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Old 10-17-2011, 08:56 AM   #31
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

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Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post
Two words: Deceptive Attack.

More words: Lots of penalties.

You (generally) want your effective skill at 16+ to maximize critical success chances and minimize critical failure chances.

Skill 20 means a DA of -2 to the enemy's defenses, but only with a random location or torso shot.

Skill 25 means a DA of -4 OR DA of -2 and a Neck shot, or -3 and vitals or limbs, or -1 and skull.

Skill 30 means a DA of -4 and neck shot, -3 and a skull shot, a straight up -7, etc.

Add in lighting penalties (-2 for outside of immediate torch radius), bad footing (-2), SM penalties (for whacking smaller foes), etc., or add in -3 for Rapid Strike for a Weapon Master or -6 if you aren't, add in the desire to Feint something all the way to "practically unable to defend", etc. and you'll see why high skill is useful.

Of course you can accept a sub-16 skill, but that just means you're starting to hit less often overall, and the solution to that is more skill or going for less effective attacks. No one seems to like the second one all that much in my games.

Skill 30 sounds amazing until you need to make a Skull shot (-7) on a high-defenses opponent (say, Dodge 15) while on bad footing (-2) in flickering torchlight (-2), and want to Rapid Strike to break it up into a Feint and Attack (each at -3) so the attack gets through . . . and then it suddenly seems so damn inadequate even with a net pair of 16s. Because miss that guy and it's his turn . . .
And don't forget targeting chinks in armor for high DR opponents (-8!).
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:49 AM   #32
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

I find this a tricky issue and would happily buy a DF book that gives advice about things like this.

In most games, realism imposes a vague cap on wild levels of skill and the variety of things PCs get up to makes hyper-specialization less attractive, but DF characters are wildly unrealistic and combat is the heart of the genre.

My gut response, if I was going to try to produce a formal policy, would be to tie maximum stat levels and skill levels to point total. That's a very old-school, D&D sort of approach, which could be a good thing or a bad thing in the context of GURPS DF.
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Old 10-17-2011, 11:51 AM   #33
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

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Originally Posted by Langy View Post

In DF? I wouldn't enforce any kind of maximum skill level.
Agreed! This is DF! The design assumes that if a 250-point PC can have, say, 24 points in a DX/A weapon skill for skill DX+6, a 500-point PC ought to have at least 48 points in that skill for DX+12. Maybe more, actually, since most players find it easier to raise skill in small steps than to save up points for big chunks like attributes.

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Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post

So, just out of curiosity, what is the benefit of having a skill over 20?
For all skills – not just combat skills – the primary purpose of such levels is to absorb penalties. You can find -10 in penalties for almost any skill in GURPS. For combat skills, it's easy to rack up -20 or worse; e.g., stabbing the SM -2 (-2) Death Worm in the eye (-9), the only place where it's vulnerable, whilst wriggling prone (-4) through its tunnel in almost complete darkness (-9). For a lot of noncombat skills, there's the further wrinkle of winning Quick Contests; e.g., Stealth is contested by Sense rolls, and is at -5 to get within stabbing distance rather than shooting distance, -5 if there's little natural cover, and another -5 if you move fast enough that it doesn't take 30 minutes, which means that to sneak up thief-style on something with Hearing 14, you'll want skill 29 or so. I'll add that DF is specifically a "skill inflation" game where the GM is encouraged to hurl these penalties at the players (see the box on p. 7 of DF 2) and where mythic challenges with penalties like those above are The Reason To Run 500-Point Campaigns.

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Originally Posted by PseudoFenton View Post

I love how whenever skill levels in weapons come up everyone always assumes you're going up against another weapon. This is DF!
That's a very good point. "Weapon vs. weapon" characterizes the lowest levels of DF only – encounters with hordes of orcs and crummy human brigands. Once you've made it to the point where you're facing things like ST 100 giant golems whose lightest weapons can't be parried and that have no vital areas to stab, you had better have more in your bag of tricks than high weapon skill. You're going to want good Dodge as well as Parry, enough damage-enhancing power-ups to deal with double-digit DR and triple-digit HP, skills that let you know about weaknesses, etc.

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Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert View Post

That doesn't mean that a weapon skill at 35 is useless. To the contrary, it will be very useful indeed in most combats. But it's not a universal problem solver, and most parties will have a mix of skills if they want to win their fights.
In practice, the skill 35/DX+20 master is chiefly a solution to being swamped by hordes of third-rate, weapon-using fighters. It lets the hero slay several such foes a turn with deadly Deceptive Attacks to vital areas. However, it's a non-solution to problems with slimes, intangible life-draining specters, invisible eyeballs that shoot death rays, psionic assassins asleep a continent away, traps, pits, etc.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:45 AM   #34
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

Thank you all for your contributions. I will not impose a skill limit after studying your posts and will try to deal with it.

I guess I was afraid to deal with very high level skills. I'm sure I will be able to challenge my players with the good advice I got from your replies.

Thanks a lot!
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:37 AM   #35
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
That's a very good point. "Weapon vs. weapon" characterizes the lowest levels of DF only – encounters with hordes of orcs and crummy human brigands.
The occasional "high level" NPCs - cult leaders, evil high priests, mirror-duplicates of the PCs, etc. - are totally awesome though.

But I had to really give it a couple of tries to explain to a new DF player (but long-time GURPS player) that "this is how my character of template X stacks up against characters of template Y in a fight" was useless. You don't take your barbarian and knight against an assassin and a swashbuckler, you take all four of them up against invisible vampire lich-trolls and their phase zombie orc cannon fodder on the way to fighting their flying kraken god's tentacles off as they emerge from the Gate to Beyond.

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
In practice, the skill 35/DX+20 master is chiefly a solution to being swamped by hordes of third-rate, weapon-using fighters.
Which is a valid and valuable niche in the party. My old non-DF GURPS game had a fencer who was hard to swamp and could eye shot anyone under skill 16 with total ease and parry dozens of attacks (net -1 per additional parry, two rapiers). Her role was to kill off massed weaker opponents. That's very useful in a DF game, because it lets the knight and barbarian types aim for smashing through high DR opponents and wizards and clerics deal with magic-only vulnerable foes.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:13 AM   #36
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

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Originally Posted by Toadkiller_Dog View Post

The occasional "high level" NPCs - cult leaders, evil high priests, mirror-duplicates of the PCs, etc. - are totally awesome though.

My old non-DF GURPS game had a fencer who was hard to swamp and could eye shot anyone under skill 16 with total ease and parry dozens of attacks (net -1 per additional parry, two rapiers). Her role was to kill off massed weaker opponents.
This highlights great roles for the high-weapon-skill fighter: dueling other high-weapon-skill fighters that mostly come on two legs and use human-style weapons, and controlling hordes of low-weapon-skill fighters that mostly come on two legs and use human-style weapons. These niches are vital ones in any DF party! It's why I wouldn't actually set upper limits on weapon skills. If the other niche-fillers have no special upper limits (racking up lots of Energy Reserve and spells at free-to-maintain levels, or huge ST and damage enhancers, or just epic quantities of mundane utility skills at respectable levels), then neither should armed fighters. It just happens that while some niches "level up" by improving in several areas (FP and spells, ST and damage enhancers), and others do so through eternal broadening (tacking on special-purpose skill after special-purpose skill), this one works by piling points into a single, key skill.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:19 AM   #37
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
This highlights great roles for the high-weapon-skill fighter: dueling other high-weapon-skill fighters that mostly come on two legs and use human-style weapons, and controlling hordes of low-weapon-skill fighters that mostly come on two legs and use human-style weapons. These niches are vital ones in any DF party! It's why I wouldn't actually set upper limits on weapon skills. If the other niche-fillers have no special upper limits (racking up lots of Energy Reserve and spells at free-to-maintain levels, or huge ST and damage enhancers, or just epic quantities of mundane utility skills at respectable levels), then neither should armed fighters. It just happens that while some niches "level up" by improving in several areas (FP and spells, ST and damage enhancers), and others do so through eternal broadening (tacking on special-purpose skill after special-purpose skill), this one works by piling points into a single, key skill.
Energy reserve is capped to 20 in DF11, and FP is capped at +30% of the racial HT cap, so if casters face caps, why shouldn't melee fighters face the same issues?
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:22 AM   #38
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

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Originally Posted by Kuroshima View Post

Energy reserve is capped to 20 in DF11, and FP is capped at +30% of the racial HT cap, so if casters face caps, why shouldn't melee fighters face the same issues?
Mostly because casters can have power items of arbitrary size and use paut (and Recover Energy!) to regenerate, so in practice, well-equipped casters don't have a meaningful energy limit. And they can also learn spells to arbitrarily high levels, which often makes them free to maintain and even to cast. Whereas weapon skill bonuses are very hard to come by from equipment, meaning that they just about have to be innate.

Very roughly, how often you can cast a spell corresponds to how often you can attack successfully. The former depends mainly on high spell skill (for which there is no limit in any DF book), which reduces energy costs (allowing more castings) and casting times (allowing more-frequent castings). The latter depends on high weapon skill, which makes Rapid Strike workable and allows potent Deceptive Attacks that lower the number of attempts needed per foe. I really do think that open-ended melee weapon skill is completely justifiable at higher levels of play. The "natural level" in my former campaign was skill 25-30, past which things like Extra Attack started to look attractive.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:41 AM   #39
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

In particular, consider that a wizard by the book(s) can have:
  • DF 1, p. 13: Up to FP 24* and Magery 6.
  • DF 11, p. 36: Up to ER 20 and IQ 25.
* In DF, the +30% limit does not exist for FP! Check out the templates for casters and martial artists.
Note that this is before racial modifiers! In principle, a celestial or a high elf could have another level of IQ, and all elves can add an extra three levels of Magery. Going just with human wizards, though, we're talking about 44 energy points (plus whatever is in a power item) and effective IQ 31 for spells, giving spells at level 28-29, which means -3 to energy cost and 1/4 casting time . . . or -4 and 1/8 for a small additional investment.

Thus, I don't especially think that skill 30-ish for warriors is silly. If anything, I think it's "keeping up with the Joneses."
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Old 10-18-2011, 01:45 PM   #40
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Default Re: [DF] Maximum Skill Levels?

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
In particular, consider that a wizard by the book(s) can have:
  • DF 1, p. 13: Up to FP 24* and Magery 6.
  • DF 11, p. 36: Up to ER 20 and IQ 25.
* In DF, the +30% limit does not exist for FP! Check out the templates for casters and martial artists.
Note that this is before racial modifiers! In principle, a celestial or a high elf could have another level of IQ, and all elves can add an extra three levels of Magery. Going just with human wizards, though, we're talking about 44 energy points (plus whatever is in a power item) and effective IQ 31 for spells, giving spells at level 28-29, which means -3 to energy cost and 1/4 casting time . . . or -4 and 1/8 for a small additional investment.

Thus, I don't especially think that skill 30-ish for warriors is silly. If anything, I think it's "keeping up with the Joneses."
Technically wrong, as per the racial maxima table in Dungeon Fantasy 11, p. 5. It lists maximum HP and FP for the different races, by using the 30% rule, and then adding racial modifiers on top of it. Powers items as per DF1 cap at 40 energy.

Also, warriors can get skill 30 rather easily. They just need to hunt for the bonuses a little harder. Racial talents help a lot, as do balanced weapons, racial attribute bonuses, etc etc... Hell, there's a race change potion in my universe, made by gnomish alchemists, that is only hideously expensive, and just has some quirks (race determined randomly, you gain disadvantages equal to the difference in cost between your current and new race, often manifesting as weird side effects like sex changes, ending with technicolor or rainbow hair even if you don't end up as an elf, etc etc. Unnatural features 5 is almost always part of the pack). Oh, and you keep your racial talents if you bought them over the racial base.
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