Re: Broad categories, Hunting

From: bethexton_at_...
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2001 13:24:04 -0000

I would suggest that as a rule of thumb, any skill or ability that duplicates an affinity is too broad. i.e. you can't just take a skill in 'combat.' Nor should you be able to take one in hunting. In the example above I would suggest that the skill given relate to what he's actually done, such as 'familiar with hunting' or 'aid in hunting.' Now, a player could take this at a high level, but two things would limit its long term usefullness--most uses would be at a heavy improv penalty, and as a narrator I'd be quite tough about qualified as "used in game." I think this might be the key to broad abilities, make raising them double cost unless used just so. So in this example, if the character had 'familiar with hunting' and spent a bunch of time working with an experienced hunter, he could buy it up at regular cost. On the other hand, if he had used the skill to try and stalk something, or to snare animals, it would cost double.

Of course, not all broad abilities will overlap affinities. The narrator still has the option of banning them, but lets face it, there are heroes that should be described as tough or smart. The trick then is not making those abilities too powerful, or making them open to mini-maxing. For starters again I'd make clear to the player that only in rare circumstances would the ability be considered 'used in game.' The rule of thumb being 'would this expererience likely make you smarter/tougher/whatever.' Using 'smart' once to augment your negotiate ability probably wouldn' count. Heck, off hand I can't think of many situations that would count. Mostly raising it would require double cost.

'Tough' is one that comes close to my heart, because my favorite runequest character was largely notable for his 18 constitution. Of course I took a crack at writing him up for HW, and part of that write up went something like (and I don't have it to hand, so this isn't quite as cleanly written) "He seems to be cut from Mastakos own boot leather; he's almost that restless, he's that tough, and he's at least that weathered." It is rather wasteful with words for the abilities contained, but I like the imagery. And the character should be tough (I'd probably use his starting 5W or one of the 1W for that--as I said it was the characters outstanding trait). But if I were to ever play him again I'd accept that tough would awfully hard to raise cheaply. Also I'd expect it to take huge improv modifiers for many applications. No matter how tough you are a sword blade will still slice you open. Being tough might let you keep going when hurt, but the hurts will still slow you down, etc. Also note that having 'tough' as a physical skill won't help you against psychological stress.

I could go on and on, but I guess the point is really simpler: recognize that broad skills can be unbalancing, warn the players, and simply be tougher about applying improv modifiers and allowing cheap increases.


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