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1.5.2 Setting Stat Levels

A value of 8 is `normal' or `average' for each of the stats — Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Presence. That is, a normal adult, with a reasonable amount of experience in life, would be expected to have values around 8. A basic premise of Argo, though, is that `player characters' are a cut above the masses... They have at least the potential to develop their stats signicantly higher than the default value of 8.

Characters start off with 8 points for each stat, and a certain amount of character development points set by the MUCK administrators. The default amount of is 16 points. You can also take Disadvantages, giving you additional points totalling any amount up to the maximum level set by the MUCK administrators; the default limit is 8 points. So, with the default settings, you will have up to 24 points to spend. Some will be needed for skills, however, so don't spend them all on stats.

The command for viewing your stats and other levels is +sheet. Typing the command shows your character sheet; the first time you use the command for a character, Argo sets your stats to 8 each and allocates the starting amount of character points and money. At first, that's all your character sheet will show; later, when you've taken advantages and disavantages and learned skills, these will be shown on the sheet as well. (You may need to go to a designated setup room to run +sheet the first time.)

Increasing a stat above the norm costs points; decreasing a stat `buys back' points. There are no maximum stat levels, but there is always a chance of failed rolls, no matter high one's stats and skills: one reaches a point of diminishing returns somewhere around 14 points. A character has to have at least 1 in all stats, but anything below 5 is abysmally poor for a human. (There is also a system parameter for min_stats, which regulates how low a stat may be set. Its default value is 4.)

Strength affects how much damage you do in unarmed combat and which weapons you can use. On occassions, you might want to roll against your Strength to see if you can lift or push something. Player-vs-player contests like arm wrestling would also involve rolls against Strength. Strength also contributes to the amount of energy you have for activities that require exertion, such as fighting or powering spells.

Constitution is important for anyone likely to be subjected to physical harm: it determines how much damage one can take before falling unconscious or dying. Along with Strenth, Constitution determines how long you can continue tiring activities such as fighting or spellcasting. For many types of characters — merchants, artisans, pilots... anything that doesn't put the character at the receiving end of a weapon — Constitution is less crucial, though hazards like poisons and disease also work against CON.

Anyone whose skills involve physical ability — artisans, artists, sailors, hunters, pilots, warriors, etc. — will need a high Dexterity. Magicians too need a good DEX: it (along with Intelligence and Presence) determines whether their spells succeed or fail. The only characters for whom Dexterity is relatively unimportant are those who's skills and profession are purely social or mental: beureaucrats, rumor-mongers, and cortisans; scholars, librarians, and mathematicians.

Intelligence, too, is important for a number of character types. It determines not only one's facility with Intelligence-based skills but also which skills one can learn and one's ability to notice things, including clues and signs of danger.

Presence is most important for characters whose skills revolve interaction with other characters: Conversation, Detect Lies, Diplomacy, the Influence skills, Oratory, Politics, etc... all these are based on Presence. So, political or military leaders, journalists, investigators, and so forth would all require a strong Presence. Presence is also the base stat used when calculating defence against many spells and psionic abilities.

Increasing a stat during character generation costs one character point per level the stat is raised. Lowering a stat `buys back' one point per level. The command for changing a stat level is +stats. Type the command and follow the prompts. When you first enter the command, you will be asked which stat you want to adjust, then what value you want to set it to. The cost is deducted from the Available Points field on your character sheet. Type `.q' to exit the program. You can talk and pose while using the program (or while at any Argo prompt), but you cannot use other MUCK commands.

After you have completed character generation and had your character approved (or, if your MUCK has automatic character approval, after you've used the +finished command to indicate the character is complete), increasing a stat costs three character points rather than one, so you should spend the necessary points to get them close to the level you want while going through chargen, even if that means deferring learning a few desired skills for a while. Also, stats cannot be lowered once the character is approved, only raised.

You don't have to do all adjustment of stats at once: you can adjust your stats, work on advantages, disadvantages, and skills, then come back and make further adjustments to stats. Until you have had your character approved, the cost remains the same and stats are freely adjustable.

The MUCK is using the default settings, so Antar has 16 Character Development Points to spend. Depending on how many Disadvantages he takes, this can be raised up to 24. Looking over the skills and weapons tables, he sees that Fencing, like most combat skills, is a Physical skill, so he'll need a good Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity. The Fencing weapons have very low minimum strength levels — just about anyone could use them — so Strenth is probably the least important of the three. `Courtier' itself is a skill, a Craft. So he'll need good values in Intelligence and Presence as well. Influence and Diplomacy, both of which look like they would fit with the character he has in mind, are based on Presence, so it will probably be a good idea to put more points on that than Intelligence.

Antar is going to have to make some tough choices: the character he has in mind requires him to raise all his stats. He notices that Dexterity is a component of both Physical skills and Crafts, and the idea of being quick and nimble fits especially well with his character conception, so he decides to put the most points on Dexterity: he raises that to 13, spending 5 points. He also reads that armor reduces one's effective Dexterity, and besides, he pictures himself in fine linens and a cloak, not clanking around in armor. If he's not going to be significantly armored, he had better have a Constitution that will let him take reasonable amounts of damage. He sets CON to 12. He then does some figuring: if he sets his Strength to 11, the value used to calculate Physical skill roles — the average of STR, CON, and DEX — will be 12. If his Strenth is 10, the average would be 11.7, which would mean a Physical skill of 11 (average values are always rounded down in Argo). He decides he wants at least 12. However, he could get the same result by setting Dexterity higher and Strength lower; Dexterity will probably be more important in combat, and it will help his Craft skills as well. So he adjusts to the following settings: STR 10, CON 12, DEX 14. He's spent 12 of his 16-24 points. That seems like a lot, but it's hard to raise stats after starting play. He bites the bullet and spends another three points on Presence, so he'll have a decent chance of exercising Influence around court. His Craft skill is 11. (DEX 14 + INT 8 + PRE 11 = 33, 33 / 3 = 11). OK, so he's not the scholarly type. Not yet at least.

Nim has things a little bit easier here. She needs a high Intelligence, for both skills and spells, and a high Strength and/or Constitution will help her power the spells. If those spells are going to go off with any degree of reliability, she will need a fairly high Dexterity too. She's a magic-user — that is, she practices the Craft of Mage — so Presence should be important as well, but her DEX and INT will keep her Craft skill high, and there are spells and potions that can help out when it comes to influencing people. Besides, as a hedge witch, she pictures herself as shy and retiring, and not a great one for social graces. So, even though it may be a disadvantage at times, a low Presence fits the character conception. The number and type of spells she can cast will be affected by her Fatigue, which is calculated from STR and CON. She'll get the same result if she raises either of these, and a high CON seems more appropriate to the character idea than a high Strength.

Nim sets her Intelligence to 13, her Dexterity to 15, and leaves her Presence at 8, giving her a Craft skill of 12 (13 + 15 + 8 = 36, 36 / 3 = 12). She sets her Strength to 10 and leaves her Constitution at 8. Her Physical skill is a respectable 11, owing to her high Dexterity.

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