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Author Topic: Questions about Spiritual Attributes  (Read 13228 times)
Steve Danielson
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« on: May 15, 2002, 12:37:35 PM »

Having just received the book and quickly read through it I must say I am impressed.  There are a few questions that I do have regarding spiritual attributes.

There are two mechanisms for advancement -
successful use of skills
spending spiritual attribute points

Lets say for the purposes of discussion a player creates a character with a Drive 'To be the best swordsman in the world' and over the course of many sessions earns points towards that drive by defeating enemies, learning from master swordsmen etc.

The Drive was initially a 3, through roleplaying and combat the player earns an additional 12 points.  Now the Drive is 15.

What happens if the player decides never to spend those points and simply relies on successful use of skills and an increased dice pool to see himself though the game?

At some point does a Drive of 15 that is applicable to combat become more important than raising say a sword proficiency from 6 to 7 by spending 6 points?

My question is must the spiritual attribute points be spent and what happens to the system when they are not?

Thanks,
Steve Danielson
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2002, 01:11:58 PM »

Spiritual Attribute points may never exceed 5 (p 19), except for a few select nationalities such as in Fahal) where certain ones might go higher. Therefore your swordsman character would need to spend points for sure once he hits 5 in any SA. Also note that Insight it only gained when SAs are spent, so if the aforementioned swordsman died without ever having spent a single SA point, his replacement character will start out brand new, without the "consolation prize" for the last character dying or being retired.

Also, even if you could have a Drive of 15 (which you can't), those extra dice would only come in every so often--certainly not in every duel even--making them nice from time to time (very nice from time to time), but not generically helpful.

I hope that helps.

jake
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Steve Danielson
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Posts: 5


« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2002, 01:19:28 PM »

Aha!

I did see limitation on page 19, but when reading it I assumed it only applied to character creation and was not a limit that would carry over once actual play started.


Thanks
Steve
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Bankuei
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2002, 02:55:57 PM »

Quote
I did see limitation on page 19, but when reading it I assumed it only applied to character creation and was not a limit that would carry over once actual play started.


I thought likewise, you may wish to make that perhaps more clear in future editions.  Perhaps by restating that fact in the Character Advancement section.

Chris
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2002, 04:55:42 PM »

Quote
I did see limitation on page 19, but when reading it I assumed it only applied to character creation and was not a limit that would carry over once actual play started.


Same here.. so this begs a question...

Characters advanced enough to be looking at raising attributes to 9 or 10 are going to have to severely deplete their SAs to get the required amount of points. I either assume this is intentional, or it is possible to spend points over time into raising an attribute.

Example: I want to raise my agility from 9 to 10, because I'm just a badass like that. That's going to cost me 22 points.. I only have about 17 points spread across my 5 SAs. I opt to spend 5 points now, and spend a few more over the next several sessions until I have met 22.

Is the above example possible, or must all points be spent at once?

Also, I noted that there is a cost listed for raising attributes from 10. I thought that 10 was the cap? Or are you allowed to raise to 11 the attributes that you got a bonus for due to your racial/national modifiers? If that is so, then do attributes that you received a penalty in have a lower cap, or is it still 10?
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~Lance Allen
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Nick the Nevermet
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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2002, 10:42:50 PM »

I would imagine the 11s are for those ethnic groups who have a bonus to an attribute (+1 Toughness or something)

Also, and this is JUST my opinion, I would force players to pay off the Spiritual Attribute Costs as onelump sum, not over time.  I would do this specifically BECAUSE its draining the character.

A lot of RPGs make self-improvement WAY too mechanical.  The player decides the character should have something increased, they have enough XP to have it increased, its spent, and Bang, ya got it.  There are some variations on this, but this really is a core theme.

This isn't how it works in TROS.  For skills, they improve as you use them successfully.  Every three successes, you get to roll to see if it improves.  This rewards using skills, which is good.

Attributes are for TROS (And most RPGs that have them) something a bit more central to the characters being.  How strong or willful or knowlegeable one is, compared to how good he is at say mathematics, is more central to who the character actually is.  And from personal experience, I can say that making serious improvements on one's core being is not always easy or pleasant.  Sometimes it takes a lot of work, and a lot of struggle.  Often, by doing so, other things suffer.

In my view, having a character get KNOCKED in the spiritual attributes simulates this very well.  Going from a 9 to a 10 basically means you're approaching maximum human potential.  Essentially, perfection.  Imagine in real life the kind of total commitment it takes to reach that level.  The self-sacrifice and character necessary and determination.  Not everyone is willing to do what that takes.  They aren't being lazy necessarily; it just doesn't make sense for them to expend that level of effort, even for perfection.

The one lump sum approach puts players in the same dilemma for character development.  Sure, a character could move one step closer to human perfection in an area, but the level of focus on that specific thing will mentally and spiritually drain him.  In game terms, his Spiritual attributes would get sucked dry, and it would take a few game sessions for him to recover.  A player would need to decide if such a vunerability (even if its temporary) is worthwhile to him/her and the character being played.

What will happen if you do this in a TROS game?  It would limit the number of characters running around with 10s in their most useful attributes.  Sure, it would be useful, but the character was never safe enough that the player was willing to drain him so much.  In stead, they would have reasonably high attributes, spread in many different areas, and maybe a few enhanced skills (through a few forced rolls), perhaps a new advantage or a flaw overcome.

What would happen if you let them pay over time, in small doses?  You'd have players carefully creating a layaway plan to perfection (assuming there was enough time in the campaign, and they had enough SAs).  This would result in more characters with very high attributes, as there wouldn't be as much of a threat of having them pumped up.

In my personal view, the former path of character development is more in line with my vission of how TROS should be played.
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2002, 10:47:22 PM »

Quote from: Wolfen
Quote
Example: I want to raise my agility from 9 to 10, because I'm just a badass like that. That's going to cost me 22 points.. I only have about 17 points spread across my 5 SAs. I opt to spend 5 points now, and spend a few more over the next several sessions until I have met 22.

Is the above example possible, or must all points be spent at once


I can't speak for Jake, obviously, but it seems to me that it wouldn't matter. I mean, if the attribute isn't going up until you've spent all 22 points, why not just wait until you can spend them all at once, rather than "getting it on Lay-Away"? Not only that, but you'd have to keep track of just how many points you'd put toward that until you'd actually spent enough to increase it.

Just an observation... :-)

Brandon
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Grooby!
Nick the Nevermet
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Posts: 352


« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2002, 10:56:52 PM »

Quote from: Rattlehead
Quote from: Wolfen
Quote

it seems to me that it wouldn't matter. I mean, if the attribute isn't going up until you've spent all 22 points, why not just wait until you can spend them all at once, rather than "getting it on Lay-Away"? Not only that, but you'd have to keep track of just how many points you'd put toward that until you'd actually spent enough to increase it.

Just an observation... :-)

Brandon


I can (and I also am not speaking for Jacob :) ) think of 2 major advantages to the layaway plan:

1) You never are totally depleted of Spiritual attributes, which you would be (or close to it) if you manages to spend 22 points at once

2) 22 points is a LOT.  That means that a Character has 2 fives and three fours in their spiritual attributes.  Thats a lot.  That takes a long time to save up.  Beyond that, I'm guessing that some attributes just won't be luck's draw get upped very much.  If someone took a passion: Country of Origin as an SA, but the campaign didn't focus on that much at all, then they'd be hard pressed to get the 2 5s, 3 4s needed.  (even if the other 4 SAs were all dealt with)

Also, keep in mind we're talking about the single most extreme purchase in the game: Buying the max value of an attribute.  Things SHOULD be a little loopy at the extreme, or rather, the priority should not be consistency there, but consistency in the more attainable ranges.
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2002, 01:05:27 AM »

OK.. having thought about it - and having it pointed out to me.... ;-)

I can see the advantage of the layaway plan. I stand corrected.

Brandon
(Hey, I was sleepy when I posted last.... )
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Grooby!
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2002, 03:29:56 AM »

I can see and thought of both sides to the coin, and both make sense to me. I'd probably play it the same way as Nevermet stated, but I'd just like to get Jake's stance on it, for officiality purposes.
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2002, 05:35:17 AM »

I'm not Jake, but...

Oh, wait, I am Jake...

No "Layaway Plan" was ever intended...I'd make you do it in one lump sum, with reasons being roughly identical to those stated by Neverment, above.

BUT that doesn't mean that you can't do it any way you want at home. That's just how I do it.

Jake
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Jaif
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Posts: 327


« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2002, 05:56:09 AM »

The difficulty I have is this:

Imagine that a campaign has moved on in a different direction.  Right now we're all helping one of our buddies on his personal quest, a many-adventure epic.  My drive & destiny are at a low point, and aren't being exercised.  I'm living off my faith, conscience, and luck as I play a supporting character for a time.

This is all well & good, but now there's no way for me to muster 20 points.  Say my drive and destiny are at 1s (I spent them at the end of the last epic), the best I can muster w/o layaway is 17.

I don't expect this to come up all that often, but if I was GMing a player with that situation I'd certainly allow him to tuck points away.

-Jeff
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Nick the Nevermet
Member

Posts: 352


« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2002, 07:59:04 AM »

Hmm... yeah, I can see how that would get a bit touchy.  I can think of two things, though, that make it still 'work' for me.

1) If the GM was planning it to be a campaign cenetered around one character's personal question, he may or may not want to make sure everyone's SAs support that.  This goes back to another comment in another thread that making sure everyone's spiritual attributes are complementary is one of the most important things to do before play starts.

2) Chances are, if a character is living off of conscience, faith, and luck in such a campaign, they may very well be getting a lot of it.  In my view, I'd like to stick to the "3 to 5 points per session" rule in the book.  That means if your character is specifically playing a supporting role (the voice of reason, the conscience of the party, etc), they're SAs will flow from that.  In other words, their supply of SAs will be specialized, but not necessarily less, than the 'main character.'  The result of this is that the main character will be able to be the one most likely to make the Big Improvements (be the greatest swordsman ever, or whatever), while everyone else get to be a support cast with a ton of moderate-to-good skills and attributes to back him up.  If the campaign is really supposed to be based around one character's deeply personal quest, then I would think this overview of who is specialized and who isn't would be a valid one.

And also, yeah... this won't come up very often.  The issue of needing all your SAs near maxed only comes up when a character is trying to improve to an 8 or higher in a stat, having a proficiency in the mid teens or higher, or getting rid of aa major flaw.  Unless different characters are trying to do one of those things, then this won't be a huge issue in play
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2002, 08:24:01 AM »

Hello,

I would never permit the layaway plan under any circumstances of TROS.

Why are SA's the basis for Insight Points at all? Why not kill-count? Why not accumulated riches? Why not the total of one's attributes and/or skills (as in L5R)?

I trust the answer to this question is clear: reward systems generate value systems. TROS has a distinctive value system: passionate and committed protagonist decision-making is the most important thing.

Therefore, it seems to me, a player who is not playing to his or her SA's has chosen to reduce his or her Insight benefits as a matter of course.

Jaif's example of the character whose Drive and Destiny are not involved illustrates, to me, this very case. No one makes the player bring the character into that story.

I suspect I am seeing an unspoken assumption that the GM preps "the story" and the players line up their PCs to be involved in it. I also think I am seeing the assumption that "just participating," being at the session, should reap equal rewards.

Here are the options, as I see it.

1) A "story" (actually, Situation) shapes up via play. The character stays involved in this story and bluntly, doesn't reap the Insight benefits that he might, because his Drive and Destiny aren't involved. He is, as Jaif said, a secondary character in the story. Hence, he is a secondary character (and the player is a secondary player) in terms of rewards. This strikes me as fair, fine, and desirable - up to and including the distinct difference in how the rewards play out, even though all the characters "participated" in play.

2) The player decides that this Situation isn't for this character, whose Drive and Destiny are about totally other things. The player walks the character away from the action, so to speak, into other action. Now, in some traditional modes of play, this is defiant, angry role-playing: "My guy doesn't wanna!" In TROS, as I conceive it, the story is what the characters do want to do. If someone does this in TROS play, they are not "defying" me as GM. They are simply exercising their perfectly good right as co-author of the overall story, and that's what one of the heroes is doing. I don't think that the "squad" model of character-groups is viable in many settings, and the TROS setting least of all. (If anyone wants to discuss multiple-simultaneous-scene play, I will be happy to explain how easy it is, in an appropriate forum.)

Both of these options seem fine to me.

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2002, 09:19:33 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

SNIP
Therefore, it seems to me, a player who is not playing to his or her SA's has chosen to reduce his or her Insight benefits as a matter of course.


Yeah, this is definitely true. As I see it, it kinda works like this: most groups have that one "worthless" player...the guy that made the "quiet lone bladeslinger that doens't like anyone, but is a hero/anti-hero anyway." Truth be told my favorite books are often about this guy, and I've made many characters like him...but those guys, unless it's just you and the Seneschal, aren't any fun to play, and they're even less fun to play with in a group. The SAs do two things in this context: They don't reward someone that isn't interested in adding to the story and to the experience, and they inspire people to get their characters personally involved (thus co-authoring the story, as Ron said).

Quote

Jaif's example of the character whose Drive and Destiny are not involved illustrates, to me, this very case. No one makes the player bring the character into that story.


This involves two things as well. First, it is the responsibility of the Seneschal to involve at least one SA from every character into every session. If that isn't happening, the players need to talk with them. Really good players will find ways to use the SAs that the Seneschal has prepped for, as well as the ones that he hasn't, through clever roleplaying, etc. The Seneschal, in turn, should be aware of the possible reactions characters with certain SAs will have in a multitude of situations, making the players thankfully predictable to a perceptive Seneschal.

Second, remember that it is very easy in TROS to change your SAs if they're not working out in the given campaign. There's no XP penalty for changing allignment, so to speak, although it does require a certain "bottoming out" of an SA or two, those points aren't lost...you can spend them.

Overall the solution to this (and many) game issues is communication of desires between player and Seneschal--the SAs facillitate that to a large degree, but nothing will ever replace good-old-fashioned discussion and communication. There's a reason that we spend several pages on metagame issues in the Senechal's chapter.

Quote

I suspect I am seeing an unspoken assumption that the GM preps "the story" and the players line up their PCs to be involved in it. I also think I am seeing the assumption that "just participating," being at the session, should reap equal rewards.


TROS will either be the best game the "bottled up" players ever encounter because it will open them up, or they'll get bored to death by it because it isn't D&D, and the only way to improve (and part of the reason we like RPGs is to see the numbers go up...admit it) is to get involved--personally and emotionally--with the story.

Last night we began a new campaign (I'll tell y'all about it once we've gotten past the first big surprise, just in case my players read this forum, too). We had 4 players (an optimum TROS number, I might add), and every one of them pulled about 5 SA points, some of them more. Now, I was being intentionally generous, but everyone got into character, and we had some of the best dialogue I've seen in a game in a long time, excellent inter-player reaction, and I found it very easy as Seneschal to "set the players up" for important plot events, because I had all of their SA's written down and I knew that most of the time my players would react in a certain way because (1) that's the story they want to write/tell...their SA's told me so and (2) they wanted those SA points, and were willing to work for them as long as they knew that I was handing them out.

Again, it's important to hand out SAs during play when possible...give a dog a bone when it did good, it'll do good again. Give it to it tomorrow, and it might or might not. My editor questioned by parallells between players and dogs (I'm not sure if it stayed in or not), but I used to train border collies, and let me tell you--it's the same darn thing!


Quote
In TROS, as I conceive it, the story is what the characters do want to do. If someone does this in TROS play, they are not "defying" me as GM. They are simply exercising their perfectly good right as co-author of the overall story, and that's what one of the heroes is doing.


Amen and amen. And if you're a good little GM and wrote down their SAs beforehand, you can plan on what they'll do to a large degree. Writing a linear adventure for TROS is easy, IF you know the PC's SAs. That's what makes writing a module damn hard, but being Seneschal easy. Of course, the players won't see it as linear, because whether they realize it or not, they wrote it.

Quote

I don't think that the "squad" model of character-groups is viable in many settings, and the TROS setting least of all. (If anyone wants to discuss multiple-simultaneous-scene play, I will be happy to explain how easy it is, in an appropriate forum.)


Ron--I would LOVE to discuss this. Tell me when and where.

Blut und Stahl,
Jake
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