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Old 12-11-2012, 03:30 AM   #1
Vynticator
 
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Default What's with the modesty about stats?

Having read quite a few threads about real world stats, I find myself a bit puzzled by what seems to be the prevailing wind in Stats theory on these forums.

GURPS Raw have human stats up to 20, but ST can go higher in an unspecified manner. But on the forums, it seems as if even conceiving of a character with a stat higher than 14, 15 at a push, is a step into super-munchkin world.

I read someone suggesting Leonardo Da Vinci had IQ around 16, the other day. Now, if we take the rules as written, we surely have to imagine a scale that does use a wider spread of stats. If people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, Socrates, Shakespeare, Darwin (maybe?) - didn't have IQ at 20 or nearly there, then who did? These guys changed human history with their thinking, often across a huge range of fields or integrating many different intellectual pursuits.

Likewise, if world class combatants or acrobats don't have DX 20, what is the meaning of having it there as a human maximum?

That line of thinking just seems odd to me. I don't object to saying 'my game is embedded in harsh realism and I will stat cap at 14 for PCs' at all, it's the idea that the most renowned figures in human history had peak stats at 16 or so.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vynticator View Post
GURPS Raw have human stats up to 20, but ST can go higher in an unspecified manner. But on the forums, it seems as if even conceiving of a character with a stat higher than 14, 15 at a push, is a step into super-munchkin world.
GURPS RAW is meant to handle any playing style from painstaking simulationism to all-out cinematicism. Depending on which style you want, you make different choices about which traits are appropriate for characters and how high Attributes can be. At the point where a few weeks of training suffice to make a character an instant world-class expert in a new field and even without any training or study he can be better than professionals at what they do, it's a sign that he's living in a cinematic world, not the real one.

That's not necessarily bad. Plenty of people want to consume fiction set there and play games there too. But it's not an accurate reflection of the real world, which is where real, historical people lived.

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Originally Posted by Vynticator View Post
I read someone suggesting Leonardo Da Vinci had IQ around 16, the other day.
In a game that's set in cinematic Renaissance Italy, Leonardo da Vinci might have IQ 20. In a game meant to be set in a realistic simulation of actual Renaissance Italy, he has lower IQ, perhaps some Talents and points in a wide range of skills.

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Originally Posted by Vynticator View Post
Now, if we take the rules as written, we surely have to imagine a scale that does use a wider spread of stats. If people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, Socrates, Shakespeare, Darwin (maybe?) - didn't have IQ at 20 or nearly there, then who did? These guys changed human history with their thinking, often across a huge range of fields or integrating many different intellectual pursuits.
Fictional human polymaths have IQ 20. Real human polymaths have high IQ, but not so high that their untrained defaults with all IQ-based skills are equal or higher to the skills of actual professionals or even experts in those fields.

And a lot of the names you mention are people famous for their exceptional skill in a particular field that in GURPS is fairly narrow, which means that they are best modelled with Talents and/or points in the skill that governs their area of expertise. Do you believe that Shakespeare, Einstein or Darwin had skill 14+ in all IQ-based skills, including Politics, Strategy, History (every single speciality), Law (all), Engineering (all) and all Influence skills, making them an expert at everything? The evidence of their lives doesn't support this.

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Likewise, if world class combatants or acrobats don't have DX 20, what is the meaning of having it there as a human maximum?
So that the game can model humans in cinematic worlds, as well as humans in realistic worlds.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

Talents can be away of bumping up skills so that there is a huge bonus to underlying stats.

I think this is a better representation that just brute/raw stat power.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

Leonardo da Vinci was a genius in painting as in engineering and science. Perhaps the most poyhedric genius we can think of. Pico della Mirandola could remeber for his entire life any book he readed, word by word. John Von Neumann, at six years of ages, could read a random numbers page for few minutes and after this repeat it wothout an error.

Einstein studied in old school universities, where a bit of every science was teached to students. Yet, when Einstein spoke about biology, he used to tell oddities. He simply didn't know that issue. And I think Einstein hasn't Machinist skill 15, Acting, Streetwise, Fast-talk, Merchant and Paking at level 15 (that is, a super-professionist), Physician at level 13, Strategy at level 14, Forgery 14 and First Aid 16. So, Einstein hasn't that attribute of GURPS that is IQ 20.
IQ 20 definitely is an over-the-top score even in a cinematic game. Nor da Vinci, della Mirandola, Einstein or Von Neumann are correctly simulated by IQ 20.

The same goes for DX.

High HT is good for gamistic concerns, but it's totally unrealistic. Even a score of 13 produces odd results in a large set of situations and hazards.

ST 20 lifting are on the top of today's human performances. Athletes showing this level of performance aren't humans, because their body is definitely super-human due to pharmacy. So ST 20 already is a non-human score.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

Familiarity penalties can easily be as brutal as -6, making those level 15 defaults into level 9s.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vynticator View Post
Having read quite a few threads about real world stats, I find myself a bit puzzled by what seems to be the prevailing wind in Stats theory on these forums.

GURPS Raw have human stats up to 20, but ST can go higher in an unspecified manner. But on the forums, it seems as if even conceiving of a character with a stat higher than 14, 15 at a push, is a step into super-munchkin world.
That's because the scale for attributes is not an arbitrary scale like the Mohs scale for hardness, but corresponds to concrete abilities in a definite way. In particular, the system of default skills means that performance in untrained skills depends on an attribute alone, so you can tell about a character's attribute by his or her performance in things he never trained at. Or conversely, you can tell that an IQ or a DX of X would imply that the characer was capable of such-and-such.

It so happens that a GURPS character with an IQ of 16 is professionally competent (skill-12) at skills that he or she has merely read about or seen actors enacting on TV. A GURPS character with an IQ of 20 is a master of skills he or she has never tried before. Not just a couple. All IQ-based skills, and there are a lot of them, very diverse, too.

A GURPS character with IQ 20 is a master diplomat, tactician, surgeon, physician, lawyer, historian, geographer, geologist, oceanographer, ecologist, botanist, zoologist, anthropologist, sociologist, economist, mathematician, programmer, physicist, chemist, musician, composer, soldier, accountant, actor, administrator, architect, armourer, artist (in every medium), engineer, carpenter, cartographer, cook, disguise artist, farmer, leader, linguist, locksmith and everything else, including stealth and camouflage, shadowing, every hobby skill, every professional skill, every expert skill, every specialisation. he or she is as good as an expert specialist in all of those. He or she also has an iron willpower, the hearing of a watchdog, the eyesight of an eagleů.

There are characters in stories like that, such as Doc Savage. But when we are describing historical characters we don't find many of whom the description implied by a GURPS IQ over 15 is accurate.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:20 AM   #7
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

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Familiarity penalties can easily be as brutal as -6, making those level 15 defaults into level 9s.
True enough, but even with those, I'd argue that even the most impressive polymath in real history would not qualify for IQ 20. The problem isn't just with defaults, it is also how easily skills can be learnt. In just a month or so of study, an IQ 20 character can become one of the best in the world at any mental skill he chooses.

High IQ is realistic for certain gifted individuals in history. Caesar and Napoleon, for example, were geniuses in multiple areas, even going so far as to surpass professionals after only minimal learning time in areas as diverse as religious esoteria, poetry, lawmaking and city planning. But they can still be represented with IQ 13-16, as well as perhaps appropriate Talents*.

It isn't automatically implausible for very quick-thinking, intuitive person with excellent memories and judgment to master an IQ skill at a professional level in just the short time it takes to shed the unfamiliarity penalties that apply to a given task. As it happens, there is an enormous variation in real-world problem-solving ability, learning speed and judgment, even more so than in the somewhat limited subset of intelligence that Intelligence Quotients measure. But except in cinematic universes, that variation doesn't extend quite up to IQ 20.

*Especially for Napoleon, who was broadly competent and inspired, but clearly even better at such skills as Administration, Leadership, Strategy, Tactics, etc. than he was at IQ-skill in general.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

The kind of people who go down in history as brilliant geniuses are the people with high levels of Talent, Charisma, and maybe Reputation (Really Smart Guy). There may well have been people out there with IQ 20, but they most likely took some crippling mental disadvantages to pay for it and spent their lives working quietly behind the scenes.
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:00 AM   #9
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vynticator View Post
Having read quite a few threads about real world stats, I find myself a bit puzzled by what seems to be the prevailing wind in Stats theory on these forums.

GURPS Raw have human stats up to 20, but ST can go higher in an unspecified manner. But on the forums, it seems as if even conceiving of a character with a stat higher than 14, 15 at a push, is a step into super-munchkin world.

I read someone suggesting Leonardo Da Vinci had IQ around 16, the other day. Now, if we take the rules as written, we surely have to imagine a scale that does use a wider spread of stats. If people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, Socrates, Shakespeare, Darwin (maybe?) - didn't have IQ at 20 or nearly there, then who did? These guys changed human history with their thinking, often across a huge range of fields or integrating many different intellectual pursuits.

Likewise, if world class combatants or acrobats don't have DX 20, what is the meaning of having it there as a human maximum?

That line of thinking just seems odd to me. I don't object to saying 'my game is embedded in harsh realism and I will stat cap at 14 for PCs' at all, it's the idea that the most renowned figures in human history had peak stats at 16 or so.
Its just a number used to differentiate PCs and NPCs from each other. Dont obsess over it so much. We do a lot of debating on these fora, most of it just for the sake of debate.

There is a general wind of realisim/simulationism that keeps that number low and Ive even seen some statistical arguments on the web that argue that only one person in recorded history has ever had IQ 17.

The general Idea is that IQ is such a broad ranging stat that no one is that generally good at everything. Keep in mind that IQ here has nothing to do with a test score. It covers Mathematical, Social, Memorization, Deductive, Engineering and a host of other skills. With that in mind, and the fact that GURPS has ways with more resolution to model people (Talents, Skills, etc) that most people find it to be more 'reasonable' to design them in this way.

Note that this is also the argument for keeping DX scores low. As DX affects a host of skills, Basic Speed (read that reaction time), 'Large muscle' dexterity (like trapeeze work and combat), 'small muscle' dexterity (like lockpicking and craftwork), Movement and flexibility, it is more 'realistic' to some to have a lower DX and simply buy up the skills or take advantages to highlight the strengths. Think of the attributes as the ultimate Skill! skill.

Einstein was a smart guy. But how do we model that? Generally these fora side with Giving him an above average IQ, a few levels of Math talent and high skills in Math and physics. Note that by doing it this in this way, Einstein isnt represented as an amazing socialite. If you were to just model him in your game by giving him a High IQ as a shorthand, then thats just fine as well. Generally speaking Ben Franklin is the guy I hear most often when mentioning 'real world' examples of those with high IQ.

Take an (American) Football Player, say for example a Running Back. Their DX covers basic speed, basic move, the ability to catch a ball, dodge, spin, and do other sorts of what I refer to as 'Large Muscle' Dexterity. But can they touch their toes? Pick a lock? This can then be used to argue that a lower DX is in order with skills in running, enhanced dodge, Sport (Football), and points spent in other areas. Generally speaking, when I think of who has an amazingly high overall DX, I think of Harry Houdini.

Consider these arguments, but if your comfortable in your games running the stats up to 20, then do so. The only stat that has a hard, physical world correlation, is ST.

The point is, know your scale and scope. If your Ok with it, and your players are ok with it, then run it that way. :) There is no IQ test score correlation to go with the Stat. There is no DX correlation in the real world to go with the stat. Its just a way to differentiate people from one another, which is all any number on your charachter sheet is for.

One final caveat. Note that letting the Attributes run up to 20 for IQ and DX is going to 'shift' the probability curve to the right a bit and will require heavy situation modifiers to bring it back to left for that 8-12 sweet spot that we keep for tasks.

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Nymdok

Last edited by Nymdok; 12-11-2012 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:18 AM   #10
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Default Re: What's with the modesty about stats?

I don't think stats of 20 for IQ,DX and HT belong in a realistic campaign. But I do agree with the sentiment that the cult of stat normalization should simply be called the cult of preferring low stats. It is most apparent in Supers where you see arguments that guys like Spider-man should have DX below 20 or Reed Richards IQ in the sub-20 range.
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