Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

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Stempest
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Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by Stempest » 31 Jan 2018, 07:13

Time to drum up some conversation.

I was idly reading a review of The Riddle of Steel, and this criticism was leveled at the character creation rules, and if it is true of that, then it is also true of S&S.

That is, during creation, if one spends more points to become a Noble (Priority 4 or 5, as you like) then they will have fewer points to spend on skills and proficiencies. In comparison, the sellsword, who is probably some kind of Freeman (Priority 2 or 3) has more points to spend on skills and proficiencies.

This doesn't feel quite right. While I am no history scholar, I would have thought that nobles would be able to practice whatever skills they felt were important for many hours a day (say, fighting and battle), as opposed to the lower classes who had to toil to put bread on the table.

Thoughts are invited.

For my part, I was thinking of using S&S to run a Game of Thrones-esque game, and was thinking of just gifting players their social class (Noble of some variety), and then giving them 12 points to spend on the other 4 categories (so yes, they'd get an extra point or two to spend).
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EinBein
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by EinBein » 31 Jan 2018, 09:46

I thought the same when considering a GoT campaign... Especially the proficient Nobles would be hard to build, as they have status, fighting prowess, and a lot of knowledge skills more than the smallfolk due to higher education - even though they might lack practical skills in comparison.

Comparing like Jamie and Bronn before Jamie lost his hand would result in the following:

Status - Jamie needs more
Attributes - about the same (does anyone see a major difference?)
Skills - about the same (Jamie has more knowledge of politics and stewardship and Bronn knows maybe a few more of the sinister skills, but even that can be doubted)
Proficiency - about the same
Traits - Jamie needs more (member of the king's guard, family contacts, etc.)

With Jamie's loss of a hand and Bronn's new title and fief (hope I didn't spiler anything for anyone), they become more comparable, but only on the Traits side.

I would also tend to exclude Status and some of the accompanying Traits as a narrative thing-y and let the players decide who is of nobility and who isn't.
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Marras
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by Marras » 31 Jan 2018, 10:27

That's my impression as well. On the other hand that is true to practically all point buy systems where players have to buy the social standing to their characters. That one bugged me years ago in Fading Suns, too. Same thing in GURPS to some extent. Of course it is there to make characters from different backgrounds more or less even as a noble (in his own country) has a considerable power over commoners.
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higgins
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by higgins » 31 Jan 2018, 11:39

EinBein wrote:Jamie
Marras wrote:On the other hand
Image

That said, our point buy method makes running games like GoT easier than ever, as for example -- you could assign bonus points that can be spent on ONLY social status.
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Stempest
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by Stempest » 31 Jan 2018, 19:46

Essentially what I had proposed. I suppose this may not be as big an issue as it could be perceived as, as the only characters built using the character creation rules are going to be the PCs themselves. Any NPC should just be given the skills, proficiencies, social status, etc he should have, and if that's way more than a starting character would have, well he must be quite experienced.

Similarly, I would expect in most situations that PCs would be of similar social status to one another, meaning you could often do as I suggested and just handwave the social status cost.
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Benedict
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by Benedict » 01 Feb 2018, 09:03

While low class characters that are more skilled than nobles seems like a paradox, it is rules intended. Because as you pointed out:
Stempest wrote:as the only characters built using the character creation rules are going to be the PCs themselves
Also bear in mind that a Priority of 3 across the board is the expected average for PCs.

Playing a greater noble (Class 5) requires as much sacrifice on the player's part as playing the savant scholar (Skill 5), the master swordsman (Proficiency 5), the strongest man of his generation (Attribute 5), or the King's spymaster (Trait 5).
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Agamemnon
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by Agamemnon » 18 Feb 2018, 16:14

Stempest wrote:That is, during creation, if one spends more points to become a Noble (Priority 4 or 5, as you like) then they will have fewer points to spend on skills and proficiencies. In comparison, the sellsword, who is probably some kind of Freeman (Priority 2 or 3) has more points to spend on skills and proficiencies.

This doesn't feel quite right. While I am no history scholar, I would have thought that nobles would be able to practice whatever skills they felt were important for many hours a day (say, fighting and battle), as opposed to the lower classes who had to toil to put bread on the table.
Absolutely. From a historical standpoint, the nobility would be better than peasantry in literally every way. Access to better food means that they would have had better nutrition growing up. They'd be taller, healthier, stronger and smarter. Access to education of a sort. They'd have trained their entire lives in combat and statecraft. From a historical standpoint, a noble should have better attributes, skills, proficiencies, and traits than a commoner, by far. The further down you go on the social ladder, the worse all of these things would be.

The problem is that from the perspective of designing a game, if that were true in the system why would anyone ever choose anything but the highest rank of nobility? Hell, in real life, would you choose to be anything other than a high lord if you were given the option? Realistically, no. So, from a game design perspective, we don't have much of a choice but to make social class one area of character creation in which to spend one's points at the detriment to the others.

That said, it's easy enough to rectify if a particular campaign has different assumptions. The GM can as easily just declare that everyone is by default a noble and give them extra points to spend specifically for that purpose. Or the GM can write a custom priority table entirely. Similarly, if the game's premise is "Everyone is an Agent of the Crown" then the GM can just give everyone this as a status without charging them for it. It's up to the individual group.
Stempest wrote:Essentially what I had proposed. I suppose this may not be as big an issue as it could be perceived as, as the only characters built using the character creation rules are going to be the PCs themselves. Any NPC should just be given the skills, proficiencies, social status, etc he should have, and if that's way more than a starting character would have, well he must be quite experienced.
Bingo. It's only an issue that affects PCs, not the game world at large. It's also worth noting that because we have a Karma system, it's entirely possible to argue that someone like Jaime Lannister (who was not only a Greater Noble, but also one of the best swordsmen in the setting, extraordinarily wealthy, blah blah blah) is a PC that was made with more points than others because that player's last PC bit the dust in the middle of the campaign.
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by dysjunct » 18 Mar 2018, 00:04

Revisited the beta after taking a couple of months off. Here is my response:

This is a flawed premise. The character creation system is a PC protagonist creation system. It’s emphatically not a “create a realistic inhabitant of your setting” system.

Knights generally are better fighters than sellswords, absolutely. This has literally nothing to do with the character creation system.
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by Agamemnon » 18 Mar 2018, 11:45

Even in a more limited scope, just look at the difference between attributes and proficiencies. In real life, people who have high proficiency are also going to have better attributes than someone who has no proficiencies on average simply because the act of learning to fight tends to build strength, stamina, coordination, reaction time, and so forth.

If we want to let characters have a choice between A and B, then the more of A they choose the less of B they get. It's an unavoidable consequence of letting players choose different social classes or character concepts.
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
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Re: Knights are worse fighters than sellswords

Post by nemedeus » 19 Mar 2018, 11:17

dysjunct wrote: Knights generally are better fighters than sellswords, absolutely. This has literally nothing to do with the character creation system.
indeed, there might be something to it that in fiction, sellsword protagonists tend to be more skilled in combat than protagonist knights.
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