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House Rule: Balanced Starting Advantages

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  • House Rule: Balanced Starting Advantages

    I was asked to repost something I did on the old forums so here we go.

    The problem being addressed with the incredibly uneven levels of points you get by splat. A Ragabash Homid Glasswalker gets Rage 1/Gnosis 1/Willpower 3. An Ahroun Lupus Child of Gaia gets Rage 5, Gnosis 5, Willpower 4.

    For the Glasswalker to catch up, they'd need to spend 13 Freebies, or 36 XP.

    I really don't feel like doing the whole debate on the following points, but I feel strongly on two things:

    1) The splats are not "balanced" with these ratings. An Ahroun's high Rage has drawbacks, but there's a reason why Rage is worth freebies/XP; especially if you keep your Gnosis and Willpower high. A Lupus' Ability restrictions limit viable concepts, but they don't serve as an actual mechanical disadvantage for the 8 Freebies worth of Gnosis they get over Homids (which is more than enough to pick up some restricted Abilities if you wanted them). Who gets 4 Willpower instead of 3 is a bit haphazard and definitely doesn't conform to anything resembling a balancing act with Background Restrictions.

    2) Gnosis isn't really worth double the cost of Rage or Willpower. Gnosis is useful, but the increased cost just encourages people to grab as much of it as possible to start without an real added value. Rage is flat out more powerful but has more drawbacks. Willpower applies far more generally and too way more things - even Garou specific things - than Gnosis does. If you want to try the numbers I use but want to add some penalty to Gnosis to justify the decreased cost apply a "weirdness" factor like Rage. If permanent Gnosis > permanent Willpower, the Garou suffers a +1 diff. penalty for each dot of difference to social rolls (expect with spirits or other entities as ST call) for being a bit off as your character is so wrapped up in the Wyld and the spirit that even to other Garou they're kinda spacey. I wouldn't stack that with the equivalent Rage penalty, but it would certainly make "imbalanced" Garou ostracized plenty.

    So my solution was somewhat inspired by Orpheus where two of your splats both contribute to similar Advantages.

    First off, as implied by #2 above, Gnosis counts as having a value of 1. It's just way easier on the math and my feelings on its practical value.

    Second, I set the total value of Rage + Gnosis + Willpower to 9. This is roughly average when you look at the combinations in the RAW. 9 is also easy on the math again.

    From there I kept the splats linked. Auspice has to give at least 1 Rage, Breed at least one Gnosis, and Tribe at least 1 Willpower. This ensures you never have a character starting with a zero. Each splat choice's value is 3. So if your Auspice only provides 1 Rage, you'll get two dots elsewhere. I also kept to the canon "rankings" for Auspice and Breed.

    And here's what I came up with (with some updating/changes since W20 game out):

    Auspices -

    Ragabash - Rage +1, Gnosis +0, Willpower +2
    Theurge - Rage +1, Gnosis +2, Willpower +0
    Philodox - Rage +2, Gnosis +0, Willpower +1
    Galliard - Rage +2, Gnosis +1, Willpower +0
    Ahroun - Rage +3, Gnosis +0, Willpower +0

    Breed -

    Homid - Rage +0, Gnosis +1, Willpower +2
    Metis - Rage +1, Gnosis +2, Willpower +0
    Lupus - Rage +0, Gnosis +3, Willpower +0

    Tribe -

    Black Furies - Rage +1, Gnosis +1, Willpower +1
    Bonegnawers - Rage +1, Gnosis +0, Willpower +2
    Children of Gaia - Rage +0, Gnosis +1, Willpower +2
    Fiana - Rage +1, Gnosis +1, Willpower +1
    Get of Fenris - Rage +2, Gnosis +0, Willpower +1
    Glass Walkers - Rage +0, Gnosis +0, Willpower +3
    Red Talons - Rage +2, Gnosis +0, Willpower +1
    Shadow Lords - Rage +1, Gnosis +0, Willpower +2
    Silent Striders - Rage +1, Gnosis +1, Willpower +1
    Silver Fangs - Rage +1, Gnosis +0, Willpower +2
    Stargazers - Rage +0, Gnosis +1, Willpower +2
    Uketna - Rage +0, Gnosis +2, Willpower +1
    Wendigo - Rage +1, Gnosis +0, Willpower +2

    Bunyip - Rage +0, Gnosis +1, Willpower +2
    Croatoan - Rage +0, Gnosis +1, Willpower +2
    White Howlers - Rage +1, Gnosis +1, Willpower +1

    Black Spiral Dancers - Rage +2, Gnosis +0, Willpower +1

    I like to think that the logic behind each spread makes some sense. The Auspices and Breeds seemed obvious. The Tribes are a bit more hit and miss. Tribes that had high Willpower in their original spreads should all have +2 in this. Glasswalkers were obviously the big change, but I think it makes sense for the most human-involved Garou to have the biggest advantage for keeping themselves in-check; plus it highlights being disconnected from their spirit sides. I also tried to have some variety, but it's pretty clear certain combinations make sense for more Tribes than others.
    Last edited by Heavy Arms; 12-26-2013, 03:26 AM.

  • #2
    Looks good, though I'd place a point to gnosis instead of WP to Red talon column. They are wholly born of wolves after and as such have little restraint when compared to average human but are also closer to their "inner cave wolf" than your average human.

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    • #3
      All the Tribes have to grant at least +1 WP. Otherwise you'd have Red Talon builds that start without any (Theurge, Galliard, Ahroun would all end up with WP 0). Also, since all Red Talons are Metis and Lupus, they're going to have a higher Gnosis anyway.

      Red Talons could have a +1/+1/+1 instead, but I like them better a bit less balanced as they're a bit angry as a Tribe.

      Comment


      • #4
        I also quite like this. It always bugged me that WtA splats were so obviously out of balance with each other.

        EDIT: I might suggest giving 4 points instead of 3. That way you can have +3 as the maximum bonus, but still give +1 to something else. Lupus, for example, should have +3 Gnosis, but also at least some extra Rage, I think. It just makes things a bit more interesting when 1/1/1 and a pure-dump aren't possible.


        I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

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        • #5
          I picked three on two grounds. First off, I as said earlier, it is approximately average. Also making it four puts everyone on a much higher level (12 dots compared to the current default max of 14).

          I also don't think the existence of a few dumps/all 1s is that troublesome considering you get to mix and match for a lot of variety and there aren't a lot of them (7 of out 25). The Tribes are where you see the most of them though (5 of the 7). I could see upping it to 10 total dots and putting the extra into the Tribe spread. It would certainly allow a greater mix of Tribal options. I'm not sure where I'd put the extra dot in for the Glasswalkers; but the 1/1/1 entries shouldn't be too hard. I fear it makes things even more repetitive though since a 1/1/2 (or either of the other orderings) get really common.

          Is there any particular combination you had in mind, or was that a more general design concept issue?

          Comment


          • #6
            I'd make the Croatan a full Willpower Tribe, as they had some difficulty keeping track of their mound-builder Kin, which led to infiltration by forces of corruption. The Uktena seem like they might be better portrayed as getting Rage and Gnosis instead of Willpower and Gnosis, while the Bunyip were heavily in-tune with the Dreamtime and often knocked the Gauntlet down to nothing.

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            • #7
              Well purely mathematically the easiest stat to skimp in the spread would be WP. It cost only one point of freebie per dot at the start and most players put plenty points to it anyway.

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              • #8
                Funny enough, I usually boost my Gnosis first, then WP, then Rage when I build my characters... and I don't play Theurges.


                - Arthur "Torakhan" Dreese David "Wall-of-Text" Tealdeer - US2012070036​ - Grand Rapids, MI

                V:tM 20thHunters Hunted IIAnarchs UnboundW:tA 20thW20 Changing BreedsExalted 3rd EditionM:tA 20thW20BotW

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
                  I'd make the Croatan a full Willpower Tribe, as they had some difficulty keeping track of their mound-builder Kin, which led to infiltration by forces of corruption. The Uktena seem like they might be better portrayed as getting Rage and Gnosis instead of Willpower and Gnosis, while the Bunyip were heavily in-tune with the Dreamtime and often knocked the Gauntlet down to nothing.
                  On the Croatan: I put them with the 0/1/2 spread because it seemed appropriate to give them some Gnosis boost. 0/0/3 makes sense as well. I'm not really set in stone on that one; but the Lost Tribes aren't ones I tend to run.

                  On the Uktena: Again, all the Tribes get at least 1 WP. Sure this is something of a sacred cow to the initial splat linked traits, but it also makes sure you don't have anyone starting with a zero. So between 1/1/1 or 0/2/1 for the Ukenta, I went 0/2/1. It stresses the Uktena ritual and occult focus.

                  For the Bunyip: I went 0/1/2 instead of 0/2/1 mostly because they're a RAW willpower 4 Tribe. Like the Croatan I'm not fussed about going the other way. It just fit the guidelines I set for myself. I also think the Bunyip's relation to the Dreamtime comes more from Rites and Gifts than high Gnosis (not the high Gnosis doesn't hurt, and that's why I put the extra point there), but having lots of low Gauntlet spots means high Gnosis is less necessary because it's easier to do things like cross over or peek.

                  Originally posted by Blue Fox View Post
                  Well purely mathematically the easiest stat to skimp in the spread would be WP. It cost only one point of freebie per dot at the start and most players put plenty points to it anyway.
                  While this is true - and I often opted to pick things other than WP (2/5 Auspices get a WP boost, 1/3 Breeds, 8/17 Tribes have WP 1) - I would rather avoid forcing a freebie tax on certain combinations. There's already enough combinations where you're going to have to choose between so pretty big drawbacks or sinking freebies into WP; but I'd like to leave it a choice rather than a requirement.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I've personally never had a problem as either a player or a storyteller with the humor traits being unbalanced. Looking at your system, it's a good method to stat balance characters, particularly if your games suffer the problems of min maxers who only crunch trait numbers rather then looking further.

                    Rage balances itself with the Curse and higher potentials to frenzy. Yes an Ahroun has more raw combat ability due to his base rage, but any insult or failed die roll at a critical moment has the potential to throw him into frenzy, add to that that he can't even order a coffee at the local starbucks without getting security eying him and the manager preparing to call the cops since 76% of the human population doesn't have more willpower then his starting rage, leaving characters that invest too much in their rage to be completely ostracized in human and even wolf society.

                    As far as the Gnosis, since gnosis rating govern nearly all spirit related rolls, either by abilities to overcome the gauntlet, point etc, this trait is highly useful, and since it doesn't come with the same innate drawback as Rage does, the Metis deformity and Lupus ability restrictions compensate for Lupus characters starting with more then a homid. Gnosis also is the limit of how many dedicated items you can possess on your person (and fetishes and talens used to count towards this total as well). Since gnosis is also spiritual currancy, in addition to its ability to step sideways, auto activate fetishes or fuel certain gifts, it can also be used to barter with and gain the aid of spirits as a simple form of chiminage, decreasing the amount of work a Garou must go through to gain the favor of a spirit to render aid, answer rites, agree to become bound in talens or fetishes, or learn gifts. Since it's also harder to regain then rage, having a greater pool is also far more valuable.

                    Willpower is the only trait that should be relatively balanced amongst the tribes and since it only has a range of 1 higher or lower compared to the other tribes its relatively balanced.

                    Even though a Lupus Ahroun would have 5 Rage and Gnosis, he would be crippled in any city or human world interactions since humans would be unwilling to deal with him voluntarily, and he would lack essential understandings of human society. By contrast, a homid ragabash could walk freely amongst the human populations barely causing a ripple, be proficient with a gun, navigate the scab (city), talk their way out of human authority difficulties, etc.
                    Metis, while having no restrictions on traits, still have difficulties with human society, since they were raised in Garou, not human society, and suffer some debilitating weakness or deformity that makes them socially or physically debilitated.

                    The limitations of playing characters that start out with high ratings in Rage or Gnosis are more role playing limitations then they are statistical as well. If as a storyteller I don't believe that a player is adequately playing the restrictions his breed or auspice should be inflicting on him, and does not have a sufficient excuse why, I believe firmly in docking them experience in favor of those players who aren't supposed to be so burdened. Also keep in mind that in the case of lupus garou, they suffer renown penalties if they use too many weaver/human tools and suffer that penalty per use. So a Lupus gun bunny would quickly end up in negative renown, and Metis suffer similar penalties if they attempt to hide or cover up their deformities. That penalty may not apply every time the Metis covers their horns or hooves when they have to go into town but if they avoid the sept in favor of living in town simply to use that excuse to hide and try and live a 'normal' un0scorned existence, reapply the penalties.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Exalted Viovode View Post
                      Looking at your system, it's a good method to stat balance characters, particularly if your games suffer the problems of min maxers who only crunch trait numbers rather then looking further.
                      That's only part of the effect. Another is that your Advantages are more in-line with your concept. Homid Theurges (aka spirit interaction heavy characters) don't have to throw a ton of freebies at Gnosis to do their job. They're going to start between 3-5 depending on Tribe. My system is about balancing the numbers, but it is also about having spreads that help reflect the splats you picked impacting what you're actually good at.

                      Also, as I said in my opening post, I'm not really interested in the "balancing" factor argument of Rage and Gnosis compared to the drawbacks of the splats they're linked to. I've had it before. I've found similar arguments to yours fully unconvincing.

                      add to that that he can't even order a coffee at the local starbucks without getting security eying him...
                      I'm not sure when the last time you were in a Starbucks was, but they tend to not have security because they're a coffee shop.

                      Even though a Lupus Ahroun would have 5 Rage and Gnosis, he would be crippled in any city or human world interactions since humans would be unwilling to deal with him voluntarily, and he would lack essential understandings of human society. By contrast, a homid ragabash could walk freely amongst the human populations barely causing a ripple, be proficient with a gun, navigate the scab (city), talk their way out of human authority difficulties, etc.
                      Metis, while having no restrictions on traits, still have difficulties with human society, since they were raised in Garou, not human society, and suffer some debilitating weakness or deformity that makes them socially or physically debilitated.
                      If you actually crunch the numbers, my version doesn't really change this as the end result. A Lupus Ahroun has a base of 3/3/0, meaning 48% of the population automatically doesn't like them, using they aren't in a Tribe that gets you a Rage boost. They still have all the same ability restrictions they had before. A Homid Ragabash has a base of 1/1/4, letting them operate around humans with much greater ease. And Metis didn't lose their deformity.

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                      • #12
                        To the starbucks comment- My experience in the real world is shopping centers and areas that have starbucks usually contract for security over the entire center (its the guy that generally spends most of his time at the grocery store next door) but the moment he sees you, his gun is readied in the holster and he follows you till your character leaves.

                        As far as giving a homid theurge a better stat line- thats up to you, I generally prefer the fact that homids are supposed to be spiritually cut off and therefor have all the intellect and basic motivations to building and using the spirit world in interesting ways, but have to work alot harder to get the power to do so, while Lupus garou have the power but are far less inclined to force their will on the spirit world.

                        All said, you have a good alternate system if you don't like the canon systems.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Exalted Viovode View Post
                          I generally prefer the fact that homids are supposed to be spiritually cut off and therefor have all the intellect and basic motivations to building and using the spirit world in interesting ways, but have to work alot harder to get the power to do so, while Lupus garou have the power but are far less inclined to force their will on the spirit world.
                          But my system doesn't change this. Yes, the numbers are a bit different. The lower base-line Rage means the Curse and Frenzies don't automatically kick every Galliard and Ahroun in the face, but Rage 2-3 is still plenty for the Curse to set in and you can Frenzy if your temporary Rage goes up (since temp. Rage can go over perm. Rage). Homids are still behind their Lupus peers as far as Gnosis goes. If you want to start with as much Gnosis as possible, you make a Theurge Lupus Uktena for 7 Gnosis to start, a Theurge Homid Glasswalker will still be behind at 3.

                          The big difference is that the Glasswalker and the Uktena would spend the same amount of Freebies to get equal stats (4 freebies to get them both to 1/7/5).

                          I guess what I'm trying to get at is you seem to be saying my system fundamentally changes how the splats "think" or "behave" but I don't see how that happens by making the spreads even out.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

                            But my system doesn't change this. Yes, the numbers are a bit different. The lower base-line Rage means the Curse and Frenzies don't automatically kick every Galliard and Ahroun in the face, but Rage 2-3 is still plenty for the Curse to set in
                            Statistically yes, but enough people will be unaffected that it won't be the problem that it was with the prior setup.

                            and you can Frenzy if your temporary Rage goes up (since temp. Rage can go over perm. Rage).
                            The stipulation on that is that it has to personally get the Garou's goat to do so. Family in danger and betrayal yes, casual irritation or just looking up at the full moon not so much.

                            New Topic: Out of curiosity, did the in-category Gifts play any part? Say, what they require to use in the way of points or how effective they are in a given area (combat, stealth, interaction, cockblocking other peoples' powers, etc.)?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
                              Statistically yes, but enough people will be unaffected that it won't be the problem that it was with the prior setup.
                              48% is the Rage 3 rating as is. Essentially half of the people you interact with is pretty problematic. On top of that, I gave 9/13 of the core Tribes a Rage boost, as well as one of the Breeds. This puts the vast majority of Ahroun combinations back in the 4-6 range (31/38 of them). The majority of Ahrouns are still going to have huge issues dealing with most humans. And that's before any of them raise their Rage with freebies or in-game because your starting Rage isn't set in stone.

                              New Topic: Out of curiosity, did the in-category Gifts play any part? Say, what they require to use in the way of points or how effective they are in a given area (combat, stealth, interaction, cockblocking other peoples' powers, etc.)?
                              Not in any real detail. In an abstract sense there was a bit of this; though not just Gifts. Theurges have a lot of Gnosis based Gifts, but are also the ones expected to have the most spirit dealings and mastery of Fetishes. Philodox, as judges, need to be able to keep their composure; even if few of their Gifts require WP points. Etc.

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