tailor will learn something from every piece he makes. But would a Competent tailor learn the same amount from the same actions? Or would it be more realistic to assume that the Competent tailor should only gain skill XP from projects that challenge them?
  • If you don't want to change how XP is determined but still think a little restraint is needed, what about a cap? - There's a current cap on the amount of XP you can gain in one thread. Should there be a cap on the amount you can learn in one season? If so, what would be the best way to track that?
  • That's way complicated, but Skills CAN get a little out of control. What about changing levels? - Instead of changing XP rules, should we expand the Skill Levels to allow more expansion? For instance, Novice would be 1-25, Competent would be 50-100, Master would be 100-200, anything over that is Expert? Experts in fields are supposed to be extremely rare (mostly because no one lives long enough to do it unless you're a freaking Nuit :P ), should that be reflected in the Skill levels?
  • Bitch, back up off my CS! - Am I the only one who cares about this? Should I shut the hell up and just be happy when my character gets uber? Am I thinking too much about a game, and ruining it for everyone because I'm a jerkface? XD

Seriously, though, I'd love to have a discussion about this and see what everyone else thinks. Even if the overwhelming opinion is that I should shut the hell up. :D
PLEASE NOTE: Finals are over, but summer is eating my soul. As such, as of the end of June I will not be accepting any new quests/modded threads until I finish some of the ones I've already started/agreed to. My apologies for this, but I don't want to be unfair to those who have been waiting for replies!

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Experience! Or, how much can you learn in a season?

Postby Tarot on April 21st, 2010, 7:49 pm

XP awards should always be adequate to the challenge level the thread offers. A master won't learn much by repeating the basics. I always assumed that and gave out my XPs accordingly. If this criterion is met I have no issues with someone leveling up fast with honest effort. :) Of course no system is perfect when humans are involved, but ours is the result of a lot of past experience of what works and what doesn't.

As for me, I want to see epic PCs do epic stuff if they've put in the work. Very few of our PCs will ever reach 100, and I think those who do will deserve to be there.
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Experience! Or, how much can you learn in a season?

Postby Alistair deGrey on April 21st, 2010, 7:54 pm

I've been thinking about this and I'm kind of borderline.

I agree that progression can get out of hand, but that may just be me. Since when I started at the beginning of winter, I've gained 11 points in Gadgetry, which seems to be pretty fast.

But, keep in mind that this progression is only as fast as the character. I am sort of ushered into a situation where experience accumulates rapidly because I run a business. If I don't create things, then my business fails and I'm kicked out on the street (which would be interesting, but not in the plan at the moment). So I don't think we should conclude that PCs gain experience too fast based off of observing Alistair.

If we do, upon a bit of research, discover that most PCs are attaining unthinkable levels of skill within a few seasons, there is another factor to consider. The system is already up and running. I don't believe a cap per season would cause too much chaos, but changing the way experience is awarded, or the modified layout, would require quite a bit of work.

In summary, I do agree that the way the system is currently set up allows for players to rapidly advance their skills, but I think we should do a bit of observation to determine if this is happening. If we do find a problem, then we should consider a solution.


EDIT: Upon reading what Tarot wrote, I agree. I'll leave this up to stimulate the discussion though...
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Experience! Or, how much can you learn in a season?

Postby Isikais on April 21st, 2010, 11:06 pm

This issue comes up in every long term game wherein XP is awarded to players over time. The truth is there is no realistic way to curtail something like this from happening eventually. The only thing that can be done is for ST's to realize the scale of the awards they give within the established system we have, and try to make sure it is appropriate for both the character, and the relative power level of the world they are trying to create.

It's always hard to change systems mid-stream, and I don't think it would be easy or quick to try altering the current system. I was just recently talking to a friend who I've played with in at least one other forum, and I have known as a responsible player for a while. He pointed out that his character has grown substantially and rapidly due to his frequent posting.

I'm of the "off-center-bell-curve" school of XP. Learning the first bits of something should be tough. It's new, foreign, and assimilating the relevant information for the foundations of a skill will be tough. As you approach competency, you make great strides and reach a peak. Then, suddenly things become difficult again as you begin to move from the mere application and learning of the skill to the development of a deeper understanding of the principles, the functionality, and the unexplored possibilities of the skill.

What does all of that mean? It means I'm a jerk because I think it's the ST's job to keep all of this in mind as they award XP. It's very much the same thing Tarot said, but it's worth repeating in as many ways possible. An ST awarding skill xp for a thread has the unfortunately doubled duty of considering the content of the post, the actions and depth of description, the relative skill levels of the characters, and the value of lessons learned. This means that sometimes even if you turned into a really awesome wolf for the first time, you're not going to be awarded XP in morphing because you turned into a lion a month ago.

I say I'm a jerk, because doesn't the staff have enough to worry about? Now they have to look at CS's before they award XP? But yeah...at least that's the best way I've ever come up with for keeping it fair and playable in the long run.

**Tangent Alert** - As a side note, while someone may have reached a 100 in a skill, that does not mean they've done everything there is to do in that skill. It just means that they posses the potential to do everything there is to do. I'd say that Meryl Streep's got a good 78-89 in acting...but I know even she has days where she's performing at a 35-50. The same holds true with absolutely every skill learned over the course of one's life. Even Stephen Hawking gets the easy ones wrong sometimes. Just because you have a skill level of 100 doesn't mean that everything you do with that skill is perfect.
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