Hi, I liked a lot of the ideas/concepts in and behind these. There were some I didn't like:eg that each skill/talent that you learned/acquired had a cost. This was a good idea at the time, but the LAW system is far more tunable as to what your character aims to be, in that it doesn't relate having a skill/talent to one of the three primary characteristics. To my mind, knowing a skill/talent is one thing (acquired in LAW by expending XP) but using it successfully is another, again depending on a primary characteristic. I'd like to see more of the ITL skill/talent set adopted into LAW, so if any FMs/GMs have any ideas about this, please let me know. Thanks, Colin
Post by gigglestick on Jun 12, 2012 16:35:55 GMT -5
Could you be a little more specific in what you are looking for in a new system? I'm not quite sure what you're asking to be re-ruled? We've used some house rules for talents (and a LOT more spells) in our house campaign, and some of the skills were more than just skills...
Thanks for the feedback, I wouldn't like the system changed at all. I was trying to explain why I felt that the LAW structure was better than ITL as it dealt separately with skill acquisition (10 XP per skill level) and then skill application (a roll vs appropriate char + skill level to actually use it). I'd like to see more of the ITL skills available eg New Followers/Warrior/Veteran, as well as some of the strategic spells (Create Scroll/Lesser MI/Greater MI, Create Gate etc) but in the LAW framework in such a way that the game remains balanced. What I had in mind was this: Wizard learns Create Greater MI (10 XP - standard for a spell) He knows the spell Iron Flesh so decides to create a self-powered Iron-Flesh ring, which would be always-on and work for either whoever wore it or one particular individual or group. My thought would be that he could do it at a cost of (1+2+3+4) * 10 XP = 100XP per item ( Iron Flesh is 4 Fat to cast, ring is self-powered and always-on). The necessary XP could come from anyone, either the wizard themself or the client/group they make it for. That's what I had in mind. Cheers Colin
hey klingor! that's a cool idea. i think the 100XP cost you have in mind for the ring is quite expensive but reasonably fair considering how powerful the ring would be. then i'm thinking a party of 4 with 25XP each could coerce their mage buddy to make one when you allow the XP to come from a pool of characters, the price doesn't look so expensive although it's still not cheap. i think maybe there should be some cost in gold somewhere in the mix too. cost of the actually metal to make the ring, blacksmith labor, etc. unless the 'clients' already have a ring and they want it 'enchanted'.
it may be simpler to just make the cost in terms of gold...spell IQ level * 10 + spell Fatigue cost * 10. in this case, the cost would 190gp. putting in terms of gold yields a guideline for how much such an item would be worth if one were merely buying or selling the item. to put a narrative spin on how/why a mage would need the 190gp to create the item...he must purchase special incense and magical potions for use in the ritual of 'enchanting' the item. also, the mage would want to be compensated for the huge amount of time he must spend enchanting the item over several weeks, thus keeping him from other money-making endeavors like adventuring or serving other clients. i know my formula is a little more expensive but you could play with the multipliers if desired.
this could add some fun and interesting new possibilities to the game...but i can see how it might be best to leave it as a 'house rule'. it adds a complex variable to the equation when trying to 'engineer' an adventure for characters within a specific target range of XP, etc. that is just my opinion though...and the mismatch between character XP and difficulty level of an adventure could decrease the fun for some. i'm sure most would not enjoy playing an adventure that is too difficult for their characters. however, i think what you are proposing would most likely make some adventures too easy (adventure designed for characters with 25XP but the characters all have one of these rings AND 25XP). again, that is just my opinion from a 'game designer' point-of-view. personally, an easy adventure doesn't bother me as a player at all but it may bother others.
of course, i don't speak for bret or george. i'm just throwing my thoughts out here because i have nothing better to do and i enjoy thinking about these things.
Ewookie, If I remember it right ( from 35 years ago), if you had the skill, it was always-on. There was no check against a characteristic unless it was specified in the skill definition. There was no concept of levels of ability within a skill - you either had the skill or you didn't Cheers Colin
It would be nice to see some of the skills from ITL. Legends handles skill much better than the old system. In ITL you needed high IQ to learn sword, horsemanship, mace, bow and warrior and a few skills for your character type. Skills like warrior, alertness, etc were very useful. Magic Items were way too powerful in ITL (everyone had Iron Flesh Rings), and almost unheard of in the legends version. So there is an opportunity to add some skills/talents to Legends without making it too complex.
I'd like to see some more thought on this as well. It seems to me that converting the talents part of ITL to LAW would go a long way towards solving the "advanced LAW" conundrum as well.
The heart of the system in TFT was the spells and talents and how they got used. The problem with the system was that it was only about half-realized when Howard Thompson pushed it out on the market, and then on top of that he managed to alienate and get rid of the designer. Once that happened, TFT stagnated and since HT spitefully denied Steve Jackson the opportunity to buy the rights to TFT, he was forced to invent GURPS which rapidly jumped the shark in complexity compared to the sweet, sweet simplicity of TFT (and LAW).
If a reasonable method of converting the ITL and Advanced Wizard/Melee rules into LAW could be adopted, then you would have the problem solved I think, providing both a good simple hack-and-slashery game, and the framework for as involuted and complex a fantasy world as you would like. Add in some good rules for a "Barbarian Prince-like" hex crawl framework and you would find a very happy group of gamers out here in TV land.
Turning to specifics, and after skimming a few sections of this forum, I like the idea of redefining TFT "Talents" as either "talents" (which are inborn abilities that your character uniquely has -- things like Sex Appeal and Charisma, or Animal Handler come immediately to mind) or "skills" (which are things your character can learn -- Sword, Axe, Mace, Shield, Horseback Riding or Courtly Graces leap to mind in this case). In addition, there might be a third category, perhaps called something like "experience" which would be skills/talents picked up over time due to your other activities -- such as Master Thief or Veteran and which would have some sort of time element involved before your character could be even eligible to learn them.
Another area I found interesting was the discussion elsewhere in the forum about creating Magical Items in a LAW universe. The notion of XP as the cost to create was brilliant, though the response on gold pieces was valid as well. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere between the two -- in that XP are how the item is actually created, but as part of that you determine the cost in GP (or, perhaps more appropriately, Silver $$) to create the item (i.e., how much is my labor and skill worth on the open market?) which can be used to establish both the "fair market value" of such an item, as well as its likelihood of being found in the local village market.
Another area where TFT fell down, in my opinion, was the whole downtime issue. My players used to be mightily bored by the idea of being a town watchman during their off-time instead of going out gambling and carousing. To that end, I modified the old "Prestige Tables" from Down with the King into downtime activity tables the players could roll on in order to determine what happened when they weren't at the RPG gaming table. I also took the "gambling routine" from En Garde in order to quickly and efficiently determine gambling game outcomes based on simple chance but without bogging down the whole game while a couple of players played poker or something off to the side. Quite frequently these also provided me with additional adventure ideas that resulted from something that happened with the tables, as well as providing the players with some extra stuff to brag about their characters having done. To say nothing of the occasional duel that was generated. All in all, they worked far better (and maintained interest better) than the down-time employment gig. I figured that the players would rather sell their swords (or wands, as the case might be) as part of an adventure (like escorting a caravan through the deep woods where all the bandits hung out) than simply wandering around the streets of the village calling out the time in the middle of the night. But I'm sure something even better could be worked out by everyone now.
Anyway, TFT provided a good solid base on which to build, but LAW has clearly advanced the state of the art for TFT to the next generation. It seems to me that some judicious thought on doing the same with ITL could easily bridge the gap between those who enjoy a good solo adventure or arena fight, and those who want a useful framework on which they can base an epic fantasy campaign.
I've been reading a lot of different rules sets lately, and a couple of things from Tunnels and Trolls v7.5 and Two Hours Wargames' All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out seem germane to this topic.
TnT has talents which are really, really vague and open ended (you basically make them up), which is in keeping with how one plays that game. If I remember correctly (no rules books handy right now), a character can add a talent whenever they increase a level. Levels in TnT are tied to the tens digit of certain attributes (Strength, Luck, Dexterity, etc.) depending on your character type. For instance, a fighter with Strength 19 is level 1, while Strength 20 would make him level 2. Attributes are increased in a manner similar to LAW, so it takes quite a few experience points to increase a level. Consequently, one doesn't amass talents all that quickly.
ATZ:FFO characters (called "Stars" and "Grunts" depending if they are player characters or NPCs) have a Reputation (think level), Skills (think Talents) and Attributes (think, uh, die roll modifier. Sorta. Maybe crossed with a Talent. Kinda). Anyway, games or scenarios in ATZ:FFO are called "Encounters". After an Encounter, a character's Reputation may either increase or decrease based on the outcome of the Encounter. If the Encounter is successful, a die is rolled and if the result is a "6", and some other criteria are met, the character's Reputation increases by one. Conversely, if the Encounter is unsuccessful, or if a couple of other criteria are met, a die is rolled and if the result is "1", the character's Reputation decreases by one. Skills (there are currently only two of them) are increased in a similar manner based on the successful use of the Skill. Skill levels are limited by the character's Reputation value; if a character's Reputation decreases due to an unsuccessful Encounter, any Skill that is then found to have a level greater than the character's Reputation is then decreased to equal the character's Reputation. For instance, if a character's Reputation was reduced from 5 to 4 due to an unsuccessful encounter, his Savvy Skill of 5 would have to be reduced to 4.
ATZ:FFO Attributes are semi-randomly determined fixed talents (Born Leader, Fast, Runt, Hard as Nails, etc.). A Star can have two, the first is chosen the player, while the second is randomly determined by a die roll, while Grunts only have one, randomly selected. They never change and are used as die roll modifiers in certain circumstances.
A bit of a long-winded background, but I wonder if there is room to adopt some of this into LAW. LAW doesn't have Levels, per se, and is quite stingy with experience when compared to TnT, so a straight adoption of TnT's leveling method probably wouldn't work. However, if one considers a LAW character's total points as its level, then a combination of the TnT and ATZ:FFO methods might work. For instance, if upon completion of an adventure XP are expended to increase a character's point total and a Talent was successfully used during the adventure, the character rolls three dice. If triple "1"s are rolled, the Talent is increased by one level. On the other hand, if the use of the Talent was unsuccessful AND resulted in an adverse result, then three dice are rolled, with tripple "6"s causing the Talent to decrease a level, regardless of any point total change. I realize the use of "1"s and "6"s are reversed from my ATZ:FFO description above, but it is consistent with the critical success/failure rolls from TFT.
I like the way LAW handles improving Skills through payment of XP, so I wouldn't change anything there. The ATZ:FFO Attributes are interesting, but I'm not sure how to include them as a mechanism in LAW. They are die roll modifiers intended to add depth to one's characters, so they more resemble the Quirks/Advantages from GURPS. My first inclination is to treat them as such, and assign positive and negative point values to them and give characters a certain number of Attribute points at the time of their creation as well as a limit to the total number of Attributes one may have. I don't know; I'm making this up as I type.
In any event, a mechanism such as this adds another dimension to how LAW currently works: do I expend XP to increase an attribute and have the opportunity to improve a talent; or, do I buy a new Skill or Spell, or improve an existing one; or do I just bank the XP?
Just some thoughts.
Last Edit: Apr 2, 2014 11:24:04 GMT -5 by nukesnipe
The "attribute" idea is quite good, but I'd want to work out details on how precisely they interact with skill sets and/or activity die rolls before I went there. For example, if we counted Charisma as an "attribute" it would provide a modifier on certain activities, and might provide a plus on a skill check for a "related" skill. While TFT didn't have skills like "fast talk" or "persuade," maybe it should have.... But certainly, it would provide a bonus of some type while seeking to influence an NPC or intelligent creature by communicating with them.
Perhaps another way to differentiate without simply converting over to playing GURPS, is to specify that the difference between "talents" and "skills" is that "talents" are always "on," and "skills" must be specifically used. In effect, if Alertness is considered a talent instead of a skill, then that character always has the opportunity to check to avoid surprise. If Tracking is a skill, then the player must specify that the character is attempting to track someone or something before they can use that skill roll. This could be handled in a couple of different ways:
First, the old TFT talent tables could be combed through to define which ones are talents, and which ones are skills. That would be the easiest, most logical approach to most of us. Most of the TFT talents would actually be skills, with only a few listed as talents under the new definition. Players could select one or two talents for their characters during creation, and that right there would lead to some interesting decision making and tradeoffs, as well as provide some opportunities for good role-playing later on in the actual campaign.
The second way could be to simply state that a Character can have one or two talents (which are any skills the player chooses for that purpose). The talents would have some fairly significant advantage (perhaps the equivalent of a +3 skill) and would always be "on," but the player either could never increase it as a skill, or would have to pay double or triple the XP to increase it. We've all known people that were naturals at some sort of task -- perfect pitch, superior memory, facility with languages, better able to run or swim or ride a horse than anyone else without any training at all, and almost all of them that I knew had a problem with improving that talent much -- they could learn specific techniques, but it's almost like there was some sort of stumbling block preventing them from taking it to the next level. As a case in point, a friend of mine who I took fencing classes with in college was an absolute natural at using a foil, epee or sabre. He wound up rated "C" almost immediately in all three weapons, but he never advanced beyond "C" despite his best efforts. Another guy in the same class with us, wound up "A" rated in sabre and "B" rated in Epee a couple of years later.
Everything else would be a skill that the character would have to learn just like anyone else.
Turning to skill drops, I'm not adverse to having a character's skill in a particular area drop after a failure in a success roll (clearly, the individual was playing hookey when that particular item was covered in "thief class" or whatever), but again it would need to be worked out a bit. For example, does the skill level drop immediately? Or at the conclusion of the adventure? And what are the implications in game terms for each of those options? Maybe a different answer would be to have a player who fails miserably at some skill check put a "-1" or a checkmark next to that skill, and, at the end of the adventure, if s/he wants the skill to NOT drop a point, s/he must pay one or more XP to offset the drop -- the idea being that failure costs experience (that could be spent on increasing skills) in order to brush up the skills you already have. By miserable failure, I'm thinking in terms of what TFT called an "automatic failure;" the old 16,17 or 18 dice roll result (which LAW doesn't seem to have anymore). My concern here is not to overly punish the player during the adventure (the failure itself probably did all the punishing necessary at that precise moment), and, at the same time to give them the opportunity to avoid long-term negative consequences from a failure by, in effect, going "back to school" to figure out what went wrong. If they choose not to spend the experience point(s), for whatever reason, then their skill drops one level, perhaps rationalized in game terms by stating that the player is more reluctant to attempt that particular task in the future due to fear of failure or something, and, as skills are somewhat of a use-it-or-lose-it proposition, the skill set begins to atrophy. Similarly, if a character has a "critical success" with a skill (again, in TFT terms, the old 3, 4, or 5 dice roll result) they might automatically receive an XP for it after the adventure is over. (if you're going to punish extreme failure, you should probably reward extreme success too, I'm thinking....)
There's something innately appealing about how you describe TnT's talent award process (I've never played TnT, so I may not be clearly grasping everything), but isn't that sort of what LAW already does? If you increase an attribute (e.g, ST, DX, IQ) there are opportunities there to learn new skills. Mind you, LAW doesn't use the TFT restrictions on Talents (that is, some talents require a higher IQ or greater ST or DX before you can even attempt to master them), but then LAW, as written, is really more a vastly improved Melee and Wizard than it is an attempt on In the Labyrinth, and that doesn't necessarily mean that George and Brett didn't intend such restrictions to be in place if/when they move to a more comprehensive system for role-playing. But maybe I'm misinterpreting what you're getting at there.
All in all, you've got some good thoughts there and I hope you keep 'em coming!
Last Edit: Apr 3, 2014 3:34:30 GMT -5 by jlv61560: Correcting spelling error.
I don't see why Talents would always be ON while Skills would be optional. The way I see it, Skills are always ON too. The player must have the presence of mind to apply the skill and the GM must agree with the application. Talents aren't any different. The big difference between Talents and Skills (IMO) is that Talents are one or two time XP investments while LAW's skills can grow further.
I would really like to see a poll such as: What TFT/ITL Talent would you most like to see in LAW? Most of the ITL talents have LAW/skill counterpart. Do people really want ITL Talents or do they want more Skills (derived from ITL Talents)?
In regards to (N)PC 'Levels' Idea - Level = (Total Attribute Points - 30)/2 32,33 points = a level 1 PC 34,35 = level 2 36,37 = level 3 38,39 = level 4
Hmmm. I obviously didn't do a very good job of explaining my reasoning with the "always on" comment. I guess what I was getting at was that with a "talent" you wouldn't have to actively think (and remember to tell the FM) that you were applying it. If we used the example of "strong constitution" from my response to your comments on FAT, END, and hobbitry in general, you would always receive the benefit of "strong constitution" (a faster FAT recovery and possibly healing rate) without the necessity of stating the fact. Whereas with a "skill, something like "detect traps," "riding," or "thief" skills, for example, would have to be specifically cited as being in use in order to affect the outcome of an event.
Some skill usage would be automatically implied by the specific event; for example, you wouldn't need to state you were using "sword" skill in a fight where you are using a sword, just HOW you are using it -- to increase probability to hit, or to increase damage, or that you were using "swim" skill when swimming, but you would have to specifically state that you are "searching for traps" because otherwise you're just casually glancing around. So, I guess, yes, always on, but not exactly always in use. Like math skills in the modern world. We know them, but we only use them when conditions actually call for them....
Does that make more sense? I actually think we are in agreement here from what you said in your post, but I want to correct a mis-impression that my poor word choice may have left you with by responding here....
We may be in agreement. I'm not sure. Talents would only be used when conditions called for them as well. I rather disagree with the examples you gave for Talents also. Sex Appeal, Charisma, and Animal Handling. Animal Handling definitely seems like a Skill to me. Something you can learn. I think, to some degree, Sex Apppeal and Charisma can be learned also - but, yes, most of one's potency in those departments stem from natural endowments (no snickers) like appearance.
What I'm reading from you now is that Talents wouldn't require ability checks the way Skills do? Is that correct?
Addendum I may be getting stuck in the semantics. The semantic and philosophical description of a thing are malleable. I'm more interested in the mechanical differences between Talents and Skills. What really sets a Talent apart from a Skill? Lack of rolling dice for success? Limited advancement opportunities? Bonuses that a character is 'born' with?
Last Edit: Apr 8, 2014 16:48:48 GMT -5 by platimus
I sort of always thought of Talents as defining who you are (think adjective), while Skills define what you do (think verb).
For instance, a person talented with Charisma could be a more effective Leader (a Skill) than one not as charismatic.
A Dexterous (Talent) person could be a more effective Swordsman (Sword Skill) or Thief (Thievery Skill).
I see Talents as enhancing skills, or providing a "natural" ability in the absence of a Skill. I fear they could become quite unbalancing if allowed to run amok, which is why I think they should have restrictions placed on their number and ability to be improved. Of course, a Skill could be considered an improvement on a Talent.
The cool thing with talents is they really allow you to define your character. Back in my brief flirtation with GURPS, I played an arachnophobic Elf. Of course, that was a Quirk, but it was still fun. The fact I'm a card-carrying Arachnophobe had nothing to do with anything.
My son is presently playing a game where his character is a kleptomaniac with anger management issues and prone to impulsive behavior. He has to pass savings rolls to keep it all together. On more than one occasion his failing his rolls have caused his party quite a bit of grief.