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Vile

AEON:engine™ - Characteristic Modifiers

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I'm likely to put down a disparate plethora of thoughts on this board as I take a fresh look at the AEONS™ project and determine what will bits will survive the transition to AEON:engine™. Discussion is more fun than bouncing ideas off the inside of my own skull. :)

As you are all no doubt aware characteristic modifiers have been with us from day one, with the very minimal modifiers of Original D&D and Classic Traveller through the more fine-grained systems like RuneQuest 3 to what seems to be a general tendency towards quantitatively increased bonuses today. At the same time there has been a move towards more coarse-grained situational modifiers in an attempt to limit the amount of book keeping at the table, like the advantage / disadvantage rule of D&D 5E or even the chunky modifiers suggested in OpenQuest.

Now, personally I have never been a fan of big skill modifiers based on characteristics, especially in a skill-based game like Basic Roleplaying. Remember that many iterations of BRP don't have characteristic modifiers for skills. I don't believe there is enough variation in human potential to make a great difference, certainly not as much as training / research / experience. Coupled with the move away from relatively insignificant modifiers in games, I'm seriously considering to completely remove characteristic modifiers for skills in AEON:engine™.

This has led me to look back at the point of characteristics in the first place. If they no longer determine whether you are better or worse in game terms, what do they do? Quite a lot, it turns out:

  1. Hit points, power points, and damage are still determined by characteristics.
  2. There are always characteristic rolls for situations where skills are not appropriate.
  3. Characteristics are the foundation of the player's image of a character.
Edited by Vile

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I like the way that Legend/RQ6 uses Characteristics to give the base chance of individual skills. It is neat, tidy and easy to use. It also cuts down on bookkeeping and allows skills to be listed alphabetically, which makes them easier to find on a character sheet. 

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The issue I have with the use of characteristics as a base chance for skills is that I see this as much more of a culture thing. If base chances are entirely derived from characteristics the reasoning would indicate that a clone grown in a vat would have these skills upon decanting, but humans are products of their environment and everything they know they have learned from those around them. So, 16-year olds from different cultures would have a completely different set of base chances and in some (many?) cases even different skills.

I should, in this context, point out that AEON:core™ is the most basic version of the AEON:engine family. Even so, there will be some sample backgrounds and professions. Basically, there will be no "standard" base chances for any of the skills. And I'm sticking to a simpler 5%-step mechanic akin to RQ2.

What this means is that the variation in starting skills will be down to culture (and profession, if any) rather than characteristics. Like most of the design decisions in A:e this is down to evaluating complexity vs. contribution for every rule.

Edited by Vile

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Legend and RQ6 give bonuses to skills by culture as well.

But, I see what you mean and having a different base skill by culture makes sense, if you are not planning to have a culture step in chargen.

 

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I do intend to have a culture step as a fundamental basis of character generation even in A:e, which is where my reasoning comes from - splitting base skill into two components (RQ6/Legend) or even three (RQ3) seems unnecessary for the tiny amount of extra variation you get. If you start from the premise of a minimal system, that is.

Thanks for your feedback, Simon, it's helped me articulate this in my own mind.  :)

Edited by Vile

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The issue I have with the use of characteristics as a base chance for skills is that I see this as much more of a culture thing. If base chances are entirely derived from characteristics the reasoning would indicate that a clone grown in a vat would have these skills upon decanting, but humans are products of their environment and everything they know they have learned from those around them. So, 16-year olds from different cultures would have a completely different set of base chances and in some (many?) cases even different skills.

I should, in this context, point out that QUEST:core™ is the most basic version of the QUEST:n™ family. Even so, there will be some sample backgrounds and professions. Basically, there will be no "standard" base chances for any of the skills. And, like AEONS™, I'm sticking to a simpler 5%-step mechanic akin to RQ2.

What this means is that the variation in starting skills will be down to culture (and profession, if any) rather than characteristics. Like most of the design decisions in Q:n this is down to evaluating complexity vs. contribution for every rule.

With regards to culture and characteristics...

Skills, while heavily formed by environment, are not completely reliant on it. People do have innate talents (product of cultural "memory"? Who knows). What I would suggest is cultural skills which base on characteristics. Skills from outside the culture should have to be learned before characteristics come into it. Perhaps after the first Learning roll, the character gets half the normal calculated characteristic score, if they crit their Learning roll, then the full calculated characteristic score.

OTOH, going without modifiers is good too. Cthulhu hasn't had them outside an optional rule that started in Cthulhu Now.

QUEST:core...

5% steps? Why? When dealing with base100 numbers, something that ends in 0 or 5 is really no harder to comprehend than normal 0-9 digits (or at least it shouldn't be). Roll lower than your score, X happens. Even in RQ2, when I read it, I couldn't understand it. This was even reinforced by the group I was in, we were essentially playing 2.5, percentiles were percentiles.

If your going to go with 5% steps, why not just strip it down all the way and change the die to a d20? Players would have to do a bit more to convert to higher levels of Quest, but it would be easier for new players to grasp as they are probably more familiar with d20 rolls and more likely to have around.

SDLeary

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5% steps are simply a matter of convenience for most things like character generation, training, etc. There is still a lot more granularity with D100 than d20 and there are times when steps may drop below 5% or even below 1%.

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