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I like it, and my player's are happier, when each character has their "thing" (this is just a preference). In an OSR RPG, every character has a class; in Savage Worlds, characters have all sorts of Edges that give them very different abilities); in the world of darkness game, each character has a splat that gives them completely different powers. However, it seems like in D100 systems (I happen to be using Renissance D100 and Pirates and Dragons), you end up with very similar characters - just a handful of % points difference. I'm sure I must be missing something. How do you differentiate characters?

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How are they all the same?  I mean are they all built similarly for combat? Assuming so, Id remind them that combat isn't the best way to get out of a situation. Then I'd explain all the ways the non combat skills can be used to generate a successful outcome without resorting to violence. Maybe also just how deadly combat in BRP games can be.

If it isn't their combat skill could you please explain what skills you mean?

Most of my players major differences come through how they play and which non combat skills they have focused in. There are so many skills in most versions of brp that I seldom have similar characters in my group but when I have they seem to enjoy using them to back each other up with bonuses and such. In the end though it all seems to shake out from how the character is played.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Archivist said:

I like it, and my player's are happier, when each character has their "thing" (this is just a preference). In an OSR RPG, every character has a class; in Savage Worlds, characters have all sorts of Edges that give them very different abilities); in the world of darkness game, each character has a splat that gives them completely different powers. However, it seems like in D100 systems (I happen to be using Renissance D100 and Pirates and Dragons), you end up with very similar characters - just a handful of % points difference. I'm sure I must be missing something. How do you differentiate characters?

Most BRP games have some kind of rules for training, and access to trainers is frequently a way to tie the player into belonging to the society he lives in rather than being a wandering nobody. 

Renaissance has rules for Teachers, which improve how fast you learn a skill. Have one character be a member of the Thieves Guild. He has access to teachers in a list of relevant skills. Another character might belong to a Fencing school, which has its own set of skills it teaches. Another belongs to society of academics, and so one. 

You can even blend this with the Renaissance Faction rules as well, making each source of teachers its own faction with all the mechanics that brings. Factions are another way to make players interesting beyond the skill numbers they have. 

Another thing to bring up is that BRP fans see the simplicity of characters on paper as a virtue, not a shortcoming. Your character is defined by they things you do in the game, not the things you buy out of a book with points between sessions. That's not a slam on Savage Worlds. I love Savage Worlds. It just scratches a different itch than BRP. 

In any case, in the close to 30 years I have been playing BRP on and off, I haven't seen players ever complain about not being able to tell each other apart. I don't think you will find it an issue when you sit down to play. 

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1 hour ago, Archivist said:

I like it, and my player's are happier, when each character has their "thing" (this is just a preference). In an OSR RPG, every character has a class; in Savage Worlds, characters have all sorts of Edges that give them very different abilities); in the world of darkness game, each character has a splat that gives them completely different powers. However, it seems like in D100 systems (I happen to be using Renissance D100 and Pirates and Dragons), you end up with very similar characters - just a handful of % points difference. I'm sure I must be missing something. How do you differentiate characters?

When you can't rely on the game mechanics to make your character unique, sometimes you end up doing more of that work yourself.

The best RuneQuest game I ever ran was one where I dictated that all PCs must be the same species and gender and come from the same culture, tribe, clan, village, and social class; then I told the players to pick the stats they wanted and see how different they could make characters with those constraints. We ended up with a smug, charismatic fight-picking Orlanth worshipper, his quiet, thoughtful Elmali hunter/outdoorsman brother, and their fierce honour-driven Humakti comrade (plus a Gustbran-worshipping smith who joined later); all of them were basically "fighter" types in D&D terms, but we never had any issues distinguishing those PCs from one another.

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2 hours ago, Archivist said:

I like it, and my player's are happier, when each character has their "thing" (this is just a preference). In an OSR RPG, every character has a class; in Savage Worlds, characters have all sorts of Edges that give them very different abilities); in the world of darkness game, each character has a splat that gives them completely different powers. However, it seems like in D100 systems (I happen to be using Renissance D100 and Pirates and Dragons), you end up with very similar characters - just a handful of % points difference. I'm sure I must be missing something. How do you differentiate characters?

You might want to check out either BRP Classic Fantasy or the upcoming RQ Classic Fantasy, the latter a publication coming soon from The Design Mechanism.

Classic Fantasy takes the versatility of the various D100 systems, and adds classes such as the fighter, ranger, cleric, etc. These are not the restrictive classes common to level based game systems, but they do each have their own unique special abilities so that each player can have their own "thing".

You can find more information about each version in their corresponding threads.

BRP version: http://basicroleplaying.org/topic/1328-classic-fantasy-a-return-to-the-dawn-of-roleplaying/

RQ version: http://basicroleplaying.org/topic/3342-runequest-classic-fantasy/

Plus you can join either of my Yahoo groups for "inside" info. Links in my sig.

Rod

Join my Mythras/RuneQuest 6: Classic Fantasy Yahoo Group at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/RQCF/info

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If you are using Pirates & Dragons then I thought the Talents system would cover the 'Splats-Feats' that you described. Also as already mentioned, the Faction rules from Renaissance can certainly go a long way to providing background colour as well.

I tend to think most differences are in the way a character behaves rather than a list of abilities.

Sometimes this can be re-enforced by a game mechanic. RQ6 uses Passions for this. They work quite well for portraying character motivations. Easily portable into Renaissance system. 

Failing that, just ask the player to choose a primary Personality Trait to give to their player - no %, just a descriptor. If they use that to good effect you may want to give them a bonus for a situation (equal to +25%). If you think it could be over-used, then attach a 1 PP cost to using it, but GM discretion is the best way to monitor such things. Conceptually this Personality Trait mechanic would be similar to the role of Passions to an extent, except more based on a enduring trait rather than fluctuating motivations and relationships.

Other than that I think the best thing is to encourage characters to roleplay their differences rather than rely on stat differences.

 

Edited by Mankcam
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" 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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You can try my latest game Eternity Realms as well. It's got a bit more flavour with different cults, new magics and heroic abilities.

Pdf here

Hardcover Here just make sure to go to the appropriate store if you get the hardcover.

 

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On 12/15/2015 at 8:41 AM, Archivist said:

I like it, and my player's are happier, when each character has their "thing" (this is just a preference). In an OSR RPG, every character has a class; in Savage Worlds, characters have all sorts of Edges that give them very different abilities); in the world of darkness game, each character has a splat that gives them completely different powers. However, it seems like in D100 systems (I happen to be using Renissance D100 and Pirates and Dragons), you end up with very similar characters - just a handful of % points difference. I'm sure I must be missing something. How do you differentiate characters?

+1 for using characterization/RP to differentiate!

OTOH, an admission is in order that the very structure of BRP seems to NOT support these sorts of things...  I think of this REALLY as a "feature" rather than a "bug."  

It's a classical complaint against RQ, particularly at higher power-levels as multiple abilities exceed 90%, that characters begin to seem homogenous... the "primary" skill/skillset (favored weapons for the warrior types, climb/stealth/hide for the "rogue" sorts, etc) slows down in improvement, and the "secondaries" begin to catch up; then even the third-tier skills begin to ascend to the lofty domains!  After a while, the clank-iest fighter and clumsiest spell-sage are only slightly less-stealthy than the Rogue; and the Rogue & spell-sage only slightly less-skilled with their swords than the clanky fighter.  And so on...

Why do I call this a "feature" rather than a "bug"?  Because it "feels right," like that's how it (mostly) SHOULD be.  Consider the "adventuring party" -- a party of armed to and beyond "normal military" standards, with additional "penetrate hard target" and "explore/evaluate unknown" specializations.  The closest real-life analogues I envision are something in the "special forces" military/intelligence/CovertOps domains, and those guys ARE all exceptionally combat-ready, exceptionally stealthy, exceptionally good at climb/etc...  95% in the core skills of EVERY adventuring "character class".   Sure, there's some "niche" but they are RARELY in-use compared to session-oriented RPG play:  One guy might be the "best" demolitions guy on a SpecialOps team, but few of them will be less than competent at it, etc.

Edited by g33k
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To continue G33k's point, I think niche protection makes some character types less fun. Playing the stealthy character in D&D is always an awkward compromise. Your skill only works if you split with the group which means the rest of the group might have to sit on the sidelines, or you might end up alone and in serious trouble. Stealth characters are much more fun when you have a whole group of stealthy people. 

Niche protection has some benefits, but its a mistake to pretend its a necessity of game design. 

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4 hours ago, g33k said:

Why do I call this a "feature" rather than a "bug"?  Because it "feels right," like that's how it (mostly) SHOULD be.  Consider the "adventuring party" -- a party of armed to and beyond "normal military" standards, with additional "penetrate hard target" and "explore/evaluate unknown" specializations.  The closest real-life analogues I envision are something in the "special forces" military/intelligence/CovertOps domains, and those guys ARE all exceptionally combat-ready, exceptionally stealthy, exceptionally good at climb/etc...  95% in the core skills of EVERY adventuring "character class".   Sure, there's some "niche" but they are RARELY in-use compared to session-oriented RPG play:  One guy might be the "best" demolitions guy on a SpecialOps team, but few of them will be less than competent at it, etc.

It really all depends on "how" classes are handled in a particular game.

As mentioned, both BRP Classic Fantasy and the upcoming RQ Classic Fantasy utilize classes. But there are no built in limits to the skills a class can or cannot use. Yes, one class may be the better at climbing walls and picking locks, and have some "special abilities" that support that, but there is no reason that the parties cleric or fighter can't have the same skills in excess of 90% or even higher.

So as you mentioned; "One guy might be the "best" demolitions guy on a SpecialOps team, but few of them will be less than competent at it." This can easily be handled with classes if their not done in a restrictive manner.

Rod

Edited by threedeesix

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19 hours ago, g33k said:

I think of this REALLY as a "feature" rather than a "bug."  

This!

And one of the main reasons why I've played this game over the other for nearly 35 years.

Cheers!

Edited by Sunwolfe
typo

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I don't understand why all characters would eventually become masters of all trades since in most BRP-family games you only get better in those skills that you actually use. So if you suck in a skill, you're not going to get better unless you get training. To get training you will have to find a teacher, time and money or other resources to pay for it, so it may not be easy. And you can only train so far. Therefore I fail to see achieving niche protection as a problem, if you're into that kind of thing.

Like others have pointed out, the traditional way to differentiate character progression in RQ&BRP is membership in cults and other organisations which defines what kind of training and magic you have available. But it is true, that any character can, at least in theory, get good in any skill and that is an important feature and a main selling point for BRP. If, for some reason you want to arbitrarily limit what skills are avalaible to certain character, then just say that they can't put points to those skills in character creation and don't make training available. Problem solved.

Edited by smjn
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Niche protection also suggests to me a style of gaming that I find boring. It sounds like something you need in a game where you sit around waiting for the GM to ask you to roll a particular skill and hoping that you are the only one that can raise your hand, so you can get some attention. I can almost see people fiddling with their phones between their chance to roll the dice. 

If I am an invested in a game, I am moving forward with goals that I want to do. If I am genuinely interested in getting to the other side of a door, it's not going to ruin the game for me if the guy sitting next to me is as capable of picking the lock as I am. 

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5 hours ago, Baulderstone said:

Niche protection also suggests to me a style of gaming that I find boring. It sounds like something you need in a game where you sit around waiting for the GM to ask you to roll a particular skill and hoping that you are the only one that can raise your hand, so you can get some attention.

Niche protection makes me think of archetypes which leads me right in the direction of rigid classes. Defined roles that excel at one gameplay feature better than any other role. Perhaps a comfortable playstyle for some, but a straight-jacket for those that enjoy BRP games.

BRP/RQ as a system has rejected archetypes since its beginnings as a system, allowing the player to develop their character in a more natural and realistic(*) fashion. Characters are differentiated by either their cultural and occupational background (which in some versions of BRP defines starting skill levels) to start, and then by how their skills develop through play (Experience Checks or Improvement Points) or through training. Few versions of BRP have used advantages/disadvantages or perks/flaws. BRP characters are often differentiated through more than just a handful of skill points, and have the freedom to evolve in whichever direction their player chooses. More wide-open choices than are offered by classes, or even multi-classing.

If your players are happier with their characters having their own archetypical "thing" then maybe D&D, Vampire, and Savage Worlds are just better options for them, and BRP won't work for them. BRP doesn't work for everyone, clearly.

* - I hate to use the term realistic when it comes to fantasy games. Perhaps verisimilitudinous or natural is a better way to phrase it. BRP characters are a simulation of a character, and that character's development, within a game world. That is the real advantage of BRP - a strong emphasis on a simulationist style of play - a style that I've only seen equaled by GURPS. D&D/Vampire/Savage Worlds, IMO, can't even come close to touching that playstyle, because they're geared towards the high-powered, the super-heroic, the anti-verisimilitudinous.

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4 hours ago, K Peterson said:

If your players are happier with their characters having their own archetypical "thing" then maybe D&D, Vampire, and Savage Worlds are just better options for them, and BRP won't work for them. BRP doesn't work for everyone, clearly.

Sorry but I have to disagree.

BRP Classic Fantasy was the best selling non-Cthulhu Monograph published by Chaosium for the last five years of the Monograph run. It included Classes featuring all of the archtypes made famous by AD&D. Obviously, someone liked and used them.

I would rather have a BRP/RuneQuest/D100 game that says, "hey, come check this out, it has all the archtypes your already familiar with, but uses a much better system", then say, "sorry, we cant help you, but enjoy your D&D, Vampire, and Savage Worlds".

Obviously, Classic Fantasy and its Classes cater to a certain type of gamer and isn't necessarily for everyone, but that type of gamer happens to be the largest demographic in this industry, and we could use a few more of them.

Rod

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Classic Fantasy tackled archetypes brilliantly.  It provides a character framework while not becoming rigid.

maybe I've been lucky or maybe it's some fluke of the BRP rules that I usually run but I haven't experienced PCs blending together.  The PCs in my games have all seemed to have found their own approaches to the challenges before them.  They feel like very different characters disputed sometimes having similar skill levels.  It may be because most difficult challenges my players run into are either social, cultural or environmental.  Combat is often over quickly (and is sometimes better avoided).

i don't know, both approaches seem fine to me.  Using rules that provide a standardized character difference or going without something like that are valid options.

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I think starting archetypes are an entirely different thing to niche protection. I like starting archetypes because it can be a hassle as a new player to have a big fat pile of skill points to distribute. I don't have Classic Fantasy, as I am waiting for the RQ6 (or whatever its called now) version. It doesn't sound any more restrictive than being a member of a cult in RQ.

To me its only niche protection if you pick an archetype and are stuck in it. 

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1 hour ago, Baulderstone said:

I think starting archetypes are an entirely different thing to niche protection. I like starting archetypes because it can be a hassle as a new player to have a big fat pile of skill points to distribute. I don't have Classic Fantasy, as I am waiting for the RQ6 (or whatever its called now) version. It doesn't sound any more restrictive than being a member of a cult in RQ.

To me its only niche protection if you pick an archetype and are stuck in it. 

Actually, I used the rules for Cults to design the various classes. If you know how Cults work, you already know how classes work. The only difference is that instead of Cults and Brotherhoods, Classic Fantasy refers to them as Orders and Guilds.

Rod

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17 hours ago, smjn said:

I don't understand why all characters would eventually become masters of all trades since in most BRP-family games you only get better in those skills that you actually use. So if you suck in a skill, you're not going to get better unless you get training. To get training you will have to find a teacher, time and money or other resources to pay for it, so it may not be easy. And you can only train so far. Therefore I fail to see achieving niche protection as a problem, if you're into that kind of thing.

The problem here is that if you put a party through a series of experiences, sooner or later all of the characters will have made the same kinds of experiences. Especially if these skills are ones that had no obvious champion in the party at the onset.

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 hours ago, Baulderstone said:

To me its only niche protection if you pick an archetype and are stuck in it. 

As I understand the term, it's not so much a matter of inflexible archetypes as of having special abilities that nobody else has access to.  The abilities create your niche, and the exclusivity protects you from having anyone else threaten your hold on that niche.  So you can have restrictive class-based systems without niche protection (everyone gets the same abilities, just in different proportions).  Niche protection without classes is also possible, but I'd expect to see that as a style of play rather than something enforced by system, simply because no rulebook is likely to have a rule that, e.g., "Only one of the PCs may take Lockpicking and Stealth skills."

1 hour ago, Joerg said:

The problem here is that if you put a party through a series of experiences, sooner or later all of the characters will have made the same kinds of experiences. Especially if these skills are ones that had no obvious champion in the party at the onset.

While all the characters may face the same situations, they won't necessarily address them in the same way.  Faced with a locked door, one character might choose to pick the lock, while another might bash the door down, so each of them would then (in BRP) develop their abilities differently, despite having faced the same situation.

Note that this doesn't even rely on the first character starting with a superior Lockpicking skill and the second being stronger.  I've frequently seen GMs reporting that they've run con games and given out identical character sheets to every player in the game, then watched as every player ran their character completely differently than any of the (mechanically identical) others.

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On 12/15/2015 at 4:41 PM, Archivist said:

I like it, and my player's are happier, when each character has their "thing" (this is just a preference). In an OSR RPG, every character has a class; in Savage Worlds, characters have all sorts of Edges that give them very different abilities); in the world of darkness game, each character has a splat that gives them completely different powers. However, it seems like in D100 systems (I happen to be using Renissance D100 and Pirates and Dragons), you end up with very similar characters - just a handful of % points difference. I'm sure I must be missing something. How do you differentiate characters?

In D100 games, PCs are differentiated by their attributes, skills, spells, abilities, allegiances, personalities and weapons. 

Two fighters can be very different, one could be a strict bodyguard who hates undead and the other can be a berserking killer of anything that moves, one can use a sword and the other an axe, one can have Truesword and Turn Undead, the other Berserker and Face Chaos, one could have mastered Sense Assassin the other Sense Chaos. 

 

Now, in a game without vastly different cults, such as Renaissance D100, the options are more limited, but using different weapons and having different skills is often enough to differentiate PCs. As starting characters, they may well appear quite similar, but as the game progresses they should become more and more different.

 

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3 hours ago, soltakss said:

Now, in a game without vastly different cults, such as Renaissance D100, the options are more limited, but using different weapons and having different skills is often enough to differentiate PCs. As starting characters, they may well appear quite similar, but as the game progresses they should become more and more different.

I don't have extensive enough BRP experience to say whether it's true or not, but the complaint I usually hear is just the opposite, that, as the game progresses, characters become increasingly similar because of the way that skill progression works.  You get to roll for improvement in every skill you use meaningfully, so carry a golf bag of weapons and you can roll to improve every weapon; look for opportunities to sneak, so you can roll to improve that; etc.  But the roll to improve gets less likely as the skill gets higher, so the people who started out low will catch up with those who started high.  Play long enough and (so the complaints claim) everyone will have all the same skills at roughly the same (high) level.

I'm sure the complaints are exaggerated, of course.  Having actually read the rules, I know about training for focused development and that the GM can shut down players who "tick hunt" too obviously and so on.  But I can also see how BRP could be played in ways that make the complaints more-or-less accurate.

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