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Second mechanism for post-creation attribute improvement

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#1 LethalDose



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Posted 21 September 2012 - 12:07 PM

I was reading this thread, which touched on the limited methods available to increase attributes, this has been on my mind because the inability of characters to purchase attribute improvements with xp after creation was a major source of contention with my players at character creation.  

As it stands, attributes may be increased from the species base by:

  • Spending 10 x the next rank in XP [Creation only]
  • Purchasing a "Dedication" Talent, present in the final tier of every spec tree

My players felt this system "forced them to use their points at creation for attributes".  I really don't feel the xp-at-creation-only a is major issue because of how skill training works (Most players are going to have skills > Attribute for any skill that are important to very quickly) and the actual numerical advantages of upgrading ability dice (not very effective, evidence shown in a thread here).  I believe it would be broken to allow character to purchase attribute ranks after creation at this cost. I'm quite certain its more cost effective to increase the attribute (add additional green to every skill that uses that attrib) that it is to train out-of-spec/career skills (which provides a proficiency die).  Not trying to make an argument for this cost-benefit , that's worth another thread!

But beyond that concern, I also don't like the idea that players in late game will start using their third available spec and saved XP to buy into specs, take the dedication bonus, and then drop it. Wash, rinse repeat.  I worry this may become an issue because there are no other methods for attribute improvement and I fear players would feel "forced" into this system to avoid hitting a "glass ceiling" on their attributes.  And these concerns may occur to the players earlier in the system than we may think.  

Each dedication talent takes a minimum of 75 XP to earn, and usually not more than 100 XP (slicer requires 150, Fringer 115, Trader 125, scholar 135, & marauder 135.  Feel free to check my math), after the purchase of the specialization. And of course you're getting all the benefits of the talents along the way.  I'm pretty sure I checked, and every spec has dedication, but I won't swear in court. So its going to take around 85-120 xp for character to buy a spec, buy dedication, and drop it.

I got an idea (and some alternatives) of how deal with the issue and keep it somewhat balanced:

What if a second attribute bump could be earned for completing a specialization's talent tree?

Call it a "specialization bonus" (yeah, i did get the idea partially from WFRPG's job system "Dedication bonus", too).  Each career would have two related attributes that could be improved, (e.g. Bounty hunters would get cunning and agility), and when a character completed a talent tree, they could choose one of them to improve by one rank.  If they completed another tree in that same career, they could increase the other attribute.

Alternative 1: Each spec has one attribute associated with it, instead of 2/career.  Example: Assassin -> Agi, Gadgeteer -> Brawn, Survivalist -> Cunning

Alternative 2: Completing the talent tree merely unlocks the ability to purchase further ranks in the relevant attribute at [X] xp per rank or [X*New rank] xp per rank

Alternative 3: Earning the "specialization bonus" also requires X ranks in specializations skills, and/or one spec skill of Rank Y or higher.

Alternative 4: Earning the "specialization bonus" requires X xp to be spent on talents within the specialization's tree, instead of completing the tree.

Alternative 5: Earning the "specialization bonus" requires 3 talents from every tier of the specialization's tree, instead of completing the tree.

Another use for this would be to allow the Force Exile spec to gain an additional force die as their specialization bonus, but this should probably not be applied with alternative 2.  We could finally put that f&cking argument to rest.

Under this system, players may still choose to "float" their third tree to get dedication talents from other trees , or finish out the trees that are important to their character and earn the spec bonus.  Both ways still have advantages:

  • "Float" method: possibly cheaper (depends on career, talents already purchased, alternative 2 cost, etc), allows improvement of any attribute
  • "Spec bonus" method: possibly cheaper (see above), easier to understand, fits character concept

By intent, this mechanism shouldn't implicitly or explicity restrict a character's choices; The players shouldn't feel forced to complete trees to get, what the perceive, as required bonuses, nor should the spec bonus be so much worse or better than the "float" system that one or the other becomes useless.

Interested to hear feed back.




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#2 LethalDose



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Posted 21 September 2012 - 12:08 PM

 Sorry. link to my die stats thread is here.

"All models are wrong, but some models are useful."  - George E. P. Box

#3 Donovan Morningfire

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 01:31 PM

From what I've seen, a lot of the focus on buying up Characteristics at character creation comes from the very old-school mindset of "more dice = better chance of success."  After all, Shadowrun and WEG Star Wars had heaping handfuls of d6's, and the White Wolf games and AEG's Roll & Keep system for both Legend of the Five Rings and 7th Seas (a game that truly needs more love) did likewise, though a hard cap of 10d10 was instituted for R&K.

But the cool thing with skills in this game is that they provide access to Proficiency dice, and while I've not done any sort of mathematical analysis, I'd rather take the chance to roll a Proficiency die over an extra Ability die in most circumstances, as that gives you a better chance of success and access to the quite powerful Triumph effect.  To me at least, it's akin to rolling a d20 and hoping for that ever-elusive "nat 20" that all but assured you're going to succeed in whatever it was you were attempting.

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#4 LethalDose



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Posted 21 September 2012 - 02:06 PM

I've done the analysis, and shared it.  It pretty resoundingly shows adding a green is way better than changing a green to a yellow (yes, with the exception of your holy Triumph, but that doesn't go very far).  The information i use to support this is in the thread linked by post right above yours.  The link is here again.  Tossing more dice almost always beats the crap of throwing better dice.  Its also nowhere near the point of this thread.

But as a follow up to your point, increasing skills only provide proficiency dice when Attrib > Skill.  With attrib scores around 2 and 3, most players will very quickly move beyond a point where training will add ability dice in skills most important to their character.  So if you point really is "I'd rather throw proficiency dice than more ability dice", then in mid- and late-game, you will lack any way to increase the number of proficiency dice other than dedication talents.  And those are extremely limited.

The purpose of this mechanism is to:

  • Defuse the "There's no other way to improve attributes other than one talent per spec" gripe from players
  • Effectively free up XP's at creation because players do not feel trapped and pressured to buy attributes.
  • A way to provide exactly what you want (more proficiency dice) in late game without having to exploit a goofy character advancement mechanic (the "floating third spec" I've described above).

I do appreciate that you feel the mechanism may not be necessary at all, and I get and respect that.  As I said above, I didn't see this as an issue at first, and, like you, attributed the players opinions to outdated or irrelevant thinking, given the way this system works.  It was after I started thinking about how players would get more than attribute boosts during the life of their character.

However, I don't see the argument you've raised:

Donovan Morningfire said:

… skills in this game […] provide access to Proficiency dice, and… I'd rather take the chance to roll a Proficiency die over an extra Ability die in most circumstances …

Is valid for many skill checks after the players have been through several adventures and their important skills have more ranks than their attributes.







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