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Old 03-25-2014, 10:42 PM   #1
Infornific
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Default Talents & Martial Arts

I got Power Ups 3: Talents a little while ago and found the take on combat skills in Talents interesting but a bit odd.

First, the idea that a small Talent with combat skills was ok but a large Talent with combat skills was unbalancing. That strikes me as a little odd - a big Talent isn't a whole lot cheaper than DX so a 15 point Talent with all melee combat skills doesn't seem too unbalancing in practice.

Second, the argument against any Talent for a martial arts Talent followed by the Job Training advantage, which in practice sounds awfully similar to a Talent for a martial art - you get a bonus to a bunch of skills for a specific occupation.

So it occurred to me you could create a quasi-Talent for a martial art. The idea is to make it more practical to create characters who are skilled at a style of fighting without having a high DX and consequent talent at all physical skills. Otherwise under the rules as written if you want a character who is skilled at more than a couple of physical skills you're best off buying up DX and just putting a few points into skills.

Here's how it would work.

The Martial Artist Advantage costs one point for each skill included per level, with a minimum cost of 5 points per level. It adds to the skills just like a regular Talent but can be learned after character creation.

It has the following restrictions:

1. The character must be trained in the martial arts style including style familiarity and all skills. As with Job Training, he must put at least one point in every skill in the Advantage before buying the Advantage.
2. The character must buy a Special Training (Martial Artist) perk for every level of the Advantage.
3. The Talent only applies to Techniques and sub-skills used in the relevant martial art. For example, if the style includes Karate but does not generally teach the Jump Kick technique, the skill bonus from Martial Artist does not apply to that Technique.
4. The fighting style is more easily identified observers have a bonus equal to the level of the advantage to recognize the style used.

The rationalization is that you're learning these skills as part of a single system so there is some synergy. The point cost and limitations came from playing with the idea of Enhancements and Limitations on a Talent:

Cosmic (can be learned) (+50%)
Limitation: Character must be trained in the martial arts style. (-10%)
Limitation: Signature - fighting style is more easily identified (-10%)
Limitation: Only applies to Techniques and subskills used in the relevant martial art (-10%)

Net Modifier would be +20%. For a 5 point Talent that would be a net cost of 6 points - which matches paying for a Perk to have access to the Talent.

Just playing around with ideas here. In practice this could create a reverse problem where it's too cheap to buy up skills but I'm trying to get away from the model where character sink points in only one or two skills.
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:38 AM   #2
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infornific View Post
First, the idea that a small Talent with combat skills was ok but a large Talent with combat skills was unbalancing. That strikes me as a little odd - a big Talent isn't a whole lot cheaper than DX so a 15 point Talent with all melee combat skills doesn't seem too unbalancing in practice.
I haven't tried them, yet, but I agree - I don't think a big weapon talent is a problem. I used to, but I came around to thinking it's fine.

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Originally Posted by Infornific View Post
So it occurred to me you could create a quasi-Talent for a martial art.
It's not a bad idea at all.

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Originally Posted by Infornific View Post
Cosmic (can be learned) (+50%)
Limitation: Character must be trained in the martial arts style. (-10%)
Limitation: Signature - fighting style is more easily identified (-10%)
Limitation: Only applies to Techniques and subskills used in the relevant martial art (-10%)
I don't have my books handy, but . . .

I'm not sure you need Cosmic. A learnable talent doesn't have to cost more IMO.

I'd probably just straight-up make it a talent, without sticking the limitations you listed on it. Make it 5/level for any one martial art, maybe 10/level for 2-3 martial arts styles, 15/level for all martial arts. Applies only if you have the right Style Familiarity. Applies to all primary and optional skills, and therefore to any techniques built off of them. At first glance, that doesn't seem unbalanced. Reaction bonus is to fellow stylists, no alternate benefit. It would make styles more attractive, too.
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:20 AM   #3
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infornific View Post
First, the idea that a small Talent with combat skills was ok but a large Talent with combat skills was unbalancing. That strikes me as a little odd - a big Talent isn't a whole lot cheaper than DX so a 15 point Talent with all melee combat skills doesn't seem too unbalancing in practice.
Partly it's a factor of the alternate pricing - with the 1 point per skill option, it's less difficult to generate unbalanced talents. But no, a 15 point talent with one class of weapon skills isn't unbalanced. The unbalanced cases are mostly small talents that cover just the weapons I want (equivalent really to what you seem to want here, a talent that covers just the skills found in a particular martial art and no others), and a talent that includes weapon skills from several different categories (for example a 5 point talent with Karate, Shortsword, Spear, Spear Throwing and Guns (Rifle) is fairly obviously a bad idea).

And yes, I do have reservations about Job Training. It's *purpose* is to be unbalancing in a particular way - effectively a method of creating a character class niche.

Quote:
Cosmic (can be learned) (+50%)
Limitation: Character must be trained in the martial arts style. (-10%)
Limitation: Signature - fighting style is more easily identified (-10%)
Limitation: Only applies to Techniques and subskills used in the relevant martial art (-10%)
Having to already have a trait to buy another is not a limitation, it's a prerequisite. Requiring a prerequisite doesn't provide a discount.

Limitations have to be actual drawbacks. So what's the disadvantage of somebody identifying your fighting style?

Applying only to subskills in the martial art, maybe, but it's going to be hard to draw the line. For example this means the talent doesn't apply to a *standard attack* with the skills covered, since that's not improvable and hence not going to be listed. And if you do allow that, well, all other techniques are just a standard attack at a penalty, and the bonus adds to that....

On the other hand, I don't see why you need Cosmic for a talent to be learnable. Which advantages can be learned is a setting decision.
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:30 PM   #4
Infornific
 
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

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Originally Posted by Peter V. Dell'Orto View Post

I'm not sure you need Cosmic. A learnable talent doesn't have to cost more IMO.
That was done mostly in response to the warnings in Power Ups 3 against allowing Talents to be learned. Personally, I think allowing a character to learn a level or two of a Talent is a good way to simulate experience in a field (e.g., Healer for nurses and doctors.)

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Originally Posted by Peter V. Dell'Orto View Post


I'd probably just straight-up make it a talent, without sticking the limitations you listed on it. Make it 5/level for any one martial art, maybe 10/level for 2-3 martial arts styles, 15/level for all martial arts. Applies only if you have the right Style Familiarity. Applies to all primary and optional skills, and therefore to any techniques built off of them. At first glance, that doesn't seem unbalanced. Reaction bonus is to fellow stylists, no alternate benefit. It would make styles more attractive, too.
That would make things simpler though I'd probably rely heavily on skill count - there are a few styles with a lot of skills, especially if you count optional skills. A Talent for Master of Defense should run 10 points. On the other hand, putting the primary skills for all the styles of Karate gives a grand total of six skills - and that's if you count Karate Art and Karate Sport as separate from Karate. Seems unfair to charge more than 5 points a level.

It adds complication but I like the idea of limiting the bonus to techniques appropriate for the style. Might be too much of a pain to keep track of.


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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post

And yes, I do have reservations about Job Training. It's *purpose* is to be unbalancing in a particular way - effectively a method of creating a character class niche.
To be honest, I think Job Training was mostly to allow for more realistic Special Forces characters. In GURPS the practical way to create such characters often involves DX and IQ of 14 or 15. Do that and you have characters who are a little too omni-competent. Don't do that and it's very hard to buy up skills to appropriate levels while being cost effective.

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post

Applying only to subskills in the martial art, maybe, but it's going to be hard to draw the line. For example this means the talent doesn't apply to a *standard attack* with the skills covered, since that's not improvable and hence not going to be listed. And if you do allow that, well, all other techniques are just a standard attack at a penalty, and the bonus adds to that....

The more I think about it the more I think that refinement is more trouble than it's worth.

My goal here in part was to allow the creation of characters like Selmy Barristan from A Game of Thrones. He's very good at knightly skills because he's been practicing for a very long time, not because of superb reflexes and coordination. Given his age, raw speed is probably limited anyway It doesn't follow (to me) that he should also be talented at climbing or stealth. A version where he has DX of 12 or 13 but knightly combat skills around 16-18 feels right to me but isn't very practical in GURPS. Allowing a 10 point (or perhaps 15) Talent to represent his focused training and experience seems a better way of simulating the character.

Also I admit it helps make sure fighter types outlcass high DX thieves in combat skill.
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Old 03-26-2014, 11:30 PM   #5
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter V. Dell'Orto View Post
I'd probably just straight-up make it a talent, without sticking the limitations you listed on it. Make it 5/level for any one martial art, maybe 10/level for 2-3 martial arts styles, 15/level for all martial arts. Applies only if you have the right Style Familiarity. Applies to all primary and optional skills, and therefore to any techniques built off of them. At first glance, that doesn't seem unbalanced. Reaction bonus is to fellow stylists, no alternate benefit. It would make styles more attractive, too.
A talent for "all martial arts" makes me very nervous. Given that a martial art template might include just about anything, you could arguably claim that bonus to any skill whatsoever - just because there isn't a template in Martial Arts for something that includes Artist (Cartooning) or Mechanics (Light Airplane) doesn't mean there isn't a martial art that does *somewhere*.

But a Talent that includes a bunch of skills that occur in a lot of arts seems pretty reasonable to me. It has a clear theme, lots of fictional martial artists seem to be pretty good at lots of them or at related physical stuff not specifically included in their supposed art, and there might even be some realistic logic to it as a subset of DX. Certainly that's as good a justification as a lot of Talents. Call it Acrobatics, Boxing, Brawling, Dancing, Escape, Feats of Strength, Judo, Jumping, Karate, Sumo and Wrestling, 10 points/level, and throw in their Sport forms for free.
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Old 03-27-2014, 01:53 AM   #6
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
A talent for "all martial arts" makes me very nervous.
Eh, being good at all martial arts is not substantially better than being good at only one -- mostly, it gets you the ability to do both grappling and striking. I don't see a real balance problem with allowing 5 point talents with 'all melee weapons' or 'all unarmed combat' or 'all ranged weapons', or a 10 point talent that covers all three categories.
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Old 03-27-2014, 06:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

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Eh, being good at all martial arts is not substantially better than being good at only one ...
Not unless you're getting into different styles being better at fighting against particular other styles, no.
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Old 03-27-2014, 06:17 AM   #8
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infornific View Post
My goal here in part was to allow the creation of characters like Selmy Barristan from A Game of Thrones. He's very good at knightly skills because he's been practicing for a very long time, not because of superb reflexes and coordination. Given his age, raw speed is probably limited anyway It doesn't follow (to me) that he should also be talented at climbing or stealth. A version where he has DX of 12 or 13 but knightly combat skills around 16-18 feels right to me but isn't very practical in GURPS. Allowing a 10 point (or perhaps 15) Talent to represent his focused training and experience seems a better way of simulating the character.
Agreed. Ser Barristan Selmy would use something similar to the Experienced Talent I use in my fantasy game, where warriors can raise a Talent for every combat skill for 15/level.

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Originally Posted by Infornific View Post
Also I admit it helps make sure fighter types outlcass high DX thieves in combat skill.
There is that.

Since having higher levels of Experienced in my game allows the buying of supernatural warrior-esque gifts like Injury Tolerance: Damage Reduction, warriors will aim to have whatever DX suits their characterisation and otherwise rely on Experienced.

Rogues will often try for the highest DX they can.*

*But I add an Unusual Background cost for buying Attributes at 16+, so finding a Talent that suits their particular roguish archetype can be beneficial for them too.
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Old 03-27-2014, 06:21 AM   #9
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Eh, being good at all martial arts is not substantially better than being good at only one -- mostly, it gets you the ability to do both grappling and striking.
You need to look at some of the martial arts templates. They can have skills that aren't armed or unarmed combat skills, and the printed ones are not exhaustive. A bonus for any skill that could be part of a martial art somewhere is a bonus to any skill at all. That's not a 15 point talent (let alone 10), it's more like 40 points.

Quote:
I don't see a real balance problem with allowing 5 point talents with 'all melee weapons' or 'all unarmed combat' or 'all ranged weapons', or a 10 point talent that covers all three categories.
You need to bump those up at least 5 points, just on the basis of number of skills covered. Let alone general utility - considered as limited DX, there is no way only for melee weapons is a -75% limitation, even -50% is pretty generous.
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:13 AM   #10
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: Talents & Martial Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Infornific View Post
That would make things simpler though I'd probably rely heavily on skill count - there are a few styles with a lot of skills, especially if you count optional skills. A Talent for Master of Defense should run 10 points.
You've got a point there. Still, a talent for all combat skills would run at most 15 points (since DX is 20), so you wouldn't want any single style to cost more than 10 or it's really too expensive for what you get.

You can also limit it to the physical skills in a style, to avoid Artist (Cartooning) getting covered. Heh.
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