Updated PDF Backgrounds

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Updated PDF Backgrounds

Postby wulf » Fri Sep 09, 2005 3:41 am

Is it just me, or are the stat adjustments in the Backgrounds section of the PDF a bit pointless? I mean, only a +1 adjustment, and furthermore every +1 has to be balanced by a -1. In a point buy system? If I wanted one more point of Strength, I could have put it there myself! OK, so it raises the maximum, but still, it seems a bit poor. You won't get much actual variation between races with that!

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Postby Ludanto » Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:49 am

Well, the Backgrounds are more than just the stat adjustments. I suppose they could have suggested (-1 to a stat OR lose all Background feats) or some other alternative, but really it's not a big deal. I think the free skills and feats are more interesting anyway...
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Postby wulf » Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:12 am

Ludanto wrote:Well, the Backgrounds are more than just the stat adjustments.

True, but it's pretty much impossible to create anything distinctly nonhuman this way. What about Minotaurs, or Kzinti, or Yetis? Creatures with massive stats in one area (Strength, in these examples), far more than a simple +1, and not enough lack in other areas to use multiples (sure, minotaurs can have really low Int and Cha, but Kzinti?).

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Postby TLGregory » Fri Sep 09, 2005 8:08 am

I think you're missing the fact that the stat adjustment allows you to have a starting character with a stat greater than +5.
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Postby Tim Gray » Fri Sep 09, 2005 8:15 am

TLGregory wrote:I think you're missing the fact that the stat adjustment allows you to have a starting character with a stat greater than +5.

No, he mentioned that, and "1 more than a human" isn't that impressive.
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Postby Dork Elf » Fri Sep 09, 2005 9:30 am

I don't think they are "pointless". Conservative? Sure, but personally I think a +1 to a cap is considerable mechanics-wise. The higher cap isn't pointless at all imo, especially for things like STR, what with Toughness being static (aside from feats) and all. I think with things being played so "small" in true20 (i.e. no hp, shorter fights) that being a bit conservative about bonuses is a smart place to start. This is, of course, answering the question of whether or not the +1 is pointless... I dont think there's anything wrong with introducing higher bonuses based on setting by any means.

Then again I always use my own backgrounds so no big deal for me either way :)
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Postby timemrick » Fri Sep 09, 2005 10:29 am

Page 13 says, "Generally speaking, a background should only increase or decrease abilities by +/-1, and should decrease an ability for every increase in equal measure." The limit is only a suggestion, and Narrators are free to ignore it if they wish.

To use Wulf's examples, minotaurs, Kzinti, and yeti are not going to be appropriate as hero characters in every game. In fact, in a low-tech game, a minotaur will probably dominate melee combat in spite of its low mental scores (and a Kzinti lacks even that flaw to balance things out). In most games, these races are better left as Narrator characters, where they don't have to have balanced backgrounds. If you do want to use them, you may want (or need) to convert the Equivalent Character Level and Level Adjustment rules from d20. (IMO, those rules are a royal pain even in their original context. There's a good reason the DMG discourages allowing LA's over +1 or +2 for PCs.)

The sample backgrounds on pp. 13-14 will be easier to use into a wider variety of campaigns, because their relatively small deviance from the human baseline makes it much easier to make sure that the heroes all stay relatively balanced against each other. (It also keeps the need for new rules to a minimum.)

In the end, of course, Narrators have to decide what is reasonable for their own games.
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Postby The Shadow » Fri Sep 09, 2005 12:47 pm

Am I the only one, or do others agree that Skill Training doesn't seem acceptable as a bonus feat?

And boy - letting humans take a cultural background *in addition* to the human goodies seems a bit excessive. Seems to me one should either just use the favored feats to differentiate cultures, or else just create full-blown backgrounds for them and let the "Human" template drop.
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Re: Updated PDF Backgrounds

Postby Sekhmet » Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:09 pm

wulf wrote:Is it just me, or are the stat adjustments in the Backgrounds section of the PDF a bit pointless? I mean, only a +1 adjustment, and furthermore every +1 has to be balanced by a -1.
Wulf

The +1/-1 in True20 is the equivalent of most d20 racial bonuses and penalties. Each of their +2/-2 usually totals a +1/-1 attribute bonus. True20 just cut to the chase.
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Postby The Shadow » Fri Sep 09, 2005 3:42 pm

Say - what happens when someone gets a bonus feat that's duplicated by a role?

Half-Orcs (and Elves!), for example, get Weapon Training. If they then become a first-level Warrior (very typical) they would ordinarily get Weapon Training for free. Since they've already got it, do they instead get a free feat, or what?

EDIT: We're probably going to need a special set of "Background" feats as well, for special racial abilities. You can sorta justify humans taking Night Vision. Darkvision is a bit much. :)
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Postby Sekhmet » Fri Sep 09, 2005 10:30 pm

The Shadow wrote:Say - what happens when someone gets a bonus feat that's duplicated by a role?

Half-Orcs (and Elves!), for example, get Weapon Training. If they then become a first-level Warrior (very typical) they would ordinarily get Weapon Training for free. Since they've already got it, do they instead get a free feat, or what?

I suppose you could offer Weapon Focus for free. If it's part of the Background, it would represent a cultural favored weapon; should the PC choose not to take Weapon Training as a feat, it could be wasted. If Weapon Training is part of the Background, you could instead offer Weapon Focus in its place for the Warrior, also representing a cultural favored weapon.
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Postby Ludanto » Sat Sep 10, 2005 10:06 am

The Shadow wrote:Am I the only one, or do others agree that Skill Training doesn't seem acceptable as a bonus feat?

And boy - letting humans take a cultural background *in addition* to the human goodies seems a bit excessive. Seems to me one should either just use the favored feats to differentiate cultures, or else just create full-blown backgrounds for them and let the "Human" template drop.


Skill Training is fine as a bonus feat, just not as a bonus feat that is "part of the background" (Unless of course you dictate what the two skills would be, but in that case why not just skip the middleman and assign the two bonus skills?)

As for Human race AND cultural backgrounds, yes, that is silly. I think that they meant it the way you suggest, though you could conceivably have both without a problem as long as Humans are the only race.
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Postby Ludanto » Sat Sep 10, 2005 10:09 am

The Shadow wrote:Say - what happens when someone gets a bonus feat that's duplicated by a role?

Half-Orcs (and Elves!), for example, get Weapon Training. If they then become a first-level Warrior (very typical) they would ordinarily get Weapon Training for free. Since they've already got it, do they instead get a free feat, or what?

EDIT: We're probably going to need a special set of "Background" feats as well, for special racial abilities. You can sorta justify humans taking Night Vision. Darkvision is a bit much. :)


Well, you can either make them eat the loss (which doesn't really seem fair) or give them an extra feat. To be as fair as possible, it should probably be one of the favored feats if they have any, thus keeping the extra feat within racial "character".
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Postby Stareyes » Sat Sep 10, 2005 10:17 am

Ludanto wrote:As for Human race AND cultural backgrounds, yes, that is silly. I think that they meant it the way you suggest, though you could conceivably have both without a problem as long as Humans are the only race.


One thing I was thinking of doing is have all the racial stat bonuses/penalties and racial abilities/disabilities be part of a racial background, and the favored feats (and maybe a few skill bonuses/penalties) be part of a cultural background. Everyone gets both. So a half-elf raised in the forest would have about the same stats as a half-elf raised in the city, but s/he would have more training in... ya know, forest-related things. It's not a big deal if all your races live in their own countries and rarly leave, but it can help distinguish between what's biology and what's culture.
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Postby Steve Kenson » Sat Sep 10, 2005 11:31 am

Stareyes wrote:One thing I was thinking of doing is have all the racial stat bonuses/penalties and racial abilities/disabilities be part of a racial background, and the favored feats (and maybe a few skill bonuses/penalties) be part of a cultural background.

That's actually how it already works, basically. If you look at the favored feats the sample backgrounds get. They're the typical feats you'd expect from an archetypal example of that race's culture.
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Postby The Shadow » Sat Sep 10, 2005 1:32 pm

Ludanto wrote:Skill Training is fine as a bonus feat, just not as a bonus feat that is "part of the background" (Unless of course you dictate what the two skills would be, but in that case why not just skip the middleman and assign the two bonus skills?)


What other kinds of bonus feats are there? I meant the Background ones, yes. It just seems odd to me to give a race Skill Training instead of Talented. And especially odd if Skill Training is given multiple times.

As for Human race AND cultural backgrounds, yes, that is silly. I think that they meant it the way you suggest, though you could conceivably have both without a problem as long as Humans are the only race.


Or, conceivably, if you created cultural packages that demihumans could take too, in addition to their racial ones. But it still seems like overkill, honestly. :)

Well, you can either make them eat the loss (which doesn't really seem fair) or give them an extra feat. To be as fair as possible, it should probably be one of the favored feats if they have any, thus keeping the extra feat within racial "character".


At first I wondered if such races were being discouraged from becoming 1st-level Warriors in the first place, but while that MIGHT make sense for elves, it definitely doesn't for half-orcs. :)

I like the idea of substituting one of the favored feats. That does sound fair. And if none of the favored feats seem appropriate for whatever reason, it should probably be a Martial one, or at any rate a combat-related one. (Sekmet's idea of it being Weapon Focus has some merit. Basically warriors of such a race get *extra* weapon training.)

One amusing bit about giving a favored feat in place of Weapon Training is that elven Warriors will automatically have a supernatural power, while elven Experts won't! :)

And Steve, thanks for the clarification. In other words, GM's and players should feel themselves to have a freer hand to switch out the favored feats than the other Background stuff? Like, an elf raised among dwarves could readily be given the dwarven favored feats in place of the elven ones? But would retain the stat changes and the elven bonus feats.
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Postby Ludanto » Sat Sep 10, 2005 5:46 pm

The Shadow wrote:
Ludanto wrote:Skill Training is fine as a bonus feat, just not as a bonus feat that is "part of the background" (Unless of course you dictate what the two skills would be, but in that case why not just skip the middleman and assign the two bonus skills?)


What other kinds of bonus feats are there? I meant the Background ones, yes. It just seems odd to me to give a race Skill Training instead of Talented. And especially odd if Skill Training is given multiple times.


Well, there's the "choose your own" bonus feat, like humans get, and then there's the two "background" (with a lowercase 'b') feats, that you don't have any choice over. Yes, Skill Training is really too generic for a Background bonus feat, plus it breaks the system. Without Skill Training, you can get one skill of your choice OR two predetermined skills (or a feat). Using that feat to get two skills of your choice breaks things.
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Postby timemrick » Sat Sep 10, 2005 6:58 pm

The Shadow wrote:And boy - letting humans take a cultural background *in addition* to the human goodies seems a bit excessive. Seems to me one should either just use the favored feats to differentiate cultures, or else just create full-blown backgrounds for them and let the "Human" template drop.

In Blue Rose, all human backgrounds used the same baseline (no ability adjustments, one bonus feat, one bonus skill), then each culture had its own pair of favored feats. So I think the intent of the True20 rules is that the variation in cultures should mostly be done through those favored feats. I'd say that more variance than that is essentially a new race, and needs to be balanced according to the usual background rules.
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Postby GoRocket » Mon Sep 12, 2005 7:48 am

In our setting, there are species backgrounds and training backgrounds. Everyone has one species background and one or more training backgrounds. You get one training background for free to represent your character's initial training, and you can buy additional training backgrounds with your starting feats.

Most of the characters in our setting are humans, though there are a few non-human species. They all get their species background and one training background selection.

The difference between species backgrounds and training backgrounds is mostly in what you get with each. Species backgrounds have the typical ability score mods, but contain few bonus skills known and/or skill bonuses and only humans get a bonus general feat. A few of the species have bonus feats that must be chosen from a list. Training backgrounds are almost entirely based on bonus skills known, skill bonuses, and access to feat categories (our setting has new feat categories).

I should point out that we have headed off the above 'half-elf' problem by making sure there is no overlap. That's what I would suggest for anyone else in the same position.
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Postby The Shadow » Mon Sep 12, 2005 12:04 pm

Ludanto wrote:
The Shadow wrote:What other kinds of bonus feats are there? I meant the Background ones, yes. It just seems odd to me to give a race Skill Training instead of Talented. And especially odd if Skill Training is given multiple times.


Well, there's the "choose your own" bonus feat, like humans get, and then there's the two "background" (with a lowercase 'b') feats, that you don't have any choice over. Yes, Skill Training is really too generic for a Background bonus feat, plus it breaks the system. Without Skill Training, you can get one skill of your choice OR two predetermined skills (or a feat). Using that feat to get two skills of your choice breaks things.


I see what you mean now. Yes, I agree, of course a human can take Skill Training as his "choose-your-own" bonus feat. I meant the feats that come with the background. Even if the GM sets the two skills, it's crufty.

EDIT: Oh, and GoRocket, do you mind starting a thread on the feat categories? You've got me intrigued. Or is that Top Secret information for now? :)
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Postby Tim Gray » Tue Sep 13, 2005 4:56 am

You need to treat the feats given for the Expert and Warrior roles as optional rather than set in stone anyway, as otherwise they prevent creation of certain character concepts that should fit that role.
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Postby Michael Tree » Mon Sep 26, 2005 9:33 pm

timemrick wrote:In Blue Rose, all human backgrounds used the same baseline (no ability adjustments, one bonus feat, one bonus skill), then each culture had its own pair of favored feats. So I think the intent of the True20 rules is that the variation in cultures should mostly be done through those favored feats. I'd say that more variance than that is essentially a new race, and needs to be balanced according to the usual background rules.

In a setting that has strong cultural differences, I'd be very tempted to change the one bonus skill of the player's choice into two bonus skills determined by the culture. A decadent byzantine culture background could give Bluff and Sense Motive, while a normadic horseman culture could give Ride and Survival.
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Postby timemrick » Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:07 am

Michael Tree wrote:In a setting that has strong cultural differences, I'd be very tempted to change the one bonus skill of the player's choice into two bonus skills determined by the culture. A decadent byzantine culture background could give Bluff and Sense Motive, while a normadic horseman culture could give Ride and Survival.

I think this might over-stereotype some cultures. Sure, most horse nomads would be skilled at Ride and Survival (not to mention Animal Handling) in order to simply survive that kind of life, but most city-dwellers (decadent or not) are going to be a bit too diverse to realistically say that all of them have the same two skills.
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Postby The Shadow » Tue Sep 27, 2005 12:10 pm

timemrick wrote:
Michael Tree wrote:In a setting that has strong cultural differences, I'd be very tempted to change the one bonus skill of the player's choice into two bonus skills determined by the culture. A decadent byzantine culture background could give Bluff and Sense Motive, while a normadic horseman culture could give Ride and Survival.

I think this might over-stereotype some cultures. Sure, most horse nomads would be skilled at Ride and Survival (not to mention Animal Handling) in order to simply survive that kind of life, but most city-dwellers (decadent or not) are going to be a bit too diverse to realistically say that all of them have the same two skills.


Granted, but then city-dwellers might be several different backgrounds, depending on social class.

ie, a Beggar background, a Noble background, an Artisan background, and so on. People in cities are much more stratified than a tribe of nomads - they have to be.
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Postby aaronil » Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:46 pm

Just to clarify, as I haven't gotten my pdf updated:
What is the official True20 take on creating a background?

Is it 2 bonus feats, 3 favored feats, 1 pre-assigned skill, and 1 "player's choice" skill?
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