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Thinking of reducing the cost of skill dots. End of the world?

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  • Thinking of reducing the cost of skill dots. End of the world?

    Good day everyone!

    I am around 13-15 sessions into my Mage game, and most of my players are around the Gnosis 2 2nd degree Disciple level. So far 4 out of 5 players have spent all there accumulated XP on Gnosis or Arcana dots.

    I have a number of players who tell me they were interested in buying up more skill dots for the sake of variety, but were put off by the notion of paying a chunky 2xp per dot. The opportunity cost of investing in their characters mundane skills vs more Arcanum/Gnosis seems very difficult to justify.

    I wanted to consult the wiser minds here, to see what you think of my plan to knock the price of skills to just 1 xp. Is this too much? Or potentially not enough compared to the allure of more cosmic power. Could anyone help me foresee any unintended consequences of such a change.

  • #2
    You want to charge the same for an entire skill dot as you do for a speciality?

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    • #3
      Some Merits become easier to purchase, and rotes become more valuable because their Mudras become easier to pump up. Someone might decide that they should raise Gnosis anyway, because higher Gnosis enables 6+ dot Skills, which will be easier to buy.

      Other than that... The old narrative of cheating your way to expertise is weakened, since expertise is now easier to come by. So does that narrative of Dealing With the Devil, where some Sleeper or Sleepwalker bargains with the mage for preternatural Skill.

      Even still, I can see how players would contjnue to prefer Arcana/Gnosis/rotes/etc over mundane things... which I consider a feature, not a bug. The mage becomes so absorbed in the Mysteries that she does not grow in the mundane world, which she sneers at.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
        Even still, I can see how players would contjnue to prefer Arcana/Gnosis/rotes/etc over mundane things... which I consider a feature, not a bug. The mage becomes so absorbed in the Mysteries that she does not grow in the mundane world, which she sneers at.
        Or use Mind Arcanum just to give yourself world master level of knowledge for particular Skill. ​ It's really no problem for any mid level Mind mage.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post

          Or use Mind Arcanum just to give yourself world master level of knowledge for particular Skill. ​ It's really no problem for any mid level Mind mage.
          Exactly my point. It’s so easy, so tempting, to just magick your way through life, leaving you solely defined by what spells you cast instead of what you have experienced for yourself.

          Of course, this is a narrative thing intended to highlight just how different the Awakened are from the masses, not something to hinder players through either arbitrary rulings or guilt-trips.



          EDIT: Returning to the topic, seconding what Elfive said. Even if you don’t care for the fluff parts like I do, you should also work on crunch parts for Specialties.


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          • #6
            You can't really reduce the cost of Skill dots without it becoming ridiculously cheap, but if you're up for a task that's way complicated you could increase the cost of everything else (except Specialties, of course) and reduce the amount of Beats needed to form an Experience. That way you can decrease the cost of Skills measured in Beats without having to buy Skills using Beats rather than whole Experiences.


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            • #7
              In my first chronicle I had the same problem, ending up with a group of one trick masters who couldn't change a flat tire without magic. For my second I house ruled that only Arcane experience could be spent to raise Arcana and Gnosis, saving normal experience for Rotes and everything else. My players still pushed for Mastery but all in all the characters worked much better, even when using magic.
              ​I did have to adjust how quickly they earned Arcane experience though, offering more opportunities to gain them and my players were now anxiously looking for those opportunities.
              It worked for me.

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              • #8
                I've toyed with similar ideas. Right now in my game I have 3 PCs that have roughly 4 XP and 4 AXP each. All of them have spent 2 XP + 3 AXP to buy Gnosis 2 and have 2 XP and 1 AXP saved right now. They seem to be eyeing Merits right now though, so I haven't felt the need to house rule yet.

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                • #9
                  At my table we house ruled that the first 2 dots in a skill only cost 1xp each. That has worked pretty well. It allows players to gaind basic ability in things that keep coming up w/o becoming instant experts.

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                  • #10
                    In my Mage chronicle none of us felt that pressured to go for Gnosis or Arcana. Maybe it had to do with the pace, which was unusually and maybe even too fast, which made actually experimenting and testing the limits of the Gnosis and Arcana we already had pretty hard. It was also an unusually political game

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                    • #11
                      At the end it won't hurt the balance or something, and you can also take care of Specialties by making them 2 for XP instead of 1-1.

                      But I don't think that this will solve anything, and you have some other options on your sleeve. First, encourage them buying Specialties and Merits. You can go really far just with this to represent most professionals in the world. It isn't likely that many professionals actually have more than 2 dots at any skill, and some pretty good ones are at just 1. Each skill is too broad, while combining Specialties and Merits can get a 1-dot skill to very high degrees. As an example, a character could have two Specialties in Medicine, Surgery and Nervous System, and a single Merit to increase one of those to +2. As a neurosurgeon, this character would be equivalent to +3 dots, reaching amazing 4-dots with just passing knowledge on general medicine. Just like most neurosurgeons out there.


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                      • #12
                        Thanks to everyone for all the contributions, its nice to see a variety of opinions.

                        I think I am gonna ask how my group feels about knocking the price down to 1 XP and making specialities a '2 for 1' offer. I genuinely doubt that;s going to make skills so attractive it will take away from any of the games themes or unbalance play, but it should help those players who want to invest in mundane skills feel less like chumps for doing so.

                        I might post back here in a few weeks to tell you all if it made a difference.

                        Thanks again!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Katana1515 View Post
                          Thanks to everyone for all the contributions, its nice to see a variety of opinions.

                          I think I am gonna ask how my group feels about knocking the price down to 1 XP and making specialities a '2 for 1' offer. I genuinely doubt that;s going to make skills so attractive it will take away from any of the games themes or unbalance play, but it should help those players who want to invest in mundane skills feel less like chumps for doing so.

                          I might post back here in a few weeks to tell you all if it made a difference.

                          Thanks again!
                          Remember to also reduce the cost of some Merits that deal exclusively with Specialties, or improve them somewhat to bring them to be just as interesting.


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                          • #14
                            Good point! Will look into that when I talk to the group.

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                            • #15
                              I've had the same issue in basically every 2e game I've played, and not just Mage. Everything having to cost some multiple of 5 Beats means Skills end up pretty hefty, XPwise, and it's hard to lower them because then you're bumping all the way down to the same cost as a Specialty. If you're already doing to spend 2 XP on a skill, you might as well keep saving up and buy a Discipline, Gift, Renown, or Arcanum dot (or hell, an Attribute dot).

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