Using Stats

All the recent talk about stats got me thinking about some different ways to make stats more important or useful in standard RM or RMU. These are just rough, thoughts, mind…no actual play testing in most cases.

  1. Remove the No Rank penalty for some Skills and Skill Categories. This is the most direct way to make stats more useful, since a character attempting to use Perception (for example) won’t be contending with an automatic -25 penalty. It won’t work for all skills or categories, obviously, but I think there are more than a few it would apply to (Movement for one, Gymnastics and most Social skills for two more examples).
  2. Add some limits or restrictions to Talents or other abilities based on stats. For example, you might be able to get Tier I of a particular Talent, but would need a Temp Stat of a particular value to get Tier II. Or maybe a Temp Stat of a certain value gives you a bonus at some Talent Tiers.
  3. Restricted Entry. This comes from an idea I’m working on, but characters are not able to enter certain units (in other words gain access to reduced skill costs) if they don’t have Temp Stats of a particular value. This Entry Gate simulates the screening and training programs used by those units, making stats critical for players wanting to join.
  4. XP Bonus. This would be tied to Professions, so might not directly work for those using No Profession. In short, if a character has Temp Stats above a certain score, she gets a bonus to earned XPs (up to 10% for exceptional scores). Other games do this in various ways, and it would help give stats a direct impact on character advancement.

Just three thoughts on a Saturday morning. None of these have really been tested, although I’ve been using Idea 1 for some years as part of my games.

3 Replies to “Using Stats”

  1. My own life experience is that natural “talent”, or inherent attributes are dominant. I have friends that are just good at every physical sport they do, others that are natural scholars etc. But I also accept that focus and diligence can overcome most shortcomings.
    None of this has to do with the efficacy of knowledge transmission.
    Original DnD certainly favored nature over nurture; stat attributes played a huge roll in tohit and damage etc. I think RM went the other way, favoring training over inherent ability. This could be the result of the college/UVA influence on the developers?
    Anyway, back to your post. I’m a firmly against “rules for rules”. (see my blog post). So let’s take your suggestions:

    1. Remove the “no rank penalty”. I think you are coming very close to Peter and I’s argument that some skills aren’t skills. They are based purely on natural aptitudes. Thus my argument for “stats as skills” and Peters posts. I’m even having doubts about Perception as a trainable skill. Heresy! I’ve always been perceptive–but how? “Intuitively”? How much general training can be transmitted with “perception”? You either have good eyesight, good sense of smell, hearing etc? Yes, S.O.G’s or even Ninjas train in observation but that’s specific to the operational theatre or as support for an attack strategy.
    2. Talents. So this isn’t a core rule. It’s a rule set meant to bypass the core RM rules–generally to bypass artificial Profession based limitations to the rules. Creating rules to rules that already modify core rules seems complex. I’d rather configure the “root” programming than add layers of tertiary programming when they both accomplish the same thing.
    3. I think this is intriguing. But isn’t it just a “Prime Requisite” for profession mechanic? Personally, stats/attributes should drive all learning: both in terms of speed and command of topic.
    4. Top Secret? XP bonus for activities within professional norms? Complicated? Reward Rangers for outdoor stuff, fighters for fight stuff, M-U for spells stuff?

    btw: I hate to sound adversarial! But in business in economics we like to identify “lever points”. There is a way to model many of these complexities at the base level rather than adding rule mechanics to bend the core towards an ideal outcome. The more rules we add, the more “gaming the system” is allowed in my opinion.

  2. What you see as “rules for rules” I see as fairly simple mechanics, and keep in mind that your ideal outcome isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s. I don’t mean to sound adversarial, either, but gaming the system is equally possible in loose or minimal rules settings. “There’s no rule against it so I can do it” is the refrain there. I’ve been in some of those games and found them frustrating to the extreme as a player.

    You can train in perception, or to be more specific you can train to enhance and hone existing talents. The book “Left of Bang” goes into this in some detail, and it’s a recognized part of many military training programs (the USMC Scout-Sniper syllabus spends a fair amount of time on tracking and other elements of fieldcraft). Perhaps the skill Perception should work like RM2’s Ambush (+1 per rank, no exceptions). Likewise, training certainly helps gymnasts and other athletes enhance their natural abilities. Skills seem a reasonable way to model that, though again maybe the rank bonus model should shift somewhat. That or increase costs to reflect how difficult it is to enhance natural or innate physical talent.

    With 2, I don’t care for Talents in the first place. I honestly doubt I’ll use them much, and was disappointed to see them linked to the races as well. But it does seem something of a natural fit to unlock higher-tier talents with superior stats.

    As for #3, to an extent it is similar to Prime Reqs, but it’s also a simplification and abstraction of the selection courses most elite groups use to screen applicants. You may not find it as much in fantasy, but it certainly will exist in more modern settings and does need to be modeled. If you don’t, you end up with characters that simply can’t perform. You could likely find some no profession way around it, but I don’t think the results would be as satisfying from a role-playing perspective. YMMV, of course.

    With point 4, most of FGU’s games did XPs based on using skills (in some cases tying the points to each skill if I remember correctly), and of course TS did bonus XPs based on Bureau (their Profession). Gangbusters went so far as to have different XP reward tables for each Profession in the game. I’ve always found it to be a pretty responsive mechanic, and linking bonuses to stats seems a reasonable extension.

    Good comments.

  3. There does seem to be a fairly large body of gaming groups that are not using individual xp awards at all so getting +10% xp for having a strength of more than 80 would not work for them.

    For me I would not choose that option because it is DPs based upon stats by the back door. I like the fixed DPs rule so levelling up strong fighters faster gives them more DPs over time based upon their strength.

    I share your feelings on talents and they will not play a big part in my game. They may sneak in over time but I have never been a fan.

    If you were building a recruitment software package then restricting entry based upon ability would be good but this is a game. If you came to me with a great character concept, say Daredevil in the Marvel universe, rejecting the character because being blind doesn’t meet the requirements for martial arts doesn’t hit the rpg mantra of stories limited only by imagination,

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