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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Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by nemedeus » 01 Feb 2016, 08:16

I have detailed somewhere else that i started doing a rewrite for my own system this weekend (Guys, i have an index an actual chapters with headings now! How cool is that? Before, all i had was endles bullet lists of rule definitions, hahaha).

Already noticing I'm now borrowing a lot more from the original TRoS, like having minor/major gifts/flaws. i only had unitary value before, and having two values is so much more flexible. Why didn't i do that earlier.


Anyway, I've read in the Song of Swords Board about how Bastards is going to do advancement.

I have to say, I'm a bit of a fan for doing Rolls, in some fashion or another, to advance Skills (gained by using said Skills).
Is that mechanic going to be in Bastards at all at this point or was that scrapped? (maybe Lever?)
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by higgins » 01 Feb 2016, 10:29

All advancement will be through SA expenditure.
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by Agamemnon » 02 Feb 2016, 14:13

I'm a big fan of doing the skills-advance-through-use thing, but the way SAs are set up, you need advancement to come out of them to keep their numbers in check.

It could be possible to adapt the system in such a way to make that viable if you really hacked into how SAs work, but that's a bit more than the scope of a lever. At that point you're introducing a new subsystem. Definitely something you can do, but it would take some work.
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by nemedeus » 02 Feb 2016, 16:55

Agamemnon wrote:I'm a big fan of doing the skills-advance-through-use thing, but the way SAs are set up, you need advancement to come out of them to keep their numbers in check.

It could be possible to adapt the system in such a way to make that viable if you really hacked into how SAs work, but that's a bit more than the scope of a lever. At that point you're introducing a new subsystem. Definitely something you can do, but it would take some work.
I see.
It's not really that i need need need it. I chose a roll to improve mechanic for my own game because it was so incredibly easy to write:

1. using a skill grants an experience in that skill
2. a learing check costs 1 experience.
3. learning check: Skill + Intelligence stat + (Skill Experience/2) VS. Rank in that Skill
4. when learning check succeeds, all experiences are expended.

This creates a risk-reward system: roll early for a chance to advance faster, or save up your experiences for a better success chance?

That said i've been known to overdo it with risk-reward systems, often trying to cram them into everything...
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by higgins » 02 Feb 2016, 19:07

A separate fully fledged experience category one needs to remember keeping track of in the middle of the game? That alone is a deal breaker for me. Waaaaay more minutiae tracking that I could ever be bothered with. Add a roll to that mechanic and I don't understand you. Add a division mechanic on top of that roll and I suspect you of methodical torture. If I were playing under that kind of system, I'd simply accept that skills cannot be raised after character creation and build my character around that fact, as I just couldn't be arsed with such bookkeeping.
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by EinBein » 03 Feb 2016, 02:25

Rolling for skill advancement always lets me remember our long-lasting The Dark Eye 2nd to 3rd edition group fifteen years ago :D Our Rogue (they call it "Streuner" in German) on "level" 14 was so superior to any other character due to constant luck on his advancement rolls, that he could easily outdo any fighter during combat and still being VERY successful in his own field of trade.

I swore to never play a game with random advancement again ;)

Sorry for that nemedeus, but that's a bit too much oldschoolness :)
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by Marras » 03 Feb 2016, 02:42

I have run two games with rolled skill advancement. One was Praedor, a Finnish RPG. Back then our (much more active) group was against rolls and so we made a table based on average rolls that we used to know how much XP was needed to make a raise.

The second game was RQ6 and then players didn't mind the rolls. It was pretty simple bookkeeping and all the advancement rolls were made at the end of the about 4h session. So, no biggie.
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by nemedeus » 03 Feb 2016, 02:58

higgins wrote:A separate fully fledged experience category one needs to remember keeping track of in the middle of the game? That alone is a deal breaker for me. Waaaaay more minutiae tracking that I could ever be bothered with. Add a roll to that mechanic and I don't understand you.
Were those the pure rules, i would agree. However, i think you will find this: the way i have this set up on the character sheet makes it still two table lookups less complicated than Advancement in the Burning Wheel.

For instance, a row in a character's skill list might look like this:

Skill Name here - Skill Rank here - Ex.: [_] [+1] [_] [+2] [_] [+3] [_] [+4]

where [_] is a checkbox tracker
not pictured: the fact that the +1, +2, ... are below or above the checkbox.

the takeaway here is, the (exp/2) from before was a shorthand.

I would say: If that is too much bookkeeping, so are SA. ;p
Add a division mechanic on top of that roll and I suspect you of methodical torture. If I were playing under that kind of system, I'd simply accept that skills cannot be raised after character creation and build my character around that fact, as I just couldn't be arsed with such bookkeeping.
I'm inclined to take that as a compliment.
EinBein wrote:Rolling for skill advancement always lets me remember our long-lasting The Dark Eye 2nd to 3rd edition group fifteen years ago :D Our Rogue (they call it "Streuner" in German) on "level" 14 was so superior to any other character due to constant luck on his advancement rolls, that he could easily outdo any fighter during combat and still being VERY successful in his own field of trade.

I swore to never play a game with random advancement again ;)

Sorry for that nemedeus, but that's a bit too much oldschoolness :)
the difference is that levels are a metagame thing that doesn't exist in my system.

I also have countermeasures installed, for as stated above:
1. on a failed advancement roll, only 1 experience is expended.
2. only when the advancement roll succeeds is all experience is expended.

I agree otherwise, but only because TDA is a badly designed system imo, no matter the edition -- except, apparently, the recent 5th, which the TDA playerbase largely despises for not being 4th edition.

Seriously, one of my best friends told me he swore to never play 5e, and he can't even tell me what exactly he dislikes about it. maybe it's the lack of additional columns on the "skill advancement cost table", or maybe he just hates that he can't cheese the character creation as much as 4th, for oh i know how he likes to create characters... It's like an entire separate hobby to him.

Marras wrote:I have run two games with rolled skill advancement. One was Praedor, a Finnish RPG. Back then our (much more active) group was against rolls and so we made a table based on average rolls that we used to know how much XP was needed to make a raise.
I used to hold the opinion that there should never be any rolls that determine character values in any way. That was many years ago, mainly due to the aforementioned TDA 2nd and 3rd edition being the only games where i had seen such a mechanic.

Nowadays i think that, in an ultimately simulationist system, rolls are probably more representative of reality than "XP" from other games.

The second game was RQ6 and then players didn't mind the rolls. It was pretty simple bookkeeping and all the advancement rolls were made at the end of the about 4h session. So, no biggie.
Never played it, feels like i missed out.
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by higgins » 03 Feb 2016, 04:46

nemedeus wrote:I would say: If that is too much bookkeeping, so are SA. ;p
Sorry, but other than the mechanic of tracking points, I don't know what you see in common with those two.

SAs are about personality traits, relationships and character ambitions. These also happen to be the things that interest me in games. As an underlying mechanic, SAs help the GM to shape the story in a way that the said traits, relationships and ambitions will come up in play. They also directly reward the players for pursuing these things.

The other system is about gradually creeping up the probability of success on skill rolls over time in small percentage increments. Character SHEET advancement (as opposed to CHARACTER advancement) holds no interest to me. As an underlying mechanic, it helps... what exactly? I don't know, but to me, it sounds like a distraction from all the cool stuff I want to experience during play.

Yes, one can burn SAs to improve their character SHEET in 'Bastards, but doing that is optional and purely secondary in nature. We give you the ability to create a fully fledged and capable character from the get-go. You don't need to worry about building your character up to competence. Your character already IS competent. As such, you should really burn your SA points on more interesting stuff. And yes, we have ways to do so. ;)
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by nemedeus » 03 Feb 2016, 06:04

higgins wrote:
nemedeus wrote:I would say: If that is too much bookkeeping, so are SA. ;p
Sorry, but other than the mechanic of tracking points, I don't know what you see in common with those two.
Higgins, that part was hyperbole.

Although, the distinction of character advancement vs. character sheet advancement is certainly something i haven't thought about much.
The other system is about gradually creeping up the probability of success on skill rolls over time in small percentage increments.
Ouch, that hit too close to home. Please stop, i'm insecure about my own stuff enough as it is!
Character SHEET advancement (as opposed to CHARACTER advancement) holds no interest to me. As an underlying mechanic, it helps... what exactly? I don't know, but to me, it sounds like a distraction from all the cool stuff I want to experience during play.
Now call me old school if you will, but one of the things i like seeing is, my character growing stronger in time. In many games, this means "Levelup! Increase your hitpoints so that combat is even less risky than before!". I wanted a game where i can see my character mostly grow more "competent" rather than more... "abstractly godly" i guess.

As a Simulationist-at-Heart, i fully agree that simulationist games need a narrativist core. It makes the simulation game engaging and it makes actual play dynamic.

I'm not really sure as to what the point i'm trying to make here is, but the fact that i know too damn few other people with whom to meet up and playtest IRL factors into whatever that point might be.

Also the fact that i tried figuring out a system for character driven narrative but couldn't find a solution that
1. was not just a carbon copy of TRoS's Spiritual Attributes, slapped onto my system, and
2. tied well into what i had already established at that point.

I'm one of those gamers with "artistic vision", for lack of a better word (or maybe it's just an "obstinate need to build everything from scratch"). I enjoy making (read: designing) games more than i enjoy playing games, most of the time, but I'm not really a good designer, artist, etc by any means either way, so I should probably stop talking about my own designs for a while.
We give you the ability to create a fully fledged and capable character from the get-go. You don't need to worry about building your character up to competence. Your character already IS competent.
This really depends on the goals of the designer/the needs of the player.
The big mistake is that my own stuff never really starts at "what are my design goals?"
Instead, it starts at "what are the things (read: mechanical titbits) i want to see in a roleplaying game?" This is of course a bottom-up, backwards kind of creative process, and the thing to take away here is that i must confess that I'm a designer of Heartbreakers at heart (see what i did there? ;p ), so i should probably just see myself out. Until beta arrives or something.
Last edited by nemedeus on 03 Feb 2016, 06:08, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by EinBein » 03 Feb 2016, 06:05

nemedeus wrote:the difference is that levels are a metagame thing that doesn't exist in my system.
But levels are not the prime suspect in this case. I completely agree with you on the clumsiness and gameyness of "levels" in general ;) But what really bugged me is that rolls determined who got better and who don't. Countermeasures may decrease this problem to an acceptable level, but the more countermeasures one takes, the less difference is left to a plain point-buy-system.
nemedeus wrote:I agree otherwise, but only because TDA is a badly designed system imo, no matter the edition -- except, apparently, the recent 5th, which the TDA playerbase largely despises for not being 4th edition.

Seriously, one of my best friends told me he swore to never play 5e, and he can't even tell me what exactly he dislikes about it. maybe it's the lack of additional columns on the "skill advancement cost table", or maybe he just hates that he can't cheese the character creation as much as 4th, for oh i know how he likes to create characters... It's like an entire separate hobby to him.
I really don't want to turn this into a TDE-discussion ( ;) ), but one can easily learn how to NOT do things in game design from this system: Character creation is in fact a good reason to despise the 5th edition objectively, because it encourages characters without any flavour and copy-paste-skillsets. It has become the perfect system for gamers who just like to create effective power-characters without being forced to care for ugly things like authenticity and background.
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by nemedeus » 03 Feb 2016, 07:14

EinBein wrote:
nemedeus wrote:the difference is that levels are a metagame thing that doesn't exist in my system.
But levels are not the prime suspect in this case. I completely agree with you on the clumsiness and gameyness of "levels" in general ;) But what really bugged me is that rolls determined who got better and who don't. Countermeasures may decrease this problem to an acceptable level, but the more countermeasures one takes, the less difference is left to a plain point-buy-system.
There's whole worlds between a pure "static" point buy system and a comlpetely random "chaotic" advancement roll system. I wanted to strike a middle ground between the "fairness" of point-buy and a (potentially more realistic) probability-based model of learning.
I really don't want to turn this into a TDE-discussion ( ;) ),
Duly noted.
but one can easily learn how to NOT do things in game design from this system: Character creation is in fact a good reason to despise the 5th edition objectively, because it encourages characters without any flavour and copy-paste-skillsets. It has become the perfect system for gamers who just like to create effective power-characters without being forced to care for ugly things like authenticity and background.
I guess i can understand these critizisms.

I have only recently heard word of TDE 5, reviewed by a youtuber i have met and with whom i've played in person at times, who's channel i only now discovered.
He liked it a lot, giving it a good review score, but then again, his go-to system is Savage Worlds, so that fits well together with these criticisms.
(Savage Worlds, as a universal system, always made every setting with which i played it feel like... well, Savage Worlds. This is why universal systems are like Java - the benefits of platform independence have historically been massively overrated.)



@Higgins, one more thing about "character sheet advancement":
Is it really secondary though? Compare videogames. Many videogames are engaging to play because they create a "cycle of intrinsic value".

Some game might reward you with better items for (successfully) playing a level. The only real reason to obtain better items is intrinsic to the game itself - you are supposed to want to use these items in the next level, to obtain even better items. The extreme case of this would be games like Diablo (the clicker game before there were klicker games *shudder*), which i'm not at all fond of, admitted.

Nonetheless, the narrative subsystem and the simulative subsystem are, or so i see it, about equal in their role of driving the entireity of the game: when being rewarded mechanically for playing narratively, you will want to play narratively. It's not the same at all as either having only simulationist crunch, or having only the narrativist "metagame".

One might say these two things, Character advancement and Sheet advancement, are complicit - they pull eachother's weight.

... unless you're a uppity Pure Narrativist snob or a dirty Pure Simulationist peasant, that is ;)
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by higgins » 03 Feb 2016, 08:15

nemedeus wrote:
higgins wrote:The other system is about gradually creeping up the probability of success on skill rolls over time in small percentage increments.
Ouch, that hit too close to home. Please stop, i'm insecure about my own stuff enough as it is!
Don't take me the wrong kind of way -- this wasn't directed at you in particular. TROS was one the games I accepted that my characters were never going to get a skill increase, as tracking of the skill checks was just way too distracting for me. The only game to modify that type of system into something bearable is Chronica Feudalis, in which you need to decide in advance which skill are you currently "training", and then track only that. And of course, it had this neat mentoring system tied into all that, which also helped.
nemedeus wrote:Now call me old school if you will, but one of the things i like seeing is, my character growing stronger in time.
And there's nothing wrong with that. And this is why our hobby is so diverse. To bring a polar opposite example of your preferences, I used to run a bi-weekly (on average) game that ended up lasting six years. One day, a player approaches me:

"You know how my character has been taking these riding lessons?" she says.
"Sure," I reply.
"I would like to buy the first rank in that skill now, but I need some experience points to do so."
"Okay, I'll just see when was the last time you guys received some."

So, I start flipping back in my journal. And back, and back, and further back... Until I realized that the last time I gave them experience points was in 2006. The conversation was taking place in 2008. :D

Basically it turned out that every single player had been so immersed into what their CHARACTER was doing that everyone had simply forgotten about experience points, period. For TWO YEARS straight. If the riding lessons hadn't come up, who knows how long it would have taken for us to remember them.
nemedeus wrote:I wanted a game where i can see my character mostly grow more "competent" rather than more... "abstractly godly" i guess.
The thing with "growing into competence" is that... What if you reach that level? I have on more than one occasion ended up with an abundance of experience points. I just had no use for them. The sheet already reflected the mental image I had of the character and if I had kept increasing their abilities or skills, the actual sheet would have made the character more competent than I envisioned them to be. In other words, spending those points would have been detrimental as doing so would have created a disconnect between the sheet and how I perceived my character.

And your point of view makes me genuinely curious about whether you've ever played a game where characters start off as competent to begin with? And specifically, a game where you can just make the character you WANT from the very get-go? If you already get to play the character you want, then what purpose would the progression serve? (The issue of acquiring a brand news skills through training aside, of course).
nemedeus wrote:This is of course a bottom-up, backwards kind of creative process
Oh, how at fault we have been at the same thing! Hopefully we've learned a lot from that.
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Re: Looking forward to beta

Post by higgins » 03 Feb 2016, 08:31

nemedeus wrote:@Higgins, one more thing about "character sheet advancement":
Is it really secondary though? Compare videogames. Many videogames are engaging to play because they create a "cycle of intrinsic value".
Well, that's all well and fine if video games are what you want to model. My primary interest is modelling fiction, and in fiction, the characters don't really get more powerful or competent as the story progresses, yet they do change as a person.

Is Tyrion STRONGER or MORE COMPETENT in Book 5 compared to what he was in Book 1? Now, one could claim he's wiser, more bitter and more ruthless, but he isn't really stronger. For Jaime, one could even claim the opposite... He's clearly not the man that he used to be. Also the Witcher. Is he getting stronger with every tale? Not really. Logen Ninefingers? Nope. Conan? Negative. Do the Musketeers gain new abilities as their story progresses? Also negative. The Count of Monte Cristo sort of sounds like it could be a candidate for "sheet advancement", but even that one smells more of whole-cloth character re-write to me.

Edit: Hell. Frodo. Does Frodo get more powerful?

Now, of course there's exceptions out there, such as Wheel of Time, but that's clearly published after role-playing games made the "level progression" a known quantity.
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Re: Rolling for Skill Advancement

Post by thirtythr33 » 03 Feb 2016, 08:46

While I understand your point higgins, your selecting media that supports your position. It is similarly easy for me to point out that Bran becomes significantly strong in magic. Harry Potter becomes a wizard. Gandalf arguably does a straight "level up" when he becomes Gandalf the White, and so does Gene Grey when she becomes the Phoenix. (Both X men and Lord of the Rings existed before TTRPGs to boot.)

The fact is, mystical transformations or a student becoming a master is a very common character arc.

Edit: OMG, how could I forget Dragon Ball Z, where they literally say "this isn't even my final form". This theme is used in Anime so much it hurts.
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