Re: Skill replacing characteristics dice instead of adding to the pool.
Overall success and boon rates will go down by roughly 1/2 a success per Rank, which on the surface doesn't sound too bad. However, there's all sorts of ripple effects that kick in over time, especially in the late campaign. If you were running a one-shot or mini-series, this house rule would be fine, but I think in a longer campaign the ripple effects would start to stack up and cause trouble.
Here's the changes I see this making to long term balance and character advancement:
- It would nerf the power level of Skills significantly. Each level of skill currently adds, on average, 0.63 successes to your results. If it's replacing a blue die, it's only adding (on average again) 0.13 successes per skill level.
- The 3rd level of a skill would be further nerfed because you'll only be able to use it at all if you've got a very high Characteristic and/or are in Neutral Stance. At high skill levels, PCs may effectively have to choose between their skills and the depth of their stance.
- Careers whose main draw is their skill selection and skill advances will become far less desirable.
- Career completion will be very mildly enhanced / encouraged, as the free specializations gained from it will outshine the skill purchases that triggered them... but honestly, the optimal build for human characters will be (and already kind of is) ridiculous career hopping to take advantage of Fortune Dice advances. Some characters will feel encouraged to complete their careers, while others will feel encouraged to min-max in immersion-breaking ways. Whether or not it becomes an issue will depend a lot on your play group.
- Anything that adds white dice would increase in effective power by comparison vs skills. Per the RAW, a yellow die is a little bit better than two white dice, and you'd be reducing the yellow dice from skills (and presumably only those from skills) to lesser potency than adding 1 white die. This will subtly change the relative potency of various actions, talents, etc, on a case-by-case basis.
- Fortune Dice associated with abilities would rise to dominance, becoming MUCH better than skills and thus probably the best most reliable advancement option in the game.
- Characteristics are already a little over-powered, especially in opposed checks, and this change will make them that much sweeter. Getting the 6th point in a Characteristic now looks much better, since it may mean being able to use one more skill level as well as / instead of one more stance step.
- Situational conditions and terrain modifiers will be comparatively improved as well. Being a skilled swordsman will matter less than being on the high ground, having the wind at your back, attacking from surprise, etc. Other skills will follow that pattern as well, but probably to a lesser extent.
- Assists in story mode (2 white dice if the assister has the skill trained) will get a little weird. My skill doesn't help my success rate much, but it still really pumps my friends efforts.
- Comet line powers (and extra crits from comets) will be activated much less often, because the overal reduction in dice will make you more likely to need to use your comets as either successes or boons. Cards that rely on comets for full effect will be devalued.
- The Enhance cards from Omens of War and Hero's Call will be a lot riskier. The whole point of those cards is to provide late-game options for characters with large dice pools. To use those cards you trade in dice (that probably would have rolled redundant useless successes or boons) for dependable bonus effects. Characters will have fewer dice to trade in, which means trading in the dice is more likely to cause the action to fail.
- The balance on Skill Mastery would change as well, but it's both a boost and a nerf. The benefits of Skill Mastery would be much more appealing because of the reduced success and comet rates. However, the overall reduction in the power of the skill levels before it would mean that getting to Skill Mastery is a long painful mostly fruitless investment.
- Stance Pieces also get both a boost and a nerf. Since overall success rate drops, going deep into stance becomes more attractive. However, if you go too deep into stance, you may not be able to use all your skill dice (or vice-versa). Stance pieces were already kind of a dubious XP spend, only being worth it if you planned a really radical career path departure. This proposed change would make them even less desirable.
Just seems like a lot of ripple effects and downsides for a change whose only really benefit is reducing the size of the dice pools by 1 die per character rank (or less).
re: manoeuvre to go defensive... that's basically already covered by Block/Parry/Dodge (and their Improved/Advanced equivalents), Guarded Position, Assess The Situation, Dirty Tricks, etc. I'll agree Star Wars system is lighter and more elegant, but the things it's trying to model are technically already modeled in WFRP3e.
If you include such a simple alternative, it'll slightly devalue the similar defensive measures PCs could spend XP on. It would also lead to lower success rates unless you gut a lot of overlapping content from Warhammer.
re: cover rule... while there's no hard-and-fast rule for it, that's definitely within the spirit of the GMing advice in the combat chapters where they tell you to add white and black dice for situational modifiers.
Plus, if you look closely at the Terrain cards you'll see there's a few that already incorporate this (Hero's Monument, Toll House, City Walls, etc). Again, effectively the game already does it.
That said, it'd be easy to standardize or implement this in your campaign without officially changing anything.
re: Boon-triggered weapons and equipment. There's already a few weapons in Warhammer that do this. See "Fast", "Unreliable", the Weapon Rune Talents from Black Fire Pass, most of the magic item cards in various expansions, etc.
There's at least three reasons why the equipment in Star Wars relies on dice symbols more than the weapons in Warhammer do:
- Warhammer has Action Cards, which generally use up enough boon/banes that there's not as many left over for weapon-triggered powers.
- Star Wars dice feature more symbols per die, especially in terms of Boons/Advantages. Compare the Boost Die from Star Wars to the Fortune Die from Warhammer.
- The weapons in Star Wars are higher-tech and more exotic. You're not going to see a rocket launcher, automatic weapon, stun ray or lightsabre in the hands of a warhammer character.
- I'd advise against swapping out the skill dice, because it's kinda problematic in the later stages of the campaign.
- Your other ideas are more doable, but somewhat redundant. So they'd be good if you're trying to lighten up the system (and eliminate the corresponding existing cards), but may cause trouble if just layered on top of the existing mechanics and cards.
- The cover rule is probably the easiest to implement.
Edited by r_b_bergstrom, 27 January 2014 - 12:41 PM.