Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > Roleplaying in General

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-06-2007, 12:35 PM   #41
Cassandra
 
Cassandra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Finland
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Quote:
Originally Posted by dravenloft
How is it unreasonable? I guess if you play by numbers it might be. Some people play by character concept.
Indeed. I've always frowned at the (seemingly very common) idea of There's Gold in Them Skills, which states that you should reduce the points in skills and raise the governing attribute instead. I've almost never done it myself, and always discourage my players away from that kind of thinking.

I understand the response to the munchinism in this would in the lines of "IQ means more than just intelligence, it's also education, and DX is more than just reflexes and balance, it's also how you have learned to maneuver your body", but I still prefer a character with 2, 4 or even 8 points in background and "concept" skills, to a character with a greater attribute, just because "it makes more sense". Especially if s/he's been using the skill(s) most of her life.
__________________
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind,
there's nothing kind about man."
Cassandra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 12:52 PM   #42
Kaldrin
 
Kaldrin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Calgary, AB... looking for a few more to join us.
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassandra
I understand the response to the munchinism in this would in the lines of "IQ means more than just intelligence, it's also education, and DX is more than just reflexes and balance, it's also how you have learned to maneuver your body", but I still prefer a character with 2, 4 or even 8 points in background and "concept" skills, to a character with a greater attribute, just because "it makes more sense". Especially if s/he's been using the skill(s) most of her life.
I try and find a balance for starting characters. Generally they're pretty inexperienced so the attributes are within a few levels of the skills. When I build a wily old veteran I generally widen that margin by at least a few levels and pour more points into the skills which that character uses a lot. It's probably the wrong way to look at it, but I just find it more flavourful that way.
__________________
-safe from the children born as ghosts
Kaldrin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 01:04 PM   #43
Cassandra
 
Cassandra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Finland
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaldrin
I try and find a balance for starting characters. Generally they're pretty inexperienced so the attributes are within a few levels of the skills. When I build a wily old veteran I generally widen that margin by at least a few levels and pour more points into the skills which that character uses a lot. It's probably the wrong way to look at it, but I just find it more flavourful that way.
I totally agree. And I don't think that my way is The Right Way, or that there is such a thing. Just how I think characters ought to be made, so they would suit the games we're playing.
__________________
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind,
there's nothing kind about man."
Cassandra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 01:30 PM   #44
Ed the Coastie
 
Ed the Coastie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

My regular players know that I am perfectly capable of springing an unexpected situation on them.

In one case, the players created characters for what had been hinted could be considered an espionage/counter-terrorism campaign. The first adventure seemed to be exactly that, with the PCs escorting a captured militiaman/terrorist on his way to testify and trying to protect him during a running gun battle through O'Hare airport with his former companions. The PCs were successful in making it through the gauntlet and bundled their prisoner onto a chartered 747...only to have it shot down on takeoff by a terrorist with a Stinger missile.

The next session -- the actual start of the campaign -- saw the PCs waking up naked and hairless on Riverworld. (My wife still hasn't forgiven me for that one...)

One of my favorite standard games (usually a campaign starter) is "Strangers in a Strange Land", where the PCs find themselves castaways on a tropical beach with minimal equipment. (Yeah, I know it sounds a lot like Lost...but I was running this scenario for more than a decade before the show came out.) The PCs have been escapees from a slave ship (D&D), shipwrecked cruiseship tourists (Danger International), crash-landed space tourists (GURPS) or crew (AD&D Spelljammer), and even once soldiers (from a Twilight 2000 campaign) who emerged from cryogenic suspension into the world of Cadillacs & Dinosaurs.
__________________
"It's never to early to start beefing up your obituary." -- The Most Interesting Man in the World
Ed the Coastie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 02:44 PM   #45
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed the Coastie
The next session -- the actual start of the campaign -- saw the PCs waking up naked and hairless on Riverworld. (My wife still hasn't forgiven me for that one...)
I don't blame her. I wouldn't feel entitled to inflict that big a surprise on my players; if the prospectus didn't at least say, "something unexpected will happen," I wouldn't consider that I had the players' consent to a gaming contract, and I would think they were entitled to reject the campaign as "not what we were promised."
whswhs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 05:01 PM   #46
Kyle Aaron
MIB
 
Kyle Aaron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoelSammallahti
In GURPS, it's simply not reasonable to spend more than one point on nonessential skills. You should put the minimum investment in each of your backup and emergency skills, and spend the savings on attributes. This has been the case for twenty years, though the exact numbers have changed.
That's because most GMs entirely forget about task modifiers, positive or negative. So default-level skills are useless. The GM makes a PC do a Driving roll the moment they start up a vehicle, and gives them no bonus for being under no pressure, taking time and having a nice straight road to follow, and so on.

When GMs forget about task modifiers - as most do, just as they forget about Reaction Rolls - then default skills are useless, so PCs need to spend points in skills if they don't want to be entirely useless. This leads to long skill lists.

Long skill lists mean it's more cost-effective to raise attributes than raise skills; if I have 20 DX-based skills with 1CP in them, or 10 with 2CP, or 5 with 4CP, then it's better to raise DX than raise those skills. I learned this well in a recent game where I had a character who had Observation, Tracking, Survival and Scrounging - once they all had at least 2CP in them, it was better to improve Perception than improve any one of those skills. And even if I only really wanted to improve one of them, once they had 4CP in them, well it was only 1 more CP to get all four improved - and default-level Detect Lies, etc, went up along with them.

That applied for my character with his short skill list (less than 20, short by GURPS standards), because so many of the skills were based on one attribute (Per). It applies more strongly still for the typical GURPS character with 30+ skills, usually based mostly on DX or IQ (most characters will tend to focus in one area).

In theory you'd not want to raise just the one attribute because the skills would sometimes go with other attributes, but in practice most GMs never do this, "do an IQ-based Broadsword roll", etc.

If GMs were to remember to use task modifiers properly, then skill lists would become shorter, and players would tend to spend CP on a few skills, rather than a token 1 or 2CP in the skill, and then 20CP in attributes. Players will create specialists when the GM does not force them to become generalists by forgetting task modifiers.
__________________
* husband * father * personal trainer * gamer * ... in that order
"Kyle's games aren't remotely thespy... I'd say they're more high-minded hack."
Kyle Aaron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 06:53 PM   #47
carllarson
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Actually, I think 4E will open this up a bit, and have more use of modifiers to skills, as well as skills using other Attributes. I honestly hadn't thought about using skills at default with modifiers until I was working on a game of 12 year olds, where they wouldn't have skill points invested.

Also, 4E just brought out the idea of alternate Attributes to most of us. I know as a player, its always 'what I can do with what I know' compared to 'what I can do,' so my games end up reflecting that. Especially in puzzle solving, where that swap in attribute allows the swordbunny to actually know something non-violent.
carllarson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 07:54 PM   #48
dscheidt
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Quote:
Originally Posted by carllarson
Actually, I think 4E will open this up a bit, and have more use of modifiers to skills, as well as skills using other Attributes. I honestly hadn't thought about using skills at default with modifiers until I was working on a game of 12 year olds, where they wouldn't have skill points invested.
I use modifiers all the time. Defaults still suck,though. Consider the DX 12 guy driving a car. Driving is DX/AVE, defaulting to DX-5. So he's got a skill of 7. Plus 4 for routine stuff gives 11. That's 62.5% chance of success; put the other way around, a 37.5% chance of failure. He's only got a 40% chance of making two rolls in a row. That's pretty slim odds, for something your life depends on.

And, of course, we're talking about adventurers! Many of the things that adventurers will do (or at least, the things I'll roll dice for) are not routine. Consider trying to drive a car while people are shooting at you. There's no way that's a routine, no pressure situation. That skill level of 7 is now only a 16% chance of success A failure may not send you to a fiery doom, but getting stuck in the mud may be just as bad. One point in the skill gives DX-1, or 11. That gives a 62.5% chance, plus a reasonable chance of getting to retry the roll.
dscheidt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2007, 01:21 AM   #49
Ed the Coastie
 
Ed the Coastie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs
I don't blame her. I wouldn't feel entitled to inflict that big a surprise on my players; if the prospectus didn't at least say, "something unexpected will happen," I wouldn't consider that I had the players' consent to a gaming contract, and I would think they were entitled to reject the campaign as "not what we were promised."
Actually, "something unusual will happen" is pretty much SOP for my campaigns...as my regular players -- including my wife -- are all fully aware. Nobody expected the campaign to remain strictly espionage/counter-terrorism for very long. Most of the players had actually anticipated either a time-travel scenario (they knew I had been reading up on history) or else a trip to the Hollow Earth, and with the exception of my wife all enjoyed the Riverworld campaign. What I had failed to take into account is that my wife had never encountered the Riverworld concept before, and so she was totally lost for the first couple of sessions.

But I did agree with her that I will in the future save Riverworld as either an announced campaign or else as a "safety net" for favorite PCs who have fallen in battle.
__________________
"It's never to early to start beefing up your obituary." -- The Most Interesting Man in the World
Ed the Coastie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2007, 01:27 AM   #50
zorg
Experimental Subject
 
zorg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: saarbrücken, germany
Default Re: Player Paranoia and Character Surprise: How to GM

Quote:
Originally Posted by dscheidt
Driving is DX/AVE, defaulting to DX-5. So he's got a skill of 7. Plus 4 for routine stuff gives 11.
A TDM of +6 to +10 gives 13 to 17, respectively. Meaning 83,8%+ chance of success.
__________________
Like a mail order mogwai...but nerdier - Nymdok
understanding is a three-edged sword
zorg is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
essential skill, skills

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:26 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.