Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

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dysjunct
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Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by dysjunct » 13 Jul 2017, 17:18

Overall: looks good; great graphic design, clear typesetting, etc. Really good, clear writing. However, lots of things seem undefined or assumed that the reader knows. Of course, this is the beta, so it's not a big deal, but I'll throw it out there anyway. Traits are awesome. Tons of flexibility but with a clear framework so it's not just "make up some mechanics."

p. 4. Since you don't always have to resort to violence to escalate, "Resort to Violence" is a weird section heading. Maybe "Doubling Down"? (But not "Raising the Stakes," since Stake has a differently-defined meaning.)

p. 5. Should mention that all dice are six-sided.

p. 6. Doesn't define what "req" is short for, which might be confusing. Perhaps "The difficulty of a given task is represented by its required successes ("req" for short; pronounced “wreck” and abbreviated with an r), indicating the number of successes required to achieve it."

p. 6. On the table, r0, "default req for contests." Contests is an undefined term, so it should get a page reference. Alternately, you could define it earlier ("all rolls are either simple conflicts or contests...") but that seems overly complex and it interrupts the nice flow of the writing.

p. 10. It would be nice to define tapping. "To tap an ability means to use it to assist the primary ability, e.g. a character attempting to Coerce may tap Brawn, if their coercion involves an intimidating display of brute force."

p. 13. Too Many Dice is awesome. Great options, and easy to remember and implement.

p. 19. I'd put the "Generic Abilities by Rank" table above the Proficiencies section, since it logically should come immediately after attributes and skills. Also, "0d character trait and 1d background trait" is confusing. Maybe explain that traits are rated in the number of dice they may be tapped for.

p. 23. Please define what assets and coin are. I'm guessing that assets are personal property, or maybe non-personal property that you can nonetheless use, like your family's hunting lodge? Is coin literally a certain number of coins, or is it more abstract?

p. 24. Traits should probably be briefly explained, or given a page reference. "2d faction" is not clear out of context.

p. 29. Under Cunning, should be "its primary use" not "it's primary use."

p. 31. Should be "GMs should feel free" not "GM's should feel free."

p. 33. Under eduction, the parenthetical after music is weird due to the new sentence. Maybe "This is classically the Artes Liberales, consisting of grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music theory/composition. and astronomy/astrology. (Note that actually playing music is governed by Perform.)"

p. 33. Expertise could use some examples.

p. 35. Needs to be a blank line between the end of the Language paragraph and the Larceny heading.

p. 36. Blank line before the Mercantile heading.

p. 49. On "Relationship is (Pick one)," the numbers should have plus signs by them to show that they add onto the cumulative cost of the relationship.

p. 50-51. "Membership cost" is the same as "PC is..." on the table? If so, this should be clearer. And the dividing up of points is a little confusing. Let's say there's 3 PCs. They want to belong to a mercenary company (6pts). Regardless of if one PC pays 6, or they all pay 2, or they pay 3, 2, and 1 respectively; just spending the 6 establishes that there's a mercenary company and they are members of it? Then each individual PC can modify their standing in the company up or down by adjusting membership cost?

p. 55. Special traits. Hopefully there will be more than just two examples.

-----

And that's all I noticed. Super great! Thursday is my favorite day.
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nemedeus
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Re: First read through of 0.1.2

Post by nemedeus » 13 Jul 2017, 17:54

p. 50
[...] this particular relationship is both important enough to you that you want
it to come up in play and that you want it’s nature [...]
the "its" should be without an apostrophe
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myanbar
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Re: First read through of 0.1.2

Post by myanbar » 13 Jul 2017, 21:10

The form-fillable PDF and the deluxe form-fillable PDF have one line for Description, but it looks like there should be two lines available.
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Agamemnon
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Re: First read through of 0.1.2

Post by Agamemnon » 13 Jul 2017, 21:34

myanbar wrote:The form-fillable PDF and the deluxe form-fillable PDF have one line for Description, but it looks like there should be two lines available.
Point. Vestigial layout from the print pdf. On the other hand, that line of text auto-resizes, so your description should fit regardless if you're working off the advice in the book.
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

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myanbar
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Re: First read through of 0.1.2

Post by myanbar » 13 Jul 2017, 23:56

Wait a second. Combat isn't in here?

Damn it. It sure isn't. I sure hope there are regular releases like there were with BoB. The combat is what I'm looking forward to most.
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by ChaosFarseer » 14 Jul 2017, 01:39

Traits section looks great! Of course, meanwhile, have some miscellaneous nitpicks.

Page 33: Under Perception, "It can serve as a defense against a number of skills, and is also rolled any time the character is looking for something or we need to know if the character notices something." The 'we' seems odd, and probably ought to be 'the players'.

Character creation and social class: Unlike other terms which people don't know about at that point in the book, the 'd' value on traits is not explained when it first appears.

Do things round up or down by default? Important for the derived attributes.

Page 36, start of Skills chapter could use a summary or reference table.
Gambling's cheating effect is wonderful.

Page 56, Second sentence, Patron is not capitalized at the start of the sentence.

Page 58, bottommost entry in the table, there is an extra period in addition to the comma in "Your character has membership in a faction that exists specifically to fulfill your role in this status., or your status..."

Page 59, Frenzy, second paragraph, first sentence. Missing an 'and'. "While in a frenzy, all impact ratings are halved any TN shifts from a wound are counted a step lower, (reducing TN5 to TN4, for instance)."

Page 64, Drives in Play, second paragraph, last sentence. Sentence has no period at the end.
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higgins
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Re: First read through of 0.1.2

Post by higgins » 14 Jul 2017, 03:43

myanbar wrote:Wait a second. Combat isn't in here?

Damn it. It sure isn't. I sure hope there are regular releases like there were with BoB. The combat is what I'm looking forward to most.
Tsk tsk. I used to be like that :D
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myanbar
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by myanbar » 14 Jul 2017, 05:28

I will not be ashamed of it. The different approaches to and interpretations of melee combat they take are what make the Riddle of Steel successor systems so interesting.
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EinBein
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by EinBein » 14 Jul 2017, 08:10

p. 45. Why is the font size of "Upgrading Free Traits" larger than "Character Traits"?
ChaosFarseer wrote:Do things round up or down by default? Important for the derived attributes.
beta p.30 wrote:In addition to their prime attributes, each character has four derived attributes which are based on the average of two prime attributes, rounded down.
Maybe still better in the first chapter.
dysjunct
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by dysjunct » 14 Jul 2017, 10:06

One odd thing: every ability has a 1-10 rating, and a corresponding tap value. Traits only have a tap value, I guess because you only ever use them to assist abilities and they are never rolled on their own? I could see some situations where it would be useful to roll traits though: prime example being faction wars. You could have a quick resolution of a conflict between the thieves' guild and the city watch. But maybe that takes focus away from the character-centric game that S&S is at the core. And it could spiral into craziness: if you did that, could factions tap things? Their reputation, the king's patronage, etc.? At some point you just need to pack it in and play REIGN if you want that kind of deep organizational system.

Howevr, it would be aesthetically pleasing if everything were on the same scale.
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Agamemnon
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by Agamemnon » 14 Jul 2017, 12:57

EinBein wrote:p. 45. Why is the font size of "Upgrading Free Traits" larger than "Character Traits"?
ChaosFarseer wrote:Do things round up or down by default? Important for the derived attributes.
beta p.30 wrote:In addition to their prime attributes, each character has four derived attributes which are based on the average of two prime attributes, rounded down.
Maybe still better in the first chapter.
There is an entire intro section that is will be before Book I where all the "What is all this?" stuff goes. Anyone who saw the first S&S doc would have got a glimpse of it. Among the stuff, it has a note on numbers and math stating that everything is rounded down.

I figured you guys would rather get your hands on character creation faster, rather than wait for me to revive the intro fluff.
dysjunct wrote:One odd thing: every ability has a 1-10 rating, and a corresponding tap value. Traits only have a tap value, I guess because you only ever use them to assist abilities and they are never rolled on their own? I could see some situations where it would be useful to roll traits though: prime example being faction wars. You could have a quick resolution of a conflict between the thieves' guild and the city watch. But maybe that takes focus away from the character-centric game that S&S is at the core. And it could spiral into craziness: if you did that, could factions tap things? Their reputation, the king's patronage, etc.? At some point you just need to pack it in and play REIGN if you want that kind of deep organizational system.

Howevr, it would be aesthetically pleasing if everything were on the same scale.
The purpose of traits is to be role-played and tapped. They flavor what the character does and how, but the character's capability to do things are encompassed in their abilities - attributes, skills, and proficiencies.

As for factions, if you've read the stuff we've put on the site proper, we have already announced that if we have enough interest/following/support we fully intend to do full faction rules to support faction wars and such. If you check out the roll20 sheet, there's already a faction tab for such. I'm not doing any further dev work on that until the book is beta-complete, however, so it will have to sit for the time being.
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."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
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higgins
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by higgins » 14 Jul 2017, 14:01

myanbar wrote:I will not be ashamed of it.
No shaming intended on my part. Just a friendly poke.
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nemedeus
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by nemedeus » 14 Jul 2017, 14:09

higgins wrote:
myanbar wrote:I will not be ashamed of it.
No shaming intended on my part. Just a friendly poke.
He's not the only one. I myself am just DYING to get my hands on the rewritten emphases, for example...
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thirtythr33
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by thirtythr33 » 16 Jul 2017, 02:05

I’ve written this without looking at other people’s feedback yet, so there is a good chance of things being repeated. And I realize now looking over this again, that the page numbers I used to reference are the PDF page numbers not the numbers printed at the bottom of each page. Subtract 4 to convert from PDF to book page if necessary.

I haven’t yet really crunched the numbers on Character priorities, Trait tables, advancement and Karma tables yet, they will get their own separate posts when I get there.

Also, for this first wave of feedback I’m going to do my best to look at S&S for its own merits rather than comparing it to BOB. At some stage I'll go back and compare BOB and S&S side by side and try to figure out why some things were dropped.

In general, I found a lot of the questions and comments I had as I was reading were pre-empted very well by the book and they were usually resolved on one of the next few following pages.

Presentation:
Love the layout, font, cover, table of contents, bookmarking, and headings.

I like the Footer boxes instead of the sidebars. It more efficiently fills the page (no empty margins on pages with no comments), It fits the flow of the page and you have more space when you need it.

What’s up with the huge number of partial sentences? Is this a stylistic choice, or sloppy editing?
For example, reading through the skill list, almost all the descriptions start with a partial sentence. Eg
Horsemanship
The character’s knowledge of horses and horseback riding.
The full sentence is “Horsemanship is the character’s knowledge…” or "This skill covers..."
I thought it might be a stylistic choice trying to read the descriptions like they looked up in a dictionary, but some skills actually do start with “Mercantile represents…”. If it is intended to read like that, consider putting a colon after each heading "Horsemanship:" and be consistent throughout.
There are also a huge number of partial sentences in the social class sections, particularly under Possessions and Lifestyle sections. I figured this was because these were either converted from a list of bullet points or because wordcount was at a premium here for some reason.
Even outside of social class and skills sections, there are an awful lot which I can’t really think of reasons to have left like that.

Conflicts and Core mechanics:
p7 Second paragraph says only Player-characters can create conflicts. Surely an NPC can instigate or provoke a character?

It seems strange to me that for Ties we have “aggressor wins” and “escalate” in that order of priority. Just because the more complex rule is the least used one. Usually you have the complex mechanic up front and eventually devolve to “just flip a coin or whatever” as it becomes less likely. Why not just use Escalation all the time? It fits thematically with Resort to Violence. If the idea is to just make a choice and move on ASAP, keep aggressor wins and then flip a coin and drop the escalation mechanic.

There’s a lot of references to complications and compromises, without a clear definition anywhere.

Getting more dice:
Does getting dice from a trait count as tapping? Ie, does it count towards my 2 sources limit for tapping? Tapping says only “abilities” can be tapped, which excludes traits. It also says it is “treated in the same way” as tapping and is listed separately in the “down to earth” rule, so it implies that they are different but functionally the same (but wouldn’t count to the limit). (p14-17)

This is contradicted by the Traits section p48 that says “they can be tapped for a value equal to their dice”. Also, if traits count as tapping and I have a limit of 2, do I have a choice of using my trait in a conflict if I have 3 possible sources to choose from? Even if I haven’t hit the limit, is it optional to NOT tap a trait that would decrease my pool? Could a tap in 2 positive sources, and make it impossible to tap in a negative trait?

I like this Books mechanic a lot. It makes a really cool incentive and reward for intellectual characters. An Engineering manual could actually be a legitimate reward or be worth bothering to carry around.

Tapping proficiencies instead of defaulting. Smaller bonus, but then the proficiencies have far less overlap and we have more points to spend. Also cleans up defaulting and unifies with tapping mechanic. I like it.

Character creation:
Nice little nod to Giorgio, Cirillo, Ferran and your own group on p17 :)

I like how much you pushed “be your own fan” here.

Naming the levels “Tiers” is a little confusing since usually “Tier 1” is the best. Consider Rank, Grade or Level perhaps?

Have you considered dropping down T1 to MAX 6 for skills and attributes? It doesn’t seem like T1 is really giving that much up, generally. T1 is meant to represent someone really below average in an area, but they can still be an exemplar of a field at rank 8?

My OCD wants the T5 bonuses to be the same increase proportionately to the tiers, but I can see why you wouldn’t. The value of each attribute or trait point changes as a function of how many you already have.

Social Class:
The first sentence of Greater noble is written as if the PC is the greater noble. The remainder of the first paragraph, as well as the first paragraphs of every other social rank all describe the ranks in the theoretic general case. Rephrase to be consistent?

Why don’t nobles have a listed income? I get that they don’t work, but why do take a cut from the money they make as tax. How does a lesser noble make his maintenance rolls with no income?

Skills:
I like how we now have Expertise, Trade and Lore that basically act as “catch all” skills for anything someone might think is missing.

I like the push your luck mechanic for cheating at gambling.

Traits:
How do the money traits (Poor, Wealthy etc) work with Assets and Coin? Is the idea that you can tap your Wealthy trait to your maintenance and purchasing tests? That seems to weirdly interact with the social classes, especially at the lower end. It’s effectively a kind of Asset that never disappears, no?

Is there any reason to take a negative trait for more than 1 dice? If I get the same reward for failing to climb a wall because of 1d Bad Knee and 3d Really bad knee, why would I pay more for a bigger penalty and no additional benefit?

It would be nice to have the trait tables sorted a consistent way. Ie highest to lowest cost. I get that it breaks up some otherwise similar entries though. How they are now though, really don’t have any rhyme or reason.

How do I make an enemy? Relationships are only phrased in a way that the character will help. Why not add a negative relationship option? Is it intentionally removed because enemies have a habit of dying, and relationships are meant to stay stable?

Retainer seems insanely strong. Why is it so incredibly cheap? It’s cheaper, and better, than taking a Relationship with someone willing to take “great risk” for you. I’d probably atleast bump the costs up to 2-6 and reduce priorities to 9-13.

Relationships and Claim seem too easy to purchase at max effect and buy off down to 1 point with complications. Especially since Relationships can be tapped; all the other traits that can be tapped cost 1pt per tap or more and can’t be bought down with complications. Relationships can get you tap3 for 1pt.

I like the hack friendly approach with Special Traits. I’m surprised more BOB edges and flaws didn’t get ported over to here though.

It’s great seeing Tapping turn out this well. I was worried how it would turn out, but the traits section really makes it great.

Drives:
All of the examples in this chapter have quote marks around them, but they don’t in any other chapters. Also, half of the quote marks on p61-62 are “pointing” the wrong way.

Again, the “or make it up, or throw it out or whatever” attitude shines through.

I liked the earlier definition for Drives in the More Dice section “any time one of the character’s drives is the subject of a conflict, they gain that drive’s value in bonus dice towards resolving said conflict.” But here in the Drives In Play section, we have gone back to the wishy-washy “in a conflict that would directly further, uphold, or defend a drive they have, it fires, granting its current value in bonus dice to the pool for that roll.” That’s just too broad for my liking. It lets you fire in just about any conflict incidentally. If I have some drive like “loyal like a dog” and the king commands me to go on a quest to kill some outlaws, should my drive fire for every challenge along the way? I would say no, it should only fire in a situation where loyalty is the subject. Ie It shouldn’t fire during the combat with the outlaws, but it should when they try to bribe me to let them escape. The definition of “furthering or upholding a drive” could have my loyalty drive firing on literally everything along the way.

When I’m getting a new proficiency, there’s still that weird situation where rank1 in a proficiency can be worse than rank0, similar to untrained skills versus rank 1 skills. Ie, if I have brawling 7, tapping 2 to sword is better than purchasing sword 1 and losing the ability to tap brawling. You could fix this by instead of reducing the cost the way you have, you have a flat cost of 4 to open a new skill, plus the new rank you are going to and allowing tap to skip ranks. Ie, if you are opening with 0 tap, it costs you 4+1=5 to get a new proficiency. If you already have tap2, it costs you 4+3=7 to start at rank3. Compared to your method, it only costs 1 pt less for tap2 characters but it pushes you over that “hump”.

I need to think more on the restrictions and options around spending drive points on trait advancement, I’m not really understanding why so many exceptions and caveats are needed.

Is there any major reason Karma is counted when Drives are Burnt, as opposed to Eared? It seems like it would be easier to remember and do the bookkeep for during earning (at the end of each scene) rather than when spending (which might be in the middle of combat). It would just mean you get a few extra points form the drives unspent in your pool, but it would be trivial to just adjust the karma table up by 5 to 10 to compensate.

Alternate retainer advancement rule: just let the player spend drives points on their retainer as if they were advancing themselves.

Editorial Typos/Nitpicks:

Req:
Not sure why you aren’t using capitalisation (“Req” and “R3” over “req” and “r3”) like you do for other mechanics (TN, MoS). Also might want to throw a bold over the first time you use Requires in the second sentence to make sure the first time reader makes that connection on p10.
In untrained ability checks (proficiencies) refers to Tap Value, needs a note to see tapping pX (hasn’t been mentioned yet).
P9 5th last line uses “base TN” instead of BTN
Bottom of p12 refers to “sidebar”, should refer to “footnote”
p14 first sentence missing “a” before tap value
P15 Should mention that cascading needs to set the number of checks in advance and can’t make it up as you go.
P16 Drives first sentence is strange. It reads that you are rewarding them for choosing, when it should indicate rewarding for following through on what was chosen.
P16 Tools: 3rd line “the the”
P19 should be “themes to the campaign”
P19 first time mentioning PCs should have Player Characters (PCs)
P19 misplaced comma. Should be “The choices you make in character creation, the traits you buy and the drives you write, will become the basis of the campaign ahead.”
P19 First time GM mentioned, should be Game Master (GM)
P19 “deciding in what kind” should be “deciding on what kind” or “deciding what kind”
P19 remove unnecessary “, though,”
P20 first 2 sentences read clumsily to me. Consider rephrasing
P20 “Ask who the character is as well as what they are.” Rephrase as on website. “Ask who as well as what the character is.”
P21 “movers and shakers a setting” missing “of”
P23 consider dropping the 0d and 1d in the traits bit, since this is the first time its mentioned and it’s not explained. Just saying you get a character and background trait for free makes sense.
P24 under drives references player-characters should be “PCs”
P25 missing “and a” in description between “stubble, limp”
P25 missing “with” in description between “hair, curls”
P28 first line “possessed of” implies they are owned by the land. Use Possessing titles and land.
P28 possessions should read “several pairs of fine”
P29 last sentence first paragraph of High Freeman shouldn’t have the , after “oddly enough”
P32 3rd line agility should have a colon not comma “all types: from”
P36 Command: “organized and lead” > led
P37 gambling uses “Base tn” instead of BTN
P40 blank line missing between end of medicine and start of mercantile
P40 navigation uses “Base tn” instead of BTN
P42 survival uses “Base tn” instead of BTN
P42 teamster “manual skill at driving” > “manual skill of driving”
P43 trade missing “are” between “functions” and “a”
P45 longsword. Remove “and” from last sentence, second paragraph. Also, referencing “Europe”? could just end last sentence after culture.
P45 Mass weapons, second sentence doesn’t make sense. Rephrase
P46 polearms, third paragraph first sentence. “and in time” > “and the time” and missing full stop after employed.
P49 missing blank line between last line of upgrading free traits paragraph and character traits heading
P52 claim table not formatted like others. Needs subheading separating base price and modifiers.
P52 relationship is (pick one) needs to be left aligned. Add “+” for modifiers below
P54 missing “are” between “and” and “generated” in first line
P54 “needs to” repeated twice in second paragraph under factions
P55 PC is… +1pt delete “of”
P56 second sentence, Patrons missing capitalization at start of sentence
P56 second paragraph, retainer says “A Priority” should be “a Tier 5 priority”
P57 Examples like those given in the Reputation table are usually italicized
P58 first line, delete first “the”
P58 examples in second paragraph should be italicized. Likewise examples in table and on next page
58 last line in table has “.,”
P60 the “characters child murdered” > “characters child is murdered”
P62 first line under choosing drives. Insert “want” between “you” and “your” and delete “is”
P64 first line under drives in play. “whch” missing “I”
P64 missing full stop end of second paragraph under drives in play
P64 in fourth paragraph under drives in play, “but only can” > “but only one can”
P65 under Burning drives replace second “any given” with “one”
P65 last line of narrative effects. “effect be” > “effect can be”
P66 first sentence “have plausibly have” > “have plausibly”
P68 missing blank line between proficiencies text and traits heading
P68 proficiencies “couple exceptions” > “couple of exceptions”
P69 first line “physically-based” doesn’t seem right. Consider “physical”, “physically grounded”, “primarily physical” or “new character traits with a physical basis”
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nemedeus
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Re: Beta feedback: Initiation and Character Creation

Post by nemedeus » 16 Jul 2017, 06:19

regarding "base TN" vs "BTN", was "bTN" considered? Seems like the more clear option to me.

either way, personally I'd prefer "base TN" being used everywhere.
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