... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Point Buy

I was just thinking about how much I hate point buy. Like, for everything.

It's odd, because I didn't hate it 30+ years ago. I remember using the point-trade rules for ability scores (as in Holmes Basic) for AD&D characters a couple times. Technically, that's a point-buy system. Non-weapon proficiencies turned into a point-buy system. I didn't seem to mind the way Melee/Wizard worked for assigning ability scores, and later found TFT's talents liberating. And that lead me into GURPS, which I focused on for several years.

But I just got fed up with it. The main annoyance for me is the main "point" of point-buy: different values for different buyable items. There are two rationales offered: either some things are more valuable for playing the game, so they should cost more... or some things are rarer in real life (or the source being emulated,) so making them cost more keeps them less common. The first reason gets us bogged down in the details of the system instead of the fictional events. So does the second, despite the appeal to realism. And so, I reject it.

I think the Melee/Wizard method of assigning ability scores didn't bother me because it was one-for-one and there were only three scores: Strength, Dexterity, and IQ. When you have only three scores, and there is no point differentials to master, splitting points between abilities just becomes a way to speed up character creation.

This is why, for creating new classes or races, I prefer taking an existing example and changing names of things instead of a dedicated, formal class-building or race-building system. Trading "turn undead" for "command animal" is, technically, equivalent to a point-buy, but everything costs 1 point and we aren't really concerned with exploiting the system, the way we are with using something like GURPS or HERO System to build a custom class or race.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, those systems almost always turn out to be fussy, and abused.