Re: When using stats in a LitRPG, how Hard Magic vs Soft Magic would you say it has to be?

#1
I am NOT a hard magic kind of guy. Usually I just make the magic up as I go. It leaves more wonder and mysticism. But I'm thinking about doing a LitRPG and the whole numbers and leveling and stats stuff really sounds... well to me, boring to write, haha. Sorry, it's just how I am.

I was wondering if I could get past this somewhat by making my LitRPG more item based rather than level based. To put a good comparison on it, like the difference between the progression in Terraria vs the progression in your typical RPG.

If you have any thoughts, let me know. Everything I post on here misses the target audience. Thankfully I've written all of those projects without RR being my target. For instance, right now I've got an on going romance, but it's getting very little traction.

I thought I might start some projects aimed specifically at the crowd here.

Re: When using stats in a LitRPG, how Hard Magic vs Soft Magic would you say it has to be?

#2
When I wrote my first LitPRG, I incorporated a lot of classes, stats, side jobs, quests, the battle system, system messages, stuff I thought readers would enjoy... And ended up regretting it. It was just way too much (for me) to keep track of. Although it was a good way to drop hints / foreshadow future plot arcs, it wasn't worth the effort in the end.

With my second LitRPG story, I've cut back significantly on the numbers to the point of almost bare bones. The reception has been great so far. Yea people do like numbers and blue tables, but it seems like if your story/story world is GameLit (i.e. has game speak), it'll resonate. In my case, I can always expand on the system as the story progresses, as not to overwhelm readers.

But there are stories that do well with insane amounts of game mechanics. I think it ultimately depends on the type of story you're telling.

Re: When using stats in a LitRPG, how Hard Magic vs Soft Magic would you say it has to be?

#7

Cedrych Wrote: I've been rolling dice when characters in my LitRPG get into combat and incorporating the results into the fiction. Makes it a little more interesting for me to write since I don't always know how something is going to turn out.

Something like a tabletop system might not be a bad idea. Gives you a nice pre-built powerscale to work with yet room for unexpected turns. 

Re: When using stats in a LitRPG, how Hard Magic vs Soft Magic would you say it has to be?

#8

Cedrych Wrote: I've been rolling dice when characters in my LitRPG get into combat and incorporating the results into the fiction. Makes it a little more interesting for me to write since I don't always know how something is going to turn out.

I like this idea. I've almost done that for the basic writing portion before, just coming up with a lot of plot variables and then dicing to randomize it.

Re: When using stats in a LitRPG, how Hard Magic vs Soft Magic would you say it has to be?

#9
I think that the nature of litrpg leans towards a Hard system. If Hardness is having limitations and being clearly defined to the reader than by even placing level 1 on something it has become more defined and is more limited than level 2.

Litrpg is really good at giving the reader optimal information in the form of levels, stats, dmg etc... And that parallels Hard systems desire for being clearly defined to the reader. But I will just say that sometime I see litrpgs that are too plentiful and efficient with the information handed out in blue boxes that the boxes become the story because reader will gravitate towards the most optimal information displayed until they only see numbers. 
The instinctive desire for optimization derives a bit of pleasure seeing that 2%+ that will pay dividend past level 50 unlike those plebeians who chose flat linear additive values but just because you think you can do math doesn't mean you need to prove it by busting out percentages, multipliers and exponentials... you can just y'know add... or maybe even forgo quantitative values all together and just rate things in terms of weak, moderate and strong. 


That's not to say you can't have some of both. Example: My spell Magic Flex Tape = Creates 1 meter/1 mana of durable magic tape that is adhesive on one side. The limitation of mana makes it somewhat hard magic but hmmm... Does it explicitly state that you can't use it to seal a portal to hell?

Re: When using stats in a LitRPG, how Hard Magic vs Soft Magic would you say it has to be?

#10
This is, in essence, simply a magic system question. The game rules in litRPGs are simply one method of expressing a magic system. 

Soft magic versus hard magic is a matter of how much needs to be explained to the audience in order for the plot events to not seem arbitrary. The more rules you give to the audience, the more you tell them that the rules matter; the more the rules matter, the more the audience treats them as a contract where you've promised not to screw them over by introducing sudden new powers without explanation. The more the story depends on your protagonist using the magic as a solution, the harder your magic rules should be.

LitRPGs can absolutely be soft magic systems, but that doesn't mean they can't be complex as well. Similarly, hard magic litRPGs can be completely simple. Having only a few rules that can never change is definitely hard magic, while a multitude of complex rules that mostly serve to get in your protagonists' way is soft. I've read soft magic stories where the magic is very clearly defined, but serves more to get the plot moving (providing transportation so the characters don't waste time with travel, or where the protagonist has to use his limited magic to stay warm in winter and therefore doesn't have magic to spare for a dramatic moment), and I've read hard magic stories where the magic is very limited and simple (where the strength of magic as a storytelling device lies in how clever the mages are with their limited resource). 

Let's take a completely random real-world video game (totally not because I'm in the middle of Act II or anything), Ghost of Tsushima. The only hard numbers visible to the players are percentages. "Use this item to get a 30% bonus to resolve gains." "Massive increase to health." "Moderate increase to melee damage." Your health bar shows no numbers, and you can't see an opponent's health bar except when it's low. You don't see XP, just a progression bar as your level goes up (labeled as "Your legend grows.")

Treating this system as a magic system for a litRPG, your protagonist might be able to see his own health bar, but with no numbers. He might see an XP bar, but has no idea how much this quest is actually worth. He knows an item gives him a boost of some kind, but how much is relative. How hard or soft that is for the story depends on how much it matters to the protagonist in order to solve a problem. In the case of Ghost, if it were an isekai litRPG, your gamer-protagonist wouldn't actually be using the magic to solve too many problems, so I'd call it about medium-soft. Meanwhile, Spider-Man and Horizon: Zero Dawn are definitely hard magic in this example. 

Re: When using stats in a LitRPG, how Hard Magic vs Soft Magic would you say it has to be?

#11
I feel that the more gamey the story is, the softer the magic can be.  In a game I can accept "player threw a fireball and did some damage" as long as it has been mentioned earlier that the player has a mana pool from which they spend maybe 10% to make a fireball, or however it works in your game.  But for a medium to serious fantasy story I want to know in some detail what the physics of magic is in your world.  If there is a system I also need to know how that works, and what society thinks about it if everyone has this system.