Runemaster - Development Diary 4 - Personality Traits

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Birken

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Hi everyone!
Welcome to the 4th developer diary for Runemaster. Today we will delve deep in the trait system, since you can’t have a role-playing game without traits and attributes. RPGs can take a number of different approaches to defining what kind of person the main character is. In some games, there is little choice in how your character acts, in others you can be either good or bad, and in some you have to decide on personality yourself and then make sure you act it out because the game light let you switch at any given moment. In Runemaster, however, we want the personality of your character to be formed by the decisions you make throughout the game.

Your choices have a direct impact on your quests
Runemaster is an RPG with an element of emergent storytelling, so our goal is to have the choices you make directly impact the quests you can embark on. The game’s procedural quest system will take note of your deeds and challenge you accordingly. The way you act determines not only what type of person you are, but also what personality traits you develop and what quests you get in future. (Would you hire a bloodthirsty murderer to save a wagonload of orphans?) One of the cornerstones of every Paradox Development Studio game is replayability, and the personality traits combined with the quest system will play a huge part in making every playthrough different.

You gain traits by your choices
Are you always giving others the version of the truth that is most beneficial to you or are you telling them what really happened? Are you helping people for nothing beyond their gratitude, or does your assistance always come with a price tag? Do you walk bravely headstrong into any challenge, or do you make sure that the odds are heavily in your favor before attempting something dangerous?
In Runemaster, we track your choices and map them onto a scale of different attributes, where each attribute has a personality trait at its extremes. This is an idea we've borrowed from Crusader Kings II, where characters can gain a multitude of different traits, each of which can dramatically change the entire game experience.
In Runemaster we've cut the number of traits to eight and those eight traits are based on four different attributes. Each time you decide to lie, act bravely or spend all your savings on a big feast for the whole village, we add or subtract a value from the corresponding attribute. When an attribute’s score gets really high or really low, your character gets assigned a trait.
Getting an attribute back to a normal range will remove the trait and your character might very well start off as an honest do-gooder and end up as a lying sell-sword after becoming disillusioned with the world. Changing from one trait to its opposite will take time though and could be compared to changing sliders in Europa Universalis III; it is a gradual process that might not pay off for you for quite a while.

The attributes and traits:
EDITED by SolSara 2014-04-03
Fortunemaker: Provident - Extravagant
Wordsmith: Illusive - Honest
Silvertongue: Manipulative - Intimidating
Pathfinder: Cautious - Brave

NOTE: We have done some changes to the trait names as we have read what the forum had to say and discussed it among ourselves. I feel confident that the new names are an improvement to the old ones. /SolSara

Why limited to eight traits?
Traits will greatly influence the quests you get, the solutions available to you, and the type of options you get in dialogs with other characters in the world. We felt that too many traits would lessen the importance of each trait and that it would be better to have fewer distinct traits so we can work into making each of them affect the way you get to play the game. A thrifty and deceitful character will do anything the reach a goal and sometimes the goal justifies the means, so we have built the quest system to make these traits stand out more starkly than they otherwise would in a more crowded system.

Traits are viewed differently by different races
Since they are distinct cultures with distinct values, the different races in Runemaster view traits differently. As a human most people will respect you for being brave and honest, but Dark Elf society is different as being deceitful isn't necessarily something bad. Putting your friends and family in jeopardy by telling the truth when you shouldn't have is instead something that quickly could make you an outcast in many societies, where in others honesty is always the best policy.
The trait system also makes it possible for you to shape the story you’re about to play. Perhaps your first game is as a craven Dwarf who spends all her coin on getting a host of Darkelfs and Trolls to follow her, and then lies her way back into a Dwarf keep only to sack and plunder it. Maybe you’re playing as a thrifty and charming Troll Berserker who aims to make the current world a better place instead of gambling on the next?

Every quests you undertake, challenge you face and choice you make will affect how your hero is perceived, what traits you will gain and what further adventures you will encounter. We at Paradox Development Studio have always believed in games that allow you to set your own goals and decide which tools you will use to reach them. All of you out there who have played our strategy games, especially Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, know that we want you create your own story, and recognize that there are always choices and everything you do has consequences. With our tactical RPG Runemaster, we want every single playthrough to be a new saga where you as a player have the freedom to choose your path.

So, now you have some insight in the trait system! We´ll be back to tell you more about Runemaster next week :)

As a bonus, a portrait of the human berserker!



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[video=youtube;Ctn_X6UYKwc]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ctn_X6UYKwc[/video]
 

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Jia Xu

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Does every race start in the middle on every slider, or will your character start with some personality biases on creation?

Great diary, BTW. :)
 

liamgamer55

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Ehhh kinda expected something similar. I think it might work out alright, but the choices of traits don't seem very interesting. For instance resourceful vs wasteful... how's that going to be an interesting choice ? Charming vs manipulative is an interesting one though. I'll have to see how this works out in practice. It's a step in the right direction though. Unfortunately like a badly implemented good or evil system it can easily become pointless/silly if done badly.
 

Mordred Viking

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Ehhh kinda expected something similar. I think it might work out alright, but the choices of traits don't seem very interesting. For instance resourceful vs wasteful... how's that going to be an interesting choice ? Charming vs manipulative is an interesting one though. I'll have to see how this works out in practice. It's a step in the right direction though. Unfortunately like a badly implemented good or evil system it can easily become pointless/silly if done badly.
Perhaps they should change Wasteful to Generous? It completely changes the perception of the trait without really impacting it's underlying meaning.
 

SilverM

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I don't think that resourcefulness means what you put here. It's not how you manage your resources (as it would be implied by the thrifty/wasteful traits), but how well you are able to deal skillfully and promptly with new situations, difficulties etc.
 

Count_Curtis

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seems its taking the personal stories and characters aspect of CK2 mixing it with the fun people had with vikings and making it the central part of a game. this is awesome, its exactly what we want
 

Thure

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Sounds great! CK2 can into roleplay :)

I don't think that resourcefulness means what you put here. It's not how you manage your resources (as it would be implied by the thrifty/wasteful traits), but how well you are able to deal skillfully and promptly with new situations, difficulties etc.
Yes. Ingenuity would eventually be a better word that don't make confusen with resources.
 

Augustus93

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Nein! Nein! Nein! Vikings should have blonde hair, not red ginger hair.
 

SilverM

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No, everyone bald! Women too :ninja:
 

TheDarkMaster

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At first I was thinking that trustworthiness was an odd choice for a trait when the two extremes are honesty and deceit, given that there isn't much point in needing to trust someone or not if they always tell the truth (I think that believing someone and trusting them are very different things). However, given the way that the other traits seem to play out, and how the various races think of the different traits, it isn't so much if you are trustworthy or not, so much as what kind of trust can be put into you. Can you be trusted with a secret, or can you be trusted to have done as you said you have?

So I can play as a deceptive character who has your best interests at heart, though he won't always burden you with the details on how he got the hearts of cute animals in order to save your life. My only concern is that in order to get some of these traits you have to excessively behave in a certain way to get it. So if I want to be deceitful, for example, I'm required to constantly act in a deceitful way. However, while I am a deceitful person, I always pick my lies very carefully, and otherwise simply avoid anything beyond half-truths. If I were to behave like myself in real life, would I actually get the deceptive trait?
 

Teonod

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happycats517

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Very nice DD, just two minor suggestions:

1) Change "Wasteful" to "Extravagant"
2) Change "Craven" to "Cautious"

I think wasteful and craven carry too many negative connotations with them and the example you used for craven (Making sure the odds are stacked in your favor before a fight) might not always be seen as cowardly. I think cautious and extravagant catch what you're going for in a more neutral way. An extravagant character can be seen as wasteful with their money, but they can also be seen as generous or charitable. A cautious character can be seen as cowardly, but also as calculating and sly.

IMHO, a wasteful, craven Skald puts in mind a character who freely wastes her money without thought and runs away from combat and generally acts cowardly. An extravagant, cautious Skald can put that same thought in my mind, but I could also imagine a Skald who spends her money to impress or dazzle, or out of good will, and who is an expert strategist who wins a battle before she even fights it by the way she prepares for the battle.
 

Thure

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Very nice DD, just two minor suggestions:

1) Change "Wasteful" to "Extravagant"
2) Change "Craven" to "Cautious"

I think wasteful and craven carry too many negative connotations with them and the example you used for craven (Making sure the odds are stacked in your favor before a fight) might not always be seen as cowardly. I think cautious and extravagant catch what you're going for in a more neutral way. An extravagant character can be seen as wasteful with their money, but they can also be seen as generous or charitable. A cautious character can be seen as cowardly, but also as calculating and sly.

IMHO, a wasteful, craven Skald puts in mind a character who freely wastes her money without thought and runs away from combat and generally acts cowardly. An extravagant, cautious Skald can put that same thought in my mind, but I could also imagine a Skald who spends her money to impress or dazzle, or out of good will, and who is an expert strategist who wins a battle before she even fights it by the way she prepares for the battle.
Resourcefulness had nothing to do with money or resources... It mean's ingenuity, richness of ideas
 

Carbon

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Charming and manipulativness are not necessarily opposites; one can be charming and manipulative at the same time. Perhaps charming should instead be stoic or virtuous?
 

Jamey

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I like limiting the attributes/traits and giving them a lot of impact.
 

magritte2

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Charming and manipulativness are not necessarily opposites; one can be charming and manipulative at the same time. Perhaps charming should instead be stoic or virtuous?
I agree that they're not opposites, in fact I'd consider charming to be a subset of manipulative. Maybe the opposites should be diplomatic and blunt. Or if you want both sides to be essentially means of manipulation, you could use charming and intimidating instead.
 

wolfing

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two questions:
1- When we create the character, will it be clear what attributes each race 'prefer' (and will your race maybe start with some sliders already nudged towards that)?
2- How moddable is this? Can a modder redefine the traits and/or add more traits? (how would the game react to new traits?)
 
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