I Have Even Read the Rulebook!

by

Mr Alex666

Chapter 1: How to get whatevered correctly, Part 4

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Of course you can! I expected nothing less from you!” If it’s possible, Sandy’s smile grew even more radiant.

Scratch that A-Type star, she just entered Type O territory. She took out a huge pile of printing paper from one of the drawers and placed it into Prof’s hands. The armchair gave out some nasty groaning noises – the pile was enormous. Gargantuan. The thing that is larger than gargantuan. Whole forests were killed and shredded to make the pile possible.

You probably know, that you can make your own Character! Unfortunately you will have to start as Level 1, but I have every confidence in you! I’m soooo sure, you will breeze through the Levels! Just tell me, when you are ready, and we can begin! You don’t have to rush, you have as much time as you need! I’m so exited to be able to help you make your Character! If you have questions, ask away! I’ve been there a few times, I’m sure I can help!”

Yeah, been there, saw it, but don’t have a clue, how it works. Always the same. Prof wasn’t so sure about Sandy’s competence in making a valid character. And knowing stuff about a world she visited for fun. How many tourists know how a country works, they visit for a week, and spend most of that time in an all-inclusive hotel complex?

Prof flipped through the pile and was happy, that there was a table of contents right at the beginning. He knew of at least one rule book, where the publisher didn’t think it was necessary to include such a trivial thing, so finding what he was looking for there was a chore. Not in this rulebook though, there was even an index! The first hundred pages of the pile were about the basic rules, then came the Skills, Perks and the different species.

And a LOT about how Magic and Chi worked, the different Spells, their properties and costs in resources.

Ehmmm… Sandy? Can I perhaps get a pen and some paper?”

Oh, of course! Here! Different colours, erasers, markers, everything you would probably need! You can even take notes in the rule book, when you are done, it will clean up itself!”

Sandy shoved a stationery shop's worth of writing utensils at Prof. Ball pens, pencils, crayons, everything was there. Including an old-school writing feather. Armed to the teeth with pens and pencils and the pile of Rule Book, Prof started to get to know the rules his new life would operate under.

If he were an amateur, he would have jumped right to Character Creation – and would have been surprised how his allegedly fool-proof plan blew up in his face. Or not. Prof decided to play it safe. First, get to know the rules, think about how it would work in reality, and only then make his Character. “Character” may have been the wrong word, since he was not playing a game, but live in the game, so Prof corrected himself: and only then reinvent himself.

The System wasn’t that complicated, a lot of details felt familiar from games he played or at least the rules he had read. He had 170 points to set his Stats, of which there were eleven: Strength, Agility, Dexterity, Endurance, Perception, Vitality, Charisma, Intelligence, Willpower, Stability and Luck. The values could be between one and twenty as a Human (however he found some Species where the bracket was larger or smaller), but everything including and below three would mean he was seriously challenged. Challenged as in “wouldn’t be able to function without help”. Of course this was not stated directly, he had to read and understand a few charts to find it out – a nice trap for a minmaxer, indeed!

From the points he could also buy “Perks”, but he felt the name was not well chosen – in his thinking Perk was something positive, but here he could buy negative ones, and so get more points to spend. And there were thousands of Perks. From [Animal Friend] – animals don’t attack you, cost 1 Point – to [Angel of Slaughter] – every damage dealt is multiplied by five, cost 10 Points – there was everything a deranged mind could come up with. Plus damage? Better results from crafting or doing stuff? Faster travel? Talent in Music? Resistances? Everything was covered.

There were no Classes whatsoever, so no [Strong-Armed Wanker] or [Drunken Whiner] out there. Prof found the absence of Classes a bit strange, but it was still in the frame of “System-Governed World”. There were Levels and Skills and Perks, after all.

The System was Skill-driven, not Class-driven – an unusual notion. Interesting but workable. As for Skills… Literally hundreds. From [Knifes] to [Cooking] from [Intimidation] to [Commerce], [Riding] to [Mathematics] there was a Skill for everything. In contrast to most games, Prof didn’t have to choose a few, and forget about the others.

No, he had every last one from the beginning! His head started to hurt remembering all the things he read there. The Skills operated on a percentage-based system: 0% (it was even possible to go below zero) meant, he never heard about the stuff, 50% was enough to function under everyday circumstances, while everything above 500% meant he was a Grandmaster in it. There was no upper limit on Skill Progression, but going above 500% was probably a hassle and didn’t offer that much of advantage. After all, after every full hundred percent the cost in Skill Points to raise the Skill multiplied. While below 100% it was a conversion 1:1, above it was 1:2, than 1:3, than 1:4 and so on.

Critical hits were also a thing.

“Normal” hits and damage just affected the Hit Points, which could be regenerated naturally or healed easily, but if you could land a Critical Hit however, the effect was on whole another level: broken bones, nausea, unconsciousness, lost body parts or limbs. Those you could not regenerate, you needed serious professional help. Or at least know how to apply First Aid… correction: [First Aid] as in a Skill. “Criticals” were also in play for every other Skill, not just those the Humans had the best proficiency with in millennia past (bashing skulls) – there was a chance you suffer a Critical Failure, or achieve a Critical Success, no matter what you did. Burn down the kitchen while making breakfast – or make a tasty meal out of scraps. That’s the difference.

The System assumed, any new citizen will get access to the System at sixteen, but there was a possibility to start later – and get “free” Skill Points for every year spent “outside” the System. However, despite what Sandy said, he did not necessarily had to start at Level 1 – he found the answer in a dropped hint and hidden within the Perks section: for five Points each, he could gain Levels!

There were some strange calculations going on in the background – the Book never explicitly stated there were some calculations, and even the hints were vague – how fast one could attack and how many actions were possible in any given time, but there was no mention of the time-frame or how everything was calculated.

Prof had the feeling, it had something to do with Agility and Dexterity, and something else, but could not figure out the how. He concluded, that the higher his two Stats were, the better. Being fast was always good. (No, don’t ask your wife about that! Let’s just say, sometimes a high Endurance was better)

Curiously there was no mention of continents, countries, gods, and anything else that dealt with the world as such. Probably that was included in another volume, you had to buy separately. Or multiple volumes. The publisher needs to earn money too, after all.

After what felt as hours (but were probably days), Prof finished with the pile – OK, he just ran through the Magic and Chi part, he was not particularly interested in either. He was neither tired, not hungry or thirsty – being dead was probably the cause. Have you ever seen a zombie taking a coffee break or getting tired of shambling around? They still eat brains, but probably not for nourishment. Some of them doesn’t even have a tummy any more! At this point Prof took a break and consulted his notes:

1, Stats: Static. Absolute, objective value. Mostly self-evident, the effect is in the name. Charisma is not just beauty, but how you present yourself, Stability is how stable your emotions are, how calm and resilient against emotional attacks you are. Range: 3-20, above 16 it gets more expensive, above 18 extremely expensive.

2, Classes: Nope

3, Skills: Hundreds. Have every last one. One Skill for every possible thing. Can choose four that costs half as much to raise and give a nice bonus. More with Perks?

4, Abilities and Feats: Nope. Need Chi to use “Spells” in Combat. Need Perk to use Chi

5, Perks: Thousands. Both positive and negative. Can get expensive. No new Perk later?

6, Damage: Normal and Critical. Critical is better, but harder to achieve. Need professional help to heal.

7, Actions: ??? It’s probably a hidden value.

8, Age: Starts with 16, later start possible for free Skill Points

9, Level: Base is one, higher Level possible. Expensive!

10, Minmaxing: Nope!!! Gets you killed fast. Too many variables!

 

Minmaxing was off the table because of the huge number of Skills and Perks and the endless variation they could be combined into. And, of course the sheer existence of Skills and Perks in this volume.

If you are playing a game and have your party at hand, you can concentrate on fighting Skills and leave the talking, haggling, reading and thinking to them. If you are alone – which Prof most assuredly will be for the forseeable future – you will need to be able to… let’s see… cook, haggle at the market, have an idea what costs what, count the change, speak in more than one word sentences, apply first aid, know where you are, survive in the wilderness and a plethora of other things. Almost like in real life!

Oh, wait.

If he would concentrate on any one skill-set, be it commerce, fighting, non-legal stuff, science or whatever, he would leave himself wide open for nasty surprises – like you would encounter in real life. Oh, wait, again.

This will be no game, but real life with added benefits! Diversification was the thing here. Sure, with his four Super-Skills, he could somewhat specialise, but by his counting he would need tens or dozens of other Skills in the range of 100-200% to be able to survive on his own. Comfortably survive.

He did some calculations, and came to the realisation, that without spending Skill Points, most of his Skills would be around 50%. That would be enough for every-day activities, but having a maximum chance of 50% (probably less because of circumstances) to make an omelette out there in the wilderness was a sure way to starve. On the same logic was the rejection of “dump stats”. He would need at least an average score in every last one in his Stats from the beginning – since they were static, with no further points to expect – that is at least a round 10. He almost felt sorry for the minmaxer with 1 in… Pick a Stat… or the dumb hero with a low Charisma.

Oh, no, at lest average in everything it is.

That brought Prof to another painful truth: 170 Points may look as much, but if you want to have good Stats and a few good Perks, it’s basically nothing. Just from a cursory read-through Prof could have chosen Perks with a value of… multiply 170 with any number higher than two…

There were really good Perks on the list. Really good as in Cheat Power good. Those with a cost above 5, that is. Still a few hundred ones… (no, we are still not talking about Chi and Magic! Even to use those two, you would need to spend 5 Points each for the associated Perk, plus further points for the resources themselves, plus further points on This and That and Whatnot. Have I mentioned that every school of Chi and Magic has his own Skill? So yeah, go, roll a Wizard from scratch).

As much as Prof didn’t want to have glaring weaknesses, he would need to select a few negative Perks to make up the numbers. Yeah, he needed to minmax his weaknesses after all. But wait a minute: what Adventurer needs to know about [Agriculture]? Apples doesn’t grow on trees after all, but are found in the supermarket! Bummer.

Not immediately, no. First he had to clarify a few very important points.

Say, Sandy, I do have a few questions. Can everyone on this world level? What Level of Power are we talking about here?”

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A note from Mr Alex666

EDIT: I was told, my paragraphs were too long. Tried to fix it


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Mr Alex666

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