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Old 05-01-2018, 01:16 AM   #31
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Unarmed Combat talents - thoughts on balancing.

Yes everyone would like to have the Unarmed Combat talents, especially UC V, and yes they should be hard to get, so that only few really masterful people get them, and the existing system does provide that, at least. Of the thousands of NPCs in my TFT games, all the UC talents were rare, moreso the higher levels, and I don't even remember if anyone had UC V. I only made a very rare handful of martial arts masters, mainly because it was so hard to achieve them, and it also seemed like a fairly bad choice for someone of high experience to actually put that much into UC talents, but also a character who has 10 IQ points in UC V, the required DX 16 IQ 14, and presumably not an awful ST, is at the top of the experience curve AND either needs to put even more points in IQ as a fighter, or is not going to have many talents other than IQ at all. It's a very confining use of points compared to other characters that can be made with over 40 points.

So it successfully made almost no one get UC V, but it also made the 1-5 characters I may have made with UC IV or V really confined in their talents and reasons for existing. And it just feels awkwardly wrong to me.

And I agree with you that it would be desirable to have more fun talents for non-wizards, such as improved combat talents of various types, because the other thing I notice in looking at and remembering making my piles of NPCs, was that the system was starting to feel dry in terms of what it offered to put on fighters to make them interesting and not interchangeable in terms of their fighting abilities/style.

Like David I would rather not have high attribute requirements for advanced talents because I think it
contributes to sameness and attribute bloat. In fact, I would rather replace attribute bloat, to some degree at least, with advanced talents, so that even very experienced characters don't necessarily dwarf ordinary characters in attributes (and so seem super-human and less relatable) and aren't expected to make almost all their 3-die rolls, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
So my question to you is, if you lower the minimum required IQ, and the total mIQ cost, (and perhaps the minimum required DX), how do you make super awesome talents, hard to get? Unless you can find a good answer to this question, SJ is unlikely to adjust the rules on the Unarmed Combat talents.
I think I've suggested it before elsewhere, but what I would do would be something like:

* I wouldn't lower the mIQ cost. But I would make it possible and normal for experienced characters to acquire more talents than they have IQ. (Whether this is called mIQ or just "using EP to aquire more talents without raising IQ" is just choice of terms to me, though I think the latter seems less crunchy to some people.)

* I would add a variety of talents and levels for talents that provide a variety of ways to describe an experienced fighter, and make them cost less EP than raising attributes for their effect, but their effect would only apply to that task. For example, an "Armor Wearing" Talent could be bought up to maybe 6 points, and would reduce the DX penalty for wearing armor by one per point, and be more efficient for EP used than raising DX that amount. So instead of experts with DX 18 (14 adj), you'd have more with something like Armor Wearing 4, DX 13 (adj 13) and Ax/Mace 4 (adj 16 with ax/mace only). I'd have Talents for various types of weapon mastery (some increase crit hits, some give defensive bonuses, allow/aid various actions, or other effects).

* There could also be non-spell Talents for Wizards, designed to avoid issues like Conan the Wizard, that increase your effective attributes but only for certain things Wizards do, so some Wizards will buy those instead of just getting very high attributes for all purposes. There could also be Talents for some other nice perks to individualize Wizard abilities.

* Depending on what Talents were added, I imagine there would want to be some limits on which ones new characters can start with and/or just minimum attribute totals, so it wouldn't hit new players with too many choices to make a character, and so there would not be annoying munchkin starting characters with minimum attributes and annoying advanced Talent levels.

* I'd also probably suggest that many of those Talents be marked optional.

* Using EP to get talents without raising IQ should affect the curve for improving your character at the same rate as using EP to raise attributes, so there is no weird gamey incentive that creates a more efficient way to use EP.

* Some Talents should also probably be something you can take during creation but not just add via EP and study, in particular the ones that are more like innate advantages, such as Acute Hearing. And some Talents should probably have exceptional time to study. e.g. Knife and Literacy are both 1 point, but Literacy probably should take longer to learn than Knife.

Last edited by Skarg; 05-01-2018 at 01:20 AM. Reason: made "Armor Wearing" clearer
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Old 05-01-2018, 06:25 PM   #32
Rick_Smith
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Coquitlam B.C.
Default Re: Unarmed Combat talents - thoughts on balancing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
Yes everyone would like to have the Unarmed Combat talents, especially UC V, ... Of the thousands of NPCs in my TFT games, all the UC talents were rare, moreso the higher levels, and I don't even remember if anyone had UC V. ...
In my campaigns, about a dozen people got UC v over the years. One player always took as much UC talents as he could get. Just the cost of running a fighter as far as he was concerned. As he got more attributes, he just kept taking more UC. So he ended up with about half of the UC v characters. The rest were by other players who made a specific effort to get them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
And I agree with you that it would be desirable to have more fun talents for non-wizards, such as improved combat talents of various types, because the other thing I notice in looking at and remembering making my piles of NPCs, was that the system was starting to feel dry in terms of what it offered to put on fighters to make them interesting and not interchangeable in terms of their fighting abilities/style.

Like David I would rather not have high attribute requirements for advanced talents because I think it contributes to sameness and attribute bloat. In fact, I would rather replace attribute bloat, to some degree at least, with advanced talents, so that even very experienced characters don't necessarily dwarf ordinary characters in attributes (and so seem super-human and less relatable) and aren't expected to make almost all their 3-die rolls, etc. ...
I agree. The trick is to do this without twisting TFT into something it is not. I think my superscript rules does this nicely (so I'm confident that there is at least ONE way to do it), but I suspect that Steve Jackson does not want to go so far afield.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
... but what I would do would be something like:

* I wouldn't lower the mIQ cost. But I would make it possible and normal for experienced characters to acquire more talents than they have IQ. (Whether this is called mIQ or just "using EP to aquire more talents without raising IQ" is just choice of terms to me, though I think the latter seems less crunchy to some people.)
I confess to be confused by this. Lots of people seem to say, "don't lower mIQ cost of talents, but make it possible to buy more talents than your IQ." Just lowering the cost of talents would require NO new rules. None. It would require us TFT players who have been playing for 35 years to learn the new costs tho. Another advantage to lowering the mIQ costs is that some talents can stay the same, (say Charisma), while others can have a steeper cost reduction (say Mimic).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
* I would add a variety of talents and levels for talents that provide a variety of ways to describe an experienced fighter, and make them cost less EP than raising attributes for their effect, but their effect would only apply to that task. For example, an "Armor Wearing" Talent could be bought up to maybe 6 points, and would reduce the DX penalty for wearing armor by one per point, and be more efficient for EP used than raising DX that amount. ...

* There could also be non-spell Talents for Wizards, designed to avoid issues like Conan the Wizard, that increase your effective attributes but only for certain things Wizards do, so some Wizards will buy those instead of just getting very high attributes for all purposes. There could also be Talents for some other nice perks to individualize Wizard abilities.
The thing I'm uneasy about the above two suggestions, is that pretty much all fighters want to wear armour, so it the armour talent is better than DX, then ALL warriors will take it. Likewise, if the wizard talents were most cost effective than attributes, then ALL wizards will take them.

I made a talent that allowed Wizards to cast thrown spells better. It reduced the range penalty of thrown spells by 5. I made it so expensive that unless you had a LOT of thrown spells, it was not worth it, most wizards didn't take it. But a few wizards did, and they tended to take a lot of thrown spells and could use them at range.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
* Depending on what Talents were added, I imagine there would want to be some limits on which ones new characters can start with and/or just minimum attribute totals, so it wouldn't hit new players with too many choices to make a character, and so there would not be annoying munchkin starting characters with minimum attributes and annoying advanced Talent levels.

* I'd also probably suggest that many of those Talents be marked optional.
Hmm... Ideally the talents would be balanced enough and priced correctly so that no special rules at all were needed. If you need special rules to prevent abuse of a talent, then likely that talent could use some work. As for making characters simple to write up... I confess that in my campaign, it takes longer to write up a character than in basic TFT. More choices are possible at character creation so it takes longer.

You could say that new characters are allowed to take a maximum of 10 mIQ points of talents (or something). Then each month for the first 3 months they get a study as well. But really, it is not a big worry of mine.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
* Using EP to get talents without raising IQ should affect the curve for improving your character at the same rate as using EP to raise attributes, so there is no weird gamey incentive that creates a more efficient way to use EP.
I agree totally.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
* Some Talents should also probably be something you can take during creation but not just add via EP and study, in particular the ones that are more like innate advantages, such as Acute Hearing. And some Talents should probably have exceptional time to study. e.g. Knife and Literacy are both 1 point, but Literacy probably should take longer to learn than Knife.
These ideas could be incorporated into any talent system. I agree, the only question is how much complexity do you want to add.

Warm regards, Rick.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:41 PM   #33
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Unarmed Combat talents - thoughts on balancing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
I agree. The trick is to do this without twisting TFT into something it is not. I think my superscript rules does this nicely (so I'm confident that there is at least ONE way to do it), but I suspect that Steve Jackson does not want to go so far afield.
I like your superscript system as I remember it, and my impression from the years on the Braniac TFT email list is that it's a common sort of house rule for people to use. But there might be some other ways to refer to it that use more natural language to do the same thing but not seem so technical in appearance, e.g. the "spend EP on Talents without raising IQ" instead of split mIQ/IQ.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
I confess to be confused by this. Lots of people seem to say, "don't lower mIQ cost of talents, but make it possible to buy more talents than your IQ." Just lowering the cost of talents would require NO new rules. None. It would require us TFT players who have been playing for 35 years to learn the new costs tho. Another advantage to lowering the mIQ costs is that some talents can stay the same, (say Charisma), while others can have a steeper cost reduction (say Mimic).
The reasons I don't prefer reducing mIQ costs are

1) I dislike the mIQ limit system, so I would like it to change. It doesn't match my ideas about people learning or forgetting things, which is my main reason for wanting rules to be a certain way. I don't believe people learn a few talents and then run out of memory, nor do I believe people get past that by raising their IQ.

2) I want to be able to have characters develop by adding more and better talents, rather than mainly by jacking up their attributes to levels that are way above what most people have.

3) If you don't change the rules but do lower the talent costs, starting characters will be able to buy a bunch more talents, and I don't particularly think the number of talents available to a starting character is too low as written.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
The thing I'm uneasy about the above two suggestions, is that pretty much all fighters want to wear armour, so it the armour talent is better than DX, then ALL warriors will take it. Likewise, if the wizard talents were most cost effective than attributes, then ALL wizards will take them.
I would expect those to be typical choices, and so Conan the high-ST Wizard and Bob the ultra-agile warrior but only when not in armor, would be replaced by Magnifico the average-ST wizard who has talents for powering his spells, and Rupert the very skilled warrior who is agile but not ultra-high-dx, but knows how to fight in armor and is very good at fighting. A variety of talents would mean that you can also have Muriel the weaponmaster who doesn't get much armor talent, wears lighter armor, and instead gets talents that let her fight better, for instance getting defensive talents that reduce the chances of her getting hit at all. And wizards who don't the spell-powering talents but instead get more spells, or other interesting talents that allow other things.

i.e. You get more varied and interesting character types, and you avoid the "everyone experienced has high attributes and so are really agile, smart and observant for all purposes" issue.

Of course, as you said, balancing them would want to be done carefully.
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Old 05-03-2018, 06:47 AM   #34
David Bofinger
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Sydney, Australia
Default Re: Unarmed Combat talents - thoughts on balancing.

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Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
pretty much all fighters want to wear armour, so it the armour talent is better than DX, then ALL warriors will take it.
To some extent this might be true. But armour is going to carry with it some disadvantages that maybe the armour wearing talent can't completely obviate. I don't know what those disadvantages should be but as examples:
  • A character in a closed helm is going to have a pretty awful notice roll.
  • A heavily armoured character might fall into quicksand and drown.
  • A heavily armoured character might clank noisily, or find it hard to climb a rope.
  • A character who normally wears heavy armour and finds himself in a fight while unarmoured would be less effective than a character who habitually fights unarmoured. This might happen because he was sleeping in a tent, or having sex with a delightful half-succubus lady of his acquaintance, or meeting the dowager countess for cucumber sandwiches and snuff, or just walking down the street on what seemed a lovely peaceful day.
Comparing the knight (armour and armour wearing talent) with the barbarian (no armour) the knight will be better in some situations and worse in others. If they're roughly equal in practice the player will make a decision based on his character conception and we're fine.
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Old 05-03-2018, 07:01 AM   #35
David Bofinger
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Sydney, Australia
Default Re: Unarmed Combat talents - thoughts on balancing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_Smith View Post
if you lower the minimum required IQ, and the total mIQ cost, (and perhaps the minimum required DX), how do you make super awesome talents, hard to get?
The obvious mechanism is to find the open and close parentheses after the talent name, and insert a large positive integer. i.e. just make them expensive. Is there a reason this wouldn't work?
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Old 05-03-2018, 01:46 PM   #36
Rick_Smith
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Coquitlam B.C.
Default Re: Unarmed Combat talents - thoughts on balancing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Bofinger View Post
The obvious mechanism is to find the open and close parentheses after the talent name, and insert a large positive integer. i.e. just make them expensive. Is there a reason this wouldn't work?
Hi all, David.
It would work in my campaign where people can buy memory (mIQ) separately, but these forums are about the shape of the new TFT, where, (it is very likely), that there will be no such thing.

The original discussion was referring to the UC talents and what are some easy tweaks that could make them better.

Now if you make a super talent (say for rangers) which costs 5 mIQ, that is great. But the basic TFT already suffers from talents being too expensive. In fact one of the things that the original poster wanted to fix, was REDUCING the mIQ cost of the UC talents.

Warm regards, Rick.
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Old 05-03-2018, 04:20 PM   #37
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Unarmed Combat talents - thoughts on balancing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Bofinger View Post
To some extent this might be true. But armour is going to carry with it some disadvantages that maybe the armour wearing talent can't completely obviate. I don't know what those disadvantages should be but as examples:
  • A character in a closed helm is going to have a pretty awful notice roll.
  • A heavily armoured character might fall into quicksand and drown.
  • A heavily armoured character might clank noisily, or find it hard to climb a rope.
  • A character who normally wears heavy armour and finds himself in a fight while unarmoured would be less effective than a character who habitually fights unarmoured. This might happen because he was sleeping in a tent, or having sex with a delightful half-succubus lady of his acquaintance, or meeting the dowager countess for cucumber sandwiches and snuff, or just walking down the street on what seemed a lovely peaceful day.
Comparing the knight (armour and armour wearing talent) with the barbarian (no armour) the knight will be better in some situations and worse in others. If they're roughly equal in practice the player will make a decision based on his character conception and we're fine.
Yes. And, encumbrance from weight and lowered MA are significant effects even if the full DX penalty were negated by armor talent.

My core idea is you could have effectively the same combat ability as you get with a character who jacks up their DX with EP to overcome armor DX penalties, except they'd just have about the same adjDX in armor for fighting as before thanks to armor-wearing and weapon-expertise levels, with the difference that they aren't DX 18 or whatever for other purposes, and getting an actual DX 18 for all purposes would require a lot more EP. i.e. a very experienced warrior is agile and can fight effectively in armor and is good at fighting with his weapon, but if he picks up the Dancing talent he's not going to be Fred Astaire, etc.
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Old 05-03-2018, 05:04 PM   #38
Steve Jackson
President and EIC
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Default Re: Talent System

I'm trying to parse that. Was that exactly what you intended to type?
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Old 05-03-2018, 05:13 PM   #39
Steve Jackson
President and EIC
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Default Re: Talent System

Separate line of thought - just musings - I am asking myself right now how many Talents, at a level worthy of costing points, I might have myself. Not all that many. Not worrying about actual talent names since I live in the 21st century and TFT doesn't -

I'm literate and numerate.
I can drive.
I can write entertainingly, and I am a good copy editor.
I can use a computer but not program it.
I have some small understanding of the way complex Lego bits can be made to stick together. (Mechanician talent, but specialized to the point of having no practical use.)
I remember a lot of random historical and naturalistic facts. The TFT talent Naturalist is appropriate for the kind of junk I have in memory, but I don't really have it at anything like IQ level.
I can design games. I guess that's a talent; it keeps the ramen on the table.
I can organize a group of people if they are willing to be organized, and I can be moderately diplomatic if I have to.

And that's it. My raw IQ number is not low, but I really don't seem to have that many actual "talents."
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Old 05-03-2018, 08:50 PM   #40
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: Talent System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
Separate line of thought - just musings - I am asking myself right now how many Talents, at a level worthy of costing points, I might have myself. Not all that many. Not worrying about actual talent names since I live in the 21st century and TFT doesn't -

I'm literate and numerate.
I can drive.
I can write entertainingly, and I am a good copy editor.
I can use a computer but not program it.
I have some small understanding of the way complex Lego bits can be made to stick together. (Mechanician talent, but specialized to the point of having no practical use.)
I remember a lot of random historical and naturalistic facts. The TFT talent Naturalist is appropriate for the kind of junk I have in memory, but I don't really have it at anything like IQ level.
I can design games. I guess that's a talent; it keeps the ramen on the table.
I can organize a group of people if they are willing to be organized, and I can be moderately diplomatic if I have to.

And that's it. My raw IQ number is not low, but I really don't seem to have that many actual "talents."
An interesting thought experiment which might give some perspective as to what "talents" are.

I have a single 4 point talent (Law), basic familiarity with firearms (free for characters growing up in the South), literacy (free for modern characters), knowledge of history (B.S. degree with 21 (?) graduate hours, lifelong interest, so 2 point talent perhaps), driving (free in 21st century America). I founded and now run a law firm. I'm also the firm's biggest "rainmaker", so I claim Charisma (on a good day at least). I also have Business Sense from that, having 24 hours in business and economics courses, growing up in a family business and working for business owners as a lawyer. I studied Tae Kwon Do for 8 years, but that was 35 years ago, so at *best* UC I now. (I'm pretty sure I can still deliver a stronger punch than an average person with my ST, but I don't know if it's strong enough to do an extra point of TFT damage). I was a certified high school teacher (and I was considered good at it) and assistant instructor for 5 years in my Tae Kwon Do class, so I claim an Instruction talent. I am a lifelong wargamer, which doesn't really qualify for a talent, but has helped my lawyering and business sense. I was in Toastmasters for 10 years, so surely that grants a 1 point Public Speaking talent.

My TFT-ish Talent Inventory

Basic Law (2)
Advanced Law (2)
Charisma (1 or 2)
Business Sense (2)
UC 1 (2) (at best)
Instruction (2)
Public Speaking (1)
Computer Use (free to 21st century Americans at least)
History - (2)
Literacy (0)
Driving (0)
Gun Familiarity (0) (No bonuses to hit, but no penalties either).
Art - wargaming; painting miniatures competently (0)

I score improbably high on standardized tests, so I figure my IQ would be at least 14-15. About the total number of talent points, interestingly.

Of the above talents, Law is obviously the only professional talent. But I could make a decent living with Instruction (teaching business, history or law) and Business Sense (hopefully), as I have them at a reasonably professional level. I could probably make a living as a salesman (Charisma) though I doubt I'd be exceptional at it. The other talents are pretty useless in the real world.

Also, I doubt I could practice Law and (say) Medicine simultaneously at a professional level of competence. The time required to maintain proficiency in each is too much. So although my IQ might let me take 4 points of Law and 5 points of medicine, I couldn’t use both talents at maximum competence at the same time.

It would be challenging, but I could probably do both simultaneously at a basic level (Basic Law and Physicker). I base this on discussions with several friends in law school who were medical doctors.

I think that many folks consider relatively modest levels of expertise in an area to constitute a higher level of proficiency than is warranted in TFT terms. For example - I own a half dozen rifles, 4 pistols and a shotgun and do like to shoot. It would be tempting to give myself a Guns talent with significant bonuses to hit. But I am NOT a US Marine Corps sniper - that’s a professional level talent worth 1-2 IQ points I think.

I'm also a fair miniatures painter. I spend probably 10 hours a month on that at most. But I am NOT a professional miniature painter and am not currently anywhere near good enough to be one. So it would be an exaggeration to claim a 1 point "Miniature Painting" talent. At best, a zero point "familiarity" talent.

To put it another way, a profession like Law or Medicine requires 3-4 years of full time study, then actually doing it full time to maintain the talent. That's a minimum of 2000 hours per year of study and per year of employment. (I don’t think that the bachelor ‘s degree is actually necessary to become a doctor or lawyer, so I exclude that). Maybe you could maintain competency by spending 1000 hours a year doing it. Maybe.

I suspect that a master plumber or electrician puts a similar amount of time as I do into maintaining his skill level.

A friend who was a Marine sniper said that he went to the range EVERY weekday and shot for 2-3 hours to maintain his qualification. That’s 750-1000 hours per year. He did other things as well that probably helped maintain his proficiency.

I know a lot about History, have a BS in it (an appropriate abbreviation) and some graduate work. But I am NOT currently as skilled in history as a professional college professor with a PhD. So maybe my History expertise is a 1-2 point talent and the professor's expertise is a 3 point talent.

If Law or Medicine is represented by a 4-5 point talent, then something you do for a few hours a week won’t really even register. Conceptually, you could say a 1 IQ point talent takes say 400 hours of study and use per year to get and maintain it. Something you did for 4 hours every weekend would rate out at 1/2 IQ point at most.

So I’m fine with the current cost and limits on talents. I see them as "things you do at a serious, professional level".

To provide for non-professional level talents, you might allow characters to choose from a list of free "familiarities". Generally, this means you can handle routine tasks in that area. It allows an attribute roll and reduces the penalty (if any) for not having the talent. But it doesn't give a bonus and you can't make a living at it. An example for a modern TFT campaign:

Familiarities (pick 3):
Intellectual Hobby - wargaming, computer gaming, etc.
Physical Hobby - model building, RC airplane flying, needlepoint, etc.
Athletics - biking, running, tai-chi, etc.
Firearms
Driving
Computer Use
Academic knowledge - history, economics, literature
Basic electricity/mechanics - can change tires competently, maybe change oil in car, rewire electrical socket, etc.
Basic home improvement - can fix a broken tile, lay carpet, paint, patch a hole in wall, build a deck (taking twice as long as a professional), etc.
Connoisseur - wine, food (not same as cooking), tobacco/cigars, movies, fashion, interior design, etc.
Amateur Art - acting, singing, painting, sculpting, pottery - none of these are good enough to make a living at.

Last edited by tbeard1999; 05-04-2018 at 06:13 AM.
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