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Old 01-16-2015, 09:43 AM   #1
Captain Joy
 
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Default Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

From GURPS Power Ups 3: Talents:
Quote:
2. You can never learn any of the skills specifically listed for your Anti-Talent
The above is the 2nd of three rules governing anti-talents; rule #1 is -1 to ability per level stuff; rule #3 is -1 reaction penalty per level stuff.

It seems to me being unable learn the skills is a huge hit, and further -1/level stuff is marginally less so. My thinking is the first level of an anti-talent should be higher (absolute value) than additional levels. Or, maybe the first level only implements rule #2; additional levels invoke the -1/level rules #1 and #3, and those additional level should have a lower (absolute) value.

Otherwise, I can't see anybody who takes an anti-talent not maxing out on levels. E.g. If -10 means you can't learn the skills–equivalent to a -4 or -5 hit in those skills, why not just go for 4 levels for -40 and be at -8 or -9? For an extra -30 (a huge gift of points to spend on other things) you went from incompetent to really incompetent (functionally not much worse).

Am I on to something here, or am I missing something?

(GURPS Power Ups 3: Talents is an excellent product.)

Last edited by Captain Joy; 01-16-2015 at 09:57 AM. Reason: Added info about rules #1 and #3.
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Old 01-16-2015, 10:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

You're absolutely right. I think other possible solutions are 1. removing the inability to learn skills from the package or 2. capping Anti-Talents at one level, in addition to doubling the value of that one level.

I like option 1: it lets people compensate for their failings with effort. The only issue I can see is taking several levels of Anti-Talent and using the points to buy one skill in the Anti-Talent higher than it started out, but if that's how you want to spend your disad cap, go nuts, and if you don't have a disad cap, I don't even know how that works.
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Old 01-16-2015, 10:24 AM   #3
Kromm
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

Your point is valid, but please see the "Notes" under the examples on pp. 20-21 for details on pricing. It turns out that if you do the math on Incompetence plus Reputation plus additional drawbacks, you get costs very close to those recommended by the general rule. These are distributed evenly across levels, though; if you prefer to front-load, go ahead. For instance, Animal Foe says: "Four levels of this trait are roughly equal to Incompetence with six skills [-6], plus Frightens Animals [-10]. That would make the fair value about -4 points/level, but the additional drawback seems like it's worth -1 point/level." However, you could also see this as -6 points lumped into the first level and then another -14 points of stuff that's divided evenly, for -9.5 points for the first level and -3.5 points/level after that, leading to -11 for level 1 + -3 per added level or -8 for level 1 + -4 per added level.

I favored the flatter cost model because over the years, I've observed that players who take Incompetence don't plan to have their characters take the relevant skill in the first place. Thus, the "first-level hit" is an illusion. Granted, the Anti-Talents rules do suggest that the GM make the affected skills hard to avoid . . . but even in Dungeon Fantasy, where you can't avoid horses and beast attacks, it'll be wizards who can fly who take Animal Foe, not druids and scouts, and even in a modern-day investigation campaign, it'll be the hacker or techie who lives in a van who takes Misfit, not the face man. I'd only front-load if the skills were true everyman skills in the campaign – though I'd be hard-pressed to allow such an Anti-Talent because it would penalize the group, not just the individual.
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Old 01-16-2015, 10:35 AM   #4
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

I should add that many traits in GURPS include what I call a "psychological cost adjustment" to correct for the human factor – for how players actually buy abilities. Though not all players take only good stuff they plan to use to death and bad stuff they hope to avoid or work around, many or even most do, and the game works better if trait valuation accounts for that. That's the thinking behind Anti-Talent pricing, and also the relatively high price of Quick Gadgeteer (whose fans are prone to halting play to use it dozens of times per game session, to the inconvenience of everyone else). Likewise, positive traits that make the game more fun are often priced below fair value to encourage players to buy them. Combat Reflexes and HT are two examples of the latter kind of thing, increasing PC survival to levels expected by players coming to GURPS from other games.
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Old 01-16-2015, 10:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

You know that PC who took anti-talents and incompetence quirks in Stealth, Observation and a combat skill for a weapon he ever expected to use in anger?

Yeah, me neither.
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
…leading to -11 for level 1 + -3 per added level or -8 for level 1 + -4 per added level.
Brilliant!

All this came to my attention when I realized that Vulcans would make better counsellors than Humans in my Star Trek game. To nudge Vulcan's away from counseling into science, I thought an anti-talent would do the trick.

I think I might go with a Magery-esque pricing scheme. E.g. -8 for level 0, then -3 per level.
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Old 01-16-2015, 12:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
the relatively high price of Quick Gadgeteer (whose fans are prone to halting play to use it dozens of times per game session, to the inconvenience of everyone else)
Of course, the higher the price, the more important it becomes to try to get as much use out of it as possible. You gave up a lot of alternatives to afford that ability; if it's your only shtick, you have to flog it, or you might as well not be there.

From the psychological factors angle, increasing the price would actually aggravate this tendency, increasing the inconvenience unless you manage to actually drive players entirely away from taking the Advantage. Simpler just to outlaw it.
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Old 01-16-2015, 01:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

I don't like that inability to take a skill. It's a bit silly and makes it impossible to have a species just be worse at something realistically.

I want my kangaroo species to have trouble climbing but not be comically brain damaged about it.
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Old 01-16-2015, 01:18 PM   #9
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

The actual solution, in GURPS terms, is an unusual background. Gadgeteer could be a 15/30 advantage requiring a 10/20 unusual background, whereas Combat reflexes might be a 40 points advantage with a 25-point Common Trait discount. The GM can freely change the UB value, as that represents desired frequency, not game balance.

But everytone and their two cats hates UB, so it was built into the advantage.
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Old 01-16-2015, 02:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: Anti-Talent Cost: 1st Level Should Be More Expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
It turns out that if you do the math on Incompetence plus Reputation plus additional drawbacks, you get costs very close to those recommended by the general rule.
That sounds like an argument for "Anti-Talents are unnecessary".
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