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Just a silly rant about silly things (like the names of things)


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#1 j0nnyfive

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 07:43 AM

It's late, I'm tired. This may be a silly thing (especially since I have yet to play these games)... I'm seeing what looks like a trend that I don't like and I want to start an official petition to stop it. And, that is, the use of the term "athletics" as a skill in a FANTASY-based game. Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop it people. lol

For example, and I won't give the name of the game, some game that rhymes with Shroomquest decided it would be funny to lump "jumping, climbing, swimming, and throwing" all together under "athletics" while simultaneously making it a point to be so detailed as to require it's players to use hit points per location. What an odd combination.

Do you guys have any idea how different climbing is from swimming? There are some amazing swimmers that can barely waddle on land. Some Olympic lifters can jump pretty high, but they aren't the best runners (putting it mildly), especially "over any distance".

Also, do you know how hard it is for me to get the picture of a Gorgon wearing Reeboks out of my head? Gorgons are NOT.... athletic. They can swim maybe, and slither quickly...
I dunno. And "brawn" when you already have a strength attribute? If someone can't apply their strength, then how would you know they were "strong?" But I digress. Such detailed distinctions... STR vs "brawn", hit locations.... "athletics". lol Lace up those Nike Air's Mr dragon and gimme 50!!

Sounds petty, I know, but "athletics" is like the first skill I read under a lot of these monsters' descriptions. Starts with an 'a' I guess. And what's the deal with making skills not end in a '0' or '5' about? Okay, I'll shut up now. Goodnight.


(If anything about this is inaccurate, just gimme the ol' "what fer". I'm half-way silly... no, but seriously!)


EDIT: WHOOPS!! Swimming IS separate! My bad. lol Okay, but I still think the rest need to be broken out and the term "athletics" not used cuz it sounds funny on monsters. Kinda immersion breaking for me. I'm having trouble getting my 'mersion on.

Edited by j0nnyfive, 17 January 2014 - 07:53 AM.


#2 MatteoN

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 08:00 AM

I don't get why you have to think "Reebok" when you read "athletics": http://listverse.com...cient-athletes/

#3 j0nnyfive

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:01 AM

The Reebok comment was for humor. Sorry.

The main point is that when I think "athletics" I think of sporting competitions, or the preparation of sporting competitions. Doesn't "have" to be. But, I'm not sure why go to such lengths to be detailed in many areas (especially combat), and draw laser-like distinctions between hit locations and things like strength and brawn and 61% vs 60% skills... and then lump climbing, jumping, and running together using a word that conjures up thoughts of people lacing up their Reeboks and going for a run on the track. :P lol Other than this, it looks like a pretty charming game.

(I checked out that link, they were still talking about sports, even though I acknowledge you don't have to be playing a sport to be considered athletic. According to my book, dragons are only 80% athletic so one may still be able to beat them in the discus) I'm a little delirious right now... sorry... lol It's just something that really jumps out at me since I have a background in physical training. I think they should go ahead and split athletics back out on their next go around. That's... just me.

Back to trying to sleep...

Edit: I'm not just picking on RQ. I'm looking at you to, OQ. ;) ;) ;) Got my eye on ya... all you athletic monsters. Ghouls... I bet they can run a mean mile.

Edited by j0nnyfive, 17 January 2014 - 10:15 AM.


#4 Nakana

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:26 AM

I'm with you, at least sort of lol.

D&D does something similar with their skills in 4.0. It's a way to consolidate skills for the sake of simplicity and to move the game along at a faster pace. Does it simulate reality better? - No. But it is quicker to lump skills under an applicable umbrella, as it were.

I think what would bug me is the simplicity in one aspect while choosing a more sophisticated and detailed system for another aspect (such as hit locations). One would think that for the sake of continuity a game designer would use one approach across the board.

Edit: Then again that's why I've chosen the BRP system and the use of the BGB. It's modular. Just swap which skills system you want. :)

Edited by Nakana, 17 January 2014 - 10:30 AM.


#5 MatteoN

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:37 AM

The Reebok comment was for humor. Sorry.


D'oh, sorry for not having gotten the drift.

Your complaint of course makes sense, in fact old-school simulationist RPGs like the earlier editions of Runequest or Rolemaster or GURPS have long lists of very specific skills. I think the authors of the latest editions of RQ wanted to make a game that was more tightly focused on what characters in fantasy novels comics and movies actually spend most of their time doing. If (I haven't bought it yet) RQ6 has a single "athletics" skill covering all kinds of (dry land) physical feats, it might be not enough if, for example, you wanted your bronze age heoes to take part in the Olympics. Adding skills to a BRP based game, however, has always been a trivial task. And if it's the name that bothers you, just change it to one that you think is more evocative, like... I don't now, English is not my first language.

Edited by MatteoN, 17 January 2014 - 10:40 AM.


#6 j0nnyfive

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:41 AM

Yeah, I'm bugged too much by presentation of things. Word choice can really throw me. I'm too sensitive to this kind of stuff. My last rant was about skill ratings, but now I've got that lined out nicely. But this is something I think many game designers are starting to do more and more. This is just my opinion (I know), but you do NOT want to lump together the basic physical competencies such as jumping or climbing. You lose too much descriptive power I think. Dragons: climb 95%. To me, that sounds "scarier" than Dragons: athletics 95%. There just seems to be a trend of using "whatever" language "works" for the sake of convenience. Savage Worlds (a good set of rules, but the language!!): smarts. trappings. bennies. Sounds like a card game at an old southern baptist church or something. lol But you're supposed to use this game for Interface Zero? Wow. genre clash. Just my opinion, and etc.

#7 j0nnyfive

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:45 AM

MatteoN, wow! Your English is great! A lot of times, I can tell when a person isn't naturally English, but I can't tell with you! Thanks for your comments guys!

#8 rust

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 11:00 AM

Ah, well, I am guilty of using "Athletics" to cover Climb, Jump, Run and Swim, "Stealth" to
cover Hide and Sneak, and so on. =O

Actually I am using the Root/Branch skill system of the Ringworld RPG, where a character
first develops a general ability (in the case of Athletics a general fitness and agility) as a
Root Skill and then specializes in one or more of the Branch Skills (in the case of Athletics
for example Climb, Jump, Run or Swim - the character can do all that with his Root Skill,
too, but not very well).

The reason to use the general Root Skills is to avoid skill creep, which otherwise can ruin
especially a science fiction setting rather quickly. There are lots and lots of potentially use-
ful skills, especially technical and scientific ones, but there is only a limited amount of skill
points, so keeping the number of skills low in order to enable the characters to be good at
a sufficient number of important skills is a necessity.

As for the term "Athletics", I see it as one which is easy to understand and to connect with
physical skills which require physical fitness. The original meaning would be "Competitor"
(in the sports of classical Greece), but since few people will know this, I do not care.
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#9 Atgxtg

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 02:14 PM

The goal was to use the broad skills to help simplify the amount of bookkeeping- especially for NPCs that won't be showing up again.

Athletics isn't all that unreasonable. Those people who are gifted at running tend to be above average at jumping, climbing and swimming.
Smiley when you say that. :P

#10 seneschal

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 02:33 PM

RE: Keeping it simple. The James Bond RPG had the skill Science, encompassing everything. And GURPS: Atomic Horror had Science!, for those Benton Quest, Reed Richards and Doctor Who types who can always come up with a plausible sounding solution, no matter what the situation.

#11 soltakss

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 02:46 PM

Some people prefer it, some don't.

Legend has split Swimming out, but has Athletics for other things.

I can see the point, if you want reduced skill lists. I like more skills, so would prefer Climbing and Running to be different skills, but I don;t mind either way.
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#12 Atgxtg

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 02:56 PM

That's why I liked skill categories. It's nice to have some sort of generic rating to see if an NPCs can do something if the PCs do something unexpected. Chances are, we won't need to know the Orc Guard's storytelling or seduce skills, but it's nice to have some sort of generic "social" skill on the writeup to fall back on, just in case.
Smiley when you say that. :P

#13 MrJealousy

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:10 PM

I have a suggestion!
You could have just two skills on the character sheet, Physical Athletics (STR+DEX) and Mental Athletics (INTx2).
Bang! All possible eventualities covered, and so much simpler than having to faff about with...
Oh no wait!
I have a better idea!
We could just have a skill called Skill (STR+DEX/INTx2) and then all of our characters and NPCs could be created in seconds...

I'm sorry I'm not really being serious here... but I do sympathise with the original point. Just extrapolated it a bit :-/
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#14 rust

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:14 PM

We could just have a skill called Skill (STR+DEX/INTx2) and then all of our characters and NPCs could be created in seconds...

Sure, and we could then give each character 100 skill points to start with,
and so get rid of almost all of those unnerving dice rolls, too. B-)
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#15 MrJealousy

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:14 PM

Actually I am using the Root/Branch skill system of the Ringworld RPG, where a character
first develops a general ability ... as a Root Skill and then specializes in one or more of the Branch Skills...


That sounds a lot like Traveller, and Athletics used like this would make more sense to me.
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#16 MrJealousy

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:16 PM

...give each character 100 skill points to start with...

Yeah :) 100 points to divide amongst their skill ;D Brilliant!
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#17 j0nnyfive

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:27 PM

lol Funny, guys!

Yeah, I understand the "why" and "what fer" of using an umbrella term to encapsulate other terms to prevent skill creep. I have two separate points that I want to re-iterate.

1. Running, jumping, and climbing are three very different things.

2. The term athletics sounds funny when describing a mythical "awe-inspiring" creature. When's the last time you saw a chimera at a sporting event eating a hotdog?

Does the term "work"? Yes, like a patch. A quick fix. It gets the job done. It's "okaaayyy." Why not use a word other than something that means competitor, as it was put? How about the term "physical" or something like that. Or just leave jumping and climbing separate since they don't relate to each other.

People who are good at singing also tend to be good at musical instruments, dancing, and socializing. How about "entertain" or "social stuff"? :P

A skill called skill? lol

#18 MrJealousy

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:36 PM

I'm with you on this one (despite my stupid post above). I had a similar moment when I realised going from RQ3 with its Search and Scan became BRPs Spot. Doesn't make a lot of difference to most people, unless you are short or long sighted. Both of which I have as disadvantages in Aces High...
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#19 rust

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:40 PM

People who are good at singing also tend to be good at musical instruments, dancing ...

This is why a couple of roleplaying games have a skill named something like
"Perform" or "Performance" ... ;)

Or just leave jumping and climbing separate since they don't relate to each other.

I am not so sure. Living in a mountain area, in my experience one is likely to
need a combination of both skills to move around in this kind of terrain - plus
running if one encounters aggressive livestock. :)

Edited by rust, 17 January 2014 - 05:56 PM.

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#20 Pete Nash

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 08:58 PM

1. Running, jumping, and climbing are three very different things.

Not really. They are all fundamental physical abilities that most human beings are capable of, and those that practice one or more of them are generally better than average at the others. Can you specialise in them to noticeable excess? Yes of course, that is why we have a tiny minority of the world's population who can perform a bidoigt or swinging-lieback, or people who train for Olympic competition. However, do people normally specialise in one to the exclusion of the others? Rarely in modern life where we have time to pursue it, hardly ever in historical times where that sort of luxury doesn't exist - even ancient Greek and Roman athletes (beyond the daily health regimes at the baths or gymnasium) were sponsored.

So for simplicity's sake, to prevent skill creep and to ensure (N)PCs have enough skill points to be vaguely competent, the three skills are conflated.

Following your line of thought and musician joke, one can say the same thing about most of the skills. If we are going to be really anal about it why stop at just a Running skill? Surely we need Sprinting, Jogging, Marathon, and do I make Hurdling a separate skill or fold it under Jumping... Which then brings up the need for Long Jumping skill, High Jumping, Parachute Rolling and Roof Hopping. They are all quantifiable different types of action and in real life require specialised training to be any good at.

2. The term athletics sounds funny when describing a mythical "awe-inspiring" creature. When's the last time you saw a chimera at a sporting event eating a hotdog?

Maybe to you. Sounds fine to me, and better defined than the more nebulous "Physical". Athletics is a universal term which fits a multitude of both historical settings and traditional fantasy without any problem. Indeed giving a classical monster a classically named skill sounds perfect to me! Then again mythology and history were fundamental as part of my British upbringing, early education and entertainments I pursued. Since you refer to Reeboks and Hotdogs as part of your expressed cognitive dissonance, I'm assuming they weren't for you.

Anyway, silly rant is indeed silly. Its easy enough to just hive off the climbing skill, and rename Athletics to Physical if that helps you. :)
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