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Old 01-19-2018, 06:38 AM   #1
Chris Rice
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: London Uk, but originally from Scotland
Default Talent System

I know there's been some debate on these forums about Talents but I thought we should have a specific thread. These are my thoughts.

When I first received ITL the Talents were a bit of a "WOW" moment for me. At that time (1980?) D&D and T&T didn't have specific skill systems at all; abilities were tied completely to Character Class. Runequest had a skill system, but everyone had some sort of chance to perform every skill (or as I saw it, everyone had a mediocre chance to do everything). Finally here was a skill system that I felt better reflected reality, albeit in a highly simplified way. After all, in the real world you can either drive a car or you can't. You can either ride a horse or you can't. Sure, you can get better at something once you know how to do it, but if you don't know how to do it you can't do it at all.

To me the Talent system is the defining feature of TFT and should be kept pretty much unchanged. I don't mind the fact that an individual will only have a few key Talents - I like that and feel it makes characters individual. What I don't want is a system where characters have too many Talents as I feel they will then become too similar.

In my long running campaigns I only remember a few characters learning a new Talent and even then it was only one each. However, they got better at all of them due to attribute increase.

So what would I change? I followed the advice in an issue of the Space Gamer and split attributes. INT was split into IQ (Intelligence=level of Talent/ Spell you can know) and KN (Knowledge=number of Talents/Spells you can know). The split into 6 attributes allowed a bit more variety in characters at the attribute level and meant that if you wanted more Talents you could have them without having to have a higher IQ as well.

As far as individual Talents were concerned I scrapped New Followers/Monster Followers. I always thought this was better dealt with by Charisma, Language ability and situational factors. Those Talents felt far too artificial to me.

So my vote is not to muck about with Talents too much. They were the heart of the RPG to my mind and I'm very fond of them.
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:44 AM   #2
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Talent System

I think a lot of people who continued to play TFT actively made two changes to the talent system, and I wouldn't be shocked to see one or both in a new edition:

1) Introduction of something like a 'talent point' inventory that lets you learn additional talents and spells without raising your IQ. In my house rules you start play with one TP per IQ point, you automatically gain 1 TP each time your IQ goes up, but you can purchase one TP without an IQ increase for half as many EXP as a normal attribute increase. You could debate the details of the EXP cost but I think something along these lines is a good system.

2) Expansion of the number and diversity of talents. I can't imagine a table top gamer who wouldn't look at ITL and start inventing new talents, and Interplay regularly published fan submissions of this sort of thing. But it has to be done very carefully because ITL has so few attributes and talents, and its combat system is so sensitive to small changes in balance, that you could easily trash the whole thing by introducing a couple of 'kewl pwrzzz' in your talent list. My house rule list has grown and shrank over the years, but is now about twice the length of the original (i.e. ~200 instead of ~100), and most of the new ones increase the list of activities that are enabled rather than jacking up your adj. DX to new heights, etc.

It is imaginable that the talent system could be used to make more radical changes in the game, but I don't expect to see this in a new edition, simply because it would be too controversial. However, here are two things I did in my house ruled version and that I have found very satisfactory:

1) I removed the distinction between 'wizard' and 'hero' classes (i.e., I play TFT effectively classless). Everyone pays the same TP costs for all talents and spells. But, the ability to learn spells has as a prerequisite one or more magic related talents, each of which gives you access to only a subset of spells. This is really not that complicated and really opens up the sorts of characters you can create. When I first created this I thought it would introduce a potential large imbalance because it would provide a new pathway for mixing martial and magical abilities. That did not turn out to be the case, both because wizards are not enormously more powerful than heroes in a one on one fight and the same attribute total, and because once you set the TP cost for these talents at an appropriate level it exerts a constraint on your talent and spell lists that is not so different from the original

2) I play with a formal system of social class and status, and one of the ways I organize this is through introduction of several talents that 'buy' you access to certain social classes. That is, you can have 'Noble' talent, which indicates you were born into (or somehow entered) a titled noble family.

I also have a variety of more flavorful/historical east asian and european martial arts talents that support new moves, etc. rather than just jacking up your damage or adj. DX. And I introduced a set of talents that are effectively like the 'passions' from Pendragon, where they can provide situational modifiers to an attribute during one encounter or scene. E.g., a knight with 'Amore' might gain such a bonus to ST in a duel fought in front of his or her beloved.
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:49 AM   #3
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: Talent System

p.s., a more general point about the talent system: Another danger one encounters in making revisions is that you can quickly find yourself just re-making GURPS if you go hog wild with the number and diversity of talents, or you start quantifying them with modifiers ('Sword +2', etc). I think to retain the simplicity of design that marks TFT, you need to have the talent list not grow by more than a factor of 2 in total, and retain a system where your talents are just a short list (typically 4-8 at most) of words, without associated scores/numbers. This will assure that characters will still fit on a 3x5 card and the whole thing won't bloat.
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Old 01-19-2018, 11:38 AM   #4
CJM
 
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Default Re: Talent System

My thoughts on Talents (ITL) are that they should have three levels and that they should originally be bought with IQ points, but after that they should be leveled up with experience points. Each level would have of course prerequisites. This would help some with the bloat on attributes, the forgetting talents rule that makes room for another talent, increasing IQ to be able to gain more talents, and with talents you could address issues like perception (instead of adding a perception attribute). Also I would like to see that the talents not just give a +1, +2, +3 type of progression. But something that gives you something each level. For example you buy sword with your IQ points at the beginning of character generation. At the first level you are proficient in the use of a sword. then at the second level you might have learned to defend yourself better with it so it makes it harder for your opponent to hit you maybe a -3 to their attack roll. At the third level you might be able to disarm your foe with, lets say, a 4d vs DX roll. These are broad base ideas, I'm not a game designer, but this might help organize the system and solve problems that we are discussing on this forum. I believe if done right that it would give a stair stepping approach to improving your character. A lot can be done with talents that could increases mana to cast spells, giving extra hit points to increase the survival rate for characters, so on and so forth...
My thoughts anyway.
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Old 01-19-2018, 11:46 AM   #5
Chris Goodwin
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
Default Re: Talent System

Quote:
Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
p.s., a more general point about the talent system: Another danger one encounters in making revisions is that you can quickly find yourself just re-making GURPS if you go hog wild with the number and diversity of talents, or you start quantifying them with modifiers ('Sword +2', etc). I think to retain the simplicity of design that marks TFT, you need to have the talent list not grow by more than a factor of 2 in total, and retain a system where your talents are just a short list (typically 4-8 at most) of words, without associated scores/numbers. This will assure that characters will still fit on a 3x5 card and the whole thing won't bloat.
In Warrior & Wizard (my clone), I had as an optional rule that you could use experience points to buy bonuses to talents, with some restrictions (if there's an advanced or expert version, you had to have that first, and you could max at +3). This can give characters additional ways to advance besides just increasing ST or DX.
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Old 01-19-2018, 01:09 PM   #6
JLV
 
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Default Re: Talent System

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJM View Post
My thoughts on Talents (ITL) are that they should have three levels and that they should originally be bought with IQ points, but after that they should be leveled up with experience points. Each level would have of course prerequisites. This would help some with the bloat on attributes, the forgetting talents rule that makes room for another talent, increasing IQ to be able to gain more talents, and with talents you could address issues like perception (instead of adding a perception attribute). Also I would like to see that the talents not just give a +1, +2, +3 type of progression. But something that gives you something each level. For example you buy sword with your IQ points at the beginning of character generation. At the first level you are proficient in the use of a sword. then at the second level you might have learned to defend yourself better with it so it makes it harder for your opponent to hit you maybe a -3 to their attack roll. At the third level you might be able to disarm your foe with, lets say, a 4d vs DX roll. These are broad base ideas, I'm not a game designer, but this might help organize the system and solve problems that we are discussing on this forum. I believe if done right that it would give a stair stepping approach to improving your character. A lot can be done with talents that could increases mana to cast spells, giving extra hit points to increase the survival rate for characters, so on and so forth...
My thoughts anyway.
I'm with CJM on most of this (some, I'd have to see how it plays out before I can enthusiastically support, but overall, yes, this is good). I think he's right in the middle on this and therefore probably has a system that a lot of people would be happy with.

My only comment on Talents is that as you read them, you realize some of them are really genetic advantages, more than they are "learned" skills. I think one could usefully separate the "genetic" ones out (perhaps 10 or so total) and let players pick one or two of them when creating a character, and the remaining 90 or so would all become "Skills" which could be learned normally. (This would also allow you to introduce the "Magery" talent to the game, to be taken at character creation, to clearly differentiate between Wizards and non-Wizards.) Personally, I'd let Humans and Orcs pick two each, while the other species only get one; because the other species have sufficient internal advantages (greater speed, toughness, or ability with thrown weapons) that those actually "count" as an extra Talent, but that's just me...

In effect, what GURPS did was this -- it split off "advantages/disadvantages" as something that were generally taken at character creation (though you can change that during the course of play), while skills were stuff that you could learn in school or via practice as you went along. While I have no desire to see the advantages/disadvantages system applied to TFT, using the ten or so Talents that are clearly genetic instead of learned as a way to further customize your character "at birth" makes a lot of sense to me.
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Old 01-19-2018, 01:19 PM   #7
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default Re: Talent System

I've toyed with the idea of talent bonuses, but based on a couple years of play testing I think they are not good in practice. The problem is that they provide too free of a way to trade talent points for adj.DX bonuses, and therefore serve as a kind of 'grade inflation' that trashes the otherwise good balance of trade offs you have to navigate.
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Old 01-19-2018, 05:02 PM   #8
tomc
 
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Default Re: Talent System

Quote:
Originally Posted by larsdangly View Post
1) Introduction of something like a 'talent point' inventory that lets you learn additional talents and spells without raising your IQ. In my house rules you start play with one TP per IQ point, you automatically gain 1 TP each time your IQ goes up, but you can purchase one TP without an IQ increase for half as many EXP as a normal attribute increase. You could debate the details of the EXP cost but I think something along these lines is a good system.
I recall doing something like this for powering spells (Spell Points?) and for Hit Points. The Exp cost was something like 1/3 the cost of increasing an attribute, and it allowed for a wider range of characters, like a frail old hedge witch who couldn't learn Fireball, but could throw a 15 point Magic Fist if she had to. Actually we may have limited the power of missile spells to 1/2 of IQ.

Hit Points represented how hard you were to kill, rather than how much damage you could physically take. So if a ST 10 character bought 3 HP instead of 1 ST he'd have 13 HP and still be ST 10.

It did add two more stats, but there were used in place of the existing IQ and ST during combat so it didn't slow down the game. And they still fit on a 3x5 index card. :)
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Old 01-19-2018, 08:59 PM   #9
David L Pulver
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Default Re: Talent System

As with Chris, the Talent system was what really made me love IN THE LABYRINTH. (I'd already played a short TFT dungeon campaign with just Melee and Wizard the year before). The simple way to personalize characters was one of the real "wow" moments of gaming for me, because the talents like Alertness or Sex Appeal or Bard or Literacy or Two Weapons seemed really expressive of individuality (more so than skills in Traveller or Runequest did.)

The talents work well as is, but after running a game for a while I ended up using the following variant:

Effective IQ for buying talents = (IQ-5) x 2.

The reason for this was that I found that most IQ 7-8 types (your average orc or dumb barbarian) didn't really need that many talents besides a weapon or so. On the other hand, for experienced characters, the value of 1 point increase in DX (especially) or ST was a lot higher than having to gain 2 points of IQ just to pick, say, Axe/Mace when you already knew Sword.

With this variant each gain of IQ let you pick up two 1-point talent, or a 2-point talent, or 2/3 of a 3-point talent. I later extended this to wizard spells as well.
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Old 04-26-2018, 02:08 PM   #10
platimus
 
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Default Re: Talent System

I never played ITL and probably never will even though I'd really like to. CJM's approach seems the best to me but I would want to keep the changes to a bare minimum. The original ITL rules are so exquisite. They're very concise yet in-depth and entertaining to read. What follows would be my approach to Talents and Spells.

Rules remain the same at character creation time. If you've got IQ8, you get 8 points of Talents and the cost of those Talents remain the same as previously printed. After creation, additional Talents and Spells are acquired by speding EP. EP cost = IQ cost * 100 for Talents. EP cost = IQ level * 10 for Spells. IQ level requirements remain in play. That's it. That's all I would change.
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