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Skill Category Modifiers


Vile Traveller

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Re: Skill Category Bonuses (BGB p. 31)

I like skill category modifiers because they make characteristics work for their character sheet space. However, I and many of the gamers I've come across have always found them a bit of a chore to work out and keep track of. As a referee, they are definitely a disincentive to creating situations where characteristic loss is a possibility. I think that's a bad thing because it removes one of the potential consequences of adventuring from the scenario arsenal. Over the decades, I've experimented with two variations, which are aimed at different things:

1) Base modifiers on only one characteristic (a bit like D&D 3.0+ did after I thought of it first). This has the advantage of simplicity, but it makes individual characteristics like INT and DEX much more important than others because most skills will be based on those two. Mind you, he same still holds true for the default system, where only INT and DEX are primary characteristics. So, on the whole, I think this is more balanced (without introducing artificial balancing mechanisms for the sake of them). Obviously, the modifiers have to increase to make up for the fact that there is only one characteristic involved rather than three or four.

2) Don't add the modifier to the skill. Treat it as a modifier to the chance of success. This has nothing to do with the characteristic loss issue, but it relates more to the nature of the benefit of category bonuses to skill users. The way I see it, a category bonus is an inherent advantage. However, adding it to the base chance at the front end simply means that character has a small boost in ability at an early stage. If you keep skill purely as base + training/experience, then skill improvement remains the same for all characters. But a character with a +10% modifier always has the edge over a character with no modifier. Basically, this means that modifiers retain their value throughout a character's life, rather than just saving him a bit of training time when he's starting out. The disadvantage, of course, is that every roll will have a modifier, whether it's easy, average or difficult.

I treat d100 rolls as separate from chance of success. I apply all modifiers to the chance, and then make the roll. The roll is always just read straight from the dice.

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Well MRQ2 were on the right track with having a skill's base chance equal the sum of two attributes. I like this because of simplicity. It's kinda like your first idea except it's taking into consideration two attributes instead of one.

I do, however, like your second idea Vile where the Skill Category bonuses are a constant bonus to the player-character's roll, rather than an inherent calulation to the skill. That's a really great way to maintain no change in actual skill chance, yet make the players feel they are receiving an ongoing bonus to their rolls due to their attributes - I may instigate this in my campaign, I think it could be a winner for me.

Nice work mate

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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I agree with your point 1) and base skills on just one characteristic (usually at x3).

You're probably right about point 2) as well, but I'm not worried about 'maintaining differentials' and couldn't be bothered with the extra admin (in fact I try to avoid adding bonuses at all, preferring just x2 or /2). Learning skills, all skills, I see more as derived from INT, so any increase roll over 100-2xINT earns an increase.

The link between skills and their base stat can be maintained by altering the skill accordingly if ever the stat changes, can't it?

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On the point about using category modifiers as a bonus rather than skill element. I personally don't like it. That's because I think that the big advantage of d100 roll under is simplicity and I don't want to have to add a bonus to every single roll. Especially a small one. Effectively it would turn BRP into a skill+stat+modifier system. That works ok in systems like d20 roll-over. Finally it means that when you look at a character sheet and see "hide 73%" you don't know what your normal chance of hiding actually is - you have to consult a second number first.

I tend to prefer the RQII method of using two characteristics though that it has its own problem of fiddly skill value changes when it comes to altering characteristics.

Not sure there is a system without drawbacks. If there was, I suspect someone would have found it.

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I tend to prefer the RQII method of using two characteristics though that it has its own problem of fiddly skill value changes when it comes to altering characteristics.

Not sure there is a system without drawbacks. If there was, I suspect someone would have found it.

Exactly.

As already stated, I favour the RuneQuest system (I will now stop referring to it as MRQ, as Mongoose is no longer the propelling force behind it) of calculating base chances. The BRP way of handling this is probably the most realistic, but it has a lot of drawbacks, like many RQ3/BRP rules such as Fatigue.

The reason why skills and modifiers are calculated as they are in the Alephtar sourcebooks is just the sake of compatibility with the Big Gold Book. We encourage players to use the RuneQuest method for skill base calculation even when they are playing BRP: it will make things easier for them. It works better even when characteristics are change by spells on a temporary bases, as there is no halving involved.

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Interesting feedback, thanks guys. I'm sure there is no perfect system - for every user the slider will stop somewhere different between complexity and realism.

On the subject of modifiers, I personally strongly favour simple additions and subtractions. I just don't get on with half chance and double chance. Normally I tend to stick with either +30% or -30%, but then I don't really do high fantasy stuff going way past 100% skills. That is the drawback of using ability modifiers on every roll, it complicates things although it also makes a lot of other things easier. My jury is still out on whether it's a net benefit or not.

Dreamscape Design: Crafters of the Finest Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Dreamscape Design: My Corner of BRP Central ... Mine, All Mine! 

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If you want to keep the skill category bonus system, instead of using it as a bonus for skill rolls, use it as a bonus for the skill improvement roll. It avoids computing bonus during the play but is statistically the same as 2). Or am I wrong ?

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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I do like the idea of adding a bonus to make the characters get a sense of their own attributes, but I've shifted my stance somewhat since my earlier enthusiatic post.

I was thinking about Vile's second point earlier in the day before I checked the forum again tonight, and came to the same conclusion, it would be just too fiddly in actual ongoing gameplay, especially seeing how the bonus will only be quite small. I tend to like my bonuses in 10% increments, so the Skill Cats wouldn't work all that well after all. By the time I've re-entered the banter here it looks like this has certainly already been acknowledged.

For the record, I guess I must also be a 'game-fogey' who prefers many of the rules straight from my old RQ3 as well. It has its flaws (yes, Fatigue, Divine Magic, etc), but overall I love the system and consider it the best BRP system at heart. I do like some of the ideas from MRQ2 however ( I also had a distaste for the term 'MRQ2', especially since it should be called RQ5, it felt sort of 'rude' somehow, as if ignoring the previous editions. But people know which ruleset you are referring to when you say MRQ2).

Perhaps Zit's idea of using Skill Cats with Skill Checks may be more along the lines actually. Didn't think of that before, but it should more or less work. Not a bad way to approach the idea, and certainly much less fiddly than adding tiny bonuses in the middle of a combat scene.

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Yes, I like Zit's idea, too. Must experiment.

I personally prefer RQ2 with bits of RQ3, but one of the RQ3 bits I didn't like was the superfine breakdown of skill category modifiers into odd percentile points. In practice, the RQ2 5% blocks are much easier on the brain, and make very little difference to actual play. When you do need to re-figure bonuses in mid-play, it's also much more feasible (still wouldn't call it easy).

I'm not really happy with the MRQ solution of basing skills on 2 stats. It's extremely simple, but it doesn't allow for cultural differences (unless you start adding modifiers) and there are no negative modifiers. It can be quite fun to occasionally have someone who has to train themselves up into positive percentiles before they get even base percentage in a skill.

Dreamscape Design: Crafters of the Finest Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Dreamscape Design: My Corner of BRP Central ... Mine, All Mine! 

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I'm late to the party, but converted (actually, and philosophically) to the current RQ system of modifiers as two characteristics, designated by skill. It works well:

* My players 'get' it. I don't have to answer endless questions about how to calculate stuff.

* When there is a characteristic reduction, it's really easy for its duration to say something like, "Ok, your DEX is reduced by 3, all DEX-based skills are -3% for the duration." Yeah, it's an in-game modifier to keep track of, but it's an in-game effect as well.\

* Racial, societal and other character-build issues are easily handled with a bonus to the skill at character creation. You're a lumberjack, you get +20% with Axes. You're an egyptian, you get +20% on Lore(Religion). Really simple.

I totally miss the negative bonuses: I loved in the original RQ that to maximize your sneakiness, you wanted a small SIZ and low POW. My players tolerated it, they never loved it.

My houserule (which I abandoned when adopting MRQ) was to add 1% to a category bonus whenever a skill within that category crossed a 10% boundary (10%, 20%, 30%, etc). So characters got better in all skills in a category as they advanced in any skill in the category. So I was pretty far along the rule complexity curve. My players liked it (something for nothing) but it was just too much work.

These days, simple is trumping realistic.

Steve

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My present approach is testing the single stat modifier per skill category (ala D20), in +/-10% lumps. It seems to be working all right, and it's very easy to calculate.

Dreamscape Design: Crafters of the Finest Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Dreamscape Design: My Corner of BRP Central ... Mine, All Mine! 

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If you want to keep the skill category bonus system, instead of using it as a bonus for skill rolls, use it as a bonus for the skill improvement roll. It avoids computing bonus during the play but is statistically the same as 2). Or am I wrong ?

Well, in RQ3, the category modifiers added to the chances of imrpvment as well as the base chances.

IMO the est solution is to add about 20% to the cargeot modfiers and use them as the base chance for all skills under a given category (other than the 00%/01% skills). That way you only need to caclautate a half dozen base skill % scores. In fact, skills at the base% ont need to be tracked. Skills that have very high base % can just be given easy difficulties, and those with very low base chances can be considered difficult.

That will give most of the benefits of the skill catgoies while still being low math.

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