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Author Topic: Spiritual Attributes as Degree of Commitment [house rules]  (Read 949 times)
Pyske
Member

Posts: 30


« on: January 29, 2004, 04:28:51 PM »

Inspired by the New (very negative) review of THE RIDDLE OF STEEL thread, where the topic of using Spiritual Attributes as measures of a person's spiritual commitment or development has come up.

One point of discussion has been that since SAs can be spent down, they don't provide a good meter for how stongly a person is affected by a given passion or drive at any time except the given moment.

One option in this regard would be to create a house rule "floor" to the value of the SA when spending.  This would represent the degree to which the spiritual attributes matter to the PC in the long term.

A couple thoughts on this rule:

PCs gain SAs as normal, but these SA points are temporary.  At the end of the story, any SA points over the "permanent" SA score are converted into experience points.  Experience points can be spent as normal SAs would be.

The time period for SA -> XP conversion may need to vary depending on what "triggered" the SA, and whether the PC is still in that situation.

There will probably need to be a mechanic for adjusting the permanent scores, but this may be as simple as buying up the stat with XP.  (One alternative might be to only allow XP converted from the given SA to advance it, but that requires slightly more bookkeeping.)

We will probably also want to give players the option of "selling off" permanent points as well, to reflect changing priorities.

The advantages: permanent attributes can now become more fixed, testable values and serve as greater indication to the Seneschal how much priority the player puts on the SA.

The disadvantages:   Raising attributes becomes easier, as there is less immediate cost.  There are likely to be some odd effects around the SA maximums.

Can anyone else see any potential problems with this house rule?  Do you think it would add to or detract from the play experience?

 . . . . . . . -- Eric
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(Real Name: Eric H)
Ian.Plumb
Member

Posts: 141


« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2004, 07:22:08 PM »

Hi,

Quote from: Pyske
Inspired by the New (very negative) review of THE RIDDLE OF STEEL thread, where the topic of using Spiritual Attributes as measures of a person's spiritual commitment or development has come up.

One point of discussion has been that since SAs can be spent down, they don't provide a good meter for how stongly a person is affected by a given passion or drive at any time except the given moment.


Here are the situations I want the SAs to model:

1) When my character performs an action that is directly linked to a narrowly defined SA they receive extra dice for the roll. This reflects the fact that the character tries harder when the matter relates to something that they care about.

2) An SA with a value of 0 is inherently less important to the character than an SA with a value of 5. This reflects the fact that individuals place priorities on their goals.

3) When the character has risked or sacrificed something in the pursuit of their SA, that SA should have the potential to increase. This reflects the fact that the character's actions have demonstrated that the goal is increasing in importance to them.

4) When the character chooses to ignore an opportunity to pursue a goal, the SA should have the potential to decrease. This reflects the fact that the character's own actions indicate that the SA is losing its importance. This is not a punishment -- it is simply an indicator of changing priorities.

5) SAs cannot be redefined on the whim of the player. This reflects the fact that the SAs are at the core of the character and are not easily dropped or undone. The characters are not that shallow.

To this I would add:

1) From a simulationist perspective I would only allow up to two SAs to contribute dice to any particular roll. The idea that a character could have negligible skill in something yet roll 30d10 (or whatever) because they really, really, really care about the result doesn't work for me.

2) I would use a sliding scale for SA adjustment.

If a character has a value of 4 in an SA then this should indicate that the pursuit of that goal is at the very core of their being and that this has been demonstrated over and over again throughout their lives. To get to a level of 5 requires a huge sacrifice or risk. On the other hand, dropping down to 3 is easier.

If a character has a value of 1 in an SA then it should be easy to get to level 2 -- a reasonable risk or a series of minor sacrifices made in the pursuit of the goal. On the other hand, returning to 0 would require repeatedly ignoring opportunities to pusue the goal or voluntarily stating that the goal was unimportant.

3) I would only allow a character to have one SA with a value of 5 and one with a value of 4. If the character wanted to raise an SA of 4 to 5 then if they already had an SA of 5 it would have to be dropped back to 4 at the same time.

While SAs are linked to character development none of these things can be modelled by the SAs, let alone the goal of producing testable spiritual attributes.

In terms of minimal modification to the system I would rename the Spiritual Attributes as Core Values. I would create a new category of Spiritual Attributes and create four spiritual attributes (say Compassion, Faith, Justice, and Wisdom). These spiritual attributes would behave in the same manner as the PAs and MAs; developed through the newly re-named CVs. This would give you testable spiritual attributes, provide a framework for spiritual development and spiritual conflict, and yet leave the Core Value concept and mechanics intact.

If you wanted to take the next step and be able to model the situations described above then you would need to redo the character development system, removing the link between CV development and the trade-off mechanism used to develop the other attributes. That would be a big change.

Cheers,
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Pyske
Member

Posts: 30


« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2004, 07:45:21 AM »

Quote from: Ian.Plumb
While SAs are linked to character development none of these things can be modelled by the SAs, let alone the goal of producing testable spiritual attributes.


I understood all your requirements above, but I didn't follow why you don't feel the system above satisfies them.  Let's assume we track where XP comes from, and only that XP can be used to increase an ability.  

As far as I can tell, 1, 3, & 4 are inherent to SAs as already defined.  The house rule covers 2, 5, & 7.  6 & 8 sound like separate house rules, but you stated them pretty explicitly in that format (plus, the standard system would discourage having an SA at 5 because one does not gain experience from that SA).

 . . . . . . . -- Eric
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(Real Name: Eric H)
Ian.Plumb
Member

Posts: 141


« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2004, 06:34:34 PM »

Hi,

To summarize what I understand about your suggestion:

Each SA is allocated a permanent yet modifiable minimum value. How this value is set is not specified. How this value is modified is not specified.

SA points gained during play are temporary. At the end of the story they are converted to XP. Whether "story" equates to a gaming session, scenario, or campaign is unclear. Whether XP are pooled or must be spent immediately upon conversion is not specified.

Against this suggestion you've made some observations:

1) The Temporary SA point to XP point conversion process may need to take a variable amount of time depending on whether the PC is still in the situation that triggered the SA.

This concern doesn't make sense to me as you've already specified that Temporary SA point to XP point conversion takes place at the end of the "story". It would seem likely, as the "story" has ended, that the characters are no longer actively engaged in tactical-level activity at this point.

2) The SAs require a mechanism for adjusting their permanent values. The standard attribute modification mechanism is recommended.

For an attribute to be raised from a value of 4 to a value of 5 requires 7 points. Under this proposal, 7 XP points would need to be spent to raise the SA from 4 to 5. Lets assume for a moment that the character has 3 SAs at 5 and 2 SAs at 4. The character can, at best, acquire 2 Temporary SA Points per "story".

There are two possibilities here. Either the SA can't be raised from 4 to 5 as the XP must be spent as soon as converted at the end of the "story" and the character cannot obtain 7 XP points. Or, the character is permitted to pool XP points over a number of stories in which case they could be slowly accumulated and eventually spent to raise the SA from 4 to 5.

If the character is permitted to pool XP points under this proposal then a fundamental limitation of the system has been removed and will unbalance the character advancement system. Currently, the system is based on the idea that the character has 5 SAs which range in value from 0 to 5. Thus, at most, 25 points are available for conversion into Attributes at any time (and typically far less). This inherent limitation is the basis for the values in Table 3.6 Raising Attributes. Permit XP point pooling and the cost to raise attributes will need to be reworked.

As I see it, the overall system would place an emphasis on having SAs at 0 or 1 as it is those SAs that permit the accumulation of the most Temporary SA points during a "story", and thus provide the most scope for XP conversion and future attribute/proficiency raising. This SAs with the highest permanent values offer the least scope for character advancement.  This seems at odds with the idea that the permanent SA values represent the character's level of committment to the cause.

XP pooling would need to be capped at 25 with each SA contributing a maximum of 5 points to the pool in order to retain the current game balance. The level of bookkeeping required will disinterest most players when compared with the current system.

Cheers,
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