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Old 01-15-2019, 05:06 AM   #1
Malfi
 
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Default Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

I have heard Gurps has problems at higher points or when higher point advantages are allowed. Though I guess “problems” depends on the setting/campaign world you are in.

Do you think guidelines for attribute/skill/ power talent/advantage levels maximums are allowed and at what point totals, would be useful in a certain type of game?
At least if you want a game that features the acquisition of supernatural power similar to certain shonen or editions of dnd and that ends up going into higher and higher point totals.
Ι saw something like this the high-psi part of pyramid 3/97 where the maximum of the psi power talent was dependent on your points and it seemed to make sense to me. In a sense your point total replaces certain unusual backgrounds like the ones from supers that cap damage and damage resistance. I don't see a reason of why couldn't do this for maximum attributes/skill/ power talent/advantage levels. I also don't see a reason to stop players from exceeding their maximums provided that then they pay an unusual background.
I can imagine nothing changing for a certain games where players stay pretty much the same or the setting is such that doesn't focus on the acquisition of cool powers or would break in very high point totals. (Madness dossier for example).


I have attempted to make a small and simplistic example of this.

Points Max (iq/dex/ht)
200 15
400
600
800 20
1000
1600
2000 25
3000
3200
4000 30
5000
6400 35
10000 40


Any thoughts?
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Old 01-15-2019, 05:17 AM   #2
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

I think just about any game -- and any system -- can use a "Session Zero" to kick off a campaign. Session Zero is about all the players and GM discussing the campaign and expectations for it -- the setting, the tone, the characters, the kinds of things they do, what abilities they have. If everyone's on the same page to start, you run into many fewer problems down the road when someone thought a game was going to be four-color Silver Age, someone else thought it was going to be Watchman II, and the third was just thinking Kree arena battles. With a common set of expectations, you don't need a lot of hard, global rules somehow determined for all games without any specific campaign in mind.

If the only guideline the players have is "you have 750 points", then you're going to wind up with all sorts of mismatches. Even a kitchen-sink campaign has expectations.
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:30 AM   #3
ericthered
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

I wouldn't use the same number for all point levels. I'd use a different limit for each campaign. The appropriate range of attributes depends very much on the setting and genre.
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Old 01-15-2019, 06:54 AM   #4
Malfi
 
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I wouldn't use the same number for all point levels. I'd use a different limit for each campaign. The appropriate range of attributes depends very much on the setting and genre.
I agree, but my arguement is that the range not only of attributes, but pretty much everything could depend not only on setting and genre, but also on the point total.

EDIT: Because my sentence made no sense.

Last edited by Malfi; 01-15-2019 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 01-15-2019, 07:00 AM   #5
Kromm
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post

I wouldn't use the same number for all point levels. I'd use a different limit for each campaign. The appropriate range of attributes depends very much on the setting and genre.
Very much this!

In a campaign about highly trained but nominally realistic agents in the modern world, the PCs eventually hit 400-500 points but DX, IQ, and HT were capped at 15 . . . and in fact nobody much went past 13. In a couple of heroic fantasy campaigns that started at 150-200 points, I didn't bother with caps and some players scraped together the means to enter play with scores of 15-16.

Caps are a question of genre and setting, not power level. Power level determines a practical maximum (i.e., what players can afford), which isn't the same thing at all. I could set caps of 20 in a 100-point campaign and that might conceivably have no impact on game play because people would take forever getting there for want of points. I could set caps of 15 in a 300-point campaign, which would be relevant right out of the gate, channeling players toward alternative uses of points.

The same logic applies to other traits, though it's harder to see for, say, advantages.

What's most interesting is the interaction between caps and power level. If caps are low but power level is high, points end up spread out across more areas, which results in generalist characters with broad training; if caps are high but power level is low, players who want extreme characters out of the gate will sacrifice everything to get as close to the relevant cap as possible, which results in specialist characters with no backup abilities. The former works really well in games about elite operatives who have similar basic training, and who are expected to be able to fill in for one another; e.g., GURPS Special Ops. The latter suits heroic adventuring parties where each PC has a unique niche and has to be supported by their allies; e.g., GURPS Dungeon Fantasy.
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Old 01-15-2019, 07:05 AM   #6
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

Setting and genre matters. For example, characters with ST 20, DX 12, and HT 20 are combat monster before TL6. After TL6 they are a statistical anomaly, but they are quite manageable because automatic weapons will chew them up quite nicely. The same character in a survival horror game probaby dominates the campaign while they are much less useful as a Cold War fighter pilot.
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Old 01-15-2019, 07:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

Another point that I think is worth making is that the path you take to get to a power level makes a big difference too - starting low and gradually improving characters will likely result in very different characters than if you started them off at the higher power level.
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Old 01-15-2019, 08:26 AM   #8
Gnome
 
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

As a DF GM I like to set caps but then allow characters to buy power-ups (Unusual Backgrounds) in play that allow them to break these caps.

In my current (very DnD-ish) game, I set attribute caps according to DF11 and skill caps at 30. The swashbuckler wanted a higher sword skill eventually, so he bought a 10-pt UB that allows him to buy skill up to 35. The cleric wanted ER 25, so he bought a 5-pt UB that allows him to buy ER from 20 up to 25. And so on. This means any level is possible in principle, but as it begins to become a bigger sacrifice, PCs tend to focus on shoring up weaknesses (within their niche) and purchasing a variety of abilities.

Eventually, everyone will be buying things above the caps, which will just slow advancement at truly stratospheric levels (or force me to come up with more creative power-ups).
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Old 01-15-2019, 09:21 AM   #9
Malfi
 
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

Again I am not saying setting and genre don't matter. That said, I am trying to add point total to what matters, at least in certain genres and settings. Take DF for example. Would it be genre breaking to allow power talents up to 8 instead of 6 and 2 levels of hellfire instead of 1 in 1000 points?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Caps are a question of genre and setting, not power level. Power level determines a practical maximum (i.e., what players can afford), which isn't the same thing at all. I could set caps of 20 in a 100-point campaign and that might conceivably have no impact on game play because people would take forever getting there for want of points. I could set caps of 15 in a 300-point campaign, which would be relevant right out of the gate, channeling players toward alternative uses of points.

The same logic applies to other traits, though it's harder to see for, say, advantages.
An alternative instead of total point value, would be prerequisites. Like if you spend 200 points in chi abilities you can ignore certain limits in str,dex,ht, will and per or the campaign maximum for certain chi ability levels increase for you a bit.

"People would take forever getting there for want of points" is for sure true, but as I tried to point out I am refering to campaign where there is faster progression (certain dnd editions and shonen).
Training and simple awarding of advantages as mentioned in the core rulebook are examples for faster progression as is psionic campains where you could be getting extra 10 points per session for psi abilties. In these cases caps based on your points spent would make sense IMO.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Setting and genre matters. For example, characters with ST 20, DX 12, and HT 20 are combat monster before TL6. After TL6 they are a statistical anomaly, but they are quite manageable because automatic weapons will chew them up quite nicely. The same character in a survival horror game probaby dominates the campaign while they are much less useful as a Cold War fighter pilot.
The genre and settings I am talking about is much more closer to typical rpg ones, more in the vein of Dungeon fantasy, certain anime shonen, dnd 3rd edition or perhaps even monster hunter.
My suggestion certainly doesn't apply to Cold war fighter pilot's campaigns.
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Old 01-15-2019, 01:28 PM   #10
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Default Re: Connecting point total to what you can buy with it.

As the author of "High Psi" which apparently suggested the idea to you, I'd caution against removing Unusual Backgrounds and caps on attributes and things like Talents, or at least being careful when doing so. The context of the suggestion for increasing the caps on psionic Talent in High Psi was for campaigns where everyone was expected to be psionic. Unusual Backgrounds for cap-breaking were still suggested for games where psis were sharing the spotlight with non-psi characters.

I think that highlights one of the big uses for Unusual Background. It's not just about balancing abilities for in-setting rarity. It's also a very useful tool for enforcing niche protection and genre conventions. Since Unusual Backgrounds rarely provide useful things on their own and just serve as prerequisites for other traits, I think they act as a sort of psychological "brake" on character design. People are cautious about "wasting" points on traits that don't give them an immediate benefit, so by locking down abilities or attributes behind certain Unusual Backgrounds, you effectively ensure that only people who really want them will take them, thus helping ensure that only certain characters have access to particular powersets, or making some genre-breaking abilities more rare.

Take, for example, a superhero setting, with characters built on 1000 points. If you just say that all attributes are capped at 20, "cinematic human maximum", you're probably going to get several characters built with 20 in at least one stat - at 200 points to take IQ or DX to 20, it becomes very tempting for any character described as even slightly "smart" or "agile" to just blow enough to get to 20 and thus have amazing defaults with all their skills based on that attribute. It then becomes difficult to distinguish between your Batgirls, Hawkeyes, and Catwomen, since they'll all probably have DX 20.

If, instead, you cap the attributes at 15, but allow someone to go above that with an UB, your characters will probably have a more believable spread of attributes, since there's a psychological barrier to buying up an attribute they don't "need". Only the Batgirls who really need the ability to be good at everything DX-related will buy it up above 15, leaving the others at a more reasonable level where they're good at their specific thing, but not omni-competent.

Now, the exact level of UB required for this is going to be a matter of individual psychology. In a 1000-point game, a 5-point Unusual Background to buy attributes above 15 is probably not going to slow anyone down. On the other hand, 100 points is probably too high. It's going to always be a matter of judging your players and the effect you want. I would say to set the price a little higher (for instance, 50 points to allow buying attributes above 15), knowing that if that proves too daunting to players, or if it turns out they're underpowered, you can give them some points back. It's harder to change your mind if you've under-priced the UB. Players tend to push back a lot more if you say "this ability is overpowered, I'm charging you an extra 10 points for it".
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