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Author Topic: (heroes and villains) skills as resources  (Read 1764 times)
sean2099
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« on: November 16, 2006, 07:25:06 PM »

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=21789.0

As I was working on character creation, I thought about the idea the ideas of adding skills and resources to the mix.  Right now, I have split skills into two categories, knowledge and connections.  The knowledge skills are broken down into academics, combat and vocational.  (Debating about adding communication skills...)  Connections refers to the ability to manipulate resources, like money and people.  I have decided (for now) that the knowledge skills can be used at least once a scene.  The connections skills can be used once per session, since I figure this category is more flexible...and thereby more useful. 

I would like to tie skills into the three-fold matrix that Dave M (dindeaver) came up with and I have run away with the concept but I am running into a mental block on that matter.  In addition, I would like skills (especially combat skills) to differ from powers in some way.  Same mental block...looking for some inspiration right now.

Thanks,

Sean
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Ken
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2006, 12:10:02 PM »

As I was working on character creation, I thought about the idea the ideas of adding skills and resources to the mix.  Right now, I have split skills into two categories, knowledge and connections.  The knowledge skills are broken down into academics, combat and vocational.  (Debating about adding communication skills...) 

Nice. Adding a relations skill sounds cool. Would connections be broken into three categories as well; like money, people, and gear?

I have decided (for now) that the knowledge skills can be used at least once a scene.  The connections skills can be used once per session, since I figure this category is more flexible...and thereby more useful.

Why so limiting on knowledge skill use. That really puts a damper on using skilled combatants. Was there a game dynamic or pitfall in gaming that you saw, requiring such a limitation? I have less trouble with limiting connections, because they seem more like campaign dressing than anything else (but still, there would be extenuating circumstances where a characters' wealth or contacts could reasonably come into play).


I would like skills (especially combat skills) to differ from powers in some way.

Does skill use (specifically combat skills) cause temptation? If not, that is a pretty big difference. Maybe combat skills offer side-effects in addition to just damage (like eye-poking someone into not seeing/ choking someone into submission/ breaking a bone/ temporarily crippling someone/etc.) Maybe combat maneuvers always provide some effect like that, and the damage is just a bonus or something. This is literally coming from brain to keyboard, here. Hope this helps somehow.

Glad to see you're still working on it,

Ken
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sean2099
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2006, 05:49:57 PM »

Hey Ken,

I am going from "brain to keyboard" as well.  The connection skill is broken down into Access (item):
Finances: Influence (area): Relationship (person):   in other words, money, people, gear (and I was thinking of adding institutions,especially if I add communications.  When I was thinking of limits, I was primarily thinking about combat skills.  Skill use would not cause temptation...(which is an advantage since powers cause damage but also temptation vs combat skills which can cause damage but not trigger temptation...I could be wrong about advantage but hopefully I am making sense...

I like the idea about combat creating conditions...I am thinking about have some sort of quick but descriptive system.  Maybe normal combat success is half normal damage, spending resolve causes full damage, and spending drama equates to the special effect associated with powers (eye poke blinds opponents, head butt stuns opponents).  I could list a bunch of effects and let players choose which combat effects they know...of course, maybe breaking bones and that costs drama and adds tempation...I would have to rework the matrix.

As for the connections, maybe the first time is free but succeeding times becomes more difficult or cost resources (either resolve or drama) to activate. 

Thanks,

Sean
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Ken
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2006, 03:59:17 AM »


As for the connections, maybe the first time is free but succeeding times becomes more difficult or cost resources (either resolve or drama) to activate. 


Maybe using connections excessively causes temptation, but not resolve. If your rich, paying a villain to stop hitting you may seem awful tempting if your losing a fight. Just brainstorming.

Ken
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dindenver
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2006, 09:45:11 PM »

Hi!
  Well, I'd like to put in a vote that "skills" work exactly like powers. I mean, there are not many people that wouldn't call Batman a superhero. So, what's his superpower? Skills and resources.
But, if you had to work up some kind of matrix, try something like this:
1) Tapping someone else's temptation: +Drama -Resolve
2) Failing to tap someone else's temptation: +Drama -Temptation
3) Falling to temptation: +Resolve -Temptation
4) Resisting temptation: +Temptation -Resolve
5) Using a Power:  + Empathy -Temptation
6) Using a Skill: +Resources -Resolve
7) Using a connection: +Resources -Temptation
8) Monologuing: +Empathy -Resolve

  Where Drama, Empathy, and Resources are game currency you spend in game to get what you want (spend Resources to get stuff, Empathy to pass interpersonal tests and Drama to effect plot twists, subplots and conflict resolutions). Of course, you can change those currencies out for things you really care about, but I think you can see where I am going with this and can modify it to make it your own, you know?
  The math is tricky with 8 main choices, 6 was more elegant. Need to combine 2 costs and 5 bonuses in order to get not unused options and no "optimal strategies". Whereas with 6 options, you make 3 costs and 3 bonuses. If you could pump it up to 12 options you could have a nice balance of 4 costs and 4 bonuses...
  Maybe something like:
1) Tapping someone else's temptation: +Drama -Resolve
2) Failing to tap someone else's temptation: +Drama -Temptation
3) Falling to temptation: +Resolve -Temptation
4) Resisting temptation: +Temptation -Resolve
5) Using a Power:  +Temptation -Drama
6) Using a Skill: +Resources -Temptation
7) Using a connection: +Resources -Resolve
8) Monologuing: +Resolve -Drama
9) Spend a Drama Point: +Resources -Drama
10) Use a Resource: +Drama -Resources
11) Rest: +Resolve -Resources
12) Recreate:  +Temptation -Resources

  That is a little more symmetrical...
  Anyways, glad I could help you get the juices flowing, good luck!
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sean2099
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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2006, 10:17:45 AM »

I like the new matrix but I had a couple of questions.  Have you designed or ran games where four different categories were being manipulated at the same time?  If so, did that slow down the game too much.  I suppose I won't really know until playtesting gets underway...also, am i assuming correctly that you are not allowing players to go into the negative...ie I want use a rating five power but I have only 2 temptation points, therefore I need more temptation or use a lower power rating.   That sounds good to me (make recreation useful at times) but I just wanted to gather more opinions.

Thanks,

sean
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dindenver
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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2006, 07:46:04 AM »

Hi!
  Sorry for the late reply, I replied earlier, but my computer rebooted before I could hit submit, lol
  OK, so, I designed this matrix to interact with a black box for conflict resolution, etc.
  I have played games with multiple pool, and they are fine. But, this matrix could be on the borderline of being "fiddly" hard to tell without playing it.
  I think, I would probably have the cost always be one token, but roll for narrative control based on the level of the power/skill/connection.
  I'm not sure what you want to do when one of these resources hits zero and below. Maybe they lose every conflict until it gets back above zero?
  What are your thoughts?
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sean2099
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2006, 08:30:48 PM »

Just going over all of the material so far...without deleting any ideas yet.

Character Creation:

There are four pools of concern for them.  Drama, Resolve, Resources, and Temptation.

Drama: 
Represents the character's ability to influence the environment.  Any character can attempt to insert a story event by bidding a number of drama points.  The other characters can bid a number of points to either support or veto the event.

(a bit questionable):  Powers are underneath this column.  Players are given ten points to purchase powers.  The cost is (rating * number of descriptors).  Each power must have a minimum of one descriptor and one rating point. 

Resolve:
Allows the character the ability to resist temptation (intra-personal) and pass interpersonal tests. 

Skills/Resources:
Measures the amount of cash, gear, connections and skills a character possesses.  Players have five points to place in eight different skills, four of which are knowledge based skills and four are connection skills.  (Perhaps as an option, players without powers have fifteen skill points)
 
Temptation:
This represents the building tension between the character's selfish motives vs. their selfless motives.  Sometimes, people give into their base desires.  Temptation represents the times where people give in.  It doesn't need to be a bad thing because people learn from their mistake and redouble their efforts.  In addition, temptation is not limited to doing bad things.  It is possible to want to do good things even if it is not in his or hers best interest.

For temptation, the players picks five faults or virtues underneath this column.  The player has twenty five points to assign to these sub-areas.  The number assigned to each fault or virtue refers to how many temptation points the character has to have before others can "appeal" to temptation.

So, looking at the pools and the initial focus on personality, I know I will have to do some editing.  I also thought about what it meant if someone was successful, as if someone used their powers on someone else.  Does the winner get complete narrative control or only drain so much from the pools?  Fixed pools or variable pool generation? I will have to decide some other issues as well. 

With all the rambling, maybe it is best to stand back for a bit and think before diving in deeper.

Thanks,

Sean
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Ken
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« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2006, 04:17:29 AM »

Drama: 
Represents the character's ability to influence the environment.  Any character can attempt to insert a story event by bidding a number of drama points.  The other characters can bid a number of points to either support or veto the event.

(a bit questionable):  Powers are underneath this column.  Players are given ten points to purchase powers.  The cost is (rating * number of descriptors).  Each power must have a minimum of one descriptor and one rating point. 

This is kind of neat, but wouldn't powers get their own category since skills and resources are considered seperate. Or, wouldn't skills/resources be covered under drama as well. I only bring this up, because of the classic comic-book connection between the two (when one has powers they usually have fewer fieldable connections than somebody who gears up to make up for their lack of powers). Though one doesn't always displace the other, it is a common rpg staple that players can cannibalize their potential in one arena to boost their potency in another. (not trying to make your game like everyone elses, just making an observation; also, I know that you're going for a more real super setting, so you can toss the comic comparisions too, if they don't apply).

I kind of like the idea of characters having powers & skill/resources as their specific or primary methods of effecting the world, and drama, resolve, temptation as the more versitile means of driving the scene. A characters powers and skills will always be their powers and skills, but with the other three traits, players can craft some real spontaneous action and effects.

I don't remember seeing any talk about core characterisitcs (which doesn't mean anything). I like the idea of not making a big deal about being normal and using drama to power normal everyday task attemtps (if you really want them to succeed).

Like where this is going, great stuff,

Ken
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sean2099
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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2006, 07:30:11 AM »

Hi Ken (and everyone else),

I haven't talked about core characteristics at this point.  This isn't a comment toward you or anything but I have asked myself questions like "What would adding attributes (as in classic D&D for instance) contribute to the game?"  Right now, I can't see the benefit in doing so.  I have different reasons for saying this. 

First, if I have four columns, one labeled temptation, one resolve, one resources, and one drama.  With the temptation column, I have personality traits underneath it.  I do not have anything listed under resolve but in a sense, it is willpower, perservance and additional traits. 

Drama has powers listed underneath it.  Powers are a "fantastic" way for the player to influence the environment.  Skills/Resources are a "mundane" way to do so.  Neither method is better than the other but one is more realistic than the other.

Resources have skills...btw skills are either what you know or who you know.  I am thinking...well if someone cares about being considered strong, smart or whatever...they will pick skills where these attributes come into play.  Drama has powers listed underneath it, which means if the player really wants to be strong...they can pick super-strength or some other power that illustrates this feature of their character. 

Each category is trying to tell the player you can add to the story in these different ways.  (Oh, I listed powers and such underneath the columns in an attempt to connect them to the matrix Dave (dindeaver) came up with.)   Anyway, while I am looking at a somewhat realistic setting, I am not after the level of detail attributes seem to apply.  As an example, if I had a strength of nine, I can lift X number of pounds or kilograms.  If I have a strength of ten, I can lift X more pounds and receive some sort of bonus (which is okay but not what I am after.) 

I know I am rambling at this point but when I thought about the character sheet, I wanted to emphasize what was extraordinary about the character, not the mundane.  Even with skills and such, I am imagining some potential for backstory.  For instance my character has vocation (accounting) 3 and vocation (mechanic) 2.  At that point, I could my character coming from a blue-collar background, going to college and gaining a white collar job.  Then, you could ask questions like does he or she fit with co-workers?  Does he or she deny her past?  etc. 

That character would know other things of course but they are not defined by them to the degree that the two mentioned skills define them. 

As for being normal, they are extraordinary in their own way.  Of course, without powers, they would need some sort of compensation.  Of course, it probably goes without saying that not all normals get this compensation but players are a special breed in the world...which a lot of RPGs imply as well.  (I am thinking about TV and movies where they are an equal partner or are heroes in their own right.)  They could fit into the themes "Power and Responsibility" and "You pay for everything that you do."  The second relates to the mechanic of narrating the effects of the story, power usage, etc.

Enough rambling for now...must come with complete narration mechanic.

Thanks,

Sean
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dindenver
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« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2006, 09:32:35 AM »

Hi!
  I vote for separating Drama, Powers, Resources, Skills and Connections. I sort of see Drama as a meta-mechanic, meaning When you use Drama, stuff just happens. Its more of influencing the Story then the environment. You're right, Powers are a reflection of effecting the Environment. I see Resources as a meta-mechanic as well, spend a Resource and get "stuff." While skills effect other characters and resources.
  But, I can see where you are going with the other direction and maybe you should put some "virtues" or some other traits under Resolve to show how equally important Resolve is to the characters makeup?
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sean2099
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« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2006, 05:08:09 PM »

So far, the discussion has looked at skills.  The previous couple of statements on my part were an attempt integrate the material and secondly, for character sheet design.

Name:
Age:
Hometown:
Occupation:
Physical Description:
Personality Quirks:

Pools:

Drama          Resolve               Resources                   Temptation
List powers       (future category?) List skills/connections  Personality Traits

Underneath lists...

1) Tapping someone else's temptation: +Drama -Resolve
2) Failing to tap someone else's temptation: +Drama -Temptation
3) Falling to temptation: +Resolve -Temptation
4) Resisting temptation: +Temptation -Resolve
5) Using a Power:  +Temptation -Drama
6) Using a Skill: +Resources -Temptation
7) Using a connection: +Resources -Resolve
8) Monologuing: +Resolve -Drama
9) Spend a Drama Point: +Resources -Drama
10) Use a Resource: +Drama -Resources
11) Rest: +Resolve -Resources
12) Recreate:  +Temptation -Resources

I strayed a bit from the direct topic due to my musings.  Right now, I am trying to decide on whether or not to introduce some fortune based mechanics into this game.  At the moment, I am trying to see if a karma based system is possible.  It sounds like I will have a bit of work to do.  I might go ahead and split the thread again.
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« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2006, 05:02:00 AM »

I'm really not trying to screw things up here, but I do have sort of a side-ways take on your ideas here. I really don't get the matrix thing, and I'm seeing a sleek and intuitive system partial buried under a more complex way of doing things. Here's what I've got (and I'm coming at it from a character sheet perspective):

Personal Data
Name, Secret ID, Physical details, Story details, Location, Affiliation, anything else pertinent but not needed rule mechanics

Characteristics
Str, End, Dex, Cha, etc. Normal range of stats, if you even have need for such a thing. There will probably be mechanics here, but it really hasn't come up yet. You may decide that the ground level for your game covers the whole range of normal ability. When you're playing with supers, there isn't much difference between humanity's stronger and weakest guy.

Skills
However you want to handle them list-wise. These will be bonus to specific things your character is trying to do. They will be more specific than using a Resource trait, but points may be more tradable with powers.

Powers
Again, more specific than making it a sub-category of Drama, but this way its more of a trait, and its points could be divereted to other things, like skills.

Meta Mechanics
Three traits: Drama, Resolve, Temptation. These are the gears behind the world. Things that characters don't see, but players use to help but their mark on the action during a game. I see powers and skills as traits individual to each character, and these characteristics as switches used by players to make the game go their way.

I see your core stats, skills, and powers as the basics for getting things done, with the option of spending resolve and drama to get things done. You could also invoke your opponents temptation to better your chances of success.Opponents probably also counter in similar fashion. Relying on their main traits first, and then using resolve, drama, or invoking the attacker's temptation to defend.

A while back, there was a brilliant article on how the evolution of a game makes some of the basic principles the game was built on obsolete. Unfortunately, I don't remember who wrote it or how to find it; maybe someone else here can help with that. While I'm not suggesting that this is whats happening here, I'm just trying to share the logic that I use when thinking about this wonderful game your building.

I sincerely hope this helps,

Ken

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dindenver
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« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2006, 01:14:39 PM »

Hi!
  The whole point of the matrix was to create a situation where there was no "optimal path." In the original mechanics submitted by Sean, nearly everyone picked up on the fact that the ideal strategy was to use a bunch of powers then face your foe. So, I suggested a mechanic where each of the key activities had a bonus and a penalty and in that way, there was not an ideal path. Of course, we do want to reward certain behaviors, but I don't think it should be using you superpower...
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sean2099
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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2006, 10:02:42 AM »

Hi all,

After this reply, I am going to make a new thread where we can hash out some different issues.  I believe we have expanded the topic within this thread to the limit.

I do agree with Ken in terms of redesigning the character sheet but I am not dismissing the matrix at this point.  David did bring up a good point but I need to clarify it a bit.  The original problem came from the personality area.  The ability to invoke temptation became as good (indeed more powerful way) to deal with enemies instead of other methods. 

I want to explore the character sheet and look at issues such as natural attributes or other finishing touches.  Then, core mechanics and playtesting.  I believe we are coming to a point where playing the game will have to be done in order to go further.

Sean
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