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Old 07-28-2021, 06:27 AM   #1
MaryAnn
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Default Limiting skill points

Do you consider that limiting the maximum number of points that can be allocated to the purchase of skills is realistic? In that case, what mechanics do you use to do it in characters with high intellectual capacities (Accelerated Learning) or immortal (Unaging)?

I am currently using this formula:

Maximum number of skill points = IQ ^ 2 * (1 + X)

X being the result of the sum of the modifiers for advantages such as Single-Minded or Accelerated Learning.

Although I am not convinced of it, mainly, because the value of the IQ attribute already improves the initial values ​​of the skills when buying them. In order for them to continue learning, players must select which skills their characters forget.
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:03 AM   #2
RedMattis
 
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

(GURPS) IQ is pretty much a combination of general/wide knowledge, personality, and how well you did on the genetic lottery.

Regardless of that though how skilled a person ends up doesn't have terribly much to do with their inborn talent. Determination and the right attitude has far more effect on how many skills and to what depth a person develops than some 'innate ability'. Unsurprisingly those who tend to perform best of all are those who ALSO have a genius-like talent for the matter at hand.

There is countless numbers of people with genius-level minds sitting around with their only notable skill being Hobby Skills. Heck, I'm pretty sure I've been acquaintanced with at least two people who ended up a bit like that.

There is also countless "slow kids" that later with an open mind and sheer force of will ended up being one of those "brilliant minds" despite their insistence that it was just hard work and they often found their peers seemed to pick things up easier.

Really though, someones ability to develop various skills is such a complicated phenomenon that I would suggest judging on a case by case basis whether or not a character makes sense. Otherwise you're going to end up trying to make sense of the piles of often fairly contradictory-seeming psychological papers on this matter and end up with some confusing mess. (never mind that weak-willed IQ 8 characters can certainly be good at swinging axes around f.ex.)

--------------

In practice, if a player wants an unrealistically high skill I'd suggest talking to them, or charging an expensive Unusual Background if you feel it might otherwise unbalance your campaign. If the character concept doesn't make sense and they can't justify it properly then I advise you should decline it based on the discussion and not because of some house rule.

E.g. If a I started a zero-to-hero peasant campaign with 50-point characters and one of the players handed me a character with 30 points in disadvantages and 60 points in Broadsword (effective level 25!) and Weapon Master (Broadsword) [20] I'd tell him the character was inappropriate for the campaign and tell him I'd let him to start over and have professional-soldier-type weapon skills at effective level 13-14 since a non-professional wouldn't have more than that. I'd also tell him that "Weapon Master" isn't remotely suitable for a self-learned mostly unremarkable peasant. I'd then suggest how he could build an _aspiring_ weapon master born in a peasant family.

As a GM communication is key.
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Last edited by RedMattis; 07-28-2021 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

Since "skill points" are inherently unrealistic to begin with, I don't think finding a formula for a realistic amount of skill points is really feasible in the first place.

The third edition of GURPS had a rule that starting characters — by default, basically human — could start with no more than twice their age in character points invested in skills. This did not impact the acquisition of skills after play had begun. The rule was dropped in the fourth edition, in part because playing non-human and larger-than-life characters had become a core part of the game, and in part because the rule doesn't really represent anything in real life anyway aside from establishing some kind of arbitrary limit because there's only so much you can learn in life.

You really, really can't power a simulation of reality using character points. That's just not what they were made for.
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:54 AM   #4
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

I don't think that formula is reasonable. A significant number of skills are DX-based (and a few are HT-based). Shouldn't the number of DX-based skills you can learn be dependent on your DX more than your IQ?

In GURPS Locations: Worminghall, I introduced a process for learning skills by monthly study rolls. Those were based primarily on Will. So you could even adopt a formula where your number of skills mastered depends on Will.

Another option for limiting skills is to require that time be invested in maintaining them through study and practice. As the number of skills increases, free time (including time for adventuring!) decreases. There is some discussion of this in GURPS Social Engineering: Back to School.
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Old 07-28-2021, 08:03 AM   #5
MaryAnn
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I don't think that formula is reasonable. A significant number of skills are DX-based (and a few are HT-based). Shouldn't the number of DX-based skills you can learn be dependent on your DX more than your IQ?

In GURPS Locations: Worminghall, I introduced a process for learning skills by monthly study rolls. Those were based primarily on Will. So you could even adopt a formula where your number of skills mastered depends on Will.

Another option for limiting skills is to require that time be invested in maintaining them through study and practice. As the number of skills increases, free time (including time for adventuring!) decreases. There is some discussion of this in GURPS Social Engineering: Back to School.
Yes. Maybe I missed something about Back to School. I am mostly using the monthly study rolls there, but according to my reading, the limit tends to infinity.

Using the attribute of Will can be viable, or others, although really what I need as water in the desert is to find some mechanics to limit, coherently and mathematically, the maximum number of skill points that a character can acquire (or more specifically keep), regardless of the duration of its life.
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Old 07-28-2021, 08:17 AM   #6
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

1e had a rule limiting CP spent at start to your age * 2. (If I remember correctly; I always ignored that rule :))

The problem usually cited with GURPS isn't that people spend too many points on skills. It's that it doesn't take long or very many skills before it becomes worthwhile to just drop all the CP levels by 1 and bump the base attribute instead. (Why raise 5 IQ skills by +4 points each when you could just bump IQ by 1, and get that extra level in those 5 skills plus every other IQ-based skill?) So it's something of a self-limiting problem. People more often want a way to force players into putting more points into skills and less into the attributes. Consider building the grizzled veteran with decades of experience who's not necessarily a super-genius or acrobat.

I've never felt a need to limit skill points -- more often the other way around, requiring a certain minimum amount of points.

If you apply the Improvement Through Study rules, then a stereotypical US college graduate with a part-time / summer job winds up with around 140 CP at age 22. Not that those rules are themselves particularly realistic (a lot of the stuff you learn counts as base IQ defaults, not individual skills). But I've never seen a 150-point character built with a 140 CP worth of education and one Advantage or stat bump.

But that calculation does suggest that rather than having a fixed cap for all characters, then -- if you want such a cap -- why not base it on the character's backstory? Tarzan doesn't get to put a lot of CP into science and engineering skills, regardless of his IQ or age. Reed Richards doesn't have any limits in that regard. Oliver Twist is an entirely different category from either. Why would the same global cap make sense for all three, regardless of character concept or development opportunities?
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Old 07-28-2021, 08:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
why not base it on the character's backstory? Tarzan doesn't get to put a lot of CP into science and engineering skills, regardless of his IQ or age.
Yes, that's basically it. GURPS gives you the tools to make any kind of character you want, but it's up to you to decide what "reasonable" or "realistic" (or even "cinematic") looks like.
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Old 07-28-2021, 08:38 AM   #8
MaryAnn
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
1e had a rule limiting CP spent at start to your age * 2. (If I remember correctly; I always ignored that rule :))

The problem usually cited with GURPS isn't that people spend too many points on skills. It's that it doesn't take long or very many skills before it becomes worthwhile to just drop all the CP levels by 1 and bump the base attribute instead. (Why raise 5 IQ skills by +4 points each when you could just bump IQ by 1, and get that extra level in those 5 skills plus every other IQ-based skill?) So it's something of a self-limiting problem. People more often want a way to force players into putting more points into skills and less into the attributes. Consider building the grizzled veteran with decades of experience who's not necessarily a super-genius or acrobat.

I've never felt a need to limit skill points -- more often the other way around, requiring a certain minimum amount of points.

If you apply the Improvement Through Study rules, then a stereotypical US college graduate with a part-time / summer job winds up with around 140 CP at age 22. Not that those rules are themselves particularly realistic (a lot of the stuff you learn counts as base IQ defaults, not individual skills). But I've never seen a 150-point character built with a 140 CP worth of education and one Advantage or stat bump.

But that calculation does suggest that rather than having a fixed cap for all characters, then -- if you want such a cap -- why not base it on the character's backstory? Tarzan doesn't get to put a lot of CP into science and engineering skills, regardless of his IQ or age. Reed Richards doesn't have any limits in that regard. Oliver Twist is an entirely different category from either. Why would the same global cap make sense for all three, regardless of character concept or development opportunities?
Because that doesn't solve the problem. Advantages like Accelerated Learning can easily be applied to characters to gain new knowledge, but an immortal (Unaging) character has, in accordance with the mechanics of Improvement Through Study, the ability to acquire an unlimited number of points.

I do not think it is necessary to go into specific details, but I have found with a character with little more than a century years old and more than nine thousand points. I believe that, in some way, with a quadratic or exponential function, there must be a limit to the amount of knowledge that the same brain can store and process, in the same way as a computer.

Being aware that there are some phrases written in the books related to the maintenance of skills, my need is very specific and it comes down to a specific formula that allows me to easily apply it to all the characters.

Ps.
The rule based on the "age * 2" formula does not solve the problem either, it only increases the age that a character must be to accumulate points, and also violates any principle of deviation in terms of learning, because it is the same for everyone regardless of their design or "background".

Last edited by MaryAnn; 07-28-2021 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 07-28-2021, 08:53 AM   #9
MaryAnn
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
Yes, that's basically it. GURPS gives you the tools to make any kind of character you want, but it's up to you to decide what "reasonable" or "realistic" (or even "cinematic") looks like.
At this time, at TL 10 (pharmacy at 11), the character I'm talking about has reached a peak where it gains 288 points per year, according to the following calculations:

Intensive training: 800 hours per month
Accelerated learning: + 400%
Single-Minded: + 30%
Attentive: + 10%
Highest purpose: + 10%
Service quality: + 50%

Total equivalent hours per month = 800 * (1 + 4 + .3 + .1 + .1 + .5) = 4800
Points earned per month = 4800/200 = 24
Points earned per year = 24 * 12 = 288

And it seems to me very good that this character earns them, but somehow a maintenance must be imposed on it that progressively decreases the gains and that, in addition, when the character abandons the intensive training, it will progressively lose points due to lack of practice. Also, I don't believe that a brain can store unlimited amounts of information, so in the sake of realism it is a good idea to agree on a point where old knowledge is replaced by new.
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Old 07-28-2021, 09:32 AM   #10
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Limiting skill points

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Originally Posted by MaryAnn View Post
Because that doesn't solve the problem. Advantages like Accelerated Learning can easily be applied to characters to gain new knowledge, but an immortal (Unaging) character has, in accordance with the mechanics of Improvement Through Study, the ability to acquire an unlimited number of points.
That's really not a problem. When you're generating a character now, you say that they have X points, X being a campaign value for player characters and GM decision for NPCs. If the person creating the character wants to make them Unaging and say they're 10,000 years old, and that's consistent with the campaign world, fine; they can go for it. But they only have as many total points to spend as X plus the campaign disadvantage limit.

You apply the rules for gaining skills through study (or experience) progressing forward from when the campaign starts, to govern what new skills the character can learn. But you don't apply them retroactively to what the character has learned before the start of play.

Those rules are meant to provide strategic incentives to how players develop their characters, looking forward. They aren't meant to simulate how the characters got to the starting line—they aren't life history generators.
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