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Old 05-31-2018, 01:25 PM   #1
Rick_Smith
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Coquitlam B.C.
Default Is Attribute Bloat real?

Hi all,
The purpose of this thread is to debate if attribute bloat is a real problem in TFT or not. I've seen people dismiss TFT out of hand, saying that it is OK for a while, but soon breaks down because the only thing you can do with experience is raise attributes, and soon your attributes are so high, that you always hit, always make saving throws and the game becomes boring.

In another thread, ecz wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ecz View Post
as it was outlined in other threads there is a certain consensus about the fact that the "attribute bloat" becomes an actual problem for a very low % of games.

usually the wise GM is capable to manage things keeping attribute numbers at a reasonable level. If he fails it happens because one or more of the following applies:

- abuse of the job table;
- tons of worthless and hopeless cannon fodder sent blindly against the party;
- patological lack of challenging enemies (soft GMing).

only a combination of one or more of these situations can bring a PC at 50+ points.

In this case is better to fix the GM, not the game!

Actually a PC at 50+ points could even be the result of years of "real life" using the same hero session after session without an "accident" that kills him despite all the dangers encountered and the slow grow rate. Hard but possible. In this case I would just "retire" my PC happy and alive.

So, in conclusion, I would modify/fix something else in the TFT, not the talents giving DX bonuses.
Others pointed out, that attribute bloat starts to become a problem well before 50+ attribute figures arise.

I pointed out, some GM's (such as myself), are BORED with constantly playing with 32 attribute characters. Many players are frustrated and alienated by a game where their characters are dying constantly. Such GM's and players prefer a game where the characters are likely to reach into the high 40's if they play long enough.

***

Anyway, this thread is intended for a drag out, hold no bars debate. Is attribute bloat a real thing?

Warm regards, Rick.
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Old 05-31-2018, 02:36 PM   #2
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Is Attribute Bloat real?

I have played more TFT than anyone I've ever met, and at least as much as anyone I've communicated with online, and I don't buy it. There are ways to 'game' the job system to increase your stat total once you have already reached very high totals (basically, you have to get to the point where it is impossible or highly improbable that a failed risk roll can kill you, and then take on a super high risk job). But barring this, the only way to produce obscenely over powered characters is to cheat. The XP costs of rising above 50 points are quite high, and the danger of death in combat is always significant. In my experience, this never turns the corner in the way it does in D+D, where a powerful character can 'mine' experience points without meaningful risk.
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Old 05-31-2018, 03:36 PM   #3
Jim Kane
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Default Re: Is Attribute Bloat real?

It might be helpful - but perhaps impossible - to state independently, or reach collectively as agreement, a specific working definition of Attribute Bloat, and what qualifies and what does not qualify as same - first.

JK
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Old 05-31-2018, 04:13 PM   #4
Rick_Smith
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Coquitlam B.C.
Default Re: Is Attribute Bloat real?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Kane View Post
It might be helpful - but perhaps impossible - to state independently, or reach collectively as agreement, a specific working definition of Attribute Bloat, and what qualifies and what does not qualify as same - first. JK
OK...

Attribute Bloat is when a character in TFT has such high attributes that they normally always make their to hit rolls, and most saving throws. Further, as the attributes rise, many characters tend to have 13+ in all attributes which makes them feel similar to many other experienced characters.

This first becomes noticeable around 42 attributes and is serious by the high 40's.

I think that would be a decent working definition.

Rick
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Old 05-31-2018, 05:16 PM   #5
Chris Rice
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: London Uk, but originally from Scotland
Default Re: Is Attribute Bloat real?

Of course it's real because it's an inherent feature of the game system. Whether it has become a problem in your particular games will be down to your own GM style so you may not have noticed it or it may not even bother you, but it's obviously there.

Since progression is by attribute increase and rolls aren't comparative but absolute, a system that works nicely at lower levels starts to unravel a bit later on. Once characters get to an adjusted DX of 14 they're succeeding around 90% of the time. We found that things weren't so interesting after 42 pts. This was why I introduced comparative rolls and later did away with attribute increase all together. Obviously that's moving quite a way from TFT so I don't expect to see that in the reboot, but I don't know what the solution is.

Maybe just accept that the game works best at low or at most medium power levels.
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Old 05-31-2018, 05:17 PM   #6
Kirk
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Default Re: Is Attribute Bloat real?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
OK...

Attribute Bloat is when a character in TFT has such high attributes that they normally always make their to hit rolls, and most saving throws. Further, as the attributes rise, many characters tend to have 13+ in all attributes which makes them feel similar to many other experienced characters.

This first becomes noticeable around 42 attributes and is serious by the high 40's.

I think that would be a decent working definition.

Rick
If a character manages to avoid permanent injury or death, a typical lifespan may be enough to reach this bloat you speak of.

Since everyone has already chimed in about fixing the GM, i.e. make sure that adventuring is dangerous enough, we can look at two things.

Assuming this "bloat" makes for a boring character that achieves all (see fixing the GM) one can either let the character age out, which it will almost always do, and retire him to the hall of fame, or "fix" TFT to somehow manage this "bloat".

The way I see it, TFT is like Newtonian physics, which works well enough for almost everyone, things slow and large. But when humans pushed for more, it required the discovery of quantum mechanical rules for the fast and small.

Combining the two approaches doesn't work very well, so each is applied in turn where necessary.

So most would acknowledge that TFT works for characters to 50 points, and then begins to breakdown because of the 3 die roll and attribute system.

I am comfortable with that. If someone wants to design a system that handles superheroes from 50 points and up, effectively quantum TFT, that's fine, too. But I don't think we should try to screw on a system as such to the existing Newtonian one, it almost assuredly won't work, and will only destroy what we attempt to "fix".
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Old 05-31-2018, 06:16 PM   #7
Rick_Smith
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Coquitlam B.C.
Default Quantum Physics style changes to TFT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk View Post
If a character manages to avoid permanent injury or death, a typical lifespan may be enough to reach this bloat you speak of.

...

So most would acknowledge that TFT works for characters to 50 points, and then begins to breakdown because of the 3 die roll and attribute system.

I am comfortable with that. If someone wants to design a system that handles superheroes from 50 points and up, effectively quantum TFT, that's fine, too. But I don't think we should try to screw on a system as such to the existing Newtonian one, it almost assuredly won't work, and will only destroy what we attempt to "fix".
Hi Kirk.
Several people have pointed out that it starts to become a problem before 50 attributes, so I take issue with the 'most would acknowledge' phrase.

And many of the suggestions which we have suggested are hardly extreme. I've suggested that a flat 50 experience points are given for making a job roll, and I've suggested that talents that give DX bonuses give some other sort of bonus. Another good suggestion was dumping the attribute adder magic items.

(For $24,000 you can get a +3 attribute adder for all of ST, DX and IQ. Even if we pretend that attribute bloat is a non issue until 50 attributes, then people hit your limit at 41 attributes, with those items. For $48,000 we hit your 50 attribute limit at 38 attributes.)

I have suggested that A) Steve Jackson realizes that there is a problem, and B) he makes some small changes to reduce it.

I know he won't make big changes. He has said as much.

It is rather academic to me, as my superscript rules fix the problem. I expect that people could have playable characters with 60+ attributes with my rules (not that anyone has ever got close to that level). However, I want the new TFT to succeed.

And finally, it is hardly 'quantum physics TFT' to dump attribute adders, eliminate DX bonus talents and reduce the experience from job rolls. I find it strange that such small improvements to TFT consistently raise such dire arguments.

Someone said that TFT has had 3.5 decades of play testing. Shouldn't we use at least SOME of that wisdom?

Warm regards, Rick.
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Old 05-31-2018, 07:27 PM   #8
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Is Attribute Bloat real?

I disagree with the attribute bloat definition that was suggested. You mostly roll vs. DX , sometimes vs. IQ and rarely vs. ST. So, this definition is basically about DX. And the thing that influences your chance to succeed at something is your adj.DX, which reflects both your base score, your armor, and any penalties you are willing to take on, like fighting with two weapons. DX doesn't really 'saturate' until well over 20.
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Old 05-31-2018, 07:41 PM   #9
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: Is Attribute Bloat real?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
Hi all,
The purpose of this thread is to debate if attribute bloat is a real problem in TFT or not. I've seen people dismiss TFT out of hand, saying that it is OK for a while, but soon breaks down because the only thing you can do with experience is raise attributes, and soon your attributes are so high, that you always hit, always make saving throws and the game becomes boring.

In another thread, ecz wrote:



Others pointed out, that attribute bloat starts to become a problem well before 50+ attribute figures arise.

I pointed out, some GM's (such as myself), are BORED with constantly playing with 32 attribute characters. Many players are frustrated and alienated by a game where their characters are dying constantly. Such GM's and players prefer a game where the characters are likely to reach into the high 40's if they play long enough.

***

Anyway, this thread is intended for a drag out, hold no bars debate. Is attribute bloat a real thing?

Warm regards, Rick.
For me, no. But I pretty scrupulously followed the e.p. rules in TFT and did NOT use the jobs table. I generally assumed that PCs more or less broke even in their day job and that adventures were the real adventurer retirement plan... And my campaign was fairly deadly. I explored the statistics in detail in another thread, but I think I estimated that it would take a year of weekly adventures to get in the attribute bloat range, if you strictly adhere to the TFT experience point system. And if a campaign has a 5% attrition rate per session - in a 5 character party, an average of about 1 death every 4 sessions - a figure will survive for 50 weeks only about 7% of the time.

That said, I think attribute bloat must be a real problem, since a fair number of people complain about it. These folks are credible for the most part, so I believe them.

However I personally think that most RPGs break down at high levels. This is a function of the typical RPG combat resolution mechanic - roll to hit, roll for damage. Also, if figures with average skill ratings succeed success rolls ~50% of the time (I.e., a 3 die roll requiring a 10- to succeed), any reasonable skill advancement system will get the skill to virtually 100% pretty quickly. In TFT, a mere +3 to an average attribute (10 being average) yields an 84% chance of success. That means 5 out of six times, the roll will succeed. (This is my complaint with the 3d6 (or 2d6) resolution mechanic - it’s way too sensitive to modifiers).

These problems can be addressed, or course, but the result would be a game that is manifestly NOT TFT. (The easiest fix is to use a d20 instead of 3d6. That would require an attribute of 17 to get the same success chance as an attribute of 13 with the 3d6 mechanic. But most TFT folks find this blasphemous.)

Anyhow, since I think that this problem is endemic to most RPGs, I don’t sweat it too much. I submit that it is the responsibility of the GM to properly calibrate his campaign so that it’s very, very hard to get to the attribute bloat point (whatever that is).

Last edited by tbeard1999; 05-31-2018 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 05-31-2018, 07:52 PM   #10
Rick_Smith
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Coquitlam B.C.
Default Self selection bias.

I've came across over the years 4 people who dismissed TFT because (or in part because of) attribute bloat.

It was a problem in my campaign, and a few other GM's on these forums also suffered from it. All of us found ways to solve it.

But when considering how widespread the problem is, we should consider self selection bias. Who is so enthusiastic about TFT to sign up for these forums and post here? The big groups consist of ...

-- Someone who is happy with TFT the was it is.
-- Someone who found problems with TFT but fixed it & kept playing.

The people NOT posting on this forum are those who found problems with TFT and abandoned the game for better role playing games. (Well better for them.) Or perhaps, they were unhappy with TFT, and just moved on to some other hobby, leaving RPG's altogether.

Let us imagine a GM called "George". George found that his players were revolting at how often they died and had to write up yet another 32 attribute character. He adjusted the game in some ways that allowed player to live longer. Great! 44 attribute figures could have more talents. They had more history in game. They were able to take on tougher adventures. Things went well for a while, and then George found that the characters were always succeeding. All of these 45+ attribute characters had high attributes in every category and so they started to feel 'samey'. For this and other reasons he, started playing other games more, eventually dropping TFT altogether.

George is not here to say that he felt troubled by attribute bloat.

Who is here? People who are disproportionately happy with TFT exactly as it is, and those who were troubled by flaws in the game and fixed it some how.

The latter group are saying, fix this, fix that! The former group is saying, don't change anything! Any little change might break perfection!!! If you must change it, well, playtest the changes A LOT!!! Playtest for months, years ideally!!!

***

I think that Steve Jackson is in the "TFT is darn near perfect" camp, so those that don't want many changes are likely to be quite happy with the game that comes out.

But I greatly fear that if the new TFT is much the same as the old TFT, that it will be ignored in the market place, and quietly turn into a niche product.

***

But for those who say, "the overwhelming number of people on this forum have said that attribute bloat is non-existent", I say, "this forum is hardly the place to poll people to see if TFT has serious problems". The place to find people who felt that TFT had problems, is to ask on the D&D forums for ex-TFT players. If TFT is to take off, you will have to win a bunch of those people back.

Warm regards, Rick.
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