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Author Topic: Skill System Comments  (Read 10330 times)
Jaif
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Posts: 327


« on: May 28, 2002, 07:40:55 AM »

I ran the game a few times last week, and it was a blast.  I have a few negative observations that I wish to address, but please don't take that as my overall view.  Overall, the game handled very smoothly.

Stealth Skills

I was uncomfortable with the animal-guise/camoflauge/sneak skills.  I think I prefer something like warhammer's "concealment urban, rural" split better.  This is my initial reaction, we'll see where it takes me.

Social Skills

I was also a bit uncomfortable with the persuasion/sincerity/intrigue/etc... line of skills.  I sometimes had a hard time determining what skill & attribute to use, and how to split these up.  For example, I had a character who was ugly with a social of 3 trying to rally some retreating militia (not in battle, they were retreating from a city that was a few days from being sieged).  If he wants to persuade them to return, then it's either WP or Wit, but somehow I think the social part is being left out. I think I went with social/persuasion at the time for expediancy, but I didn't like the way I handled that.

This may just be something I need to work through (I'm already getting some ideas as I type this), but I thought I'd share.

-Jeff
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2002, 09:03:22 AM »

Hi Jeff. I wrote a long reply to this one, and my computer ate it. I hate these things...

Anyway, here we go again, but shorter this time.

Quote
I ran the game a few times last week, and it was a blast. I have a few negative observations that I wish to address, but please don't take that as my overall view. Overall, the game handled very smoothly.  


What in particular went smoothly? Tell us about your positive experiences with the game (so that we know what we got right and can do it again).

Quote
Stealth Skills

I was uncomfortable with the animal-guise/camoflauge/sneak skills. I think I prefer something like warhammer's "concealment urban, rural" split better. This is my initial reaction, we'll see where it takes me.


I'll try to explain why and what-for these skills are in my head, and maybe that'll help.
AG-this is an extreme tracker sort of skill, for getting close to animals, dragons, etc without being sensed (ie: smelled or seen)
Camo-this is hiding "in plain sight" using foilage, rocky areas, or (in urban areas) trash and the like; either way this is a mostly rural/woodsman sort of thing.
Sneak-this is not being noticed by not being seen or heard at all. This is good everywhere.

I envisioned hard-core stalkers and trackers with all 3, generic wood-folk or rural warriors having the second 2, and Urban types having only the last. Does that make sense? It might be splitting hairs, but hey... ;-)

Quote
Social Skills

I was also a bit uncomfortable with the persuasion/sincerity/intrigue/etc... line of skills. I sometimes had a hard time determining what skill & attribute to use, and how to split these up. For example, I had a character who was ugly with a social of 3 trying to rally some retreating militia (not in battle, they were retreating from a city that was a few days from being sieged). If he wants to persuade them to return, then it's either WP or Wit, but somehow I think the social part is being left out. I think I went with social/persuasion at the time for expediancy, but I didn't like the way I handled that.


You did it right. Any attribute can be used with any skill, "at Seneschal Discretion." Here's how I imagine these skills:

Pers-talking folks into stuff, usually one-on-one or personally
Sinc-lying through your teeth convincingly
Intrigue-getting the skinny and digging up the dirt, gossip, etc, esp. at social gatherings.
Leadership-commanding or otherwise directing large groups of people and retaining their loyalty over time, not just convincing them once.

Okay, so TROS has a lot of skills. It seems the best way to introduce peopel to what characters can-and-can't do without them knowing a lot about the times or abilities of people. I really like, for example, the "cover" or "background" idea in Sorcerer, but it presupposes knowledge about Weyrth and the late Mid Ages that I don't assume folks know/care about.

I also just love having lots of skills, although I don't care for picking them all one-by-one (hence Skill Packets).

Hope that helps.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Jaif
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Posts: 327


« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2002, 10:17:18 AM »

In reverse order:

RE: Social Skills

I'm still not entirely happy (no, I'm not crying in my coffee<g>) about lumping it as a social/persuasion roll.  I almost want to make the audience roll to dislike the PC first, and use that to oppose a wit/persuasion roll.  Something on those lines.

RE: Stealth Skills

That does help quite a bit.  Thanks.

RE: Positive Stuff

1) The skill system functioned smoothly.  There weren't any hitches or starts as a player tried to figure out modifiers and stuff, just roll att/skill and tell the GM the number of successes.  As an aside, I've seen players (both in my typical group and at conventions) waste massive amounts of time on extremely simple die rolls.  They wave the dice around, play with them, recalculate ad-nauseum, and so-on.  In this game, the principle time-waster (in terms of mechanics) was me. (BTW, not saying that this is unique to Riddle. Our primary games are ICE and Warhammer, and players can take forever in ICE.)

2) The skill-experience system is starting to suck the players in.  Yep, we're evil "G"s, and now they're all clamoring for checkmarks.

3) The SAs were another story.  Everyone played to their character, but most of us forgot that there were mechanics for it.  So, someone with a conscience may try to save someone, but then forget to add conscience dice, and I'd forget to give them a point afterwords.  The funny part is that I tended to remember the added-dice part, and remind them of it, while they'd remember the "gimme points" side, and remind me of that.

4) I almost forgot - character gen was an absolute breeze.  I'm like you - it's fun to have a lot of skills, but it sucks combing through a massive list and wondering if you're missing something big.

5) We had few combats, but they had a feel that we liked.  It was scary and decisive, not deterministic and drawn-out.  For me, the best part is when 20 NPC enemy light cavalrymen were spotted a few miles from town: the only thing the players discussed was hiding vs. running.

6) Bows are very powerful in this game.  One example:

Our major bowman has night vision - he sees in the dark as if it were day.  He spots 4 black-hats carrying a human-shaped bundle across an open plain to a campsite; an obvious kidnapping.  He sneaks up within 30 yards (he has a good bow that's +1/15yds) and takes a shot, killing his first victim.  Next round he makes his reflex roll to draw faster; meanwhile the black-hats roll for hesitation; one runs away randomly (I just rolled a random compass direction), and two actually got lucky and kept their wits about them.  One of them notices the player a round later, but that's the one he's aiming at and he skewers him.  I decide at this point the other guy's smart move is to run, and so he does.

Around 6 seconds of combat, and 2 people are shot dead in the face (did I mention major gift:accuracy?), and 2 others run away.

-Jeff
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2002, 10:44:57 AM »

Quote
I'm still not entirely happy (no, I'm not crying in my coffee<g>) about lumping it as a social/persuasion roll. I almost want to make the audience roll to dislike the PC first, and use that to oppose a wit/persuasion roll. Something on those lines.


Had you considered rolling a contest of Social/persuasion against the audiences Per, WP, or (if they're very ettiquite-conscious) Soc? That may get the idea you're looking for.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Jaif
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2002, 12:34:52 PM »

Ack, just lost a long reply.  Your gain, my loss. :-)

I think where I'm going with this is something like:

Wit/Persuation contesting TN/social+2 (yeah, reversed on purpose).

So, I determine that approaching militia on the road is average, and the PC's ugly trait bumps that up one to 7.  Therefore, as a GM, I roll 7 dice with a target of 5 (the player's social+2), and the player has to beat my successes.  If it wasn't under stressful conditions, it's easy, which reduces things by 2 dice.  If the militia is bored at the barracks and looking for a fight, it's foolproof and there goes another 2 dice.

Tangent time.  Anybody else notice that a TN of 10 and 11 are the same thing?  Funky quirk. :-)

-Jeff
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Atomic Requiem
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Posts: 21


« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2002, 05:09:12 PM »

Quote from: Jaif
Tangent time.  Anybody else notice that a TN of 10 and 11 are the same thing?  Funky quirk. :-)


Yup. Shadowrun does it too, with its d6's and target numbers. The d10's make it slightly less likely to go up there, but it's pretty much the same problem. As a note, even if something is TN 11 (say, a spell) remember that when a situation (say wound or situational modifiers) affect it, it's relevant that it wasn't just TN 10.

Or something. :)

*AR*
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2002, 06:11:05 AM »

Hey,

Hero Wars has the same thing with its ability value of "20" at one scale shifting to "1w" at the next scale up, but the effectiveness remaining the same.

Best,
Ron
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Brian Leybourne
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Posts: 1793


« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2002, 12:17:11 PM »

It's not really a freaky thing guys, it happens in many games. In fact, ANY game that uses a "roll maximum and you get to roll again and add" system is going to have this come up.

Hell, Deadlands uses no even difficulty numbers at all, because 4,6,8,10 and 12 are all impossible depending on which die you have for the attribute/skill you're rolling...

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2002, 01:01:36 PM »

Mage Blade has the same issue, when rolling against TRs of 21 or higher, but as modifiers are common, that 1 point can effect things.

However, back on topic.. I think some good comments were made here regarding skills and packets, and some good answers were given as well.

One thing that comes to my mind, though.. I was creating my bounty hunter, and I decided that Skill Packet: Woodsman/Ranger seemed the most appropriate out of what was there for the tracker side, but there are several skills in that packet that just plainly do not make sense for the character. Animal Guise is one of them specifically, because he would have been trained to track bounties through urban and wilderness settings, be able to survive, hide, sneak, hunt, etc. but would have little to no reason to learn how to disguise himself from animals. What I was considering at the time was an option (at Seneschal's discretion) to remove inappropriate skills from the packets (on a character-by-character basis) and allow them to be counted the same as a point of MA for determining additional skills/languages/skill modifiers. Does this sound kosher to anyone else, or do you think the player should just suffer with the inappropriate skill?
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~Lance Allen
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Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2002, 02:47:12 PM »

Quote from: Wolfen
What I was considering at the time was an option (at Seneschal's discretion) to remove inappropriate skills from the packets (on a character-by-character basis) and allow them to be counted the same as a point of MA for determining additional skills/languages/skill modifiers. Does this sound kosher to anyone else, or do you think the player should just suffer with the inappropriate skill?


The only problem with that is that it could be easily abused - for each skill you take out of the packet you get another skill of your choice. So a munchkin player could pick the packet with the highest number of skills in it, take out all but one skill (otherwise he doesn't have the packet at all), and then pick whatever skills he wanted (back to that same number) ending up with his own pick of the skills all at the most favourable skill level.

I would say either you have to limit it (3 skills max can be traded, or whatever) or you have to give a really good justification for each one.

A better way to do it, though, would be to say to the player "ok, go away and build me a new 'Bounter Hunter' skill packet, and we'll see how it looks".

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2002, 03:41:36 PM »

Admittedly yes, it could be abused, but no more than the line saying that a player can (at Seneschal's discretion) create their own Skill Packets with 5-15 (or was it 5-12? Or some other number? My book is currently loaned out to prospective players...) skills apiece. The important phrase, both from the book, and from my own idea is the part in parenthesis here. at Seneschal's discretion

Limiting it to 3 doesn't sound like a bad idea, though. If there are more than 3 skills which are inappropriate, then why did you pick that Skill Packet?

Also, for the record, I created a new Skill Packet called Lawman/Guard for my character. If I had my character (it's with the book) I'd post the Skill Packet for others to use or discard at their preference.
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~Lance Allen
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Rattlehead
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2002, 09:40:06 AM »

Quote from: BrianL
A better way to do it, though, would be to say to the player "ok, go away and build me a new 'Bounter Hunter' skill packet, and we'll see how it looks".


This sounds like the best way in my opinion. Plus, you can keep it for use later. Even better, you could share it with the rest of us.

Hey Jake, maybe you could put a page on the website for "home-grown" skill packets?

Brandon
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Grooby!
Jake Norwood
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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2002, 09:43:04 AM »

Quote from: Rattlehead
Quote from: BrianL
A better way to do it, though, would be to say to the player "ok, go away and build me a new 'Bounter Hunter' skill packet, and we'll see how it looks".


This sounds like the best way in my opinion. Plus, you can keep it for use later. Even better, you could share it with the rest of us.

Hey Jake, maybe you could put a page on the website for "home-grown" skill packets?

Brandon


That was always the intention. Post 'em here or send them to me by e-mail, and I should be able to put them on the site this next week.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Jaif
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2002, 10:26:13 AM »

Me, I'm in the "player should suffer with the inappropriate skill" camp, as Woffen put it.  I frankly don't regard it as suffering if you end up with a skill you don't use (I personally have a ton, like calculus<g>).

If it's the case that no combination of packages is giving you the grounding you need for your character, than it's time for new package-making and some wheeling and dealing.

Somewhere between one extra skill (animal guise bad!) and no packages acceptable is a gray area where I'm sure we all differ.  After much experience in Monty Haul campaigns, and giving into player grubbing, I've become somewhat hardbitten and default to "no" an awful lot.

I surprised the hell out of my players this game.  Two of them started with no money (social F), and I gave'em a burlap sack to wear and that's it.  Furthermore, I started them out near a village; no one had a job for them, and their wasn't any food easily available nearby (w/o resorting to stealing).  Boy did they strip a dead body down when they found it. :-)

-Jeff
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Valamir
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2002, 10:40:31 AM »

Whenever I see these "new skill" packet ideas I cringe big time.

IMO there should be *no* new skill packets that are not first socially and cultureally justifiable.  The "bounty hunter" packet especially raises flags with me.  The sort of Bobba Fett character being implied by the desired skill combinations just doesn't really have any historical parallel.  There were bounties and there were people who cashed them in, but there really isn't any group of people who are "trained" in these skills.  Frankly I find that modern notions of training and education color our conceptions of appropriate character professions far too greatly.

For any character idea here are the steps that I'd go through as a GM:
1) does this character concept involve an area where the character would have recieved actual training in the area in some formal environment?

2)  If so, does that institution actually exist in Wyert/my game world currently.

3)  If it does not exist currently what effect would it have on my world to assume it does exist.  Here is where most people fall down, IMO.  Inserting a group of "professionional trained X" into the world would generally have far more far reaching effects than most people realise at first look.  The very concept of an organized group that is not directly connected to church or state is a hugely foriegn idea throughout much of history.  The rise of a merchant guild structure, for instance, derived from and lead to far reaching cultureal and economic changes.

4) If there is no such organization, but the concept of the character is a sound one...than pick a back ground that represents what the character was doing BEFORE he hit upon this unique career path.  THAT should be his skill packet base.  He can then begin to pick up more career path appropriate skills in play as he pursues that path until he evolves into the concept desired.  OR, a generous GM may use the character advancement rules to advance the character artificially to reflect that some of this process has already occured.


Basically creating a new skill packet for a new character concept should IMO be the absolute last choice and then only if all other possibilities are grossly unsatisfactory; or, the choice is one that is obviously appropriate for the game world and could be considered a "standard" packet that was just missed.  Very very few character concepts would qualify as the latter IMO.
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