Rolling for Skill Advancement

Talk about any rules that don't directly fall under personal combat
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thirtythr33
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by thirtythr33 » 04 Feb 2016, 22:54

But not more justification than "hey... isn't that my sword?"

And obviously I don't have anything against introducing a relative provided they are actually a distinct person and not just "younger version of Hero1".
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hector
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by hector » 05 Feb 2016, 04:22

I would add that the way RuneQuest (and BRP in general) has typically dealt with this has worked quite well in my opinion - in the old days, if you succeeded on a skill roll, you would role to see if it advanced at the end of the session; nowadays you pick the skills yourself, and the picked skills always advance.

To use the second edition of RuneQuest as an example, your starting character is based entirely on 7 rolls of 3d6, a roll of 1d100 for your background and a roll for starting silver. Your starting skills are all quite low (between 5% and 25% + modifiers based on the 3d6 rolls above) - but the guilds are always willing to give potential recruits a small loan (100*the ability score they're most interested in) to pay for training and starting equipment. This loan needs to be paid off eventually, which gives the player characters a reason to continue doing dangerous things in exchange for money.

Learning by experience basically requires that one roll 1d100 above their score in that skill (to a maximum of 100 - their intelligence); if they do so, the skill goes up by 5%. Training can also be purchased (up to 100% for most skills; up to 75% for weapon skills and some thieving skills), which mitigates the fact that learning from experience is a largely random affair. On the other hand, you can't buy training from a guild until you've paid them back any loans. The guilds will train anybody who asks them, but they typically ask for payment in return (though the thieves' guild will sometimes accept favours in lieu of silver).

Honestly, I don't think RuneQuest would work without the option to purchase training from somebody - the fact that in early editions you could simply roll poorly enough to never advance (and even recent editions come with slow advancement for poor die rolls) would eventually result in some players becoming frustrated at the fact that their characters aren't advancing as rapidly as the others.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by Marras » 05 Feb 2016, 05:50

Good posts above, I don't know how much I can contribute to this but...

I was ninja'd about the Conan's progression. He is pretty formidable from the beginning but it certainly is implied that his skillbase broadens quite a bit during his adventures. You can call them career changes and I think that's what they are but anyway he gets new skills. In the end it doesn't matter what's the "mechanic" behind this (career change, learning new skills due to experience or whatever).

Granted, most of the clear advances are seen in child protagonists whether in school or not and in fact this is natural. Sometimes this doesn't seem to happen even for children like in Captain Alatriste stories where Alatriste's servant doesn't seem to get any better (at anything) but then again he is just Alatriste's chronicler not so much the protagonist.

I think Dr. Wattson advances in investigations during the stories or at least in deducting what those clues mean. It is of course arguable if this is a player progression or character progression and this depends on the system. I think the same applies to leadership and other social interactions. If a character becomes better at leading an army or get more convincing it can be about player getting better or the character getting better depending on how the system handles these activities.

A bit related thing is how personality changes can be portrayed in RPGs. Changes from timid person to a badass fighter. Even if it is a personality change this is often reflected in character sheet as a skill getting up and that has certain merit to it because while you develop a skill you also have to adopt a certain frame of mind to wholly take advantage of that skill. For example no matter how good fencing technique you have it won't mean a thing in combat if you are afraid to use that skill.

There is a series of books where a group of characters advances pretty evenly, IMHO. It's the Gentlemen Bastards series (Lies of Locke Lamora being the first book in series). Granted, most of the progression happens when characters are still kids and youths.

In RuneQuest 6 you actually had to fail your skill roll if you wanted to advance that skill :) So, if your riding skill was 60%, you had to roll 61+ in order to advance that. Pretty clever way to handle it, IMHO.

If I can make a character that is competent enough from the start, I'm good. Same was actually true in Cyberpunk 2020. There was some sort of improvement system, but our characters didn't get significant advances skillwise in that game. But that was OK, because you could build a character that was competent enough. Still, some sort of advancement possibility is great especially for getting new skills. That 1st level King Joffrey example was very clever. Even if I don't know D&D 3.x all that well he might have needed to be a bit higher level to actually have loyal retainers if you go purely from game mechanics (I could be wrong here, though).

With my own gamesystem my aim also was to see characters change rather than get über good. In that I allowed players to lower some unused skills in order to rise a skill that had been used with some restrictions. This playing with skill points was allowed once per session and only for one skill (one down one up). In addition to that there was a possibility to use storypoints (sort of experience) to actually rise and get new skills if the story supported it.

I actually think that this karma system you have described here could very well work in the situations where you make long jumps in the timeline. You define what have happened during those years and then re-create the character to reflect those changes. I can really well see how weapon skills drop during those years you spend as a tavern owner instead of a mercenary but you gain new skills and contacts.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by PsiPhire » 05 Feb 2016, 05:53

I've always had the opinion that advancement is necessary for the longevity of a campaign. However, now that I think about it, it sounds a lot more fun to play an already competent character and just focus on personality changes or narrative advances. There's been a number of times playing something like D&D where I had a great character concept, but it only really comes together at high level, which means months or years of playing before I can truly play the character I want.

Skill advancement could also just be done through training, so if you want to improve your Longsword proficiency, simply pay a trainer and spend a couple of weeks/months training every time you're in a town. The same could be done for learning new skills. It can even be its own quest: the party spellcaster can convince everyone that they should go kill a powerful necromancer so that he can obtain his spellbook (stupid example, but you get the idea).
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by higgins » 06 Feb 2016, 07:38

Marras wrote:I was ninja'd about the Conan's progression. He is pretty formidable from the beginning but it certainly is implied that his skillbase broadens quite a bit during his adventures.
I underlined the key takeaway here. When I made my initial post about the lack of advancement in fiction, I compared RPGs and fiction in my mind, and it seemed to me that compared to RPGs, the advancement was way less common in fiction. Of course, then you guys came and shot that theory down... :lol: And I tried to defend my theory while in a fever-fueled, not-as-rational-as-I-thought-I-was state... which is never a good proposition.

However, I still maintain that advancement isn't strictly necessary for our ability to successfully tell stories. Now, if that story is about growing up altogether (Potter), or about building up the physique (Rocky), then of course we need some kind of advancement mechanic to model that.

Initially, I dismissed two tropes:
a) Starting as children and growing to adulthood, as it's so rare an RPG trope to be almost unheard of
b) Gandalf & Jean Gray, as their growth was instant instant exponential (as opposed to gradual, as in RPGs). Also both those characters died.

As for the reason I started dismissing more tropes, I simply cannot tell. Even after re-reading my posts, I just can't. The best I can guess is that fever makes me more obstinate and bull-headed. :twisted:

Now, where I think Marras nailed this, is that maybe the advancement isn't less common in fiction, but it's less NOTICABLE. I mean, sure, we can't see the sheets of the fictional characters, so, we can't tell as well if and when their abilities change, but even more so, they tend to start off as more COMPETENT to begin with. Now, maybe not as competent in the field that they end up in, but Luke was a competent pilot even before he ended up as jedi, Neo was a competent hacker, and their supporting characters were competent as well.

Now, Sarah Connor might be the exception here, but even she wasn't as fragile as an average 1st level D&D 3.x character that can literally be flanked to death by 5-6 rats when surrounded.
Marras wrote:A bit related thing is how personality changes can be portrayed in RPGs. Changes from timid person to a badass fighter. Even if it is a personality change this is often reflected in character sheet as a skill getting up and that has certain merit to it because while you develop a skill you also have to adopt a certain frame of mind to wholly take advantage of that skill. For example no matter how good fencing technique you have it won't mean a thing in combat if you are afraid to use that skill.
This had a lot to do with the way I initially worded things. Having been training with swords for quite a while now, these skills just don't manifest as quickly in real life as they do in RPGs. As such, when a character suddenly manifests some skills in fiction, I never assume that they somehow internally learned them, but they had those skills to begin with -- all that changed was their attitude (and maybe courage) in putting those skills to use.
Marras wrote:That 1st level King Joffrey example was very clever.
Thanks! And actually, King Joffrey is my standard trope to use when a GM doesn't provide me with enough frame of reference to my liking. Whenever I'm just told to come up with a character in isolation from other players, I ask what the restrictions are. The typical response is that there are no restrictions. In which case I'll say:

"Excellent! Then I'll play the King."

Typically at this point, it turns out that there actually ARE restrictions on character concepts, as the suggestion gets shot down. :D The other option is that I'm pointed out that I can't build a character that is competent/high level enough to be a king, after which I say:

"Who said that the king I'm playing was going to be COMPETENT?"

And this is the point where the concept gets shot down, period. :lol: I've seen only one GM actually be willing to consider this, but other characters had already submitted concepts and mine wasn't even remotely compatible -- which was the reason I asked for "restrictions" a.k.a. the frame of reference to begin with. :)
PsiPhire wrote:However, now that I think about it, it sounds a lot more fun to play an already competent character and just focus on personality changes or narrative advances. There's been a number of times playing something like D&D where I had a great character concept, but it only really comes together at high level, which means months or years of playing before I can truly play the character I want.
This is my viewpoint exactly. Why can't I play the character I want from the very get-go? Haven't I been good?
PsiPhire wrote:I've always had the opinion that advancement is necessary for the longevity of a campaign.
D&D 3.x as a gateway seems to be the main cause of corrupting minds into thinking that the sheet advancement is an important factor in role-playing. I've found that the character-focused, experience-point-forgetting games that I mentioned, are much easier to pull off if you have players with no prior gaming experience. Now, I'm not saying that people who started off with D&D cannot be re-conditioned, but it's significantly easier to get good results if you start off with a blank slate, as there's no preconceived notions you need to overcome.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by nemedeus » 06 Feb 2016, 08:41

higgins wrote:
Marras wrote:That 1st level King Joffrey example was very clever.
Thanks! And actually, King Joffrey is my standard trope to use when a GM doesn't provide me with enough frame of reference to my liking. Whenever I'm just told to come up with a character in isolation from other players, I ask what the restrictions are. The typical response is that there are no restrictions. In which case I'll say:

"Excellent! Then I'll play the King."

Typically at this point, it turns out that there actually ARE restrictions on character concepts, as the suggestion gets shot down. :D The other option is that I'm pointed out that I can't build a character that is competent/high level enough to be a king, after which I say:

"Who said that the king I'm playing was going to be COMPETENT?"

And this is the point where the concept gets shot down, period. :lol: I've seen only one GM actually be willing to consider this, but other characters had already submitted concepts and mine wasn't even remotely compatible -- which was the reason I asked for "restrictions" a.k.a. the frame of reference to begin with. :)
Ugh, I HATE when GMs do that. At least let me know what the campaign is about. In fact, i think groups are always better off making characters in a pre-game session together.
higgins wrote:
PsiPhire wrote:However, now that I think about it, it sounds a lot more fun to play an already competent character and just focus on personality changes or narrative advances. There's been a number of times playing something like D&D where I had a great character concept, but it only really comes together at high level, which means months or years of playing before I can truly play the character I want.
This is my viewpoint exactly. Why can't I play the character I want from the very get-go? Haven't I been good?
Yeah, but don't a lot of RPGs supply rules (or even just rule suggestions) for playing characters of different competence levels?

Usually done in the form of "Just start at higher level/exp/whatever", but there are some games where this is directly tied into the character creation.

Burning Wheel for example. Although, from reading the book i had the impression that compared to the Ob-Numbers, most characters arent going to feel very competent, even with additional lifepaths... Maybe Agamemnon can illuminate?

I'm also remembering the original Song of Ice and Fire RPG, where you explicitly were allowed to chose the starting age of your character, and got more skill ranks if you were older. That system was actually pretty interesting in general, maybe i'm going to buy a copy sometime...
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by higgins » 06 Feb 2016, 11:00

nemedeus wrote:Yeah, but don't a lot of RPGs supply rules (or even just rule suggestions) for playing characters of different competence levels?
Sure, a lot of them do. And lot of them don't, either. Anyways, I hate to beg for favors.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by nemedeus » 06 Feb 2016, 12:05

higgins wrote:
nemedeus wrote:Yeah, but don't a lot of RPGs supply rules (or even just rule suggestions) for playing characters of different competence levels?
Sure, a lot of them do. And lot of them don't, either. Anyways, I hate to beg for favors.
I meant different players playing mixed competence characters all at the same time
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by Agamemnon » 06 Feb 2016, 18:14

nemedeus wrote:
higgins wrote:
nemedeus wrote:Yeah, but don't a lot of RPGs supply rules (or even just rule suggestions) for playing characters of different competence levels?
Sure, a lot of them do. And lot of them don't, either. Anyways, I hate to beg for favors.
I meant different players playing mixed competence characters all at the same time
I was talking about this with a mutual friend that Higgins and I share the other day. There are amazingly few games that really do that well. Mouse Guard is one of them. 'Bastards will also let you simulate that to a fair degree, based on how you choose to spend your stats. Though honestly the way the game is designed, "balanced" characters aren't really the issue anyway. There's no real problem with one character being significantly better at one thing or another anyway, as it's not a game designed around overcoming obstacles. In fact, the most interesting things usually happen when a roll fails and things go sideways.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by nemedeus » 06 Feb 2016, 20:35

Which is kind of why i'm in favor of Advancement Rolls, nowadays.
Advancement rolls aren't really in conflict with "starting with the character you want to play" anyway, if i'm not mistaken.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by EinBein » 07 Feb 2016, 05:51

nemedeus wrote:Which is kind of why i'm in favor of Advancement Rolls, nowadays.
Advancement rolls aren't really in conflict with "starting with the character you want to play" anyway, if i'm not mistaken.
They can only be in conflict with "playing what you want", because if you are unlucky, you'll never reach the character (sheet-wise) that you had in your mind.

I'm curious about the approach that BoB took, especially how it will play with my specific gaming group (we're playing in slight variances since roughly fifteen years, so I know them quite a bit from gamemaster perspective).

This is why I personally would prefer to stop discussing possible different outcomes or alternatives now, let Agamemnon have his peace and come back to lively discussions as soon as we all know what to discuss ;) It's just stirring in the dark for 90% of us :)
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by hector » 07 Feb 2016, 06:46

I think the point he's making is that if you start with the character you had in mind, then advancement rolls based on use will merely evolve your character organically; evolving from the starting point you had in mind rather than building towards that character.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by Marras » 07 Feb 2016, 08:02

hector wrote:I think the point he's making is that if you start with the character you had in mind, then advancement rolls based on use will merely evolve your character organically; evolving from the starting point you had in mind rather than building towards that character.
I know you are not referring to me but this is pretty much how I like things to go. The main thing being that I can start the game with a character I want and not spend dozens of sessions to get that character.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by nemedeus » 07 Feb 2016, 10:41

hector wrote:I think the point he's making is that if you start with the character you had in mind, then advancement rolls based on use will merely evolve your character organically; evolving from the starting point you had in mind rather than building towards that character.
Put my point much more eloquently than i could have.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by Agamemnon » 07 Feb 2016, 15:00

nemedeus wrote:Which is kind of why i'm in favor of Advancement Rolls, nowadays.
Advancement rolls aren't really in conflict with "starting with the character you want to play" anyway, if i'm not mistaken.
There are really three axis at play when you're talking about "player character power." The first is how powerful the character starts relative to the world around them. The second is how powerful the character can actually become before the system breaks (i.e. skills cap at 10 dice, or whatever). The third is how long it takes to get from the first to the second.

"Starting with the character you want" is an issue that is discussed on the first axis. Advancement rolls are an issue to debate on that third axis. As a result, advancement rolls don't conflict with starting character power, but they also don't impact it in any way. You could have random advancemnt rolls with characters that already began more powerful than anyone else in their setting.. or you could have it with characters pathetically underpowered for their setting. It's a design choice that doesn't directly overlap.
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