Maximum Dice Pools

knikpiw

Explorer
So sometimes PCs can be capped on a roll from the first session the whole way to the last. One of my players was still capped after an entire year of play which sort of felt like a bummer, felt like a waste of expertise if it could never be utilised. I see this also in my new WOIN game as one of the players androids is starting with 6d6 in LOG and Medicine not even taking into account the quality of equipment.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? I just feel that if a player specialises in an area that there should be nothing hold them back in making an incredible roll. Let them be an expert ;)

Your thoughts please
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Well my thoughts are obviously that the way it's written is the best way to handle it.

In early playtest versions of the game, there were no such caps. The result was a wildly swingy, unbalanced game. Of course, it's up to you how you houserule your game, but the cap is there for a reason.
 

easl

Explorer
So sometimes PCs can be capped on a roll from the first session the whole way to the last. One of my players was still capped after an entire year of play which sort of felt like a bummer, felt like a waste of expertise if it could never be utilised.
So...did the player actually take career advances, or spend all their exp in single-skill upgrades and the like? At the recommended XP rate, your PCs should be getting a grade increase roughly every 10 sessions (less if sessions are 'hard,' more if they're 'easy.')
 

BlckKnght

Explorer
I'm the player of that character in knikpiw's long-running game. My android started at grade 4 with LOG 10 (thanks to the +2 from the Service Droid origin) and got a +1 from every advance, I think. I ended the campaign at grade 10 with LOG 16. I think I would have hit grade 11 if we'd gone one more session.

Around grade 6 things felt pretty good, since I had maxed (but not exceeded) my pools in the areas I was specialized in, and could get up to the cap in some less specialized fields if I had high-quality tools (which I did for a few things). But I do agree that there was never a mechanical reason for me to take my skills up to 6 ranks, though I did so for in-game reasons (we'd been offered us jobs that required somebody in the party to have 6 ranks in certain skills to qualify for). Without those non-mechanical pressures I'd may not have gotten any skills that high, certainly not for LOG based stuff. Though once I had them, I certainly wanted to push for more grades, so my MDP would go up again and I could use the dice I'd earned. It just took a really long time to get from grade 8 and a 7d6 cap to grade 11 where I'd have gotten an 8d6 cap.

I also feels like it is a bit of an awkward design that you want your highest skills to be ones that you have bad attributes for. A thief probably doesn't need six ranks in stealth or thievery because he's going to be super agile already, and might be better served by having lots of bluffing. A scientist doesn't actually need a doctorate, because having lots of career grades that will increase her LOG means a lower degree is going to be good enough to get to the die pool cap (in a well equipped lab), while expert marksmanship training with pistols could come in quite handy surviving in the field. I'm pretty convinced that there is never any good reason to take a skill higher than six ranks, and even going from three to six is of rather marginal utility. If it's for an attribute you're bad at, it may be easier to buff the attribute instead of the skill, and to get high quality gear to fill out the last few dice before the cap.

The pregenerated character Dr Tiktok is a good example of the problems a specialized character can face with the MDP cap. Thanks to his doctorate in medicine, at grade 5, he's got 6d6 in his LOG (medicine) pool, exceeding the 5d6 MDP (and he has even wasted one skill increase getting rank 7 in medicine for no good reason). If his next career advance gives him +1 LOG, he'll be exceeding the cap again because even though the MDP goes up to 6d6, he'll get an seventh die for LOG (medicine) checks when his LOG goes up to 10. (Speaking of attributes, that character has perhaps the most aggressively suboptimal starting attribute distribution I can imagine, with five 5's and a 9. Get one more +1 in any of those attributes and you'll have an extra die in your pool!)

I think a possible solution might be to let each character have one skill that is not limited by the MDP cap. Perhaps it should be related to their primary career that they've included in their descriptor? You could swap out the skill each time you took a new grade. This would allow a specialist to really shine when their focused skill is relevant, without letting them dominate a broad range of tests just due to one high attribute. It might be necessary to prevent [combat] skills from being selected for this (just like you can't use your hook to make die rolls explode when you're in combat).
 

knikpiw

Explorer
I think each race should have their own attribute that is not limited by the MDP. Orgons should never have their STR limited, Androids should never have theit LOG, Felans '' '' AGI, Spartans '' '' WIL, Borians '' '' END, Venetians '' '' INT, Humans '' '' LUC (Probably not LUC but you don't want humans to always be the chosen race)
 

M3woods

Explorer
I created a couple of exploits for a project I'm working on that handles this in different ways.

The first doesn't really alter the MDP rules as written, it merely assures the character a better chance at succeeding on checks related to the characters chosen strengths.

Personal Niche. Choose one of your Attributes and two subordinate skills already listed. Any time a check is failed using the attribute and either skill, assume the roll equaled the average of the dice pool (3d6=11, 4d6=14, 5d6=18 . . . ) This exploit can be taken multiple times, choosing a different niche group for each.

The second allows an increase over MDP.
Forte. Select one Attribute or skill. Roll an additional d6 with checks using the attribute or skill. This exploit allows pools to exceed MDP. Taking the exploit again adds another d6 to the pool, limited to half (round up) your WIL rank.
 

easl

Explorer
I'm the player of that character in knikpiw's long-running game. My android started at grade 4 with LOG 10 (thanks to the +2 from the Service Droid origin) and got a +1 from every advance, I think. I ended the campaign at grade 10 with LOG 16. I think I would have hit grade 11 if we'd gone one more session.
Thanks very much for your description and discussion, it's very comprehensive!

My first thought was, starting at Grade 4 might have been the cause of any early issue. With the way dice pools increase (1 at 1, 2 at 3, 3 at 6 etc..), I can easily believe that lower grade characters would more easily exceed the top of their pool.

My second thought is that it sounds like you had a wonderfully long campaign. Unfortunately, most RPGs break down at some point...and it sounds like maybe Grades 10+ might be it for this system.

My third and last thought is that the pool caps are, IMO, a great way to stop minimaxing for combat to get out of control, and allow every PC to be more than one-dimensional while still being useful/competitive in combat...however, maybe the caps aren't as necessary outside of combat and a few other key areas???? I can't see a doctor's medicine skill - to use your example - breaking a game. So maybe one quick way to handle such things is to create a "specialist" exploit that allows you to exceed the dice cap...but only for certain types of skills. Such as: artistic, crafting, gaming, hobby, and lore skills. Make the prereq for the exploit 'skill 6' or maybe 'grade 8' and that eliminates any potential abuse at standard chargen.

In any event, it sounds like you had a great time playing your android, cap problems or no. All the best in your future adventures!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I think each race should have their own attribute that is not limited by the MDP. Orgons should never have their STR limited, Androids should never have theit LOG, Felans '' '' AGI, Spartans '' '' WIL, Borians '' '' END, Venetians '' '' INT, Humans '' '' LUC (Probably not LUC but you don't want humans to always be the chosen race)
The result of that is you'll only end up with six different characters. Why would anybody not just dump everything into their special stat and associated skills? Every Ogron, every Borian, every Felan will be the same.
 

BlckKnght

Explorer
I like the idea of a universal exploit exempting certain rolls from the MDP, without relaxing it completely. I'd suggest something like this:
  • Specialist (requires 6 ranks in a non-[combat] skill): When you make an attribute check using the prerequisite skill, you may exceed your maximum dice pool. This doesn't change any derived statistics based on the skill (like DEFENSE scores). You can choose this exploit more than once, picking a different skill to meet the prerequisite each time.
I don't think adding an extra die on top of lifting the MDP cap is needed, since when you pick this exploit it probably means you're already really, really good at your specialty. And giving it a hefty opportunity cost means it won't always be the best pick, even if you are over your MDP at the moment (because you may not plan on further increases in that skill as your MDP goes up).

Some other ideas: Maybe some of the higher quality levels of gear should exempt some (or all!) of their dice from the MDP (though you'd still need the corresponding skill ranks to get all the dice). Maybe Masterwork would except 1d6 from MDP, Artisanal would exempt 2d6, and Legendary would exempt all the quality dice. Without something like this, most of the dice given by the highest quality levels are almost guaranteed to be wasted if you have the skills to qualify for them.

Imagine: Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest living Samurai, draws a Legendary quality katana. He has a 15 in swords for a 5d6 pool, and the weapon quality gives another 5d6. If he's in the highest MDP category in the books (33-40), what are the odds his STR and AGI are still less than 6, so he's not exceeding his 12d6 MDP? (I'd guess 0%, 15+ is much more likely.)
 

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