[Runequest] Quick-and-dirty skill pyramid

Peter Maranci pmaranci at gmail.com
Tue Nov 19 13:18:11 EST 2013

What I like about advantages and disadvantages is the degree to which they
allow customization of a character. I'm not looking for a new way for
minmaxers to abuse the system; rather, I'd like to see the system gain the
ability to handle more detail in a meaningful way.

For example, I'm a "supertaster". To me, it seems that most people go
through life smelling and tasting remarkably little (smell and taste play a
comparatively large role in my campaigns as a result). I'm also nearsighted
and farsighted, correctable to 20/15. No version of RQ or BRP that I know
of has any way to reflect such abilities and disabilities save by GM fiat.
And they're not just unimportant window dressing; my sense of smell has
probably saved my life at least twice, or at least helped me to avoid
considerable harm. My poor vision has also led to at least one
life-threatening situation. These things *matter*. We ALL have such
personal qualities. And yet unless the GM or player makes a special
exception, RuneQuest characters simply don't.

So I'm not really looking for advantages of the GURPS Supers variety;
rather, I'm thinking about ways to implement the personal differences which
can be significant but are currently not represented in the system. I'm
almost tempted to add another section to the Chaos Project on my site for
this topic.

But building it into the system is a puzzler, I'll admit. Folding it into
an overall system that includes skills and characteristics would be a
dauntingly large project, and subject to abuse. Perhaps it should be a
stand-alone system, a module that can be plugged into other RPGs. On the
other hand, GURPS has done a ton of work on this already. But there might
be an advantage to having such a system that's actually designed for the
D100 family of systems.

On Mon, Nov 18, 2013 at 10:46 AM, Lawrence Whitaker <
lawrence.whitaker at gmail.com> wrote:

> I've regularly used the Skill Pyramid idea for speedily customising RQ
> characters at demo games and conventions, allowing the players some input
> into the chargen process with a pre-gen character: it helps show roughly
> how more detailed character creation works and gives them a bit more
> investment in the character itself. For 'normal' campaign games, I use the
> full-fat chargen mechanics simply because we always set aside time for
> character creation.
> Where advantages/disadvantages are concerned, I really don't like them.
> They're great in Superhero games, and that's where they originated, and
> they will actually be used in our forthcoming Luther Arkwright setting for
> RQ6 - but that's because they fit the genre, and the characters appearing
> in the Arkwright comic tend to possess remarkable powers tempered by
> personality and physical flaws. Generally though, I steer clear of them. I
> don't feel they offer much to a game beyond mini-maxing, and unless you
> have some particularly diligent roleplayers, the flaws tend to get
> forgotten (conveniently or accidentally) while the advantages tend always
> to be remembered...
> As ever, YRQWV...
> On 18 November 2013 09:46, Bruce Mason <mason.bruce at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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.
>> Bruce
>> 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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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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