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Old 06-21-2010, 11:03 AM   #1
nanoboy
 
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Default Revisiting Talents for Combat

Note: This will be partially stream of consciousness.

I was thinking about how the canon rules for Talents generally disallow the use of Talents for combat skills, and I was thinking that if used properly, they would not necessarily unbalance a game but could add to certain character concepts.

The basic premise of my idea is that cross-training is not very encouraged in GURPS. Generally, it is better to simply buy up one or two weapons skills and stick to those weapons. The chances that a character will need to use another weapon in a game are usually quite low. However, in real life, a lot of martial arts teach cross-training in other weapons in order to improve fighting with all weapons.

I think that cross-training can be well-represented with talents using combat skills, if those talents are designed properly. If you think about point-costs, once a weapon skill has been very highly improved, defaulting skills are expensive to improve, and the chances are that the character will never use them anyway. For skills like Guns, this is rarely a huge problem, since the defaulting skills are at -2 and often not worth improving. For skills like Polearm and Two-Handed Axe/Mace, though, it gets expensive, and characters are very unlikely to want to improve the defaulting skill. I think that this is a problem, if the character would reasonably want to cross-train. In Martial Arts, some styles like Master of Defense could benefit greatly from such combat talents.

Anyway, it may be that others have playtested combat talents and found them to be very unbalancing. I haven't seriously tried it yet. (The only one I've seen in play is the Halfling Ranged Weapon Talent, and given the low ST of Halflings, it is far from unbalanced.) Any thoughts?
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Old 06-21-2010, 11:36 AM   #2
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

I've found that Talents actually tend to encourage specialization. In DF Dwarves get a talent that includes Axe/Mace, and I certainly wouldn't try to improve my skill with swords if I've got a +4 boost to axes.

As for talents that include broad swathes of weapon skills, the problem seems to be two-fold. One, weapon skills are generally not as specific as the weapons taught by a specific martial art. I'm not sure this is entirely a bad thing, but it isn't really in keeping with the intention of having the talent boost weapon skills with your martial art. Indeed, it seems anyone who trained in a weapon-based martial art is going to end up broadly competent at a wide variety of weapons, which brings up the second problem, cost. A talent composed solely of weapon skills is much cheaper than DX, and since all weapon skills are based on that stat, it's a point crock. Melee fighters are already sufficiently effective that they don't need to be more so for the same points, IMO.

I don't have a problem with talents that include a weapon skill with a bunch of other non-combat skills. I don't think a talent should be entirely or mostly composed of them, however. If you want to be broadly competent with a wide variety of weapons, I think you should be buying up your DX. This seems more in keeping with the across-the-board increased coordination I've seen in people who have such skill.
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Old 06-21-2010, 11:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

I donīt have any problem with Talents including weapons or just weapons.

Here is a discussion on talents that turns into a weapon talent thread.
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

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Originally Posted by Crakkerjakk View Post
A talent composed solely of weapon skills is much cheaper than DX, and since all weapon skills are based on that stat, it's a point crock. Melee fighters are already sufficiently effective that they don't need to be more so for the same points, IMO.
I don't agree. If you keep your Weapon Talents in the 15 point range (which I recommend), then you are saving only a little over DX and losing a LOT of utility in the form of Speed, Move, and other useful adventuring skills.

It makes a lot of sense for a lot of concepts (blessed by the God of War, etc..., born on a battlefield) for someone to be good at fighting in general without being natural graceful in other ways. I don't think it's unbalanced as long as the GM is deciding how many skills go into the talent.

"I'm gifted with every melee weapon I learn," is balanced.
"I'm talented with the 4 weapons I want to use", is not.

[EDIT] I used to be on the opposite side of this issue, but I found the pro-weapon talent arguments to be ultimately persuasive.
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

Note that there is no rule against including combat skills in a Talent. The guideline that "the GM ought to forbid Ninja Talent or Weapon Talent" is to avoid unrealistically munchkinized Talents, where a Talent between a large number of not-all-that-related skills is used to avoid buying up attributes. "Ninja skills" and "weapon skills" just cover the two categories that this is most likely to happen with.

Unfortunately, it kind of sounds like the latter ("Weapon Talent") is what you're suggesting here. Within reason, it'd make sense to include a few related (if not necessarily cross-defaulting) weapon skills as part of a larger Talent -- for example:
Arc-Wielder: You are supremely comfortable swinging a tool or weapon where all of the weight is at the end. Axe/Mace, Bolas, Forced Entry, Polearm, Professional Skill (Digger/Wrecker), Prospecting, Thrown Weapon (Axe/Mace), and Two-Handed Axe/Mace. Reaction bonus: low-tech construction workers, laborers, and pikemen. 10 points/level
The real problem is when you try to do something like this:
Ninja: You are a damn ninja! Acrobatics, Acting, Axe/Mace, Camouflage, Disguise, Garrote, Holdout, Judo, Karate, Knife, Lockpicking, Poisons, Savoir-Faire, Shadowing, Shortsword, Staff, Stealth, Tactics, Tonfa, and Traps.. Reaction bonus: other assassins or thieves. 15 points/level
While a few of those skills naturally fall under one aptitude, I think it's clear that the above is easily at least three Talents.
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

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Originally Posted by Rev. Pee Kitty View Post
Talent -- for example:[INDENT]Arc-Wielder:
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev. Pee Kitty View Post
The real problem is when you try to do something like this:
Ninja: You are a damn ninja! Acrobatics, Acting, Axe/Mace, Camouflage, Disguise, Garrote, Holdout, Judo, Karate, Knife, Lockpicking, Poisons, Savoir-Faire, Shadowing, Shortsword, Staff, Stealth, Tactics, Tonfa, and Traps.. Reaction bonus: other assassins or thieves. 15 points/level
While a few of those skills naturally fall under one aptitude, I think it's clear that the above is easily at least three Talents.
When you hit something like that a template seems more appropriate than a Talent.
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Old 06-21-2010, 02:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

In general, 10 or 15 point Talents for weapons have almost no abuse potential. Raising DX tends to be more efficient and hence greater munchkin-bait anyway. And in general, no character can use more than a couple of weapon skills at once, so point-optimisers could just spend the points on their primary weapon skill anyway.

I find such Talents the cheapest way to represent grizzled old warriors who have know-how and transferable techiques from so many weapons that their defaults and skills are all higher than a nimble beginner's. There's a point of diminishing returns when raising a number of weapon skills and if a GM wants to encourage warriors who are competent with a range of weapons and not unrealistically awesome with one and mediocre with all others, he either has to allow Talents to do so or have players who are willing to sacrifice dozens of points for concept and realism (and thus effectively penalise good roleplaying).

I choose the former.
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Old 06-21-2010, 04:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
In general, 10 or 15 point Talents for weapons have almost no abuse potential. Raising DX tends to be more efficient and hence greater munchkin-bait anyway.
To do the math for the doubters, 20 pts spent on DX gets you plus one on all DX Skills instead of just weapons.

However, it also gets you the equivalent of 5 pts spent on buying up Basic Speed which boosts Dodge, ground move and place in the initiative order. That's a great bargain compared to the alternatives for raising those independently as well.

So munchkins never buy a 15 pt Talent that can be replaced by a pt of DX. Even a 10 pt Talent looks marginal.

I've actually found very few character builds where any canon Talent is part of an efficient build. If it is it's because of the pt break you get on buying high levels of that Talent. 1 level almost never makes comparative sense.
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Old 06-21-2010, 07:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Revisiting Talents for Combat

I don't care much for Weapon Talents myself. They probably aren't that bad game balance wise but they don't seem realistic to me.

The set of things you need to be good with a sword or an axe basically are parts of Dex. Getting better at parrying and evading and all that will necessarily make you better at other physical skills.

The same cannot be said for mental talents.

I will make an exception for species or "power" talents. It might be possible to have a superpower that is "good with swords" and its possible for fantasy races to have odd abilities.

The only realistic talent that I can see that has combat uses is some kind of throwing talent. Some people just have the eye.
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