Minor Characteristics

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SkinnyOrc
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Minor Characteristics

Post by SkinnyOrc » Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:01 pm

Phantomdoodler's threads on SKILL and on a new RESOLVE stat got me thinking, would it be useful to have more character stats in AFF? The mechanics as they stand work fine but I wouldn't be surprised if some people have been put off AFF only having SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK.

If you look at old school D&D the character stats don't really have that much effect on the game. You get some pluses for this or that from having higher stats but nothing major and they don't go up as the character gains experience. What they mainly do is give the player a better picture of their character to roleplay against.

This seems like a model that would work as an optional rule for AFF. Let's say we have these AFF character stats:

Strength - Muscle power and endurance.
Dexterity - Natural ability to perform tasks with the hands.
Agility - The ability to move gracefully, precisely and quickly.
Intellect - The faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with abstract matters.
Charisma - Personality and charm inspiring admiration and devotion.
Appearance - Physical attractiveness and impressiveness.

These Minor Characteristics (MC) are in addition to the three major Characteristics, and also to RESOLVE if used. Each is generated by rolling 2d6. As player characters are exceptional individuals the player adds a total of 6 additional points to the MCs of their choice, but no more than 4 points to any one.

Strength is no longer a Special Skill. Instead the activities described for that skill are tested against the Strength MC. Any test where the Director judges the characters natural abilities will have more influence than their experience as an adventurer is carried out against the appropriate MC rather than SKILL. Where the appropriate MC is higher then SKILL it may be tested against even if experience could be a factor in success.

Minor Characteristics may not be increased through experience as they reflect innate natural ability.
Last edited by SkinnyOrc on Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by Nuvole! » Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:26 pm

I don't know.... every now and then we get these posts that say that AFF as it is is too simple and we need to add some complicaton to make it look more like D&D...
Well... if that's the way, why not getting directly D&D? :idea:

I stopped playing D&D and the like when I realized that I want a simple and quick game that can be started in 5 minutes, without having to pass the first session just generating the characters, because most of the times I get a one-shot game and of course that only opportunity can't be wasted rolling characteristics.
In fact in my games I usually simplify even more the Talents and Special Skills, to shorten further that times as well.

Of course I respect the lucky people that has plenty of free time to pass with friends, but I think that the appeal of AFF is in big part related to the fact that it's a quick and simple game to start and to run, without being bogged down by dynosaur rulesets that take care at every single detail for the sake of scientific realism myth.
Of course that simplicity requires also good roleplayers to make up for the unwritten and undetailed things, but I don't think that the solution is adding a lot of extra characteristics to take care of bad roleplayers, if they don't make the game simpler. It's easier for me getting rid of bad roleplayers.
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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by shintokamikaze » Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:41 pm

Each to his own, but I think FF2 is fine the way it is, apart from some minor house rules that I like, the whole point of the game is it is fast and loose, no point in getting bogged down with lots of stats.

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by SkinnyOrc » Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:05 pm

Sure I've read some of them when I was checking out the old threads. This wasn't an attempt to make AFF more like D&D, there are plenty of reasons why that has dodgy mechanics. However most RPGs have more detailed character stats than AFF and it just happened in this case D&D shows you can have them in a way that's easy to bolt on without changing much. WFRP for example has a similar range of stats but those are integral to the Career system and increase with experience, it'd be way harder to add that.

And yes I agree having a stat to tell you if your character is this or that isn't really necessary. But I disagree that if a player wants that it makes them a bad roleplayer. They might just prefer that sort of thing is decided randomly instead of by them. Remember the stats can be bad as well as good and roleplaying shortcomings can be an enjoyable challenge.

AFF is a rules light system and I like that about it too. The nice thing about optional rules is you can take and leave what you want.

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by Nuvole! » Sun Dec 13, 2015 4:44 pm

Of course I sometimes use plenty of house rules, but my overall rule of thumb, when I make changes, is that when I add something, then I need to remove something else (usually I end up simplifying Talents and Special Skills system, but not always).
Try introducing your variations keeping this approach in mind, maybe it will prove useful.
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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by Slloyd14 » Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:06 pm

The system is quite simple - SKILL is supposed to be your minor characteristic. Your main characteristics are your SKILL score + your special skills. So, instead of having a high strength, a strong character has more points in the strength skill. A charismatic character has more points in etiquette, con and leadership.

SKILL doesn't really cover looks although you could say that unless someone is impressively beautiful or hideously ugly (in which case it would be a talent or someting brought on by the circumstances in a game), it would not have much effect.

I think the core problem is that SKILL is a stat for anything that your special skills don't cover and this ranges from strength to intellect to charisma. You could look at it another way that SKILL is basically the score you have for a stat that you haven't bothered to train in. In a sense, you don't need minor characteristics - they are already covered in the special skills.

Strength: Strengh or a high stamina.
Dexterity: Lock picking and sleight of hand.
Agility: Acrobatics and Dodge
Intellect: Lore and Magic skills and MAGIC
Charisma: con, etiquette, leadership.
Looks: Not covered.

Instead of having 6 skills with different scores, AFF gives you one score for all 6 then lets you spend points to increase the ones you want with your skills. It's less book keeping.

I hope I've made this as coherent on paper as in my head.
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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by SkinnyOrc » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:31 am

No that's a really nice explanation of it and shows what an elegant system it is. I'm not sure that failing to understand how it works though is the only reason someone would want to add a fuller set of stats to describe their character. Put it this way, you have someone looking at AFF and maybe they've played different systems, most of which had a range of character stats. Would you rather they move on thinking AFF was missing something? Or would you rather they add the stats and give it a go, discovering all the goodness like simultaneous combat rounds and flexible character gen?

I get the impression people think adding character stats changes something fundamental to the game. It really doesn't. Combat is unchanged and most Special Skill tests are still against SKILL and the skill score. It's a smaller change than a lot we've thrown around in here.

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by Lorian » Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:29 pm

Skinnyorc you would need to make a new adventure sheet.
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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by SkinnyOrc » Sat Sep 03, 2016 12:27 am

Yes, yes you would :)

Not one of my more popular ideas but sounds like it's a bit of a sensitive point for AFFers. I see SKILL as equivalent to D&D level, your general adventurer experience that makes you better at everything. So any other stats are just for a bit more detail.

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by Eddie » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:19 pm

i like the idea but at the same time prefer the system as it is.
before finding out there was a re-release of this game I was working on my own version that I was going to play with my group (hadn't started on magic system at all).

the way I was going to do it was to, essentially, have differing "skill" totals for differing things:
combat: this is your base combat ability and weapon skills add to this
intellect: similar but for knowledge skills like lore etc.
agility: for the stealth skills and some of the movement skills like dodge and acrobatics
athletics: for the non-combat physical skills like climbing, jumping, swimming etc.

they would all have a baseline which you would then add your special skills points to.

the advantage of adding this is you could have a combat character who isn't particularly athletic because he/she is simply trained really well with a sword (so combat might be 7 at the start then +2 for WSS) but their athletics is lower so they won't be great at jumping, climbing or swimming.
this makes sense as a town guard or soldier: neither have to climb walls that often or swim, but use a weapon? sure!

all of the lore skills fall under the intellect stat, again enabling someone to be knowledgeable but not great in combat if they are a sage.

(I like the use of magic instead of skill for lore skills in AFF2)

however the issue you have is that now you have 4 Skill totals to keep an eye on, what do they all start on, how many points do you get to spend?
if you give too many then suddenly anyone not interested in, say sneakiness, will be able to use those points to boost another area and get really good at another area.
having read the thread on people becoming powerhouses in combat relatively easily I think this would create more problems than it solves.

it would allow for greater differentiation within a group, at present if I have 4 players and one goes all out priest (magic max say), one all out wizard (again max magic), one goes for a dabbler and splits their stats more evenly (say ending skill 5) but the last maxes out Skill to make it 7 they will be the best at most checks they have to take. a Skill 7 character will pass untrained skill checks on average whereas the Skill 4 guys will rarely pass them (except lore rolls) and the "dabbler" character will likely feel the most useless of all: their best skills will only pass checks on average and their 1 point skills will have to be lucky to pass at all (6 or less on 2D6 is around 44% of the time I think)

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by SkinnyOrc » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:17 am

More difference between the characters was my aim too. It started by seeing the Strength special skill and thinking that should be more something you have naturally than learn. Which got me thinking it'd be nice to know which character was strong, which smart, which good looking etc.

I've since decided I don't disagree with having the Strength skill, if a character wants to put training time and XP into becoming stronger then fair enough. But the more character difference thing still appeals, and the reason there's less difference is everything's based on SKILL.

What I realised is you don't need so many characteristics to create useful difference. It maybe comes down to what it makes sense to apply SKILL to and what it doesn't, which maybe depends on what you think SKILL represents. To put it in terms most roleplayers are familiar with I see SKILL as equivalent to D&D Level, their overall experience as adventurers. So anything combat related, anything to do with quick reactions, being confident and commanding, all that SKILL covers fine. So looking at it like that you could just use Strength, Intellect and Looks.

With Strength I don't see how adventuring experience makes you better at lifting a boulder or bending an iron bar. Sure you have the Strength special skill but that's still sitting on top of SKILL. If you have a Strength MC you have more difference between characters; the hulking barbarian who's naturally strong, the slim wizard who breaks a sweat lifting his backpack and the guy who's pretty average but does chin ups on a tree branch every chance he gets (Strength special skill).

For Intellect, I've always found it handy to be able to draw a line between how smart the players are and their characters. As bright a bunch as roleplayers are they can always have a character that's smarter, and part of the fun of a RPG is to play a character who can do what they can't in real life. Something I've done when the players were stumped was roll against intelligence for each character and whoever got the best pass tell them their character has thought of blah. I'm not keen doing that against SKILL. You could but then no one gets to have the smart character who comes up with ideas more often.

Same with Looks, there are social situations where knowing how attractive each character is makes a difference and while I can see SKILL covering charisma, looks not really. This could be like Strength where a Seduction special skill sits on top of a Looks MC, again what they're born with and what they've added through effort. The skill could include both personal grooming and practised flirting. That let's you have the character who's always getting the piss taken out of them by the others for looking after his hair. Who doesn't want that in their game! ;)

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by bottg » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:52 am

This was one of the main reasons behind the introduction of Talents. There is no Strength stat, but a character with the Strongarm talent gets a bonus to damage. There is no Charisma stat, but the Hero can get a bonus to social interactions from the Silvertongued talent.

Of course, it is an easily modifiable game, and people should tweak it how they want!

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by SkinnyOrc » Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:03 pm

Yeah and I hope it's clear this was only ever a bolt on to add some extra character detail, it's not replacing anything and it's not suggesting there's anything wrong with the system. Talents are great for making characters special, I'm a fan. This is adding natural ability to all the abilities you can learn. Personally I like complicated character generation/development and in-game mechanics that get in the way as little as possible, everyone has their preferences.

For anyone who does want to give it a try I've come up with a better way to generate minor characteristics. The player rolls 2d6 for each MC the Director decides to use in the game (so 3 times if you go with Strength, Intellect and Looks). The player then decides which number goes with each minor characteristic. That better fits the control the AFF2 character gen system gives the player to shape their character.

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by shintokamikaze » Wed Oct 12, 2016 5:27 pm

SkinnyOrc wrote:Yeah and I hope it's clear this was only ever a bolt on to add some extra character detail, it's not replacing anything and it's not suggesting there's anything wrong with the system. Talents are great for making characters special, I'm a fan. This is adding natural ability to all the abilities you can learn. Personally I like complicated character generation/development and in-game mechanics that get in the way as little as possible, everyone has their preferences.

For anyone who does want to give it a try I've come up with a better way to generate minor characteristics. The player rolls 2d6 for each MC the Director decides to use in the game (so 3 times if you go with Strength, Intellect and Looks). The player then decides which number goes with each minor characteristic. That better fits the control the AFF2 character gen system gives the player to shape their character.
I will give it ago, what about a new adventure sheet?
Do you not think a points buy would be better, it will keep the heroes all on par with each other. I don't like the idea of having a 12 or 2 score and I think Charisma or charm sounds better than looks

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Re: Minor Characteristics

Post by Eddie » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:15 pm

the way I outlined above you'd have the advantage that a goblin would have lower physical prowess stat, but higher agility: currently a troll finds it easier to dodge a fire bolt as does a giant than a goblin or sprite.
you would need to go through the monsters and decide how to split their stats though :lol:

I would go point buy so that you don't end up with someone with rubbish scores along the line and someone else with great scores across the line.

that being said I've played a number of games which add complexity but, at the end of the day, there is little if any benefit to the process as the end result is the same but took a lot longer to get there.
plus the possibility of characters that are brilliant in one or two areas and useless in others is a guarantee with certain players

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