When I first started, I didn't want to rebirth because I wasn't sure if I would lose stat points or equipment. Age choice affecting stats (which I thought were permanent) was also very confusing. In this suggestion I try to simplify rebirth and character attributes. I try to not add a change if it just punishes players without adding a benefit. For example, just adding a stat penalty to hunger would get annoying very quickly. By adding a positive side effect to hunger, the player has more strategic choice and is more like to use and enjoy the change.
Rebirth and Randomized Physical Features
At each Rebirth, a character's physical features should be randomized, including hair, skin, body, and more. Hair color, natural shape (wavy, curly, straight, etc.), and distribution (hairline) will be random. If you want to try to style your hair the same way in Erinn later, that is up to you, but it might not look exactly the same. Skin tone will be random within a certain range. You choose between Dark, Medium, and Fair, and the game will give you a randomized skin tone within that subset. Bodies will get random height, random weight, random facial structure, and random natural body markings like moles and birthmarks. Non-natural markings like tattoos, piercings, and scars can get added later in Erinn (see below).
Style Coupons for Physical Features
Style Coupons make physical features selectable during Rebirth and prevent them from being randomized. Hair, skin, face structure, eye, and body style coupons will exist, and they will be mostly permanent unlocks. Style coupons for rebirth age will be rewarded from quests or potential system. One-time-use style coupons will exist, but only for special physical features.
Quick Body and Style Modification in Erinn
Tattoos, hairstyles, unnatural hair color, body markings, body piercings, and others can be changed in Erinn, either at an NPC or through the services of another player. Scars appear naturally through grave injuries, but can also be added through elective body modification. Age lines, wrinkles, posture, idle animation, and other things will be determined by age and life experiences (see below). Titles and equipment will still alter idle animations.
Diet and Activity Cause Long-term Body Changes
For characters of all ages, their diet and activity will determine their body composition. There will still be three main characteristics: Upper Body Muscles, Lower Body Muscles, and Fat. In addition to changing a character's appearance, these three also affect gameplay. Food will be very important again.
Food: Non-food means of hunger satiation will be nerfed/removed. Nerf: Trans, Bachram Boost. Removed: Level-up, logging. Hard-coded long-term food effects (like +upper, -lower, +STR) will be removed. Instead, all food will have only their temporary stat boosts plus simple calorie counts. Hunger past 50% will make your stomach growl, change your idle animation, increase monster aggro chance and foil play dead attempts (due to the stomach noise), and may cause you to automatically pick up food on the ground. Being very hungry has benefits as well, including keener sense of smell (increased ingredient drops) and combat bonuses (all enemies appear graphically as giant food items).
Fat: Consuming more calories than one burns will result in increased fat gain, with the fat distribution areas being determined mainly by gender but also a random influence on each Rebirth. Excess fat reduces character speed slightly, increases stamina usage, slightly reduces dexterity, slightly increases durability usage on worn equipment. Excess fat reduces the need for food over longer periods since it's a storage of energy. Larger body mass in general reduces enemy-on-player pushback and knockdown distance, also increases defense/protection slightly and increases charge damage. The other extreme also has good and bad effects. Those who never eat food but are very active will have no fat reserves, and their body will begin breaking down their muscles for energy (stat penalties and physical looks change). Low body fat increases dexterity and speed slightly, and lowers stamina use. Lower body mass in general, either from not eating or from being very young and small, greatly increases enemy-on-player pushback and knockdown distance, lowers protection, and reduces charge damage. It is possible to be very young and have a lot of fat, either through the randomness of Rebirth or through deliberate effort.
Upper/Lower: Upper body activities (swinging a weapon, steering a raft) will cause the muscles of the upper body to develop, while lower body activity (running, leaping skills, riding galloping mounts, carrying lots of items) will cause the lower body muscles to develop. Muscle mass will affect appearance and only moderately affect stats.
Effects and Speed of Age
Leveling will no longer give stats except for the permanent AP gain. Instead, characters will gain/lose stats during that lifetime through natural aging and lifestyle. Stat changes from aging are minor variations in the overall scheme of character effectiveness, but at extreme ages they can add up. Stat changes from lifestyle (diet, exercise) will be more noticeable but can be changed. All characters start at age 10 on rebirth unless they have unlocked another age through a style coupon (Ages 7 through 18 can be unlocked. Higher ages like 25 and 30 are single-use). Characters physically age 1 year every 2 days. Example: A 10-year-old character, after 1 week, will be a little over 13 years old physically. After a month, they will be age 25. After 8 months, age 130.
A young character's secondary sexual characteristics will change as they grow through puberty, including height*, facial hair, muscle mass*, shoulder width*, bust size*, and gender-specific facial structure. (*already implemented) Young characters will gain good amounts of strength and intelligence as they age through puberty, but lose luck and a bit of dexterity. Willpower rises during young adulthood.
Old characters will lose certain stats as they age, like a bit of strength due to muscle loss, a bit of dexterity due to bone and joint ossification, and small amounts of luck. Intelligence and willpower gains will taper off at a certain old age, then intelligence will start declining slightly at very old ages. What should be the limit for age-based stat changes? (suggestions welcome). Eventually, very old characters might resort to unnatural methods to change their appearance, like transformations, age potions, physical features for the style tab, or inhabitation of corpses/golems/puppets. Or they could just rebirth.
Rebirth will be simplified with everyone starting at age 10 and most physical features randomized. Style Coupons allow manual selection of physical features and ages. Stat changes within a lifetime will come from intuitive lifestyle choices and aging, rather than from timing of level-ups. Food and hunger made far more important.