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Old 07-18-2020, 08:11 AM   #41
Axly Suregrip
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Default Re: Experience Points

Nice write up Nils.

Like you I have made changes to the XP system. I made small changes because I try to avoid house rules (other than rulings on the rules), but the XP system simply needed correction. These are what I have done:

1) I borrowed hcobb's idea from his house rules page: every time you add an IQ point you get 500 XP that may only be spent on talents & spells. This is essentially the same as your talent point idea. It stops the nonsense with beginning characters all having IQ16 and keeps advancement clear.

2) Doubling the XP given per session. 25 to 100 is just too slow. Also every session the GM should give extra XP for deeds. Deed rewards should be significant as it will drive more desired behavior (win win).

I have not come up with a solution for spell & talent gain and mana staff gain being unattractive for beginning characters. I am considering reducing the cost of spell & talent gain to 250 XP per point (and leaving mana untouched).
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Old 07-18-2020, 08:42 AM   #42
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Experience Points

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axly Suregrip View Post
1) I borrowed hcobb's idea from his house rules page: every time you add an IQ point you get 500 XP that may only be spent on talents & spells. This is essentially the same as your talent point idea. It stops the nonsense with beginning characters all having IQ16 and keeps advancement clear.
Evil Stevie has explicitly shot that one down so I stopped arguing the point.
Character progression is therefore:
  1. Preload the memory points: Molly, Fencer, Dark Sniper, etc.
  2. Spend XPs to advance DX by five
  3. Then add abilities, increasing IQ as needed.
So a Fencer after adding five attribute points is ST 9, DX 17(16), IQ 11. With her very fine Rapier in hand she hits for 2d+3 damage 74% of the time. Her further advancement will be to increase IQ for Master Fencer.
Fencers are born, not made.
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Last edited by hcobb; 07-18-2020 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 07-18-2020, 08:49 AM   #43
Nils_Lindeberg
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Default Re: Experience Points

On another note, anyone that built a point system from scratch like Henry did with his calculator. That starts with age/power level minimum stats and then you buy everything from that. You could start with only 2 points of talents and a free mundane talent like Farmhand, but have much better attributes than normal, but without being penalized for it with a set talent point cost, but using the mIQ costs.

Maybe even adding a few random set talents or minimum attribute scores to work from. Or be able to learn talents at a lower IQ, but with an activation roll so they are unreliable (always based on the attribute prereq. you didn't have). That would mean that you could start with an IQ 9 Scholar with Crossbow talent. And minimum characteristics for ST and DX and a bunch of XP-increases. That way you would have loads of options, but the character wouldn't be a cookie cutter best build for a specific talent combo or weapon combo. You would have to think outside the box to make it into a character that kind of works... And you would get a bunch of questions to answer, like why IQ9 and Schollar, or why and how did he learn crossbow and the rest of his talents. Often you could fill out the character with the XP and get a normal character, but at times it would be slightly off, in an interesting way. Still optimized from the strange starting point and back ground point of view, but not optimized from a pure power gaming point of view (which most of us wants to avoid).

One could even throw in a a personality trait or a random advantage or handicap to really make for an interesting starting point. A mix of randomness and control from the players point of view.

And such a random system would make great NPC's, especially since they don't have to follow the same creation rules as the PC's. All the GM needs to do is fill in the rest as he sees fit. That big bad boss with his bee hives out back, bum knee, swearing in Centaurish and repainted canoe out side the door would be somewhat more memorable than the standard BBG.
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Old 07-18-2020, 09:13 AM   #44
Nils_Lindeberg
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Default Re: Experience Points

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axly Suregrip View Post
Nice write up Nils.

I have not come up with a solution for spell & talent gain and mana staff gain being unattractive for beginning characters. I am considering reducing the cost of spell & talent gain to 250 XP per point (and leaving mana untouched).
I agree with what you say, and your last point can not be fixed. All you can do is moving the balancing point where people stops increasing their attributes and goes for the set costs, and then basically never goes back until they have all the mana/talents that they ever wanted.

I think I can see where Steve wanted to go with this, get your attributes in line, then instead of raising attributes even higher invest in other things and when all that is done, maybe get one or two more attributes before the campaign is over. So it is basically an XP-system that removes Conan the Wizard and the genius Hero. That used to get their normal attributes that they wanted and then they continued with ST and IQ in absurdum for no good in game reason and it felt very counter intuitive for a wizard to go for ST and a Hero to go for IQ. Almost reverse of what you would expect at extreme levels of play.

But his solutions is just as borked. Exponential costs mixed with set costs doesn't work. And even if your artificially link them by letting a talent point cost a half of the current attribute cost it won't mix, without also counting the talent as an attribute, so further attributes increases in cost as well (the mIQ rule). And getting the extra point each time you increase the attribute only solve half the problem, namely the bonus XP from starting with a high IQ. It doesn't solve the cut-off point where talents goes from waaay to expensive to basically for free.

I would go so far as to say that any such system, mixing the two, would be very exploitable. And in my mind it doesn't much matter if the exploit is in line with what you want the system to do, it is still an exploit and artificial that limits choice.

You could do it with two systems. Everyone gets 8 talents from start, no matter the starting IQ. And then each extra talent bought increases the talent cost for the next. As well as each extra attribute point you buy increases the cost for the next. Then people would jump beteween the two systems and maybe pick every other increase from one or the other. That might kind of maybe work. But would most likely give other strange effects, especially if the cost didn't increase at the same speed.

One could also have a set cost for everything. And then decrease the XP from playing, so the leveling up slowed down because of that. Then it wouldn't matter how or when you bought stuff, it would cost the same and one thing would always be worth the same of something else. For example 200 for mana, 500 for talents and 1500 for an attribute (including the extra talent if you buy IQ). But it might feel wrong to players if they receive less and less XP the more epic adventures they complete. :-)
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Old 07-18-2020, 09:32 AM   #45
Nils_Lindeberg
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Default Re: Experience Points

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
So a Fencer after adding five attribute points is ST 9, DX 17(16), IQ 11. With her very fine Rapier in hand she hits for 2d+3 damage 74% of the time. Her further advancement will be to increase IQ for Master Fencer.
Fencers are born, not made.
I agree with you Henry, some builds are extremely formulaic and cookie cutter, which in my eyes it completely the opposite of what TFT should be. The best thing with TFT is the possibility of creating a character fast and still get the options of a much more complex point-buy-system of a GURPS type with a vast range of options and abilities.

Gaming is all about being faced with a few choices, not too many or too few, but enough. That all are as different as possible but also balanced enough to be real options and not just fake options or must haves. A tricky balancing act that TFT does very well compared to most systems, but not as well as it could in some aspects (looking at you UC, expertise/mastery, high level wizard builds, high IQ starting builds, removal of studied talents, Missing weapons in the weapon table, etc).

The other nice thing with TFT are the many builds and talents (and spells) that needs all three attributes to some preferably significant degree. I like the triangle and not the one attribute builds that does it all with one maxed out characteristic without the need for the others. That is soooo D&D and completely limits the choices to one or two and everything else is gimping yourself. I want to be able to play Conan the wizard, not because it is the best or only viable build, but because it is one possible and somewhat viable build that really stands out from all the other wizard builds.

So a few more things that were based off of ST for a wizard would be a good thing. Like the spells being cast based on IQ to hit. Maybe the staff is chargeable up to your STx1 or STx2, or missile spells have their maximum ST based on the caster ST, or the armor spells are based on your basic ST, like 1/3 and then 2/3 of your ST, or a few things like that. And the same goes for having a high DX as a wizard. Maybe you could start casting two spells per turn with a -4adj DX and things like that. But then again, hitting with your (T) spells are always important i guess and you could aim for the head with a missile spell and use a very high DX.
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Old 07-18-2020, 12:28 PM   #46
hcobb
 
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Default Re: Experience Points

The one and only thing that a wizard needs ST for is to limit the range of his Missile Spells (ITL 135) or not (ITL 125).

An easy fix for low-level ability gain is to never charge more for a memory point than an attribute point. You could then have 34 attribute characters that just kept adding talents and spells.
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:17 PM   #47
David Bofinger
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
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Default Re: Experience Points

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
The one and only thing that a wizard needs ST for is to limit the range of his Missile Spells (ITL 135) or not (ITL 125).
I would have thought hit points relevant.

Quote:
An easy fix for low-level ability gain is to never charge more for a memory point than an attribute point.
Which moves us even further from knowing how many XPs are needed to construct a character. And pushes characters into buying talents as early as possible.
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:54 PM   #48
Axly Suregrip
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Default Re: Experience Points

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
An easy fix for low-level ability gain is to never charge more for a memory point than an attribute point. You could then have 34 attribute characters that just kept adding talents and spells.
This is an interesting solution but doesn't it lead to a similar situation as the starting IQ? That is, buy all the talents you can while they cost 100 XP, before adding to your attributes.
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Old 07-18-2020, 11:00 PM   #49
Axly Suregrip
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Default Re: Experience Points

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
The one and only thing that a wizard needs ST for is to limit the range of his Missile Spells (ITL 135) or not (ITL 125).
I have not noticed this. Is this the maximum range or the how far it travels after missing? Sounds like maximum range. So Molly is left with a max range of 6 MHx?
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Old 07-19-2020, 01:46 AM   #50
Steve Plambeck
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Default Re: Experience Points

Well said Nils! Importantly, this is an exceedingly comprehensive post on the matters of Experience Points and character advancement because you've enumerated all the interrelated parts to the system. Talking about the costs of attributes, talents and spells, staff mana and even gold separately, fails to reveal the full extent to which these diverse sounding elements are truly interrelated.

They are linked because all get "purchased" with Experience Points, thus forming one self-contained sub-system to the rules. And right now it's like a machine where the parts don't fit or get along with each other. And there's no tweaking one part without affecting all the others, and thence the overall function of the entire sub-system.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nils_Lindeberg View Post
<snip>

The second problem is the mix of exponential costs and static costs. Two such system will never match without strange side effects like no one picking talents until they have gained at least some attributes first. Or no one picking mana at the start for their staff because for the same price you can gain two whole ST points, except that for a good end build at 38p+ you don't want to over invest in ST early on, so you take DX first and then mana instead of the other way around for no good in game reason.

<snip>

And then on top of this you change the rules about talents/spells after character generation and before. So that you in essence get a 500xp bonus for starting out a little smarter (as long as that IQ is within your final goal for the character). So one guy going 10/10/12 and then level up to 10/12/12, compared to 10/12/10 leveling up to the exact same 10/12/12 just lost 1000 XP and that "mistake" penalize you with more than 10 game nights without any XP?!?
That is the smoking gun. If two characters belonging to different players reach identical builds, but haven't "paid" an identical cost to get there, something is very wrong. That frustrates me, as does the fact you can no longer look at an advancing character and figure out from their stats how many XP they earned and spent to get where they are. The canary in the coal mine is looking very unhealthy.

What has changed since original TFT is that we can now advance characters in ways that do not increase the cost of further advancement in the same way. Formerly increasing any attribute meant the next attribute added would be more expensive, and there was no way to improve a character otherwise, except monetarily. You had to increase one attribute or the other to increase anything else: hits points, talents, or the amount of armor you could wear for the same effective DX. It was a self-regulating system.

Every character improvement should have to go through the filter of the XP-to-Attribute conversion table. That's what kept things balanced.

When talents or spells or mana or even gold (which translates to better net attributes with better gear) can increase without going through that XP-to-Attribute conversion table, it literally creates a short-circuit in the sub-system, which no longer can work as intended.

Currently, if you expend XP for a new talent, the next talent won't cost more. Buy a new spell, but the next spell won't cost more. Increase your staff mana capacity, but the next increase will still cost the same. And while this last example goes back to original ITL, spend XP on some amount of gold, and get the same amount of gold later for the same XP (but those of us who want to ignore this rule already ignore it).

Short of a roll-back to original ITL, there is no single, simple solution to each of these things. But I was indeed happier when an IQ increase was necessary for additional spells and talents. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not afraid of PCs reaching higher and higher IQs. If a farmboy runs off to become a soldier, and one day he's an IQ 20 tactical genius, well he got there by passing on attaining ST 20 or DX 20. It was the players choice. As long as that figure spent the same XP to get there as someone else who aimed for ST 20 or DX 20, I'm satisfied. Outside of learning and "memory capacity" IQ rarely factors into the game, and I'd rather put a couple minor tweaks on the cases that do come up (disbelief, contests of will, etc) than see "talent bloat" become a thing.

I've contrived a method to gain staff mana without spending XP directly on it, but this post is too long already.

Needless to say, I just think all direct character improvements need to be made through increasing attributes, or things will remain gamey and off-kilter.
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Last edited by Steve Plambeck; 07-20-2020 at 02:54 AM.
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