Monday, January 6, 2014

Turning Appearance Into A Useful Attribute

All caps headlines for important things, yeah :-) So what is this about: Finally making Appearance as an attribute in ADOM somewhat useful. Nicholas Benson proposed a change I either never have heard before or missed. Anyways, here we go…
How about making corruption being resisted (slightly) by high Appearance scores? The logic being that true beauty is harder to corrupt. And the corollaries being
  • that there suddenly is an additional reason why many of the dark races (orcs, trolls, …) fell to Chaos first (most of them being quite ugly),
  • elves having an additional reason for being opposed to Chaos,
  • appearance suddenly being something worth striving for,
  • Chaos can be beautiful, too, but usually with something darker, crawlier, uglier lurking beneath the surface so that there remains a difference between beauty and true beauty,
  • corruptions with appearance penalties have a cumulative effect of making it slightly more likely to become more corrupted (see below).
The mechanical idea behind it goes like this:
  • Right now internally ADOM counts "corruption points" for the PC.
  • For every fixed 1000 points gained, you increase one level in corruption and gain a new chaos power.
  • The change would be to flexibilize the amount of currently fixed 1000 points.
  • Make it 1000 points plus/minus one percent per point of Appearance over/under 10.
  • Example: A gray elf with appearance 25 would need to accumulate 1000 x (1 + (25 - 10) / 100) = 1000 * 1.15 = 1150 corruption points in order to gain a new corruption. His buddy Rok, the ugly troll, with an appearance of 3 in turn would need 1000 x (1 +  (3 - 10) / 100) = 1000 x 0.93 = 930 corruption points to gain a new corruption.
As low appearance is much less detrimental than high appearance (the lowest appearance score would be 1 for 910 corruption points as a corruption level boundary while the highest appearance score of 99 would in turn make that boundary 1890 points).

What do you think? I totally love the idea and barring major arguments against it am going to implement it for prerelease 21.

(and yes, I know that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder but for the sake of the argument a universally accepted human-centric point of view regarding beauty is ok for me - especially as the supreme Chaos God Andor Drakon once was human, too)

44 comments:

  1. I think it's a nice idea, makes thematic sense and will make stuff like diadems of beauty at least somewhat useful!

    Yes, there might be philosophical objections (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one can be a saint and be ugly, etc.) but this is a hack'n'slash fantasy game, not an educational game.

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    1. Perhaps a change of name for the stat would address the "philosophical objections". Rather than "Appearance", perhaps something like "Grandeur", "Dignity", or "Majesty" could be used - words that do often correlate with beauty, but that also get used for "inner beauty" where "Appearance" is really only the outer beauty.

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    2. I think words like grandeur, dignity or majesty have more to do with power (which can also be chaotic) than with either inner or outer beauty.

      The word "beauty" itself would be good, though. And maybe "grace", but I'd personally settle for "beauty". That way each player can choose to interpret it in the outer and/or inner sense depending on how they want to roleplay.

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  2. I love the idea!

    It's like the DnD Good-Evil / Chaos-Law system, philosophically very dubious but a terrific way to create storytelling + game dynamics. Love it!

    Also, I need to clean up that ogre image :X ;)

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  3. I think this gives the player a good incentive to remove "useful but ugly" corruptions, which is something the character should feel very strongly about in the game world. Nice idea!
    I think it would also make sense if some quest rewards varied with the character's Appearance score.

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    1. Yep, great point - this system not only rewards Appearance increasing items, but also makes things with Appearance penalties more serious.

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  4. That's... actually a surprisingly good idea! Currently the only effects of appearance so far have been shop prices for female PCs and mirror rooms IIRC. This would add more depth to the game, in a reasonably lore-friendly way.

    The only concern I have right now, is that if you have just gained a corruption, and gain enough beauty to move the treshold for the corruption far enough that you actually shouldn't have it anymore, what would happen? Do you still have the corruption or does it get cured?

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    1. Actually my idea is that ADOM will memorize the appearance score you had when you gained a specific corruption level. So if you start with an Ap of 50 (just for the sake of the example) and accumulate 1401 corruption points, you'd get your first corruption. If your Ap then falls to 10 (so that you need 1000 more corruption points for the second corruption) you need a total of 2401 CP for two corruptions. Thus changes in Ap won't affect your total corruption level but only the progression towards the final transformation.

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    2. The idea being that the current beauty is the force that needs to be overcome by Chaos. Works for me ;-)

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    3. What if you start with an Ap of 50, and accumulate 1395 corruption points, and then lose one Appearance point? And how would corruption removal work?

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  5. This is, IMO, a fantastic idea. Not so powerful that people are going to choose Appearance over everything, but definitely powerful enough (IMO) to make people actually think about it.

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  6. My concern is around the ageing effect where it decreases app over time. Would it perhaps push the "ugly" short lived races to have an even harder time with chaos?

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  7. Think it's a great idea. Adds an extra depth to the game. I do worry though about balancing in later game. With the way corruptions stack up the ugly points that it would make things even harder towards the end of the game. The background corruption is already very high on the lower levels of the CoC and then your residence is lower because of existing corruptions.

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    1. Glad to see people like my idea. :)
      There is a point of balancing once you get to the *very* corrupted point in the lower levels of the CoC. It will make the game more difficult for those who have piled on the corruptions. But I also think that that slight of a change (910/1000 being the lowest) shouldn't really make a difference. If you are sitting in D50, and that amount of corruption will make or break you, you probably are too weak to take on that level anyway. I mean, if you manage to be at 1 appearance for the whole game, it would take 11-12 corruptions to make you need that extra potion of cure corruption, and about 20 for a scroll of Chaos Resistance. That being said, rooms where you get hit in the face by mud will be like an anti-chaos spa :)

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  8. underwear models truly are the best of mankind

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    1. Not the best of mankind, just harder to corrupt in ADOM ;)

      But perhaps renaming the stat would be a good idea. Another thing that also touches inner qualities could be "Grace". With synonyms like "beauty" "elegance" but also "dignity" and "decency" it's a pretty good candidate.

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  9. This is a really interesting idea and I'd love to see it implemented. Gives a good reason not to traipse around in the AMW too, so I hope to see more ki-rin deaths :)

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  10. Well, ChAoS eventually corrupts everything, but what is perceived by the forces of Order/Balance (in the game, and not the players' subjective/philosophical views) as raw/unsymmetrical/ugly/lacking beauty is more susceptible to its influence.

    A special room idea would be the appearance of some chaos entity gazing upon the player. If player passes an Appearance check (say that minimum is 20), the entity "can't stand such beauty" and dissolves back to the plane of ChAoS, taking some of the player's corruption with it (obviously a few, say (Ap)d5 points). On a failed Ap check, players gain more corruption (fewer points than the positive equivalent, say (20-Ap)d5 points)

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    1. A potential issue with that though is some players may be super unlucky with their stumbling across of room effects and while yes having corruption removed from you is a good thing there is already far too many ways to have corruption added to yourself, after all you don't have an anti-corruption trap.

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    2. In conjunction to (somewhat) reduced corruption for extreme DLs (as Thomas stated for a possible change) this shouldn't be a problem :)

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  12. Well, I Have a Suggestion about this.

    I Think that (with this I put apart undead & unlife NPCs, with a less[if any] restorable harmony)every living being has the capability of cleasing itself if it is not submitted to excesses(If the Raw Essence didn't touch deep enough the being's very Essence to make it disrupt their biological harmony), I think that VERY low amounts of corruption could be cleansed naturally by the PC(especially by Druids) with a commonly quite slow process based of Harmony(Beauty) and Willpower...


    And for making this I'd Suggest to divide the Corruption System in 2 Counters :

    * 1 Counter for 'Permanent Corruption', that every X Amount of Points creates the Corruption effects.

    * 1 Counter for 'Expulsable Corruption', that has the capability of returning to 0 with a large enough amount of time, with a Cleansing speed rate Based on Willpower, and the amount of corruption points this meter can tolerate is based directly to the level of connection the PC has with Harmony(Natural Appearance score, Without assisting equipment that increases outer beauty, but I'd suggest Potions of Boost appearance to temporally help, perhaps)

    In this Case For Example..

    If You have Uruk, the Trollish Wizard with appearance of 1 and a willpower of 38 and he receives Corruptions he would only be able to shield 20 or 40 Corruption points and would heal the corruption in the meter at a rate of a point every 1000 turns.

    In Contrast to A Human Fighter with an appearance score of 14 that could resist, say, about 200 points of Naturally Expulsable Corruption but he would clean it at a slower rate of 1680 turns each points since he would a willpower score of 17.

    This Would imply that if the PC's willpower is low also will be very corruptible because his very essence has no temperance and mental firmness to reincorporate to its original stable constitution, but that a person With high Beauty is more connected with harmony as well and less likely to adopt the corruption dissonance to his essence, giving them, more chances(cleanable points),before their essence is truly altered at all, to keep their condition pure, like a noble material.
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    PD: To be honest I Imagined Mist Elves more resistant to Corruption since I've saw them, I Really like this feature concerning Beauty, since it may have a logical explanation; and I consider it very useful, too.

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    PD#2; I'd Also think that if you are planning to make some extra ways for the PC to solve corruption effectively, you may be interested in making some items like Ayla's Holy Scarf of Boots of the Divine Messenger, to Aid to resist Corruption, as well as a Suffix "Of Purity" of "Of the Unicorn" for non-artifact gear.

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  13. Would be worth it to consider rebalancing lvl 50 class powers that provide resistance to corruption against this change (and, to be honest, in general). Druid LVL50 10% reduction to corruption on attacks sounds like a joke compared to high appearance bonus.

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  14. I like the mechanical implementation, but I don't think the logic behind it is sound. The ADOM manual states that Appearance describes the looks of your character; it has to do with the beauty of the body, not with your spirit. More suitable attributes, IMO, would be Willpower and Mana: your will makes you resilient to the attacks of ChAoS; your attunement to the Mana plane makes you somewhat detached from the material world and thus harder to corrupt.

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    1. The manual can be changed to say anything you want it to stay. Adding more uses for the already EXTREMELY useful Wi & Ma would be a huge mistake when you could instead add another dimension to the game by making people take into account a useless stat.

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    2. > The manual can be changed to say anything you want

      True, but the manual reflects what's in the game, and I got the impression that the point was making more useful the Appearance as it is now in the game (and as it is defined in the manual). If I misunderstood, and Appearance will become an "inner beauty" attribute, so be it. Then all the ways Appearance works now in the game will change. Merchants won't be impressed by your inner beauty. Mud masks won't refresh your soul. Looking at a bunch of mirrors won't make your spirit tremble unless you are a vampire. If you do lawful acts, you get more beautiful. If you do enough chaotic acts, you might aspire to be crowned as a champion of Ugliness, and this will definitely make corruption happen faster for you...
      To make myself clear: I don't want other uses for Mana and Willpower, and enhancing the useless stats, Appearance and Charisma, is a welcome decision. I just don't fancy this specific course.

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    3. That makes little sense - there's no reason that "outer beauty" (this is a dumb distinction to draw, btw) can't be correlated with your resistance to corruption if that's what the game defines it to be.

      This is literally the most sensible route to giving Ap some use and I can't fathom another one that would add nearly as many interesting decisions to the game (do you wear that cloak of adornment on D:50 instead of a cloak of protection? do you wear the AMW into the end game?). The possibilities are very broad and the arguments against, not that convincing.

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    4. I said that, in the manual, Appearance describes the looks of your character. Then you replied that the manual can be changed to say anything you want, that's why I thought you wanted to change Appearance to an "inner beauty" attribute.
      My first comment was contending that it makes no sense for a skin-deep attribute to help resist corruption. If the goal is to make Appearance useful, regardless of how much sense, if any, the way this is achieved makes, then the same could be done for every useless thing in the game; glockenspiels are utterly useless to most characters, so let corruption be slower the more glockenspiels you have in in your inventory.

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  15. I have a little problem here. Chaos appears to act on your soul/spirit, while it also has an effect on the body, it seems more fundamentally to act on the soul. The "true beauty" mentioned seems to have to do with spirit. But in this system, the spirit and body beauty seem to be connected so one cannot be had without the other. But this seems to create some seemingly bizarre effects: for example, one can be aligned C- chaotic, going around robbing every shop in sight and stabbing every innocent creature, slaughtering towns and what not, and yet still have an Ap: 99, implying both their soul as well as body is still "beautiful" despite being really bad. That doesn't seem to make any sense. Furthermore, as someone else here mentioned, what about aging? Ap decreases with aging, which makes sense when it's considered appearance of the body. But under this interpretation, with the soul's beauty being included in there, it makes no sense ... souls aren't supposed to age...

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    1. IMHO these arguments ignore the fact that Appearance is not the determining factor but only one factor in figuring into resistance. IMHO trying to be too realistic about this also is not a good idea as the whole topic is pretty unrealistic. I stand to the point that appearance suddenly becomes useful. Maybe it could be interesting to factor other things into the corruption rate, too - but then also lower the base factor of 1000.

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  16. You don't really have to rationalize it to make sense, that's not really what fantasy games are about. I'm more intrigued about making stats all have some inherent value, and shoring up appearance seems to be a nice idea.

    If I recall correctly, the number of counters accumulated is what eventually determines chaos death. Does having a high appearance combat this as well? As in, you'll need 1000 * x counters to acquire a new corruption, but does this also raise the ceiling for chaos death as well? Or does it just incur fewer corruptions on the way to turning into a WMoPC?

    If it does raise the ceiling, there is the amusing scenario if a intense stat draining opponent chaos-killing the PC by draining appearance, meaning you literally can die by getting uglier.

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    1. Although it alters the transformation limit changing your appearance score won't affect past corruptions. Only the rate at which you get the next. So raising or lowering appearance won't change your actual corruption level and the number of corruptions a PC has as he already has gained the necessary amount of corruption - appearance changes don't heal corruption or increase it later on.

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  17. I like it, but fear that if I lose some beauty, I might instantly gain a corruption out of no where without being exposed to a chaos trap, etc.
    Could you make it so a change in a PC's Appearance stat will also adjust their corruption points relatively? That way, if I have 14 Appearance and 1000 corruption points, if I put on the Rehetep's Ancient Mummy Wrapping it won't suddenly grant me a corruption which leaves once I take it off again.
    In other words, the percentage of how close you are to your next corruption should be the same before and after any given Appearance stat change.

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    1. See above. This is taken into account.

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  18. You know what? The entire concept just doesn't sit right with me. I'd prefer Appearance to be mostly useless, just like you imagine it would. Stats don't have to be balanced against each other, when it comes down to it. The elven races - the only ones, basically, with high Appearance - have been doing just fine based on their other talents so far.

    The entire thing sounds downright instigated by the Elf lobby. Living forever not enough for them? Blasted elves.

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  19. I guess the question is: Does appearance just mean that you get less corruptions, or does it mean that you have a bigger corruption cap?
    Eg. does a character with 99 appearance still die after 19000 (or whatever it is) corruption points, but will only receive 10-11 corruptions? Or will they be allowed to swallow ~35000 points before they die? The latter seems a pretty significant effect.

    Also, does the "extremely corrupted" flag for entering the Chaos Gate have to do with the number of corruptions you have or the number of corruption points? If it's the latter, this will presumably make entering the gate impossible for highly corrupted PCs. There are also a few weird edge effects that can happen. For example, consider a PC with 56 Ap. According to the formula, this means that they get a corruption every 1460 corruption points. This means that corruption 13 will occur at 18980 corruption points, and the PC will promptly die within a few turns. Not a problem per se, but it would probably be a bit disconcerting.

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    1. Naturallynot the points but the resulting corruption level is considered in all tose places ;-)

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    2. Have you considered if this will be problematic with rapid shifts in Ap? If I were to *just* acquire a corruption, and equip a piece of equipment that grants +Ap, would the corruption be removed, as my threshold just went up?

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  20. Instead of letting Appearance control corruption directly, how about creating a new skill - Serenity - learnable in the game (new quest: study with the Zen Master in his tower in the northeastern hills... or something =), the effect of which is influenced by a different attribute for each race. For many, it could very well be Appearance, but the point is that the different races draw on different strengths to maintain their sense of identity against the onslaught of chaos. Just an idea...

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  21. I would be sad if this made it into the game.

    Modern society and media are saturated with the idea that self-worth should be tied to appearance. It's present to some extent for men, but for women and girls it's overbearing. Beautiful people are better people, or so the narrative goes. One of the reasons that I'm a gamer is to try to get away from this sort of rubbish.

    The message that this would convey is that ugly people are corruptible, weak, chaotic, evil; beautiful people are virtuous, strong, incorruptible, good. I'm sure this wouldn't be your intention, but it would be there even so.

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    1. My eyes rolled so far back that they just did a 360. Read Evil Knievel's thread on this subject - http://www.adom.de/forums/showthread.php/12980-Philosophy-of-beauty-and-corruption

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    2. > Beautiful people are better people, or so the narrative goes.

      This reminded me of an interview (the chapter Hitch, Hitch, Hitch, Hurrah! in the book Alfred Hitchcock: interviews) where Hitchcock explained that, in the old times, the movies would portray villains as ugly monsters, with a green light shining on them on top of that, but cinema has now (in 1972) moved forward... . It's too great not to share (he is talking about Frenzy):

      << As for the murderer, it is normal that he should appear personable and nice. Many directors commit the error of making the villain a rather ugly man with a ridiculous black moustache who doesn't think twice about kicking a passing dog. All that is from the past when the face of the evildoer was habitually bathed in green light. Cinema has progressed past those early halting steps. The profession has evolved and we now have a completely different conception of how to handle drama. Formerly, it was always necessary to warn the public of which side the main characters were on, who were the good guys and who were the bad. Now we have become more realistic and we can deepen our characters and give them another dimension. In my story it is evident that the murderer must be rather personable, even charming. If I had given him harsher traits and the air of a sex maniac, all the girls he met would have run away. I didn't make all that up; it's the result of a deep analysis. I studied numerous cases concerning murderers of this type. Everyone knows that one of the most captivating of predators, as far as its victims are concerned, is the spider. To better illustrate this idea, there is an expression: "Will you come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly." Children's stories, too, often put us on guard against false appearances. So in "Little Red Riding Hood" we have the kindly grandmother who is a wolf; in "Snow White" the little old lady with the apples is the witch. And isn't there also the expression "a wolf in sheep's clothing"? All these considerations led me to make my murderer a charming being that a girl could be delighted to follow into his apartment. >>

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