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  • Starting Willpower, Starting Gnosis, Starting Rage

    WTA char-gen is a bit odd. Two 0 EXP characters can have very different numbers of dots on the sheet for instance.

    Willpower varies by Tribe. Gnosis varies by Breed. Rage varies by Auspice. Rage I absolutely get, it's a mixed blessing and it's very cheap to increase. You can easily boost your Rage from 1 to 3, or 5. And you might WANT a Rage of 1, that's its own benefit. Gnosis however is (as far as I can tell) 100% a good thing, perhaps with the exception of the narrative expectations of high Gnosis - if you have Gnosis 6 and insufficiently spiritual RP you might be policed, rightly or wrongly, by players. The division of 1 for Homid and 5 for Lupus feels extremely worrying since it leads to your homi-lupus, Ape McHumanson the Human Dude who behaves like a human, and rests in his homid form, and acts nothing like a wolf... but starts with Gnosis 5! Yes! And while it's annoying, you can see WHY someone would do it. The game has inadvertently incentivized it.

    Willpower is the one I really don't get - why not just have all PCs start at Willpower 5? Do tribes with lower starting Willpower get anything in return, all in all? I love W20 but I do wonder about the balance of char-gen, all in all.

    Naturally all of these ratings can be boosted with EXP and freebies, at varying costs, but it's still interesting. Just because you can go from Willpower 3 to Willpower X with a handful of Freebies doesn't mean that you should, or that you can afford it after buying the things essential to your backstory or concept.

  • #2
    No, there is no compensation for lower WP, Rage or Gnosis. Before revised the Stargazer Lupus Ahroun started with Gnosis 5, Rage 5 and Willpower 5 (I think in revised the last was lowered to 4). In any case, a Homid Ragabash would need significant XP to gain the same traits, if he wanted to.

    This has been discussed often on these forums.

    In our LARP we use a solely XP based character creation to mitigate these differences. Meaning, values start at 0 or 1, if one dot is needed in that stat, and all stats are bought with XP, just like they would be, later in the game. Exception being Backgrounds, which are treated like Skills, but usually are fixed after character creation or change solely by in-game events, the exception of the exeption being Totem, that any character can raise with xp.

    In some other topic we discussed implications of the character creation rules towards player satisfaction.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by heinrich View Post
      No, there is no compensation for lower WP, Rage or Gnosis. Before revised the Stargazer Lupus Ahroun started with Gnosis 5, Rage 5 and Willpower 5 (I think in revised the last was lowered to 4). In any case, a Homid Ragabash would need significant XP to gain the same traits, if he wanted to.

      This has been discussed often on these forums.

      In our LARP we use a solely XP based character creation to mitigate these differences. Meaning, values start at 0 or 1, if one dot is needed in that stat, and all stats are bought with XP, just like they would be, later in the game. Exception being Backgrounds, which are treated like Skills, but usually are fixed after character creation or change solely by in-game events, the exception of the exeption being Totem, that any character can raise with xp.

      In some other topic we discussed implications of the character creation rules towards player satisfaction.
      Like I said, Rage doesn't worry me since Rage 1 and Rage 5 are both valid - overall Rage 5 is superior, but there are advantages to any number of Rage points, and an advantage to waiting until you have high Rank before growing in Rage as well. Gnosis and Willpower are more concerning balance wise - perhaps it would be better if higher Gnosis had downsides. For instance, Gnosis 1 could make it very hard to determine that you're not a regular human/wolf, or help you to hide from spirits.

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      • #4
        This is an old issue long debated ever since the original books came out, and the twinks realized a lupus Ahroun Stargazer could have the maximum build points of any character (SGs used to have 5 starting WP). The imbalance bothers a lot of players. There's various threads on this forum that are about this, and you can probably find extremely old bulletin board notice from the early 1990s complaining about this and offering fixes as well.

        Technically, the penalty of being a Lupus (that compensates for the higher Gnosis) is the initial inability to buy certain Knowledges as lupus during the Abilities traits selection (although they can be bought with Freebies). I doubt most people would consider that to be balanced though.

        I don't think the tribal Willpower was ever redressed (although in theory now that some Tribes have mechanical weaknesses/disadvantages they could be argued, but I don't think those were ever intended to explain any WP differences).

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
          This is an old issue long debated ever since the original books came out, and the twinks realized a lupus Ahroun Stargazer could have the maximum build points of any character (SGs used to have 5 starting WP). The imbalance bothers a lot of players. There's various threads on this forum that are about this, and you can probably find extremely old bulletin board notice from the early 1990s complaining about this and offering fixes as well.

          Technically, the penalty of being a Lupus (that compensates for the higher Gnosis) is the initial inability to buy certain Knowledges as lupus during the Abilities traits selection (although they can be bought with Freebies). I doubt most people would consider that to be balanced though.

          I don't think the tribal Willpower was ever redressed (although in theory now that some Tribes have mechanical weaknesses/disadvantages they could be argued, but I don't think those were ever intended to explain any WP differences).
          Yeah seems like a complaint as old as time haha - I guess my way to handle it would be:

          - Everyone gets WP 5 as base
          - WP costs 2 freebies, not 1 (not WTA specific, just a house rule I use when I ST)
          - Rage stays as is since it's both beneficial and a curse with Frenzying and The Curse
          - Gnosis is 1 for Homids, 2 for Metis, 3 for Lupus

          But that's just eyeballing the stats, I've never ST'd WTA before.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
            Like I said, Rage doesn't worry me since Rage 1 and Rage 5 are both valid - overall Rage 5 is superior, but there are advantages to any number of Rage points, and an advantage to waiting until you have high Rank before growing in Rage as well. Gnosis and Willpower are more concerning balance wise - perhaps it would be better if higher Gnosis had downsides. For instance, Gnosis 1 could make it very hard to determine that you're not a regular human/wolf, or help you to hide from spirits.
            One could do that, but balancing would be an issue and it would be adding something new to the Setting. If your players are fine with it, sure, go ahead.

            The same goes for leaving things the way they are. Metis get two Gnosis more, worth 6XP, but they have some physical Deformations. Does that balance each other out, hardly. Lupus, even less. But, the system isn't meant to be balanced, comparing characters with each other, it is meant to be balanced as a whole. If players and ST agree on that, fine, move on an play.

            Problem comes when player satisfaction is lost. When the successes of a character in the game world are tied with dice roll successes then the game stats have a higher degree of impact. Gnosis, Willpower and Rage aren't the biggest issue there. If a player spends his primary attribute group (7 dots) of example with Strength 1, Dexterity 4 and Stamina 5, then 24XP would bring the character to Strength 4. If another player started with Strength 3, Dexterity 3 and Stamina 4, he would have to spend 40XP to reach the same stats.
            Also, some players take pride from the fact that their character has certain stats, and so on.

            So, it depends on what you and your players like, if it makes sense to change things or not....

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by heinrich View Post
              One could do that, but balancing would be an issue and it would be adding something new to the Setting. If your players are fine with it, sure, go ahead.

              The same goes for leaving things the way they are. Metis get two Gnosis more, worth 6XP, but they have some physical Deformations. Does that balance each other out, hardly. Lupus, even less. But, the system isn't meant to be balanced, comparing characters with each other, it is meant to be balanced as a whole. If players and ST agree on that, fine, move on an play.

              Problem comes when player satisfaction is lost. When the successes of a character in the game world are tied with dice roll successes then the game stats have a higher degree of impact. Gnosis, Willpower and Rage aren't the biggest issue there. If a player spends his primary attribute group (7 dots) of example with Strength 1, Dexterity 4 and Stamina 5, then 24XP would bring the character to Strength 4. If another player started with Strength 3, Dexterity 3 and Stamina 4, he would have to spend 40XP to reach the same stats.
              Also, some players take pride from the fact that their character has certain stats, and so on.

              So, it depends on what you and your players like, if it makes sense to change things or not....
              This is why using *only* freebie points could work, and just handing out a smaller number as they're more valuable than EXP. That way min-maxing has no EXP value, avoids the 24 XP vs 40 XP issue for reaching those stats. I will admit that I like to leave a stat at 1 to improve with EXP! Partly because having a weakness at char-gen is cool, and partly because it saves EXP and increasing from 1 to 2 is a lot of bang for a small buck.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                This is why using *only* freebie points could work, and just handing out a smaller number as they're more valuable than EXP. That way min-maxing has no EXP value, avoids the 24 XP vs 40 XP issue for reaching those stats. I will admit that I like to leave a stat at 1 to improve with EXP! Partly because having a weakness at char-gen is cool, and partly because it saves EXP and increasing from 1 to 2 is a lot of bang for a small buck.
                Sure, I get that. For a character in a game I suspect to last a couple of games, I'd do the same, for I get a lot of game satisfaction from succeeding in dice rolls... And if it isn't a one-shot, I plan ahead
                ...but I can also see, that other players feel, like they miss out on that by having created a character that was well-rounded to begin with.

                I mean, what would a person with sub-average strength (2 dots being average, iirc) but exceptional dexterity and world class stamina even look like, meaning how would one rationalise such an attribute spread?

                Then, the WoD lacks information on how long an increase in a given stat is supposed to take (the only rules on that are, iirc, with the Instruction secondary ability, which aren't very present in most games). So, four XP, that might be the takeaway from the first game session, if the ST feels like it. Sure, a garou cold get a Gift for that, which can be a lot better than an attribute dot, but an attribute dot after the first game, negating the weakness and bringing the characters stat on par with most humans, that is, like you said "a lot of bang for a small buck".
                In any case, it could be that this increase happens after just a couple of hours in-game time. The next 8XP probably also come from the first story arch before there is a significant downtime, so the player might increase a 1 dot attribute (sub-average) to a 3 dot attribute (above average) in a matter of in-game weeks. Does that make sense? Is that something the ST should prohibit? Totally depends on the players, and what they care about in their games. I can totally understand players who wouldn't want that in their games, because it goes against what they believe the in-game world should work like...

                Like I said, we went for an "Only XP"-approach in our LARP (and any increase bars the trait for another increase for a while). But an "Only Freebies" approach is just as easily a fix for the discrepancies that arise from having a change of mechanics between character creation and character development. But that is only the case, if your players need a sense of being treated equally. The WoD doesn't have this, necessarily, but also doesn't have mechanics directly leading to different treatment of players, so players might expect to be treated equally, when it comes to character development.
                Other games use other approaches. 2nd Edition of Chronicles of Darkness (post God-Machine), for example, has Beats instead of XP and those are possibly awarded during the game, whenever a situation calls for it. It's not like the XP is given out at the end of the game session, everyone gets an equal amount and would expect equal benefits for their character. Other games, like RuneQuest tie character advancement to botches rolled during game, so inherently they happen differently for each character and characters are therefore not treated equally at all, but no player suspects them to be.

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                • #9
                  heinrich Dex 5, Stamina 4, Strength 1, I would picture as a scrawny kid who is very agile and has an absurdly high pain tolerance. Stamina doesn't have to mean meaty, it could be a mix of physical endurance and ability to withstand punishment. It's definitely wonky though - but thing is that if you want to play a Physical Primary with a 1 in one of your Physical Attributes, then it will happen whether you like it or not! For example you might want to play an Ahroun who is a teen in the beginning of the Chronicle, around the time of the first change, and you might like the idea of them as a scrawny little nuisance who is 50kg soaking wet. It could work, but the issue is that it being mechanically incentivized by the scaling EXP costs does mean that it's going to arouse suspicion! Like someone saying "Oh (best subclass for the class by a mile) just really spoke to me in terms of its lore and flavour".

                  One example which is a lot less wonky, but equally strong EXP wise, is playing a social character with Appearance 1. 4 into Charisma for 5, 3 into Manipulation for 4, there ya go. Appearance can easily be improved later as you learn how to shower regularly and look after your skin, or fix your posture, so it works out well char-op wise. Ultimately the hope is that your players won't think along these lines, and will prefer to build a story over a build.
                  Last edited by 11twiggins; 01-19-2022, 07:21 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Well, rather than having you go search...

                    http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...ing-advantages

                    Though I think it's worth considering the WtA splat advantage rating issue as separate from the Linear Chargen, Quadratic Advancement issue.

                    If you go flat costs for everything, but one character starts with 1/1/3 and another starts with 5/5/4, they're still a drastic imbalance.

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                    • #11
                      11twiggins, it is true. But if you say, it will happen if you want it or not, well, our LARP' ST-team expects each attribute at 2 (costing them 36 of their character build XP). We also expect Expression or Perfomance 1 for people who can form complete sentences. If a person wants to go below these, we expect a rounded concept - having the XP saves for buying Backgrounds or Meris, one can only get at character creation isn't a good enough reason.

                      Also, we would expect that a character starting at first change would start with values akin to Kinfolk/Ghoul character, meaning only 6/4/3 on attributes (or 50 character build XP less, in our system).

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                      • #12
                        Okay, these are just my stock opinions, but here goes;

                        High Rage has many disadvantages, as long as the ST is willing to enforce them. The higher the Rage, the less social life among regular humans you have.

                        As for high gnosis? Instead of making people who play lupus jump even more hoops, just lower the gnosis. If it means less people play lupus, then at least the ones you get actually WANT to play it for non-power gaming reasons.


                        My gallery.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ana Mizuki View Post
                          Okay, these are just my stock opinions, but here goes;

                          High Rage has many disadvantages, as long as the ST is willing to enforce them. The higher the Rage, the less social life among regular humans you have.

                          As for high gnosis? Instead of making people who play lupus jump even more hoops, just lower the gnosis. If it means less people play lupus, then at least the ones you get actually WANT to play it for non-power gaming reasons.
                          100% agreed with that, which is why I'd make starting Gnosis 1/2/3 instead of 1/3/5.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

                            100% agreed with that, which is why I'd make starting Gnosis 1/2/3 instead of 1/3/5.
                            I've always seen 2/3/4 as a good split, personally.


                            My gallery.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ana Mizuki View Post

                              I've always seen 2/3/4 as a good split, personally.
                              More generous, I wouldn't complain as a player!

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