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Other Universal skills


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#21 massey

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:59 AM

I built an 850 point Batman that can do just about everything he needs to do. That covers skills, sidekick, Batcave, everything. Now that doesn't mean that there won't be a random issue of Detective Comics where Bruce uses KS: 17th Century Russian Literature to solve a case. But there are ways to handle that beyond listing every skill possible on his character sheet.

You run into the same problem with Superman. One of the early issues in the John Byrne run had Supes mention that he had memorized the names, addresses, and phone numbers of every person in Metropolis. Of course he never displays that knowledge again, but technically he's supposed to have it.

My default "standard Superman" build is almost 2000 points. And yeah, he'll beat Batman just about every time, unless Bats whips out the Kryptonite. But that doesn't mean they can't play in the same campaign together. They fulfill different roles and face different challenges.

One of the problems I have with the over-granulation of 5th and 6th editions is that it amplifies the problem faced by skill-heavy characters. Did we really need Survival to get broken down into a bunch of different sub-skills? (The correct answer to that question is "no").

#22 Cantriped

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:59 AM

One of the problems I have with the over-granulation of 5th and 6th editions is that it amplifies the problem faced by skill-heavy characters. Did we really need Survival to get broken down into a bunch of different sub-skills? (The correct answer to that question is "no").

That is one of the reasons I prefer CC/FHC. All those categorized skills were imploded, it helps the Skill-focused characters a lot not having to dump ~20ish points into skills like Animal Handler.



#23 massey

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 10:17 AM

In 5th edition, buying every subskill for Survival ends up being 16 points (at least, that's what Hero Designer lets me click).  I can get Life Support: Heat, Cold, and Doesn't Eat/Drink for 7 points.  That's much better than Survival.  I understand the desire for more granularity, but I think the people pushing that end up losing sight of the point structure of the game.


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#24 Christopher R Taylor

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 11:16 AM

I think a better way to handle it would be to have Survival at a base roll work wherever, and at a lower cost work only in some areas.  Reducing utility should cost less, not more.


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#25 IndianaJoe3

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:40 PM

I think a better way to handle it would be to have Survival at a base roll work wherever, and at a lower cost work only in some areas.  Reducing utility should cost less, not more.

 

One idea that I've noodled around with is to have the base skill take a penalty if the character doesn't have an appropriate KS at Familiarity level or better. For example, a character might have:

 

Survival 14-

KS: Subtropical Climates 11-

KS: Tropical Climates 8-

 

The character might get a bonus to Survival skill rolls in subtropical climates (complementary skill), no modifier in tropical climates, and a penalty in other situations.



#26 massey

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:45 PM

One idea that I've noodled around with is to have the base skill take a penalty if the character doesn't have an appropriate KS at Familiarity level or better. For example, a character might have:

Survival 14-
KS: Subtropical Climates 11-
KS: Tropical Climates 8-

The character might get a bonus to Survival skill rolls in subtropical climates (complementary skill), no modifier in tropical climates, and a penalty in other situations.


But that's 6 points. And again, Life Support heat and cold, plus no need to eat and drink is only 7.

Skills have a hard cap on how much they can cost before they're just outperformed by powers.
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#27 Christopher R Taylor

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:14 PM

You do get more from Survival skill than just food and shelter; it lets you identify plants and animals, hunt, fish, know what to avoid, etc.  It helps you pick out shelter or build shelters for others, feed people, build proper and safe fires, collect materials for a camp, and more.


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#28 Sean Waters

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 02:10 AM

Hero is a system that uses points, which is pretty obvious but worth stating because the reason it uses points is to try and build reasonably balanced characters.

 

In some games being competent at every skill will be really useul, too useful in fact because you will overshadow every other character.

 

In other games it is little more than bragging rights.

 

I don't like the VPP/summon thing because, well, it does not make sense: why would a summon suppress field make me forget conversational French? 

 

I like the point that you can actually pay for every skill, and my base instinct is that is what you should do, but it is pretty messy, well, the character sheet will be, and you probably only have that number of points to spend if you have a superheroic game anyway.

 

If someone is keen on this kind of thing then you could easily house rule the 'Universal skill' ability.

 

I'd probably break it down a bit (being an expert in psychology doesn't mean you are an interesting conversationalist, for example), but I'd house rule something like this:

 

Every Non Combat* Skill at 9- (or the equivalent if you are doing languages of 1 point familiarity) for (say) 25 points.  You can not add skill levels to the roll: you want +1 then you need to buy another level for 25 points.  This means you could be expert in every skill and area of knowledge (14-) for 150 points.  You can tweak the base cost up or down 5 or 10 points depending on how important skills are in your game.

 

 

 

*I'm counting as a combat skill more or less anything that affects your CV or damage.  Universal skill would give you basic familiarity with every weapon, but that is as far as it goes.


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#29 IndianaJoe3

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 04:49 AM

But that's 6 points. And again, Life Support heat and cold, plus no need to eat and drink is only 7.

Skills have a hard cap on how much they can cost before they're just outperformed by powers.

 

It depends on the game you're running. Powers might not be available (or reliable). If characters in the game never need to use a skill, does it matter if they pay points for it or have it at all?


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#30 DasBroot

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:05 AM

Another thing I played around with in Superheroic (before settling on 'forget it, first level of a non-combat skill is free. Have at it.*') was having Characteristic Rolls function like the Power skill ... if you want to pick a lock you get a free shot with Dex alone ... but if you find yourself doing it on a regular basis you should buy it.

 

It still ended up being kind of cumbersome but it did work.

 

*I'll admit this was for my own peace of mind as well as for players to fill out their skill list with what they felt were appropriate skills for their character (some have 30 or more, some have 2 or 3)  - since nobody paid for Mechanic or Security I don't feel bad about not having them come up on a regular basis.  Some skills that one player did spend points for extra levels in come up all the time as a consequence, though.


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#31 massey

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 10:18 AM

One thing I've started doing is using skill VPPs for those Batman-type characters.  Our normal GM is okay with it, and I put a "one allocation per adventure" limitation on it.  So if I've got a 9 point cosmic VPP, then that means I've got up to 3 different skills that I can whip out at any moment.  But once I've used one, it's set until the adventure is over.  So it usually looks like:  9 point VPP, Cosmic (+2 to control cost), skills only (-1/2), one allocation per adventure (-1/2).  Total cost: 18 points.

 

Add in a level of Cramming, and you can have any language you need at a basic level as long as you have a little notice.



#32 Sean Waters

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:11 PM

One thing I've started doing is using skill VPPs for those Batman-type characters.  Our normal GM is okay with it, and I put a "one allocation per adventure" limitation on it.  So if I've got a 9 point cosmic VPP, then that means I've got up to 3 different skills that I can whip out at any moment.  But once I've used one, it's set until the adventure is over.  So it usually looks like:  9 point VPP, Cosmic (+2 to control cost), skills only (-1/2), one allocation per adventure (-1/2).  Total cost: 18 points.

 

Add in a level of Cramming, and you can have any language you need at a basic level as long as you have a little notice.

 

One allocation per adventure would mean you have to set all three skills at the same time.  Still, if your GM is OK with it and none of the other players object, go for it.

 

I don't like it though because you knew stuff last week, why don't you know it this week?  It only makes narrative sense if the GM does not create that kind of paradox (accidentally, presumably) and I'm against piling more stuff to remember on the GM.

 

It also imposes limitations on other players in the way they construct their characters: they do it your way or are at a disadvantage.

 

The reason it works for Batman is because Batman is a comic book character and the balance is in the hands of the author.  Buying 2 skills at once makes it look more expensive, but, if you are dealing in principles here, you could buy any skill you need for this adventure for 6 points, or you could remove the -1/2 'one allocation per adventure' and have any skill whenever you want it, one at a time for just a few more points.

 

Thin end of the wedge: we are transitioning here from a set of rules to a game of make up whatever you want, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that we should be aware that is what we are doing.

 

The big problem here is that you tend to only use one skill at a time, so the build is really just a rule circumvention system.  Again, not a problem, but we have to recognise that is what it is.

 

IndianaJoe3 asks what sound a tree falling out of earshot makes (he phrased it differently, I'll give you that): it makes the same sound a tree falling in earshot makes, but if no one is around to hear it falling it might never get used for something useful.  That is something we can lump on the GM - one of the GM's jobs is to look at the characters and make sure that they are relevant to the campaign.


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#33 massey

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 01:34 PM

One allocation per adventure would mean you have to set all three skills at the same time.  Still, if your GM is OK with it and none of the other players object, go for it.

 

 

Nah.  It's a custom limitation that means whatever I decide it means.  I could include an entire paragraph describing exactly when and how it applies, but it's easier to just use a short phrase where the GM and I both know what it means.  Don't mistake my shorthand description on a forum post for strict game terminology.

 

 

I don't like it though because you knew stuff last week, why don't you know it this week?  It only makes narrative sense if the GM does not create that kind of paradox (accidentally, presumably) and I'm against piling more stuff to remember on the GM.

 

It also imposes limitations on other players in the way they construct their characters: they do it your way or are at a disadvantage.

 

The reason it works for Batman is because Batman is a comic book character and the balance is in the hands of the author.  Buying 2 skills at once makes it look more expensive, but, if you are dealing in principles here, you could buy any skill you need for this adventure for 6 points, or you could remove the -1/2 'one allocation per adventure' and have any skill whenever you want it, one at a time for just a few more points.

 

Thin end of the wedge: we are transitioning here from a set of rules to a game of make up whatever you want, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that we should be aware that is what we are doing.

 

The big problem here is that you tend to only use one skill at a time, so the build is really just a rule circumvention system.  Again, not a problem, but we have to recognise that is what it is.

 

IndianaJoe3 asks what sound a tree falling out of earshot makes (he phrased it differently, I'll give you that): it makes the same sound a tree falling in earshot makes, but if no one is around to hear it falling it might never get used for something useful.  That is something we can lump on the GM - one of the GM's jobs is to look at the characters and make sure that they are relevant to the campaign.

 
The character knew stuff last week, he still knows it this week.  He just may not get to use it this week.
 
The specific character I used this for (the Huntsman, a dark avenger of the night somewhere between Bats and Nightwing) had most of the skills he would normally use in a campaign.  I just purchased things like Stealth, Acrobatics, Deduction, etc, normally.  The skill pool is his catchall for dealing with random bits of knowledge or some particular ability that I didn't think of.  The character is considered to have an enormous wealth of information and skill that he can call upon when necessary.  But he's not going to sit there and use his VPP to kick ass at Trivial Pursuit.  He uses it to get through obstacles in the story.
 
Narratively, let's say he uses his VPP to get the Acting skill, to bluff his way past some guards.  And then later in the adventure, he dips into it again to get Bugging so he can plant a listening device in the room.  And then the next day, he has to use Parachuting for some reason or another.  At this point in the story, no one is going to run up to him and quiz him on 17th century impressionist paintings, a knowledge skill he used like 3 sessions ago.  Even if they did, with proper roleplaying and special effects, there's really not much difference between someone who doesn't have a skill and someone who botches a skill roll.  Sometimes Batman just fails to crack the computer database.
 
A lot of what goes into being a Batman knock-off is learning how to pretend you know all the answers.  He doesn't say "I don't have that skill anymore."  Instead he just scowls, says "I am the night!" and then vanishes.


#34 massey

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 01:42 PM

 

I don't like the VPP/summon thing because, well, it does not make sense: why would a summon suppress field make me forget conversational French? 

 

 

But that's the case with everything that has a special effect.

 

Mister Manhunter has poison darts that slow his target.  They are bought as a Drain vs Running.  Why does it slow down my car?



#35 Sean Waters

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 02:11 PM

But that's the case with everything that has a special effect.

 

Mister Manhunter has poison darts that slow his target.  They are bought as a Drain vs Running.  Why does it slow down my car?

 

...because you forgot to include the limitation 'only works on targets with an appropriate metabolism'?


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#36 Sean Waters

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 02:19 PM

I do get why people would want to do this, but it is not something you can do in the rules as written, so anything you do will be a house rule and there are no rules for house rules, so you can do what you like.  I'm just pointing out that I think there may be good reasons for not allowing this sort of thing in the rules, despite a player wanting to be able to do something of the sort.  I am firmly of the opinion that the biggest mistake Hero makes is suggesting that you can build any character you want/can imagine without the caveat "given enough points".

 

If there is a part of the game where you are going to have to crack a computer system and no one in the group has 'Computer Programming' as a skill, go find an NPC who can help or get a GM who does not build insurmountable challenges.


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#37 massey

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 03:01 PM

I do get why people would want to do this, but it is not something you can do in the rules as written, so anything you do will be a house rule and there are no rules for house rules, so you can do what you like.  I'm just pointing out that I think there may be good reasons for not allowing this sort of thing in the rules, despite a player wanting to be able to do something of the sort.  I am firmly of the opinion that the biggest mistake Hero makes is suggesting that you can build any character you want/can imagine without the caveat "given enough points".

 

If there is a part of the game where you are going to have to crack a computer system and no one in the group has 'Computer Programming' as a skill, go find an NPC who can help or get a GM who does not build insurmountable challenges.

 

Actually, every edition of the game I've ever played has specifically said that you can include special powers in frameworks with GM permission.  So it's not like this is totally out of the blue or anything.



#38 Sean Waters

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 03:30 PM

Actually, every edition of the game I've ever played has specifically said that you can include special powers in frameworks with GM permission.  So it's not like this is totally out of the blue or anything.

 

:) One of the reasons the bloody book is so long is that it keeps repeating the phrase 'except with GM permission', which is why I said 'if your GM is OK with it'.

 

Mind you there are some pretty silly GMs out there so you have to watch that.


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