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 Post subject: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:24 pm 
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Here's a possible write-up for the character gen chapter. Your thoughts on the Trait values are appreciated.

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Characters in Enigma of Steel are described by their Traits. Some of these traits, such as their Riddle or Philosophy, help to provide players with an idea of who the character is. The other traits - namely Attributes, Skills, and Proficiencies - provide a way to illustrate what a character can do. Finally, a character's Spiritual Attributes [Plot Arcs] stand as a bridge between these two elements of who a character is and what he is capable of.

Players have almost an endless possibilities when it comes to describing who their character is. They should work closely with their Storyteller and fellow players so as to create a unique and dynamic part in the story. However, when it comes to the Traits which decide what a character can do, players must prioritize where they want to focus their character's talents. For this players will use a Trait Priority Table.

The Table is made up of at least five or six traits. Attributes, Skills, and Proficiencies should be present in every Enigma of Steel game, but Storytellers are encouraged to create more Traits which are important for their setting. For example, a high fantasy game may include Race as an important Trait, while a historical drama set in medieval Europe may find Social Class much more appropriate. It is important that Storytellers create choose Traits which are both engaging and worthwhile for the players.

Players prioritize these Traits by assigning each a letter value, "A" being the highest priority. When a player puts a category as a high priority (A or B), he is declaring that this is the most important character aspect he wants to play. He wants his characters to shine over the others in these parts of the story. When a player uses priorities C-D, he is stating that he doesn’t want his hero to be left behind in this aspect of the the story. Perhaps he’s not the best swordsman or skilled journeyman, but he can still hold his own. Players put those aspects of their character which are not as important in the lower priorities (E or F).

Players are given a number of points to distribute in their Attributes, Skills, and Proficiencies depending on which priority each was assigned.

Attributes
    A: 26
    B: 22
    C: 19
    D: 17
    E: 14
    F: 12

Skills
    A: 14
    B: 9
    C: 6
    D: 4
    E: 2
    F: 0

Proficiencies
    A: 14
    B: 9
    C: 6
    D: 4
    E: 2
    F: 0

Storytellers may want to increase or decrease these values to match the desired power level of their game. For example, a Storyteller who wants his players to all begin as legendary heroes or swordsmen might have the lowest Proficiency Priority be valued as 6 and then proceed to 9, 14, 16, and so on.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:59 pm 
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Hey, this is good stuff! Can I steal it for my project?

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:47 pm 
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I like your descriptions, but I have problems with the tables. I distinctly remember that we had decided (but please don't press me to recall where :oops: ) that D-picks should be average, with every step away from D in either direction being bigger than the step immediately before. Something like this:

A: +6
B: +3
C: +1
D: 0
E: -1
F: -3

The reasoning was that we wanted the F-pick to be really bad, and while your otherwise nice proposition retains the rapidly steepening progression in the "positive" range of the picks, it loses them in the "negative" one - the progression down from D is almost universally linear, and I feel that this is lacking bite.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:21 pm 
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Grettir wrote:
A: +6
B: +3
C: +1
D: 0
E: -1
F: -3
I like having a solid approach like this. D is "Average" and F is "Really Bad". What we need to decide then is:

What number of Attribute, Skill, and Priority points are "Average" - meaning, I guess, what value will give most attributes 2-3 dots? For Skills, it really sort of depends on how many Skills a Storyteller decides to have. I liked the idea of having the same adjustable values for Skills as for Proficiencies, with Attributes being a baseline. Storytellers can increase Skills and Proficiencies depending on how awesome they want their players to start, but Attributes need to be pretty solid as stated.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:17 am 
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Grettir wrote:
A: +6
B: +3
C: +1
D: 0
E: -1
F: -3


Michael, based on the above progression, a purely average spread across all seven attributes for a "D" pick would yield a chart with values like this:

A: 24
B: 18
C: 15
D: 14
E: 13
F: 10

This might be a little tight. Do you envision this pick as able to be modified by external factors (such as how Jake introduced nationality modifiers)?

@Seanachai Its going to be very hard to nail down any kind of hard numbers on any of the picks as long as the amount of potential picks is variable. For example, You have described 3 picks (Skills, Attributes, and proficiences) as mandatory, but as long as the amount of additional catagories remain flexible, the table will never gel. Obviously a table with only a set of 4 "Traits" is going to have a much harsher point spread than what we currently have listed here. I think the way to go is to have the three above listed "fixed" Traits and three "Fillable" ones.

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Last edited by pbj44 on Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:25 am 
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pbj44 wrote:
Seanachai Its going to be very hard to nail down any kind of hard numbers on any of the picks as long as the amount of potential picks is variable....I think the way to go is to have the three above listed "fixed" Traits and three "Fillable" ones.
OK - so let's say 6 Traits (A through F on the Priority Table). The three set ones are Attributes, Skills, Proficiencies/Vagaries. A fourth possible fixed one is Gifts/Flaws.

Gifts & Flaws wrote:
A: Two Major Gifts
B: 1 Major Gifts
C: 1 Major Gift, 1 Minor Flaw
D: 1 Minor Gift, 1 Minor Flaw, or NONE (Default)
E: 1 Major Flaw, 1 Minor Gift
F: 1 Major Flaw, 1 Minor Flaw

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:34 am 
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That would then beg the question of what to fill the "Fillable" ones with? We will need something there from the start that the GM reading the game will be able to freely switch out, but at the same time it should have enough merit that a Gm would hesitate to dump it.

I myself am not enthused about Gifts and Flaws, finding them rather tedious. Also keep in mind that a number of TroS's Gifts and Flaws were firmly ground into a certain genre (and TroS magic), so we would have to have a new, fresh approach in that direction, meaning even more writing. Also, though GMs might like gifts and flaws, I have met few players that truly enjoyed them.

Sigh...but we will need to have something there in these spots, something that will be of tangible benefit to players. It should be something that is useful no matter what genre that EoS is being used with. One catagory might be related to the amount of useful contacts or allies one could start with. Another might be related to starting equipment or money, or bonus PA points.

But my point is that the thing to do is to start with a compelling 6 catagory table right from the start, as many GMs are going to want to run (at least one time) the game as written before deconstructing it. In this regard we are at a disadvantage from Jake's TroS, as he had a setting to lock his table into along with a variety of races. EoS presumes neither (at least thus far), so we better get on our thinking caps!

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:29 am 
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Gifts & Flaws are worth it for me, but I agree some will have to be re-worked. Here is what I use for my dark fantasy game:

LEGACY is the racial background or bloodline of a player’s character. A character’s race may provide some benefits, called racial boons. A character’s race also provides them with a racial theme, a recommended starting point for their narrative journey.
    A: Rare (Seidhe, Drahm, Ixtarai)
    B: Gifted Human
    C: Talented (Changeling, Lizardkin; Talented Human, Froan, or Lāhu)
    D: Special (Froan, Lāhu)
    E: Uncommon (Man, Riesen)
    F: Mundane (Man)

I'll be honest: I would prefer all my players take on the roles of humans. I honestly think humans are the most interesting race in almost any fantasy setting. Their mortality, their depraved and ambitious natures, and their endless variations all make them the most compelling choice for the types of stories I like to tell.

But! My players don't all agree with me. Many of them like to play the monster, the outcast, the stranger in human lands. So I do include "Race" as a Trait - but I try to put the focus on the narrative mood and themes involved with each race. I call this Trait LEGACY because it represents what sort of cultural tapestry they're playing from and into. Besides, a player can be different types of humans: Mundane, Uncommon, Talented, or Gifted. That's all the same Race, but they have different connections to man's ancient and forgotten Legacy.

LEGACY is also used to keep magic really rare. I'll be posting more about my magic system (Sarrum) later, but in my game it is extremely rare and a character's LEGACY gives them access to different parts of it.

CASTE is the status a character has in the fatalistic medieval societies of Erd. A character’s social class decides starting resources and available affiliations. Each category will mean different things in each culture. A noble in the mortal realm is different than a noble in the seidhe world. Players should work with their storyteller to make sure they understand what each class affords for their character in his respective culture.

* Lifestyle is the sort of life this class leads.
* Possessions will list what sort of assets a character of this class might possess to start.
* Resources sets a character’s Resource skill and notes how many resource parcels he acquires over time.
* Affiliations are the sort of affiliations a player might consider to take for this social class.
* Upkeep is the Resource challenge level a character must pass regularly to maintain his lifestyle.

A: Landed Nobility
B: Landless Nobility
C: High Freeman
D: Low Freeman
E: Peasant or Serf
F: Prisoner or Slave

Human Castes in Erd
Spoiler: show
Prisoners and slaves (Priority F) begin with nothing other than the rags on their backs. They spend their days in a dungeon or at hard labor. A very rare few may one day earn their freedom.

* Lifestyle: Living conditions are extremely poor, and live expectancy is very short.
* Possession: None.
* Resources: None. Character begins with SR10.
* Affiliations: Prisoners may know other prisoners; slaves probably know other slaves.
* Upkeep: Unnecessary. The slave or prisoner’s masters usually provide the minimum required for survival.

Peasants and serfs (Priority E) may not own weapons legally in many lands, though many steal them and become bandits or brigands. In times of need they may be called upon to fight as infantry in their lord’s army, though is rare. Most of them cannot afford anything but the clothes on their back and perhaps a mule or semi-valuable items. They are little more than property and may not leave their lord’s land without his permission, though few lords will actually pursue any that run off.

* Lifestyle: Peasants live in a hovel, which isn’t luxurious but is usual warm and dry enough for comfort. The most furniture a hovel might have is a simple table, and a peasant might have made a small bench or two.
* Possession: 5 geld marks in equipment.
* Resources: 1 parcel twice a year selling off excess or stolen goods. Character begins with Resources SR10.
* Affiliations: Peasants know others who work their lord’s land.
* Upkeep: To keep a roof over head and bread on table, is Simple (obstacle 1).

Low freeman (Priority D) are indentured to no one, but likely work for someone. They may be merchants, clergy, or even soldiers and mercenaries. Many sailors and pirates come from this class. They may own weapons if they can afford it, but a horse is usually out of their means. Their rights are identical to those of High Freeman.

* Lifestyle: A shared cottage or apartment in a city.
* Possession: 15 geld marks in equipment.
* Resources: 1 parcel a month from employment. Character begins with Resources SR9.
* Affiliations: They may have professional affiliations but nothing above their station.
* Upkeep: To keep a roof over head and bread on table is an Average challenge.

High freeman (Priority C) are merchants, clerks, well-to-do farmers and artisans, soldiers, and mercenaries. Most adventurers and wanderers come from this class, as well as many clergyman and courtesans. They are sometimes educated in either a school or a military academy, and may possess their own horse and weapons. In mannish lands, freeman may bear arms and wear non-metal armors, but may not own more land than their lord allows.

* Lifestyle: A quaint cottage or homestead farm house.
* Possession: 50 geld marks in equipment.
* Resources: 4 parcels a month from employment. Character begins with Resources SR8.
* Affiliations: In addition to professional affiliations, high freeman may have a few contacts with the gentry.
* Upkeep: To keep up the lifestyle of a high freeman is a Tricky challenge.

Landless nobility, known in some cultures as the gentry (Priority B), own little or no land. They instead receive income as soldiers, courtiers, or freelances. Many become swordsmen and adventurers, seeking their fortunes at the tip of a blade. The gentry have the right to bear all arms and armors, own land, and enforce their lord’s laws. In Bloodstone covenant society their names are often prefaced with Var (master), Ver (sir) or Vro (lady).

* Lifestyle: A comfortable house with one or two servants.
* Possession: 100 geld marks in equipment.
* Resources: If employed, 10 parcels a month from superiors for bachelor knights or courtiers. Character begins with Resources SR8.
* Affiliations: The gentry may have a wide range of affiliations, professional as well as social. They most likely serve a noble house.
* Upkeep: To keep up the lifestyle of a gentry is a Hard challenge.

Landed nobility, or lords (Priority A), live a very comfortable life in one or more sizable manors. In return for the taxes they collect, lords must provide protection and administration of their province, a duty which only requires a few weeks at home out of the year to oversee. Occasionally, however, the local ruler may call upon them for service. Lords possess all possible rights and privileges offered by society. Their names are prefaced with Heer (lord).

* Lifestyle: A sizable manor with service from 10 servants or bondsmen, several hundred serfs, and a small garrison of 10-20 soldiers.
* Possession: 250 geld marks in equipment.
* Resources: 30-40 parcels a month from lands, taxes, and other sources. Character begins with Resources SR7.
* Affiliations: Landed nobility have the largest social circles, including the political circles of his nation.
* Upkeep: To keep up the lifestyle of a lord is a Difficult challenge.


Social Class is, I think, a bad name for a role-playing game Trait because of what "Class" means otherwise. I liked the fatalistic feeling the word CASTE has: it's what your father was and what you and your children will always be. I tied a character's CASTE to their Resource skill - although I will have to change this to match the Skill System in EOS now. Parcels are one-time bonuses. Instead of talking about a weapon costing 100 gold pieces, we simply have Resource Skill difficulties tied to different categories of material possessions and Parcels are the loot or other resources a player can use to acquire them.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:43 am 
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Grettir wrote:
A: +6
B: +3
C: +1
D: 0
E: -1
F: -3
pbj44 wrote:
This might be a little tight. Do you envision this pick as able to be modified by external factors (such as how Jake introduced nationality modifiers)?

Sorry for causing confusion, I meant this to merely show the steepness of the progression, not as actual numbers. I should better have written:

A: +6x
B: +3x
C: +1x
D: 0
E: -1x
F: -3x

Dependig on whether we are talking Attributes, Skills, Proficiencies or whatever "x" would be a different number; for Attributes it might for example be 2.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:25 am 
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Grettir wrote:
I should better have written:

A: +6x
B: +3x
C: +1x
D: 0
E: -1x
F: -3x

Depending on whether we are talking Attributes, Skills, Proficiencies or whatever "x" would be a different number; for Attributes it might for example be 2.
So something like...

A: 27
B: 21
C: 18
D: 15 (averaging 2 on each of the 7 attributes plus 1 high one).
E: 12
F: 9

We might have to say that players begin with 1 dot in all Attributes to begin with. If we do that, we could go...

A: 26
B: 20
C: 17
D: 14 (averaging 3 on each).
E: 11
F: 8

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:48 pm 
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Seanachai wrote:
A: 27
B: 21
C: 18
D: 15 (averaging 2 on each of the 7 attributes plus 1 high one).
E: 12
F: 9
I struggled with this, too. One one hand, the value of a single point is large, but then again, there needs to be sizeable difference levels in the priorities to justify the different picks. 27 seems quite insane to me... it's basically all attributes on 4, except one on 3, and 9 is completely abysmal too... all on 1, except two that are 2.

It's the 11-point line where the lesser HALF of your attributes remains in the utter abyss or rating 1, while the larger half would be at the average rating of 2 if you divide the points at their widest effect. I can't really see the F priority much lower than that.

P.S.
I put 15 as "average" too, to avoid the possibility of all-2 row.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:26 am 
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higgins wrote:
It's the 11-point line where the lesser HALF of your attributes remains in the utter abyss or rating 1, while the larger half would be at the average rating of 2 if you divide the points at their widest effect. I can't really see the F priority much lower than that.
How about...

A: 24
B: 20
C: 17
D: 15
E: 12
F: 11

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:37 am 
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I'd make it 13/11 in the lower end. Sure, the stepping is not increasing, but having nearly half your attributes at minimum is extremely bad...

I'm thinking that... the attributes are the base of it all. Perhaps we should treat this part of the table as a special case? I mean, you can do well without combat abilities if you have the skills and vice versa, same with magic and same with social status and gifts&flaws.

However, we need to consider what kind of attributes are game mechanically viable and still fun. I mean, if someone wants to make a crippled character, he should do it via flaws, not by killing off his chances of ever getting a successful roll.

I'll take two of the most "crippled" characters I know from literature. Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire and Sand dan Glokta from The First Law series. One is a dwarf, and the other was tortured in the emperor's prison for almost two years. When it comes down to physical feats, I'd place both these characters at 1 on all physical attributes, with Sand having far worse flaws than Tyrion. What would these character attributes look like... Most likely, their players would want to pick F to represent their weakness, however, both characters have sharp minds... and F Attributes + Dwarf Major Flaw/Crippled Major Flaw doesn't even come close to representing a game mechanically viable "mind", as that area is all but average. If they want Acumen 3, they have to drop one other mental attributes to 1.

Sure, I'm bringing "the crippled smart guy" out here, but as the attributes go 3physical+3mental+1social same is true for "the dull minded brute" concept. Both need better attributes than F.

What is the target concept of our F priority, if not the ones outlined above?

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:21 pm 
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higgins wrote:
Sure, the stepping is not increasing, but having nearly half your attributes at minimum is extremely bad...

Gentlemen, I recently realized that increasing the stepping from D onward leads to a double increase in effectiveness of the B- and A-Picks.

More points to divide among the Attributes lead to higher Attributes, Atribute scores that would, in-game, cost a lot to develop. Let's say increasing 3 to 4 cost 20 PA, and 4 to 5 25 PA. The many points derived from good Picks will lead to several very good Attributes so that every points in this high range is effectively "worth" more than one in a mid-range. Combine this with increased steppig and you compound the effects.

I know that I was a strong advocat of incrasing stepping, but I'm not now sure anymore whether this is such a good idea. Just something for you to keep in mind.

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 Post subject: Re: EoS: Trait Priority Table
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:28 pm 
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Yes, that's a fair point. I was about to suggest equal stepping for attributes, as that's the central aspect of all rolls, so, the column would make inherently more powerful characters, but your argument convinces me even further.

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