Rethinking Athletics Specialties

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Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Master_of_Ritual » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:53 am

At first I liked the simplicity of Athletics specialties. They are easy to remember since they match characteristics, and there are only three of them which makes them broadly useful.

But the more I interacted with Athletics and its specialties the less I liked them. Conceptually they don't make a lot of sense to me--they don't fit the categories of athletic pursuit that people actually learn. They also seem lopsided, with the Dexterity version being the obviously superior one--a lopsidedness that directly duplicates the lopsidedness of the physical characteristics themselves. So I came up with an alternate set of specialties. They are seven instead of three, which could be either nerfed or more balanced depending on your perspective. They describe more specific kinds of tasks, yet have flexibility as to which characteristics they are paired with depending on the situation.

-Maneuver: Dodging, crawling, very short dashes, clearing minor obstacles. Typically used in combat.
-Climb: Climbing sloped, vertical, or overhanging surfaces. Can be DEX or STR, occasionally END.
-Run: Running--and also hiking and jumping. Sprints are DEX or STR, long distance is END.
-Swim: Includes both swimming and diving. As with Run, long distance is END.
-Float: Microgravity maneuvers. Used to determine maximum DM in microgravity, as well as pre-adjustment low-G penalties.
-Throw: Thowing objects of all shapes and sizes. Thowing heavier or farther tends toward STR.
-Footcraft: Using skates, skateboards, scooters, and their motorized and hover variants. Because if Traveller needed anything, it was more vehicle skills. :P

Lifting things and doing things in high gravity would just use the STR characteristic with no associated skill.

I'm mainly looking for these types of feedback:
-Arguments about how this could be too nerfed, or otherwise less good than the rules as written.
-Suggestions on keeping the modified rules but adjusting them to be better.
-Also let me know if you like the idea.
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Linwood » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:05 pm

This sort of takes back to older Traveller editions, which had things like Zero-G skill.

I don't know that there's anything wrong with the categories you've laid out. You might want to consider how they reduce the power of any skill points spent here. Consider - a skill point applied to Climb only helps the character when he/she is climbing. A skill point spent on Strength helps any time Athletics (strength) could be applied.

You may also consider including Profession in this. If you allow, say, Profession/Sports (gymnastics) (I'm riffing from the Traveller Companion if this looks unfamiliar), you could rule that applies to taking evasive action (what you've defined as Maneuvers). Profession/Spacer might cover your Float. Etc, etc, etc.
Old School
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Old School » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:51 pm

The only real argument I see against this - and it's a good one for game playing purposes - is skill specialization bloat. Perhaps it allows for specialization to match the campaign type, but there's potential for skills to be selected that never get used. Realistic doesn't always translate to a good game play experience, which is why I'd be very reluctant to use this instead of the RAW.

Within your system, the "footcraft" specialization seems overly specific. Perhaps a skill representing overall balance/coordination would be better, and at least somewhat realistic.
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Master_of_Ritual » Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:37 pm

You guys have a good point about specialization bloat. I still go back and forth as to whether to implement this. One thing I was thinking of doing anyway is making Athletics much more available (since my setting doesn't have reliable artificial gravity) which would make it easier to get more specialties.

@Old School - Yeah, I was wondering how best to integrate balancing into this list. Your idea of just making it its own specialty is a good one. That could cover some gymnastics-type stuff as per what @Linwood brought up. The reason I had made Footcraft so narrow was that I was thinking of it as a vehicle type, but thinking of it in terms of physical balance might make more sense.
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Garran » Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:29 pm

Given the serious impact on the skill's utility by making it over-specialized, if you're bothered by the lack of ''sport-specific' options, I'd suggest simply allowing the player to pick one such thing to get an extra +1 on (as long as it's at least vaguely related to the stat). Maybe one thing per rank (no stacking on the same one, though).
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Condottiere » Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:17 pm

Practice. Practice. And more practice.

You could simplify it that as long as the character spends a certain amount of time per week perfecting technique, they get bonuses specific to whatever characteristic the sport or specific manoeuvre optimally applies.

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