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Nikoli

Experience Checks

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Hi All,

I was having queries around experience checks, which I posted in the general BRP thread, and was wondering how often experienced Magic World players/GMs use them. (I'm a long-time CoC player, but recently joined the Magic World guild for wfrp roleplaying!) I've heard of 'tick hunting' on these forums, which I haven't encountered in play, such as when people swap weapons just to try and get an experience tick.

I recall in old games of CoC that only a special success would get the tick. That way, ticks are always significant, and that way a reward at the end of the session fits, too. I think this phased out of later editions. I was a player in those early days, so I'm not sure now whether this was an old rule. (I've not GM'd or played CoC, though, for many years. I played wfrp for a lonnnnng time, and decided I needed a new, but percentile, system. Searching around led me to Magic World.)

In terms of frequency of experience rolls, RQ3 mentions in a table that only 3 ticks are given. (It doesn't say it in the text, but in the hardcover GW version there's a table which limits the ticks.) Extrapolating, whether you use the special tick rule above, you might only allow 3 experience rolls per session. (Perhaps 5 at the end of a whole adventure?) The 3 experience rolls would limit tick hunting, since players will focus on the ticks they want, as would the special tick rule constrain what gets ticked. To avoid players not getting a tick if they never get a special success, the 3 experience rolls seems sufficient if you give ticks for dramatic, yet non-special, use of skills. Maybe changing the numbers so that up to 4 profession skills can be rolled (more even than 3, fitting with the 8 profession skills), and 2 non-profession skills. That way you allow players to grow within their profession, as befits, with some growth outside of it, too. 

Another and perhaps better option I'm playing around with is to allow experience checks on non-special'd skills, if dramatic, but to limit the number of experience rolls per adventure (or session?) to half their INT characteristic. (Similar to the skill modifiers.) A player with 14 INT could attempt a maximum of 7 experience rolls. If over the course of an adventure, these could be used after a session on successful skills, but the total experience tally of 7 is used up. So if the player fails two experience checks after a session, he has 5 left for the remaining adventure. 

If this 7 limit (based on an INT of 14) is chosen, one might allow rolls per session, but also allow the tally to be applied several times to a single skill. (This might replace the automatic skill increase in Magic World, as I'm not too comfortable with that.) So, the player could effectively try to increase a skill two or three times, spending his experience tally on retries, but the skill only increases the once. It's a re-roll. Perhaps limit this to 3: three strikes and you're out of luck. That way you avoid players burning all their rolls on an unlucky streak. E.g., if a player only gathered three ticks in a session, he could get up to 3 tries to increase two of them (6 towards his INT 14 tally of 7), and 1 roll to increase the remainder. This would help balance the players who had a lucky session (ticked lots of skills) versus those who didn't (but they get the option to reroll), as the experience tally is a spendable resource. As a result, any tick-hunting players might be constrained. The tally matters if players want to improve the odds of boosting their higher profession skills, rather than just using it to boost low surplus weapon skills, etc., via weapon swapping. A spendable resource makes a player think about the future more!

Any thoughts? I kind of like the idea of a spendable resource for rolls per session. Basing it off of INT seems nice, but I'm wary of players whose characters have modest INT suffering in the long-run. But maybe it's realistic, since all the other stats matter significantly. A smart warrior is now quite dangerous in the long-run, too, due to rerolls, which seems fitting. 

Just some ideas!

Nikoli

Edited by Nikoli

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As always, play your game how you want. 

I WAS going to reply I don't like ticks based on INT but the more I think about it the more sense it makes. I wracked my brain trying to think of a functional character who was a great fighter but dumb as a rock. I came up with Groo the Wanderer 😀 but you could easily say he placed all his earned tics in fighting skills and lacked in anything else which would explain his full intellect. 

We have some real d100 geniuses here. Maybe someone else will have a better opinion. 

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Thanks. And interesting idea on the fumble. That might even be worth an experience roll with a bonus!

I'm more curious how frequently people award the experience checks, and if they tick on a success, a special success, or at some other point? In play, the reason for an INT limit is to maybe prevent players rushing to use every skill haphazardly simply to get a tick. This seems an issue other people mentioned, so I want to nip these things in the bud prior to a campaign.

I'm sure I used to play CoC with ticks at the end of an adventure, so maybe two or three sessions, but maybe it morphed over time to each session? I can't recall, now.

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I've never encountered 'tick hunting' in my games so I don't bother to penalize it. I also have only one session monthly so I don't mind at all if players have multiple experience checks per session. I allow an experience check for any skill tested against during the session, and if it succeeds the skill increases by 1d10. In addition I give an automatic and immediate 1 point bonus to a skill on a fumble or a roll of 01.

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On 28/12/2017 at 2:54 AM, Nikoli said:

Thanks. And interesting idea on the fumble. That might even be worth an experience roll with a bonus!

I'm more curious how frequently people award the experience checks, and if they tick on a success, a special success, or at some other point? In play, the reason for an INT limit is to maybe prevent players rushing to use every skill haphazardly simply to get a tick. This seems an issue other people mentioned, so I want to nip these things in the bud prior to a campaign.

I'm sure I used to play CoC with ticks at the end of an adventure, so maybe two or three sessions, but maybe it morphed over time to each session? I can't recall, now.

I generally award ticks on Critical's and Fumbles. When there is a "logical pause point" in the over all flow of events in a game, I will also ask the players to assign a number of additional checks to skills they feel they can justify to me on the basis of events; so for example skills they feel their character will have used a LOT but the active play has not focused on: for example, the last three sessions have been in a particular country and everyone has been speaking the local language, but we've not be rolling for it as everyone has at least 30% so for speed of play we've just assumed everyone apart from the native speaker can get by but is obviously foreign; but everyone HAS been practicing (and immersed in) the language for several weeks of in game time.

But I, as GM, award ticks - players don't get them without my consent, even if they criticisms or fumble (and if they special or succeed in the right circumstances I may award them a tick, and I always keep track of who is regularly succeeding at what), if they go tick hunting they get asked to stop, if they don't stop they get asked to leave the game. In 38 years of playing RQ / BRP derived games however tick hunting has never been an issue - it's been joked about, I've seen it discussed on the internet, but it has never happened in my games, or games I've played in.

I also award "hours" so a character who has been in an environment can "train" a skill - if for example we end one session with the arduous trek across the desert concluding with the PC's successful arrival at Lut Gholein, and I want to start the next segment fo the campaign with the established in residence in the city after three months, I may well say "have 120 hours" and then can spend that using the training rules on plausible skills (the local language, skills they have been using to generate an income etc).

Cheers,

Nick

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With Magic World, does anyone award the automatic increase suggested in the book? I'm wary of it. But then again, if skills can go over 100% as a new metric for increasing mastery, maybe it's okay? (I noticed in a runequest adventure a cook with cooking over 100%!)

I can't shake the feeling that it might be too much to allow as an automatic increase, even just to keep the mystique of getting beyond 100. I like it being a really difficult, yet incredible, moment to reach. (I'd probably limit starting skills to 75% or 80% max. I'd allow 90% for mastery, and then multiple attacks similar to the -30 defense rule appear at that point, but arete after 100%. I'd see it like chess: master at 90%, grandmaster at 100%, and then there are great grandmasters...Kasparov is in a whole other chess league! 150% plus. In chess they call them SuperGMs.)

Edited by Nikoli

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For years I've used an alternative experience system and I feel it works well while still staying true to BRP.

Every skill that is used gets a check, success or failure. Every session comes along with a certain amount of experience points, in my game it's usually 5-10 depending on how long the session runs and how much gets done.

The PCs are then allowed to assign the experience points or keep them in reserve to save for later. Every experience point assigned to a skill gives the PC a 1d10 increase in the skill. Only two experience points may be assigned to a skill (which means that it is possible that a PC may increase their skill by 20% with an incredibly lucky two rolls).

Reserved points can be used for two things. They can be applied to Stats or they can be used during the game to change an outcome.

If a PC is trying to increase a Stat they need enough experience points to equal their stat, plus one; so if Brog the Deadly has a Strength of 16 he needs 17 experience to bump his Strength to 17. Bro is concentrating on his Strength. In the meantime his Skills are not improving. I feel it makes a nice balance. This works for every other stat except for Size, which is one of the reasons I hate Size. Still, I allow my players to apply this to Size. If they increase above about 3 points of Size there is obviously something unnatural going on. I ask them to explain it and fold it into the next adventure.

It should be noted; I love Skills above 100%. I jumped in with Elric! and that's the way I've always played. My play style is either the PCs are dominating their opposition or they are dicing for criticals. The great thing is, when the numbers get high the return on investing points into skills or stats starts decreasing. Players start saving their experience to change rolls in the game.

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On 12/29/2017 at 2:55 AM, Nikoli said:

With Magic World, does anyone award the automatic increase suggested in the book? I'm wary of it. But then again, if skills can go over 100% as a new metric for increasing mastery, maybe it's okay? (I noticed in a runequest adventure a cook with cooking over 100%!)

I can't shake the feeling that it might be too much to allow as an automatic increase, even just to keep the mystique of getting beyond 100. I like it being a really difficult, yet incredible, moment to reach. (I'd probably limit starting skills to 75% or 80% max. I'd allow 90% for mastery, and then multiple attacks similar to the -30 defense rule appear at that point, but arete after 100%. I'd see it like chess: master at 90%, grandmaster at 100%, and then there are great grandmasters...Kasparov is in a whole other chess league! 150% plus. In chess they call them SuperGMs.)

With all due respect, breaking 100 isn't really some magical, mystical barrier. Certainly Arrete can make things interesting, and give players a few more wrinkles in how they approach problems, but aside from the fumble range being halved, and certain skills like brawl synergizing with cestus for improved damage at 101+, it doesn't really move the needle all that much to go from something like 95 to 105 -- special and critical chances aren't radically different and opposed checks are still mostly governed by degree of success anyway (particularly combat skills).

My only experience in playing Magic World for the past couple of years is that I'm far too stingy with my experience checks, not too liberal. You won't break your game by allowing your players' characters to improve their skills steadily and noticeably. The demons they bind, magic they acquire, and wealth they accumulate will probably have a more noticeable impact on the tone of the game, IMO.

Edited by Nick J.
grammurz
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On 1/7/2018 at 3:25 PM, Nick J. said:

With all due respect, breaking 100 isn't really some magical, mystical barrier.

Indeed. I find in actual play, the high the skill level, the more unlikely the PCs are to try and chase skills.

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So a little necromancy...(I did ask)

One idea I have seen used in other games (Mega Traveller and Maelstrom) which models learning in real life better I feel is awarding improvement (in MW a tick) on a failure *only* (not a fumble, any failure). As in real life this makes the learning curve very steep as you learn something new but the more you know the harder it is to meaningfully improve. This is the opposite of MW RAW where successes grant ticks making it easier to improve the better you get. This can also lead to clever players letting those with poorer skill levels attempt some tasks they are mediocre at so they can improve.

I see that awarding failures (only) might lead to rapid improvements in poor skills. As already suggested you could limit to say 3 ticks per session

 

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A tick really doesn't mean anything, It's just an opportunity for improvement. It's the experience roll that really matters, and that only gets harder not easier as the skill improves.

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20 hours ago, Coronoides said:

So a little necromancy...(I did ask)

One idea I have seen used in other games (Mega Traveller and Maelstrom) which models learning in real life better I feel is awarding improvement (in MW a tick) on a failure *only* (not a fumble, any failure). As in real life this makes the learning curve very steep as you learn something new but the more you know the harder it is to meaningfully improve. This is the opposite of MW RAW where successes grant ticks making it easier to improve the better you get. This can also lead to clever players letting those with poorer skill levels attempt some tasks they are mediocre at so they can improve.

I see that awarding failures (only) might lead to rapid improvements in poor skills. As already suggested you could limit to say 3 ticks per session

Probably not a problem. Character with high skills get ticks all the time, and normally, skills that get used a lot, like weapon skills,  will eventually get checked just because over the course of an adventure a character is  going to succeed and fail on some of his attempts, so the end result will be that skills that get used a lot get checked.

 

 

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On 12/29/2017 at 5:55 AM, Nikoli said:

With Magic World, does anyone award the automatic increase suggested in the book? I'm wary of it. But then again, if skills can go over 100% as a new metric for increasing mastery, maybe it's okay? (I noticed in a runequest adventure a cook with cooking over 100%!)

 In most BRP related games skills can go over 100%. The sklill rating isn't really an absolute measure of someone's ability. More a relative measure. Especially if you look at the modfiers. 

 

On 12/29/2017 at 5:55 AM, Nikoli said:

I can't shake the feeling that it might be too much to allow as an automatic increase, even just to keep the mystique of getting beyond 100. I like it being a really difficult, yet incredible, moment to reach. (I'd probably limit starting skills to 75% or 80% max. I'd allow 90% for mastery, and then multiple attacks similar to the -30 defense rule appear at that point, but arete after 100%. I'd see it like chess: master at 90%, grandmaster at 100%, and then there are great grandmasters...Kasparov is in a whole other chess league! 150% plus. In chess they call them SuperGMs.)

In RQ 90% is mastery (some variants use 100% instead of 90% but it's similar enough), and there are characters will skills over 100%, 200% and even higher. There is no mystique attached to skills over 100%, at least not since RQ2, but such characters are rare and acknowledged masters at what they do. 

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1 hour ago, Nick J. said:

A tick really doesn't mean anything, It's just an opportunity for improvement. It's the experience roll that really matters, and that only gets harder not easier as the skill improves.

Very true. 

This got me thinking though. If fails earn ticks and they get harder to get as skills get higher then perhaps we don’t need experience rolls, ticked skills automatically improve at the end of the session. Seems like a nice bit of streamlining to the system.

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2 hours ago, Coronoides said:

This got me thinking though. If fails earn ticks and they get harder to get as skills get higher then perhaps we don’t need experience rolls, ticked skills automatically improve at the end of the session. Seems like a nice bit of streamlining to the system.

That depends on how fast you want to have the skills improve. Keep in mind that a lot of things get done repeatedly in a game session so some skills will almost always get a check. One thing I can see players doing is attempting a more difficult task so they can fail and get a check. 

Flashing Blades used a skill check improvement method (no rolls), but it also increased the number of checks needed to improve as you went along. So after awhile it would take two or three sessions to get enough checks to improve. Also, if a character didn't get a check in a skill within the year, it would go back down. .

 

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12 hours ago, Coronoides said:

If fails earn ticks and they get harder to get as skills get higher then perhaps we don’t need experience rolls, ticked skills automatically improve at the end of the session. Seems like a nice bit of streamlining to the system.

To me it doesn't seem like the time/effort saved would be very significant and, as a Player, I look forward to the session where we've got time to reflect and roll out those experience checks. For me they have that in-game meaning and I prefer it versus just suddenly improving in something in the midst of doing it (my assumption of how getting an immediate/automatic rise in a skill would seem).

Edited by Simlasa
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5 hours ago, Simlasa said:

To me it doesn't seem like the time/effort saved would be very significant and, as a Player, I look forward to the session where we've got time to reflect and roll out those experience checks. For me they have that in-game meaning and I prefer it versus just suddenly improving in something in the midst of doing it (my assumption of how getting an immediate/automatic rise in a skill would seem).

My proposal did  not include immediate improvement. Ticks indicate improvement at end of session as usual

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I don't know, I've never experienced tick hunting. Maybe sometimes a player tried to use a secondary weapon to train it, but also putting his PCs life at risk... So it balances out. I allow ticks if a skill is rolled no matter the result, but I don't if it is obviously out of place, just for the rolls sake.

 

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14 minutes ago, Coronoides said:

My proposal did  not include immediate improvement. Ticks indicate improvement at end of session as usual

OK, that was my assumption then.
I'm still not seeing a benefit, and I do like the extra moment of rolling to see if I learned something. Just a matter of taste.

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On 1/3/2019 at 6:32 AM, Simlasa said:

To me it doesn't seem like the time/effort saved would be very significant and, as a Player, I look forward to the session where we've got time to reflect and roll out those experience checks. For me they have that in-game meaning and I prefer it versus just suddenly improving in something in the midst of doing it (my assumption of how getting an immediate/automatic rise in a skill would seem).

 

I have sessions only monthly, so I always allow checks at the end of each session, even if the players are 'in the middle of something'. (Of course I also try hard not to leave my monthly sessions on cliff-hangers.)

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