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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.

  • Juhn
    replied
    I also like slagheap's idea. Just from a pure player-psychology perspective, paying 10 full beats for the third or fourth or fifth dot in a skill hurts less than paying that amount for the first or second dot, although this may just be an impact of having played 1e for years before switching to 2e.

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  • nofather
    replied
    I think a lot would depend on what kind of game you're playing. Our games usually last over a year so there's a lot of need and potential for growth. The character creation section should come with a little sidebar, since people still seem surprised by it, pointing out that the more you focus in an Attribute or Skill, the better you will be at it, and while Jacks of All Trades are less likely to suffer unlearned Skill penalties, they're not likely to get big dicepools. Just loading up on magic powers (at least outside of Mage) at the expense of Attributes and Skills is going to leave you with the Jack of All Trades problem. 'Congratulations, you have Dominate 3's Entombed Command. Roll 2 dice and cross your fingers.'

    @Katana1515's characters were getting skills for sake of variety, which seems like something Specialties and Merits are for, unless you have a lot of Experience and time to get by. Skills are usually representative of something you know pretty well, something you've spent a good portion of your life doing.

    I've no problem with the way Experience works for Skills, but I suppose if I was going with an idea from the thread I liked Slagheap's by leaps and bounds more than any of the others. It also seems to directly deal with Katana1515's problem of players wanting cheap variety.

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  • Juhn
    replied
    Attribute dots tend to be for mortals games, yeah. And it's a combination of "There are less than half the number of Attributes as there are skills, so it's +1 die to at least twice as many rolls" (which isn't strictly true, as you don't roll every skill or every attribute equally often, but it's a surprisingly easy trap to fall into) and "buying up an Attribute tends to also increase at least one derived stat or important Attribute-only dicepool". Buying Composure, for example, boosts your Composure stat, but it also boosts your Willpower total (which means +3 dice to more rolls), and it also improves your Perception dicepool and your Initiative rating (both usually very important) at the same time.

    I've had Demon players buy up Wits or Manipulation, for example, just because that simultaneously boosts Compromise rolls and a whole bunch of their Embed dice pools at the same time. Wits is especially popular since it also contributes to Defense and Perception. And because there are a couple of tricks (including an Embed) to temporarily boost Skill ratings (which is similar to the issue in Mage).

    Attribute purchases are rarer in Mage, because you can bump that up using magic, and the 2e Beat cost to 1e XP cost lines up to the fourth dot for Attributes, whereas it's (usually slightly under) third dot for everything else.

    I tend to solve the problem in Mage specifically by restricting Arcana and Gnosis purchases to Arcane-XP only, and then cranking up the Arcane Beat inflow to compensate. This still tends to result in people buying Merits more often than anything else with their normal XP, though.
    Last edited by Juhn; 12-07-2017, 04:52 PM.

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  • Tessie
    replied
    Or a vampire. Some Disciplines only cost 3 XP, and two of the common ones (available for all) grants free Attribute increases in addition to a bunch of other effects. Any vampires who buys Strength or Resilience without having maxed Vigor or Resilience aren't minmaxing correctly.


    Edit:
    My 331 XP vampire has actually bought two dots of Attributes. Wits 3 and Presence 2, and the former was only bought because it's a prerequisite for many Merits. Compare that to eight Skill dots spread over Occult, Brawl, Empathy, Expression and Socialize. That's 4 Skill dots per 1 Attribute dot, and 1 Attribute dot per 165.6 total XP spent. And I really don't know why I bought Presence since Majesty is in clan due to my bloodline, and I've already got Mantle of Amorous Fire to increase my Presence dots by my CrĂșac dots (five). My point being, if I had planned better I wouldn't have needed to buy Wits, and Presence kinda feel like a waste of XP in hindsight. I could've happily spent 300+ XP without getting a single Attribute dot.

    My 57 XP human (with Supernatural Merits) on the other hand has bought 4 Attributes and 4 Skills, only Strength being because of prerequisites (being able to effectively wield heavy firearms). That's 1 Attribute per 14.25 total XP spent.

    My 19 XP + 21 AXP mage has instead spent absolutely nothing on either Attributes or Skills. I've instead bought 4 dots of Arcana and 4 dots of Gnosis. The remaining 4 dots were put on Merits (three of them mage exclusive). I really see the problem in Mage since it's a Mastigos with Mind 4. The need to buy Skill dots or Attribute dots is vastly decreased when I can magically boost all Skills and two thirds of the Attributes, but even if I didn't have Mind I probably wouldn't buy Attributes. Skills, Specialties, and particularly Merits have more oomph for the buck. Especially the Specialty+Area of Expertise combo.
    Last edited by Tessie; 12-07-2017, 01:33 PM.

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  • Johnny Awesome
    replied
    I can't see a Mage ever increasing an attribute instead of getting an Arcana.

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  • Tessie
    replied
    In my experience only regular humans tend to buy attributes since the major splats' powers usually cost the same or less, and are far more powerful than attributes. Skills are way more common in our games.

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  • Elfive
    replied
    I... don't really get that logic. An attribute costs 4 xp. That's twice as much. You can get two skill dots and get twice as many dice to a particular roll.

    I mean by that logic reducing the cost to one experience wouldn't do anything, because you might as well keep saving there for a facet or something. "Oh, I can't spend these experiences because there's something more expensive I can save up for" just means you never buy anything but Supernatural potency.

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  • Juhn
    replied
    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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  • Katana1515
    replied
    Good point! Will look into that when I talk to the group.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Katana1515
    replied
    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!

    Leave a comment:


  • monteparnas
    replied
    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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  • EW-Matias
    replied
    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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  • Slagheap
    replied
    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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