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Author Topic: Skill system: use of phrases  (Read 1445 times)
jebailey
Member

Posts: 4


« on: September 08, 2011, 06:38:02 AM »

My original skill system was based around verbs. Players would choose skills such as "shoot", "hide", "sneak." This worked, but my players wanted something that could be more specific.

In bouncing ideas around I came up with the concept of skill phrases. When selecting skills the players can choose words that are either verbs, adjectives, or nouns. When stating what they are doing, every word that is in their statement of intent that is also in their skills list allows them to add the associated pool of dice.

So here's a sample skill list:
Shoot:3
Hide:1
Open:1
Lock:2
Armor:2
Repair:2

sample statements of intent:
Hide in the shadows (hide +2)
Open the lock (open + 1, lock +2)
Repair the lock (repair +2, lock + 2)

I'd appreciate any thoughts and feedback.



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gtroc
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Posts: 45

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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2011, 09:30:28 AM »

you should check out Wushu, as it does something similar. it might help you sort out what you are looking for.
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jebailey
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2011, 10:50:19 AM »

you should check out Wushu, as it does something similar. it might help you sort out what you are looking for.

Thanks for the link. Not quite the same, as in Wushu the more you describe the more pool you get. While in my system you predetermine the key words that provide you increases.

But I do see how, by giving my players for fluidity in how they select the words, it would encourage greater invention in their descriptions.
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stefoid
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Posts: 657


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« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2011, 04:52:32 PM »

Hi, What do you think the phrases are bring to the table?  why do you want to use them?  Maybe the following can generate some ideas.

My own game, Ingenero uses 'plays' which are a description of something specific a character can accomplish.  Its like one of your phrases, but is meant to include descriptive terms to provide imagery and, collectively,  a sense of the characters style.  A play describes something a character can accomplish, and if the play is successful, then thats exactly what does happen - there is no need to interpret a successful dice roll.  What occurs is exactly what is described by the play.  If your play is opposed by another characters play, then whichever play is successful describes what happens next without ambiguity or modification.

http://ingenero.wordpress.com/

i.e. (a realtively unremarkable commando style character)
+1 Unleash a burst of withering automatic fire
+1 Fire an automatic weapon in short controlled bursts at a single target
+1 Shoot a pistol rapidly and accurately, even while moving or diving
+1 Rapidly identify and make use of the best available cover
+1 Sprint down low while darting abruptly from side to side to avoid fire
+1 Block a melee attack efficiently with an elbow or knee check
+1 Silently dispatch an opponent with a surprise knife attack
+1 Advance silently through cover, weapon at the ready


The other difference is they are derviced from a broad base rather than a specific base.  for instance a character might have a base stat 'soldier' which allows him to attempt all manner of 'soldierly' actions.   The player is encoruaged to take as broad a base stat as possible - the game wants capable, relevent characters. 

For instance, the list of skills in your example below

"Shoot:3
Hide:1
Open:1
Lock:2
Armor:2
Repair:2"

could be covered in Ingenero by "Commando" or "Partisan" or "Scout", etc... whatever makes sense in the setting.
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Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 10:43:33 PM »

To humour the forum owners you'll need a link to some sort of document or web page you have about the game (if you have a blog, just link to a page where you've mentioned the game! >:) )

Anyway, yeah, it's the old question of "What are the players actually doing, in RL in terms of gameplay, when they describe what they are doing?"

In one game I wrote, players got bonus points for including randomly determined scenery in their description.

One idea might be to have it as is, but the GM determines that in each situation, which certain keywords get double the dice (or half again, or whatever extra amount you wanna have). The players then want to try and use appropriate words, since those will get the bigger dice pools.
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jebailey
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2011, 05:46:59 AM »

To humour the forum owners you'll need a link to some sort of document or web page you have about the game (if you have a blog, just link to a page where you've mentioned the game! >:) )

In honor of the rules:
http://falconrpg.blogspot.com/
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jebailey
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2011, 06:11:41 AM »

Hi, What do you think the phrases are bring to the table?  why do you want to use them?  Maybe the following can generate some ideas.

My own game, Ingenero uses 'plays' which are a description of something specific a character can accomplish.  Its like one of your phrases, but is meant to include descriptive terms to provide imagery and, collectively,  a sense of the characters style.  A play describes something a character can accomplish, and if the play is successful, then thats exactly what does happen - there is no need to interpret a successful dice roll.  What occurs is exactly what is described by the play.  If your play is opposed by another characters play, then whichever play is successful describes what happens next without ambiguity or modification.

What I'm attempting to do is in part based on the mathematics behind the resolution mechanics. For example, a normal character attempting to do something simple in a skill that he is trained in should be able to accomplish the task 90%+ of the time(if they even have to roll), the same character facing a challenging task in a complex scenario should be facing a 50% resolution.

In addition I have a karmic betting system, so that heroes can do heroic things when the time is right.

But to make it work I need to be limiting on the number of dice that they can pool together at any one point. So I need to limit their overall ability and I want to get them to think about character development. That's why I went for a generic verb based skill system from the beginning.
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stefoid
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Posts: 657


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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2011, 11:29:29 PM »

Reminds me a bit of Ars Magica - Create Fire (verb noun).

Maybe look up review of ars magica and see what people say about that aspect?
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2011, 01:28:30 AM »

You might be able to achieve your limiting aims by uses one or other of the classes of verbs, nouns and adjectives as providing static modifiers or altering target numbers, something at right angles to simply adding dice.
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Rubbermancer
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Posts: 51


« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2011, 02:18:09 PM »

Quote
But to make it work I need to be limiting on the number of dice that they can pool together at any one point. So I need to limit their overall ability and I want to get them to think about character development.

Two elements of the system I'm currently building might be of use to you here:  First, I have a "catch 22" rule, which limits the total of any die pool roll to 22.  If your die pool rolls higher, you have to knock out dice until you're under, or the GM does it for you.  So the more skilled you are, the smaller the dynamic range of attempt results.  In my system, more challenging checks can exceed 22 in difficulty, so there's always a chance of failure, however slim, but if you roll high, and still fail, then your failure is interpreted as being the result of circumstances beyond the character's control, rather than a low quality of effort.  The job of result interpretation is very fun, and it leads to interesting developments in a plot.

Secondly, try "personality" bonuses.  Encourage your players to actually compose a personality writeup for their characters, and if at any point in the game they think their personality applies in a positive way to a situation, they can petition the GM for a bonus to their die pool.  This works well in non-combat scenes especially.
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Rubbermancer
Member

Posts: 51


« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2011, 02:19:48 PM »

...and it also leaves the studious GM free to incur personality penalties on his poor unwitting players.  "Greed" is a great example; "you see a gleam of gold in the corner of your eye.  Take a greed check to avoid reflexively turning towards it when you know there's a Gorgon behind you."
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Richard
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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2011, 05:03:13 AM »

Using verbs to identify the skills being used is a really neat idea. Although I can't offer advice, I will applaud the idea for being (imo) a good one.
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Bossy
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2011, 07:06:56 AM »

Well, I am not sure that it is such a good idea. Or more precisely, I think this should be re-phrased in terms independent from language properties (verb, noun, etc). I have a hunch this will lead to strange situations.

For instance consider ride. Would you allow ride horse, ride elephant and ride car? The answer will obviously depend on the setting:
  • modern: hell no, one has nothing to do with one another!
  • modern rules lite: yeah, riding would be like pilot, so no problem
  • Rome: ok, as long as you mean those cars
  • Golden Horde Khanates: no way, ride means ride horse, only the conquered ride chicken
I'll admit that this is a rather contrieved example but I see where I'm getting at. Some words have more different meanings than others, and the meaning of a word depends on its context.

Finally, you could even end up with untranslatable skills. The meaning conveyed with a verb in one language may not be translated as a single verb in other one. It may not matter a lot to you but it is quite hard to play RPGs in foreign languages, so if you want to target wider audiences then your rules must be easy to translate.

Now for the constructive. I understand and praise the idea to have skills assembled from individual parts. I've toyed with similar a idea for a prehistoric game, where characters should not be too specialized (they were required to survive in a wide range of situations). What I did was to split skills into Feats and Environments, and a roll would rely on one appropriate Feat added to  one appropriate Environment.
For instance:
Feats: Stealth and Fight
Environments: Outdoors and Indoors
Now you can roll under four combinations. Of course not all combinations are meaningful. This was actually inspired from SimulacreS (in french, sorry), a rather obscure French RPG, their axes were a bit more abstract.
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Cheers.
Bossy
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2011, 05:37:49 AM »

I've just skimmed over TechNoir. It uses a related idea: skills are donoted as verbs and effects are modulated by adjectives. Characters and gear have different adjectives. It looks quite nice though I never played it.
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Cheers.
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