Rolling for Skill Advancement

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

Post by nemedeus » 10 Feb 2016, 07:39

Agamemnon wrote: 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.
I'm taking this means one could say that "starting with the character you want" really supports Rolling Advancement better than "starting with a Character that has 'room to grow'" (that was sarcasm),
eg. Rolling for Advancement, in a way, necessiates being allowed to Start with the Character you want.
I certainly share the sentiment, by and large - in my system, i intend to give players the option to start as "Masters", which would be represented by a Skill value of 6 (on a range of 1 to 10, where at Rank >= 7 you are considered to have contributed to the advancement of the discipline and at 10 you are a living legend).
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thirtythr33
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by thirtythr33 » 10 Feb 2016, 08:10

That isn't necessarily true, but is quite typical.

Rolled advancement is more typically found in "realistic" games. Realistic games in turn tend to have higher starting power (this can be because of a generally higher lethality) and shallower rates of advancement. They also are more comfortable with the unbalance inherent in rolled advancement.

You could imagine a game that started you out very weak and used rolled advancement. Arguably, Runequest and Burning Wheel start you out quite weak (not "killed by a housecat" weak though) and both use rolled advancement.

In Runequest 6 in particular, you can't really start with a skill over 65%. A master swordsman, according to the book, is around 120%.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by nemedeus » 10 Feb 2016, 08:24

thirtythr33 wrote:In Runequest 6 in particular, you can't really start with a skill over 65%. A master swordsman, according to the book, is around 120%.
That sounds... painful.

thirtythr33 wrote:You could imagine a game that started you out very weak and used rolled advancement. Arguably, Runequest and Burning Wheel start you out quite weak (not "killed by a housecat" weak though) and both use rolled advancement.
From what i read, i had the impresison that what they said were "seasoned" characters (5 lifepaths), felt like what in other games is "level 3".

However, the game seems to be largely deisgned with the philosophy of "failure is more epic than success" - by no means a bad thing, and easily adjustable by adding more lifepaths at leisure.
After all, as a "narrative first" game they even recommend that "character death should be a rare and last-resort kind of occurrence", so they don't do roll-or-die a lot from what i could muster.
Last edited by nemedeus on 10 Feb 2016, 08:27, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by EinBein » 10 Feb 2016, 08:25

Rolemaster is another example of incredibly low starting stats compared to any other living being. It's (very) lethal as well, but I'm not sure about the exact mode of advancement. Think it changed a lot over the course of newly published editions.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by Marras » 10 Feb 2016, 17:26

I don't know how much Rolemaster have changed since the version I played. I suppose it was 2nd edition, before RMSS or something like that.

Back then attributes/stats (I don't remember what they were called) were not necessarily low. They were simply d100 rolls with, I think, rolls of 20 or lower rolled again. Professions granted 90 to two stats based on requirements so you had automatically at least those stats pretty good.

The fun fact was that you also rolled potentials for those stats and every time you levelled, your stats could go up (or even down if you were unlucky). Of course it was a pain to recalculate all those skills but back then we had time :)
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by hector » 10 Feb 2016, 19:35

To be fair, in RuneQuest 6, you're starting at around age 20, so not being anywhere near true mastery of a weapon is to be expected. Also, as I mentioned above, you don't only increase in skill level from experience; you can also pay for training.

I'm actually not a fan of how RuneQuest 6 treats training; I prefer how Mongoose RuneQuest 2 (now known as Legend) did it - in RuneQuest 6, you roll a die and gain that many points in the skill, and the size of the die is based on the difference between your skill and that of the trainer (the trainer may make a teaching check, and on a success increases the size of the die you roll). In Legend, you gain a number of points equal to your intelligence. If the trainer has Teaching as a skill, you add 10% of their skill as well. In both cases, you can't just keep spending money on a skill; you have to improve by experience between periods spent training (as I recall).

Also, in Legend advanced characters don't have a limit to the number of skill points they may spend on a given skill; meaning that you actually can start with more than 100% in a skill as a 21 year old character (default starting age being 16); you just have fewer starting skill points to make up for that.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by EinBein » 11 Feb 2016, 03:15

hector wrote:To be fair, in RuneQuest 6, you're starting at around age 20, so not being anywhere near true mastery of a weapon is to be expected.
The question is: why wouldn't you expect mastery of a weapon at a twenty year old? Many of the best football players are around 20, even younger sometimes. Mastery of physical arts should be no problem of age (other than that it should decrease, not increase with age), but of practice.

I'm not perfectly sure about this as I'm no swordfighter, but don't see a theoretical reason that would stand against a "master" swordfighter at age 20. These are the best years in real life ;)
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by hector » 11 Feb 2016, 04:53

Because truly mastering a fighting art requires that you get into serious fights on a regular basis. Truly mastering a weapon art requires that those fights involve weapons.

The best martial artists in the world are arguably the men and women who fight professionally in the UFC and similar competitions. They are men and women who most likely started learning martial arts as a young child, and they regularly go and get the shit beaten out of them, whilst eating and drinking food and drink as directed by their coaches so as to ensure that they're getting the best nutrition and spending around 40 hours a week training. They tend to peek between their late twenties and mid thirties, with heavier weight classes peaking slightly later on average than lighter weight classes. These are basically the best of the best; nobody who does this for anything less than their full time job will ever get that good.

The ones who do really well would have a 100+ Unarmed skill in RuneQuest 6. Most UFC fighters probably have closer to an 80 or a 90, which makes them experts, but not masters. Being an expert at a skill in RuneQuest 6 starts at 75%. Starting at age 20(ish), and being a little above average (average is 9-12 on 3d6, so we'll go with 15) in strength and dexterity brings us to 30, +45 from the skill points gained in character generation, makes you an expert at a combat style. If you start as a player character at this point, you can quite easily become a master within ten years; mostly likely considerably sooner.

Now, as you start off later on in life (in your thirties or forties, for example), this doesn't hold up so well - that's why I pointed out that in the previous edition of RuneQuest, the default starting age is 16-20, and if you start at age 21 or later you actually have mastered pretty much any skill you wish, if you're willing to have fewer skill points for your other skills.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by thirtythr33 » 11 Feb 2016, 06:04

According to this article the average ages for modern Olympic competitors are:

Boxing 23
Fencing 25
Taekwondo 25
Judo 26
Weightlifting 26
Wrestling 27
Archery 33
Equestrian 34
Shooting 35

A cursory look tell me that the more combative the sports the younger the Olympian tends to be and most of the above sports have examples of teenage competitors. In fact, triathlon seems to be the only Olympic sport where the over 30s perform better than the under 30s.

It certainly wouldn't be stretching realism to allow for a world class 20 yr old swordsman in a role-playing game. It might be stretching game balance, or taking the fun out of character advancement, but that's a different problem entirely.

Having said all that, I love Runequest. It's one of my favorite systems. I was just using it as an example of an RPG that doesn't let you be a world class hero right off the bat, despite using rolled advancement. If you fully optimize you can get a few skills to 75 at the start of the game, that's true, but 75 doesn't represent anything near world class in Runequest. Even becoming a senior member in a brotherbood requires atleast 3 skills that align with the ethos of the brotherhood to be over 90. Being a leader (say, starting your own fencing school) requires 2 skills of over 110.
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nemedeus
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by nemedeus » 11 Feb 2016, 11:39

Why does that read like a skill list? Hahaha!
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by taelor » 11 Feb 2016, 17:56

An interesting thing exchange occurred between one of my players and me when we were making characters for a Burning Wheel game that I was GMing. He was concerned that his character wasn't "good at things". I looked at his character sheet and immediately saw the problem. " You're character is 23. No one is good at stuff when they're 23. Add Student onto your lifepaths; you'll find that four years and 11 skill points make for a much more competent character." Of note: I was 23 myself at the time.

Some people certainly are world class experts in their late teens and early 20s. These people are likely to make up a fair amount of World Class Athletes. Burning Wheel is not a game about playing those people. Some games start from the assumption that the player characters will be, ipso facto, exceptional. Apocalypse World outright tells you that your characters are unique, once-in-a-generation talents. Burning Wheel doesn't. Evidently neither does Runequest. This is okay. Different games are about different things.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by nemedeus » 12 Feb 2016, 07:07

taelor wrote:An interesting thing exchange occurred between one of my players and me when we were making characters for a Burning Wheel game that I was GMing. He was concerned that his character wasn't "good at things". I looked at his character sheet and immediately saw the problem. " You're character is 23. No one is good at stuff when they're 23. Add Student onto your lifepaths; you'll find that four years and 11 skill points make for a much more competent character." Of note: I was 23 myself at the time.
I'm 23 right now and i can confirm. I am competent at nothing. NOTHING!
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by EinBein » 12 Feb 2016, 11:50

Arnold Schwarzenegger startet bodybuilding and olympic weight lifitng at age fifteen. Before that, he had been a football player only. With eighteen he won the Austrian junior class olympic weight lifting. With nineteen he became the youngest Mr. Universum ever ;)

Wladimir Klitschko startet his boxing career at age fourteen and won 106 of 112 fights in the next three years.

Harald Hardrada fought in the battle of Stiklestad at age fifteen, joined the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Emperor at age eighteen and then fought many years in their service until he got the title of Spatharocandidatos (officer of the guard) roughly at age twenty-five.

William the Conqueror startet to claim his Duchy at age twenty with politics and war.

Alexander the Great took over the regency of Macedonia in Phillip's absence at age sixteen and had to quench a rebellion at that time. From then on, he campaigned without his father until he became eighteen and they joined forces for the Battle of Chaeronea. He became king two years later and started his campaign in Persia another two years later...

We're kind of late nemedeus :D I'm 28 and haven't won anything but some Stratego junior championships either ;)

William Wallace defeated the English the first time at age 27. So you at least still have potential ;)

I know, not every game needs to be about those extremely gifted guys, but its definitely not too stretched if you play a battle-hardened character at age twenty, considering the circumstances of those times...
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by PsiPhire » 13 Feb 2016, 04:37

nemedeus wrote:I'm 23 right now and i can confirm. I am competent at nothing. NOTHING!
I'm also 23, though I'm busy with a Masters in theoretical physics, so I'd like to think I'm at least competent in that :P.

As EinBein pointed out, history is filled with young people doing extraordinary things. However, even if you don't play as one of those extremely gifted individuals, I'd say that given the circumstances of those times you could be a good (if not great) swordsman at around 20 already. So having a starting age of 20 shouldn't make it impossible to create characters that are really good at something already.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by hector » 13 Feb 2016, 09:32

Again; 100+ in a skill means that you're not just good, you're one of the very best in the world. 100+ in theoretical physics by the age of 20, for example, would suggest that you finished a PhD in the subject by the age of 18 and are now rivalling the likes of Hawking and Einstein. 100+ in fencing by the age of 20 means that you're not just competing in the Olympics at that age, but you started competing in the Olympics at 15 and are now on the podium for every event you take part in.

There are people that this applies to, but they are few and far between - and in RuneQuest 6, you're not one of them. Like I said before, in the previous edition, someone starting at a higher than usual starting age had no limits on where their starting skill points went, and so they could potentially play someone who at the age of 20 can outfight people with decades of experience. Starting RuneQuest 6 characters are a little more grounded.
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