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Decessor

Character Creation Change: Remove Aptitudes Completely

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After asking questions about DH 2, a big complaint from some is that aptitudes make min-maxing too easy. And lowering xp would just encourage specialisation in necessary skills and talents.

 

So a suggestion:

 

* Remove *all* aptitudes from the system.

 

* All characteristics, skills, and talents cost as much as if the character had one relevant aptitude.

 

 

The idea is that characters would get better at whatever they focus on, having a base start in that direction from character creation, but not forced down a certain path later.

 

Any thoughts?

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Would be interested to see how well it works.

 

At first blush, my initial thought would be that it might cause some dissatisfaction between players, where a player that had been focusing one one specialization finds that they're no longer "special" when another player comes around and emulates a bulk of what they do with a pretty moderate amount of XP. Sure "matching" effectiveness is a bit difficult (and sensibly costs the same amount of XP either way), but it just seems like it could result in some toes being stepped on.

 

For example, consider a 4 player party (players A, B, C, and D). B decides to pick up Tech Use, as nobody else in the party has it and its a useful skill to be trained in. Down the road, C also picks up Tech Use, and happens to also just have a higher base Int than B. All of a sudden, the party starts relying on C to use Tech Use than B, and B becomes despondent about their choice in buying Tech Use. Now sure, its a bit immature for a player to feel/act that way, but it just feels like it could of been prevented or at least mitigated by having a clearer distinction of the tasks and responsibilities the PCs have, besides saying "everyone is a generalist."

 

(I should point out I'm mainly trying to play devil's advocate here, I actually am irather nterested in the idea. Not sure I want to use it in my upcoming game without hearing how well it works)

 

I will say this always seems to be an age old problem between a system like this and say, Shadowrun. At base, DH2e (or say Black Crusade) rewards specializing in a certain field; it makes the XP effeiciency better when trying to improve what you're already good at. Whereas in SR, increasing a skill or attribute has dminishing returns with the efficiency of the XP used.

 

I'm not sure how I feel on the matter. Personally I would either try to come up with a "third aptitude" for everything, to broaden how accessible things are, or perhaps have a semi-formalized "substitute aptitude" system, where a player could pay a minor XP tax, and if they can count one of their aptitudes as a substitute for some other requirement.

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If your players want to have a fundamental difference you could consider a variant where the players can choose two cheap, two expensive and the rest medium price for characteristics and have skills and talents as proposed by the OP all on medium price.

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The problem I see with removing all aptitudes, is that you remove a lot of what make each character different.  A lot of the character system is built around the aptitudes.  It reduces what you can do with characters rather than increases what you can do.  In my opinion there are better solutions such as giving them an extra aptitude or even letting them choose which aptitudes they take.  It makes everyone have the ability to everything equally well.

Edited by ThePhoenician

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The problem I see with removing all aptitudes, is that you remove a lot of what make each character different.  A lot of the character system is built around the aptitudes.  Tt reduces what you can do with characters rather than increases what you can do.

 

Wrong on both points. Players will play whatever kind of character they feel will be interesting, and those will almost always be different things. Even if there is some overlap, I've never seen players not coordinate so as to avoid stepping on each other's toes and to have all their bases covered. Removing Aptitudes entirely won't change this. Aptitudes do NOT make characters unique - they restrict what options players will take by making some cheap and some prohibitively expensive. Without Aptitudes, anyone can take anything they want, which, to use your words, absolutely 'increases what you can do'.

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The problem I see with removing all aptitudes, is that you remove a lot of what make each character different.  A lot of the character system is built around the aptitudes.  Tt reduces what you can do with characters rather than increases what you can do.

 

Wrong on both points. Players will play whatever kind of character they feel will be interesting, and those will almost always be different things. Even if there is some overlap, I've never seen players not coordinate so as to avoid stepping on each other's toes and to have all their bases covered. Removing Aptitudes entirely won't change this. Aptitudes do NOT make characters unique - they restrict what options players will take by making some cheap and some prohibitively expensive. Without Aptitudes, anyone can take anything they want, which, to use your words, absolutely 'increases what you can do'.

 

 

I understand where you are coming from and respect your opinion but I disagree with it.  Your opinion about aptitudes is well known however I do not share it.  I prefer characters that are both benefitted and penalized by their background to represent their fields of study and natural talent than the everything is equal approach.  It makes it more realistic and balances the characters in the game in my opinion as not everyone can be good at everything equally.   

 

Another idea that I though is that each players always counts as having 1 aptitude, and then takes 1 aptitude from both his background and role which grants him as having two aptitudes for certain talents and skills.  This allows for everything to be cheaper, however you still get benefits for following your background and roles main fields.

Edited by ThePhoenician

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My opinion on aptitudes has nothing to do with this. What's at question is their mechanical function. Which is as I describe - to price out advancement options to create kind of a soft class system. That is the only thing they do.They have no mechanical benefit or penalty beyond spending XP.

 

I'm not sure where you're getting 'jack of all trades' because that hasn't been brought up at all. You're equating "every character advancement option is priced equally" with "every character will be equally good at all things" which is just plain wrong. Players will still specialize their characters to fit whatever character background they had in mind.

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The ability to be a Jack of all trades refers to being able to do everything equally well (not that they will but they have the ability to).  The mechanical function is the balance.  My opinion has been stated, take it how you wish.

Edited by ThePhoenician

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That's... not what words mean.

 

You specifically gave the example of characters constrained by their background (i.e. Aptitudes RAW) and contrasted that with a 'jack of all trades approach,' a term that means someone with basic skill in many areas, as though that was what was being suggested (it isn't). You did nothing to establish that term meaning something different in this context. You misrepresented the opposing position to support your argument.

 

There's a term for that.

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At the moment, I'm running two Rogue Trader campaigns and I don't have the DH2 core book to hand. So I won't be trying this change myself for a while. If anyone else wants to try it and report how it goes, absolutely free feel to do so.

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An alternative could be to let everything be medium expensive but let the Aptitudes that have been given be "burnt" to buy one advance with that aptitude for the cheap price. Gives a small bonus for the background training and speciality while rebalancing a bit of the raised xp cost (a character under the "everything medium cost" system will often have less power for their exp since they won't be able to specialize as cheaply).

The aptitudes could also be changed to give other advantages right during character creation, for example characteristic aptitudes could give +2 to that stat and the others could allow one free skill with that aptitude before being skipped entirely.

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I see only one problem with this approach, scaling for book adventures and any rule book suggestions gets thrown off and depending upon what character a person would have made, you have made a character significantly more expensive to advance. Unless having overpowered characters is as much a problem for you as having classes in which case I would say look at who you are playing with rather than the game.

 

As it stands, my main discomfort with aptitudes is the dual system where you have cheap purchases, expensive purchases, and effectively unavailable purchases. If anything I would remove professional aptitudes and just set everything as "general" as a second aptitude. It gets rid of the problem of stupid overpriced abilities while still allowing specialization. 

 

Albeit this is mostly a personal complaint because i want to make characters who can build willpower and/or defensive talents without being specifically a psycher.

 

As for CPS's complaint of not having a classless system, you will still have people dividing into roles in optimal gameplay as I have yet to see a game support a party of jack of all trades characters as no game has robust support mechanics to encourage it. The only difference is how much the game encourages setting roles early on, or later down the road as players develop their characters.

 

Of course take everything i say with a grain of salt as I am not a long time table top player.

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There's plenty of RPGs out there which have open character advancement without anything like aptitudes to control how much things cost per player. And it's never been an issue.

 

Being a jack of all trades is its own penalty, because you're sacrificing the ability to excel at a specific task to be just okay at several.

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Mechanically if you do this you make characters far far weaker than standard genned chars.  You are trading the ability to get anything for one price, for the ability to buy specialist areas cheaply.

 

In rpg there is a place for generalists, but they are always always weaker than their more focussed brethern.  Due to the low chances of succeeding that make DH what it is in the early game, you are absolutely crucifying the players chance at success.

 

Take a look at xp expenditure for a while and you will see a massive trend for players to buff the things that they identify in their char, they become excellent in a single field, and because the stat they are based off has other skills attached become quite good at that too.  Now look at what you can buy if you are buying things with 2 aptitudes vs the cost with 1.

 

Characteristic

Early advancement is over twice as expensive.

 

Skill

Skills are twice as expensive

 

Talents

are just under twice as expensive

 

the average character will spend over 75% of it's first 2000xp on things that it is already good at, you don't need to be a mathematician to know that buying two skills is better than buying one.  As the game continues this will eventually even out, but by making everything a flat cost, the PC's will be substantially weaker than standard gen chars.  it is quite possible to spend 8k of your first 10k xp on advancements that yo have two aptitudes for.

 

Furthermore psykers who sit outside the normal xp rules become massively buffed.  Whilst everyone else sees a net increase in the cost of improving their stats, the psyker stays pretty much the same, slight cost increase in willpower

 

So you basically need to buff xp by 25-50% (prolly a decreasing curve, say 50% for the first 2k xp dropping to 25% after that and increase the cost of Psychic powers and psy rating by 25%.

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Comparisons to unaligned Black Crusade, anyone?

 

 

@scarletepiphany

 

I'm aware that xp costs would be higher for most characters. Specialists could still exist in this model but they would be paying for it. I would imagine the rules would suit a slowburning, longterm game better, or else one where the xp given is a lot higher.

 

That is an excellent point about psykers and one to take into account.

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I would suggest, if you take away Aptitudes, to only use the suggested Point-Buy method to generate Characteristics as well.

 

With the Aptitude rules in place, a player who wants (for example) a gunslinger character (i.e. high BS, associated Talents, etc.) can have one, even if they start with an average BS, because they will choose Homeworld, Background and Role to give them Aptitudes to match. This will make it a lot cheaper for him to purchase his focus abilities than (for example) the scholarly focused character who happened to roll a higher starting BS. So even if his starting stats made him out to be the worst shot in the group, he can have a character who is the best shot after only a few sessions (if not at the end of Character Gen).

 

Without Aptitudes, the guy who happened to roll the highest BS will likely end up being the best shot; with no incentive to "buy-out" your apparent weaknesses for cheap, you're pigeon-holed into the role you rolled.

 

To plug a few numbers in to my above example:

- Without Aptitudes; The player who wanted his gunslinger, but "only" rolled a 32 BS is going to have to spend 750xp just to get his BS above the scholar character who rolled 38 (who also gets to spend that same 750xp on honing the skills he wants to be good at). This doesn't leave him enough XP out of his starting 1000xp for even a single Tier 1 Talent. He doesn't get to be the gunslinger he wanted to be, not right out of the door at any rate.

- With Aptitudes; Our gunslinger only spends 350xp on the same BS increase and can (at his option) have ANY two Talents (regardless of Tier) he has both Aptitudes for (or 3 if he only takes Tier 1 Talents), assuming he doesn't want to purchase any Skills. Now our player gets to have a BS above 40 and a Talent or two to further boost his shooting. Straight out of CharGen; he gets the character he wants to play.

 

I'm aware that my argument falls down at the very highest tiers of play, when your starting score will determine your potential rather than the XP cost of things, but there are so many Talent options that until characters have so much XP that they all look practically identical anyway, the guy who wants to be a good shot will BE that guy for the group.

Edited by Jolly P

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We are currently experimenting with something like that.

Scrap secondary aptitudes completely and link skills, talents and stat advances only to primary, but use levels of primary aptitudes.
Everyone starts as if having 1 in each primary aptitude like this:
WS BS  S  T  Ag Int Per Wil Fel
 1     1   1  1   1    1   1     1    1
which means he buys anything for the same price
and he can move up to three to strenghten some and weaken other, so an assassin looks like this
WS BS  S  T  Ag Int Per Wil Fel
 1     2   0  0   2    0   2     1    1
which gives him cheaper advances where 2's are, and more expensive where 0's are (along with linked skills and talents).

Now there are a few talents which have to be relinked
double team - general, offence - > ws
weapon training - general, finesse -> ws or bs (depending on weapon)
double tap - bs
two weapon master - finesse, offence - ws and bs (cheaper when having both at 2, more expensive when having one o two at 0)

It needs more playtesting, but character creation and early advancements seems ok so far. Characters are somewhat stronger, because they effectively get 9 aptitudes instead of 7, but that can be easily reduced.

Edited by ShadowRay

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