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Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:47 pm
by dunbruha
Has this situation come up any any playtesting? As a character advances in level, the player puts CPs into the Basic Ability instead of Specialization or Masteries, so that he can be "covered" over a broad range of situations. Example: Agiliity. Rather than put CPs into Jump or Swim or Balance, all CPs are put into the Basic ability, so that he would be better at swimming AND jumping AND balancing (but not as good at any particular one).

I guess the question is: "Does it pay to be a generalist?" I know that you can roll more dice with Specializations/Masteries, but is this "better" than a high Basic score? What would a Powergamer do?

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:00 pm
by EvilCat
I did this table some time ago, to answer my player's question "how good is my 3d4 ability?". Well, it's not surprising that rolling more dice rather than bigger dice provides better chances for success. Even 2d6 (6 CP) is better than 1d12 (8 CP).

But... we have some specialized characters in current game. For example, the hunter orc with Knowledge d4 > Monsters d6. When things don't concern monsters - but the geopraphy, for example - he's nothing special. Other character has Contacts d4 > Otherworlders d4, which would be helpful when traveling other planes, but for having contacts in average mundane village (where our adventure happens) he rolled just one d4 and failed.

They all would be better with _these_ rolls if they had higher basic ability. But if they want to have high rank in mastery, they have to raise specialization up to same rank, at least. And with mastery you have three dice, which is much better than two, even if in rare circumstances.

That's how I understood it...

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:54 am
by StormPatriarch
EvilCat wrote:I did this table some time ago, to answer my player's question "how good is my 3d4 ability?". Well, it's not surprising that rolling more dice rather than bigger dice provides better chances for success. Even 2d6 (6 CP) is better than 1d12 (8 CP).

But... we have some specialized characters in current game. For example, the hunter orc with Knowledge d4 > Monsters d6. When things don't concern monsters - but the geopraphy, for example - he's nothing special. Other character has Contacts d4 > Otherworlders d4, which would be helpful when traveling other planes, but for having contacts in average mundane village (where our adventure happens) he rolled just one d4 and failed.

They all would be better with _these_ rolls if they had higher basic ability. But if they want to have high rank in mastery, they have to raise specialization up to same rank, at least. And with mastery you have three dice, which is much better than two, even if in rare circumstances.

That's how I understood it...

Well that's just cool... :D

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:25 am
by Banesfinger
EvilCat wrote:Even 2d6 (6 CP) is better than 1d12 (8 CP).
Yes, from a CP to CP point-of-view, more dice is always better.
E.g.: d6 (2 CP) vs 2d4 (2 CP)

But you also have to look at the specialties: how many, how often, etc. The rule's guideline is "Specialization should be useful in about 10-20% of the uses of the base skill." However, this varies widely from ability to ability.

For example: Agility has 4 listed specializations (Acrobatics, Balance, Jump, Swim) and I can think of several other non-listed ones that could possibly arise. This is a prime example of the 10-20% rule. To get the most out of your CPs, I would invest in the base skill, since specializations will only be applicable 10% of the time.

Climbing on the other hand, only has 2 listed specializations (man-made surfaces, natural surfaces). I can't think of another situation that wouldn't fall into those 2 categories. This breaks the rule and thus, each specialization would be useful in 50% of the situations. This is a good ability to specialize in.

Combat abilities are also good to specialize in. Not because they break the 10-20% rule (there are about 8 melee specializations), but because Heroes generally stick to one specific weapon.

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:46 am
by mythfish
Banesfinger wrote:Climbing on the other hand, only has 2 listed specializations (man-made surfaces, natural surfaces). I can't think of another situation that wouldn't fall into those 2 categories. This breaks the rule and thus, each specialization would be useful in 50% of the situations. This is a good ability to specialize in.
You can specialize in more than just what you're climbing, you can specialize in how you climb (such as climbing quickly or climbing one-handed or climbing stealthily). You can specialize in climbing surfaces in a particular state (such as climbing slick surfaces or climbing vertical surfaces). It could also be argued that climbing a free-hanging rope or free-standing pole would not qualify as climbing a "surface".

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:59 am
by Banesfinger
mythfish wrote:You can specialize in more than just what you're climbing, you can specialize in how you climb (such as climbing quickly or climbing one-handed or climbing stealthily). You can specialize in climbing surfaces in a particular state (such as climbing slick surfaces or climbing vertical surfaces).
How would "State" or "How" climbing specializations work? Wouldn't those 'overlap' the specializations from the core rules?

Using your example, mythfish, say a PC was climbing a mountain one-handed (the "How"), couldn't it be argued he was also climbing a Natural Surface?
Likewise, a PC climbing a wet (the "State") building, would also be covered by Man-Made Surface?

Since you can't use more than 1 branch of an ability chain in the same roll, wouldn't it be more advantageous to just specialize in the two core specializations? (Which answers the opening post's question).

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:45 pm
by mythfish
Oh, right, it'd be silly to have both specializations. I was just pointing out that there are more options than the two listed in the book.

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:23 pm
by dunbruha
EvilCat wrote:I did this table some time ago, to answer my player's question "how good is my 3d4 ability?". Well, it's not surprising that rolling more dice rather than bigger dice provides better chances for success. Even 2d6 (6 CP) is better than 1d12 (8 CP).

But... we have some specialized characters in current game. For example, the hunter orc with Knowledge d4 > Monsters d6. When things don't concern monsters - but the geopraphy, for example - he's nothing special. Other character has Contacts d4 > Otherworlders d4, which would be helpful when traveling other planes, but for having contacts in average mundane village (where our adventure happens) he rolled just one d4 and failed.

They all would be better with _these_ rolls if they had higher basic ability. But if they want to have high rank in mastery, they have to raise specialization up to same rank, at least. And with mastery you have three dice, which is much better than two, even if in rare circumstances.

That's how I understood it...
Very cool table! What do the bolded lines signify?

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:47 pm
by dancross
EvilCat,

that chart ought to be reproduced in the core rules in the future. it is VERY useful.

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:56 pm
by dancross
EvilCat wrote:I did this table some time ago, to answer my player's question "how good is my 3d4 ability?". Well, it's not surprising that rolling more dice rather than bigger dice provides better chances for success. Even 2d6 (6 CP) is better than 1d12 (8 CP).

But... we have some specialized characters in current game. For example, the hunter orc with Knowledge d4 > Monsters d6. When things don't concern monsters - but the geopraphy, for example - he's nothing special. Other character has Contacts d4 > Otherworlders d4, which would be helpful when traveling other planes, but for having contacts in average mundane village (where our adventure happens) he rolled just one d4 and failed.

They all would be better with _these_ rolls if they had higher basic ability. But if they want to have high rank in mastery, they have to raise specialization up to same rank, at least. And with mastery you have three dice, which is much better than two, even if in rare circumstances.

That's how I understood it...
I can also see choosing skill levels based on ascending MRV rather than just die-ranks. That might be too strict a progression for PCs, but I can see it as useful as quick reference when creating NPC and monsters.

Re: Powergaming: Basic ability vs Specialization

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:42 pm
by EvilCat
dunbruha wrote:Very cool table! What do the bolded lines signify?
Most used combinations. I guess extremes like 2d12 are less used than 2d4 or 3d8.
dancross wrote:that chart ought to be reproduced in the core rules in the future. it is VERY useful.
Just check it with some pro or such... I think I used right algorithm and results look sound, but who knows... I can send source xls via e-mail.