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Algesan

Character Creation - Figuring Skill Caps

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Okay, maybe I missed this in the BRB, but I'm trying to work this since while I'm currently doing a familiarization run with converted characters, I plan on starting a new campaign with new characters later and this has been brought up.

The question is about skill percentage caps.  For purposes of this discussion, assume creating characters with skill cap of 50%

1.  Skill category bonuses: Do they add on top of the skill cap or are they part of the skill cap?

2.  Using the assumption that the Base Chance for a skill simply gives a "bonus" of free points, so that it only costs, for example, 20 points to max First Aid at 50, how does one handle skills with variable Base Chance, specifically weapons.  Energy Pistols can be from 5% to 20% base chance, so does the character have to be capped at 50% including the base chance (and category bonus?) depending on the weapon they use?  Or in the case of weapons (which is really the only place this applies), does the character get to buy the skill up to Max Skill -5 (minimum base chance) or does their starting Max Skill depend on the weapon they use?   (NOTE: I'm just seeing some potential for even accidental min-maxing going on by buying up the skill using a lower Base weapon, then swapping out quickly to a higher base weapon, but given that this also affects skill increase rolls, it can be an issue.)

Thanks.

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I suspect that no-one bothered to post as the subject doesn't have an official answer. If you are going to put a skill cap in place then it's down to the players and GM to agree on the cap and what it means.

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What Nigel said.

My own advice would be rather than formulating a hard CAP (which as said is fraught with problems of definition), take a leaf out of Magic World's approach and define a maximum add: so  for example no one can add more than 30 points to a professional skill or 15 points to a personal Interest skill. Adjust values according to style of campaign.

It achieves what I think is the underlying aim (that people don't overload what they see as key skills to detriment of others, producing weirdly implausible characters), but is easier to implement. It doesn't impose a hard boundary, but there are few hard boundaries in the BRP skill system that have huge mechanical effects.

Cheers,

Nick

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I think how a skill cap is implemented depends mostly on why you are implementing it and what you are trying to get from it. 

For example, if your goal is to keep the new characters at the same general skill ratings as existing characters then you'd want to set a cap at around the same skill % scores as the existing characters. In such a case you wouldn't want things like cat mods or such to add to that, since it would circumvent the purpose of using skill caps in the first place. 

 

I've never implemented a skill cap in my games, mostly because I've rarely had to deal with people bringing in experienced characters, and when I've had to, I haven't had to worry much about "one trick ponies" breaking the game. Then again, I'm the GM who let a PC bleed to death for lack of any first aid skill, so my players have gotten the idea that characters that have too narrow a skill focus have a lot of vulnerabilities. 

 

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On 9/30/2017 at 4:39 PM, Algesan said:

Okay, maybe I missed this in the BRB, but I'm trying to work this since while I'm currently doing a familiarization run with converted characters, I plan on starting a new campaign with new characters later and this has been brought up.

The question is about skill percentage caps.  For purposes of this discussion, assume creating characters with skill cap of 50%

1.  Skill category bonuses: Do they add on top of the skill cap or are they part of the skill cap?

If you have someone with a base skill of 25% and a Bonus of 30% then you exceed the Skill Cap without spending any points.

So, I would assume the Skill cap ignores the Skill Category Bonus.

 

2.  Using the assumption that the Base Chance for a skill simply gives a "bonus" of free points, so that it only costs, for example, 20 points to max First Aid at 50, how does one handle skills with variable Base Chance, specifically weapons.  Energy Pistols can be from 5% to 20% base chance, so does the character have to be capped at 50% including the base chance (and category bonus?) depending on the weapon they use?  Or in the case of weapons (which is really the only place this applies), does the character get to buy the skill up to Max Skill -5 (minimum base chance) or does their starting Max Skill depend on the weapon they use?   (NOTE: I'm just seeing some potential for even accidental min-maxing going on by buying up the skill using a lower Base weapon, then swapping out quickly to a higher base weapon, but given that this also affects skill increase rolls, it can be an issue.)

 

You might be over-thinking this, to be honest.

I would just give all Energy Pistols the same base chance, to get around this.

Even if someone could do what you have suggested, good luck to them, it doesn't break the game.

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On 10/12/2017 at 6:40 AM, Algesan said:

Thanks for the input.

To be honest, I was waiting for people with more experience at playing BRP to reply.

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Actually, thanks for some answers, especially if there is no official response for this.

What I've boiled it down to is that for "hard" caps in character creation, that Cap = Base + Bonus + Points spent....and if it just so happens that Base + Bonus > Cap, then so it is and congrats on your good stats.  For weapons, since I'm pretty much handing out the starting weapons (i.e. what they have skill in), then they have to use the Base associated with their starting weapon...and if they get one with a bigger Base, good for them and if they get one with a lower Base, too bad, so sad (at least you didn't need to pay for another skill). 

 

Finally for the specific campaign, I simply kind of stole a bit from the NPC list and gave them the same skills (in this case, since they are all just coming out of training) and locked many of those at what I wanted for the starting max...including the weapons they start with.  Yeah, it takes a little bit of figuring after accounting for the bonus, but they can spend any extra points in Professional skills I neglected to take to the Cap.

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Honestly, I wouldn't worry about skill caps. I can't really think of any time where a GM used one, at least during the start of a campaign. I might have seen someone do something when creating experienced characters to add to an existing campaign, but then it was along the lines of "no skill over 75%" or some such. Otherwise it really ins't an issue. RQ isn't like D&D where every character has to to be "balanced".

 

BTW, What system are you converting from?

 

 

 

 

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On 11/3/2017 at 5:10 PM, Atgxtg said:

Honestly, I wouldn't worry about skill caps. I can't really think of any time where a GM used one, at least during the start of a campaign. I might have seen someone do something when creating experienced characters to add to an existing campaign, but then it was along the lines of "no skill over 75%" or some such. Otherwise it really ins't an issue. RQ isn't like D&D where every character has to to be "balanced".

 

BTW, What system are you converting from?

Well, there has to be some balance, but if anyone thinks that AD&D characters are balanced, then they are mistaken.  Note: I didn't go past 1st Ed AD&D, so I cannot speak to later versions of D&D in the post-Gygax era.  I never did RQ, but I did do quite a bit with the original Stormbringer and Hawkmoon games.  They were a bit easier (if less "realistic") to do with roll, stats, roll (or pick) class and get skills A, B, C, D, E, & F at a fixed percentage plus bonus with a d6+2 other skills at a d50 plus bonus.

Converting over from what is basically AD&D, but set in the starship Warden.  It actually is working a lot better, except the characters are close to completing that game (and actually we could finish the main arc by simply doing some choices and me telling the story of what happened).  The only thing left would be lots of details, which just consume time without actually doing anything new.  The original question did come up because one of the characters was using the BRP Laser Pistol (directly replacing the base MA laser pistol) and decided to go with one of the disruptors (I got rid of the Protein/Metal variation since it was only useful in the context of the original MA system) that I had ruled as a BRP Disintegrator Pistol.  The Laser has a 20% Base and the Disintegrator has a 5% Base which caused a little question, but since the cap on the conversion was 101%, it wasn't that big a deal.

On the character creation front, I was looking and seeing some issues where starting character X starts with a Buckler (5%) and uses that to reach the cap, then swaps out for any other shield to get an extra +10%.  Some other such games are possible among the weapons.   Looking beyond my next game I'm running (where the starting characters will have fixed skills, gear and equipment for the Professional points), I'm actually going to probably go with the suggestion of Nick Middleton above where players can add X point max to any one skill, which leaves out the hard cap and still limits the starting percentages to a close range of what I'm looking for.

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22 hours ago, Algesan said:

Well, there has to be some balance,

Actually, there doesn't. That's a myth. All you need is some niche protection (So the players feel they contribute something), and a heavy bias in the PCs favor (since few campaigns can last of the PCs die off all the time). 

22 hours ago, Algesan said:

 

but if anyone thinks that AD&D characters are balanced, then they are mistaken.

Yup. You only can really "balance" characters that have similar classes, skills gear, and most importantly, players

22 hours ago, Algesan said:

 

On the character creation front, I was looking and seeing some issues where starting character X starts with a Buckler (5%) and uses that to reach the cap, then swaps out for any other shield to get an extra +10%. 

It doesn't work that way. In RQ/BRP/etc. you don't add that in "after the fact" The Base skill score is your starting chance to use a weapon or shield. If your skill gets raised above the base score of a weapon/shield, then you don't add in the difference if your score is higher than the base score of the weapon being used.  So if somebody started with a buckler (say 5% base chance per your example) and later raised their shield skill to 40%, then it would be 40% with any shield, and wouldn't increase just because they picked up a target shield or a tower shield later on.  The higher base chances for the bigger shield just mean they are easier to use, initially.  In most cases this makes the differences in base percentages between different weapons under the same skill moot fairly quickly- usually before the 30% level. 

In fact, if a GM wanted to be technical, there is a rule in some versions/editions of the rules that actually reduce someone's skill if they switch to a different/unfamiliar weapon in combat. 

22 hours ago, Algesan said:

Some other such games are possible among the weapons.   Looking beyond my next game I'm running (where the starting characters will have fixed skills, gear and equipment for the Professional points), I'm actually going to probably go with the suggestion of Nick Middleton above where players can add X point max to any one skill, which leaves out the hard cap and still limits the starting percentages to a close range of what I'm looking for.

That can work. Just what options you have available to use depend a bit on which version of the game you are running (although it's not impossible to port over chargen stuff from one version of the game to another-it's mostly compatible. Personally I think the  best ways to limit starting characters skills are:

1) Limit how many points they have to spend ('cuz if they only have 50 or 100 points they are less likely to use them all on ONE skill)

2) Set a cap such as "no skill above 75%" or some such. (Works like charm, if a bit artificial. Those with good modifiers just hit the cap quicker and have more free points to spend elsewhere)

3) Go with Nicks suggest of "max X%" to any one skill.(Also works, but can give the GM some surprises if somebody has some really good modifiers. I once has a Aldryami PC with really high INT, DEX and STR (well, good for an Elf), and would up with an ATTACK modifier over 20%. That might give you some headaches, especially if you set a fairly low skill add limit. 

 

4) Just tell the players what sort of skill range you are looking for and ask them to build their characters to fit in that range (works great with most players,)

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On 11/7/2017 at 10:27 AM, Atgxtg said:

Actually, there doesn't. That's a myth. All you need is some niche protection (So the players feel they contribute something), and a heavy bias in the PCs favor (since few campaigns can last of the PCs die off all the time). 

Yup. You only can really "balance" characters that have similar classes, skills gear, and most importantly, players

It doesn't work that way. In RQ/BRP/etc. you don't add that in "after the fact" The Base skill score is your starting chance to use a weapon or shield. If your skill gets raised above the base score of a weapon/shield, then you don't add in the difference if your score is higher than the base score of the weapon being used.  So if somebody started with a buckler (say 5% base chance per your example) and later raised their shield skill to 40%, then it would be 40% with any shield, and wouldn't increase just because they picked up a target shield or a tower shield later on.  The higher base chances for the bigger shield just mean they are easier to use, initially.  In most cases this makes the differences in base percentages between different weapons under the same skill moot fairly quickly- usually before the 30% level. 

In fact, if a GM wanted to be technical, there is a rule in some versions/editions of the rules that actually reduce someone's skill if they switch to a different/unfamiliar weapon in combat. 

That can work. Just what options you have available to use depend a bit on which version of the game you are running (although it's not impossible to port over chargen stuff from one version of the game to another-it's mostly compatible. Personally I think the  best ways to limit starting characters skills are:

1) Limit how many points they have to spend ('cuz if they only have 50 or 100 points they are less likely to use them all on ONE skill)

2) Set a cap such as "no skill above 75%" or some such. (Works like charm, if a bit artificial. Those with good modifiers just hit the cap quicker and have more free points to spend elsewhere)

3) Go with Nicks suggest of "max X%" to any one skill.(Also works, but can give the GM some surprises if somebody has some really good modifiers. I once has a Aldryami PC with really high INT, DEX and STR (well, good for an Elf), and would up with an ATTACK modifier over 20%. That might give you some headaches, especially if you set a fairly low skill add limit. 

 

4) Just tell the players what sort of skill range you are looking for and ask them to build their characters to fit in that range (works great with most players,)

I'll give you the point on balance here, but I think we mainly agree and are talking past each other a bit.

Okay, I'm confused about the use of Base Chance in BRP then.  Isn't the calculation for your starting percentage = Base Chance + Skill Category Bonus + Points spent from either the Professional or Personal pools?  I'm not sure how you are figuring that.  Actually, rereading the section on Base Chances (pg 48, BRB) says that each skill's Base Chance is what every character starts with for that skill before points are added.  The only actual problem with that comment comes from the various weapons which use the same skill, but have different Base Chance numbers.  

Quote

Base Chance: The default chance your character has at succeeding with a skill he or she has no training or experience in. For example, on the character sheet, Hide (20%) means that even if your character has not invested any skill points in the Hide skill, he or she has a 20% natural ability in it.  (pg 11, BRB)

What I'm using for a house rule (since it obviously isn't clear or official) is that when a character is created, the weaponry the character starts with equals the Base Chance and the skill isn't altered by using different versions of the same weapon.  Note that this only relates to weapons, every other skill in the game has one and only one Base Chance percentage.

The other issue I have is that some weapons aren't covered correctly.  A buckler (the center grip 6-12" version anyway) is more of a Brawling weapon in many respects (especially given that the fight books we have from the Middle Ages and later include "Brawling" and "Grappling" style moves), just like a short version of a short sword is pretty much a long dagger so I'd let either skill work for that weapon.  I'm not going to get into the fact that brass knuckles are "Brawling", while cestus and armored gauntlets are "Hand"....WTH, over?

1&2.  Two ways I'm going to deal with that one.  They get to spend 10% of their "professional" points in upgrading a skill, which must go into the skills listed for their profession.  The "personal" points (INTx10 in BRB) must be spent on other skills with the same +X limit...with the proviso that they can use those points to raise some of their professional skills up to 50% (I've done up a few starting characters simulating 2x four person parties) and this works out rather well IMO.  A number of skills end up in the 40s, but some skills ended up in the 50%+ range.

3.  Absolute best, they could have a +20% Category bonus, which would mean they rolled at least three 18s, which would give then some real high combat numbers for starting skill.  More than likely I'll be seeing ~10% Category bonus, which would mean skills in the mid-50s at best, but as you pointed out, it doesn't really matter in the long run if they get a small leg up.

4.  (sigh) And that is the problem, just one really, but I'm used to it.  Always "enhancing" those combat abilities.  Amusing how it shows up when he GMs though.  Pretty much run a fighter type and gets slightly pissed that, although strictly by the rules, a well played wizard is survivable and does more damage than the fighters that could ginsu the wizard in melee.  OTOH, that is one reason I picked BRB to swap over to, a "fighter" is just a character that knows a lot of weapon related skill and a "wizard" is just a character that has maybe one weapon skill because the rest are in spell related skills, but both can melee effectively enough.  Interestingly enough, it gets to be real old school when the OD&D cleric was supposed to be more of a religious warrior (think paladin) with some casting skill and a bit lesser fighting skill. 

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To be honest, in BRP it doesn't matter that one PC has a weapon skill of 60% and another 40%. They will both miss often enough to be happy when they hit and the 40% PC will soon gain experience to reach near parity with the 60% PC.

In my experience, BRP PCs usually end up with similar skills anyway, due to the tick-chase of ticking experience points, so the fact that there are differences at the start of the game is probably a good thing.

If you use RQ magic, then Bladesharp 4 increases the 40% PC to the same as the 60% PC anyway, so the problem goes away, of course if the 60% PC uses Bladesharp 4 then gets 80%, making the problem worse.

Although, in theory, a BRP Wizard could get a bigger damage bonus and combat skill than a fighter, in practice it rarely happens. OK, raw skill comes into it, giving a higher Characteristic Bonus, but then the player needs to put points into skills, if the Wizard's player puts enough points into combat skills then the PC becomes a fighting wizard, in effect crossing over the boundaries. Again, this is a good thing.

Wait until you see RQ trolls - In Glorantha, an Arkati Troll Wizard could well have a 3D6 Damage bonus and still be casting Wizardry spells.

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Skill caps and fungible points pools, put together, destroy character differentiation when it comes to main skills. This is why they are generally  not used in published BRP games.

Consider two characters. One has a Perception bonus of 10% and an Attack bonus of 0%. The other has the reverse, a Perception bonus of 0% and an Attack bonus of 10%. They are both training their Sword skill (20% + Attack) and Search skill (10% + Perception). The skill cap is 50%. It costs the first character 50 points to train both to 50%. It also costs the second character 50 points to train both skills to 50%. You end up with no difference in ability or cost between the two characters.

Note that actually the skill cap isn’t really the problem so much. Either character could buy one of those skills to 60% and the other to 40% for the same cost, either way round. Their category modifiers difference is irrelevant to the cost of raising either skill to whatever target levels they choose, when you consider the cost of both skills together.

Skill caps do guarantee that a non-specialist character in an area knows they can match a specialist in at least a few key skills if they want to because they know the specialist can’t beat the cap. I might be specialising in stealth skills, but I know that if I buy one combat skill up to the cap of 50%, I will be exactly as good in the skill as any combat specialist character, regardless of their stats and category modifiers. You can kiss a key element of niche protection goodbye.

Unimproved skills do still differentiate, but by definition if they are unimproved, they must be of marginal importance to the character. Points pools and caps only really help when it comes to breadth of skills in a category. A character with a high Knowledge Bonus can raise 5 Knowledge skills to useful levels much more cheaply than a character with a low Knowledge bonus. But the whole point of category modifiers is to boost individual skill capability.

The best way to avoid this problem is to either apply fixed adds to selected skills, or if you prefer a points pool set a maximum spend per skill. This allows category modifiers to still differentiate the characters.

Simon Hibbs

Edited by simonh

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On skill cap levels, orctye max skill percentage range you’re aiming for, 50% is really very low. Charactersxwill fail very often and will not feel they can in any way rely on even their best skills. 

This disproportionally penalises non combat skills. Combat skills often get used many times in a single fight. This means in any one fight the difference between a skill of 50% and one of 30% is likely to be noticeable because over say 10 attacks the 50% guy will usually score noticeably more hits (though runs of 3 or more misses are still going to be fairly common).

Non combat skills tend to get rolled only once each time they are used though. If you roll a knowledge, stealth or perception skill for example, usually one roll resolves the entire situation at hand. This makes non combat skills seem very swingy and unreliable in the mid range of skill percentages.

When I’m starting a game I usually aim for the characters to have best skills in the 70% to 80% range. I like my players to feel that they have competent characters with useful best skills they can mostly rely on. After all, you can always apply a half chance or -20% difficulty modifier to up the stakes for a tougher challenge when you think it’s appropriate. The players feel they have earned their success.

You can work it the other way and give bonuses to the chance of succcess for easier tasks, but then the players are likely to feel their success has been gifted to them by the GM rather than that they earned it.

Simon Hibbs

Edited by simonh

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On page 21 and 24 of the Big Gold Book, they list out the skill caps based on the campaign's power level.

For a normal game where most of the characters mostly normal people, players have 250 points in professional skills, with a skill cap of 75.

Form heroic games, 325 points with 90 cap.

For epic games, 400 points with 101 cap.

For Superhuman games, 500 points with no limit.

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13 hours ago, KPhan2121 said:

On page 21 and 24 of the Big Gold Book, they list out the skill caps based on the campaign's power level.

Bear in mind that in the BGB category modifiers, and any other way of having stats affect skills, are all optional. If you aren’t using category modifiers, then the problem of their interaction with skill caps goes away.

RQ is the seminal example of a BRP game with stats affecting skills, usualy through category modifiers, and I don’t think it has ever had skill caps in any of its iterations.

Simon Hibbs

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