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Old 04-29-2021, 10:09 AM   #1
CarrionPeacock
 
Join Date: May 2018
Default Are knightly characters inefficient?

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.

Last edited by CarrionPeacock; 05-05-2021 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

Quote:
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.

In the real world, of course, a high-medieval landed knight of the sort you seem to be envisioning simply had MUCH higher character point value than a peasant.

Your question invokes certain campaign/setting assumptions that may make certain character types simply not be viable if character generation gives each player an equal amount of points. This is for the GM and players to resolve in a manner that works for the game they want to play.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

In a realistic game, a knight is simply worth more points! They are almost always born into more money and power, and pursue a career where they have a superior diet, more time for self-improvement, and better access to teaching and medical care. There's no way around them having just about every edge over a commoner.

This is why, in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, most of that is abandoned in favor of "knows how to fight." The main difference between a knight who knows how to fight and a common thug who knows how to fight is that if realism were switched back on, the knight would skyrocket in points due to all the Status, Wealth, genteel skills, etc., while the thug would plummet as a result of negative Status, poverty, and probably a Social Stigma of some kind.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:23 AM   #4
naloth
 
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

Generally speaking, it depends more on the focus of the campaign. Status, wealth, and the associated skills are extremely valuable if there is a social component. Legal Enforcement Powers may not matter in a DF game where you just raid dungeons, but they will matter if you get in fights around town.

Bottom line, if your campaign is focused on fighting then sure skip other traits where you won't need them. If your campaign gives equal weight to spending time in court, you'll need these traits to survive there.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:28 AM   #5
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

You've got something of a point, but you're also conflating the baron with his knights, and in some ways with his staff.



The Baron needs to fight with his knights, but he also needs to be a political leader. Of course, he has his wife and steward to help manage the estate at home, he has a herald for when he really needs heraldry, and he can get someone to write something for him. A really effective Baron will be more of a brainy character.


The unlanded knight can focus more on combat, and that Wealth really helps make him a more effective warrior.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:29 AM   #6
Crystalline_Entity
 
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

I'd say a knight needed to be leveraging their social status and wealth here.

For example, for status they may be the only person in the party allowed to wear a sword in town, or allowed to bring a weapon into the presence of the king - so when the adventurers are invited to a royal ball after slaying the dragon, only the knight will actually have a weapon when assassins strike.

Wealth could potentially enable the character to short-cut many problems by throwing money at it, but if it's costing points, the player should get some utility from it. Hire lots of people - wealthy people historically had lots of hangers on and servants. These might be Allies, but could just be hirelings paid with money.

Need a particular spell the party wizard doesn't know? Use your status to browbeat the Wizard's Guild into letting your hire their specialist to teach him. Sick of riding a horse and foraging for rations? Buy a carriage to travel in, a groom to drive it, and hire servants to cook the most sumptuous meals every night. Need somewhere to stay? Rather than stay in the flea-ridden bed at the inn, go and visit your third cousin once-removed who is lord of the local manor who will be more than happy to have you to stay for the night in luxury.

For that matter, the knight could bankroll the whole party, which should give them some power over the party's decisions.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:38 AM   #7
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donny Brook View Post
In the real world, of course, a high-medieval landed knight of the sort you seem to be envisioning simply had MUCH higher character point value than a peasant.

Your question invokes certain campaign/setting assumptions that may make certain character types simply not be viable if character generation gives each player an equal amount of points. This is for the GM and players to resolve in a manner that works for the game they want to play.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
In a realistic game, a knight is simply worth more points! They are almost always born into more money and power, and pursue a career where they have a superior diet, more time for self-improvement, and better access to teaching and medical care. There's no way around them having just about every edge over a commoner.

This is why, in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, most of that is abandoned in favor of "knows how to fight." The main difference between a knight who knows how to fight and a common thug who knows how to fight is that if realism were switched back on, the knight would skyrocket in points due to all the Status, Wealth, genteel skills, etc., while the thug would plummet as a result of negative Status, poverty, and probably a Social Stigma of some kind.
I thought that would be the case and makes perfect sense (I can't prove it but I did write a paragraph about it in my much longer and detailed post but I lost it by accident).
However, how one should deal with it in a not-so-dungeon fantasy games, like one set in Banestorm/Yrth?
The best solution would be to hand the noble character more points, but doing so in anything but a tight-knit group would draw complaint from others.
Maybe allow buying the social traits as potential advantage (not heir) to save points? For skills Wild Talent (Social skills only) comes to mind, but it's limited to the IQ of the character, which might not be high enough to be useful.


Quote:
Originally Posted by naloth View Post
Generally speaking, it depends more on the focus of the campaign. Status, wealth, and the associated skills are extremely valuable if there is a social component. Legal Enforcement Powers may not matter in a DF game where you just raid dungeons, but they will matter if you get in fights around town.

Bottom line, if your campaign is focused on fighting then sure skip other traits where you won't need them. If your campaign gives equal weight to spending time in court, you'll need these traits to survive there.
I get your point and it works great if the game is defined as single genre, like hack'n'slash or courtly political drama, I don't believe it would work as well for a sandbox/point of light game...

Last edited by CarrionPeacock; 04-29-2021 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
You've got something of a point, but you're also conflating the baron with his knights, and in some ways with his staff.



The Baron needs to fight with his knights, but he also needs to be a political leader. Of course, he has his wife and steward to help manage the estate at home, he has a herald for when he really needs heraldry, and he can get someone to write something for him. A really effective Baron will be more of a brainy character.


The unlanded knight can focus more on combat, and that Wealth really helps make him a more effective warrior.
That's a good point but even the unlanded knight would require at least Status 2 and Comfortable Wealth, 20 points that a non-noble could have spent on ST, DX, HT, Combat Reflexes, Enhanced Defenses... Also a knight would need to be Very Wealthy (30 points) to afford the basic equipment to look like one (warhorse and armor) and its worth is questionable.
The warhorse and Lance skill becomes useless anywhere beside open flat lands, and the poorer yet more skilled fighter can easily get over the knight's defenses through deceptive attacks or feints. The armor would only delay the inevitable, even plate armor is often not enough to fully stop a swung axe or sword.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystalline_Entity View Post
I'd say a knight needed to be leveraging their social status and wealth here.

For example, for status they may be the only person in the party allowed to wear a sword in town, or allowed to bring a weapon into the presence of the king - so when the adventurers are invited to a royal ball after slaying the dragon, only the knight will actually have a weapon when assassins strike.

Wealth could potentially enable the character to short-cut many problems by throwing money at it, but if it's costing points, the player should get some utility from it. Hire lots of people - wealthy people historically had lots of hangers on and servants. These might be Allies, but could just be hirelings paid with money.

Need a particular spell the party wizard doesn't know? Use your status to browbeat the Wizard's Guild into letting your hire their specialist to teach him. Sick of riding a horse and foraging for rations? Buy a carriage to travel in, a groom to drive it, and hire servants to cook the most sumptuous meals every night. Need somewhere to stay? Rather than stay in the flea-ridden bed at the inn, go and visit your third cousin once-removed who is lord of the local manor who will be more than happy to have you to stay for the night in luxury.

For that matter, the knight could bankroll the whole party, which should give them some power over the party's decisions.
Regarding Status, would the GM even come up with assassin attacks if the knight PC didn't exist? Even if they did, the rogue-ish characters could pull a hidden dagger or pick a steak knife, similarly other fighters can improvise weapons and it's bound to have some guards (dead or alive) they could borrow a weapon from. Mage characters doesn't even need a weapon to begin with...

About Wealth, I see that as a problem, actually. If the character has enough money to throw at problems, they might as well be an NPC hiring the PCs as a solution for their problem. Edit: The cousin part sounds more like Claim to Hospitality than Wealth, no?
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Old 04-29-2021, 11:23 AM   #9
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

Quote:
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.
Honestly the knight you describe is a rather high-end one. They weren't all affluent administrators who knew how to dance, speak honeyed words and lead large forces into battle. Some were relatively uncouth rural types who owned nothing but their mount and armour. Also , the higher the point total of the game the more wiggle room you have to include things like a bit of a status and wealth without becoming an inferior fighter
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Old 04-29-2021, 11:23 AM   #10
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Default Re: Are knightly characters ineffective?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrionPeacock View Post
The best solution would be to hand the noble character more points, but doing so in anything but a tight-knit group would draw complaint from others.
If that's really a problem, and a player still desires to roleplay a knight, the GM can always come up with reasons why the knight is in disgrace. Which also means short on cash. Maybe an usurper took his family's land. Maybe his liegelord is convinced he's a traitor and has disowned him. Maybe he sold the warhorse so as to pay the ransom for his brother. All of these character backstories come with handy Disadvantages, too; and what's more important, they may do away with several costly Advantages. High levels of Wealth, LEP, Patron and whatnot (N.B.: not so sure that a liegelord or your noble family always were a Patron).

And what if, even after writing off the warhorse, he can't afford a fine pointy broadsword with the Wealth level the player is willing to invest points in? No problem, GURPS has a solution: Signature Gear. The impoverished, unlucky knight can't buy a new fine pointy broadsword - but he still owns his father's, the symbol of his heritage, the sword with which he trained since he was able to lift it, and that he'll never sell (it would be nice to spend 1 CP in Equipment Bond for that sword, too!).
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