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The Almighty Strength Attribute

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I'm developing a fictional MMO game system, which is classless and does not have a character level.  Instead, it relies on increasing skills points and attributes.

Fighting, for example, relies on player ability -- can you actually hit someone with a sword in a virtual reality?  If so, your sword skill stat goes up a little, and you will do more damage next time you hit.

Damage is governed by skill points with the current weapon + strength.  My problem is . . . how does one gain strength when there is no leveling up?  I could have it passively increase as a player fights, perhaps, but that seems like overkill since they are already gaining skill points with their weapon.  I don't want players having to "grind" their skill stat by lifting weights or something, either.

Any ideas?

Before each session, in real life, have them do sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups. If they actually increase any of those, allow them to gain strength points.

Maybe just make it chance. When they gain skill in weapons or some other associated skill, perhaps you determine a percentage chance of strength increase with it. If they fail this time, next time increase the probability. Keeps them intertwined, since weapon skill would probably directly correlate to strength. Perhaps running, acrobatics, etc would also work towards a strength check. Back then I doubt they lifted much weights anyway, sword practice, farming, run tracking, chopping/gathering firewood all would slowly help with the strength.

If you don't like rolling chance, then give a percentage to other skills. Weapon skill increase = 50% towards a strength point. Juggling = 5%. Tracking = 10%. Then as his other skills go up, when he gets 100% he increases a strength.

Only thing I could come up with on the top of my head.

I think you could do just fine having the stats passively increase through activity. Not just fighting, but any "Strength-based" activity has a chance to increase strength (pushing stuff around, lifting things, etc.). In-fact, fighting might specifically NOT increase stats. Instead, the weapon skill is a combination of skill using it and muscle to use it effectively. But that specialized muscle doesn't translate to general strength.

In my mind there are two aspects to weapon damage -  placement and force.  Strength increases force, and skill improves placement.
Strength also improves placement to a degree when dealing with active defence as you can get your weapon to an opening faster, or overcome a parry.

Played a little Path of Exile - there, you increase attributes by spending skill points. So, either you raise a skill, or an attribute.

Also, consider GURPS: a point of Strength costs 10 points - for that, you can get an advantage (high pain threshold, for example) or raise a couple of skills, or buy hit points...
Generally, a character will need both decent attributes and skills to be efficient. Specialization is better done by getting skills, but general competence is raised by getting an attribute upgrade.


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