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Referee's Lounge Discussion of how to (and not to) Referee Traveller and Cepheus Engine games. No edition warring allowed.

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  #21  
Old June 24th, 2019, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by flykiller View Post
... and having a high stat necessarily requiring a low stat elsewhere is unrealistic - would a physically fit marine necessarily be poorly educated and/or of low social standing? that's kind of like saying your character can have a right hand or a left, but not both.
Or it is saying that a character with the reflexes of an Olympic Gymnast, the physique of a Sumo Wrestler and the intellect of a Nuclear Physicist might be a bit unbalancing for the game mechanics ... so nobody gets to be great at everything.
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Old June 25th, 2019, 12:13 AM
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Or it is saying that a character with the reflexes of an Olympic Gymnast, the physique of a Sumo Wrestler and the intellect of a Nuclear Physicist might be a bit unbalancing for the game mechanics ... so nobody gets to be great at everything.
T4 mechanics made it supremely easy....

Term 1 characters got between 5 and 10 levels (4 years, 1st term; Commission, Promotion, Special Duty, Rank & Service; later terms 4-8... and skill 1 avoiding the unskilled penalty... plus the skill tables being "Roll or Pick"...
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  #23  
Old June 25th, 2019, 08:48 PM
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a character with the reflexes of an Olympic Gymnast, the physique of a Sumo Wrestler and the intellect of a Nuclear Physicist might be a bit unbalancing for the game mechanics
those characteristics are considerably higher than a 2d6 C at age 18.
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Old June 25th, 2019, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by ManOfGrey View Post
as generated in the character creation system
so looking at the game setting you propose it occured to me that a prospector might be a good fit - some industrial motivation, some archeological expertise, some wilderness experience. I have such a character set up in my own system, but perhaps you could walk me through generating a prospector in your system as you see it.
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Old June 26th, 2019, 11:02 AM
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Default Taking a step back. Perhaps I should explain.

I began this thread to discuss a possible way to address the problem of using characters generated using T4's character generation system in conjunction with T4's task system, and the problems many have perceived with how the two interact. I began this discussion with the assumption the people interested in it would already have a basic idea of the game mechanics of T4, and how this interaction occurs. It is just now occurring to me that everyone may not be familiar with the mechanics of T4, which is somewhat different than classic Traveller or MegaTraveller.

Please allow me to take a minute and try to explain the fundamental problem as I understand it. Perhaps that will make the proposed solution a little more clear.

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Originally Posted by flykiller View Post
... oh. don't know t4, had no idea stats were so prominent.
A major change that was made in T4, (which has been carried over to T5, I believe,) is the task system begins by assigning a base roll for a task based on a character's characteristic number. For example, if a character wants to succeed on a task based on Strength, then the starting point for that roll is the character's Strength rating. If the character has a Strength of 8, then the roll is 8 or less, plus the appropriate skill. Brawling is a perfect example. Let's say a character had a Strength of 8 and a Brawling skill of 2. Then to hit another character in combat using Brawling, requires this character to roll a 8+2 = 10 or less. On 2d6. That is not a difficult roll.

Now like many things, I believe there are positive and negative aspects to this game mechanic.

The positive aspect, I mentioned before. I believe it is a good way to emulate the idea that someone with a higher characteristic should be better at a task than someone with a lower characteristic. Someone with a Strength of 9 should have a better roll than someone with a Strength of 8. This game mechanic takes this into account using a 1:1 ratio. One point of Strength will increase the odds of success by one.

There have been several examples given in this thread of how this mechanic has caused problems.

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The main problem I have with it (and extendable to T5) is the (IMHO) too high importance given to stats.
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Originally Posted by atpollard View Post
Or it is saying that a character with the reflexes of an Olympic Gymnast, the physique of a Sumo Wrestler and the intellect of a Nuclear Physicist might be a bit unbalancing for the game mechanics ...
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Originally Posted by aramis View Post
T4 mechanics made it supremely easy....

Term 1 characters got between 5 and 10 levels (4 years, 1st term; Commission, Promotion, Special Duty, Rank & Service; later terms 4-8... and skill 1 avoiding the unskilled penalty... plus the skill tables being "Roll or Pick"...
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I'll list the reasons I disliked it...

4) as implemented in T4.0, the value of a point of attribute was way more than that of a skill, so astute players took most rolls on the PDT², rather than skills
4a) once the TIH rule was added, it curbed it slightly, but once the desired skills hit 3 or 4, back to the PDT

² PDT: Personal Development Table. The one that's mostly attribute gains.
For example:

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Originally Posted by aramis View Post
It's worth noting that the sum of attributes of the average generated PC by experienced players are going to be well above 42 total points. In my campaigns, typical was closer to 60.

This is a side effect of the task system valuing skill and attribute the same, but attributes applying far more widely.
Exactly. If the sum of attributes average close to 60, that's easy math. 60/6 characteristics = 10. That's an average UPP of AAAAAA.

Back to our Brawling example. With a Strength of A, and a Brawling of 2, a character would have to roll 10+2 = 12 or less on 2d6. This character would never fail that task.

And if everyone's UPP is AAAAAA, then there is practically no task they can fail at if they just have a skill level of -1 or -2, for a "Average" skill roll. Even if the difficulty is "Difficult," that's just a roll on 2.5d6. In my opinion, 11 or 12 or less is not a "difficult" roll when the average on 2.5d6 is 9, and the maximum you can roll is 15.

So, that got me thinking. (Obviously, that was a bad sign. ) How can I have my cake an eat it too? How can such an elegant task system be preserved? What can be "tweaked" to make this work?

In an earlier post, I explored several options that have been recommended by others. The forth option, the one that I explore here, in concept, is simple. Players simply cannot generate a character whose average UPP is AAAAAA. They are "forced" to generate a character whose average UPP is 777777. Which gives a character an average base roll of 7 or less when performing an "Average" task on 2d6. Which, not coincidentally, is practically the same as the roll of an "Average" skill roll, or task roll, in either classic Traveller, or MegaTraveller.

Now, I don't believe every character should just be assigned a UPP of 777777. The fun of RPGs is the variation in characters. I'm suggesting you can "buy" characteristics that give you a base roll greater than 7. But for every characteristic you buy that gives you base roll greater than 7, this has to be balanced out by another characteristic whose base roll is now less than 7. If one goes up, then another must come down. That is how an average of 7 is maintained. QED.

Last edited by ManOfGrey; June 26th, 2019 at 11:21 AM..
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  #26  
Old June 26th, 2019, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ManOfGrey View Post
Back to our Brawling example. With a Strength of A, and a Brawling of 2, a character would have to roll 10+2 = 12 or less on 2d6. This character would never fail that task.

And if everyone's UPP is AAAAAA, then there is practically no task they can fail at if they just have a skill level of -1 or -2, for a "Average" skill roll. Even if the difficulty is "Difficult," that's just a roll on 2.5d6. In my opinion, 11 or 12 or less is not a "difficult" roll when the average on 2.5d6 is 9, and the maximum you can roll is 15
Yes, and that's what I don't like about T4. To caomapre with other systems I know (this is alredy discussed in the post I linked before):

This same average player, 777777 , skill 1 trying to do an average task:
  • In CT: it was assumed 8+ , with a +1 due to skill, so it needed 7+ roll in 2d6, slightly over average
  • in MT: an average task needed 7+. Stat 7 gave +1, and skill another +1, s oyou needed to roll 5+. Quite easier (one of the flaws of MT, IMHO, as task rolls were too low for average tasks)
  • in T4: stat + sill is 8, so you need to roll 8- on 2d6. about halfway among CT and MT
  • in MgT: needs 8+, with no stat DM and +1 for skill: as CT.
The difference is when things are not so average. Let's asume relevant stat is 13 and task difficult:
  • In CT: we asume the referee assigns a -2 DM (or that you need 10+ to success) , stat DMs varied, but ir used to be a +1 or +2, So, with a +1 due to skill, so it needed 7-8+ roll in 2d6.
  • in MT: an difficult task needed 11+. Stat 13 gave +2, and skill another +1, s oyou needed to roll 8+. More or less like CT
  • in T4: stat + sill is 14, so you need to roll 14- on 2.5d6. Only fail in catastrophic failure...
  • in MgT: needs 10+, with `2 du t ostat and +1 for skill you'd need a 7+.
Now let's asume a 26 years old, college trained, Medica School jsut graduated doctortrying a medical task:
  • In CT it would have an average EDU of 10+ and Medic skill 3 . So it probably would have a DN of +4 or +5 (depending on how the referee assigns the DMs due to stats.
  • In MT its EDU will be again about 10+ and medic skill 3. SO its DM will be +5, being able to handle dificult tasks more often than not (6+), a Fromidable one sometimes (10+, as target is 15+) and he cannot with ain imposible task (of course, cautious attempts may change those numbers)
  • In T4, EDU will be 15 (even if he began with 4, the mínimum for college, he'd earned +4 at college, +1 for honors, +6 at Medical School, and medic skill 3. So its target number wil lbe 18, he can dafely handle any task up to Formidable (3d6) ,and even an Impossible task (4d6) wil lbe quite safe for him....
  • MgT has not such Medical School, no i don't use it in this comparison.
And even at any other task in anything he has skill level 1, DMs will be +2/+3 in CT, +3 in MT, but will need a 16- in T4, so being quite outstanding on them in T4, while not so in CT/MT
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  #27  
Old June 26th, 2019, 01:21 PM
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Default Great example! Thank you for choosing a 13 as the "relevant" stat!

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The difference is when things are not so average. Let's assume relevant stat is 13 and task difficult:
  • in T4: stat + skill is 14, so you need to roll 14- on 2.5d6. Only fail in catastrophic failure...
This is a great example, since you chose the "relevant" stat as 13. It illustrates exactly what I'm suggesting. Using the "point buy" system I have outlined above, if you work out the math, this player may only choose one stat to be 13. This uses up all of their characteristic points. Since your next example was a Medic, I am going to assume the player chose Intelligence to be that characteristic. Assuming this is what happens, this character's UPP is 555D55.

You're correct. He's a super-genius. But that's all he does. Yes. On any Intelligence based skill, he can almost never fail a Difficult task.

But on any other Difficult task roll, based on any other stat with a skill of 1, his odds are 5+1 = 6 or less on 2.5d6. The average roll on 2.5d6 is 9. He will fail 84.3% of all (skill-1) Difficult tasks he tries, besides ones based on Intelligence.

If someone wants to make a character that throws all their eggs in one basket like this, that fine, as far as I'm concerned. As long as they have to give up something in return. No one gets to do everything! If this example character wants to shoot a gun, pilot a spaceship, or use a vacc suit, and it's a Difficult task, he will only succeed 15.7% of the time. That's the consequence of having a 13 Intelligence. If one stat goes up, then one stat has to come down. If one stat goes up a lot, then a lot of stats have to come down.

Last edited by ManOfGrey; June 26th, 2019 at 02:20 PM..
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Old June 26th, 2019, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ManOfGrey View Post
This is a great example, since you chose the "relevant" stat as 13. It illustrates exactly what I'm suggesting. Using the "point buy" system I have outlined above, if you work out the math, this player may only choose one stat to be 13. This uses up all of their characteristic points. Since your next example was a Medic, I am going to assume the player chose Intelligence to be that characteristic. Assuming this is what happens, this character's UPP is 555D55.

You're correct. He's a super-genius. But that's all he does. Yes. On any Intelligence based skill, he can almost never fail a Difficult task.

But on any other Difficult task roll, based on any other stat with a skill of 1, his odds are 5+1 = 6 or less on 2.5d6. The average roll on 2.5d6 is 9. He will fail 87% of all Difficult tasks he tries.

If someone wants to make a character that throws all their eggs in one basket like this, that fine, as far as I'm concerned. As long as they have to give up something in return. No one gets to do everything! If this example character wants to shoot a gun, pilot a spaceship, or use a vacc suit, and it's a Difficult task, he will only succeed 13% of the time. That's the consequence of having a 13 Intelligence. If one stat goes up, then one stat has to come down. If one stat goes up at lot, then at lot of stats have to come down.
In fact, he desn't need so, as I already told:

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Better to invest your points in INT 8 and SOC 9 (total 51 points, leaving you 29 more of other stats (hint: don't use any in EDU)).
As explained there, he has good chances to be allowed in the COllege, to perseverate and even to achieve honors, being able to enter Medical School.

And he has yet 29 points to alocate to other stats (again, none is needed for EDU, so only physical ones), being able to be average in most of them...

He then can use some skill rolls in PDT ,as he will end his educational time with at least 8 skill levels (over 50% of having JOT among them) , 2 more if he achieved NOTC, 2 more if he achieved honors in the Medical School, and up to 3 more if he's lucky and does not roll medic in the Medical School table...

And he will begin as O3 in the Navy at 26 years...
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  #29  
Old June 26th, 2019, 03:00 PM
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Default PS. You're right, his UPP would go up a bit, because of college and medical school.

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Now let's asume a 26 years old, college trained, Medical School, just graduated Doctor, trying a medical task:
  • In T4, EDU will be 15 (even if he began with 4, the mínimum for college, he'd earned +4 at college, +1 for honors, +6 at Medical School, and medic skill 3. So its target number wil lbe 18, he can dafely handle any task up to Formidable (3d6) ,and even an Impossible task (4d6) wil lbe quite safe for him....
You're right, his UPP would go up a bit, because of college and medical school. However, what I have failed to communicate is that in your example above, his Education does not go up by (+4+1+6) = 11. In the character generation system I am suggesting, these are characteristic points, and are also spent on a geometrically increasing scale. In the system I describe, his Education begins at 5. He has spent no more points on Education, (in fact you advised against it earlier.) It costs 6 points to bring up his Education to a value of 6. And he has 5 character points left over he can apply later to Education if he so chooses. After completing medical school, his UPP is 555D65.

Skills are also bought on the same geometrically increasing scale. Assuming he studied medicine all four years in college, he would graduate with 4 skill points in Medical. Assuming he then goes on to Medical School, and spends all four years continuing his study in Medicine, he has accumulated a total of 8 skill points in Medical. He spends the first on Medical-1, two more to bring his skill to Medical-2, and three more to bring his skill to Medical-3. This takes 6 skill points, he has 2 left over to use later. In the examples I talked about above, this qualifies him as a Physicians' Assistant. (Granted, with his Intelligence of 13, he's a damn good one! He would have a target number of 13+3 = 16.) However, it will take two more years of training, (i.e. two more skill points,) with his two left over from medical school to raise his skill to Medical-4, at which point he would qualify as a licenced medical doctor, for a total of 10 years of study. (And given his 13 Intelligence, he's got to be one of the best in the galaxy!)
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Old June 26th, 2019, 03:20 PM
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Default I'm sorry I'm having such a difficult time explaining these ideas.

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He then can use some skill rolls in PDT, as he will end his educational time with at least 8 skill levels (over 50% of having JOT among them) ,
The purpose of the system I am suggesting is to make it difficult to generate characters with out-of-this-world stats. As we have discussed, these out-of-this-world characteristics really handicap the task system as presented in T4.

So, please, let me try again. Everything is based on points. You earn points. During a character's career, they earn one point for every year of their career. These points are not spent on a 1-to-1 basis. +1 point does not equal +1 skill. +1 point does not equal +1 characteristic. They are spent in an ever increasing geometric progression.

I certainly feel a character may spend his time studying on the Personal Development Table. I certainly feel a character may spend his points on improving his characteristics. But to raise a characteristic, say Strength from Str-5 to Str-6, it takes 6 points, or 6 years of his career to do so. To raise his Strength from Str-6 to Str-7, it takes 7 more points, or 7 more years to do so. To raise a Str-5 to Str-7 takes 13 years of training. And that's all that character can do, or learn, for those years.

I'm sorry these ideas seem to be so frustrating. It is honestly my intention to suggest a way to make T4 better. The geometric progression I suggest is to keep a character's characteristics and skills from getting out-of-control.

(I am trying to decide whether to re-generate merchant Captain Alexander L. Jamison, the example character in the book, using this system. By the time I am done, he will look very different than he does in the example in the book. He would have neither the high UPP he has in the book, nor the number of skills and/or skill levels as shown in the book. But that's kind of the point of this exercise-- to try to bring character generation to a point where it is more compatible with the task system. I'm just not sure if this would be helpful, or simply more frustrating.)

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