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  1. I've always viewed it as a combined storytelling experience. The GM creates the setting and the plot, the players fill in the detail and dialogue. Roleplaying should specifically be about how the players fill in those details within the existing setting and plotline. Good roleplaying will involve the characters acting in consistent ways within the context of the events around them (and hopefully in enjoyable ways). Bad roleplaying may simply involve the players making mechanical decisions in order to fulfill the objectives of the scenario. If the GM is too strict, the players wont participate and the roleplaying will be strained at best. If the GM is too loose, the players will run rampant on the campaign, and the roleplaying ends up being more about player egos then realistic playing of roles. Part of this is the "GM Image" concept you touched on. Since the GM creates the setting and the plot, his image of the world the characters exist in is "golden". If his image is that something is too high too reach, or too small to get through, or there's no way around that group of bad guys without them being able to engage you, then that's simply the way it is. Obviously, it's the GMs responsibility to convey that information to the players, and equally obviously, his image of the world does need to take into account player perception (as the 40 ninja example shows). However, it's also important for the players to accept the GMs image and trust that the GMs image "works". This requires that the GM be consistent in how his game world works so that the players become comfortable playing their characters within that world. They know what to expect and can therefore react appropriately as things happen. There's no one best way to do this. But I think that consistency is the most important thing. If on one adventure, you are overly restrictive about some activity, magic use, or tactic, and then you expect them to use those very things on the next, the players are going to be scratching their heads quite a bit. From a roleplaying perspective, this is huge. The players should learn what sorts of personalities, actions, behaviors, etc "work" in the world and which ones don't. As long as the GM is consistent, then the players will use those tools, and the result is generally positive and fun for everyone. If it isn't consistent, then they'll tend to be much more closed and less likely to adopt any specific roles while playing.
  2. We applied some house rulings to detect enemy to fix that a bit. Basically, it only detects someone who's actively planning to hurt the character casting the spell. So, it's great for detecting that group of bad guys hanging out around the next corner waiting to jump the party, but wont automatically trigger just because someone is a "bad guy". As a GM, it's important to realize that, appearances to the contrary, it's usually not actually the objective of the bad guys to kill/maim/mutilate the player characters. Presumably, the bad guy has some other objective and the PCs will stumble upon it and potentially spoil his plans. So the evil malia priest planning on spreading plague in the area isn't going to want to actively engage the party if he can avoid it. His first reaction should be "How do I get this group of tough looking people the heck out of this area so I can continue on with my plans...". IMO, that's *not* going to trigger a detect enemy. Not until he actually decides to attack the party that is. As to the OP: RQ2 had a spell called "detection block", which worked like countermagic, but only for purposes of blocking detection spells. You could simply create something like that (the "veil" name sounds good for this!).
  3. Yeah. But what I was trying to get at is that ultimately, as a GM, you're going to have to write something down on paper. Even if it's just "off in that way, there be dragons...". While the overall environment isn't scripted (ie: the players can choose where to go and what to do) at any given time you as the GM are going to have some specific set of scenarios ready to go. In those canned adventures there were a set of pre-written scenarios, each of which may be activated depending on where the adventurers go, what they do, who they talk to, etc. But is that really any different in a philosophical manner then a dungeon where you've written out what's in each room, but the players choose which direction they go? I'd say that one is no more or less "linear" then the other. The only difference is that the players are going to more likely think they have more choices in the "open setting" type of adventure. But the reality is that there might be *exactly* the same number of encounters, with exactly the same number of choices available to the players (including going off in a direction where there aren't any written encounters and the GM will have to make stuff up). One is outdoors, and the "rooms" are larger, but ultimately they're the exact same design. Flowchart them, and they look virtually identical. This is why I was angling at the idea that it's more about how rich the setting is and how "real" it feels to the players that ultimately matters. You could play an entire campaign in which the player characters are vassal/knights of some noble, fighting on his behalf, going where he tells them to, and otherwise being completely "lead by the nose". And if the world feels real, and the setting is rich, and the storylines are good, the players will enjoy this just as much (and often *more*) then a game in which the GM sets them somewhere and says: "Ok. So what do you want to do...?". And just to tie this back to the original topic. It's my fervent opinion that good roleplaying derives from exactly such good settings and stories. If the players believe in the world their characters are in, and there is consistency in terms of actions and decisions and the resulting consequences/rewards, the players will naturally roleplay well. They will much more easily "feel" how their characters fit into the game world. They don't have to work at roleplaying at that point. They just know their character and it flows through them. At no point do they have to stop and think "How should I play this?". They'll just know how their character will react because the character is "real" to them as well.
  4. I actually think that some of the disagreement in this thread is misplaced. While certainly many of the earlier canned scenarios out there in the gaming world were linear in nature, that's almost a necessity for a sellable adventure. IMO, the only way you have a truly non-linear game is if the players can do anything they want. Which, as noted, takes a lot more prep time by the GM, and has the secondary problem that the scenario really isn't a scenario. You can't actually have a storyline and a plot if you have a completely non-linear setting. IMO, that's not automatically good or bad. Even adventures that appear non-linear often are. Griffon Moutain is an example. Sure, you could wander around aimlessly and randomly encounter stuff, but that gets old for most players pretty quick. They tend to want stories. So, there are plot threads that they can pick up, each of which leads them in a pretty linear way through a set of encounters to a resolution. While the setting as a whole may be non-linear, if you think about it, whether the environment is a mountain in which the party can go up that trail or down that one, or a dungeon in which they have a choice of left or right, there isn't that much difference. It still fits the qualifications of a "bunch of filler" on the way to achieving some scenario goal. I think the far more important part is storytelling and making the environment "real". This is where many early canned stuff failed back in the day. Linear or not, it didn't feel that "real" if the whole thing was just a map with room numbers and descriptions for each one. Whether the party had a wide variety of choices and directions and plotlines they could follow didn't matter much if they didn't believe in the world they were playing in. And many many early campaigns suffered from this. I remember running into a lot of players who simply didn't have the concept that their characters did stuff when they weren't adventuring and that towns and taverns might exist for purposes other then buying stuff and meeting up with their fellow adventurers. Oh. And there could actually be stuff that happened on the way to the dungeon! :eek: One of the best scenarios I ever ran was one of the most linear I've ever run (actually, I'd argue it was by far the most linear). It was a single session adventure and every single player who played that night to this day declares it to be the best scenario they'd ever played in. Basically, it was a Dreamlands adventure (in our RQ world). One of the characters had died in the dreamlands on a previous adventure. In our game, we use sanity (but obviously characters in a fantasy setting with broos and other monsters are much less susceptible to losing sanity). As a result of dying there, she was losing one sanity per year. Which would not have been a huge problem except she was an elf. The player came to me asking for some solution to this problem. So, I came up with one. Basically, I wrote a scenario in which the local elves did a ritual in which they killed the player, but used magic to send her spirit to the dreamlands instead of directly to Hell. They coordinated this with the elves in the dreamlands so they were ritually chanting to draw her soul there so they could heal her soul (resurrecting here in the dreamlands and then again in the waking world the next morning). The problem was that Hell was still pulling on her soul (sounded like sweet singing), and a group of ghouls would meet up with her and attempt to bring her down into the underworld and too hell. The other player characters were sent to the dreamlands via dreamdrug and given instructions to help the character get to the elves. It would be a contest as to where she ended up going. Of course, I didn't tell the player any of this. I wrote up a set of notes that would be handed one at a time to the player as his player "remembered" what was happening. At the start of the scenario, I had that player leave the room and gave the rest of the players instructions that no matter what they were to take her to the singing she heard and *not* the chanting. They didn't know that they were actually playing the ghouls and not themselves. Yes. I'm just that evil >:-> Of course, I had the ghouls find her first so everything seemed normal. As the characters traveled toward the singing, they were periodically attacked by "ghouls" (the actual characters). I had to swap the rolls made by the players and fake the damage they were taking a bit, but none of them caught on. Of course, the players attempted dreaming skills to make basic weapons to use, which oddly seemed to make the fights to fend off the ghouls harder and not easier (hah!). As they travelled, they were shunned by everyone they saw, even being run off by the guards of a city they approached (much to their confusion). As this went on, I kept handing the player notes, slowly unraveling the information about how his player had come to be there. Bits about a ritual, her friends being there, pain, fear, etc... Very flowery stuff really. Ultimately, the final encounter occurred right as the party had led the character to a large clearing in a forest, where they opened up a large door in the ground, revealing a spiral staircase that went down, down, down... At this point, I think the player got a bit nervous since this didn't seem very much like where he thought he should be going, but he'd totally bought that the other players were with him and knew what was going on, where his character did not. The "ghouls" chose to attempt a final attack at that moment as well. It did cause her to balk a bit, at which point one of the other players had her character grab her by the arm and attempt to pull her into the opening. That proved to be the perfect moment. I said something like "<so and so> is really pulling on your arm and her claws are digging into you and really hurting...". You could have heard a pindrop. Followed by "WHAT!!!". Then I handed the player the final note and swapped the miniatures around and resumed the combat with the players finally playing their own characters. Ultimately, they succeeded in defeating the ghouls, and saving the character. My point is that this was an absolutely linear adventure. Virtually every single aspect was scripted. The absolute only variable in terms of when things happened was that the player could have chosen to go a different direction. But since the only information that player had was what the other players told him, and the instructions I'd given them were pretty clear he had no reason to doubt what was going on until the moment I wanted him to. Certainly, the amount of weapons they could obtain (and therefore ease of the final fight) depended on their choices and dierolling, and it's possible they could have allowed the "ghouls" to defeat them ahead of schedule (unlikely though), but everything else was as scripted and linear as it could be. In this case, not only were the players lead around by the nose, they weren't even actually playing their characters! You can't get more linear then that. Yet, it's overwhelmingly considered the best scenario by all the players in my group. So linearity has nothing to do with quality of a game. Storytelling and "feel" of a game does. If the players believe the environment and feel a part of it (even in an unreal setting like the dreamlands), they'll enjoy the game. If it's clearly just a hack'n'slash fest they'll get bored very very quickly.
  5. True. I just happen to believe that the player should simply be allowed to roleplay how his character would react in such a situation. Obviously, his ability to actually resist torture should be based on more physical stats and skills. So say, Con to resist the pain. Perhaps Pow to avoid revealing key information. And there's always the possibility of having a "resist torture" or "endure pain" skill in your game if you so desire. But by all means the player should be able to decide if his character stoically faces his fate or cries like a baby... Yeah. It did work in Pendragon. But IMO you basically have to make the game system revolve around traits to make it work. The choice in Pendragon was that in many situations you could pick which trait to use to try to resolve some situation you found yourself in. But this lead to a much more "free form" type of encounter resolution that I've never been super happy with. Now, not quite as free form as "Toon" for example, but a bit too open for my tastes. Some may love those types of systems (actually I know that many many people do!), but my problem is that it usually devolved into one of two things: 1. Roleplaying munchkinism. Basically, if you were flowery enough or loud enough in your roleplaying attempts you could justify any roll possibility (always using your "best traits" to accomplish things). This often didn't improve actual roleplay, but lead to the kind of overbearing roleplaying style that I had quite enough of back in my days of GMing game tourneys (there's *always* one at every table if you know what I mean). A subset of this is players who specifically pick which traits to focus on, not for roleplaying purposes, but so as to maximize their ability to pull this off. 2. Overly strict GMing. This was usually a reaction to number 1. The GM attempts to ensure that his players can't justify using only their best traits to resolve every encounter. So he deliberately crafts them to ensure that a wide assortment of different traits must be used to accomplish the tasks before the party and complete the adventure. Sounds good in practice (and works), but results in exactly the kind of "rolling your play" problem I mentioned earlier. Dunno. There were just always several aspects of that type of system that I've always disliked. I understand that many people do like them, so that's obviously their choice. However, regardless of personal opinion using traits successfully does require that the game model be shifted significantly. They're just not going to work in a traditional skills based RPG IMO.
  6. Yup. Very much so. Partly because the game had no real "defensive" abilities. The balance was solely offensively balanced. Characters with heavier armor had a lower chance to hit. Armor was rarely able to avoid all damage, so that meant that if it took longer to defeat the opponent, you likely took more damage in return. The concept was very well balanced (the game originally started out as a set of smaller games that were specifically about player versus player arena type fights), but was quite lethal when expanded into a larger setting (like even dealing with a smallish "dungeon"). Same thing with spells. Your HPs were equal to your str, but were also expended to cast spells (with int determining the highest "level" of spell, and dex determining your chance to cast/hit with the spell). It was all about killing the other guy before he killed you, which made for adventuring through multiple encounters pretty brutal. We added additional items and expanded some spells in order to make it a bit less nasty, but I'd estimate that the kill rate was still around 50% or so... :eek: Fun game though! Maybe. The problem with that has been touched upon though. Typically, stats are broad things that define the raw physical/mental capabilities of a character and change very slowly or not at all, while skills define specific chances to do something and should change freely over time. Obviously, you can do this in other ways as well, but unless the game system is carefully designed with this in mind, you'll often end up with the "one size fits all" problem, where a given combination of stats is always best because stats determine so much of the game. It's doable, but very very difficult. TFT used stats for a lot, but then it only had 3 stats. Even with just those three, there were some pretty clear "dos" and "don'ts" to character creation. I imagine that as you add more stats to a heavily stat influenced game, the problem of balancing them would only grow... Because the problem is that it's not the players being tested, but their die rolls. That's fine when determining if someone succeeds at swinging that sword, or picking that lock, or puzzling out a treasure map, since those aren't things I as a player will be exactly as capable at as my character. I may not be able to pick a lock, but my character can, so it makes sense to have some kind of skill for the character to see if he can succeed at the task. But "traits" are about roleplaying IMO. That's why we play the game, right? It's what distinguishes a RPG from a game of monopoly. As a player, I'm playing another roll. I choose what personality that character has and I choose how that character reacts to the world and situations the GM puts him/her into. If I'm presented with a choice between saving my fellow party member who's hanging by his fingers from a ledge and could fall any second or perhaps pocketing that large glowing ruby first before anyone else spots it, I shouldn't roll against my "greed" trait. I should be able to simply make the choice. And I should be able to make that choice based on the personality of the character I'm playing if I want. Because that's roleplaying. If you make those choices by rolling dice, then why play a roleplaying game? Well. Except that they didn't. In Pendragon the assumed conflict was based on classic Arthurian legend. Which is basically a struggle by man with his own negative aspects. His knights didn't succeed by defeating enemies, but by fighting and denying the negative aspects within themselves, while striving to embody the best that man could be. And they ultimately lost, not because they lost any specific battle, but because they failed to defeat their own demons. The traits system in Pendragon kinda worked in that context, but *only* that context. The system was specifically designed to expose the PCs to situations in which they could succeed by calling upon their "good" traits, or fail by falling to their "bad" traits. It was not a guide to roleplaying at all, but a skill system in itself. The opponents were not the physical enemies you fought, but the temptations to do the "wrong things". Um... I still didn't like the game much though. Way too linear. Far too abstracted. The scenarios were scripted. Overly so. Maybe my biggest problem with Pendragon was that basically everyone was playing the exact same character. The only difference was that your stats determined your ability to succeed at playing that role within the context of a given scene. You couldn't choose to play the loner thief who decides to join up with a band of adventurers for fun and profit only to find himself overtime caring about his friends more then the loot (think Han Solo, or a hundred other similar characters). Nor could you play the reluctant sidekick who wants to help his mentor, but keeps causing more trouble in the process. Or the simple farmer who gets caught up in events and ends up a hero (think Frodo, or another hundred similar characters). Nope. In Pendragon every single character was striving to be the same "perfect" model. The stats measured the degree to which you'd achieved that. It worked, but only in that incredibly narrow context (and wasn't my cup of tea even then). For any sort of broader RPG, I'd avoid any sort of personality trait characteristics like the plague. Oh. and I get your comment about some players not knowing how to roleplay. And certainly it's true that new players will tend to simply roleplay themselves (with whatever skills and stats and items are on the sheet in front of them). But I've found that those new players, after they've played a few characters will almost always at some point approach me and say "Hey. I've been thinking I'd like to play a character that's like this....". And at that point, they start roleplaying things other then themselves. It may take a bit, but pretty much every player eventually does "get it". If you allow them, that is. I think if you made a characters personality into stats, this might make the process take longer because they're not actually playing the role, they're rolling their play (if you get that). And it'll also be more likely to annoy players then please them. The traits on their sheet will never perfectly match their own vision of their character's personality, so they'll usually end up being something that prevents them from roleplaying how they want rather then something that helps them. I have the same problem with alignment from D&D. Yeah. It served a purpose back in the day, but not a very good one IMO.
  7. Ah... Yeah. Somewhere as I was following the conversation, I lost track of where/why it started. Hah! Imagine that... It's certainly a workable solution I suppose. I guess I just don't get why someone would want to avoid using an opposed system in this case. It's not like it's actually very difficult at all, and as I observed, it gives you two defensive combat options that are actually "different" in terms of how they operate. Applying the equivalent of AP to dodge just makes it another parry, and it opens up a whole range of additional balance problems: 1. If it parries as much as a shield, then why would anyone carry a shield around? 2. If it parries less then a shield, then it's not going to be useful in the very situations you'd usually want to dodge (ie: Giant swinging a tree at your head). 3. If you go the other way and give it tons of AP in order to avoid problem number 2, then you've made dodge the "uber skill" since merely making the skill makes you virtually invulnerable to damage. It's the same problem with 1, except multiplied. There is one way around this, but it's a very very bad one IMO. We had a GM for awhile who for some reason liked dodge as a mechanic. I have my suspicions as to why, but basically he made a successful dodge simply avoid all damage. Period. Didn't matter if the opponent criticalled or not (which is essentially identical to the "tons of AP" option above). It certainly avoids any sense of using an opposed roll, but becomes overpowered. Here's how he balanced it though. He would decide based on the environment whether you had minuses to your dodge, were at some reduced multiple (half, quarter, etc), or whether you could dodge at all. He'd say things like: "You could try a dodge, but you might slip if you do", or "You can attempt a dodge, but you're fighting right next to that guy waving a greatsword around, so you might get hit....". Basically, he could control when the players could use their skill or not. Which was one of the most annoying things you can do to players as a GM. It's much much better to come up with systemic methods to balance out the utility of skills on the character sheet, then to use arbitrary seeming GM fiat after the fact to do so. I've seen it first hand and it's painful. I know that some GMs *love* to do this sort of thing, but trust me, players hate it. They want to know that if they have a skill level with something written on their sheet that pretty much any time they want to try to use that skill, that will be their chance. While the occasional modification is acceptable, counting on using them as the primary means to balance out an overpowered skill is a horribly bad idea... We very quickly switched to using the "levels subtract" method and have never had any problems with it.
  8. Agree 100% There are lots of different ways to look at this, and no one way is "right". For a period of time, we played around with The Fantasy Trip. We referred to it as "role-playing lite" due to its pretty simplistic game system (and a lethality that made RQ look positively tame). The point being that it had only three statistics. Str, Dex, and Int. Um... And it worked just fine. Each stat just had a broader interpretation is all. Same deal going the other way. You can make more stats and narrow their definition in the process. IMO though, you're hitting a point of diminishing returns though. While there are some negatives to "lumping", you always gain something from increased simplicity. But as you increase the number of stats, splitting them into smaller and smaller bits, you're going to hit a point at which the benefits of the increased granularity are wiped out by the increase in complexity. I can't say for sure whether 12 stats is the point at which that becomes a problem or not. Heck. I played Champions for years and that's got a whole slew of stats, so who knows? But then that game was ultra focused on the interaction of different abilities of the characters, where most RPGs tend to abstract things a bit more. Ultimately, I think that the game system and how well it utilizes and balances the stats is what's going to matter. Oh. But for the record, I don't like the "morality" stat at all. Actually, the Pendragon traits system always bugged me as well (I had a GM that wanted to introduce that into our game and squelched it fast). I simply do not agree with having any sort of written stat that mandates character personality. Ever. I'm a firm believer in allowing the players to just decide what their character's personality is and let them play it. Obviously, that's coupled with rational and reasonable consequences and rewards based on how their play interacts with the world around them, but I have simply never seen the value in having personality traits of any type appear as stats on a sheet. The very idea of a player looking down and saying: "Ok. I've got a kindness of 13, so I'm going to see if I can roll against that to ensure that my character succeeds at doing something kind today...". Ick! I'm sorry. That's just an absolutely horrific idea. Statistics should define the broad physical/mental capabilities of the character. Skills should define the degree to which that character has honed his/her ability to do specific things within that context. Everything else should be roleplayed. A characters chance to do something should be based on stats/abilities/whatever, but the choice of what to do should *always* be the players.
  9. I think you're getting too caught up in specifics. Ultimately, the vector*mass of the weapon attack is represented by the potential damage of that attack (damage rolled and modified based on special/crit result, etc). In the same way, we can say that the capability of the parry to deflect that damage is represented by the AP of the parrying item. It's an abstraction, but one that "works" within this context. A faster/harder blow from a large weapon will be harder to deflect fully then a slower/softer blow from a smaller weapon. Both of those are represented by damage potential and AP (damage stopped). There's a reason why heavier/bigger shields block more damage. And it's not just because they're "thicker" (which is the assumption for armor for the most part), but because the combination of mass and size allows the wielder to deflect larger attacks. Again, it's an abstraction, but then so is everything in an RPG, right? I would argue that a successful dodge means you avoid getting hit. What you're describing is more like a successful dodge making a special hit become a normal hit instead (one that would have connected solidly, resulting in cracked ribs and a collapse to the floor, ends up only slicing you a bit). IMO, the "success level subtracts" system works well for this. While I understand the objective here, I also think it's possible to overthink rules and try to make them "too realistic". At the end of the day, we're playing a game, and the concepts and abilities within that game have to "work". While it's possible to have a dodge mechanic that operates by subtracting damage instead of reducing hit levels, it then becomes just another way of parrying. More interesting, with the rise of parry rules with a "parry blocks all" mechanic, it puts us on the odd circumstance of actually having completely reversed the mechanical utility of the two abilities. Somewhat arbitrarily I might add... If two abilities do the exact same thing, why have two? It makes sense to have parry be the one that subtracts damage, while dodge reduces hit levels. It gives each one a distinctive methodology that may each be effective, but not in exactly the same way. From a game design perspective, this offers the players options to choose from and a reason to perhaps develop both skills (situationally, one will usually be better then the other, but not always). This in turn allows for more depth within the combat system, and is a good thing. Um... On a side note, we actually did make some slight changes to our parry rules to reflect the whole "you're deflecting, not just blocking" idea. On a special parry, we add half the parrying characters max damage bonus to the AP of the shield (for purpose of parrying). This reflects the idea that sometimes a big strong guy can parry better then a small weak guy. He's going to be more able to muscle that shield into the right position and angle to avoid additional damage. Dunno. It's just a rule we came up with, tried, and really liked.
  10. I'm getting ready for another series of adventures in my current RQ campaign. The setting is based on a mixture of Glorantha, Questworld, numerous random 3rd party fantasy stuff (Harn, Lum and Vecna from AD&D lore, Sanctuary and the Ranke Empire, etc), and a ton of original material we've added over a few decades. Dorastor in our world fell into a sub-plane during the Arkat wars. There are a few planar connections, two of which enter on our plane. One in the Lunar Empire (of course!), and the other was opened up when a Demon broke the world near the kingdom that the adventurers currently call home. That one opens up in the mountain north of Forth Wrath in Dorastor and the entrance on this end is a huge chasm surrounded by miles of broken lands. The kingdom has built some defensive fortifications along the chasm itself and a small keep/village about 10km south (closest point where people can actually kinda live off the land). These defenses were tested recently when Ralzakark sent a pretty decent sized assault force through to their "side", resulting in some significant damage and lots of fighting. Some player adventures occurred as they attempted to stop scouting parties of the bad guys from finding routes around the kingdom's defenses. Also they learned that some Bat cultists have re-appeared nearby, which may lead to some other "bad things"... Meanwhile, one of their enemies to the south is taking the opportunity to move on them. Well. Not so much "opportunity" as planned. A previous group traveling through his lands "accidentally" saved one of the sons of their enemy. Oops. Turned out that he seems to be a nice guy (demon weapon notwithstanding). He was being hunted by some creatures that looked like semi-formed broos (no horns, but otherwise broolike). He mentioned that his brother had sent him off to patrol the area when his squad was attacked. Hmm.... Could there be a good brother and a bad one? Nah.... No plot plan here. The boo creatures are actually the result of experiments on criminals (and the good brother thought that his father was doing something right what with the recent reduction in crime...). A Thed advisor from Ralzakark is conducting them and working with the ruler. Of course, his attack was supposed to be a distraction for Ralzakark and not the other way around, but bad guys don't always work well together... In the midst of all of this, the party will have to deal with roving broo creatures, figure out what's happening, deal with a couple random nasty things that have nothing to do with the main plot, but will put them in the right locations to get them information they need, try to help the good brother while stopping the plots of his father and brother, and otherwise get themselves into as much trouble as possible. Hah. And that's just the backdrop opening stuff for a much larger and longer story arc I'm working on...
  11. I don't see how this make any difference in a GM's ability to use whatever his preference is. I'm also not sure that either was the "rule" while the other the "option". The tables were there. The rule was "either roll on the table, or choose". Considering that at the beginning of this thread you didn't know that occupations could be changed, it seems a bit odd for you to be playing ruleslawyer as to whether some specific component of the occupation tables was an optional rule or not. It just seems like you're going out of your way to find a reason to be against something. Something you apparently didn't use anyway. Hence, why I'm puzzled. Sure. And you "can" choose not to use the random rolls. One of those is a much easier and less burdensome thing to do...
  12. I think the bigger point here is that if you want to run a campaign in which nothing matters except combat skills, and/or want to make sure that everyone has similar levels of combat skills, the you're complete free to ignore the occupation tables and associated die rolls and allow characters to have whatever skill levels you think are appropriate. Those people are not hurt in any way by the fact that those tables and options are available within the game system. However, insisting that the tables shouldn't be in the game because you don't use them in your campaign *does* hurt those who want to use them (for whatever reason). You can always choose not to use an existing rule. But you can't choose to use a rule that doesn't exist. Seems pretty abundantly obvious to me...
  13. Heh. You are correct. I should have qualified that as "the only things that differentiate characters that directly affect game balance are skills". Within the context of overall "game balance", only skills really matter (ok, spells, abilities, and whatnot, but you get the point). Background matters specifically because of the skills that result (which was Nightshade's point). Culture matters because it affects what cultural skills you may have. Religion matters because it determines both what special skills may be available and what spells your character may learn. Species matters because it determines that base stats and skills your character will have. Most of those things (including personality) also have significant roleplaying importance, but this thread was about game balance. How you "balance" those aspects are purely up to the GM. You can decide exactly to what degree playing a dark troll may disadvantage someone in your campaign (ranging from "instantly suicidal" to "not at all"). As a GM, you get to decide all on your own whether the player who's snaky get's punished for doing oddball things, or gets rewarded. There's a classic story in our game about a hobbit tossing a stone into a pool "just because" and the fallout it caused (hobbits are evil. Really!). But all those things are "flavor", and not so much "balance". Systemic game balance, such as the kind Nightshade was talking about derives from skills. My original observation was that in RQ (and BRP systems in general), the negatives from having lower skills aren't nearly as harsh as they are in other games. You're free to choose not to have large skill gaps between characters in an adventure, but the game system itself is much much much more forgiving if/when it happens.
  14. You could make the same argument for any occupation in the list though. You could just start all characters with a standard cultural skill level plus bonus. You could just hand them X*years in points to spend on whatever skills they want. But then you'd have no idea what a "typical" merchant's skills were, or a "typical" sailor, or a "typical" footpad. You could certainly just make stuff up (and as a GM you often will do just that), but it certainly doesn't hurt to have some sort of guideline. If nothing more then having a sense of relative skill. Is the local guardsman better at fighting then the local tavern owner? Sure. We assume that's the case, but how much better? Why? In a game in which there are no character classes, the *only* thing that differentiates one person from another is their skills. Having some sort of templates and examples of typical skill sets based on broad occupations is incredibly useful I think. I never viewed those as some kind of limitation or restriction on the player characters. It's background. It gives you a starting point. It gives you continual relative reference points as well (how skilled will that master sailer be in comparison to the newbie who just joined the crew last week?). And you never know. One day a player might just come up to you and want to play something other then a soldier. Perhaps even roleplay a young farmer who's family just got killed by some evil bad guy and now he wants to join your band of stalwart adventurers and fight against him. But that's a plot that's never happened, right?
  15. Perhaps you didn't generate them, but surely at some point you wanted to have some idea of what kind of skills a farmer might have? You've never played any scenario in which a combatant was anything other then a trained warrior? Sure, you could just make something up, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have some kind of tables showing what sorts of skills they get, right? The point is that there are a whole variety of professions that different people could work in. Farmer, while not terribly exciting, is going to be pretty common (in any sort of pre-industrial campaign setting of course). It would be a bit silly and shortsighted to have a set of rules for occupation experience and leave out what is arguably the most common occupation. Whether you choose to play any characters with that starting profession or not isn't really the point. The point is that farmers exist in your game world, so you may as well have rules governing what sorts of skills they'll have. You've got them for everything else, so why not? It's not like it detracts from the game to include them, right? Maybe in your game no one ever plays or interacts with a farmer. Seems a bit odd, but whatever. In my game, we've had numerous scenarios in which knowing the skills of a farmer is useful. Let's see. Band of bad guys raiding the local farming community. Party arrives and rallies the locals into defending their town (with the party's help of course). That's a lot "better" storywriting then just having the mighty adventurers go off by themselves to kill off the bad guys, right? And during that fight, you might just find yourself next to a farmer wielding a scythe or hoe (they're in the weapons list for a reason, right?). And maybe, just maybe as a GM, it might help to know what that farmer's skill is... Or hey! Maybe the party has been infected with disease or poison. They stumble into a small farming village, weak and desperate. What are the odds that someone has a good enough plant lore to find the healing herbs that will save them? Gee. Would have been awfully convenient to have some kind of rules to figure that out, right? Like say a profession called "farmer" with lists of skills that they gain over time... Or... The party is traveling through some guys fields, when suddenly they're attacked by a roving band of broos. They're in a tough fight, there's a few farm hands in the immediate vicinity. If only we knew what kind of combat skills they might have so they could lend a hand... I'm again somewhat mystified why this is viewed as a problem. As I and several others have pointed out, you are under absolutely zero obligation to force your players to roll for their age or their occupation if you don't want. But having the tables available to do it if you want, and a fairly complete list of possible occupations complete with skills gained over time is IMO incredibly useful. Certainly, it's better then only having a set of rules for soldier types, and then only telling you what skills they gain if they start at age 25...
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