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Old 04-29-2021, 02:02 PM   #31
CarrionPeacock
 
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
The kind of "nobleman" who becomes a landless knight?

No, not especially. Squires didn't spend a lot of time on dancing and etiquette lessons. The comportment training they got would be mostly subsumed in having greater than 0 status. They were soldiers and they were trained as soldiers. They didn't usually have higher social skills than a commoner (apart from once again, the impact of relative social status), they had different social skills.
Landless Knights would be the second, third... sons of a minor noble, right? Makes sense then.

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
This is an issue of niche protection - in many ways, the knight serves both as Fighter and Face. You'll need to set things up so the Face abilities the knight has but the rogue lacks (like Status, appropriate Savoir-Faire, etc) matter - the knight is in better position to be able to meet with other nobles in the first place (or get his rogue friend into position - "... quite a memorable hunt, I do agree. Ah, here we are. Lord Harish, this is my associate I told you about. As I said before, he has a proposition I believe would be of great benefit to all of us - come, have a seat while I call a servant for refreshments..."), for example. Note this doesn't have to be something the GM sets up - the knight's player might ask if there's anyone at the court he is already on good terms with (possibly calling for an appropriate Savoir-Faire roll), making it easier to establish friendly contact.
Good point. I suppose mage-noble would be able to do it all better, but these are rare, at least in Yrth (except maybe Abydos).


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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
If you have enough points to make a typical knight, and then largely avoid the knight's social traits in favor of combat traits, he will more-or-less by definition be a more capable combatant than a typical knight. If you only had enough points to make someone as combat-capable as a typical knight but not acquire their social traits, then you have no choice but to make a knight who is subpar in some or all fashions (or just abandon the idea of making a knight, as a GM who doesn't give you enough of a point budget to do so is sending a pretty clear - if perhaps unintentional - "Don't make a knight" message).
Unless you're dealing with really high points the social aspects will always hurt the knight if the rest of the rest of the party can better min-max. A 400 points game with a PC who spent most of it on combat will face enemies that challenges this character, not the knigh with only a third or less in combat. Same for the social side.


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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Play to your strengths. Don't wait until the orcs have gotten into the village - meet them on the open field, making use of your height, reach, and mobility advantages to harry and break them up (with support from your party), trample them with your mount, and so forth. Charges are most effective with a lot of knights at once, but you can still make good use of your lance when by yourself, isolating important orcs and running them down. You can also come up from behind them - those who try to turn and fight are delaying their own arrival to the village (buying time to build up defenses, or for the Hastily-Assembled Peasant Archer Brigade (tm) to put more arrows in them), while those who keep going are defenseless to being trampled, impaled, etc. And, of course, your high mobility means you can simply bypass those who are ready for you to go after those who aren't.
That works nicely for the knight, but then it might draw complaints from the other characters but that's beside the point.

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Originally Posted by JulianLW View Post
I don't know if anyone's pointed this out or not, but Status, as far as I can tell, never appears in Dungeon Fantasy or DFRPG. Wealthy, according to Basic, gives one level of Status for free. I think a regular knight is Status 1.

Status 2 is an important knight. Status 3 is a Knight Commander or Baron. Status 4 is a Viscount or Earl. Status 5 is an Earl or Marquess. Status 6 is a Marquess or Duke. Status 7 is Dukes and Princes, maybe Kings. Status 8 is Kings and Emperors.

And I like Kromm's suggestion of having these Statuses affect rolls for anyone who belongs in the hierarchy. I thought that was just RAW, but maybe not?

To be a regular, basic knight seems like it would just cost 20 CP for Wealthy (with Status 1 for free) - and then maybe a few quirk points spent on the arms and horses and maybe a squire for an ally. That 20 CP - even in a DF game - gets a lot back in town.
According to both Basic and Banestorm, a Landless Knight has Status 2. Status 1 is for squires and commoner captains.
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Old 04-29-2021, 02:37 PM   #32
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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Originally Posted by CarrionPeacock View Post
Good point. I suppose mage-noble would be able to do it all better, but these are rare, at least in Yrth (except maybe Abydos).

Unless you're dealing with really high points the social aspects will always hurt the knight if the rest of the rest of the party can better min-max. A 400 points game with a PC who spent most of it on combat will face enemies that challenges this character, not the knigh with only a third or less in combat. Same for the social side.
Yes, this is generally the case, and is the whole reason a lot of players will min-max. That said, if you have multiple characters who fill the social niche, it's best if they fill it differently - your charming rogue is good at scamming people and making friends in low places, your friendly mage is good at dealing with academics and the like, and your courtly knight is good at dealing with nobility and their servants.

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Originally Posted by CarrionPeacock View Post
That works nicely for the knight, but then it might draw complaints from the other characters but that's beside the point.
The other characters should be doing stuff at the same time. Anyone skilled with a bow (or other form of ranged combat) can help the peasant brigade in downing charging orcs (and/or attacking the ones who turn to face the knight, given they can't defend against attacks from behind). The mage is buffing his allies and/or launching artillery or battlefield-control spells at the orc horde. The commoner mercenary combat-monster is at the gate, cutting down any orcs that make it that far - and thanks to the efforts of the others, this is a manageable trickle rather than an overwhelming flood.
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Old 04-29-2021, 02:40 PM   #33
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
This is true, but skirmishes are more common still. You have your scouts and foragers out, and the enemy has their scouts and foragers out. Small groups are trying to seize useful locations or squash slightly smaller groups, and to figure out which army will win if there was a battle (and thus avoid the costly battle).
Alright.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
So one of the problems is that Dungeon Fantasy seems constructed to minimize the role of knights. I don't know if that's intentional or not, but it feels like it might be. It has its origin in wargaming, and those people were certainly aware of the power a knight could have.
Dungeon Fantasy maims the ability of a typical knight, which is nice as it explains why they aren't doing the dungeon raiding.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Storming small fortifications is a weak point for the knight. Saving the village from the orcs feels like a strong situation though. Either the orcs are forming up into a formation the knight can out flank and out maneuver, or they're scattered throughout the huts pillaging. I don't imagine the average village as a bad place for a horse, as long as it doesn't go inside the one and two room huts scattered at least 20 feet away from each other. If all of the orcs hole up in a single hut... you've won half the battle.
Last time this scenario came up we arrived late and the orcs were already in the village, so that was what I was assuming but you got a point that in a better circunstances the knight's mounted combat capability could have been useful.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
It depends on the terrain, the starting distance of the engagement, and your chosen horse. The heavy warhorse is not the only warhorse. If the knight can get them at a good distance, they can almost guarantee the first attack. They do need space, but as long as you aren't indoors, you often have it.
I was thinking about places horses can't run, maybe walk around but not really run, which in my experience came up more than open battleground but I'm noticing that's not as common as I thought.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
One thing I do in almost all of my games is to give 10 points that are earmarked for "flavor skills". I present these as "Bonus" points, rather than part of the budget, so players feel that I'm giving something rather than taking things away. So 260 or 110 point "final budgets" are common. I find that these points give a big boost to making the sort of skills realistic and rounded characters have viable.
That's nice for skills but not so much for advantages, the other approach which forces all players to give more background traits to their character (street reputation, academic rank, tenure) works better.


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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Well, the professional skill(s) of knights depend a lot on what knights, where, and when. We tend to have a soft-focus, idealized view of the social role. A lot of them would be about as good or bad at actual fighting, tactics, and social leadership as a street gang member, corrupt city councilor, bureaucrat, or rich kid living off their parents today. There were even pacifist orders. Almost the only consistent thread would be Status 1-2.
I get what you mean but wouldn't these people still deal better with their social circle than others? Like the gang member would be better at Streetwise and Intimidation than the rich kid, even without talent or actual training in the skill, while the rich kid has better savoir-faire than the gang member?
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Old 04-29-2021, 02:57 PM   #34
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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Originally Posted by CarrionPeacock View Post
I get what you mean but wouldn't these people still deal better with their social circle than others? Like the gang member would be better at Streetwise and Intimidation than the rich kid, even without talent or actual training in the skill, while the rich kid has better savoir-faire than the gang member?
What you're describing is represented in GURPS by having points in the skill (or perhaps a bonus to the default from Dabbler). This may not represent formal training, but rather experience (not necessarily your own - you can learn a lot via observation) and/or natural inclination (something akin to a talent, but not a GURPS Talent). A gang member is better at Streetwise and Intimidation because he or she has spent time living in a world where those are frequently-used skills, while a rich kid is better at Savoir-Faire (High Society) because he or she has spent time living in a world where that is a frequently-used skill.
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:07 PM   #35
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

. . . and then there's the vast majority of people who just play their role/do their job without meaningful social interaction if "meaningful social interaction" isn't their role/job. And for much of history, it wasn't part of what a knight did. A knight could be an itinerant thug with the social skills of such. The whole idea of knights who are leaders, even rulers, and courtly or at least inspirational, holds a grain of truth but doesn't represent most knights. It's the legacy of knights who rose to important posts and/or inspired stories.
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:47 PM   #36
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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Originally Posted by CarrionPeacock View Post
A properly built knight requires some traits: Status and Wealth are obligatory, Legal Enforcement Power, Legal Immunity and Patron are desirable. Beside advantages, skills like Administration, Dancing, Diplomacy, Falconry, Heraldry, Law, Politics, Public Speaking, Savoir-Faire, Strategy and Writing.
This means the knight must spread their points on both physical and intellectual traits, turning them into a master of none. A peasant mercenary will be a better fighter and whatever social skill they lack can be easily covered by the high IQ mage spending a couple points.

In a realistic campaign it might not be too much of a problem, a peasant will not be a fighter to begin with and high IQ or access to certain skills will also be limited to the aristocrats, but most games in my experience are less rectal about it and allows non-noble fighters, turning nobility into a burden.
This is one of the reasons that I use what I call "Intrinsic Character Design" in any game with points for character creation. Basically, you only spend points on things that are intrinsic to the character.

The litmus test for this is to imagine your character being transported naked with no equipment to another world. The character is not able to return to the original, nobody knows them in the new world and they don't know anybody in the new world.

This isn't what actually happens, of course, it's just the test for which traits are intrinsic. Any Advantages, disadvantages or any other traits that the would still have are intrinsic to the character. Anything else is ephemeral.

So, players spend points only on things that are intrinsic to their characters and everything else is handled as background - whatever traits are needed to define your background you simply get. If I feel the need to balance the backgrounds I simply give them a separate "Bucket of Points" for anything ephemeral which is balanced separately.

So your knight has wealth and status and your bard might be a peasant, but maybe they're famous. Each had better have the skills to back that up or they may lose the ephemeral traits they have.

Just my 2c.

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Old 04-29-2021, 06:15 PM   #37
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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I don't think an unlanded knight is status 2. One with merely comfortable wealth isn't, and I'd call him a poor starving knight unworthy of the title without signature gear. I'd argue that even the ones with only Wealthy should only be status 1, and they get that for free.
Characters gives unlanded knight as an example of status 2, and that implies Wealthy, as wealth and status go up roughly in step if you want to be able to afford to live at the 'right' status for your wealth.

I think we can assume that both the unlanded knight and the commoner combat wombat get to spend all their starting asset value on their professional tools. In the Basic Set $5000 gets you a sword, shield, a couple of cheap weapons, a riding horse, and DR6 plate plus greathelm, gauntlets and sollerets. If plate isn't available, a full mail suit (with heavy mail on the body) only costs a little over $1000, enough that you need to be Wealthy to have one and weapons and armour, but very affordable for the Wealthy.

Meanwhile the commoner with $1000 buys an inexpensive weapon (even a Cheap Shortsword costs $160), and his choices are quite constrained if he wants to option of attacking and parrying in the same turn, especially if he wants the defensive benefits of a shield. He can only afford normal mail, and certainly won't have a horse, so he'll be more tired if called upon to fight immediately after or whilst travelling.

Low Tech offers more options for the commoner, however if you're using LT presumably you want a fairly realistic game, and the commoner's choice of weapons when they're lordless is likely to be sharply limited by local weapon control laws, and their best bet might end up being a quarterstaff (and hope to not run into archers).

LT armour is very expensive and the knight probably only has mail, or light mail with a jack on their torso over the top. The commoner has some kind of leather, and thus has a bit less DR and if they didn't use their extra point buying ST they'll be regretting it - it's a lot heavier than mail.

A landed knight is Status 3, and probably Very Wealthy. They'd only get to spend 20% of their wealth on weapons and armour, but they should have access to stuff that's not 'theirs', or more wealth. Oh, and also to armed retainers.

Which is of course another thing - most landless knights weren't without lords, and their lords would provide equipment, so they'd have full harness of good armour, and war trained horses, etc.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:25 PM   #38
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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Originally Posted by CarrionPeacock View Post
Shouldn't they at least have Dabbler to separate them from the other characters that never did any of this before?
Remember that relative Status affects reaction rolls, and that you take a -2 to SF when trying to impress those of higher station (and a +2 when you're of higher station than the one you're trying to impress). So the commoner is at default-2, and the knight is at default. Also, due to relative status issues the commoner is less likely to be well-liked or even accepted by everyone if they just rely on reaction rolls, and one can't always rely on your 'face' (which might actually be the party's knight) or smart wizard to do the social stuff for you. The commoner is going to pay more, find out less, and start fights that the knight avoids, even before we consider any law enforcement rights, etc., that the knight might have (probably none if they're knight errant).

People, especially commoners, might not like the knight, but they'll be nice to him when they won't be so nice to the commoner.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:32 PM   #39
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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You are correct that my preferred style is combat heavy, but I'm aware of this bias and I've been taking it in account.
I agree with you that knights are both combat-heavy and social-heavy. The problem is that heavy and light is defined by the rest of the party/possibility. If a non-noble character invests their point in combat related traits, that's what "combat heavy" means in this situation. A knightly character, to also be combat-heavy would need o invest as many points as they did, which leaves little point to also be social-heavy, like the mage that become expert diplomat for 1-4 points thanks to their already high IQ. The knight can at best be combat-light and social-light, which makes them ineffective in any challenge tailored for the skills of the non-noble fighter and mage-diplomat.
The solution seems to be to either give more points to the knight, or to force the other characters to spend points elsewhere, preventing them from specializing too much.
Just having a decent Diplomacy skill doesn't make you a diplomat, and certainly not a well-rounded social character. That mage might be good at negotiating treaties, but without the supporting skills (and Status, etc.) in a setting where being a knight or noble matters they just some commoner who's good at making treaties - they still won't get invited to the best parties (where much of the informal horse-trading happens before any treaty is actually discussed), will have trouble getting audiences with high nobles, etc. That means they'll have trouble even getting to the negotiating table and will be working at a penalty once there.

If you want all those points to matter, you have to make social stuff be more than "What influence skill are you using?" If you don't think they need to matter that much on your game, you might need to consider charging much less for them than the list prices.
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Old 04-29-2021, 07:01 PM   #40
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

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Originally Posted by CarrionPeacock View Post
Unless you're dealing with really high points the social aspects will always hurt the knight if the rest of the rest of the party can better min-max. A 400 points game with a PC who spent most of it on combat will face enemies that challenges this character, not the knigh with only a third or less in combat. Same for the social side.
If you want to make rounded characters possible, don't do this.

There are a number of ways you can counteract the attraction of the mono-functional min-maxed character:

-Use rules that directly discourage or prohibit extreme skill levels so you don't have all your combat wombats chasing 20+ skill levels. Point pools, skill caps, skill upkeep, there's a bunch of options.

-Don't present challenges scaled for a monomaniac specialist. In combat, use opponents that can be matched (or outmatched) by a 'balanced' PC. If there's a super combat wombat around, add more of them rather than throwing in a weaponmaster that only the wombat can challenge. Outside combat try not to place over-the-top penalties in the way. People probably won't feel great need for Lockpicking-18 if locks are in line with Low Tech p120-122, where the best have a -2 penalty to pick and most have a bonus.

-Make it known that certain kinds of challenges are going to be hard or impossible to entirely offload onto a specialist, so PCs are encouraged or required to have some competency in them even if their focus is elsewhere.
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