Re: Keywords vs Abilities

From: Aaron Stockser <nwn2.wow_at_...>
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2011 20:30:54 -0800

I'll take a stab at this...

So there are 2 different types of Keywords for different purposes.

Package Keywords are great for "Unrelated Campaign Abilities" so for example in a Star Wars campaign:

Citizen of the Galaxy (Package)

- Repulsorlift Operation 16
- Republic History and Politics 13
- Blasters 15
- Language: Galactic 16

This is a cheap (or free) way for a Narrator to ensure that every character in the campaign has basic proficiency in these unrelated but common Abilities. Once the package is purchased though, each Ability must be improved separately as there is no "Citizen of the Galaxy" Ability in play.

Umbrella Keywords are great for linking related Abilities together in a way that they can be improved collectively or individually, for example in a Supers campaign:

Amazing Spider Powers 13W2

-Webslinging +5
-Spider Sense +8
-Wall Crawling +1
-Acrobatics +4

Here the player can spend more Hero Points to just make Spidey better at Spider Powers overall, or improve individual or signature Abilities. The advantage of an Umbrella Keyword over Broad Abilities really shows itself when Scope comes into play - all Jedi would be able to use the Force to move objects for instance, but a Jedi character with that breakout Ability under Force Powers would simply be better at it than other Jedi characters (who would have to take a Stretch Penalty/Modifier in a campaign with an expert Telekinetic).

The cost difference is there to encourage interesting, specialized, related Abilities.

Mechanically, you can play HQ2 with every character having ~4 Abilities (Interaction/Social, Investigation/Knowledge, Physical/Combat, and Healing/Recovery). Each character can even have interesting and unique names for those 4 Broad Abilities, but the characters would be functionally competent in almost all traditional RPG activities. Umbrella Keywords both encourage specialized Abilities and thematically-strong characters by allowing both broad competencies and specialized Abilities to be increased at a decent rate without falling behind.

Hope this made sense,

On Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 6:33 PM, Lindharin <lindharin_at_...> wrote:

> **
> Hi everyone,
> One thing I'm struggling with in HQ (2e) is keywords, or at least some of
> the optional forms of them (umbrella and package). Let's take a silly
> example, and see if it shows where I'm missing something. So I define a
> keyword "Agri-Worker" for my futuristic setting, with a list of
> incorporated
> abilities like Plant Crops, Harvest Crops, Maintain Farm, etc. etc.
> Basically, he's a farmer in the culture of that specific game setting.
> Now, by the rules as I understand them, if a character named Alan takes the
> Agri-Worker keyword at a score of 17, he effectively gets Plant Crops 17,
> Harvest Crops 17, Maintain Farm 17, etc. On the other hand, another
> character, called Frank, could have a description that starts out with
> "Frank was born and bred in the backwoods of Beta Epsilon 5, a third
> generation farmer." Then he underlines the word farmer, adds it to his list
> of abilities, and gives it a score of 17. So we have Alan with a keyword of
> Agri-Worker at 17, and Frank with an ability of Farmer at 17.
> So far so good, and for all intents and purposes they seem pretty
> functionally equivalent. Now they finish their first few stories and want
> to
> raise their scores. Frank can spend 1 point to raise his Farmer ability to
> 18. Alan is a bit more complicated. According to the sidebar on Improving
> Keywords (pg 57), depending on the setting and the GM, it might cost 1
> point
> to raise the keyword just like any other ability. Alternatively, it might
> cost 2 points to raise the entire keyword to 18 if it is treated as an
> umbrella, or maybe it is a package and cannot be raised at all so you'd
> have
> to spend 1 pt each on Plant Crops, Harvest Crops, Maintain Farm, and every
> other ability included in the package.
> I get the importance of defining keywords to convey information about an
> unfamiliar setting. It adds flavor to call the farmers in a futuristic
> setting something like Agri-Workers; it highlights the difference between
> our every day world and the game setting, and gives the opportunity to
> introduce new cultural elements. For example, I don't know anything about
> Glorantha, but the example keyword in the book of "Humakti weaponthane"
> sounds to me like some sort of fighter with a bunch of cool cultural
> elements thrown in. I'm all for defining that as a keyword, so it is as
> natural for my players to include it in their description / ability list as
> it would be for them to include "Knight of the Round Table", another
> fighter
> with cool cultural elements that they are already familiar with.
> Keywords make sense for me in that descriptive context. I just don't get
> what makes them mechanically different than any other broad ability, so why
> would they need special rules for how to advance them? From a
> game-mechanics
> point-of-view, what is the motivation for the umbrella or package rules for
> keywords, particularly their advancement rules? Is there any reason I
> shouldn't just use keywords for descriptive purposes but let them function
> the same as any other ability, and be increased the same as any other
> ability?
> Thanks,
> Lindharin
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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