Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

HedgeWizard
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Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by HedgeWizard » Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:10 pm

I've been having a lot of fun recently playing with Risus and thought that it's system of clichés would work excellently in AFF.

Basically instead of picking Skills and Talents your heros select a number of clichés instead. These are given a value as with a normal skill and can be added to the skill check when they are appropriate. Because a cliché can have multiple uses rather than just one or a limited range then they should cost double when compared to abnormal skill.

A player has to explain why their cliché is applicable and how they are using it. The director is free to add an appropriate modifier to the roll depending on how relevant or farfeched they think it is. A Rugged handsome Barbarian vs an attention obsessed Simonis tailor could have an advantage either way depending on how they are competing.

So you could have a "Backally Blacksand Pugalist" which could be used when City Lore (Blacksand) and Brawling for example. I've also been using a character with the following set:

Self-taught HedgeWizard 2
Over confident potion maker 3
Enthusiastic Botanist 3
Classically schooled swordsman 1
Thinks he knows rhetoric 1

These can of course be used in combination with traditional skills add talents.

But why?

1. It makes setting up a character really quick, no need to wade through the list of skills and talents and try and pick the right ones.
2. Everyone, even an absolute beginner, can imagine thier hero; but they cannot necessarily translate them into a set of distinct skills.
3. There is even a section in the rulebook about creating new skills and talents... :-).

As a nod to my source of insperation I checked my ancient Allancian dictionary and propose the name Gelós for this particular houserule :)

Nuvole!
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by Nuvole! » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:04 am

HedgeWizard wrote:1. It makes setting up a character really quick, no need to wade through the list of skills and talents and try and pick the right ones.
The lists of Talents and Special Skills are the less smooth bit of character creation (for quick games I tend to offer a limited list of them, but too often players ask me the longest list, then they start asking questions about Dodge and Swashbuckler and Armour etc. so the character creation goes from 3 minutes to 15 minutes, that is still a short time, but one of AFF strengths is in how quickstart this game is is), so this reason sounds good.
However, you need to have quite clear and easy guidelines in these clichés, to avoid making them an irresistible lure for powerplayers and surce of complaints.
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HedgeWizard
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by HedgeWizard » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:46 am

There is always a risk that when you give a bit of creative licence to the players someone will just use it to drive overly competative play.

To get around this there are several approaches which I would suggest:

1. Perhaps not use this method when you know that you have someone who just twists everything only to get a personal advantage to win at all costs rather than engaging with everyone.

2. When someone makes a cliché which could be too powerful then they have to put something with it to counter it. E.g. Player suggests "Demi God!" You make them change it to "Thinks they are a Demi God!" It's for them to convince the world that they are and not a delusional pixi ;-).

3. As GM penalise players when they stretch their use of a cliché to the max with some extra minuses to the dice roll.

4. If players are abusing use the group and start making everyone give up to three clearly distinct reasons why they can do what they want to do with that cliché, then get the group to come up with up to three clearly distinct reasons why it is not applicable... GM decides based on the balance.

5. Success/failure in previous uses gives guidance for future usage.

HedgeWizard
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by HedgeWizard » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:50 am

This method als makes advancement more logical. Rather than players just buying extra skills or advancing their skills, indipendent of if they have been doing anything when gaining the experience which relates the them. You can have advancement be linked much more closely to their clichés with three options:

1. Minor change in a description (positive or negative) to refelect the reality of using it.

2. Advance clichés which they have been using the most.

3. Make new clichés based on how they have been role playing.

Nuvole!
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by Nuvole! » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:29 pm

How is this managed in Risus? Maybe we can find some good rule of thumb or mechanic that we can steal with pride :P
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HedgeWizard
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by HedgeWizard » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:56 pm

Risus is a very simple game which functions around narrative and relies on cooperation of the players. Basically it is for the GM to help the players in pinning their clichés down and then applying the right difficulty ratings during the game. It relies much more on everyone wanting to get on and make it fun, rather than rules lawyers who want to just crush everyone.

So basically there are no hard and fast rules because the first one is to have fun, if players want to be Demi gods and everyone is ok with that then go for it!

The rules are free and only 4 pages long.

Nuvole!
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by Nuvole! » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:21 am

Maybe we could review and take some inspiration from Numenera characters descriptors?
i.e. “I am an adjective noun who verbs” becoming for example: "I am a strong barbarian who punches hard", or "I am a stealthy thief who backstabs", or "I am a graceful elf who jumps from tree to tree", etc.
We may make meaningful and reasonable lists of adjectives, nouns and verbs that can be a guideline for creating more.

Perhaps with more experience points you could change some of them, so that at the beginning of your career you are "an inexperienced thief who likes easy gold" and in time you become "a stealthy thief who backstabs" etc... I guess it would take quite some time to create a very defined list of descriptors, but it would be much smoother thinking about a guideline to avoid imbalances.

At the end, it would be just an extension (or a clarification) of the first part of AFF2 character creation, when it is suggested you choose an "archetype" for your character.
He's a real Nowhere man, sitting in his Nowhere land, making all his Nowhere plans for Nobody.

HedgeWizard
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by HedgeWizard » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:18 am

That's an idea, but won't that become too restrictive because we've put quite a lot into one line.

In Risus "I am a strong barbarian who punches hard" would be split into two: "Strong Barbarian" implying physical prowess, comfort with a more spartan way of life, struggling with polite dinner conversation and the correct use of a fork and perhaps "solid right hook" implying that they know how to use their fists and fight". "I am a graceful elf who jumps from tree to tree" becomes "Graceful elf" implying grace, speaking Elvish with a proper accent, elegance, knowledge of poetry, a slightly effeminate aspect (from the point of view of a dwarf) and then "at home in the trees" implying jumping around, camouflage, being very good at heights, excellent balance. Etc. Etc.

One suggestion which I saw was to ensure that a cliché always ends in a noun. Here is an excellent article on the subject, it gets a bit silly at times but has some good ideas.

https://unclebear.wordpress.com/2004/01 ... -cliche-2/

Someone even did a FF mod for it (check out Risus Universe and then Settings), although I don't think it was that good. If you want FF do it properly and use AFF! No one can say the rules are complex!!!

Your thoughts?

TheoOfSilverton
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by TheoOfSilverton » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:55 pm

That's a really interesting idea, I like it a lot.
It kinda brings all skills into a similar use as Talents, but in a broader sense, and I like Talents as they are a quick way to differentiate characters and give them an 'instant' speciality or 'hook'.

I wonder if there's a way gamers who want to stick to the AFF skills could combine the two systems.. There could be 'skills packages' and players can pick a few..
For instance 'Street Urchin' might give the players 1 point in climb, dodge, sleight of hand, sneaking, city lore and con.
'Nomad' might give 1 point in ride, swim, animal lore, fishing, hunting and world lore.
Other skills packages could be Militia, outlaw, Squire, etc..
By picking a few skills packages that reflect their background, it might be another quick way to create a character ..? I'll leave it to others to suggest other skills packages, as I probably don't have the time or attention span to create a thorough range of options...
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Ruffnut
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by Ruffnut » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:41 pm

Great Ideas!
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Lorian
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by Lorian » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:40 pm

Unless I forget I am now working on a list of LOADS of skill packages.
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HedgeWizard
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by HedgeWizard » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:51 am

I like your idea Theo, the general descriptions become almost partly prepared characters which people can finish off. But I would go a step further to prevent us simply falling into the traditional format of archiotypes. The descriptions (for want of a better word) in my mind should be more than a job descriptions but should have an evocative effect, bringing into the mind something about the character. This can be done really easily as the article which I shared demonstrated. "Street Urchin" is ok, "grubby little street urchin" gives a whole different picture. "Nomad" bring so mind something but "Proud dust covered Nomad" creates a richer image.

They don't even need to be 100% positive, "Knight" could become "self-serving Knight" or you could even have "Wizard angry at the city which rejected him". These do not have to be evil people but they can be fun to play and even the longer description can guide what skills you would suggest for the package.

I would suggest if going this route that a description can be linked to a number of skills (for example between two and four) and this is the base set which comes which the description. A player can have more than one description as long as they are logically compatible or one of them is prefixed with "Former/Formerly a". So you can have a player who is a "Formerly a grubby street urchin" and a "Wizard angry at the city which rejected him". You have to admit that would give some room for playing with :-D

The player does not have to use all their points for creating skills but can keep some for later. If during play a player thinks that they would normally have the appropriate skill for a situation then they can make an argument based upon their descriptions. The GM can accept it or roll a dice to see depending on how likely everyone thinks it would be.

This means that the player then has some space to develop their character but are driven to play within their character. So the character above could argue he has arcrobatics skills from his time on the street urchin but the others could argue it was some time ago so he has to roll for it (let's say they agree on 4+ 50/50) he fails and cannot add Acrobatics to his sheet and instead of doing a graceful backflip falls flat on his face.

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with Lorian!
Last edited by HedgeWizard on Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

HedgeWizard
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by HedgeWizard » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:49 pm

HedgeWizard wrote:I like your idea Theo, the general descriptions become almost partly prepared characters which people can finish off. But I would go a step further to prevent us simply falling into the traditional format of archiotypes. The descriptions (for want of a better word) in my mind should be more than a job descriptions but should have an evocative effect, bringing into the mind something about the character. This can be done really easily as the article which I shared demonstrated. "Street Urchin" is ok, "grubby little street urchin" gives a whole different picture. "Nomad" bring so mind something but "Proud dust covered Nomad" creates a richer image.

They don't even need to be 100% positive, "Knight" could become "self-serving Knight" or you could even have "Wizard angry at the city which rejected him". These do not have to be evil people but they can be fun to play and even the longer description can guide what skills you would suggest for the package.

I would suggest if going this route that a description can be linked to a number of skills (for example between two to four) and this is the base set which comes which the description. A player can have more than one description as long as they are logically compatible or one of them is prefixed with "Former/Formerly a". So you can have a player who is a "Formerly a grubby street urchin" and a "Wizard angry at the city which rejected him". You have to admit that would give some room for playing with :-D

The player does not have to use all their points for creating skills but can keep some for later. If during play a player thinks that they would normally have the appropriate skill for a situation then they can make an argument based upon their descriptions. The GM can accept it or roll a dice to see depending on how likely everyone thinks it would be.

This means that the player then has some space to develop their character but are driven to play within their character. So the character above could argue he has arcrobatics skills from his time on the street urchin but the others could argue it was some time ago so he has to roll for it (let's say they agree on 4+ 50/50) he fails and cannot add Acrobatics to his sheet and instead of doing a graceful backflip falls flat on his face.

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with Lorian!

TheoOfSilverton
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by TheoOfSilverton » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:13 pm

Thinking about the number of skills, a standard beginning character gets three skills at level 2, and six at level 1.
When creating characters using the Skill Packages idea, I wonder if: each Skill Package should have a total of four skills at level 1, and they pick three packages based on their character's background; or if they pick two Skill Packages, which each have a total of six skills at level 1. Obviously there can be overlap between these skills, resulting in some initial skills having level 2.

I like Hedge Wizards idea of holding back a few skills, to slip in as and when relevant. TV shows do this all the time.

I think by having a modest selection of Skill Packages, it then becomes about how different ones are blended together to create new combinations. Too many Skill Packages, and as HedgeWizard says, it could just become a list of archtypes.

Wholly agree with HedgeWizard that character descriptions should be evocative. It reminds me of a review of the Phantom Menace, by Red Letter Media. (it's really good, really long, and really sweary) To prove a point about how poorly the characters were written in the prequel, people were interviewed, and asked to describe Star Wars characters without making reference to their appearance, name, job, function, etc. When Han, Luke, Leia, Threepio, etc were the subjects, people were offering adjectives such as cocky, arrogant, naive, idealistic, strong-willed, fussy, prissy, etc... But when they had to do the same for Qui Gon Jin, Anakin, young Obi Wan, etc.. they were stumped, because the characters were only there to regurgitate exposition. None of them had any personality. This to me has always stuck in my mind when creating characters.

I have a list of personality traits I refer to when creating characters, listing positive ones and negative ones. I like to pick equally off each list.
In a time of fear and confusion, silence charging the air
The sunlight is gone, darkness lives on, in the heart of the dragon's lair

HedgeWizard
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Re: Gelós: Another approach to skills & Talents

Post by HedgeWizard » Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:30 am

I'm working on a document pulling all this together after having some fun play testing.

Hope to post the jpeg soon!

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