Seminar Transcript - Reimagining Skills and Ability Scores - Page 15




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    Quote Originally Posted by catsclaw227 View Post
    I am getting the impression that people are taking the transcript and extrapolating some specific rules and assuming that these rules will be RAW when they haven't even presented any specifics.
    That is the nature of the beast when there aren't specifics. Heck, even when there are specifics, things still get extrapolated out.

    With all these "optional modules" that are being bandied about, sure hope they allow use to do a "publish-on-the-fly" version of the books so that we can get a version with all the option modules built into it. Lot less having to go lookup through various source books (physically or electronically) for a rule and remember which book, etc. overrides what.

    Something akin to jQuery UI's "build your own version" (i.e. jQuery UI - Configure your download).

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    You might want to stick with 3e, then; as that's the best edition so far for such things to happen.

    I'd like to see the 3-18 range be exceeded (up or down) by regular PC types only in unusual circumstances or by unusual (and very expensive and fragile) magic items.

    That said, I'd also like to see some rules/guidelines/whatever dealing with PC divine ascension and how to play them once there - maybe a later "Immortals" book or something. And that's where the mortal limits go out the window 'cause hey, you're not mortal any more!

    Lanefan
    Yeah, I wasn't super fond of the 4e stat boosts either. They ARE pretty cool for an epic PC, but otherwise they seemed more trouble than they were worth. You were already an 18 STR fighter and at 8th you became a 20 STR fighter. It didn't feel like much of a difference really, especially when every other fighter was 20 or 22 STR at that level too. Either way you're 'very strong'.

    Maybe you'd get one stat boost at 'paragon' and then a bunch more during epic play where the rules could be pretty different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Exactly! It is a fantasy game, quit getting your logic mixed with my peanut butter
    When people poke fun at in-game logic and nods to realism, and I'm not sure if it's intended as carte blanche statement that fantasy needs no logic, I tend to switch tactics. I'd say something like: if you watch a fantasy movie like LoTR, and you see a hobbit in a contest of raw strength against Aragorn, and the hobbit is a match for a heroic warrior twice his size (again in a contest of pure strength -- no cheating sneaky hobbits) and the audience laughs at how ludicrious it appears, then that silliness is not cinematic if you prefer that over "realistic".

    Honestly, if you can't imagine yourself being a strong halfling, then you shouldn't play a strong halfling!
    What if my 7" tall minotaur PC must interact with an equally strong 4" halfling PC?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
    Not really. You have six ability scores which cover everything, plus you know your character knows a lot about Orcish history and has a knack for swimming. Easy as pie.
    No, I know I have a +3 ability bonus for STR and a long list of possible bonuses to various things that come up once every 6 months and have to be added to that so I can come up with the modifier for swimming (after we discuss if swimming the river would use the STR or the CON bonus). Whereas in 4e I look at the skill section of my sheet and it says Athletics +9. I can also be a good swimmer in 4e without having a high STR score. IRL I'm a pretty good swimmer, but I'd be kidding myself if I said I had a high STR or CON.

    Not that there aren't theoretical upsides and downsides to 4e-style skills, but they are far easier to handle in play and thus get used a lot more than in any other system I've run. I think people who spend a lot of time thinking about the game worry about this kind of thing FAR more than players do. Most of them are not that concerned about things like swimming and climbing happen to get lumped together than they do about the easy fun of just knowing where to find the one number they need in the current situation.

    The same issue comes up with ability scores as defenses. It is MUCH quicker to have a number fully calculated on your sheet for each defense already. Saying "I'm doing away with defenses and using ability scores" means actually you are just refusing to give the defenses a name, because they'll still exist mechanically in play, except by not writing them on our sheet and putting a label on them we both slow play down and lose the ability to refer to them again in other rules. This is the "middleman falacy". Those 'middleman numbers' DO exist and logically WILL exist. Pretending they don't exist is simply a loss to playability and rules clarity, straight up.

    IMHO those numbers will resurface pretty soon (and maybe they do exist now for all I know, you'd be more able to say than I).

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    I can also be a good swimmer in 4e without having a high STR score.
    And in 1e (yes, it had skills), 2e, 3e. Not to mention any number of other skill based systems.

    But using your argument, 4e is "flawed" because some people are better swimmers than they are acrobats, but 4e lumps them both together. All game systems are abstractions, so there has to be a limit to how fine-grained the skills are otherwise you get an overly complex game that isn't really usable.

    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Not that there aren't theoretical upsides and downsides to 4e-style skills, but they are far easier to handle in play and thus get used a lot more than in any other system I've run.
    I think you give way too much credit to the "4e-style skills" considering, they are in reality a reduced variant of the 3e skills, which in turn are variants of other systems anyways.

    But I really can't think of many games that don't have skills. All the d20-variants, Hero, Action, Savage Worlds, GURPS (well of course), Storyteller, d6, etc.

    DragonsAge RPG uses a system much more like what seems to have been being mentioned in the transcript. die roll + Ability + "modifier". But in reality thats all the 4e, 3e, etc. skills are anyways. They have been just written down. There isn't anything that says the 5e rules can't have a set of fairly commonly used skills that are predefined, nor does it mean a player can't setup a bunch of predefined skills himself based on the background of his character.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thzero View Post
    And in 1e (yes, it had skills), 2e, 3e. Not to mention any number of other skill based systems.

    But using your argument, 4e is "flawed" because some people are better swimmers than they are acrobats, but 4e lumps them both together. All game systems are abstractions, so there has to be a limit to how fine-grained the skills are otherwise you get an overly complex game that isn't really usable.



    I think you give way too much credit to the "4e-style skills" considering, they are in reality a reduced variant of the 3e skills, which in turn are variants of other systems anyways.

    But I really can't think of many games that don't have skills. All the d20-variants, Hero, Action, Savage Worlds, GURPS (well of course), Storyteller, d6, etc.

    DragonsAge RPG uses a system much more like what seems to have been being mentioned in the transcript. die roll + Ability + "modifier". But in reality thats all the 4e, 3e, etc. skills are anyways. They have been just written down. There isn't anything that says the 5e rules can't have a set of fairly commonly used skills that are predefined, nor does it mean a player can't setup a bunch of predefined skills himself based on the background of his character.
    Just for clarity: you're wrong. Acrobatics is keyed off Dexterity, Athletics (Climb, Jump, Swim) are keyed off Strength.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Klaus View Post
    Just for clarity: you're wrong. Acrobatics is keyed off Dexterity, Athletics (Climb, Jump, Swim) are keyed off Strength.
    Thanks for the correction. Nevertheless, the point still stands, i.e. just because someone is an Olympic long jumper doesn't mean they are also an Olympic swimmer.

    Personally I'd like to see something I've seen in systems from eons ago...

    Athletics would be a generic skill, with subskills (or specializations of) Acobatics (DEX), Climb (STR), Jump (STR), Swim (STR). Make it more expensive, in terms of training/experience/etc, to gain the general skill and less expensive to gain the specialized skill. That way you get a generic set of skills for players who want them, but a more fine-grained for those that want them. It's still a die roll + ability + modifier, i.e. ranks in either generic or specialized skill. Guess that also sorta goes along with what was being talked about it in the transcript though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LurkAway View Post
    When people poke fun at in-game logic and nods to realism, and I'm not sure if it's intended as carte blanche statement that fantasy needs no logic, I tend to switch tactics. I'd say something like: if you watch a fantasy movie like LoTR, and you see a hobbit in a contest of raw strength against Aragorn, and the hobbit is a match for a heroic warrior twice his size (again in a contest of pure strength -- no cheating sneaky hobbits) and the audience laughs at how ludicrious it appears, then that silliness is not cinematic if you prefer that over "realistic".

    What if my 7" tall minotaur PC must interact with an equally strong 4" halfling PC?
    No system is going to make that go away. If you want realistic then you'd determine the height and mass of your PC and then derive a minimum STR you would use as a base, etc. Even with a +4 STR for goliaths and a -4 STR for halflings there's a rather large range in which the halfling can be higher STR than the goliath.

    If you have to interact with a halfling that is as strong as your goliath then you RP it. That's going to be true with ANY system. As the guy I responded to said, it is a FANTASY world. Halflings and goliaths are already physically impossible in the real world. There simply ARE no rules that will establish realistic interactions there because there are none to be had.

    So why again are you punishing me because I want to play a halfling fighter? Goliaths in 4e have +2 STR, so they are almost always going to be stronger than halflings, yet I CAN play an 18 STR halfling fighter if I really want to. You could play a 10 STR goliath rogue too.

    I want to be able to play against type, and I don't want to be actively punished for it. I'm already playing a class/race combination that has some distinct limitations (in 4e I can't even use a longsword unless I give up my shield and I have to pay a lot more for a high STR, and my DEX and CHA bonuses are of considerably lesser utility than they would be for say a rogue).

    Quote Originally Posted by thzero View Post
    And in 1e (yes, it had skills), 2e, 3e. Not to mention any number of other skill based systems.

    But using your argument, 4e is "flawed" because some people are better swimmers than they are acrobats, but 4e lumps them both together. All game systems are abstractions, so there has to be a limit to how fine-grained the skills are otherwise you get an overly complex game that isn't really usable.
    I don't follow your argument. In 4e certainly swimming is lumped in with the REST of Athletics. Yes, I can't be a good swimmer and a crappy climber, but I can live with that fine.

    I think you give way too much credit to the "4e-style skills" considering, they are in reality a reduced variant of the 3e skills, which in turn are variants of other systems anyways.

    But I really can't think of many games that don't have skills. All the d20-variants, Hero, Action, Savage Worlds, GURPS (well of course), Storyteller, d6, etc.

    DragonsAge RPG uses a system much more like what seems to have been being mentioned in the transcript. die roll + Ability + "modifier". But in reality thats all the 4e, 3e, etc. skills are anyways. They have been just written down. There isn't anything that says the 5e rules can't have a set of fairly commonly used skills that are predefined, nor does it mean a player can't setup a bunch of predefined skills himself based on the background of his character.
    Not sure what I'm giving 4e too much credit for. It makes skills a nice simple thing that is always worked out on your sheet and its pretty easy to remember what you're good at as its a short general list.

    And yes, 5e could provide a standardized list of skills much like the 4e skill list as defaults, except if you can bargain different ability scores that does mean there's no fixed total bonus. It is nice having those fixed numbers written down. Still, most of the time it will work OK. It is a question of is it easier to have the set list and a bit quicker easier play or is it worth it to have slightly more complexity?

    There could be other considerations too. If there are no really core defined skills and other such 'middleman' numbers then the game can only grant bonuses to more general things or to very specific things. Granting ability score bonuses is slippery because they will be REALLY valuable and they twiddle a lot of numbers, which can be a pain if the bonus goes away for some reason during play. Super specific bonuses (say to just swimming) are cool. OTOH they can be hard to track down if you start accumulating very many of them, and in any case the 4e system could handle those as well.

    There are pluses and minuses to any approach. In general I tend to favor ease of play, which IMHO was a real strength of 4e's core systems (they managed to spend all that they gained with combat effects, but that's another story).

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    No, I know I have a +3 ability bonus for STR and a long list of possible bonuses to various things that come up once every 6 months and have to be added to that so I can come up with the modifier for swimming (after we discuss if swimming the river would use the STR or the CON bonus). Whereas in 4e I look at the skill section of my sheet and it says Athletics +9. I can also be a good swimmer in 4e without having a high STR score. IRL I'm a pretty good swimmer, but I'd be kidding myself if I said I had a high STR or CON.
    :shrug: OK, we're imagining very different things, I guess. Your description doesn't resemble what I'm imagining. We'll just have to wait and see how it turns out; it's not like either of us actually knows.

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