[Runequest] Quick-and-dirty skill pyramid

Bruce Mason mason.bruce at gmail.com
Tue Nov 19 01:46:52 EST 2013

I suspect most of us have tested out points-based systems before for
RQ/BRP. Ditto advantage/disadvantage. I've personally moved away from them
because it feels like it pushes RQ against the grain. As well there are
also all the usual issues around character optimisation and mini-maxing
that leave me cold. Personally, I would use them in systems built around
them rather than graft them on.

To me, SIZ is the thing that tends to break points-based system. At the low
end SIZ is quite granular but STR is always going to be proportional to
SIZ. in RQ a dark troll is pretty much the same as a human only bigger and
stronger. Stronger as a side-effect of being bigger. This means that you
either "build" them on more points or you have to add a whole bunch of
mandatory disadvantages. In either case a troll then can easily afford to
sacrifice to spend more points on INT & DEX but still end up with the same
STR and SIZ as large, strong human. And if you can use the same points pool
for characteristics as skills you get the issue magnified.

It's not so bad if you separate skill points and characteristic points but
then it tends to become an exercise in spreadsheeting.

For what it's worth,my preferred points based system is actually rather
different and scales with creature size. Note that (nearly) all RQ
characteristics are in the form Xd6+Y and all sapient characters have 7
characteristics. So, what you get is a number of points (lets call it 24)
to spend on characteristics. Each point you spend on a characteristic is
the equivalent of rolling that number on all the d6s. Example
Human is STR 3d6. If you spend two points on STR then that is the
equivalent of 3*2 for a STR of 6. If you spend 4 points on STR it is the
equivalent of 3*4 = 12. Naturally the most you can spend on a
characteristic is 6 points for a total of X*6.

This does mean that each character really only has 6 values for each
characteristic. For a human STR they would be 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18. The
beauty of this is that it immediately scales high values with the same
number of points. So an imaginary Ogre Mage (STR 3D6+12, INT 3D6+6) etc
still spends just 24 points. They get higher average stats than a human but
that's the RQ way. And of course you can set the points total to reflect
the "level" of the campaign.

It works quite neatly. Some people get cognitive dissonance "why does no
human anywhere in the world have a STR of 13?" because they can't separate
out game mechanics from simulation. If you really want to be fine-grained
you could allow people to spend 1/2 point to roll 1d(x-1) and add it to the
total where X is the number of dice rolled for that characteristic - e.g. a
human could spend 4.5 points on STR to have a STR of 12+1d2. You could then
even say that the most you can spend is 6.5 to enable characters to exceed
the usual species maximum.


On 18 November 2013 13:41, Peter Maranci <pmaranci at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks Bruce, I didn't know about RQ6/Legend's smaller skill lists and
> higher base; I've added appropriate caveats to the version I'll eventually
> post on my RQ site.
> At the risk of being told I'm an idiot, let me veer into a more
> speculative realm.
> Building on the skill pyramid character design system, in the past I've
> experimented a little with folding this system in with a characteristic
> point-buying system. In that system, PCs start with all characteristics at
> species average, and can sell or buy characteristic points using the same
> build points that they'd spend on skills (the total number of points being
> increased, of course!). In that case characteristics were tiered in value,
> with Dexterity and Intelligence the most expensive and Size the cheapest
> since both high and low SIZ have benefits and drawbacks.
> Each additional point of characteristic would cost as much as the previous
> point, plus the cost of the initial added point. So Dexterity would cost 10
> points for the first point, 20 for the second, 30 for the third, 40 for the
> fourth, etc. Each point would have to be paid for, so assuming that DEX
> started at 11 (rounding the species average upward) a DEX of 18 would cost
> 280 skill points. Since Intelligence starts two points higher (due to the
> higher species average - 2D6+6 rather than 3D6) an Intelligence of 18 costs
> 150 points.
> Power costs 8 skill points for the first point, Strength 7, Constitution
> 5, Appearance 3, and Size 1. All increase in cost the same way for
> additional points.
> All point buys in a specific characteristic must be made and paid for at
> once. You cannot buy a point of a characteristic at a time to get it more
> cheaply. Of course no characteristic can be bought above the normal rolled
> maximum without special dispensation from the gamemaster.
> Characteristic points can be sold in the same way, yielding skill points.
> So if three points of Intelligence are sold, the PC gains (10+20+30) 60
> skill points. Again, no characteristic may be sold down below minimum value
> without the GM's approval, and any reduction of more than two points would
> likewise require a sign-off by the GM.
> Using this system, it would cost a human 1,368 points to have an 18 in
> every characteristic. I'm still pondering the total number of points that
> would be appropriate for a combined skill-and-characteristic system.
> I also noticed with interest long ago that the GURPS system of advantages
> and disadvantages could be incorporated very nicely into RuneQuest - and
> what's more, it could easily be made to fit in with the point-buying system!
> ->Peter
> On Sun, Nov 17, 2013 at 4:29 PM, Bruce Mason <mason.bruce at gmail.com>wrote:
>> I have used versions of this though not quite as generous. That said,
>> I've used it mostly for the RQ6/Legend branch which has much smaller skill
>> lists and a reasonably high base chance.
>> 1*60, 2*50, 3*40 and 4*30 is the basic pyramid I use (400 skill points)
>> then either 5*20 (and you can add to pre-existing skills) or 2*50 to two
>> new skills.
>> Finally everyone gets +40 to own language, lore (homeland), culture
>> (homeland). These do stack with any other additions.
>> Bruce
>>  On 17 November 2013 20:33, Peter Maranci <pmaranci at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>  For many years now I've used a quick-and dirty method of skill
>>> generation for RuneQuest, and I thought it might be worth posting here. I
>>> hope I didn't post it before!
>>> Call it a skill pyramid. After the players have generated their
>>> characteristics and determined their skill category bonuses, they have the
>>> following points that they can distribute into their skills:
>>> 70 x 1
>>> 60 x 2
>>> 50 x 3
>>> 40 x 4
>>> 30 x 5
>>> 20 x 6
>>> 10 x 7
>>> So they can add 70% to one skill, adding that to the base (or cultural)
>>> percentage and their category modifier. They can add 60% to two other
>>> skills, using the same method. Etc, etc.
>>> Of course attacks and parries are separate skills. If a character is
>>> using a specialization which is skill-intensive, such as RQIII Sorcery,
>>> I'll allow them additional skill percentages as needed to maintain
>>> reasonable balance.
>>> Although they're not normally allowed to add to a skill more than once -
>>> for example they can't add up all seven 10% additions and give themselves a
>>> second +70 - I do sometimes allow them to add leftover 10s or 20s to a
>>> skill that has already had an add. But NO skill can have more than a total
>>> 70% add, and I'd be very unlikely to allow any additional add that
>>> increases the total addition to more than 50%.
>>> Of course, for a higher-level campaign I'd increase the top skill level.
>>> And I'd decrease it for a low-level one.
>>> So has anyone else used this method? Or something like it?
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> Runequest at rpgreview.net
>>> http://mail.rpgreview.net/mailman/listinfo/runequest_rpgreview.net
>> --
>> The art is pretending it's art, the question is do you need soup.
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> --
> Peter Maranci - pmaranci at gmail.com
> Pete's RuneQuest & Roleplaying! http://www.runequest.org/rq.htm
> The Diary of A Simple Man: http://bobquasit.livejournal.com/
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The art is pretending it's art, the question is do you need soup.
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