Numbers and Roleplays

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AliceShiki

『Ms. Tree』『Ophi-kun's Survival Teacher』, Female
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I wonder what is some people's fixation with numbers... I mean, they can be very useful at times, don't get me wrong, but... Sometimes, numbers are just very out of place and don't fit at all.

I mean, a good place for numbers are games like D&D or videogame RPGs since... Well, you have hitpoints, attack, chance of hitting and what not, numbers naturally fit in and you have a really big and complex system to make those numbers work.

Meanwhile, at writing-based roleplays, things are a lot... Looser. You don't have MP, you don't have hitpoints, you just have your character and your character's skills. Even if you have mana, stamina, blood or some other kind of consumable resource, the amount you consume is completely up to you and really freeform... Or at least that's how it has always worked in roleplays I have been a part of.

But then, someone goes and says "I use X skill, that has a 50% chance of stunning the enemies" or "I use X skill that increases attack power by 10%, decreases defense by 30% and consumes 10% Mana/minute". It just feels so wrong. I mean, what is defense anyways? Are you making my steel armor softer? Or my bones more brittle? I dunno what defense is. Attack is more intuitive, but defense is weird.

I don't really get it, why don't just make a skill that makes opponents dizzy, but one with enough willpower can resist? Why make it 50% chance of stunning?
Why make a skill that changes attack/defense instead of making a skill that makes you mostly ignore pain, but makes you start acting more wildly and gets in the way of your proper thinking? Both end up giving the "berserk" feeling, but one has numbers and another has words.

It just strikes me weirdly... And well, if there is anything you want to take of this blog post is that numbers in writing-based roleplays feel really really out of place... Try describing what your character can/can't do with words and effects instead of numbers and percentages...

I mean, can you even imagine a mage casting a spell that has chance of healing his allies? Who would trust that mage as a healer if they can fail in a critical moment!? xD

Alright, rant done, Alice out~

Comments

    1. Ddraig Apr 19, 2019 at 3:32 PM
      I think people do it so they can make sure not to powercreep there characters as vaguer (is that even a word?) the details about chars power and skills, more easy they are to abuse and even easier for them to vary with every quest. Numbers though stay the same.
      Example -
      My char can throw javelins really far away.
      My char can throw javelins upto 100 m/units away.
    2. Sir Koopa6000 Apr 19, 2019 at 12:03 AM
      You make a good point, using that much of in-depth numbers in a RP forums really isn’t necessary. Will just make everything needlessly more complicated.
    3. AliceShiki Apr 15, 2019
      @Moonpearl Ooooooh, apocalypse level characters... I have lots of experience with those... Can't say I miss those times at all! I'm glad I play with smaller scale stuff nowadays! xD

      But yeah, it makes sense you put some numbers into it when things break down or when things are too confusing, they're good things to go by~

      Ah, and the discussions over one being a Mary Sue or who would win and... Uuuuuuuuuuugh, I don't miss those at all... Sometimes it's really nice to have grown up, isn't it? Being able to solve things rationally is so much better! xD

      And yeah, things that can affect everything in the same way usually are weird, but I generally just shrug them off because a moment in which it actively becomes a problem will probably never happen... Probably. But it's indeed a possible problem! >.<

      Good thing common sense-chan can save the world at times... Praise be to common sense-chan~

      And I hope you can solve the things with your girlfriend soon! Take care! ^^)/
      Moonpearl likes this.
    4. Moonpearl Apr 15, 2019
      @AliceShiki *hugs back* I will in a moment~! I tried going an hour ago, but my girlfriend begged me to stay up a bit. T_T

      Percentages are things that should definitely be used as a last resort. Comparisons and day lengths like you mentioned usually do the trick - I was having to push myself to think of times I would need percentages.
      Generally, numbers like that come into play when trust between players breaks down or things are too subjective even for comparisons.

      For example... My partner has a character called Rouge, who's a super powerful Dragon King, probably the second scariest thing in the world right now. If something faces off against him, we just say he wins automatically. Probably leaves his opponent as a pile of dust.
      My Queen of Elves is subjectively always stronger than whoever she fights (elves always have weirdly subjective rules like this in this world). Theoretically, she should win, except that he can go ghost-like and can't be hit... So we end up arguing about what effect does what and that works.
      But if he faces off against the guy who taught him, it gets harder because their abilities are too similar (putting aside the ghost-like ability; there are times he needs to not use that). And their power levels are apocalypse level and too much to try and understand, just that Rouge is "much stronger". So we might get lazy and decide that his tutor is about 60% strong as him right now, which helps give a rough idea how much damage they can unleash on each other.
      (When we were kids, we would just argue for hours about who was biggest and scariest and how the other character was a Mary-Sue... We didn't have a good grasp of either method. It really dampens the fun.)

      As for a spell like that... If it was unique and only targeted the user, I would personally accept it just as a rough description. But something that targets every race the same (unless you want to allow it to be a bit ridiculous like that, for whatever reason) is probably a problem, I agree. Maybe that would be better described as "adds the strength of an elephant to the target's" or something?
      AliceShiki likes this.
    5. AliceShiki Apr 15, 2019
      *hugs @Moonpearl* Try sleeping! xD

      Well, I can't say I really agree with you, but I suppose there is no harm in putting numbers that work as rough estimates of how often something is supposed to happen. Mana Regeneration in particular is one in which numbers can work pretty well I guess. I remember being in a magic-heavy RP before, and I told people my character's mana needed 2 days to fully regenerate, while her pool was above average. It was a pretty useful number to go by, even if the pool itself was completely vague~
      I also said that her summon (mostly useless summon btw, just a fairy whose main purpose was giving advice to my character) consumed a small amount of mana and it would take around 3 days for her to run out of mana to sustain the summon.

      So... I guess I can see the purpose of numbers in certain occasions? I guess it just needs to be used with care to not become something silly! xD

      I mean, a buff spell that increases your attack by 20% can be pretty meaningless in a gnome and ridiculously OP in a dragon... At those points I don't think having numbers is good... *shivers*
      Moonpearl likes this.
    6. Moonpearl Apr 15, 2019
      I sometimes use percentages as a rough estimate in writing-heavy RPGs. I agree it's helpful to also explain it a little in terms of "real world" applicability, but sometimes you need a statistics indication to help get everyone on the same page. In games where there are fights but no concrete numbers, defining the capability of characters can be a tense affair... I sometimes still fight with my RP partner over what is and isn't possible for certain characters to do.

      Say, for example, you give a character an ability that works unless the target meets conditions X. It's usually fine to say that, but sometimes someone will suspect that condition X is intentionally rare so that your character can be OP. So you might need to clarify that you'll come across that condition about 30% of the time rather than 1%.

      Mana restoration is the same. Restoring some mana could be just enough to light a candle or enough to cast a getaway spell. You can use words like that, and it's probably more helpful, but I can see there being situations where numbers are more friendly for a rough idea.

      Excessive use is pretty annoying, though, I agree... Numbers are way too subjective in these situations to rely on them alone.

      (Sorry if this isn't entirely coherent. I should not be awake right now.)
      AliceShiki likes this.
    7. AliceShiki Apr 14, 2019
      @Blitz *nod nod nod* It's pretty weird to think you have the same chance of afflicting a dragon and a rat! xD

      I hadn't even thought of it through this way, but it just makes things even weirder... >.>
      Blitz likes this.
    8. Blitz Apr 14, 2019
      @AliceShiki it also sort of bends the world to fit their needs. Like 10% to stun or drain their mana or something would apply the same regardless if the one to face it where a rat or dragon. Another thing would be that it would be trickier to cooperate with others to make a story I guess
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