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Author Topic: [TSOY] Goblin Adaptability has never quite sat right with me  (Read 5822 times)
shadowcourt
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Posts: 153


« on: July 03, 2007, 07:12:59 PM »

This was inspired by a comment I made on another threat about how abilities never really require Secrets to perform as written-- the assumption being that you don't have to buy a Secret of Owning a Sword to use your Dueling ability, or pay for carpentry tools with a Secret if you have the Rough Crafts ability. The assumption, at least as it was always taught to me, was that having the ability meant having the appropriate means to use it.

In which case, I've always thought the goblin species ability of Adaptability is a bit of an oddball. I can't think of any other ability that doesn't really do anything without a Secret-- Past-Lives and Litter-Bond certainly have their non-Secret-dependant uses, as does every Open or Cultural Ability I can think of.

How do the rest of you folks use this ability? Its true that its linked to some of the powerful Secrets in the game, though I think Past-Lives still provides fun straight-usage effects and is linked to exciting and powerful options like Secret of the Polymath. Do any of you players or Storyguides ever just do straight Adaptability checks, and if so, what for? I can think of some possibilities if I stretch it a little, but the creative stew of this board is always so exciting I wanted to see what other suggestions were floating around out there.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2007, 07:31:46 AM »

This was inspired by a comment I made on another threat about how abilities never really require Secrets to perform as written-- the assumption being that you don't have to buy a Secret of Owning a Sword to use your Dueling ability, or pay for carpentry tools with a Secret if you have the Rough Crafts ability. The assumption, at least as it was always taught to me, was that having the ability meant having the appropriate means to use it.

As I said in the other thread, this is not quite the way I do it. In my games, whether a character has the tools for the use of an Ability is a case-by-case thing, depending on the setting, the situation, the character and group concensus. For example, if my character was a mighty barbarian warlord who lives or dies by the sword, it would be most reasonable to assume that he'd have his sword available almost always. However, how about if he lived in a setting where swords were made of moonlight, and dissolved at dawn, only to be remade by druids each night? Would it be so self-evident then? Or what if my warlord went into a bathhouse, where, according to local tradition, you leave your weapons outside? Would he have his sword then?

On the other hand, if my warlord had the following Secret, I could reasonably say that he will always have his sword with him:

Secret of Sword-with-me
The character's sword is such an iconic part of him that he will never be separated from it. Enemies will never think to disarm him, he never forgets it and nobody dares to require him to disarm, such is the fated pairing of this man and his blade.

So it's a stupid Secret, but it's rules-legal and conseivable, too. Just like McGuyver is never just shot, but rather imprisoned somewhere with convenient access to gardening tools, this guy is never left without his sword.

The above demonstrates how the default state in my games is that a character has the tools for using his Abilities if and only if the fiction allows such; a player wanting to secure the tools as an integral part of his character will have to pay for it. This holds true whether the tool in question is a sword or an army (rather appropriate for an Ability like Strategy(R)); just like I wouldn't always presume that the general has an army in his back pocket, I wouldn't presume that the warrior has a sword. The latter is only more likely by the virtue of the nature of the setting, not because of some universal guidelines.

Quote
In which case, I've always thought the goblin species ability of Adaptability is a bit of an oddball. I can't think of any other ability that doesn't really do anything without a Secret-- Past-Lives and Litter-Bond certainly have their non-Secret-dependant uses, as does every Open or Cultural Ability I can think of.

I, on the other hand, have plenty of Abilities in my home games that go over that boundary. So I at least don't seem to find this particular feature that noteworthy. To the contrary, requiring a Secret to get an Ability is one of the simplest ways of balancing a bit too awesome an Ability relative to other material in the game.

That being said, the Finnish version is pretty clear on my preference in this matter: Adaptation can, and should be used even without the Secret in any situation where the uniquely adaptable nature of the goblin would be useful. For example, these are all situations where I'd use Adaptation without the Secret:
- The character moves to live among a new culture. Will he fit in?
- The character has to go through a hole that is just too small for him. Will he fit through?
- An Ammenite is sculpting the character into a look-alike of his dead sister. Will he take to the mold, or die from the trauma?

Basically, you use Adaptation just like you'd use it with the Secret. You just don't get any special mechanical benefit out of it, as those benefits are part of the Secret, not the Ability. It's up to the group to decide how radically the goblin might change via Adaptation-without-Secret; one could interpret that the goblin could change very radically, while another might think that only small and superficial changes would be possible without the Secret. Personally, I lean towards the former, but even when playing with the latter assumption (which might be appropriate if you're annoyed by the gum-ball nature of the goblins and want to downplay it), I'd allow the use of Adaptation for bonus dice in any of the above scenarios.
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Ludanto
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2007, 09:35:34 AM »

Admittedly, Adaptability doesn't fit the "pattern" of the other abilities, but it's not like you're forced to spend any advances on it.  That's pretty much all I had to say.
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