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Old 07-03-2019, 05:36 PM   #1
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Default TFT Character Tiers

Spinning off from the "Starting with a Mana Staff" thread...

Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
I can see several reasons to not allow starting PCs to start with Expert/Master weapon talents, and perhaps other combat-aiding talents.

1) It feels thematically off to me. What is a beginning fighter who's not as good as other beginners in terms of ST & DX, has had no adventures, and before being a master would not be a good fighter at all, but is already a master? How did that happen, and why did it only happen to the not-so-capable beginning fighters?

2) I want Expert and Master combat talents to represent people who have exceptional levels of experience and training. That doesn't match typical starting characters, or 32-point characters, or fighters with ST + DX totaling 20 or less. If people want to start as exceptionally trained weapon experts/masters, then I'd want those PCs to have appropriate backgrounds and higher attributes, too. In short, I think the listed requirements are too low and should probably include years of exceptional experience and training, like Captain and Strategist do.

3) For a game where PCs start as 32-point beginners, I want Expert and Master combat talents to be challenging goals that can be earned through much successful play. Something to strive for and to reward survival of the combat experiences that are what develop a superior fighter.

4) Using the Legacy experience/talent-learning system RAW, it's a bypass of what otherwise would be the need to spend 500 XP of actual play experience per talent point. i.e. In addition to my reason 3, if a PC starts with these talents by taking enough IQ and getting it for no XP, they avoid spending XP on the talent and so can just jack up their combat attributes, which is a big XP advantage of doing it this way that seems backwards and like an exploit to me.

Originally Posted by zot View Post
Blades & Black Magic addresses exactly these issues:
  1. Starting characters cannot have expert skills
  2. Each starting character has the same number of skill points

But TFT (both original and Legacy) explicitly allows different characters to start with different amounts of talent points and has no restrictions about starting characters taking talents with prerequisites.

This sounds to me like TFT actually doesn't fit your concept of the rarity of expertise (but B&BM does). TFT does, however, support the concept of the cloistered warrior, trained from birth, who starts out as an expert, and that's a trope just as well-trodden as the know-nothing village kid who has to learn everything the hard way.

You could say that TFT supports both but given the simulation results, it seems to favor the experts.
I have been considering a similar framework, because I also believe that certain abilities should not be available to starting characters. Advanced talents or spells should only be achievable after the character has earned the right to have them through experience, preferably in-game experience. To this end, I am experimenting with the idea of 'character tiers' in my campaign.

When I look at the typical character lifecycle in RPGs, regardless of the system, I can usually break it down into 3 stages of development:

Sometimes there will be a fourth stage for 'mythic' or 'epic' characters, but for me, that level of play is less critical to maintaining the players' engagement and enjoyment of the game.

Now what if those 'tiers' could be applied at the talent-level (or spell) as prerequisites or a threshold of experience that must be gained before certain abilities can be acquired?

For example, for the sake of argument, let's assume I am using the 40-point (ugh) cap from LE. This would mean that most characters will have a 9-point progression range that can reasonably be achieved during their 'lifecycle' so the tiers would be defined as follows...

Novice - 32, 33 or 34-point characters
Veteran - 35, 36 or 37-point characters
Legend - 38, 39 or 40-point characters

Then I could establish rules using that framework to dictate that, say, only Staff I and II can be selected by a starting 'novice' wizard. To aquire Staff III or IV, you must first reach the 'veteran' tier and finally Staff V is only available to a 'legendary' character. In this way, the GM controls when certain powerful spells or talents can be aquired, preventing 'gamey' character builds and applying some logical structure to the pacing of character advancement.
“No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style.” -Vladimir Taltos
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