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mwpowellhtx

Skills cost structure comprehension

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Hello,

 

Happy holidays!

 

I am trying to understand Background versus Characteristic-based skills, specializations, etc, their costs, roll structures, etc.

 

In 6e, Volume 1 p54, 'Skill Cost Structures', Science, for instance, is listed as Background. Then they go on to explain how that is usually INT-based; not Science, per se, although it is (or should be), but Background skills in general. What's the difference? Sounds Characteristic based to me: i.e. General Science, or Science: Astronomy, Science: Chemistry, and so on.

 

Furthermore the cost structure looks very similar to that of a Characteristics based skill (i.e. INT based). I could see a true Background skill being just 2 CP to opt-in; +1 per 1 CP thereafter.

 

Finally, the base roll is said to be 11-; which if you work out the math, is the same as saying INT-based (or whatever the Characteristic is). If you take the base INT, what is it, 10, and calculate it out, 9+10/5, you end up with, uh-oh-eee! 11-! (non-common core calculation... :rofl:). This sort of allusion is mentioned in a couple other places; i.e. the actual calculation is masked by a hard-number.

 

This is where my GM discretion kicks in, but I thought I'd posit the scenario to the forums. If I can generally summarize, it's all about the roll, base cost, cost per level, and whether (probably) that was based on a Characteristic.

 

Thank ye...

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I think this is meant to be a Discussion topic -- and in any event it works better there, since I don't answer game design/philosophy questions. So I've moved it there, where no doubt a lively conversation will ensue. ;)

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Is this being asked through a translation device?

 

Hello,

 

Happy holidays!

 

I am trying to understand Background versus Characteristic-based skills, specializations, etc, their costs, roll structures, etc.

 

In 6e, Volume 1 p54, 'Skill Cost Structures', Science, for instance, is listed as Background. Then they go on to explain how that is usually INT-based; not Science, per se, although it is (or should be), but Background skills in general. What's the difference? Sounds Characteristic based to me: i.e. General Science, or Science: Astronomy, Science: Chemistry, and so on.

 

Furthermore the cost structure looks very similar to that of a Characteristics based skill (i.e. INT based). I could see a true Background skill being just 2 CP to opt-in; +1 per 1 CP thereafter.

 

Finally, the base roll is said to be 11-; which if you work out the math, is the same as saying INT-based (or whatever the Characteristic is). If you take the base INT, what is it, 10, and calculate it out, 9+10/5, you end up with, uh-oh-eee! 11-! (non-common core calculation... :rofl:). This sort of allusion is mentioned in a couple other places; i.e. the actual calculation is masked by a hard-number.

 

This is where my GM discretion kicks in, but I thought I'd posit the scenario to the forums. If I can generally summarize, it's all about the roll, base cost, cost per level, and whether (probably) that was based on a Characteristic.

 

Thank ye...

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Hello,

 

Happy holidays!

 

I am trying to understand Background versus Characteristic-based skills, specializations, etc, their costs, roll structures, etc.

 

In 6e, Volume 1 p54, 'Skill Cost Structures', Science, for instance, is listed as Background. Then they go on to explain how that is usually INT-based; not Science, per se, although it is (or should be), but Background skills in general. What's the difference? Sounds Characteristic based to me: i.e. General Science, or Science: Astronomy, Science: Chemistry, and so on.

 

Furthermore the cost structure looks very similar to that of a Characteristics based skill (i.e. INT based). I could see a true Background skill being just 2 CP to opt-in; +1 per 1 CP thereafter.

 

Finally, the base roll is said to be 11-; which if you work out the math, is the same as saying INT-based (or whatever the Characteristic is). If you take the base INT, what is it, 10, and calculate it out, 9+10/5, you end up with, uh-oh-eee! 11-! (non-common core calculation... :rofl:). This sort of allusion is mentioned in a couple other places; i.e. the actual calculation is masked by a hard-number.

 

This is where my GM discretion kicks in, but I thought I'd posit the scenario to the forums. If I can generally summarize, it's all about the roll, base cost, cost per level, and whether (probably) that was based on a Characteristic.

 

Thank ye...

 

Yes, skill pricing appears to be based on the same math (9 + CHA/5) across the board.

 

For my games, I've changed cost structure slightly: Unskilled is a 7- roll for 0 points, Familiarity is a 9- roll for 1 point, all* skills have an 11- roll for 2 points, and a minimum 12- roll for CHA based and other skills, which gets the CHA/5 adder.

 

* Even CHA based skill rolls, which used to go from 1 point 8- familiarities to full CHA based 12-, 13-, 14- or higher with no middle ground.

 

I've also briefly toyed with the idea of removing Science skills, making them either KS or PS.  Either that or dump the distinction for all skills and make them all KS or PS...

 

Chris.

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The Background Skills are 2 points for 11-, or 3 points for 9+CHA/5, your choice when you build the character. For some (mainly Professional Skills) you can base it on another stat (most likely DEX). In either case, +1 to a Background Skill costs 1 point. Note also the existence of Scholar, which reduces the cost of each of your KS's by 1 point (and Professional, Scientist, and so forth, for their respective types) which could change things somewhat. The Characteristic-based Skills are all 3 points for 9+CHA/5, +1 for 2 points, or you can pay 2 points and get a 10- (not 11-) roll.

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After inumerable discussions about how archeology has a purely theoretical side (a SS), the applied act of setting up a gid site (a PS), and knowledge of important theories, movers and shakers, and basically historical events within the science (a KS), and god forbid you dig up an ancient city and also might roll vs. CS (or it be something like sociology instead where CuK would be appropriate) we decided that all of those skills are now ES -- Expert Skills.

 

I've also briefly toyed with the idea of removing Science skills, making them either KS or PS.  Either that or dump the distinction for all skills and make them all KS or PS...

 

Chris.

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The base roll of 11- for a background skill and the default characteristic roll for the human average also being 11 or less was quite obviously done on purpose.

 

11 or less was likely chosen because it represents slightly higher than a 50/50 chance of success (62%) which when coupled with difficulty bonuses makes a good starting point for a professional level of skill (11 or less is considered good enough to hold a profession using that skill)

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Hello,

 

Happy holidays!

 

I am trying to understand Background versus Characteristic-based skills, specializations, etc, their costs, roll structures, etc.

 

In 6e, Volume 1 p54, 'Skill Cost Structures', Science, for instance, is listed as Background. Then they go on to explain how that is usually INT-based; not Science, per se, although it is (or should be), but Background skills in general. What's the difference?

Assuming I understand the question:

 

The difference between an INT based Skill such as Electronics or Tracking, and a skill such as a Science or Knowledge Skill that can be based on INT, as I understand it, would be:

 

For a regular INT based Skill you can choose to spend 1 pt for an 8 or less roll, or 2 pts for a 10 or less roll, or 3 pts for a roll based on 9+(INT/5), and then each +1 costs 2 pts. You can only buy those +1 steps after buying the 3 pt "full skill."

 

For a background Skill you can choose to spend 1 pt for an 8 or less roll, or 2 pts for an 11 or less roll, or 3 pts for a roll based on 9+(A Characteristic, maybe INT/5), and then each +1 costs 1 pts. You can buy those +1 steps if you have paid 2 pts for the 11 or less or if you paid 3 pts for a characteristic based roll.

 

Granted, you will probably usually want to buy the 3 pt version of a background Skill.

 

Sounds Characteristic based to me: i.e. General Science, or Science: Astronomy, Science: Chemistry, and so on.

 

Furthermore the cost structure looks very similar to that of a Characteristics based skill (i.e. INT based). I could see a true Background skill being just 2 CP to opt-in; +1 per 1 CP thereafter.

 

Finally, the base roll is said to be 11-; which if you work out the math, is the same as saying INT-based (or whatever the Characteristic is).

I hate to flatly contradict you, but no, it's not the same.

 

It only looks the same if you leave the relevant Characteristic at 10, or anywhere from 8 to 12.

 

An equation with a variable is not "the same as" an equation with no variable, just because it's possible to set the variable at a value that leads to the same result. A base roll of 11 is a base roll of 11. A base roll based on a CHA might be 11 but is very likely to be something else, probably higher.

 

 

If you take the base INT, what is it, 10, and calculate it out, 9+10/5, you end up with, uh-oh-eee! 11-! (non-common core calculation... :rofl:). This sort of allusion is mentioned in a couple other places; i.e. the actual calculation is masked by a hard-number.

 

This is where my GM discretion kicks in, but I thought I'd posit the scenario to the forums. If I can generally summarize, it's all about the roll, base cost, cost per level, and whether (probably) that was based on a Characteristic.

 

Thank ye...

Of course it's possible, and even quite likely, that I have failed to understand what you question is in the first place. Can you restate it perhaps?

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary suspects I have understood nothing

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Back when you had 100 fewer points to spend on a character, those minute differences between 2/+1 and 3/+2 cost schedules felt excruciatingly important and necessary. But with the enormous hike in starting point totals for all genres/power levels, all those skill point discount schema seem rather unnecessary, and almost woefully anachronistic.

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Back when you had 100 fewer points to spend on a character, those minute differences between 2/+1 and 3/+2 cost schedules felt excruciatingly important and necessary. But with the enormous hike in starting point totals for all genres/power levels, all those skill point discount schema seem rather unnecessary, and almost woefully anachronistic.

 

But still necessary to make buying KS,PS, SCI, CK, AK etc more attractive to players who are more likely to buy Levels, Powers, and other things that make their character more powerful. The trick to using the system is to understand when to stay generic (ie Sci: Physics or AK: SF Bay Area) or when to go very specific (Sci: Particle Physics or AK: Piedmont District of Oakland CA). That for most things staying generic tends to be better unless the more specific thing will be used very often.

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But still necessary to make buying KS,PS, SCI, CK, AK etc more attractive to players who are more likely to buy Levels, Powers, and other things that make their character more powerful.

That's the job of the GM, not the base system. Curbing the (unwanted) behavior of powergamers and min-maxers in a particular group in a particular campaign isn't a system responsibility, and forcing the system to solve that problem internally only compromises the system for everyone else who doesn't have the "incentive" problem you describe.

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Right of the bat I can think of two games that solved that problem nicely. One being "Big Eyes Small Mouth", the anime RPG, where your skill cost structure depended on the genre -- so a science skill cost you a lot in a sci-fi setting, but considerably less so in a high school hijinx game.

The other game is Shadowrun, where in the later editions you got a pool of points to spend for background skills only, often leading to some semi-useless knowledges ("Kung Fu Movies", "Video Star Hangouts" etc.).

 

The latter could easily be done in HERO, especially if you're already partitioning points (e.g. characteristics/skills/powers). Different cost levels -- apart from being a hassle without electronic help -- have some issues in HERO as it is, one being just a few cost levels to work with until characteristics are the cheaper buy, another being skill levels that cover skills with different costs. Probably not worth it.

 

I'm generally not the biggest fan of HERO's skill system. It feels slightly tacked on, a distant second fiddle to powers. Looking at some characters, it seems like the usual spread of skill levels is 0-3, unless it's a power skill, where it's usually as high as you can afford. Mostly because power skills have a much higher variety of modifiers that apply, so just having them doesn't guarantee you a success as much as normal skills do. Never mind the high base that superheroic characteristics grant you. Which is also why the initial buy in for a skill is that high, as it's often expected that that's all there's ever gonna be about it (Clark Kent doesn't noticeably improve his PS:Reporter over the course of the game, I guess)

 

I think this was solved well enough in Fuzion. For heroic characters, your attribute bonus usually doesn't exceed +5 often, and then your skill goes from +1 to +10. Seems like a good balance. One of the APGs has an alternate skill system surprisingly similar to this.

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Yep, it was introduced as an optional idea in 5E Ultimate Skill and made an official rule in 6E.

 

I like it a lot, it helps prevent the jarring jump from 8- to Full Skill Roll, which in a Supers Game especially can go up 13 or 14- easily right off the bat....

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Thank you for making an effort. I'm sure I didn't phrase it well to begin with.

 

 

Assuming I understand the question:

 

I'm not sure I understand the meta-meta details behind the front-facing numbers. This is what I'm really asking. There are pages and pages of explanation, but not much that says, 'here is the cost structure', that I could determine, in a succinct, concise manner.

 

The difference between an INT based Skill such as Electronics or Tracking, and a skill such as a Science or Knowledge Skill that can be based on INT, as I understand it, would be:

For a regular INT based Skill you can choose to spend 1 pt for an 8 or less roll, or 2 pts for a 10 or less roll, or 3 pts for a roll based on 9+(INT/5), and then each +1 costs 2 pts. You can only buy those +1 steps after buying the 3 pt "full skill."

For a background Skill you can choose to spend 1 pt for an 8 or less roll, or 2 pts for an 11 or less roll, or 3 pts for a roll based on 9+(A Characteristic, maybe INT/5), and then each +1 costs 1 pts. You can buy those +1 steps if you have paid 2 pts for the 11 or less or if you paid 3 pts for a characteristic based roll.

Granted, you will probably usually want to buy the 3 pt version of a background Skill.

 

So if I understand your interpretation on the subject, skills come in qualitatively different cost structures, depending on how, in what quality, they're purchased.

 

I'll have to re-read those parts of 6E where Skills are outlined. I'm not sure it was all that clear.

 

 

I hate to flatly contradict you, but no, it's not the same.

It only looks the same if you leave the relevant Characteristic at 10, or anywhere from 8 to 12.

An equation with a variable is not "the same as" an equation with no variable, just because it's possible to set the variable at a value that leads to the same result. A base roll of 11 is a base roll of 11. A base roll based on a CHA might be 11 but is very likely to be something else, probably higher.

 

Hey, by all means, you may try, if it means clarifying the assumptions that went in behind the numbers on the surface.

 

 

Of course it's possible, and even quite likely, that I have failed to understand what you question is in the first place. Can you restate it perhaps?

 

At a certain point, I must make a 'GM discretion' call I think. I'd like for that to be as informed as possible though. I'll see if I can better and/or re-state the question. Thanks for making an effort, at any rate.

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The Background Skills are 2 points for 11-, or 3 points for 9+CHA/5, your choice when you build the character. For some (mainly Professional Skills) you can base it on another stat (most likely DEX). In either case, +1 to a Background Skill costs 1 point. Note also the existence of Scholar, which reduces the cost of each of your KS's by 1 point (and Professional, Scientist, and so forth, for their respective types) which could change things somewhat. The Characteristic-based Skills are all 3 points for 9+CHA/5, +1 for 2 points, or you can pay 2 points and get a 10- (not 11-) roll.

 

I could be off base in my estimation what I read, Hero System 6E1 p54, but I would argue skills like Science skill, or a specialized version of it, since it was mentioned, are CHA-based (namely, INT). Which is part and partial my confusion.

 

Duly noted re: character types. Not sure that would necessarily play a factor in what I am doing with it, but that's fair enough. It may be something I want to consider, character types influence cost structures.

 

As was explained elsewhere in the thread, the cost structure is basically, Background: 11-, 2/+1 schedule; CHA-based: 9+CHA/5: 3/2+. And then, sometimes limited/general in category; adjust cost schedule accordingly.

 

Mainly looking for a way to codify the matter, for which I'm starting to see the pattern.

 

Thank ye for responding.

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Duly noted re: character types. Not sure that would necessarily play a factor in what I am doing with it, but that's fair enough. It may be something I want to consider, character types influence cost structures.

No.

 

"Character type" does not modify cost structure. What DOES modify cost is "Skill Enhancers."

 

For example, if your character takes the Skill Enhancer called "Scholar" then every Knowledge Skill costs one less point. It costs 3 pts to buy the Skill Enhancer.

 

This means if a character has more than 3 Knowledge Skills, they will probably take Scholar to get the cost break.

 

So, suppose I take Scholar and then -

 

KS (Knowledge Skill) Hero System Rules, at 8 or less. That costs 1 pt, -1 because of the Scholar Skill Enhancer, BUT! the minimum cost is always 1, so it costs 1 pt.

 

Say I increase it to an 11 or less. That costs 2 pts, -1 for Scholar, so it costs 1 pt. Obviously, someone with Scholar is probably not going to have any Knowledge Skills at 8 or less; you can get them at 11 or less just as cheaply.

 

Say I increase it to make it based on INT. Now it costs 3 pts, -1 for Scholar, so it costs 2 pts. The roll is 9+ INT/5. Unfortunately I'm an idiot with INT of 5, so the roll is now 10 or less. Yes, I spent points and the roll went down. That does NOT happen often in Hero, and when it does, it's usually a sign you're building the character wrong somehow.

 

Hopefully I, the player, am not as much of an idiot as the character. So I go back to 2 pts for an 11 or less roll, tnen buy +1 to the roll for +1 pt. That costs 2 pts for the 11 or less, +1 to make it 12 or less, -1 for Scholar, so it costs 2 pts.

 

Then I decide I don't want to play an idiot. I raise INT to 18. The Knowledge Skill: Hero Rules roll is still 12 or less. I increase INT to 50. the Knowledge Skill is STILL only 12 or less, because it's not linked to INT at all.

 

Then I make my character a fantasy fan. I buy KS (Knowledge Skill): Fantasy Literature, and base it on INT. This costs 3 pts for a roll of 9 + INT/5, -1 for Scholar, so it costs 2 pts. The roll is 19 or less, because it's based on INT and INT is 50. Now someone can ask an incredibly obscure question, such as "In Richard Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights, who threatened to remove an entire city stone by stone to the edge of the world?" and even after taking a -8 for extreme obscurity, I have a better than even chance of knowing the answer.

 

If it seems strange I get such a high roll for such a low investment of points, remember that I also spent 40 pts increasing INT to 50. Also, that the INT 50 helps me on Perception rolls and a lot of other things.

 

What's really strange is that I have spent 2 pts on Hero System Rules Knowledge, the same as on Fantasy Literature, and have only a roll of 12. I can easily change that by making both Skills based on INT. But if I don't change it, and leave the other KS defined as "general" rather than "INT based," the roll stays at 12 no matter how smart I am.

 

There's also a Skill Enhancer called Scientist, which does the same thing for Science Skills that Scholar does for Knowledge Skills. Again, I don't get a change in cost for saying "My character is a scientist" or "My character is a scholar." But I can spend 3 pts "up front" for a Skill Enhancer, and save on the cost of Skills of that type.

 

Since an Enhancer saves 1 pt per Skill, and costs 3 pts, the "break even" point is three relevant skills.

 

So if I get Jack of All Trades, which benefits Professional Skills, I will want to get at least three such Skills.

 

I'll start by buying PS (Professional Skill) : File Clerk, at 11 or less. This costs 2 pts, -1 for Jack of All Trades, so it costs 1 pt.

 

I buy PS: Marathon Racer. This involves steady exertion over a long period so I base it on CON. This costs 3 pts, -1 for the Enhancer, so it cost 2 pts. My character has a CON of 18, so the roll is 13 or less.

 

Then I want to learn to juggle. I buy PS: Juggling, based on DEX for hopefully obvious reasons. This costs 3 pts, -1 for the Enhancer, so it costs 2 pts. My character's DEX is 5, so I have a roll of 10 or less. I decide I'd rather get the flat 11 or less roll for 2 pts, -1 for the Enhancer so it's just 1 pt. Now I pay 1 pt for a roll of 11 or less instead of 2 pts for a roll of 10 or less. Or I could leave it at 10 or less and make a note to buy DEX up later, with experience.

 

Taking up another hobby ("Professional Skill" doesn't have to mean a way to make a living; think of them as "do stuff" skills rather than "know stuff" skills) I buy PS: Firewalking. It takes strength of will to walk across hot coals, so I base it on EGO. My EGO is 23, so for 2 pts (I hope I can skip the math now, and it would be 3 pts without the enhancer) I get a roll of 14 or less.

 

My character used to work as a porter, so that's PS: Porter. As that's mostly picking up and carrying stuff, I base it on STR. My STR is 15, so that gives me a 12 or less roll for 2 pts (again, 3 if I didn't have Jack of All Trades.)

 

Then I got a job telemarketing. That involves interacting with and influencing people, so it's based on PRE. My PRE is 23, so the investment of 2 pts gets me a roll of 14 or less.

 

Finally, for a real money maker, I decide to get a Professiona1 Skill that leverages that INT of 50 and the ability to observe closely, remember details, and put facts together logically. I buy PS: Consulting Detective based on INT for 3 pts, +2 pts for a +2 to the roll, -1 for the Enhancer. I now have spent 4 pts on PS: Consulting Detective. My roll is 9+ (INT/5 = 10) +2 = 21 or less!

 

I spent 3 pts on Jack of All Trades, and got 7 Professional Skills, saving a pt on each. I saved 4 pts over the cost of buying all those Skill without the Enhancer. I also have a really bizarre and possibly not playable character, but that's not a first for me either.

 

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary says I should really confuse him, and bring up the cost structure for Languages

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I'm generally not the biggest fan of HERO's skill system. It feels slightly tacked on, a distant second fiddle to powers. Looking at some characters, it seems like the usual spread of skill levels is 0-3, unless it's a power skill, where it's usually as high as you can afford. Mostly because power skills have a much higher variety of modifiers that apply, so just having them doesn't guarantee you a success as much as normal skills do. Never mind the high base that superheroic characteristics grant you. Which is also why the initial buy in for a skill is that high, as it's often expected that that's all there's ever gonna be about it (Clark Kent doesn't noticeably improve his PS:Reporter over the course of the game, I guess)

It feels tacked on because it was tacked on in the early days of Champions back when the powers reigned supreme and the skill system only existed so characters could function in their professions.

 

However, the skill system in HERO, though initially tacked on, functions really, really well when you integrate it properly. i have played heroic level fantasy and sci-fi games where skills were in far greater use than powers and the skill system functioned beautifully in all cases.

 

In a skill heavy game, the cost structure of skills actually begins to add up after a while so the balance factor isnt too bad if the character needs a wide variety of skills to function within the context of the game.

 

Proper integration of the skills within the game is not too difficult. One merely needs to remember the ratio of success and failure (1 is a bare success or failure, with each point increasing the success or failure accordingly untill 5 or more successes is reached) then reasonably apply this threshold to the task at hand.

 

Another important aspect that oftentimes gets ignored are the difficulty ratings applied to skill useage. THIS is what will balance out the usage of high skill rolls in the game. the method i use is thus:

 

Routine: +5

Extremely easy: +4

Very easy: +3

Easy: +2

Light: +1

Moderate: +0

Moderately Difficult:-1

Difficult: -2

Hard: -3

Very hard: -4

Extremely hard: -5

Incredibly hard: -6

Sheer folley: -7

Virtually impossible (-8 or more)

 

With this method, characters with high skill rolls can attempt some fairly difficult feats and they will not always succeed. a character with a skill roll of 18 or less attempting a virtually impossible task has a 10 or less (50%) chance to succeed where as the character with a base competence of 11 or less has to roll a 3 on 3d6 to succeed in that same task.

 

I think this was solved well enough in Fuzion. For heroic characters, your attribute bonus usually doesn't exceed +5 often, and then your skill goes from +1 to +10. Seems like a good balance. One of the APGs has an alternate skill system surprisingly similar to this.

You said the "F" word!

 

Actually that methodology came from the interlock system side of the fence where interlock had characteristic ratings between +2 and +10 with +6 being average. then skill rolls being rated between +1 and +10. it worked pretty well when i played interlock.

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Follow up question, when considering upgrades from Background into their CHA-based equivalents...

 

Background to General CHA-based, makes sense the cost is +1 CP to upgrade; plus distributing the +1 costs accordingly; i.e. if Joe bought BG: Survival level 3 and upgraded to CHA: Survival, that would be 2+1+1+1=5 CP for BG. Just taking the raw CP total, 5-3-2 ~= CHA: Survival level 1. The thought being that the check would end up being better, assuming Joe's INT justifies the exchange, and GM approves.

 

Let's consider the Limited Categories. Besides being able to upgrade individual LC's, or whole Categories, the cost structure is the same as BG, yet for a CHA-based. So while the CP are the same, the tradeoff is narrowing Joe's effective field of knowledge?

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I'm not sure what you mean by "limited categories." However, if a skill is allowed to change from non characteristic-based to characteristic-based, it doesn't change the scope of the skill. 

 

From earlier replies, I'm not sure this is a more formalized version of a 5E addendum.

 

It can probably be sussed out of other pages, but specifically, I am referring to Hero System 6E1 p54, the sidebar 'Skill Cost Structures': "Characters buy some types of Characteristic-Based Skills ... by limited categories". There is a little additional explanation on p56, 'Familiarity And Proficiency', insofar as cost structures, associated skill rolls, and so on, are concerned.

 

I am assuming that all Characteristic-Based Skills are all 'general' by their nature; i.e. Survival might be considered a Characteristic-Based Skill (3/+2). Yet, one limited form might be Survival: Woodlands (2/+1). A subsequent limited form might be Survival: Mountains (1/+1).

 

And so on...

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You seem to be over-thinking this. Just because a skill is characteristic-based does not mean it is a "general" skill, to use your term. The skill itself defines the scope of the skill. Being characteristic-based just affects the value you have to roll when you use the skill.

 

     Familiarity with any skill gives you an 8- roll, regardless of whether the skill is normally characteristic-based or not. Using your example, Familiarity with Survival costs 1 pt and g     ives you an 8- roll.

 

     Proficiency, as a GM option, gives you a 10- roll for 2 pts., regardless of whether the skill is characteristic-based or not.

 

     Buying the skill gives the appropriate roll. Survival, being an intellect skill, gives you a roll of 9+INT/5 for whatever categories and sub-categories you have purchased.

 

If you buy Survival: Arctic, that is "general" for Arctic/subarctic terrain. It is characteristic-based. If you buy Survival: Arctic/subarctic Plains, that is more specialized, but it is still characteristic-based.

 

Let's look at another example:

I buy Science Skill: Biology for 2 pts. This gives me an 11- roll. Biology is a large topic, so my actual knowledge of the subject is rather broad; I know a little bit about a lot of things. If I pay 3 pts, I get this as an INT-based skill. that only affects my roll, but my overall scope of what Biology covers has not changed. 

 

I buy Science Skill: Molecular Biology. The scope of knowledge I have is now much more specific. Whether I spend 2 or 3 pts does not change the scope of the knowledge, only my roll.

 

 

Let's apply that to a game:

My character with Biology is confronted with a problem related to Molecular Biology. As GM, I would assign a difficulty (i.e., penalty) to the Biology roll to represent the specific nature of the information needed. My character with Molecular Biology doesn't receive any penalty because that's their specialty.

 

My character with Biology is confronted with a problem related to Marine Biology. They again get a penalty for the specific nature of the information needed. My character with Molecular Biology is completely at a loss since that's out of the scope of their skill.

 

 

tl;dr

Familiarity/Proficiency/General (non-characteristic based)/Characteristic-based only affects the base roll for a skill. The skill description (including any categories/subcategories like for Survival) only affects the scope of the knowledge possessed.

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I'm wondering if it would help consolidate the structure to have all skills cost one point for a +1.

 

So, something like this:

1 point for 8-

2 points for 11- and 1 point for each +1

3 points for Characteristic-based roll and 1 point for each +1

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Follow up question, when considering upgrades from Background into their CHA-based equivalents...

 

Background to General CHA-based, makes sense the cost is +1 CP to upgrade; plus distributing the +1 costs accordingly; i.e. if Joe bought BG: Survival level 3 and upgraded to CHA: Survival, that would be 2+1+1+1=5 CP for BG. Just taking the raw CP total, 5-3-2 ~= CHA: Survival level 1. The thought being that the check would end up being better, assuming Joe's INT justifies the exchange, and GM approves.

 

Let's consider the Limited Categories. Besides being able to upgrade individual LC's, or whole Categories, the cost structure is the same as BG, yet for a CHA-based. So while the CP are the same, the tradeoff is narrowing Joe's effective field of knowledge?

I'm finding it very hard to follow you.

 

Can you try explaining what it is you are trying to say?

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary finds it indigestible

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