On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Talk about any rules that don't directly fall under personal combat
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by Korbel » 31 Jul 2016, 10:01

Agamemnon wrote:That's one that hadn't crossed my mind, oddly enough. There is no divine design commandment requiring us to have attributes and skills on the same scale. It does present the problem you mention, though. We either have to have two sets of obs (one for skills, one for attributes) or have attributes remain X+Y and represent yet another category of precedure. This would wind up meaning that skills are rolled in one way, attributes are rolled in another, and then combat is its own beast entirely.
OK, I'll throw some wild ideas here:

You could roll Attributes in triples. This way they would use the same Table for Obs, as Skills.
Feat of Strength It would be Strength, Stamina and... Agility (if the task requires precision), Acumen (if you can find a clever way to do this) or Willpower (if the process is painful or particularly risky).
Balance Agility, Cunning... and Strength (if you're carrying something heavy), Speed, Stamina (if you have to keep balance for long) or Willpower (dangerous situations).
Health Strength, Stamina, Willpower.
Knockdown Strength, Agility and Stamina looks good.
Knockout Maybe the same as Health?
Memory I have no idea... Memory rolls are strange sometimes - maybe get rid of them?
Reflexes Agility, Speed, Cunning - simple.
Perception I don't know... Maybe no rolls for Perception? Stealth would be rolled against Obs (as GM says). And if the guard has the Edge for exceptional awareness, you roll Stealth at Disadvantage.
Agamemnon wrote:I'm neither settled on a solution nor necessarily advocating for a specific one in the following text. My intention is both explore the ideas presented and play devil's advocate.
Just like me.
Agamemnon wrote:Change is scary. Status quo is familiar and therefore inherently comforting.
No fear, just excitement. I like it. Good that Einbein pushed you into this direction.

But! I hope we're not being caught in a spiral of constant upgrades and modifications? I think the game should be finished and published, and not rewritten for years. I'm not saying the changes you suggested are bad, just don't try to make everything perfect for too long, because no game is and will be perfect. I don't know, what are your plans for the future, but I think it would be wise to publish the game, let's say, this year. Show it to people, let them find problems, come up with solutions and homerules, forget about this project for some time to reset your head... and maybe in a year, two or five you will decide to write BoB 2.

(OK, I'm probably playing the smart-guy here :D)

So, is the Disadvantage for untrained skill rolls an official ruling?
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by EinBein » 31 Jul 2016, 10:07

Korbel wrote:
Agamemnon wrote:Change is scary. Status quo is familiar and therefore inherently comforting.
No fear, just excitement. I like it. Good that Einbein pushed you into this direction.
Hej, how could I claim that credit?

Anyways, I like the direction this takes. Agamemnons idea sounds very good to me. It reduces the effect that practically every test made by PC's is augmented with additional dice for nothing. You may have to think about changing some of the "burning SA" effects like "re-rolling all failed dice, which would be - in most cases - much more powerful than a single-use die in a test.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by Agamemnon » 31 Jul 2016, 10:12

hector wrote:Honestly, I reckon the pros (probably) outweigh the cons in terms of changing how SAs work to make them one use only (especially if they become a single pool of up to 25/30). It would certainly be interesting to see how it affects things in play testing.

Also, it removes the idea that the score in an SA is somehow relevant to how important that SA is to your character - while that's a misunderstanding of the rules, it will probably be a fairly common one with the rules as written.
Another pro! As it is a counterintuitive concept to get your head around. "The number of dots means better in every case except this one."

I wonder if I haven't short changed the cons section, but every time I try to think of drawbacks they are mostly boil down to "but I'm used to the old way."
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by thirtythr33 » 31 Jul 2016, 10:15

Does it need to happen in 5 sessions? If they are a major rival and this is a main motivation for the character, you could spend the entire campaign dealing with this guy. Don't let yourself accidentally trivialize the scenaro just because we're talking about violins and concerts. Those are placeholders.
I wasn’t trying to say violin skill was any less important. I was speaking to the economies of player engagement and spotlighting. 10-15 sessions is just too long to leave a single SA in the spotlight, regardless if it is violin or sword related. Really, I would try to change the SAs being focused on every 2 or 3 sessions so it doesn't feel like "The adventures of Tom Hightower, and those three other guys he has following him around for some reason". True, you could do a few sessions on violin stuff and then go sailing around on a pirate ship, come back and do a little more violin stuff and switch back and forth between a few different players SAs but then no SAs are actually being cleared and replaced in 30 session timeframes. If SAs changing are meant to indicate Character Growth and change of narrative focus, I would like it to happen faster than that allows.
I'm not sure either point would be an issue, in application. Making skills and attributes a 0-10 scale would necessitate them being rolled independently of other things, rather than in pairs as we're doing now.
This leads to some really silly stuff. People with 1 agi and 1 con having 10 athletics. People with 10 agi trying to use agility checks for everything and neglecting skills. You could jam in the "caps" or "extra cost" mechanic used in other RPGs I suppose. (Can't increase a skill to more than twice the level of the related Attribute / or it costs more to do so, but it kind of defeats the point of the tier selection system of character creation.)
That's one that hadn't crossed my mind, oddly enough. There is no divine design commandment requiring us to have attributes and skills on the same scale. It does present the problem you mention, though. We either have to have two sets of obs (one for skills, one for attributes) or have attributes remain X+Y and represent yet another category of precedure. This would wind up meaning that skills are rolled in one way, attributes are rolled in another, and then combat is its own beast entirely.
If you were doing this why wouldn’t you just say Attribute tests use 3x attribute instead of 2x attribute like they do now? This is probably my preferred option for raising skill limit to 10 of all the options discussed so far. You could even be less heavy handed than this and just increase skill to 1-7 and decrease SAs to 1-4 range and leave everything else the same.
Technically, the easiest fix in all of this would be for SAs to stop giving bonus dice entirely... suddenly, everything is affected equally and none of the above is an issue.
Bolded is not true at all. It would still be better to spend the bonus dice on skill checks than combats. Especially if the bonus dice last for only 1 phrase and not the entire combat. It would actually make things worse, since now it is a more scarce consumable resource people will want to only use them in the most efficient way possible.
Changing the role of SAs from "pool of dice that optionally can be burnt" to "reservoir of points to spend on bonus dice or other things" has a number of interesting effects to consider.
This is functionally very similar to saying "SAs apply +0 dice to related dice pools." Why not, instead of completely removing the +1-5 range for SAs, set it as a constant bonus? eg "If you have a related SAs, apply a +2 dice bonus to skill and attribute tests, and in combat pools apply +4 dice."

Preventing hoarding is easy enough; you just put a maximum cap on how many SAs you can have stored at a given time. Any extra gained over 30 are wasted.

Personally, I think dropping the current 1-5 SA system would make SAs feel too much like slightly more customised and generic edges and flaws. They would just be another way of generating character points like edges and flaws, but without anything mechanically interesting to go along with them. In a lot of ways I would rather drop SAs entirely and just get 5 more flaws.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by Korbel » 31 Jul 2016, 10:49

thirtythr33 wrote:If you were doing this why wouldn’t you just say Attribute tests use 3x attribute instead of 2x attribute like they do now?
Or maybe like this?

Feat of Strength = 2 x Strength + Stamina
Balance = 2 x Agility + Cunning
Health = 2 x Stamina + Willpower
Knockdown = 2 x Strength or Agility, the other one x 1 (or something like that)
Knockout = 2 x Willpower + Strength
Memory = 2 x Acumen + Willpower
Reflexes = 2 x Speed + Cunning
Perception = 2 x Cunning + Acumen

It does create a nice effect, where Strength is more important for FoS than Stamina (though Stamina is still used), and so on.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by thirtythr33 » 31 Jul 2016, 10:54

Yup, that would be cool too.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by Agamemnon » 31 Jul 2016, 11:15

Korbel wrote:But! I hope we're not being caught in a spiral of constant upgrades and modifications? I think the game should be finished and published, and not rewritten for years. I'm not saying the changes you suggested are bad, just don't try to make everything perfect for too long, because no game is and will be perfect. I don't know, what are your plans for the future, but I think it would be wise to publish the game, let's say, this year. Show it to people, let them find problems, come up with solutions and homerules, forget about this project for some time to reset your head... and maybe in a year, two or five you will decide to write BoB 2.
The purpose of a beta is to work out the kinks and that's what this whole conversation is -- and more importantly, at the moment I'm waiting on Higgins to edit the two chapters on his desk, so I'm letting my creative brain work on something for a change. At the "book layout" stage the part of your brain that actually enjoys the design part of designing a game tends to get really sad.
Korbel wrote:So, is the Disadvantage for untrained skill rolls an official ruling?
The original ruling here was that untrained checks were Attribute by itself -2. We eventually decided that this was a bit harsh and went with just attribute alone. Now with more play under the belt, I started tinkering with that as a way to balance the fact that SAs can replace skills. If we wind up making SAs an expendable resource, it's probably not necessary. If SAs remain the same, it will probably make its way into the rulebook barring negative feedback.
EinBein wrote:Anyways, I like the direction this takes. Agamemnons idea sounds very good to me. It reduces the effect that practically every test made by PC's is augmented with additional dice for nothing. You may have to think about changing some of the "burning SA" effects like "re-rolling all failed dice, which would be - in most cases - much more powerful than a single-use die in a test.
We'd definitely need to tinker with how the current narrative effects are costed.
thirtythr33 wrote:10-15 sessions is just too long to leave a single SA in the spotlight, regardless if it is violin or sword related. Really, I would try to change the SAs being focused on every 2 or 3 sessions so it doesn't feel like "The adventures of Tom Hightower, and those three other guys he has following him around for some reason".
We seem to think somewhat differently on this point. Each player has up to 5 SAs they are pursuing. If they are smart, then most of those overlap so that when any one player is in the spotlight, everyone else will still get rewarded. When I have an SA in the spotlight, it's usually in the spotlight for a scene, rather than a session. Unless you're at a climactic point, a player at my table is way more likely to have 2-3 different SAs triggered over the course of the session (especially if they overlap with other players' SAs which are also being brought into scenes) than for me to decide "this session, we're focusing on X." I can't imagine every player discarding all 5 SAs and getting 5 new totally different SAs every 2-3 sessions. The focus of their SAs would have to be so narrow that it'd be hard to maintain a coherent story.

I'm not sure that changing SAs directly equates to character growth. If anything, SAs are just a statement of what the character wants. Character growth comes from the arc of development as they pursue or defend it. What are they willing to do? What depths are they willing to go through? The choices made along the way in play are where character development comes in, in a narrative sense.
thirtythr33 wrote:This leads to some really silly stuff. People with 1 agi and 1 con having 10 athletics. People with 10 agi trying to use agility checks for everything and neglecting skills. You could jam in the "caps" or "extra cost" mechanic used in other RPGs I suppose. (Can't increase a skill to more than twice the level of the related Attribute / or it costs more to do so, but it kind of defeats the point of the tier selection system of character creation.)
The counterpoint might be that you have some of that now where agility could well be paired with every roll because of how the X+Y system works. On the other hand, if you aren't rolling them in pairs then I'd argue the effect of that would be diminished. Yeah, you have a 10 agility, but unless the thing you're trying to do is clearly a matter of untrained reflexes and manual coordination, you're not rolling it. Anything that exists as a skill is something that by definition isn't going to be an attribute roll. The player can try to advocate for it, but then they can try to advocate for magic swords and pet dragons as well, likely to equal effect.
thirtythr33 wrote:Bolded is not true at all. It would still be better to spend the bonus dice on skill checks than combats. Especially if the bonus dice last for only 1 phrase and not the entire combat. It would actually make things worse, since now it is a more scarce consumable resource people will want to only use them in the most efficient way possible.
From the initial paragraph that I brought the idea up in:
Agamemnon wrote:You can burn them for single-use bonuses to your dice pool that will last for that conflict, whether it's a single skill roll, a full contest, or a combat of some kind.
Emphasis, mine. The game operates under the idea that a conflict is "any time a roll or rolls are required to produce an outcome that moves the story forward." This can be a single skill roll, a full contest, or a combat. If we went with the point-burn-for-dice scenario then you'd get your dice for the duration of whatever conflict you're applying them to, whether it's a one-off skill test, a full contest against an opponent, or added to your combat pool at refresh each phrase.
thirtythr33 wrote:This is functionally very similar to saying "SAs apply +0 dice to related dice pools."
I apologize, but I'm not sure I follow the meaning on this one. I'm insufficiently caffeinated, maybe.
thirtythr33 wrote:Why not, instead of completely removing the +1-5 range for SAs, set it as a constant bonus? eg "If you have a related SAs, apply a +2 dice bonus to skill and attribute tests, and in combat pools apply +4 dice."
That's a possibility and would make some things simpler. On the other hand, you remove any incentive not to burn all of your SA points as soon as you get them. If they aren't needed to provide bonuses, then you don't have any reason not to keep dumping into character advancement, keeping maybe a small reserve aside for narrative effects as needed.

We could say that you needed to spend a point in order to invoke the +2/+4 bonus, which would help mitigate this issue a bit. ..Wait. Did we just re-invent Fate points?
thirtythr33 wrote:Preventing hoarding is easy enough; you just put a maximum cap on how many SAs you can have stored at a given time. Any extra gained over 30 are wasted.
Yeah. This isn't a huge issue. You can very easily say you can't have more than X, spend more than Y per roll, etc. If they aren't spending them, then you aren't hitting them hard enough.
thirtythr33 wrote:Personally, I think dropping the current 1-5 SA system would make SAs feel too much like slightly more customised and generic edges and flaws. They would just be another way of generating character points like edges and flaws, but without anything mechanically interesting to go along with them. In a lot of ways I would rather drop SAs entirely and just get 5 more flaws.
I can see where you're coming from on that. The main point of SAs though has never really been "bonus dice." They are just the carrot. It's the way they drive and inform play. They allow players to communicate to the GM in a way that flaws would not. SAs would be valuable to the system for purposes of setting up and running the game even if all they did was earn XP.

Even if we make SAs an ablative resource, the degree to which they are divorced from the written goals of the SA is still up for debate.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by thirtythr33 » 31 Jul 2016, 12:25

Agamemnon wrote:
thirtythr33 wrote:10-15 sessions is just too long to leave a single SA in the spotlight, regardless if it is violin or sword related.
We seem to think somewhat differently on this point. Each player has up to 5 SAs they are pursuing. If they are smart, then most of those overlap so that when any one player is in the spotlight, everyone else will still get rewarded. I can't imagine every player discarding all 5 SAs and getting 5 new totally different SAs every 2-3 sessions.
I was thinking 1 player would change out an SA every 2-3 session, not every player. The problem I have with what you are saying is that in play the SA goals very typically are going to fall into quest arcs. Not everyone has a good SA all the time, and you don't often jump back and forth between multiple quest lines.

For example, in the Floating City game, we discussed the setting and the players wrote up their SAs. I then constructed a scenario with the intention of trying to get many of the players SAs and Flaws to be applicable as possible. As it turned out, the game has very much become focused around Marco, who has 3 SAs which are very applicable to the main goals of the story and is triggering one any time he has to roll dice. The other players only really have 1 applicable SA, and sometimes none. I would expect this to remain true until they have completed their current goals and brought to justice the villain they are tracking down, and then Marco will clear out 1 or more of his SAs and the players will adopt a new quest which will revolve around a different character's SAs. Things have gone slowly for PBP, but I would expect this quest line to take 3-5 real life sessions.
Agamemnon wrote:
thirtythr33 wrote:This leads to some really silly stuff. People with 1 agi and 1 con having 10 athletics.
The counterpoint might be that you have some of that now where agility could well be paired with every roll because of how the X+Y system works. On the other hand, if you aren't rolling them in pairs then I'd argue the effect of that would be diminished.
Not at all. Currently, if you have 5 agi and 0 skills you are rolling 5 dice out of a potential 10. Under your proposed system if you have 10 agi and 0 skills you are rolling either 10 or 0 dice out of a potential 10. Similarly, 1 agi and 5 skill will be rolling 6 dice out of 10 vs 1 agi and 10 skill will be rolling 10 or 1 dice out of 10 again. By combining the Attribute and Skill you are averaging out any min-maxing that has been done and greatly reduce the amount of times you roll 10 or 1 dice (which will feel silly if it happens all the time).
Agamemnon wrote:
thirtythr33 wrote:Personally, I think dropping the current 1-5 SA system would make SAs feel too much like slightly more customised and generic edges and flaws.
I can see where you're coming from on that. The main point of SAs though has never really been "bonus dice." They are just the carrot. It's the way they drive and inform play. They allow players to communicate to the GM in a way that flaws would not. SAs would be valuable to the system for purposes of setting up and running the game even if all they did was earn XP.
I like how there are multiple different kinds of carrots. One carrot gave you heaps of dice to do cool stuff, and the other carrot was how you advanced your character or got special effects. Cutting out the bonus dice makes the Flaw carrot and the SA carrot the exact same same. There's no real difference between the two, you roleplay a certain way and you get character points (which can be spent of special effects optionally). One neat thing about the bonus dice is that they FORCE a particular character to be a cool badass every now and then; something that won't happen very often if you have to spend character points to do it (a majority of players will be stingey and hoard the dice for stat increases because its the smart thing to do). Would you rather spend 5 dice to get a +5 to this one roll, or spend 5 dice to increase a skill 2 ranks, forever? It's not even close to equivalent.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by Agamemnon » 31 Jul 2016, 13:12

thirtythr33 wrote:I was thinking 1 player would change out an SA every 2-3 session, not every player.
Okay. But if one player is changing an SA every 2-3 sessions, then let's do the math on it. We'll assume one player changing one SA every 3 sessions. Let's say there are four players, 5SAs each. In the course of 15 sessions (which was your objection), only 5 of those SAs would change, leaving 15 unchanged. So why are we worried about an SA being resolved within 5?
thirtythr33 wrote:The problem I have with what you are saying is that in play the SA goals very typically are going to fall into quest arcs.
This can sometimes happen, but it isn't universal. It's actually a bit of a pitfall of the current system, as it's very easy for the GM or players to accidentally wind up using SAs as quest markers.
thirtythr33 wrote: Not everyone has a good SA all the time, and you don't often jump back and forth between multiple quest lines.
This is actually exactly what I do in play. Rather, as a GM I go out of my way to try to make as many plots relate and intersect as I can. It also helps to look at things from a kind of apocalypse world perspective with the whole threats/fronts thing. If the players have spent too much time on one thing or another, hit them where it hurts with something else. I generally try not to focus in on a single plot for very long unless we're close to resolving it.

To see this in action, it's useful to look at shows like Justified or Sons of Anarchy to some degree. The characters all have major plots they are pursuing, but there's always other stuff related to those plots dragging them in this direction or that.
thirtythr33 wrote:For example, in the Floating City game, we discussed the setting and the players wrote up their SAs. I then constructed a scenario with the intention of trying to get many of the players SAs and Flaws to be applicable as possible. As it turned out, the game has very much become focused around Marco, who has 3 SAs which are very applicable to the main goals of the story and is triggering one any time he has to roll dice. The other players only really have 1 applicable SA, and sometimes none. I would expect this to remain true until they have completed their current goals and brought to justice the villain they are tracking down, and then Marco will clear out 1 or more of his SAs and the players will adopt a new quest which will revolve around a different character's SAs. Things have gone slowly for PBP, but I would expect this quest line to take 3-5 real life sessions.
I haven't caught up enough to offer a fair critique, so I'll offer that I generally try to avoid plots that fall into questing format. It's hard to do in such a way that the quest-giver doesn't wind up being more important to a single character than the others, or winds up being that character's quest with the other players tagging along. Again, apocalypse world works wonders for GMing this sort of thing. The best results tend to come from plots that are "here's a problem, it affects all of you, what are you going to do about it?" The players sort it out from there.
thirtythr33 wrote:Not at all. Currently, if you have 5 agi and 0 skills you are rolling 5 dice out of a potential 10. Under your proposed system if you have 10 agi and 0 skills you are rolling either 10 or 0 dice out of a potential 10. Similarly, 1 agi and 5 skill will be rolling 6 dice out of 10 vs 1 agi and 10 skill will be rolling 10 or 1 dice out of 10 again. By combining the Attribute and Skill you are averaging out any min-maxing that has been done and greatly reduce the amount of times you roll 10 or 1 dice (which will feel silly if it happens all the time).
Yeah, I still see this from the opposite perspective. If you are combining dice, then as a player it's in your interest to make sure you try to wheedle any skill roll you make into an agility+X roll because you can use your agility to balance out whatever roll you need to make. Because the GM has discretion in what attribute is being called for, I as a player have room to try to influence him to rule that in my favor.

If attributes are rolled on their own, then there's a very narrow window of situations where I can go "no, this is totally an agility roll." Objectively far, far fewer than if it's a combined X+Y roll, because anything where a skill is involved, there is no attribute being rolled.
thirtythr33 wrote:I like how there are multiple different kinds of carrots.
It's definitely a plus.
thirtythr33 wrote: One carrot gave you heaps of dice to do cool stuff
Technically still would. It just would ensure those dice came up only when important - didn't you advocate this in the beginning? That SAs should only fire when something life and death was on the line? Making SAs expendible assets would actually do that without requiring GM oversight.
thirtythr33 wrote:and the other carrot was how you advanced your character or got special effects.
Not really. As the rules stand now, getting an SA from a Flaw is already functionally identical to getting SA points from an SA because you park the SA point earned by the flaw under one of your SAs. In turn, that same pool of dice is used to earn bonus dice, advance your character, or get special effects. The line between the two only exists in how they are earned, not how they are used.
thirtythr33 wrote:Cutting out the bonus dice makes the Flaw carrot and the SA carrot the exact same same.There's no real difference between the two, you roleplay a certain way and you get character points (which can be spent of special effects optionally).
I'm not sure how they aren't the same now, save for that they are two different behaviors. One is pointing towards a goal or conviction the character has, one is pointing at a character defect. Both are incentives to play towards those things. Both then earn SA points that are parked under a specific SA, provide bonus dice for that SA, and then are burnt for narrative effects or advancement.
thirtythr33 wrote:One neat thing about the bonus dice is that they FORCE a particular character to be a cool badass every now and then;
Kinda.. but only insofar as that the character made the choice to do a thing in the first place. Then again, if we put any kind of cap on the SA points as an expendable pool, they'd be forced to spend them or lose them anyway.
thirtythr33 wrote:Would you rather spend 5 dice to get a +5 to this one roll, or spend 5 dice to increase a skill 2 ranks, forever?
The cost for skill advancement is 5, 4, 6, 8, 10. So the real question would be "what are the consequences for failing this roll?" If you're keeping to the "we don't roll for trivial things" idea, then having +5 dice to throw down could be very, very tempting, compared to increasing the skill from 1 to 2 dots.

More realistically, what I imagine from the change would be that SAs will be used fairly often as bonus dice, but in smaller amounts. If I have a pool of points to spend, my temptation will be to grab one or two bonus dice when something important is on the line and spend those more frequently. If something isn't as important to me, I'll let it pass. If something's maaaassively important, then I dump dice into it. Meanwhile, every so often I dump something into boosting some skill or ability.

Of course, if we really wanted we could fix this as well by decoupling advancement from SAs. Leave the SA pool completely dedicated to burning for narrative benefits and bonus dice, and make skills/attributes/proficiencies advance organically through use. This was something I've been thinking of as an optional system anyway, because I've always been fond of the idea.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by higgins » 31 Jul 2016, 14:10

thirtythr33 wrote:Personally, I think dropping the current 1-5 SA system would make SAs feel too much like slightly more customised and generic edges and flaws. They would just be another way of generating character points like edges and flaws, but without anything mechanically interesting to go along with them. In a lot of ways I would rather drop SAs entirely and just get 5 more flaws.
I agree that the current "SA minigame" is an interesting touch, but it also has a bunch of weirdness built in it. For instance, you can get +2 dice for succeeding at an SA conflict. Which means you never want any of your SAs to really be higher than 3 in practice, or you could potentially lose dice. So in everything but the very final conflict, you're basically aiming to balance yourself on +3 for purely game-mechanical reasons.

Sure, you could decide +5 dice is more important and allow the earned points drop over the edge, but it's still weirdness that wouldn't need to be there.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by Agamemnon » 31 Jul 2016, 18:31

higgins wrote:I agree that the current "SA minigame" is an interesting touch, but it also has a bunch of weirdness built in it. For instance, you can get +2 dice for succeeding at an SA conflict. Which means you never want any of your SAs to really be higher than 3 in practice, or you could potentially lose dice. So in everything but the very final conflict, you're basically aiming to balance yourself on +3 for purely game-mechanical reasons.

Sure, you could decide +5 dice is more important and allow the earned points drop over the edge, but it's still weirdness that wouldn't need to be there.
This is a good point, and one I kind of eluded to in the pro/con list but failed to specifically express. The SA management minigame is an interesting one, but it's counterbalanced with the additional complication it creates. Given how the amount of complication we already have at different points in our system, I wouldn't be heartbroken if we stripped it out.

Higgins and I kicked around the "expendable SAs" idea a bit more. If we do this, it's going to look something like the following
  • Characters will have up to 5 SAs as they do now, written by the player.
  • They will earn points for those SAs exactly the way they do now.
  • SA points once earned will go into a single pool that has a cap of 30 (or 25? The original cap was 25 but got bumped to 30 by necessity when we added the option to Orphan SAs, which wouldn't be necessary here)
  • When an SA is applicable to a conflict, it can be used to provide bonus dice towards conflicts that further that SA. The change would be that these bonus dice now require the burning of SA points from the pool on a 1:1 basis, with a cap of +5.
  • SA points can also be spent on buying narrative effects or character advancement, just like they can now.
  • The costs and specific mechanics of narrative effects will require a bit of tweaking to balance the costs.
It's actually a relatively simple tweak, all things considered.
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thirtythr33
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by thirtythr33 » 01 Aug 2016, 05:08

Agamemnon wrote:
thirtythr33 wrote: Not everyone has a good SA all the time, and you don't often jump back and forth between multiple quest lines.
This is actually exactly what I do in play. Rather, as a GM I go out of my way to try to make as many plots relate and intersect as I can. It also helps to look at things from a kind of apocalypse world perspective with the whole threats/fronts thing. If the players have spent too much time on one thing or another, hit them where it hurts with something else. I generally try not to focus in on a single plot for very long unless we're close to resolving it.
I am also trying to do this, you can see it in action with the three simultaneous lines I have set up; Francesca being raped, the poisoning of Claudio and the Sack of Rome... but it's all still revolving around the Acerbi family at the moment, of which Marco is the heir and the other characters are all low-born in his employ, so it is difficult to give everyone's SAs equal time. (As an aside, I would say Fronts and weaving stories is a rather advanced GMing technique that most people aren't going to do naturally. I think I can only really do it well since I mostly play in PBP games where I can have as much time as I need to plan everything out).
Agamemnon wrote:Yeah, I still see this from the opposite perspective. If you are combining dice, then as a player it's in your interest to make sure you try to wheedle any skill roll you make into an agility+X roll because you can use your agility to balance out whatever roll you need to make. Because the GM has discretion in what attribute is being called for, I as a player have room to try to influence him to rule that in my favor.
Huh? With the combined dice, someone arguing to get Agility + Stealth vs Cunning + Stealth is probably only wheedling 2 or so dice difference. With the 1-10 attribute and skill system, wheedling between a Social Attribute test or a Manipulation Skill test might be 5+ dice difference. If you make the ruling that "if it is close to a Skill, then it's the Skill and never the Attribute" then Speed, Acumen, Willpower and Social are basically dump stats.
Agamemnon wrote:Higgins and I kicked around the "expendable SAs" idea a bit more. If we do this, it's going to look something like the following:
The more I think about this option the more I like it. With a bit of tweaking it could work well.

But it doesn't fix the disparity of skills being more affected by SA dice than combat pools are; which was the problem you raised to start with.
You could make it 1:1 for skills and attributes and 1:2 for combat pools though, which would fix it.

Also you mentioned that you didn't like that you couldn't spend dice on "old" SAs that had been changed.
You could make it so you get 1:1 when you don't have a related SA and 1:2 ratio when you do have a related SA to cover that.
I'm not sure stacking both to get 1:4 for combats with a related SA is a good idea though.

I think bumping it to 1:2 ratio atleast some of the time is necessary though. You want the player to have a positive expected number of SAs when entering an optional conflict. For example, you have SA "For love of Gwen" and someone insults Gwen. You have the choice of challenging the man to a dual for her honor or just letting it slide. If you let it slide, you are at +0 SA points. If you accept the dual you win on average 1.5 SAs (1 for losing, 2 for winning), minus however many you had to spend to win the dual. If you have to on average spend 1 SA to win the dual, that's great, you win on average 0.5SAs by playing into it. If you have to spend 2 SAs to win, you are at -0.5 SAs and are better off just to ignore the insults. So I think +2 dice per SA is a reasonable rate, on a 1:1 basis I don't see how the player ever returns an SA profit by putting themselves in a bad situation.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by Korbel » 01 Aug 2016, 05:15

thirtythr33 wrote: I think bumping it to 1:2 ratio atleast some of the time is necessary though. You want the player to have a positive expected number of SAs when entering an optional conflict. For example, you have SA "For love of Gwen" and someone insults Gwen. You have the choice of challenging the man to a dual for her honor or just letting it slide. If you let it slide, you are at +0 SA points. If you accept the dual you win on average 1.5 SAs (1 for losing, 2 for winning), minus however many you had to spend to win the dual. If you have to on average spend 1 SA to win the dual, that's great, you win on average 0.5SAs by playing into it. If you have to spend 2 SAs to win, you are at -0.5 SAs and are better off just to ignore the insults. So I think +2 dice per SA is a reasonable rate, on a 1:1 basis I don't see how the player ever returns an SA profit by putting themselves in a bad situation.
Oh, I was just writing about this, you beat me.
So I've been thinking maybe you could make rewards bigger? Currently it's 1 or 2 points - maybe make it 2 and 3?
thirtythr33 wrote:But it doesn't fix the disparity of skills being more affected by SA dice than combat pools are; which was the problem you raised to start with.
True. Personally, I will probably go for the "Attributes 1-5, Skills 0-10" solution in my games. Alternating ratios are easier to implement, but you know... Exceptions. Elegance. ;)

-------------------------------

Edit!

OK, when you're in conflict, you can use anywhere from 0 to 5 SA points. That's 2,5 on average (sometimes you feel confident and don't use points, sometimes you want to burn 2 or 3, and sometimes you go full - let's assume it spreads evenly). In this case the reward should be made flat 3, just above the average cost - to encourage taking risks. Or 3 for losing and 4 for winning the conflict. Or flat 4, if we want less gritty game, faster advancement and so on. Anyway, something like that.
And if we assume that common practise would be to use no dice or small number of them (and using 5 only for climax), than the reward can be made lower: 2/3, for example.
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by EinBein » 01 Aug 2016, 11:19

Agamemnon wrote:
  • Characters will have up to 5 SAs as they do now, written by the player.
  • They will earn points for those SAs exactly the way they do now.
  • SA points once earned will go into a single pool that has a cap of 30 (or 25? The original cap was 25 but got bumped to 30 by necessity when we added the option to Orphan SAs, which wouldn't be necessary here)
  • When an SA is applicable to a conflict, it can be used to provide bonus dice towards conflicts that further that SA. The change would be that these bonus dice now require the burning of SA points from the pool on a 1:1 basis, with a cap of +5.
  • SA points can also be spent on buying narrative effects or character advancement, just like they can now.
  • The costs and specific mechanics of narrative effects will require a bit of tweaking to balance the costs.
It's actually a relatively simple tweak, all things considered.
I like items 1, 2, 3 and 5. :D

But I think instead of item 4 (and item 6 as well consequently), you could just grant a flat number of free extra-dice if an SA applies to a conflict (for example 2 for skill-tests, 4 for everything else; someone has proposed this earlier and now it becomes applicable again).

First: You will get some small level of exception anyways, as 33 is rightly pointing out, and this is much easier than tracking different costs of extra dice.
Second: The whole SA-trading mechanic would be kept much more simple by that. No other adjustments needed.
Third: In your proposal, a character sheet will soon have eraser-holes because of constant changes to the SA pool ;)
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Re: On Skills, Attributes, and their intersection with SAs.

Post by nemedeus » 02 Aug 2016, 13:53

Agamemnon, I think this solution is much more interesting than the current ruling, and i cast my vote for it.

I'd add the following though:

- SA firing stays, and while it doesn't grant bonus dice, it makes that roll explode*.
- When burning SA for dice, the roll also explodes (even when the SA is not firing).

*Conversely, rolls now by default do not explode without SA.

In other words: Dice Explosion is directly linked to SA.
the benefit: Your character's drive/passion/whatever is what makes him excel ("excel" being roughly equivalent to exploding dice), and the extent of his excellence is proportional to how good he is (more dice from skills -> more likely to get bonus from explosions). I like the idea that Explosions are a direct representation of your character's passion.

Additionally the following might be considered:
- Default conversion rate of SA burning for bonus dice is 1:1
- When the SA is firing, conversion rate is 1:2.
- I think it makes sense that no more than 3 SA can be burned at once in either case (meaning a maximum of +3d with SA not firing, and +6d when firing).


I had it exactly like that in my own game, so take this endorsement with a pinch of salt.

Agamemnon wrote:[...] and I don't think anyone so far has actually been in favor of dropping it to expand the range from 0-10 (if you are and I overlooked it, let me know).
I will re-state that in my own game i have a range of 1 - 5 for attributes and 1 - 10 for skills. However, in that game i also have it that when a skill is learned, you get a rank equal to the skill's pertinent stat for free (with a maximum of rank 3, because rank 4 is interpreted as "professional skill level").
Last edited by nemedeus on 02 Aug 2016, 14:38, edited 1 time in total.
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