The 3 for 1 Skill variant - its no good...

This board is locked, but is preserved here as an archive of all your hard work posting. Please register on the new M&M boards, over at http://atomicthinktank.com/

The 3 for 1 Skill variant - its no good...

Postby crash beedo » Fri Apr 11, 2003 6:32 pm

Okay, I've seen various threads regarding the 3 for 1 skill question, and know that its listed as an official variant in the errata.

Thinking that I wanted characters with more skills, I let my group use 3 for 1 to develop their characers.

And then I picked up Freedom City...

Its obvious that in the 3 for 1 world, players have more points to spend on powers, attack and defense. If the official M&M products use NPCs developed using the point costings in the core books, PCs will always be a little overpowered.

So its a bit of a quandary - I want to be able to incorporate elements of FC, the Nocturnals, Crooks, etc into the game world, and know that things are balanced. I think we need to redevelop the PCs to reflect the 1 to 1 skill costings.

Anyone else notice this problem? Maybe I'm just slow. You either have to 'beef up' every published NPC coming out in a future product (no fun), or use the standard point costing to assure that PL 10 = PL 10 = PL 10. Bummer.
crash beedo
Bystander
Bystander
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 9:32 am
Location: boulder, colorado

Postby John Bock » Fri Apr 11, 2003 6:34 pm

try 2:1 skills? as a compromise? then the players are only getting 10ish extra points?
Lima Beans...think Lima Beans...
User avatar
John Bock
Supporting Cast
Supporting Cast
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2003 6:11 pm
Location: Columbus

Postby projectdaedalus » Fri Apr 11, 2003 7:07 pm

It can also be a question of how much skill use there's going to be in your game. In more realistic games, 3:1 is a good ratio. In four-color games, the 1:1 ratio is fine.

The difference in terms of points spent on skills vs. points spent on powers isn't really going to change that much just based on the ratio you use. If you want to make a skills-based character, however, you're basically screwed in a 1:1 ratio game because for that 1 pt you spent to get a +1 on a skill check, you could just raise the base ability score by 1, which totally obviates the need to buy skills in the first place.
projectdaedalus
Groupie
Groupie
 
Posts: 212
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2002 1:08 pm
Location: Columbus, OH

Postby Strand0 » Fri Apr 11, 2003 7:07 pm

Or tell your players to send a specific number of points in skills. :) No matter which ratio you are using.
User avatar
Strand0
Earth's Mightiest
Earth's Mightiest
 
Posts: 2657
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2002 7:51 pm
Location: CA

Postby Megasquidd » Fri Apr 11, 2003 7:52 pm

i use a 2 to 1 ratio for them and seems to work, but the players were looking for places to put there last few points. i could probably work with 1 to 1... so from now on it will be at that ratio. as they advance i mean.

megasquidd
User avatar
Megasquidd
Dabbler
Dabbler
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2003 2:42 pm
Location: somewhere in the mohave desert...

Postby prophet118 » Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:40 pm

i tend to prefer the 3:1 myself... but then i went stat, feat, and power heavy with my most recent character... i have like 3 skills at max rank (listen, search and spot)..

thats honestly all i could justify for the character though...

the leader of the group we are in, has a butt load of feats, and skills, but since hes basically a version of Captain America.. well he needs them...lol.
"Congratulations you have won, its a years subscription of bad puns.."
User avatar
prophet118
Fanatic
Fanatic
 
Posts: 1023
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2003 2:35 pm
Location: Huntsville, Al.

Postby Thain » Sat Apr 12, 2003 4:45 am

Easiest fix to the problems you raise about the 3:1, or even 2:1, "skill fix" is... and don't take this as a flame... not to use those ratios at all.

Keep it at a 1:1 ratio, and take a closer look at Green Ronin's explaination: a comic book character isn't just super-skilled, he's super-skilled across the board. Tony Stark doesn't just have high levels of Knowledge(Mechanics), Knowledge(Engineering), Knowledge(Finances), Knowledge(Toxicology), Knowledge(Physics), Knowledge(Military Tactics), Knowledge(Harware Recognition), etc. etc.... No, Tony Stark has an 17-18 INT score, a few ranks in Super-INT (source: training), and some feats. Reed Richards has a 20 INT, and far more ranks in Super-INT than Tony.

The Batman has 18's or 20's in everything, a bucketload of ranks in every Super-Attribute (agian, source: training). As a PL 20 NPC, he should also have a heaping dose of skill enhancing feats... and enough "vanilla" skill ranks in everything to justify synergy bonuses.

Okay, this is begining to sound rant / flame-ish... :oops: My apologies, I just feel like the sole defender of the 1:1 method on the board soemtimes....
Green Arrow: "Relax, gill. Can I call you 'gill?'"

Aquaman: "Can I stop you?"

Vist my Micro-Hero Gallery! http://thaind20.tripod.com
User avatar
Thain
Dabbler
Dabbler
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2003 10:27 am
Location: Pontiac, MI

Postby SMiLEwBRiAN » Sat Apr 12, 2003 5:09 am

I flopped around at first, but now I am a 1:1 defender as well. So you are not alone. :D
"Existence is meaningless and life is absurd, so wipe that smile off your face."
User avatar
SMiLEwBRiAN
Supporting Cast
Supporting Cast
 
Posts: 106
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2003 5:53 pm
Location: Newmarket, NH

Postby MasonsDad » Sat Apr 12, 2003 6:36 am

I am all for both. I would say that if I were running a 4-Color, I'd use 1:1, but in our MnM Pulp game, 3:1 fits better. The Pulp era characters were more skilled than powerful. Also to discourage beefing of powers we are playing at PL7 with a +5 Ranks/MAX in any power.
"Stiny, get me a danish!"
User avatar
MasonsDad
Henchman
Henchman
 
Posts: 280
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2002 4:31 am
Location: Columbus, Ohio

Postby CPXB » Sat Apr 12, 2003 8:39 am

There are actually reasonably complex game balance issues surrounding the amount that skills cost.

When skills cost 1:1, if any character has two or more ranks of any skill governed by the same ability, he should trade ranks in those skills in for more ability (up to 20) and with Int and Cha skills he should also go straight in for super-abilities. And if you have four or more skills based off the same attribute, it is reasonably to buy your ranks down and get the appropriate super-ability. It is also appropriate to play around with the Talented and Skill Focus feats to tweak everything up right.

The 1:1 skill cost tends to create characters with very few points spent in skills, because getting super-abilities tends to be more effective.

This also has some problems with style. For instance, I had a player who wanted her character to be an archeologist. She gave the character Science: Archeology and Search. Well, I told her, it would be better for the character (using the 1:1 skill rule) to just get more Int and then Super-intelligence -- which would make her good with all Int based skills! She didn't like that. She didn't visualize her character as being good at all Int based skills -- she just wanted some Search and Science: Archeology. The same has been true of other characters in my game. So I didn't end up using the 1:1 skill rule because it created to many situations where people were getting super-ability (especially Int and Cha) because they wanted to be good in two skills in a given category.

On the other hand, the 3:1 skill rule makes super-abilities almost useless -- to justify getting a super-ability, you need at least SIX skills based off a given ability, and perhaps as many as *twenty-four* to justify it. Which is OK if you don't want to have any characters that are generalists in your game.

The 2:1 skill rule is what I ended up using. It seemed to have the proper balance between making super-abilities worth it but not making them dominate the skills equation. YMMV.
-- Chris
User avatar
CPXB
Devotee
Devotee
 
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2003 8:47 am
Location: Bangor, ME

Postby Telik » Sat Apr 12, 2003 9:02 am

I have to agree with the 1:1 skill ratio too. Our group had debated it but it really came down to game balance and style of play. My character was based on the head-case arch type and has a lot of skills. That doesn't mean his effectiveness really suffered.

I guess I just wanted to chime in on this post to say it's up to the individual group. We stuck with the 1:1 ratio and it works fine. We're probably four-color gamers. I have made a lot of characters using the suggested super-attributes and really like that way to increase ranks.
The difference between you and me... I'm a professional.
User avatar
Telik
Dabbler
Dabbler
 
Posts: 91
Joined: Sat Dec 14, 2002 9:06 pm
Location: NC

Postby bushido11 » Sat Apr 12, 2003 9:43 am

This is my take on the skill ranks situation:

To me, 4 skill ranks = 2 save bonuses = 1 feat. That's why I use 2:1 for skills.

I can get into the mindset for the 1:1 because it may be M&M way of saying that all skills are cross-classed (to take a D&D term, since there are many skills that are cross-class to D&D characters). I know this isn't D&D but I was just observing its d20 roots.

Also, I see the advantage of taking Super Abilities and Talented and Skill Focus, but with 1:1, it's just a cheesy way (to me) to get more skill bonuses for your points. I prefer to keep things balanced when it comes to the non-power related attributes.
"Est Sularus oth Mithas." My honor is my life.
User avatar
bushido11
Henchman
Henchman
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2002 9:25 am
Location: Miami, FL

Postby crash beedo » Sat Apr 12, 2003 1:35 pm

Yeah, I'm coming down on the side of the 1:1 ratio too - the point I was making is that otherwise, it undermines whatever game balance has been built into existing sourcebooks and modules.
crash beedo
Bystander
Bystander
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2003 9:32 am
Location: boulder, colorado

Postby noahscapesax » Sat Apr 12, 2003 4:37 pm

Its obvious that in the 3 for 1 world, players have more points to spend on powers, attack and defense. If the official M&M products use NPCs developed using the point costings in the core books, PCs will always be a little overpowered.

So its a bit of a quandary - I want to be able to incorporate elements of FC, the Nocturnals, Crooks, etc into the game world, and know that things are balanced. I think we need to redevelop the PCs to reflect the 1 to 1 skill costings.

Anyone else notice this problem? Maybe I'm just slow. You either have to 'beef up' every published NPC coming out in a future product (no fun), or use the standard point costing to assure that PL 10 = PL 10 = PL 10. Bummer.


Honestly I don't think you need to worry about balancing the npc's to the pc's. Sometimes they will fight powerful villains and sometimes they will battle pushovers. I would use the npcs as is(who wants to remake 50 characters? It's almost as easy to make new ones!). I fully intend to use those pl20 villains long before the players even reach pl12. MechaGodzilla is not going to wait for the heroes to "grow up" before blazing into our atmosphere with the new apocalypse. The rewards (pp) at the end of the session should reflect the challange the players overcame. I don't even track points whe I'm making villains. I give them the skills, feats, powers and abilities I want them to have and then I stop. MNM is the first step in breaking the shackles of level restrictions! Balance is an illusion. Fun is premeditated. Join me on the dark side and ignore your dice! :green:
You can kill us, but the legalities of eating us is a bit stickier.
User avatar
noahscapesax
Bystander
Bystander
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2003 12:34 pm
Location: NH

Postby arcady » Sat Apr 12, 2003 7:29 pm

Personally I find concern for balance to be valid.

If I'm planning on using a published set of villains or a module or somesuch, I want the challenges to be right.

If my players are running PL10 PCs, and the NPCs are PL10, I want to be able to look at that and have some idea that the challenge will make for a good match.


If a player on 3:1 spends 10 points in skill ranks, he's matched a 1:1 player who spent 30 points in skill ranks (a wise 1:1 player would use feats and super-stats, a wise 3:1 player uses ranks and super-stats).

That means there's 20 more points for powers. That 20 points could be used to get higher saves overall, or damage, or bab, or defense.

Which makes the 3:1 character more powerful than the 1:1. Which means a 3:1 PL-X PC is not the same power as a PL-X character from a published source, such as a module.
User avatar
arcady
Fanatic
Fanatic
 
Posts: 1096
Joined: Wed May 22, 2002 4:00 pm
Location: San Francisco

Postby nharwell » Sun Apr 13, 2003 6:48 am

No offense, but that balance is an illusion. The Power Level system is a useful tool for character creation and preventing too much abuse of the system (a la Champions), but you really can't say that one PL10 character is "balanced" against another -- especially when you're comparing NPCs to PCs. There are FAR too many variables.

Even if you're a gamemaster who somehow achives the impossible and focuses gametime on EVERY power, skill, stat, and feat to "balance" them in play, you'd still find that some characters are more effective then others. And in reality, no gamemaster I've ever known (including myself) has been able to do that. Even a game that centered more around skills than combat (in and of itself creating an "imbalance" for combat characters) could emphasize investigation over interaction, for example.
nharwell
Bystander
Bystander
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2003 8:00 am
Location: Raleigh, NC

Postby Tclynch9650 » Sun Apr 13, 2003 9:29 am

Strand0 wrote:Or tell your players to send a specific number of points in skills. :) No matter which ratio you are using.


This is what I used to do when I first started running Champions (80's). I got tired of people using around 5-10% of thier points for skills and insisted on 20%.
Yeah, I dig it...a little bit.

www.geocities.com/elmo4266/cosmic.html
User avatar
Tclynch9650
Supporting Cast
Supporting Cast
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2002 7:53 pm
Location: cincinnati, ohio

Postby arcady » Sun Apr 13, 2003 9:39 am

I think my wording was poor above...

Let's see...

"Personally I find concern for balance to be valid. "
Probably should have been more like:
"Personally I think it's valid to be worried over issues of balance."

I agree you will never get perfection in any system that purports to achieve balance. It is all illusionary. Two PL-X's are rarely identical in effectiveness.

You can hope for using it as a rough guage though. Like CR's in D&D.

What I think happens when you get a PC and NPC who are built on different skill-cost options is that the "CRs" of them become even more meaningless than they were to begin with. Not only will they have many subtle holes in them now, but they will likely have some larger less subtle problems as well.
User avatar
arcady
Fanatic
Fanatic
 
Posts: 1096
Joined: Wed May 22, 2002 4:00 pm
Location: San Francisco

Postby CPXB » Sun Apr 13, 2003 9:46 am

Using a 2:1 or 3:1 skill point to power point ratio doesn't, to my mind, make the source material useless, or even really less useful. The reason is because, if the source books actually follow the M&M design philosophy with characters, the characters will spend very few points in actual skills, instead choosing to get super-ability scores. Furthermore, PL is mostly important for capping attacks and defenses, not skills. The PL of most characters will be sufficient to deal with the heroes quite adequately -- this is from my experience with the characters printed in the book, by the way.

It doesn't bother me at all.
-- Chris
User avatar
CPXB
Devotee
Devotee
 
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2003 8:47 am
Location: Bangor, ME

Postby GaryB » Sun Apr 13, 2003 11:13 am

I've been using 1:1 and found the players agonizing over the % division between skills and powers...

2 weeks of 3:1 was all I could deal with... it was like opening a flood gate... now there was NO thought.... just spoon it in!!!

I'm going to try 2:1 tonight and for the next couple of weeks...

This is going to make me unpopular BUT... I believe the real problem is the powers being too cheap... One flaw reducing most powers down to 1 point per level... hmmm....
User avatar
GaryB
Groupie
Groupie
 
Posts: 236
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 12:28 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Postby Samurai007 » Sun Apr 13, 2003 11:21 am

What's more, do you really want exact balance between PCs and villains (assuming such were possible)? If that were the case, fully 50% of the time the villains should win, and which 50% is entirely random. When I build my adventures, I design it so that if the PCs are "supposed" to lose in their 1st match with the villains, I stack things against them. I never make it completely impossible for them to succeed, and in fact the heroes have actually won several initial encounters they were supposed to lose according to the plot. This caused me to have to think on my feet and pretty much just wing things from then on. (I really didn't think they could win, but they got some lucky rolls, and the villains were missing practically every shot :( )

For the big finale, you want it to be a tough battle, but you want the heroes to actually win. Again, things don't always work out as planned, and sometimes you need to figure out a contingency plan in such an event.
User avatar
Samurai007
Henchman
Henchman
 
Posts: 256
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2002 2:02 am

Postby Scripty » Sun Apr 13, 2003 11:55 am

I've been using the Backgrounds thing that I introduced a while back (15pp buys you 36 skill ranks to put into 9 skills of the GM's choice and 3 skills of your choice). It hasn't caused any balance problems with NPC's yet, but, after initially seeing it in action, I always add 2 or 3 skill ranks to every NPC skill (depending on how integral the skill is to the NPC's character).

The results have been "balanced" thus far. I think they would probably be so for a Supers campaign as well because, IME, not many players would sacrifice 15pp for extra skill ranks when they could up their powers or attributes instead. So only players for whom the background was really important would invest in it.
Scripty
Cohort
Cohort
 
Posts: 191
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2002 12:54 pm

Postby Speed Demon » Sun Apr 13, 2003 1:13 pm

My group uses 1/1 but I am having second thoughts about using it since I have one PC who spent exactly 8 points on skills. Still his character isn't really unbalanced. I guess it depends on how much you want skills and skill checks to play into your game.

I think 3/1 may be just a little too generous. One idea I have been discussing with them is to use the (X number + Int mod) per PL to determine staring skill points and then reducing the number of points remaining from 150 (for PL10). It would put the basis of skill points back to being on Int.

We are still discussing it, so what do you think?
just my 2 cents, 3 nickels, a dime and some lint
Speed Demon
Bystander
Bystander
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:08 am

Postby Samurai007 » Sun Apr 13, 2003 3:43 pm

Well, I give all starting characters a number of free skill points equal to their Int score (not mod) This keeps things in a relatively small range, usually 8-20 points. If you give (X + Int mod) x PL, lets say X = 1, you could have anywhere from 0 to 60 free skill points! Increasing X can easily allow 100+ free skill points! If you think about it, using the raw Int score is much better.

I feel Int really needs this bonus too. Wisdom is related to several highly important skills like Spot, Medicine (why? shouldn't that be Int?), Sense Motive, etc. It also provides the Will Save. Charisma also has many important interpersonal skills and affects Loyalty. But Int is not really used much... sure, there are the scientist hero types who will take it, but if it doesn't provide skill points and there are no Wizards needing it for spells, it has lost much of its draw. Allowing it to give a small number of free skill points balances things out well, IMHO.

One other note... 3:1 skills and free Int skill points are not my only changes... far from it. Most of my changes actually end up increasing the costs of things (all physical stats cost 2/pt to raise, mant powers cost more, and I've severely cut down on the use of Stunts and Extras. So all in all, characters in my game can expect to be significantly weaker than those in the book in most ways...
User avatar
Samurai007
Henchman
Henchman
 
Posts: 256
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2002 2:02 am

Postby John Bock » Sun Apr 13, 2003 4:06 pm

Sam007,
They amount of chages you made reminds me of the old days when we weren't happy with D&D and always "fixed" things...

Don't worry, eventually you'll get older and lose the time to fix everything and just play the way it's written...

:lol:
Lima Beans...think Lima Beans...
User avatar
John Bock
Supporting Cast
Supporting Cast
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Fri Mar 21, 2003 6:11 pm
Location: Columbus

Next

Return to Mutants & Masterminds Archives

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 0 guests