Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:29 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 6:05 pm
ShawnDriscoll wrote: Those games with lots of die rolls had no role-play.
That is quite a silly statement.

You may prefer completely narrative games, but that does not make dice rolls incompatible with role-play.
Show me a game session on YouTube that has lots of die rolls and that has role-play. Maybe you figured out how to do it and have a YouTube channel full of such example videos.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:52 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote: Show me a game session on YouTube that has lots of die rolls and that has role-play.
Why would I care about YouTube, role-playing is about the group, not others.

Watching others play is just boring.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby Condottiere » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:58 pm

You have to find a balance between narrative and randomization of problem solving, otherwise you might as well be reading from a novel.

As regards to extraneous skills or knowledge, a dungeon master can always find a way to allow them to become useful at interesting moments, or a canny player could do so.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby RogerMc » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:58 pm

Welf wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 7:59 pm
A great example is the german rpg "Das schwarze Auge" ("the dark eye") that allows you to have skills like "mathematics", "agriculture", "cartography" or "carpenter". They are great skills to give your character some kind of background but you are playing a hero in a fantasy world. Your typical adventures send you into dark caverns to fight orks and monsters. You normally won't have to do complicated calculations, you won't be sowing or harvesting crops, you most likely won't start drawing maps of the world and it is highly unlikely you will be taking part in building a house.
A nice game master might try to somehow give you a few chances to use those skills - it might even be possible to create some kind of plot involving those skills. But overall it is extremely difficult to effectively use those skills. Why? Because in the type of game you are playing those skills are just not important.
Therefore a game should only include skills that are actually helpful or it should clearly differentiate between skills you use regularly and skills that are more or less fluff.
Couldn't disagree more.

A good GM would punish you for this by stranding you on a planet where your PC's ability to draw an accurate map, harvest crops and build a house is the only thing between him and a lonely death.

And does anyone really run Traveller as Mercenary Munchkin Murder Hobos in Space?
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby RogerMc » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:06 pm

On that false roll play vs role play dichotomy you roll a hell of a lot of dice in to get anything done in Warhammer and in Runequest and in Call of Cthulhu - and yet it is those very games that broke with the D&D go from room to room killing monsters and taking their stuff model and had campaigns where you played boatmen and bronze age farmers and elderly professors researching ancient texts in libraries.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby RogerMc » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:19 pm

And back to the OP you really don't need a whole GURPS-like points buy system in a game where characters are defined as simply as they are in Traveller.

You simply ask your GM if he'll let you assign values to your characteristics within a particular set of limits and to let you pick your skills again within a particular set of limits.

'You can have any characteristics you like as long as none are under 2 or over 12 and their total is no more than 45 - and you can have 12 skill points as long as none are higher than skill-4, plus you get 0-level in 6 other skills'

Done - and without a single die roll or any maths you need a calculator for.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby RogerMc » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:31 pm

Also remember science and art and performer and profession skills are very open-ended - you just have to have a character who is an opera singing courtesan with a doctorate in xenoarchaeology you just write Performer (opera singer), Profession (courtesan) and Science (xenoarcheaology) down between those three sets of brackets.
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Apr 04, 2018 1:00 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:52 pm
ShawnDriscoll wrote: Show me a game session on YouTube that has lots of die rolls and that has role-play.
Why would I care about YouTube, role-playing is about the group, not others.

Watching others play is just boring.
True. Boring game sessions are not worth watching. Especially when there is no role-playing at the table.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby Welf » Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:05 pm

RogerMc wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:58 pm
Couldn't disagree more.

A good GM would punish you for this by stranding you on a planet where your PC's ability to draw an accurate map, harvest crops and build a house is the only thing between him and a lonely death.

And does anyone really run Traveller as Mercenary Munchkin Murder Hobos in Space?
First of all: The GM you are talking about is a lot, but no good GM. If there are obvious differences between my idea of the game and the idea of the GM, what should happen is a clear discussion about our expectations. If we want to play different types of games and can't agree on a way to play, we just shouldn't be playing together. Punishment in a pen and paper game only leads to frustration - on both sides.

Secondly: Every game has some general idea on what is supposed to be played. And based on this general idea the rules are written. Traveller is written to allow you to play in space, using spaceships and involves combat and trade in some way or the other. Does this mean you have to use this? No, you can clearly deviate from this general idea and clearly should, if you want to do that. Nonetheless most people would pick Traveller if they want to play something in space and another ruleset if they wanted to play some kind of fantasy game.
Therefore you would not expect the game to have detailed rules on agriculture, carpentry or cartography, but instead rules for combat, spaceships and trade between the stars. If you want to focus on agriculture, carpentry or cartography you would either homebrew some rules for this or look for a ruleset that is written to play farmers, carpenters or cartographs (or you might just not use any rules for this at all).
And if you want to play a game about space exploration and space combat, who would benefit from detailed rules on farming, carpentry or cartography? Of course there is always the possibility a situation arises that needs expertise in this kind of skill.

But don't get me wrong: I personally prefer games with a lot of those "side-skills" and personally think Traveller could use a lot more of those. But there should be some way to differentiate between those "main-skills" and "side-skills". Skills you use very often in your type of game and those that might come in handy once in a few years. For example the game mentioned by me before (Das schwarze Auge/The dark eye) uses different experience costs to improve skills. An adventurer killing monsters and stuff in a medieval-fantasy setting might not use agriculture that often? The writers made increasing the agriculture skill much cheaper than increasing skills you would expect an adventurer in their game to use very often (like fighting or magical skills).

More skills to allow more depth of the character? Yes, please! But not all skills are worth the same in every type of game. But the Traveller rules don't differentiate.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby RogerMc » Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:24 pm

But Traveller does privilege those skills that are useful for fighting and trading in space.

Unless you go out of your way to play a Citizen and take 'useless' skills you very probably won't have any.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby RogerMc » Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:34 pm

And of course I don't really mean punish but rather 'hey those skills you keep saying are useless? here's a scenario where they save your life'.

And an SF game can and should include scenarios where you have to battle against extreme environments.

MGT2 has for instance High and Dry where nobody fires a shot and your battle is with a mountain.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby arcador » Wed Apr 04, 2018 4:08 pm

When a skill is rarely used, due to similar reasons as the posts above, I tend to give a significant advantage when using those, where it makes sense.

By an advantage, I mean giving valuable information or/and bonus DM for specific skill checks which may follow, related to that information.

edit: in Traveller I often witness the players trying to improvise using the skills they have, which is something I like. I haven't seen it that much in other RPGs. A good GM encourages such improvisations (within reason). I had a character with Profession (construction) and was always asking when we encountered a space station, starport, or other construction in this regard. We often got (considering I didn't fail the check severely) useful info about the possible components, disadvantages/advantages, secret compartments and etc, fitting the context we were asking about. It does make the player feel useful.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby Linwood » Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:00 pm

I’ve essentially built a campaign around Profession (orbital construction). The players knew that going in and created appropriate characters. It’s worked out very well so far....
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby NOLATrav » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:53 pm

Spica Publishing did a series of three Career Books for MgT 1e that were almost entirely Citizen-type careers: starport authority, politician, orbital search & rescue, athlete, etc etc. They were excellent for creating characters that had a different scope and feel and especially good for NPCs. I still use them with 2e without having to change anything. They are excellent resources and make a lot of use of "useless" skills.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby steve98052 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:53 pm

I generated a bunch of characters for a short-run game, and I used the written rules, except that I rolled a skill die and then chose the category. I fudged a few of the life incident rolls too, where the results would have been boring (repeats of the same number, where I couldn't think of distinct examples that satisfied the same description), and a few mishaps that seemed like a poor fit for a character. That's a workable adjustment for players rolls too.

A points system that could be used would be to grant a player a certain number of fudge factor points to override rolls in the table, maybe just enough to get one very rare outcome at the expense of all of the points, or a lot of small fudge factors, all to reflect the idea that characters' life paths are a mix of chance and their own choices.

Another possible adjustment to the standard system would be similar to the dedication rol usedl in some character advancement rule systems. Roll poorly, and you get the rules as written, or maybe even a roll on a "useless" skill table. Roll adequately, and get a small fudge factor, like picking which skill table to use after rolling a die, or getting a boost to the survival or promotion roll. Roll well, and you get a bigger bonus, like picking a skill, automatic promotion, or re-rolling a mishap. Roll spectacularly, and pick a rare outcome, like the psionic training on the life events chart.

Another possibility might be to do a straight points system, with a discount for "useless" skills.

Of course, "useless" skills aren't necessarily useless. Imagine a mercenary ticket to defeat an insurgency, where the party prevails not by fighting, but by persuading a faction on insurgents that they can accomplish their goals by adopting the agricultural practices that the party's spy learned during his undercover term as a colonist. Or the Ancient artifact discovered by the Marine who studied art history in the academy, and recognized a painting of a temple as a structure likely built by Ancients.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:07 am

steve98052 wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:53 pm
I generated a bunch of characters for a short-run game, and I used the written rules, except that I rolled a skill die and then chose the category. I fudged a few of the life incident rolls too, where the results would have been boring (repeats of the same number, where I couldn't think of distinct examples that satisfied the same description), and a few mishaps that seemed like a poor fit for a character. That's a workable adjustment for players rolls too.
My generator has an AI that decides what chart to use, then rolls. No fudging is allowed.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby Condottiere » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:09 am

How to deal with an insurgency at any point, tends to be a top down political decision.

If they send in troops with a clear directive, that decision has been made, at least until circumstances change.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby steve98052 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:10 pm

Condottiere wrote:
Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:09 am
How to deal with an insurgency at any point, tends to be a top down political decision.
. . .
OK, assume that the political decision is to pacify the insurgency by sending in an agriculture professor, and keeping the mercenaries on security detail until the professor has had time to persuade the community behind the insurgents that there's a better way. That political decision isn't something that I can see coming from a lot of real world politicians, but an Imperial baron stuck ruling a world with a difficult populace might have different ideas, particularly if that makes a good adventure for player characters.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby Condottiere » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:32 pm

It's up to a Dungeon Master to spell out the particulars of any scenario.

Generally speaking, the military and police are overheads, whether you use them or not, whereas mercenaries tend to be highly paid specialists, where results are expected within a certain time frame.

Security missions are mercenary tickets, but these tend to spell out exactly what is expected of them; mission creep tends to require renegotiation.

The science fiction mercenary trope tends to make them off worlders, which if they aren't hired in the closest tavern from StarTown, means they were contracted some parsecs away, bonded, and expensive.
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Re: Arguments for & against point-buy chargen

Postby Nobby-W » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:40 am

I've done hybrid systems on a few occasions. If you take the CT Book 1 character generation system (or any of its variants in other editions) you can make some modifications along the lines of:
  • Allow the player to select one of the service skills per term from any table they have access to.
  • Add a background skills section where the character gets two or three skill levels in skills the player selects (and can make a sensible back story for).
  • Frig the mustering out benefits, and replace Low passages with a skill-1 where the character gets a skill of the player's choice.
  • On the automatic skills for each service, give the player a choice amongst 2-5 different skills.
  • Various alternate dice mechanics allowing the character to swap around characteristics. Some examples include: D&D style 3D6, keep best two, roll two or three sets and pick the best, allowing the player to move around one die between each stat roll.
Some combination of these rules gives the player a degree agency in determining the character but still retains a degree of randomness.

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