Rethinking Athletics Specialties

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Master_of_Ritual
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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.
Linwood
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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.
Master_of_Ritual
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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).
Condottiere
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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.
arcador
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby arcador » Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:08 am

The current state is that they're not even.

(Dex) is superior - no questions. Defenses, Throwing, Sprinting, ZeroG, Flying + other evasion checks.
(STR) is subpar - I've used it only once or twice in hundreds of sessions. I think it grants a bit of KG for encumbrance.
(END) is subpar - I've never used it. Perhaps it can be used when the game prompts regular END checks. In this case, it can work as some sort of resilience.

An alternative is to have a single Athletics skill, without specializations, and use whatever stat is required. It won't become overpowered, since (DEX) takes 99% of the use cases.
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:31 pm

arcador wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:08 am
An alternative is to have a single Athletics skill, without specializations, and use whatever stat is required. It won't become overpowered, since (DEX) takes 99% of the use cases.
Hmm... good idea, I like it! Although I understand why it’s split into sub-skills today, as you say most of the time DEX is the relevant one (and gun combat was IMHO made better by removing a couple sub-specs).

I mean, it is possible to be strong without being agile, or being a good pitcher but unable to run a marathon, but for simplicity’s sake, why not?
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Linwood » Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:47 pm

arcador wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:08 am
The current state is that they're not even.

(Dex) is superior - no questions. Defenses, Throwing, Sprinting, ZeroG, Flying + other evasion checks.
(STR) is subpar - I've used it only once or twice in hundreds of sessions. I think it grants a bit of KG for encumbrance.
(END) is subpar - I've never used it. Perhaps it can be used when the game prompts regular END checks. In this case, it can work as some sort of resilience.

An alternative is to have a single Athletics skill, without specializations, and use whatever stat is required. It won't become overpowered, since (DEX) takes 99% of the use cases.
Per RAW, Athletics (STR) also allows a character to acclimatize automatically to high-gravity environments.

Beyond that, I think how much Athletics (STR) and (END) checks come up is largely a reflection of the types of challenges provided by the campaign, much like the use of skills like Art or Profession. There's nothing to prevent a GM from allowing an Athletics (END) check to resist the results of fatigue (for example). One might also use Athletics (STR) or (END) in a task chain requiring lots of physical activity or extended mental concentration.

Then again, there's nothing stopping you from using Athletics with no specialties if you choose. I agree that going that route doesn't make the skill overpowered.
arcador
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby arcador » Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:02 am

Linwood wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:47 pm
arcador wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:08 am
...
Per RAW, Athletics (STR) also allows a character to acclimatize automatically to high-gravity environments.

Beyond that, I think how much Athletics (STR) and (END) checks come up is largely a reflection of the types of challenges provided by the campaign, much like the use of skills like Art or Profession. There's nothing to prevent a GM from allowing an Athletics (END) check to resist the results of fatigue (for example). One might also use Athletics (STR) or (END) in a task chain requiring lots of physical activity or extended mental concentration.

Then again, there's nothing stopping you from using Athletics with no specialties if you choose. I agree that going that route doesn't make the skill overpowered.
Yes, of course. But that is a major element for every aspect of the game. Personally, I don't have an issue with this as a Ref - Traveller is that type of game - some skills will be prompted little, some - a lot. I've observed my players - they never took any Athletics different than Dex. Only mentioning that since when they get to point 1 - they have to pick a specialization.

Yet, even if Ref does not modify favorably to the A(STR/END), the rules themselves prompt A(DEX) a lot of times. But maybe that is the way, realistically - speed and coordination will serve better than physical power.

As a side note, I think several examples can go towards other stats - swimming towards STR, perhaps even climbing in some cases. Sprinting can also go towards STR, while long-distance effort remains in END.
Annatar Giftbringer
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:08 am

While not mentioned in the rules A(Str) (or perhaps A(end)?) could perhaps be used in melee, e.g to further increase the number of attacks before fatigue sets in, or to offer a chance to negate the fatigue bane when it does kick in..? Or to add both your Str modifier and your A(str) to melee damage?

Just tossing out silly ideas
Linwood
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Linwood » Tue Oct 20, 2020 2:59 pm

Annatar Giftbringer wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:08 am
While not mentioned in the rules A(Str) (or perhaps A(end)?) could perhaps be used in melee, e.g to further increase the number of attacks before fatigue sets in, or to offer a chance to negate the fatigue bane when it does kick in..? Or to add both your Str modifier and your A(str) to melee damage?

Just tossing out silly ideas
Adding Athletics (STR) to Grappling damage certainly makes sense. I’d also consider that for certain combat maneuvers where you’re trying to manipulate your environment - trying to hold a door closed while someone/something is forcing it open, pushing an obstacle (table/barrel/large cactus/ridiculously ugly pointy alien sculpture) into someone’s path, etc..

Using Athletics (END) as you suggest also makes sense. :D
Condottiere
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Condottiere » Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:32 pm

Athletics give one boon per combat session.

Specify physical characteristic to apply, for example strength to break a hold, dexterity to slip out of one, or endurance to outwait the opponent.
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NOLATrav
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby NOLATrav » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:28 am

This is all great stuff to ponder. We’re playing MgT2e but I’ve kept Zero G as a separate skill. That is the one that really tips Dex over the edge into dominance for me. Any career that requires working in space/spaceships, I let the player chose a skill or three in the char gen tables to replace with ZeroG before rolling Term 1, plus a couple IMTU Basic Training slots. Gives them a little authorship in terms of the character they want to play and knocks Dex down a notch in the Ath(x) considerations.
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Re: Rethinking Athletics Specialties

Postby Condottiere » Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:09 pm

Image

It's a life style.


Also, diving experience should be equivalent in the short term.

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