Making Personality Traits Elementals

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by KerriganSaila, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. KerriganSaila

    KerriganSaila Cat lover Veteran

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    What do you think of making personality traits as elementals for a game in a modern setting?

    I am working on my database right now for my game and I want to add an elemental system because I think it will add more depth to my heroes and enemies. Such as one of my main characters has a wrath or hatred elemental which is weaker against love. The only problem I'm having is that it sounds silly in my head. Like "Attacks an enemy with kindness damage!" doesn't make much sense. There are other issues I am coming across.

    -How would personality traits with apparent weaknesses beat honorable personality traits? I was thinking of making on of my elementals "addiction" but how would someone with an addiction elemental cause damage to someone with an awesome elemental like "Benevolence"?

    -How would a personality trait elemental system be easy for the player to understand? Hate and love are easy concepts. So if there was "love damage" it may make sense that it would damage hate elementals. But trying to make "logic" damage "laziness" just doesn't make sense.

    When researching elementals I came across a suggestion of using 7 Deadly Sins as elementals, which I thought sounded great at first. But it doesn't make sense as to how they would overpower or defeat each other. Is this something that can be done or am I coming at the idea all wrong with making personality traits as elementals?
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  2. msazako

    msazako "Lie of msazako" Veteran

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    To be honest, I like that idea lmao! Certainly gives you options on making some silly-themed active skills.

    Anyway, if you want to put them gameplay-wise, I think you should take a page from pokemon's element system-- where logic is your best friend.
    Ask yourself, how many elements do you need? What would be their weakness(es)?

    I could also give my example from my game, where "Disciplines" are my main elements (IE: Power >> Defensive >> Magic >> Technique >> Speed >> Power), since it gives me more freedom on making skills for the players/enemies to use.

    Some examples I got here for your system:

    Undecided (No Counterpart)
    Mundane <--> Awesome
    Love <--> Hate
    Joy <--> Sorrow
    Motivation <--> Laziness
    Smart <--> Obtuse

    As you can see from the example, the whole thing doesn't really have to be a rock paper scissor element system since they all have counterparts to each other besides "Undecided". It can get a littlebit complicated though as you add more, but all I can say is tackle everything one at a time and try not to overwhelm yourself!
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  3. Wavelength

    Wavelength The Indictables Veteran

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    First of all, I want to point you to a post I made recently dealing with Elements in general. It's a bit long, but read at least the first section, because I think it's very relevant here.

    Now, consider your own system. The idea of stylistically building characters by naming mechanics after their "personalities" is a really, really good one! It can go a long way toward connecting your player to his characters, and toward presenting mechanics in a rather intuitive way. But - and this is a big 'But' - you need to ask yourself whether Elements are the right mechanic to do this with. If you stripped away the personalities and gave the Elements their 'normal' kind of names (Fire, Water, Thunder, Physical, etc.), would the Elements system still be worth the trouble? Would it honestly add more fun, strategy, flow, or excitement to your game's combat than it takes away?

    Maybe you can elucidate a way that such a system does add to your game (besides its stylistic tie-in to personalities), but my instinct would be that the answer is 'No'. If this is the case, I would consider looking for other ways you might be able to tie personalities into mechanics of combat. One idea that comes to mind for me is Passive Abilities! When done well, these passive abilities provide mini-goals to achieve in each combat, and incentivize the player to play in that way (here, in accordance with the character's "personality"). A few examples of passive abilities that would be appropriate for different Character Traits:
    • Vindictive: When damaged by a foe, deal bonus damage if you hit that foe on the next turn
    • Unjust: Gain stat buffs when your current HP is at least three times that of another ally
    • Benevolent: Using a single-target ability on an ally restores a bit of their MP and yours
    • Proud: Attack increased by the percent of HP you are missing
    • Analytical: Bonus damage for hitting an opponent's Weakness
    • Addictive: Using an ability reduces the cost of that same ability by half next turn
    • Sadistic: Always Critical Hit when attacking enemies below 20% HP
    Even enemies could be given such personality-based Passives!!

    Alternatively, you could stick with the general concept of personalities as Elements, but avoid limiting yourself to the traditional super-complex version of "Rock-Paper-Scissors" that Element systems often become. Instead, create a system that's uniquely yours and feels like it was made for the Personality theming! For example, you could design a system where most battlers have one or more "Positive Traits" (Benevolence, Determination, Creativity...) as well as one or more "Negative Traits" (Rage, Addiction, Sloth...), and every Negative Trait is weak to exactly one Positive Trait - this keeps things pretty simple and intuitive while allowing you to establish the system as a major part of combat strategy. Or, you could even have a system where some elements are strictly better than others (with the battlers of that "type" having more powerful abilities or higher base stats to compensate) - maybe traits like Paranoia or Sloth don't seem like they'd logically be 'good' against a lot of other things, so you could give them a lot of bad matchups in the "Elements table", but make battlers of these types stronger than average in other ways.
  4. Philosophus Vagus

    Philosophus Vagus The drunken bird dog of rpg maker Veteran

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    I really like Wavelength's insights, personally. Personality traits bestowing passive traits just seems more sensible then having them be the driving force in combat damage. The first question I have trying to think of them as 'elements' would be what form is 'battling' going to take? Are your actors still fighting, or is the system designed to represent something else, like debating maybe? In standard rpg format, I can't think on how to make using personality traits as elements make sense. For instance, if you find yourself in a kill or be killed situation, benevolence could easily get a man killed if he is unable to compartmentalize it in the moment and end the threat. Perhaps the quality of benevolence could turn aside a foe, but realistically speaking this is an exception to the rule, not the norm.

    Instead of thinking in terms of positive personality traits and negative ones I'd start by considering how each trait can be positive and negative from a situational basis, and how they interact with each other. For instance:

    • Using your thought of addiction vs benevolence, a benevolent character might find themselves hesitating to end an addict's life, knowing that at least at some level that addiction is driving their hostility. I'd imagine benevolent people would have more of a knack for supporting others anyway, but this could add another layer to the strategy as you have to consider your character's personalities and how that might effect how they react to your commands. At an inverse, if the addict finds himself strung out and lacking their drug of choice they might become cathartic, allowing them to resist states tied to their mental state like sleep and fear, bravery and berserk but also suffer a negative to their base stats.
    • Love and hate are almost always intertwined. Most people don't want to admit this, but these two emotions are sides on the same coin. Hate can be irrational, but it's usually inspired by the perception that someone or something you cherish is being threatened. This perception can also be correct though. Remember that benevolent guy who doesn't want to hurt the poor addict? So what happens when said addict K.O's his buddy? His rage might overcome his earlier trepidation, allowing him to put up a fight himself so you aren't left with an unwinnable situation due to his personality, giving them a positive benefit from hate to balance all the negative aspects that come obviously with the emotion.
    Emotional instincts all have their purpose within our lives, and they all provide weaknesses that a savvy foe could exploit as well. The simple catechisms we like to bandy about are often wrong and ignore the realities of the world and the human condition. Love can blind, it can also bring you to extremes where you oppress and vilify unjustly those you perceive as a threat. Hate likewise isn't evil. Rage at true injustice can give you strength, allow you to face an oppressor on equal terms and fight back where you'd otherwise falter. These personality traits aren't intrinsically good or bad, but they can influence your perspective and warp what you see as reality accordingly. To see a game tackle these ideas and explore how our personality, emotions and perspectives ebb and flow and drive our actions would be fascinating I think, but it would have to by it's very nature encompass a more complex system than 'elements'. That's why thinking of them that way, in the binary that says love is automatically just and hate automatically evil is wrong. You can see it when you try to conceptualize them that way, and realize that fighting an enemy with 'kindness attacks' just doesn't make much sense on it's own. The truth is more complex, love breeds hate and hate protects love; and both can drive you to be a hero or a monster or a bit of both, depending on how you let those emotions paint your perspective of the world around you and drive you forward.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
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  5. Alastor01

    Alastor01 Veteran Veteran

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    Have you watched Full Metal Alchemist? ;)
    You can use 7 deadly sins. With or without corresponding virtues, you don’t really need them for balance. Assign each different to every character, corresponding to personality.
    Deadly sin is not necessary a bad thing. For example, a proud character would probably be very loyal. A greedy character would be ambitious. A wrathful character has a friend / lover to avenge. Etc.
    Each deadly sin / virtue gives a boost to a certain set of attributes. Pride adds to defence, wrath to raw power etc.
    Each character would have an inherent weakness to a particular mental situation, which you can use in a plot. Character with envy element got jealous of another character. Character with wrath found the killer. Character with pride had his lover taken away.
    Instead of having each sin fight each other, why not make them help characters and or enemies? You can still make each sin weaker or stronger against another one.
    In Persona games personalities correspond to shadows / persona and thus your attributes and skills. Shadow again is not a bad thing, it’s just an opposite side of a coin.
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  6. captainette777

    captainette777 Mad Scientist Veteran

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    I really love this idea, and I can definitely see it working in a modern setting that doesn't have the existence of magic. I'm going to borrow from the above idea of the Seven Deadly sins and point out that there are Seven Virtues as well, and they can counteract each other. Or on a more darker level, have them be based on the Dark Triad.
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