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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Birken

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First of all: it's great to see that there are a lot of strong feelings related to the personality traits. We're still in pre-alpha, so the names of the traits might change and their meaning might be tweaked before release (as more and more quests are written and we see what patterns the quest writers prefer to work with).

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?)

1. This is something we'll experiment with. You'll get a description for each race, so hopefully you'll have some idea.
2. It's fully moddable, the limitations are that traits are always created as opposites with an attribute scale.
 

Birken

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If you "help people for nothing beyond their gratitude", will your character still be able to afford food and new equipment? Will you essentially be trading off character advancement in one respect (being able to buy better gear) in return for a nebulous +1 to your Wasteful trait; and will that trade-off be worthwhile in game terms?

Sometimes gratitude is just what you need (ie you need to increase your reputation with a faction in the game to be able to advance in other aspects). Sometimes gratitude might transfer into some unexpected reward and sometimes you just really need some gold.
 

MrNibbles

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Please, let's keep this thread focused on Runemaster and keep other titles in their respective forums.
 

CampyRivaille

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Including personality traits inspired by CK2 and not including Chaste - Lustful? How am I supposed to give random npcs a good tumble now

Hah, this made me laugh. I've added it to my list of inspirational quotes.
 

SolSara

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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. The dev diary has been updated with the new names and here's a list of the traits:

Fortunemaker: Provident - Extravagant
Wordsmith: Illusive - Honest
Silvertongue: Manipulative - Intimidating
Pathfinder: Cautious - Brave
 
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