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Old 11-24-2022, 09:30 PM   #1
scc
 
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Default Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

Hi, all. One old campaign idea that has for some reason recently crawled it's way back to the forefront of my mind is the fan-setting for Mekton Zeta called Virtual Mekton, the one line pitch being what if Yu-Gi-Oh but with VR arcade Mechs/armored combat instead of Magic the Gathering. Throw in some mysteries (like this can't be making money with what's given away in tournaments, right?) and I think that you've got something at least decent.

Now I'll clearly be running this with GURPS, and not the buggy mess that Interlock was. Given that my PC's will teenagers playing a video game, they'll be using game versions of skills like Piloting and Gunner. Now in general I'm thinking that skills should be limited a one or two point spend and that many skills groups, like combat, will be off limits, because these are supposed school children. Now this is key: Does anyone think this is unfair or unworkable or something like that?

For actual Mecha design, I'll be using Mekton Zeta, it falls nicely between Spaceships and Mecha in terms of details and time to design, which is important for a game where the players get to design their own (And where I'll have to design a lot for them to fight).

Now it's not hard to figure out how combat works, both systems are pretty similar at the gross level and just more or less using normal human scale rules with Spaceships maneuvers should work, turn length uses the Mekton 10-second without any problems, but needing to use Mekton's 50 meter hexes poses a slight problem: How do I calculate modifiers? Range is simple, multiply hexes by 50, speed into speed/range, but I also need to work out how speed should be factored into that, do I divide by 10? And what's the aim bonus each attack gets? Is there any guidance I've missed for figuring these things out?
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Old 11-24-2022, 11:56 PM   #2
Kaslak
 
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

I think I can contribute only a little to the first part.
In the answer I am assuming a sort of serious commitment from the characters, as if it was a recognized combat sport, just for illustrative purposes.

If you want to limit character progression around a developement story(perhaps balance time spent on basic education with the combat game training) with no hard boundaries, you might ban "stress based learning", (get points per session and spend them) and use training rules. There are good options (incl. Training workshop sessions) , and an hybrid system to reward points per session to boost training speed in social engineering: back to school. This would move the development of the characters away from session to session scale into the downtime scale (weeks, months, semesters).

Also finding good quality instructors and the money to pay them could create interesting noncombat quests, and the need to balance out the characters related to real life skill needs may be a soft push for players not to focus too much on the sport. Maybe some characters are opposedd by the parents and need to use real life skills to get out from home to train, or may need to work part time because they are struggling. Maybe, as you mentioned, solving mysteries with other life skills might be the only way to prevent a cheating opponent to win automatically.

On the other hand, if your target is to put the campaign spotlight only on the combat game itself, I might expect that characters will want some options to advance on that field only, and any deeper character definition would be a nuisance. The mecha customization options (with point costs) may absorb that need. I have read sometime ago on the forums, to make things interesting, you might create dedicated techniques for different actions based on driving, to favor distributing points on different things and have specialized pilots...

Last edited by Kaslak; 11-24-2022 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 11-25-2022, 12:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

>Now in general I'm thinking that skills should be limited a one or two point spend

A point can represent time spent, but could it also represent talent?

A lot of teenagers discover their future career in the things they spend time on. I've heard musicians talk about getting garage-sale guitars as kids, artists getting the bug early as well, high school athletes being heavily recruited by colleges, and in my case, a Radio Shack electronics project kit made more difference to my career than anything learned in school. And I also know some polymaths who might reasonably have a variety of academic skills at 12, based on high IQ or Talent, in their teen incarnations.

>and that many skills groups, like combat, will be off limits,

Combat Sport at least, for all those Tae Kwon Do tournements. The dojo I was in before I got too old and broken had kid classes for katana and open hand that would've included Acrobatics, Judo, Karate, and Two-Handed Sword. It aspired to teach actual self-defense not art/sport, and some of those kids were amazing by the time they got to be teens. Also, while my dad didn't teach me to shoot or take me on hunting trips, not his things, I would estimate that among my peers in suburban Oklahoma, such things were the norm, and I was in JROTC aspiring to be an aeronautics engineer, but many of my fellow cadets wanted infantry and were already preparing, and that was before paintball. Not too uncommon for a dad to teach his teenage daughter how to use a knife for rape defense.

>I also need to work out how speed should be factored into that,

Not familiar with your system, but...

For 10s turns, you should use full Acc bonus before subtracting range/speed, and for that plus 50m hexes (55yd), the formula is MV×10÷55=MBV×.18. I'd actually simplify that to MV/5. So MV 30, which is 60mph, reasonable for vehicles, becomes 6 hexes.

Last edited by Gef; 11-25-2022 at 12:33 AM.
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Old 11-25-2022, 04:14 AM   #4
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

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Originally Posted by Gef View Post
>Now in general I'm thinking that skills should be limited a one or two point spend

A point can represent time spent, but could it also represent talent?
They certainly can. And note that skill limits are no more realistic for teens than they are for anybody else. Almost nobody, teen or adult, has the kind of diversity and levels of skills you see in adventurers, but almost nobody has that many points to work with either. Just insist they turn in "reasonable" characters, and you can vet reasonableness individually rather than trying to impose it with point constraints that are unlikely to work anyway. When you are trying to enforce realistic skills, you are usually better off with a skill cap (no skills over 12!) than a point cap anyway.

Do remind them the characters are crazed enthusiasts for this mecha thing, which kind of precludes them being crazed enthusiasts for something else, so they better spend most of their points over and above what you'd need for a "normal" teenager on something related to the mecha theme.
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Old 11-25-2022, 08:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

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Originally Posted by scc View Post
Given that my PC's will teenagers playing a video game, they'll be using game versions of skills like Piloting and Gunner. Now in general I'm thinking that skills should be limited a one or two point spend and that many skills groups, like combat, will be off limits, because these are supposed school children.
You might want to create variants of Gunner, Piloting, etc. based on Combat Sport, unless players are using the exact same interfaces that real mecha would use and face real risk of death or some other serious problem (extreme pain, major financial loss, crippling, etc.) every time they go into battle.

For the types of kids who are in a position to play video games, combat skills aren't a serious option. The closest you're likely to get is Combat Sport (Boxing, Guns, Judo, Karate, or Wrestling). Not to dis sport hunting, but most versions should also count as Combat Sport unless the animal has a serious chance of fighting back.

Taking a quick look at GURPS Spaceships, it doesn't seem like too much of a hassle to either figure out 10-second turns from the listed 20-second turns, or just use the rules for 20-second turns and call them 10-second turns.
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Old 11-25-2022, 08:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

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Originally Posted by Gef View Post

A point can represent time spent, but could it also represent talent?
Yes. In fact, training time is probably the most pedestrian and least heroic explanation for points in skills; on some level, I regret that the game talks about it. Some or all points in skill can be read as "Talent for this one skill" – I get into this in many of my supplements.* If you really want someone who is insanely talented with a skill, buy a high level of the skill and explain it as ". . . and I'm a natural." Done.

* For instance, on GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents, p. 17: "Conversely, skills aren't necessarily learned; high Running skill might suggest physical training, but PCs without track-and-field experience can select it as a natural propensity – or buy it with earned points for reasons of dramatic necessity."
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Old 11-25-2022, 09:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

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Originally Posted by scc View Post
Now it's not hard to figure out how combat works, both systems are pretty similar at the gross level and just more or less using normal human scale rules with Spaceships maneuvers should work, turn length uses the Mekton 10-second without any problems, but needing to use Mekton's 50 meter hexes poses a slight problem: How do I calculate modifiers? Range is simple, multiply hexes by 50, speed into speed/range, but I also need to work out how speed should be factored into that, do I divide by 10? And what's the aim bonus each attack gets? Is there any guidance I've missed for figuring these things out?
Spaceships assumes that all attacks are Aim, Aim, All-Out Attack. If I were running a mecha game with 10 seconds turns, I would double the RoF for all weapons and allow the RoF to be split equally between two targets without penalty. But ranged attacks should be at Acc+3 - and realistically, mecha weapons are stabilized, scoped weapons[1] and should have Acc of 6+6 or so for projectile weapons and higher for beam weapons.

Speed (for the SSR table is what I'm assuming you meant) shouldn't be adjusted. A fast mecha sprinting at 100 mph has Move 50 no matter the turn length - longer turns just mean more time to aim.

[1] In my mecha game, I gave an additional +1 bonus for using a hand-held weapon in two hands. But my game involved a lot of melee combat so having a hand free or a melee weapon in the off hand was valuable; if your game is solely long distance combat it may not matter.
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Old 11-25-2022, 01:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

Note that an extraordinary teenage character is not an impossible character either in fiction or reality. Stephanie Harrington was extraordinary but had normal teenage problems, and sometimes found those harder than dealing with Bad Guys.
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Old 11-25-2022, 01:39 PM   #9
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

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Yes. In fact, training time is probably the most pedestrian and least heroic explanation for points in skills; on some level, I regret that the game talks about it. Some or all points in skill can be read as "Talent for this one skill" – I get into this in many of my supplements.* If you really want someone who is insanely talented with a skill, buy a high level of the skill and explain it as ". . . and I'm a natural." Done.

* For instance, on GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents, p. 17: "Conversely, skills aren't necessarily learned; high Running skill might suggest physical training, but PCs without track-and-field experience can select it as a natural propensity – or buy it with earned points for reasons of dramatic necessity."
This is really good. I think it's far better for a GM to control the skill levels than the skill points. Sure, you can use points sometimes to reflect training. For things like piloting it can help you work out how many familiarities you have. But really, it's more of a balance control factor, trying to let a group of characters be roughly the same power overall. Denying (or insisting) on point spends at a given level doesn't really add anything that isn't better handled by reviewing the skill level, imo.

On the general topic of teenagers and learning, it's well established that kids generally learn faster than adults, and there's a new study that suggests it might be down to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels. In short, kids "reset" faster after learning something and can start learning again (about 10 minutes compared to an hour for adults). So it's perfectly reasonable for kids to have learned a large variety of things in a time that might seem unrealistic for an adult (or not in line with GURPS guidelines on how quickly one can learn). Of course, the depth of understanding in some contexts might be limited due to limited neural development, but that's where "natural talent" can be an acceptable plot element to justify it.
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Old 11-25-2022, 02:12 PM   #10
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Default Re: Skill Lists And Limits For Teenage Characters

"Natural talent" at a skill is a combination of a type of intelligence (not necessarily GURPS IQ per se) that favors the general class of activity a skill belongs to, specific interest in that particular skill (probably acquired through encouragement, idolization, or media exposure), and a consequent willingness to do the hard work to realize the intelligence in the form of the skill. In game terms, it isn't "I don't have to train at all . . . I was born this way!", but something closer to, "Each hour for you is like 20 hours for me," meaning the talented youth appears to need little or no training.

This is why I'm not a huge fan of X hours = 1 point: The flat rates in the rules aren't just averages, but averages with error bars so huge that they don't really have much value. The learning-time reductions for Talents are probably adequate for groups of skills, but for individual interests, they're still not large enough.
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