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Starting advanced characters

posted Feb 11, 2013 16:05:03 by thomas5251212
This isn't a new problem for RQ6 (its always been a bit of an issue with BRP style systems), but I'm curious to people's take on it specifically in the context of this version.

When someone loses a character in an RQ campaign, and the game has been going on for a bit, it can be unattractive to simply have the player start a typical starting character; often you want them to be a bit more in the same weight class as the current PCs. Now you can just look at how many experience rolls you've given out and have someone generate a beginning character and give them that many (or some acceptable portion of that), but that can be cumbersome. At the other end you could just give extra skill points and allow them to be added to the skills up to some maximum, but it can be tricky to not, in practice, make the new character in some respects be better than the people who've actually had to played the characters up normally that way.

How do other people go about this?
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13 replies
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DanTrue said Feb 11, 2013 17:32:57
Well, you simply increase the number of free skill points at the beginning - and if you're afraid the character is going to be power gaming it to get 130% combat style (if that is inappropriate according to the level the other characters are at), then you apply some restrictions (max 50 in a single skill for instance).

Or, if he decides to be a fencingmaster who has 130% combat style, good endurance, brawn and athletics - he's going to be sorry when the calls for perception, persistence or Lore rolls comes up. He'll remember to the next time ;)

My players are quickly realising that they might be good at magic or fighting - but if they can't see anything, it doesn't matter in the slightest.

- Dan
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 18:39:47
No one I've ever played with is liable to ignore Perception. I'm probably being a bit more concerned about characters being halfway well rounded is warranted, but in the past I've seen a tendency for replacement characters to be over-focused on whatever the group is involved with currently (in addition to combat or magic, which as you aver is perennially popular). The normal character generation kind of forces the point (as a starting young adult can't throw more than 45% at a combat style, which means that the rest of the 300 points have to go somewhere), but if you raise the top for replacements and don't give them buckets of more points, it can be easy for all that the character spends them on is said combat style or whatever.
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DanTrue said Feb 11, 2013 19:17:23
Well, give them more points - and raise the bar, but only a little. That was my point. 100 extra points and a limit of 50 point in a given skill was used in Legend to create above-average competent starting characters (in Deus Vult for instance). It also ensures they don't put all 300 points into their combat style.

- Dan
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bluefenix42 said Feb 11, 2013 19:22:53
Another option would be to give slightly more points in each phase (along with cap increases if so desired). Say you want to give 150 extra points - put 50 of those in the Culture phase, 50 in the Career phase, and 50 in the age/hobby phase, forcing the player to spread them out more.
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 19:31:24
Yeah, you're probably right, Dan.

Blue, the problem with that is they'll look nothing like the other characters in the opposite direction. Unless I'm misunderstanding the rules (and as those who've followed my posts know, that never happens :P), one of the great changes with from older style RQ is that the roll-award system leaves no motivation to players to advance in skills they don't think are useful to them; that doesn't necessarily mean they'll relentlessly pursue nothing but their core skills, but it does mean you'll almost certainly get more focus at advanced characters than as beginning ones.

(I just noticed you did mention cap increases, which can offset this of course).

Of course the real question is "how much more?" If the other players have had 40 experience rolls over the course of a game, what's liable to be a good value? This is one of those areas where an experience point system is simply easier to assess when building an advanced character.
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bluefenix42 said Feb 11, 2013 19:45:18
The average value of an experience roll is roughly 2.2 points (assuming average Int and a skill currently sitting at (50 + INT). That value will, of course, vary by INT score and be lower for higher skill values. So, if you've given out 50 experience rolls, giving 100 extra points to spend on a new character might be suitable. I have no equivalent calculation for cap increases, though.

Of course, there's also the consideration that XP rolls aren't only spent on skill improvement - they also go toward learning new professional skills and spells. A mix-and-match approach may be called for, where you give some straight points AND some XP rolls.

At the end of the day, this is all arbitrary anyway, though it'd be nice to get some word from the writers as to what they might have had in mind.

Finally, there is the point that in a lot of "old-school" systems, it was considered perfectly fine for a new character to start off lower than the others. D&D is often played with new characters coming in at level 1 always (especially in AD&D) or 1 or 2 levels behind the party. Then, there's considerations about giving bonus XP to lower level adventurers who participate in high level challenges in order to help them catch up.
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lawrence.whitaker said Feb 11, 2013 19:48:38
Of course the real question is "how much more?" If the other players have had 40 experience rolls over the course of a game, what's liable to be a good value?


The average improvement roll of 1d4+1 yields a value of 3.5. Breaking the usual 'round up' convention, I'd multiply the number of improvement rolls distributed to other players by 3 to give the total additional skill points available for a more seasoned character build. So, in your 40 experience roll example, that would be 120 additional points.

A cap is a good idea. Treat the character as Middle Aged from the Age Table on page 48 with a maximum increase of +20 to any skill (it equates to the fact that ongoing characters would have had to spend 6 or 7 experience rolls to reach a similar +20 increase in a particular skill, which is probably about the right proportion) and give them a couple of rolls on the Background Events table too. Even though the new character may not be middle aged in terms of years, in terms of life experiences through adventuring this is probably a fair compromise.
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bluefenix42 said Feb 11, 2013 20:39:27
The average improvement roll of 1d4+1 yields a value of 3.5


That doesn't seem to take into account the chance that the players' d100+INT roll will fall less than his skill, granting only a 1% increase. Although, now that I think about it, my 2.2. figure mentioned above may not quite be correct either.
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 20:46:22
That doesn't seem to take into account the chance that the players' d100+INT roll will fall less than his skill, granting only a 1% increase. Although, now that I think about it, my 2.2. figure mentioned above may not quite be correct either.


Using your original logic, it should go something like this:

1. At 50% skill, with a default Intelligence of 13, the character will make the advancement roll 63% of the time; that does indeed give an expected result of 2.205.

2. However, as noted, the other 37% still yields a 1% advancement, that should also be added in, which comes out to an additional .37, for a total of about 2.575.

If you assume that PCs will typically top weight their advancement (i.e. put a disproportionate amount in skills already at higher levels) it'd be simplest to multiply the advancement rolls by 2 and use that as the skill point base for the bonus.
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PeteNash said Feb 11, 2013 20:49:07
It isn't hard to just look at the average top skill value of the other PCs, set that as the cap, then rule that weapon styles or magic cannot be the top one, two or three skills on the new PCs character sheet after adding bonus points. Or you could simply say that new PCs start off with the same values as a middle aged or senior character. Or you create the new PC for the player to ensure its not overly optimised. Or... There's countless ways to handle it depending on your group, GM style and their trust in you.

Personally I'd make them roll up a basic starting character and make them climb the greasy pole again, as an object lesson in overly violent play. But I'm a bastard GM. ;)
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 20:57:31
It isn't hard to just look at the average top skill value of the other PCs, set that as the cap, then rule that weapon styles or magic cannot be the top one, two or three skills on the new PCs character sheet after adding bonus points. Or you could simply say that new PCs start off with the same values as a middle aged or senior character. Or you create the new PC for the player to ensure its not overly optimised. Or... There's countless ways to handle it depending on your group, GM style and their trust in you.


Of course. I'm just polling people because I've never found any of the ways I've done it in RQ style games entiely satisfactory.

Personally I'd make them roll up a basic starting character and make them climb the greasy pole again, as an object lesson in overly violent play. But I'm a bastard GM. ;)


Eh. Don't see much virtue in a game that can be unforgiving of a couple bad rolls to make someone roll Sisyphus' rock, especially since it can just turn into a spiral of failure where the new character is so inferior to the extent ones that he's even more likely to die in the future, caution or no.
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lawrence.whitaker said Feb 11, 2013 21:09:09
That doesn't seem to take into account the chance that the players' d100+INT roll will fall less than his skill, granting only a 1% increase.

No it doesn't. I was just presenting a fast and reasonable way of giving new characters a way of reaching a par with ongoing ones. I wasn't intending to provide a detailed statistical or probability-based analysis.


Eh. Don't see much virtue in a game that can be unforgiving of a couple bad rolls to make someone roll Sisyphus' rock, especially since it can just turn into a spiral of failure where the new character is so inferior to the extent ones that he's even more likely to die in the future, caution or no.


I think there was a heavy dose of ironic humour in Pete's post...
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 21:14:30
And my response was probably more ill-humored than it needed to be. Even if he meant it literally, BRP style systems have always been more forgiving than a lot of other systems in this regard, and RQ6, where if you want to you can end up with 50-65% in a skill walking out without doing too many backflips, is even more so than older editions of RQ, so it isn't that painful to go back to start unless its reached the point where the other PCs are all in the 120%+ range in their important skills.
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