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Al.

Characteristic

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So I have a tendency to over-tinker with rules ('my name's Al and I'm an over-tinkerer')

With the BRP SRD OGL TLA  I thought that I'd have a crack at NOT trying to reinvent the wheel.

I didn't get very far.

In Elric! (my goto 'cleanest' d100 version) skills are not affected by characteristic values. And this is the path taken by most (all?) versions of CoC (by far the most popular version of d100) and by PenDragron (probably my favourite RPG).

So my character has DEX 21 and I haven't put any points into Craft (Tap-Dancing) but yours has Dex 8 and chucked all 200 Backround points into that.

 

Grrrr. I'm struggling.

 

What do you lot do?

  • Treat this as a ridiculous, borderline strawman, edge-case and not worry.
  • Not sagely and say 'ah well your character didn't spend any time learning tap-dancing, stop being a munchkin'
  • Allow my character to make a characteristic roll ('Dexterity' or 'Agility' roll depending on exact version played) in place of Craft (Tap Dancing)
  • Allow my character a flat +20% to skill for having a Characteristic roll higher than skill (a la the Speed rule in Sailing on the Seas of Fate book)
  • Add skill categories? If so, how? (like RQIII? Like nuMW? Some other way?)
  • Wipe out a huge swathe of skills and replace them with Characteristic Rolls (like PenDragon does with Brawl, Climb, Jump, Stealth)?
  • Something else that I haven't thought of?

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How about adding a relevant associated attribute to the die roll when trying to roll over the skill on advancement checks? That way you learn faster in subjects for which you have greater aptitude, and more slowly where you're weaker. 

If that's too big a bump-up you could do 1/n * attribute, attribute -10 or something instead.

Edited by JonL

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If you'd keep Elric! as a base, then maybe I'd allow these options:

  • In case of tied success level, the character with higher characteristic wins
  • Allow each character to deduce its characteristic points to the dice roll

If not, I would cap skill levels at Characteristic x7 or something like that.

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11 hours ago, Al. said:

In Elric! (my goto 'cleanest' d100 version) skills are not affected by characteristic values. And this is the path taken by most (all?) versions of CoC (by far the most popular version of d100) and by PenDragron (probably my favourite RPG).

So my character has DEX 21 and I haven't put any points into Craft (Tap-Dancing) but yours has Dex 8 and chucked all 200 Backround points into that.

Your character may have the ultimate hand-eye coordination and be able to play the harp, juggle with lab equipment while handling skin contact venoms, and he still may lack a sense of balance required for tap-dancing.

Mine on the other hand is a teacher for tap dance who has put his entire career effort into mastering this one, narrow skill. He may not be the ultimate performer, but he may be an instructor who knows exactly how to learn this the hard way.

Raw talent only brings you so far without serious and systematic effort, and may actually stand in the way of systematic effort as your character will have studied his own way which works up to a limit but then leaves no room for improvement.

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Tap Dancing is a skill, like everything else. 

Someone with DEX 21 who learns to tap dance will be better than someone with DEX 8 who learns tap dance, but someone with DEX 8 who has spent years learning how to tap dance would be better than a beginner with DEX 21.

You can't just assume that DEX 21 means you are better at everything DEX-related. BRP is a skills-based game, so skills, and learning skills, are important.

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I agree with Soltakss.

Maybe one solution (I used it a few times for Magic World) would be:

If the character doesn't possess the skill and if (and only if) the planned action is reasonnably conceivable without any specific training, I allow the player to roll a characteristic check, but only with its actual score : for the DEX 21 example, it means a 21% check. And of course, I apply any relevant bonus/malus according to the circumstances.

Fair enough, I think.

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Thanks all, very useful comments.

I think that Soltakss' observation is the most helpful: BRP (or the one I'm looking at not changing too much) use skills for skill resolution.

The characteristics (in this version) don't affect skills. Therefore they don't affect skills!

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An on going bugbear in many systems with any sort skills is substituting generic stat rolls for skills.

The way I have formulated it for many years is this is that default stat checks can give basic success but never as well as an actual applicable skill. For example, in DP9s Silhouette there is a Perception stat and a Tracking skill. A Perception test will reveal there are tracks - but can never interpret them; to interpret the marks on the ground in anyway requires the specific skill.

If a character is asked to Tap Dance and has no skill, they can't do it - they know none of the specifics of the skill. They may have a DEX of 21 and be inherently graceful and well suited to learn the skill, and they can "dance" in the general sense of participate in a village festival celebration without tripping themselves or others etc - but without the specific skill, they can't do the specific thing the skill covers. If the character has a Flamenco Dancing skill, we would have a different discussion, of course... ;)

 

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I have decoupled characteristics from skills completely, makes life much easier. People do have different base chances depending on background, though. Characteristics still do their bit - hit points, initiative, damage bonus, and - not least - a handy shorthand for imagining what a character is like.

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Same as Vile. Most non-Chaosium systems nowadays do not use characteristic rolls at all (Legend, Mythras, OpenQuest, Renaissance, Revolution, can you name others?). There is always a generic skill you can use, just roll that.

Of course, this requires high characteristics to influence untrained skills in a significant way. And this is true in all the above examples, which use Stat+Stat as skill bases.

Cthulhu 7 does the exact opposite, encouraging use of characteristics for rolls by making characteristics percentile. The two approaches are antithetic and incompatible.

What to do if you do not want to go either of these two extreme ways, and want to keep it simple and not add modifiers to skill scores?

Simple: if there is a characteristic that could be relevant, as Loic suggested too, roll that characteristic on D100 if it is higher than your base skill score. This avoids calculations and still gives an edge to a beginner character with very high characteristics.

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