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Old 11-08-2018, 04:08 PM   #41
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

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Originally Posted by ErhnamDJ View Post
I thought it was about the incentives created by different character point prices. You want to discourage people from buying up skills directly by making it more costly to raise skills relative to attributes. This would have the effect of disincentivizing people from playing characters who have raised a single skill to a high level and encourage them to instead play characters who have raised an attribute as their method of achieving high skill levels.

If I'm understanding you correctly, your goal is to encourage players to make characters who match your understanding of the sorts of people real world learning produces?

You believe that real world people who end up being good at one mental skill tend to be good at doing mental skills in general, and the game rules should encourage you to build those sorts of characters, rather than having a pianist who is good at piano but not good at painting or surgery or mathematics, or similar types of characters. Am I kind of getting where you're coming from?
Basically, though I would look at it from the other end: People who are not high in an underlying trait tend not to learn the skills associated with it. Being low in DX, as I am, both reduces the motivation to study martial arts, or dancing, or marksmanship, and prevents gaining extraordinary skill levels even if you study hard and for a long time.
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Old 11-08-2018, 05:29 PM   #42
ErhnamDJ
 
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Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Basically, though I would look at it from the other end: People who are not high in an underlying trait tend not to learn the skills associated with it. Being low in DX, as I am, both reduces the motivation to study martial arts, or dancing, or marksmanship, and prevents gaining extraordinary skill levels even if you study hard and for a long time.
I disagree with you about how humans work (I think it's the other way around: that people who have the motivation to do certain types of activities go on to practice them and become good at them, so your disinclination toward dexterous activities leads to your being poor at them, which then creates a feedback loop where you're bad at it, so you don't do it, and since you don't do it, you continue to be bad at it).

However, I don't think that's really what's in question here.

The question I think we should be looking at is this: what do we want to encourage and what do we want to discourage through the character creation rules.

Your answer is that we should encourage people to build characters in such a way that the resulting characters will occur at statistically the same rates as the people with those traits occur in the real world.

I don't like that answer. GURPS is a generic and universal game. It's not about creating characters at the same rate as those characters occur in the real world; it's about making superheroes, cartoon rabbits, clockwork robots, pulp heroes, magic elves, and whatever else a player can dream up.

I don't think the way humans learn in the real world should determine the incentives I am faced with when creating my cartoon rabbit.

I think instead the character points should be used to balance the usefulness of the traits (with traits of the same price each providing about the same usefulness to characters who have those traits), so that my cartoon rabbit and your clockwork robot will each be about as useful in the adventure when built on the same number of points.

If you instead use character points to measure something else, or to encourage or discourage building certain types of characters, then you create situations where characters built on the same number of points are of vastly different usefulness in the game. And that leads to situations that feel unfair. We see this in the RAW trait pricing where some traits provide much more (or less!) usefulness for a given point cost than others. This becomes obvious if you do a thought experiment where you imagine certain traits (such as Unkillable or Warp) being sold at a ridiculously low cost of one point each. If you buy Warp for one point, and I make a character who doesn't have Warp, it feels unfair to me, because you got to have a much more powerful character than I did.

You could use the point costs to discourage people from making characters with certain traits by making those traits cost much more than the usefulness they provide, but when you do that, it feels unfair. It feels like you got ripped off.

We can do another thought experiment. Imagine the price of Tuba skill was quadrupled while all other trait prices were left the same. The rare person whose character concept includes purchasing the tuba skill might well still purchase the skill. But they're going to feel ripped off. The game is going to feel unfair.

And this is what will always be the result of pricing traits in such a way that they cost more or less than other traits that provide a similar level of usefulness. Either the player who purchases the overpriced trait will feel like they got ripped off, or the other players will feel as though the game is unfair because someone else got to be Superman while they're left standing on the sidelines as Jimmy Olsen.
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Old 11-08-2018, 05:52 PM   #43
SilvercatMoonpaw
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

The difficulty of pricing traits based on how useful they are is that you have to re-price them based on the setting being used.

You could do it, but it'd probably be annoying.
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Old 11-08-2018, 06:09 PM   #44
ErhnamDJ
 
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Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

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Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
The difficulty of pricing traits based on how useful they are is that you have to re-price them based on the setting being used.
You don't have to. GURPS doesn't. You would get better prices if you did, but that doesn't mean you can't make some assumptions and then come up with something. That's presumably what the authors did when they made Warp cost more than Mind Control, which in turn costs more than Doesn't Eat or Drink.

Further, you also have to think about the effect rather than the method. The effect of the prices is that players purchase traits that they expect will be more useful for their cost and avoid traits that expect will be less useful for the cost.

It doesn't matter how you came up with your prices, those are the incentives that you create. If you have a non-utility pricing method that gives Extra Mouth a cost of 40/level, no one will buy it. It's the same if you give Games skill a price of 10 level, then 20 level, then 40 level, and so on.

The method for pricing the skills doesn't matter to the players. They choose what they purchase based on the utility of the trait they get, not based on the method used to determine the price.

What happens you make the trait prices out of wack with the utility provided by the traits is that the players contort their characters around the overpriced or underpriced traits. They choose not to play characters with concepts that would employ the overpriced traits, and instead choose to play the characters with concepts represented by the underpriced traits.

If Warp cost only a single point, you'd see a huge surge of interest in characters who can teleport. If all the combat skills were raised to 50/level, you'd see a huge surge of interest in diplomat characters.

And while someone might spend two hundred points on four levels of knife at 50/level, they'd feel like they got ripped off when they did it.

I like having the goal that players get to play what they want and not feel like they got ripped off when they do so. The way to do that is to price the traits based on utility.

Yes, I agree with you that different traits are worth different amounts in different sorts of games (something the rules already sort-of take into account with the variable pricing of things like Resistant), that doesn't make the alternative pricing methods look better.

I think you could come up with prices for the traits that are decent in most games, use those in every game, and have something that works out okay in most games. There would be issues, but choosing to base the prices on something other than trait utility won't solve them; that would exacerbate the problem.

I personally support having a set of prices for different kinds of games (look at the cost of the armor on the combat robots in Ultra-Tech if you want to see an example of why this is needed), but the next best alternative is to give the traits prices based on their expected utility in a way that would cover as many games as possible, while acknowledging that this method isn't perfect. There just isn't a price for DR that's going to work in a low-tech game and an ultra-tech game. As long as you give the same price in both games, that's going to be a problem; it doesn't matter what method you used to come up with that price. It will always be either overpriced in one setting or underpriced in the other. This is a completely separate issue. Though it does apply to the costs of the skills as well.

If I were given a time machine and put in charge of the game, I would have a set of default prices in the Basic Set, and then in the genre books, I would give a list of suggested changed prices for that genre. The book dealing with science-fiction could give suggested changes in prices for science-fiction games, and so on. That seems a workable method to me.
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Old 11-08-2018, 06:29 PM   #45
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErhnamDJ View Post
I disagree with you about how humans work (I think it's the other way around: that people who have the motivation to do certain types of activities go on to practice them and become good at them, so your disinclination toward dexterous activities leads to your being poor at them, which then creates a feedback loop where you're bad at it, so you don't do it, and since you don't do it, you continue to be bad at it).
That's inconsistent with my experience.

I learned to read when I was four, by watching as my mother read to me. I wasn't taught; I just figured it out. I learned math through eighth grade level, and a little algebra, when I was in third grade, from reading (once) a math review aimed at adults. Now, I loved reading and math, but I hadn't done either over and over when those things happened; it was because I found them easy and enjoyable that I went on to do them a lot.

I was never good at athletic activities, or at any sort of fighting (I only won one fight in my entire childhood), and that led to my not doing much of them.

I learned to play the flute in seventh grade, and went on for a few years, and liked doing it. But I had no sense of pitch, to the point where I didn't realize anyone could learn a tune by hearing it, and my embouchure was poor; no matter how much time I spent on it, I didn't get better. My sister took it up and now is a professional musician.

And my experience has been that some people just don't grasp some things.

Quote:
We can do another thought experiment. Imagine the price of Tuba skill was quadrupled while all other trait prices were left the same. The rare person whose character concept includes purchasing the tuba skill might well still purchase the skill. But they're going to feel ripped off. The game is going to feel unfair.

And this is what will always be the result of pricing traits in such a way that they cost more or less than other traits that provide a similar level of usefulness. Either the player who purchases the overpriced trait will feel like they got ripped off, or the other players will feel as though the game is unfair because someone else got to be Superman while they're left standing on the sidelines as Jimmy Olsen.
Yes, but you know, if traits are priced unfairly, and you change them to be priced fairly, the people who benefited from the unfairness will also feel ripped off. So people being unhappy isn't a valid metric. If you don't make changes that make people unhappy, you can never change anything—either making skills relatively cheap, as this thread originally proposed, or making them relatively dear, as I suggested, will result in unhappiness.

And that doesn't make the current status sacred. In 3/e, skills were limited by a nonlinear cost scale for stats, where any stat cost more per increment as you got further from the human standard of 10. In 4/e, that was changed to a linear scale. In 3/e, nearly all IQ skills went 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and +2 per step, while physical skills had a steeper curve. When each of those was changed, there were some gainers and some losers. Your argument would entail that all those changes were illegitimate. I think that's too strong a conclusion. It's nice if you can get a Pareto improvement, but sometimes you need to change the rules ever though some people end up worse off.

Your tuba example is also kind of silly, in that it posits a change in exactly one skill. Obviously if you change one skill, but leave all the other skills the same, you're going to have a lack of balance. But that same argument doesn't necessarily apply if you change ALL skills in comparison to ALL stats.

* I note, by the way, that in GURPS LTC1, I did change certain Musical Instrument skills, the ones that related to untuned instruments like cymbals, triangles, wood blocks, and snare and bass drums, to be Average rather than Hard, while leaving tuned instruments, including xylophones and timpani, Hard. I don't recall anyone ever complaining.

* The first time I ran Big Eyes Small Mouth, a point-built system rather like GURPS, one of my players invested heavily in stats; another one, who had bought a lot of skills, noted that her character was clearly superior to his. So the next time I ran BESM, I doubled the cost of all stats. All my players seemed to like the result. Of course this was a new campaign, but you normally WOULD change a basic rule between campaigns, right?

In the last analysis, you make the prices low for things you want players to take, and high for things you want them to take less often. And I would rather have players take skill levels that track their attributes fairly closely, and take talents if they want to be good at multiple skills in a narrower way. (Note that my proposed 1/2/4/8/16 etc. scale would strongly reward the player who took a talent for some type of activity.) I would like the world's greatest mathematician to be John von Neumann, or Archimedes, and not some random bloke with IQ 10, let alone 8.

You can say, if you like, that GURPS should be able to model just about any conceivable character. And yes, that's sort of true. But characters in fiction tend to look rather like actual people, much of the time. So something that gives a closer fit to that has more utility than something that opens up a lot of theoretical possibilities that don't actually show up much.
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Last edited by whswhs; 11-08-2018 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 11-08-2018, 06:33 PM   #46
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
The difficulty of pricing traits based on how useful they are is that you have to re-price them based on the setting being used.
Yeah, utility pricing is hard to make work well. One thing I've considered is what I like to call lottery pricing: your odds of winning a contest are close to linear in points spent on that ability. This means people can bid based on what they think will matter.

That winds up as an exponential scale with each +1 multiplying cost by 1.4-1.5. If you still use stat+skill, you would want both stat and skill to be double cost for each +1 (since you can raise separately, that means double points gives +1 to both stat and skill for a total +2).
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:06 PM   #47
ErhnamDJ
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
That's inconsistent with my experience.
It's a fascinating topic, and one I would love to delve more deeply into, but I don't want to derail this thread. Perhaps we could take that discussion elsewhere.

I will say that I think your experience is compatible with my undestanding of human learning.

Quote:
Yes, but you know, if traits are priced unfairly, and you change them to be priced fairly, the people who benefited from the unfairness will also feel ripped off. So people being unhappy isn't a valid metric.
And I would make the same argument once the game has begun. If there was some typo in the book and the characters purchased Warp at one point or Regrowth at forty, then it's too late to change it. But we should definitely change it before we make characters in the next game.

If you don't make changes that make people unhappy, you can never change anything—either making skills relatively cheap, as this thread originally proposed, or making them relatively dear, as I suggested, will result in unhappiness.

Quote:
Your argument would entail that all those changes were illegitimate. I think that's too strong a conclusion.
I'm sorry. I don't follow.

Quote:
Your tuba example is also kind of silly, in that it posits a change in exactly one skill. Obviously if you change one skill, but leave all the other skills the same, you're going to have a lack of balance. But that same argument doesn't necessarily apply if you change ALL skills in comparison to ALL stats.
It does apply, because those traits are also compared to the other traits. Tuba (or almost any other skill) at 12/level is still overpriced in what it provides in comparison to Charisma or Mind Reading or Regeneration or any other trait.

Quote:
Of course this was a new campaign, but you normally WOULD change a basic rule between campaigns, right?
Of course. I wouldn't suggest having the players remake their characters in an ongoing campaign. If I wanted to change some of the trait prices, I would do so at the beginning of a new game.

Quote:
I would like the world's greatest mathematician to be John von Neumann, or Archimedes, and not some random bloke with IQ 10, let alone 8.
I find this exceptionally difficult to unpack and respond to. It involves what way you think the GM ought to encourage players to play the characters they feel are most appropriate for their games, and when the GM should allow the players to play things that they, the GM, wouldn't necessarily find the most interesting or appropriate.

I prefer to achieve that goal (if I ever have that sort of a goal, which I rarely do) by explicitly telling the players what sort of characters I'm looking for and what isn't appropriate for the game. I would prefer not to do so by using the character point pricing, since that leads to the undesirable effects I've outlined in my other post, where players feel that they've been ripped off or that other players' characters are unfairly more powerful than theirs.

"Play what you will, but pay what it's worth," is the trait pricing maxim I would employ. The characters are going to base their purchasing decisions on the worth of the traits; I think they should be priced accordingly to keep from ripping people off, making them feel bad, or unduly favoring some traits over others.
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:29 PM   #48
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErhnamDJ View Post
It does apply, because those traits are also compared to the other traits. Tuba (or almost any other skill) at 12/level is still overpriced in what it provides in comparison to Charisma or Mind Reading or Regeneration or any other trait.
But it looks like an intentionally silly example, because you postulate making only one skill, and a skill of generally low utility and narrow appeal, massively expensive, while leaving all the other skills at the same price. Of course it's going to look absurd. But that doesn't mean that changing all skills together would be absurd, and still less that a more limited change to all skills would be absurd. So I think it looks like a straw man—a straw tuba player, which is an image to give anyone pause.
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:41 PM   #49
SilvercatMoonpaw
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

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Originally Posted by ErhnamDJ View Post
You don't have to. GURPS doesn't. You would get better prices if you did, but that doesn't mean you can't make some assumptions and then come up with something.
The same skills don't have the same need in every game: A sword skill in a modern setting is not as useful as it is in a setting without guns. A swimming skill is more useful in a setting where you expect to do a lot of swimming. And what if the theme of the game is something non-violent: are combat skills as useful then as any other time?

You can decide on a pricing structure based on guesses of universal usefulness, but that's not going to do any better than GURPS'. You might as well give every skill the same price and just accept some skills are going to be bought more than others.
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:49 PM   #50
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: Skills and Techniques are too expensive

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
One of the perennial problems with GURPS is that Skills and Techniques are too expensive compared to Attributes and Advantages. If a player wants to be a really good fighter, it makes more sense to invest CP in DX than it does to invest CP in more than four DX skills beyond DX+1.
Only if your definition of "good" is "versatile". Actually concentrate on just a couple of weapons and you will be far better in combat than someone who cranks their DX.
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