Author Topic: Modified skills  (Read 4572 times)

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Offline tanis

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Modified skills
« on: May 31, 2010, 07:17:51 AM »
This is for all of you who DM in D&D 3.5, though I'm especially interested in hearing David's opinion.

The past couple of days, in my spare time, I've been creating a character on my own using a copy of the revised 3.5 manual I downloaded on the Open Gaming License. I've never gotten the opportunity to play a tabletop RPG, nor have I ever made a character, and I so I'm really just trying to keep it simple. However, I spent a good deal of time thinking up my character's description, and it informed this question. My character is a half-elf fighter, and as his background, I've got a complex bit that basically boils down to this: his half-elf father was a professional soldier for over 30 years, until his guerrilla force's hideout was discovered by the usurper's forces (his father was loyal to the true heir). I can only guess, but he's supposed to be a competent and lifelong fighter who's 82 years old (middle age for a stock half-elf). His mother's supposed to be a ranger, which means I'll probably multiclass, but for now, this is my primary concern:

My character's father was a lifelong soldier, and after escaping his homeland and moving to the wilderness with his then-fiancee, he became the local marshal/militia captain for the village, and he's supposed to be an extremely competent leader and tactician. Since he raised my character, that made me wonder if in that circumstance, the DM might not allow me to create a class, or modify one, to represent my character's tactical and strategic training, and if so, how he would treat it.

While I've thought of several possible ways it could work, I don't really know if it'd be allowable, let alone the extent of its effect. My many ideas mostly involve creating a Tactics skill, with possible synergies in Sense Motive, Knowledge, and potentially Survival. This Tactics skill could work several ways though. It could be part of Sense Motive, since my character's tactical mind allows him to judge people more accurately. Or it could be an opposed skill to Sense Motive, giving a +2 bonus if successful and -2 if unsuccessful to attack and damage. It could also be passive and give a constant bonus of +2. Should it affect comrades, or comrades within however many feet? Could it allow flanking without another adjacent comrade? Or even give flanking bonuses to party members? Basically, how far is too far before game balance would be lost. Also, is this a class skill, or is it an innate skill like a racial bonus, or potentially even a bonus skill proficiency, as if I had an extra two-four points available for adding ranks, since it's something I got from simply being raised by my father?

Anyways, I was just curious about these things, and how David and the rest of you would handle it. I doubt I'll add it, at least not now, though, if I ever played with the character, I might decide to use this after all. As always, several comments and differing viewpoints are always appreciated.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

avisarr

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Re: Modified skills
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2010, 04:46:30 PM »
Several times I've had players come up with very creative character ideas and I've worked with them to create a whole new character class. In our current campaign, 2 of the players (out of 5) are playing custom character classes.

I usually only create a new custom class if there would be many such people. For instance, if a school was teaching students some unique set of martial arts and philosophies combined with chi magic, I might allow the creation of some type of monk/sorcerer hybrid. However, that's only because there's a whole school producing lots of such people.

If it's just ONE character, I wouldn't create a whole new class. Rather, I would create something custom for that character. In your case, I would give your character a few bonuses to specific skills or, perhaps if he's REALLY good at tactics and strategy, a new skill... something that might give him a roll to determine what an enemy is going to do.

In any case, this is an example of why I think skills based games are superior to anything that uses "character classes". In a skills based game, you customize every character. Each character is a unique product of his background, his history, his genetics, his training and his choices.

Offline tanis

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Re: Modified skills
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2010, 02:14:00 AM »
Okay. That helps me understand it better, thanks. For this character, specifically, his father spent 15 years leading a guerrilla unit. So his father would be exceptional at tactics, as that's the only way a small force can defeat or delay a larger force. My character would have been raised on tactics and training, so as long as he would have been training to be a fighter, he would have been training to be a tactician. Not as a separate class, of course, but as a skill set, like you mentioned.

As to creating entirely new characters and custom types, I think that's one of the things that moderates the less effective rules system of D&D. It's a little odd that you can become stronger than a polar bear or shark, or have the constitution of a dragon, but at least you can delve deeply into the character. XD

As for this character, it had never occurred to me to ask this until I began doing his character background. I wanted him to feel like a real person. That's the thing I love about tabletop RPGs. They're a little clunkier to work with than a video game, but they're accurate, you can do a lot, and characters can have lots of depth, which is hard to put into a video game of the same type without severely narrowing the play options. You can have a good story or a broad story, but not both. You already know that, though.  ;)

Alright, well, thanks for the help, any extra comments you can come up with would be appreciated.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

avisarr

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Re: Modified skills
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2010, 07:33:13 PM »
Video games are great, but there's one other area where RPGs leave them in the dust. And that's the fact that RPGs are totally interactive and dynamic. In other words, it's being run by a game master. The game, the story lines, the bad guys, even the rules, can adapt and adjust in response to what you, as a player, do. The game world responds, adapts and grows. That's one thing that video games will never be able to do... well, at least not for 100 years. Maybe one day we'll have holodecks and artificial intelligence. Until then, RPGs rule.  :)

Offline tanis

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Re: Modified skills
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2010, 10:31:46 PM »
Yeah. I agree totally. Though, deficient storytelling is what's holding video games back from being an effective form of mass media, which is really what the developers are trying to do. Imagine movies in the 1960s were just starting to tell the stories they were telling in the silent era shorts, and that's really where video games are. Pity. But I think the biggest difference between the two styles is that tabletop gaming is about creativity, imagination, and acting skills, while video games are about being told a story, and having a part in it. One's more like being an actor, the other's more like watching a film. You get to be a character in the film, but you don't really have to act the part. You can just do what you want, without that sense of acting. You still feel a part of the action, it's just a different sense of perspective. Then again, I'm twenty years old and I grew up with a SNES and Sega Genesis. ^^;
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

avisarr

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Re: Modified skills
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2010, 12:58:14 AM »
Video games seem to be getting better when it comes to story. I recently finished playing Mass Effect 2 and it has a nice story arc with a lot of stuff going on. I heard that they're even going to be making a film out of it (which will be great, because I think the Mass Effect games have a very well developed universe with a lot of rich material). Anyway... one thing that is difficult for video games is that they have to write up all the possible outcomes ahead of time. They can't adapt to what a player does... so they sort of HAVE to channel the character along a specific storyline. There's just no way around it.

Video games use very simple AIs that govern NPC behavior. I read recently that the AIs governing combat behavior and physical behavior are getting very good. Specifically, they released a Star Wars game where you can throw objects around. One example they gave is that if you use the Force to lift up a big chunk of the scenery and there is a bad guy clinging to that piece, he will realistically scramble to get a hand hold on the thing and will try to keep from falling off. All of this is calculated in real time, he moves differently based on how YOU telekinetically manipulate that piece of junk. Now, frankly, I think that's pretty damn cool. The NPCs in the video games are starting to use their AI to react to what you do intelligently - using cover to avoid getting hit and so on.

Now, imagine if they could extrapolate that and have an AI that could control not just individual characters in combat, but all characters in all aspects of their lives... imagine if the AI could control the entire flow of the game... could modify sections of the story based on what you're doing. Or better yet, interactively construct the story entirely as you go, assembling it from several hundred pre-written scenarios or pieces of plot. Not just pre-canned stuff... I'm talking about an AI that could make the local village actually function like a real village... where bringing in the local dragon's hoard to market would actually affect the economy and set in motion all kinds of subplots and so on. Now THAT would be amazing. Not only would each of us have a different experience, we would each end up with a totally unique story line! I think it could be done... it would require some very clever writing of plot pieces and it would need some VERY sophisticated AI programming... I think we're a LONG way from that kind of AI. But some day, probably within our life times, we'll be able to play games that are intelligent and can truly adapt the story just for us. I imagine by that time, we'll also be strapping on VR goggles for our game play. :)

Offline tanis

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Re: Modified skills
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2010, 10:43:20 PM »
Or just plugging in, like they do in the .hack// series of anime/The Matrix.

But yeah. Though I will say that I personally enjoy having a well-designed story, so sometimes I'd prefer the more narrow story, as long as it was done right. That might actually be a determining genre in the future. Whether it's fully sandboxed or more cinematic. And yeah, my best friend was playing Mass Effect 2 on his laptop yesterday (Tuesday) after we got done playing some Modern Warfare 2. XD

I really enjoyed what I saw. I don't have much money, I'm trying to be able to go back to school right now, and hopefully save enough on the side to buy my girlfriend a pearl necklace in a couple of weeks for her birthday, but if I can ever scrounge enough cash up, I'll probably try to buy that.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.