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Advantages Disadvantages Hate Them But...


trechriron

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I have learned to despise all disad/ad, merit/flaw, systems. I hate feats. I hate anything that tries to create some arbitrary "point balance" that then turns all the players into "optimization monkeys" pining for the best combination of awesome fiddly bits that detracts from anything important going on in the imaginary world we're creating.

So, I have been leaning towards BRP because of it's accessibility, generic approach (I like generic systems), and classic feel. Oh, and no ad/disad system!! ;D

I am getting ready to run an Eclipse Phase game set in the future of that setting with anti-gravity and FTL technologies, colonies, and a more Transhuman Dark Horror Conspiracy Space Opera thing than the default setting. But I want to keep much of the fundamental technology of the setting.

I imagine there are myriad ways to handle "morphs". Generally, in the setting you have a cortical stack that records your Ego 84,700 times a day. If you get killed, they can recover this cortical stack and "re-sleeve" you into a new "morph". There are myriad types of morphs. There is all kinds of cyber and bio enhancements.

I could use some super-powers in some form (which I am leaning towards) but there is much to be said about creating "templates" of these morphs so when characters re-sleeve they have some standard bonuses, penalties and abilities that are particular to the morph, not the character. I think morphs need to be defined as equipment. Frankly, the setting basically identifies all morphs (flesh, synthetic) as property. :-D

I don't want to hack on the "traits" system from EP. It's a point based advantage/disadvantage system and I don't want this part of my game! :-D

So, how would you handle creating morphs with BRP?

Trentin C Bergeron

Bard, Dreamer & RPG Enthusiast

My Blog | My Worlds

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Anything but a random assignment system is going to have aspects of trade-offs, which is all a disad/advantage system does in the end.

But I know in general trying to convince BRP people that their biases here is counterproductive is generally a waste of time, so I'll just leave this to someone else.

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Anything but a random assignment system is going to have aspects of trade-offs, which is all a disad/advantage system does in the end.

But I know in general trying to convince BRP people that their biases here is counterproductive is generally a waste of time, so I'll just leave this to someone else.

Don't do that! I am genuinely interested in your opinion. I am not a BRP grognard, just a general grognard. :-D So, your insights might inspire new insights in me. Discussion is fruitful, hence why I post on discussion boards!

Edited by trechriron
spleenngins

Trentin C Bergeron

Bard, Dreamer & RPG Enthusiast

My Blog | My Worlds

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It depends a lot on how advantages and disadvantages are handled by the system, they do not

automatically lead to min/maxing or - worst case - munchkinism.

One example could be Hollow Earth Expedition, where each character can choose one advanta-

ge, one disadvantage and one resource. This helps to make characters different, to give them

some individuality, but since a character can (normally) only have one of each kind, and they

have no point values or thelike, there is a strict limit for min/maxing.

Even with systems like GURPS with its fat catalogue of advantages and disadvantages it basical-

ly depends on the players (I am tempted to write "their maturity" ...) whether the system is a

way to create exactly the plausible, unique character of a player's character concept or some

monster based solely on an opportunistic use of the game mechanics.

In the end advantages, disadvantages, feats and all that are just tools, and like all tools they

can be misused - but this misuse is not a problem of the tools, only of the users. ;)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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IIn the end advantages, disadvantages, feats and all that are just tools, and like all tools they

can be misused - but this misuse is not a problem of the tools, only of the users. ;)

And of the designers (somewhat). Most people are going to take advantage of any obvious edge in a situation, and ADS/DISADS systems tend to become something of a self preservation tactic. And it's not just with things that are advertsised as ADs A good example is White Wolf's Vampire RPG. Everybody takes the Celerity discipline, partly because it lets them get multiple actions, but mostly because all the NPCs have it, so the PCs need to take it to survive.

I don't mind ADS/DISADS in general. They usually allow for much more character diversity than would otherwise be the case. It certainly beats the alternative (a world where no one is ever double jointed, or has eidetic memory, ever). But, like most other additions, it is a mixed blessing.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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All right.

Basically, the problem you're going to have importing an advantage/disadvantage system to BRP is that BRP is not built to a common metric. What I mean by that is that a game that is built to be a complete build point approach from the ground up usually has an equivalent cost function for all character components out the get-go (there are exceptions; the game JAGS has a separate pool of points for paranormal abilities (Archetype Points) that don't really map to the points used for mundane character abilities and Fuzion tried to semi-isolate its pools of points to mixed success).

My own feeling is that the pool that can be most profitably used as the basis of Advantage/Disadvantage modifications in BRP is attributes; there are some problems with treating all attributes as worth the same (particularly Appearance, and in some settings Power or Strength) but at least you're on a common ground of things that are fundamentally high value and do not improve quickly. Now how exactly you'd map the Eclipse Phase style costs and values to that pool I'm not sure.

(I'd more or less decided that if I ever did an Adv/Disad system for BRP I'd keep it simple; the loss/gain from the attribute build pool would be as follows (this is based extremely roughly on the core logic used in the Disadvantage system in Hero); Each disadvantage or advantage would yield or be priced based on frequency of problem/utility, cross indexed with degree of problem and utility. There'd be three cases in each axis: Uncommon, Common and Very Common, and Mild, Moderate and Strong as to potency. An Uncommon, Mild Disadvantage or Advantage would yield/cost one attribute point; upping each side would increase this each one per step, so that a Very Common, Strong Disadvantage/Advantage would yield/cost five attribute points. One can do a lot by managing how much total yield/cost you can do here to avoid problems too; most of the real problems with Disadvantage systems come from encouraging too many of them.)

You might want to take a page from Superworld (the full version, not the WoW version); it had disadvantages but they only yielded points in its Powers build. That could potentially include attribute or skill boosters, of course (it did in Superworld) but they're a separate beast at least.

Unfortunately, anything as extensive as EP is going to require a significant amount of upfront work.

Edited by Nightshade
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I was thinking that having AD/DISAS come out of the skill point pool might work. Skills are built on a more equal footingthat stats. While I'll admit that Craft(Wood) probably isn't as useful in most campaign as Sword or Pistol, I think that is offset somewhat by the fact that players have freedom in how they spend their skill points.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I'd treat "sleeves" as equipment, limited by the character's credit rating, and use a sort-of point buy to determine the cost of a sleeve. Perhaps that just postpones the problem.

Anything that sticks with the character I'd treat as a straight skill: Sensor Use, Gravitic Steering, etc. I'd imagine, even with integrated circuitry, a mind needs to practice using particular sensors, manipulators, and motors to get the most out of them.

Frank

"Welcome to the hottest and fastest-growing hobby of, er, 1977." -- The Laundry RPG
 
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My own feeling is that the pool that can be most profitably used as the basis of Advantage/Disadvantage modifications in BRP is attributes...

I was thinking that having AD/DISAS come out of the skill point pool might work...

Why couldn't ADS/DISADS simply have their own pool, like they do in Ars Magica (at least, in the second edition they did)? Pick 7 points of positive virtues and 7 points of flaws. Some of these virtues and flaws might affect attributes or skills or powers, some might influence gameplay and story.

"Tell me what you found, not what you lost" Mesopotamian proverb

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Why couldn't ADS/DISADS simply have their own pool, like they do in Ars Magica (at least, in the second edition they did)? Pick 7 points of positive virtues and 7 points of flaws. Some of these virtues and flaws might affect attributes or skills or powers, some might influence gameplay and story.

It could, but I for one wouldn't use that approach. What I don't like about that method is that someoene with an advantange MUST have disadvantages to pay for it. It eventually leads to players getting worried whenever the meet a NPC who is missing an arm or is blind, as they figure he is probably a major NPC and that he "bought" something good with "blindness".

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I had to do a little reading about the setting, as I'm not familiar with it. Keep in mind the following suggestions are kind of shots in the dark. My question would be, what do you want to emulate.

For ads/disads you may want to just crib from GURPS. It's pretty easy to adapt GURPS stuff.

The monograph Rubble and Ruin has some ads/disads combined with cybernetics and psi. It may be worth looking into.

Referencing the Gold Book, I'd say you want to look at Mutations, Psionics and Equipment/Super Powers.

I've got some ideas on how I might run the purchasing of new designer bodies but it would take a little bit of work to put it all together and pull it off. If you're interested I'll post a synopsis but it may be a bit far off of what you're looking to do.

70/420

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I'm not a fan of ads/disads either...

What is the issue with just keeping the 'morphs' and such as equipment? I'm not up on the EP setting but it seems like they're an in-game resource that is paid for by other in-game resources. Like you said, 'property'.

Is it because they become a part of the character and can't easily be taken away (similar to skills and powers?).

Why can't the money/influence/atta-boys that are buying the 'morphs' suffice as the point-buy system for obtaining them?

I must be missing something here...

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Why couldn't ADS/DISADS simply have their own pool, like they do in Ars Magica (at least, in the second edition they did)? Pick 7 points of positive virtues and 7 points of flaws. Some of these virtues and flaws might affect attributes or skills or powers, some might influence gameplay and story.

Mostly that it means anyone with an Advantage must have a Disadvantage and vice versa, unless the pool is a non-zero at the start. The virtue of my approach is you can, for example, have a single character in a group who has an Advantage, even if no one else does, and not have any Disadvantages per se (though obviously lower attributes are a disadvantage of sorts inherently).

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I ran the game at a local game day. It's actually very VERY similar to BRP in many aspects. It uses a seperate pool of "customization points" that are used for traits, you can get 50 points from negative traits and buy upto 50 points in postive traits. All in all the system works so I am going to use the system in EP for EP. However, I am working on a "trait" system for BRP that brings what I want to BRP without point balance baggage. :-D I have to finish the GM screen first. :-D

Trentin C Bergeron

Bard, Dreamer & RPG Enthusiast

My Blog | My Worlds

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  • 2 weeks later...

However, I am working on a "trait" system for BRP that brings what I want to BRP without point balance baggage. :-D I have to finish the GM screen first. :-D

I like the idea of the rule book to use the Power Points to buy Powers. Maybe you can use these as a basis and then rule a PC can get more Power Points by taking disadvantages (like mentioned on p.142 Character Failings).

In my opinion it is all in the Big Golden Book, the only thing you need to do is to create a list with Failings and a list of Powers with their point costs. As you already have a list of both in EP, it should be simple. And, to say it, I did run EP in that way some weeks ago and nobody did complain.

Most Advantages can be simulated by the different forms of Powers mentioned in the rules book, so that should give you a kind of ideas what the point costs should be like. Having a look at Rubble & Ruins should also help you a lot regarding cybernetic enhancements and bioengineered features.

Like others said before, the Sleeves used in EP should be some kind of equipment, giving the sleeved character some + and - to skills and attributes. With attributes, divide the percentage by 5 to get a rough number.

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The point buy system is Rubble and Ruin is the system from The Book in Yellow coupled with a short list of what characters can buy. There are two things that keep it “BRPish” in my mind.

First, there are not too many points in play. A maxed out “powers” character (a cyborgs or nanopsionicist) will only have 18/2+3 or 12 points to spend – while the character with the least “powers” will have 3/2=2 points.

Second, I included mundane “powers” so that a non-powers character can spend their POW/2 points on character development. If a PC has POW=10 or 5 points to spend, they can get some extra background skills, maybe raise a skill to 90% (instead of the NORMAL cap of 75%) – things like that; a few extra decisions in character generation, but nothing too complex.

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The point buy system is Rubble and Ruin ...

I need to order this. Working on a couple Eclipse Phase things, then back into the two BRP projects. I am using EP as written BUT I may just have to run Rubble and Ruin for a Game Day slot. Peoples love post-apocalypse!! PA in Vegas should be interesting... Resident Evil!!!

Trentin C Bergeron

Bard, Dreamer & RPG Enthusiast

My Blog | My Worlds

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Advantages and Disadvantages seem to always be a problem. I remember when playing Cyberpunk and Top Secret, everyone would take the same ones all the time. However, many of them can be cool and interesting. The problem is, as stated by other posters is munchkins just stacking the best. I've learned to either limit the advantages or even have the group roll off to see who picks first and once one is taken it is "off the market".

The other thing I've also learned is to just let them have it. We are all at the table for fun and the one thing I've mellowed on is the rules and being too realistic. Players come in many varieties so I say let 'em fly.

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I tend to give players some bonus when they come up with a good character concept of background story. I read it and then juge "this here will give you a bonus in certain situations" and so on. In one way it helps the Players to create a character and think about him, and in an other way it gives them a clear idea when they can hope for a bonus.

This works for Disadvantages as well. They do not get negative effects (other than roleplaying) for them, but I reward them if they play out their Disadvantages. One way is to allow them an automatic success for one die roll. Or a d3 to d6 increase of their current Power Points, Health or Fatigue.

It brings Roleplaying more to life and we have fun with that.

This does not mean a character needs to have special powers or such a thing that can be build with the Super Powers rules. I had a Player who's character had a better vision than usual, so I granted him a +10% for Spot checks - no superpower necessary.

For me, many gamers think too much "in a box", needing rules for anything to get benefits. People should _think_ about their character, come up with a good background and then discuss the possibilities with the GM (and write them down for later reference!). This worked for many many years and only the latest incarnation of RPGs have the concept of Adv./Dis~ which in my experience limit players ant their imagination. It cuts RPGs down to statistics and rules, unnecessarily. Only because it is not in the rule book would mean a player cannot have it.

I do not, under no circumstances, like the idea of "Feats" that allow you to use certain things (like a Heavy Weapons Feat to allow you to use a Flamethrower or Bazooka). This is just silly in my opinion.

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...Or a d3 to d6 increase of their current Power Points, Health or Fatigue...
That is a really good idea, one that I will probably implement immediately. Right now I give extra Hero Points at the end of sessions, based on roleplaying. But your idea is even more immediate.

I can still use the hero points for overall good roleplaying, but for over-the-top roleplaying, I could give an immediate 1D3 that they could choose to add to hit points, magic points, or to fatigue right then.

That would get my players to sit up and beg!

Steve

Bathalians, the newest UberVillians!

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