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Author Topic: Starting tonight / skills?  (Read 8499 times)
Brian Leybourne
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Posts: 1793


« on: June 17, 2002, 12:58:27 PM »

Finally, I'm starting a tRoS campaign tonight. After so much foreplay it's going to be nice to move onto the sex (so to speak).

Just a quick question to those of you who have played it already, regarding skills. It seems to me that a characters primary skills are going to be the ones he uses the most often (a thief-type character will be using his pick locks and suchlike all the time, for example) and it's not going to be hard for a character to use such a skill 3 times per session. Although the roll to improve the skill gets tricky at higher levels, it starts off pretty easy and takes a long time to get hard (and even then isn't too bad).

Now, for a long-term campaign, I can see characters skills maxing out pretty quickly. In almost any other system, you can keep just getting better and better at something (in d20 terms, for example, you can eventually get 30 or 40 or 50 in a skill if you want, and although that means you'll automatically succeed in any mundane use of the skill, there's still room for the "basically impossible etc). tRoS is different though, because the skill eventually maxes out at 3 and can't get any better. Theoretically, this could happen in 6 or 7 sessions too. If it happens to several of a characters main skills (likely, because he's using them all the time) suddenly he loses some of his drive because the stuff he can do that makes him him can not improve anymore.

Is this the case (Backed up by actual play), or am I worrying over nothing? Have people experimented with requiring 6 ticks instead of three (or whatever), or maybe only getting a tick when you fail a skill (because you learn through your mistakes) making it harder to get better the better you are? I can see my players getting titchy if their characters suddenly can't get any better at their primary skills after only 10 sessions or so.

Jake, your home campaign has been going over a year with only one death.. surely this has come up? Or are your players' characters experts at every skill by now?
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Mokkurkalfe
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Posts: 340


« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2002, 02:02:46 PM »

One very important thing to remember is that you only get a tick of you use a skill under duress(or something like that). When you got a skill of 4 or 5, very little is counted as under duress, at least for me.



Other methods:
* You only get a tick if you barely succeed(i.e. succeeds with only one die). That way it will be very hard to get ticks when the skill gets low.

* Instead of using your MA score, you roll only one die.

* Increase the TN.

* Increase the ticks.
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Joakim (with a k!) Israelsson
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2002, 03:42:28 PM »

One of my players brought this up as well (the one who unconditionally bashed the system...) and I've been thinking about it. I've considered using a given number of successes necessary to raise the skill. I've not yet had the choice to put it into effect.

Basically, what I'd decided is that when it comes time to make the MA roll to raise the skill, they have to accumulate the TN in number of successes. If this doesn't happen over a single use, the check-marks stay there, and the next time they use the skill under duress, they get to make the MA roll again, adding to their successes from the first test. This will mean that lower skills will be easier to get the successes, and easier to get enough to raise the skill, and will get considerably more difficult over time.

Eventually though, yes, they will max out their skills, if the campaign is long enough and intense enough that they make enough skill rolls. But really, once it gets to that state, they really ought to succeed most of the time.. If the task is particularly difficult, then require a certain number of successes to succeed (though if you choose to use this option, you may want to put it into effect early on, so that there can be no valid complaint that you made it up just to make the game harder)

All of this could be entirely moot, though.. Jake, care to enlighten us on your experience of over a year's play?

Oh, and..

Quote
* Instead of using your MA score, you roll only one die.


I wouldn't use this. It would remove one of the primary uses of the MA stat, greatly reducing it's usefulness, and possibly causing a notable imbalance.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Lyrax
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Posts: 268


« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2002, 05:55:50 PM »

Skills max out at 3?  I didn't know that!
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Lance Meibos
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Jaif
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Posts: 327


« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2002, 06:03:12 PM »

Three things;

- Make sure to swing the "duress" clause as needed.

- Failing the MA roll causes a loss of 2 checks.

- If you really think that skills will increase too fast, just change the 15-x to 16 or even 17.  That'll slow'em down, and is probably easier to swallow than the "duress" clause for some.

-Jeff
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Ben
Member

Posts: 55


« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2002, 03:41:20 AM »

Unless they started with priority A in skills and have MA out the wazoo do you have to worry about a player capping off his skills too early. It is true that the first drop or two in SR comes fairly quickly even if they don't have the traits mentioned about, but most players won't have them and will start slowing their decent in the upper-mids and slow exponetially the lower they go. Plus Jaif nibbed it in the bud pretty good. "Duress" gives you allot of leeway, especially with the lower SRs and the minus two pips of a failed MA check is a big set back. If it still seems like it's moving too fast, take Jaif's suggestion and up the MA check TN base of 15, however I reccomend you try out the system with out modification first. You'll get the flavor and feel of it regardless of fast developing skills and I think you'll see that it's not really a problem. At first glance, it does look like skills will max out in a relativly short time but the increasing TN and other bumpers do really slow it down.
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   Ben
DaR
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2002, 10:57:06 AM »

Quote from: Ben
Unless they started with priority A in skills and have MA out the wazoo do you have to worry about a player capping off his skills too early.


In the 4 part campaign we just finished, Savaric (my theif/con-man character) dropped both his Sincerity and Sneak to 3, from a starting point of 6.  Over the course of 4 parts.  Admittedly, he did have Priority B in Skills and a 6 MA, but the point remains that it's possible to cap your skills pretty darn quick.

That said, I don't have an arguement either way for if it should change, and think that if you want to slow it down, most of the options suggested would work well.  I think I'd probably prefer using a system where the number of checks needed before making an MA test depended on the skill level.  Perhaps 10 - (current skill level) checks.

-DaR

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Dan Root
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Dan Root
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2002, 02:44:22 PM »

Hello,

I confess to being completely baffled as to why there's any need to "slow down" characters' increase in competence at skills.

I'm not interested in stock answers based on standards of play that have been cemented by other games. For instance, it's been demonstrated many times on these forums that traditional notions of "balance" are irrelevant to TROS. Therefore everyone staying "even" in terms of skill competence, improving more or less in lock-step, isn't important.

Nor is any particular rate of improvement "too fast" or "too slow" - it's a function of how much you use the skills.

Of course, not all characters are the same in terms of the start of the process. Clearly, those who start with skills at 7 or less will have a "running start" in the improvement process, as they will succeed more routinely from the outset. Starting with worse skills means a more herky-jerky start.

That particular distinction is simply one of the many tradeoffs of the alphabetical character creation system. It's possible that people are missing this idea: that differences in competence in character creation are only a starting point in this game. I think after a good number of sessions of play (from 6 to 10), the most-favored skills will be very good, most Pools will be up in the double digits, and the character's favored attributes will be hitting maxima. Possibly some of the social stuff is evening out too.

In other words, if you're going to play TROS, and especially if you're going to use the "revolving door during play" method of handling Spiritual Attributes, you're going to be seeing most characters' inequities in skills, proficiencies, and a couple of other thing disappearing quite soon. Again, I don't see why this is cause for concern.

Best,
Ron
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2002, 03:27:47 PM »

Hi Ron,

I think it has to do with the fact that a lot of roleplayers get much of their enjoyment out of improving their character. When you "max out" it's cool to be able to tell people about, but there's little more that you can do, except for branching out. Branching out isn't generally appealing to most players, as they figure that they're already the best at what they want to do, so what good is it to get these other skills and proficiencies simply for the sake of having them? The fun of playing that character is diminished.

On the other hand, I don't necessarily see it as an issue, either. People play some games (such as Ultima Online) where it is quite easy to "max out" and they have no issues with this. Even D&D maxes out, though probably not quite so quickly as TRoS does. Fact is, though, when you max out in these other games, you have hit the ceiling.. There is nowhere to go but down. At which point, what do most people do? End the campaign, and start a new one. It's not any different in TRoS, either.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2002, 11:07:05 AM »

Quote
I confess to being completely baffled as to why there's any need to "slow down" characters' increase in competence at skills.

I'm not interested in stock answers based on standards of play that have been cemented by other games. For instance, it's been demonstrated many times on these forums that traditional notions of "balance" are irrelevant to TROS. Therefore everyone staying "even" in terms of skill competence, improving more or less in lock-step, isn't important.

Nor is any particular rate of improvement "too fast" or "too slow" - it's a function of how much you use the skills.


While I strongly suspect that you're not "completely baffled", I'll play along for kicks. :-)

I think the real question you should be asking is: why not just start everybody at max attributes with max SA points and min skills with any gifts/flaws they desire?  I mean, once balance is tossed aside who cares, right?

It comes down to what Wolfen said - some people do care.  They like to start lower, and work their way up.  The next question that pops up is "how fast", because if it happens within just one playing session that pretty much brings up the whole "start at max" question again.  So all this thread is geared at is some vague notion of "how fast is too fast for people who care".

As for me personally: I can't stand seeing people get something for nothing.  I want things to be earned.  Hence the reason I recommend using the duress hammer.

-Jeff
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Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2002, 02:51:01 PM »

Quote from: Wolfen
Hi Ron,

I think it has to do with the fact that a lot of roleplayers get much of their enjoyment out of improving their character. When you "max out" it's cool to be able to tell people about, but there's little more that you can do, except for branching out. Branching out isn't generally appealing to most players, as they figure that they're already the best at what they want to do, so what good is it to get these other skills and proficiencies simply for the sake of having them? The fun of playing that character is diminished.
Quote


Sounds to me like a good time to retire the character and come at it from another angle. I love the insight mechanic. Though it would work better with more flexible priorities. Upgrading an F to a D isn't much help. :)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2002, 07:23:37 AM »

Hey,

Forgot to mention that I apply the Duress Hammer very harshly as well. However, it's not so much to "slow down improvement" as to provide what might be called "the background music" of play.

Best,
ron
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2002, 10:29:20 AM »

I don't have much of a sense of needing a mechanical system for character improvement. In play I have only found them annoying - I would have preferred to just say "the character grew like this".

Also, I feel that this is to an extent part of the stakes of the game between the players, but this is part of the social contract really rathere than the mechanics.  I think that beyond fairness, it is also attempting to exert spotlight control, on the principle that more effective characters will dominate play time.  But, I think that in the first instance, this doesn't work, becuase I have seen wuss characters in the hands of a sparkling player completely steal the show, and secondly its too removed from its goal, its trying to manage too much of the actual interpersonal play.  It tries to use competition for XP to regulate spotlight hogging.

Anyway, I think that if you use other mechanisms for spotlight control (off the cuff q: do SA's effectively grant spotlight time in play?) and basically choose not to compete anymore in that field, trying to regulate characetr growth - or more accurately, change - becomes pointless.

What do you do when you max out your stats?  You get old and you start to write them DOWN instead.
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Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2002, 12:16:18 PM »

Quote
Forgot to mention that I apply the Duress Hammer very harshly as well. However, it's not so much to "slow down improvement" as to provide what might be called "the background music" of play.


Very interesting way to put it.  If I may be so bold, though, I think that's just the "right-brain" way of expressing the same concept.  It's also why I said certain people may appreciate "16-x" over use of the hammer; it's more concrete.

-Jeff
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Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2002, 12:17:14 PM »

Quote
Forgot to mention that I apply the Duress Hammer very harshly as well. However, it's not so much to "slow down improvement" as to provide what might be called "the background music" of play.


Very interesting way to put it.  If I may be so bold, though, I think that's just the "right-brain" way of expressing the same concept.  It's also why I said certain people may appreciate "16-x" over use of the hammer; it's more concrete.

-Jeff
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