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 Post subject: Designers Blog #2: Character Creation in ERP
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:50 am 
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Designer’s Blog, Entry 2.
"Character Generation in the Eldritch Role-Playing System."

By Dan Cross with Randy Petras

Greetings, and welcome, dear readership, to a new installment of the Eldritch Role-Playing (ERP) game designers blog! The last entry dealt with the combat system in general. Now we turn our attention to the basics of character and NPC generation.

ERP uses a skill based system to describe a character’s abilities. By possessing high ability in a certain skill, it is assumed that the hero has the physical traits to use the skill. For example, a character with a high “sword” skill is able to hit and do damage with a sword at a certain level. The game makes no distinction about this damage being the result of finesse or brute strength. The player’s character concept and other skill selections will dictate the feel of the character.

From a game mechanics point of view, ERP uses a system of increasing dice values as the character increases in skill. Beginning with a base skill of 1D4, the character increases his skill by purchasing higher die values. D4 to D6, D6 increases to D8 and so on through D12. This is called Die-Rank. In addition to increasing Die-Rank a character can specialize a skill. Taking a general skill like Melee, and specializing in Swords, a character can then roll two dice in a skill check. Mastery is also possible, adding a third die. This is called an Ability-Dice-Chain.

We’ll begin by creating a new character named Morgan the Gray, a roguish half-elf who dabbles in illusion and trickery. Now traveling amongst human kingdoms, Morgan seeks excitement and renown. Swift with both his dagger and wit, few are a match for his cunning. Raised by elves, and the son of a human Queen and elven Enchanter, his bloodline is both royal and magical. With the character concept defined, the GM initiates the process of character creation, granting thirty Character Points (CPs).

The first step is deciding on the character’s race. Racial selection grants a number of abilities and defines some of the starting statistics of the character. From the character definition we see that Morgan will be a half-elf. All Half Elves have respectable Endurance, Reflexes, and Willpower, as well as Low-light vision. The racial package costs 8 points out of the available 30.

Second, a look through the Advantages and Disadvantages list helps to round out a character. It is wise to do this before finalizing skill selections, because this can adjust the CP pool up or down. In this case we select one, deciding the half-elf will be ambidextrous, costing another 2 CPs. Then with twenty points to spare, we finalize skills.

For action in any story, the most important abilities are Agility, Endurance, Reflexes, Resistance, Speed, and Willpower. Because this is a game of heroes, none of these attributes fall beneath “average” at character creation (unless, for some reason, the player wishes it so). There are two types of abilities: unrestricted and restricted. Any character may attempt unrestricted abilities, which default to an ability-check roll of 1D4. A character will be able to increase proficiency (Die-Rank) from this starting point, and most skills fall under this category. On the other hand, characters cannot attempt a restricted ability without proper training (i.e., you must purchase the base rank of 1D4.) It is possible to pick up restricted abilities during racial selection. All Specializations are considered restricted and purchased from a D4 upwards. Each increase in Die-Rank costs 2 CP.

D4: (0 CP Unrestricted; 2 CP Restricted) This is the default rank, meaning characters may utilize most skills at no cost! Agility, Artistry, Animal Handling, Appraisal, Augury, Feats of Strength, Handicraft, Healing, Investigation, Knowledge, Melee Weapons, Ranged Weapons, Resistance, Scouting, Speed, Stealth, Survival, and Unarmed Combat.
Morgan buys into the Arcanum ability. He must pay 2 CP for the 1D4 level because it is a restricted skill. The ability of Coercion (which is Restricted) drops off the list because he did not pay any points for it. 2 CP total.

D6 (2 CP each rank): Endurance, Reflexes, and Willpower were raised to D6 during race selection, thus we’ve already paid for these. We raise Morgan’s Skullduggery, Scrutiny, Climbing and Thievery abilities to D6 each, spending an additional 8 CP.

D8 (4 CP each rank): We raise Morgan’s Arcanum to D8. We already purchased the base level of 1D4 to allow him to perform Magic. We are now raising the skill to a higher proficiency. 4 CP total (including the initial 2 point cost).

Specializations
Morgan keeps Melee Weapons at D4, but chooses to add a Specialization in Knives at D4, he spends 2 CP for the Specialization. He will roll 2D4 when fighting with Knives.

Finally we add a D6 specialization in the Mystic Power Source. This is a specialization of Arcanum, allowing him to use magic from this Source. This costs 4 CP. Morgan will roll 1D8 + 1D6 when rolling for spells from the Mystic Source.

Morgan spent his points, and possesses respectable skill in roguish activities, and is good in the mystic arts. Overall, his knowledge and power remains reasonable for one of 1st level. ERP measures character experience by level, without dictating advancement in terms of any one “character class” or bundle of abilities. Rather, experience level applies to a hero’s capabilities in toto. At each level of advancement, Morgan Half-Elven gets more Character Points equaling level +2.

There are also occupational “skill sets” in EHF, organized by lists of suggested abilities in order of importance; but these are suggestions designed to enhance integration into the fantasy milieu, and are never straightjackets. As would be expected, characters may choose to become barbarians, knights, mystic warriors, rangers, sorcerers, clerics (theurgists), etc. Morgan has no set occupation.

Some GMs feel that attempting to limit PCs in terms of their personality and motivations becomes something of a debacle in actual game play. I feel most players assume the role of the character they envision, despite the statistics on the page, or they adhere to whichever concepts allow the least restrictions. ERP honors this observation, and eliminates broadly defined statistics like Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. You will play exactly the character you want, with plenty of room for development and diversity. However, there are similar traits for characters to acquire, so one who wishes to be "wise" can choose specific skills related to such wisdom. Likewise, one who wishes to be ultra-intelligent may choose and areas of expertise which convey such (like ancient history, the talent for research, or Arcanum).

Hopefully this entry helped to illustrate how flexible character creation can be.


Last edited by dancross on Sun Jan 20, 2008 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 5:18 pm 
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I'm looking forward to checking out this game!

About how many sessions until the characters level does the game expect?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:55 pm 
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If you have point-based character creation, why did you decide to go with level-based advancement instead of point-based advancement as well?

I'm loving the sound of the skill system. I'm pretty excited about this game.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:32 pm 
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I can't wait to see more! Any thoughts on when we will see the quickstart?
Dustin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:37 pm 
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With Basic Skills, Specialties & Masteries all costing (apparently) 2 CP's per level to increase, are their other incentives to drive players away from simply raising their Base Skills first? I understand Concept should be that driving factor. But several players in my group will feel that initially its better point-wise to work on Basic Skills over Specialties or Masteries.

Note, this isn't a criticism, I'm very interested in ERP & check for updates daily :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:32 pm 
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Zemora wrote:
I'm looking forward to checking out this game!

About how many sessions until the characters level does the game expect?


At low levels, once every session or two. At around 8th or 9th level it really slows, until at 11th or so one requires more effort and good role-assumption.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:36 pm 
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mythfish wrote:
If you have point-based character creation, why did you decide to go with level-based advancement instead of point-based advancement as well?

I'm loving the sound of the skill system. I'm pretty excited about this game.


I decided on level-based advancement rather than point-based because it makes awards easier. If one were awarded points based on skill-usage alone, then how the character develops depends more on the type of adventures. In ERP, the player decides (hopefully with reasons that dovetail with the story). Those of the same level are of equal ability, though not always in combat. GMs award "Victory Points" for escaping dangerous combats or situations, and Role-Playing points for good role assumption. To level he needs VPs equal to his current level and 100 RP points (yes, there are rules for when he has enough of one but not enough of the other). Every level a hero gets level + 2 CPs. It controls the pace of advancement very well, allowing the GM a bit more control in preparing campaign material.


Last edited by dancross on Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:33 pm 
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Dustin R wrote:
I can't wait to see more! Any thoughts on when we will see the quickstart?
Dustin


Hopefully by the end of February. ;-)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:09 pm 
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Sunsword wrote:
With Basic Skills, Specialties & Masteries all costing (apparently) 2 CP's per level to increase, are their other incentives to drive players away from simply raising their Base Skills first? I understand Concept should be that driving factor. But several players in my group will feel that initially its better point-wise to work on Basic Skills over Specialties or Masteries.

Note, this isn't a criticism, I'm very interested in ERP & check for updates daily :)


Hello!

Specializations and Masteries are like restricted abilities because they cost an extra 2 CP's to get the initial D4 rank. Despite the higher cost, there are many reasons players would want to expand their ability trees. Note that with all abilities except Arcanum, Specializations can exceed the basic Die-Rank (i.e. a D4 in basic, with D6 in Specialization). However, no Mastery can exceed the rank of its linked Specialization (for example, one cannot have a D6 Specialization and a D12 Mastery). Abilities may branch off into several successions of Specialization and Mastery, limited only by character points earned. I'll illustrate some different situations...

Non-Combat related abilities

First, I can anticipate what you're suggesting with certain skills. For instance, the "Knowledge" ability is very broad, so having a higher die-rank in the basic ability is useful. Heck, tasks that are "easy" only require a roll exceeding an opposing roll of 1D4. But "static"* difficulty can reach 2D12 (as determined by the GM). Thus, for tougher static situational checks (like detecting a mechanical or magical trap), I'd probably hope a specialization could be brought into play.

* Static opposition happens when there is no active,
living opponent, such as when a character is trying
to climb a wall.

Combat related abilities

Adding Specialization and Mastery to ability checks provides a better number range for the roll, as well as a better average, and a higher minimum result. This is powerful especially with combat related abilities because it increases maximum Potential-Harm. Also, the Defense Pools are calculated based on the Maximum Rank Value (MRV) of several associated abilities. In some cases the character gains the benefit of the entire ability tree. For example, Melee D10 > Swords D12 > Short Sword D8
> Bludgeons D6 = 36 points in Weaponry Defense. Increasing only the basic ability to D12 will max him out at 12 hitpoints in that category.

Also, one cannot add a specific weapon's bonuses to a Potential-Harm roll, or to initiative unless he is specialized in that weapon group. Mastery allows extra points in Weaponry for many weapons. Kinda dampers having Melee ability alone.

Magic Related ability


Specializations are in sources of magic power. An arcanist can only cast spells created for the power sources he knows. Mastery helps too because spells are written for specific schools (like wizards as part of the mystic power source). The character cannot add that extra die to the roll unless he is mastered in that school (so naturally wizards do best with wizard spells).


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:03 pm 
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Dan,

Those are great answers & exactly what I was hoping for. I am really, really anticipating the Quickstart & full release.

Thanks for the time & all the help.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:57 am 
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I assume the Eldritch Role-Playing System will give players the choice to create the standard fantasy races (elves, dwarves, etc)?

How difficult is it to modify or even create a new PC race in the system? Have the 'packaged' races been painstakenly ballanced so it would be impossible to change them to suit the GM's custom campaign?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:55 pm 
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Hi Dan!

I wonder if you would mind if I translate parts of your infos about the Eldritch Game System into German so I can post them in our RPG Forum?
Thanks for considering this!

Olaf (Argamae)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:37 pm 
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Argamae wrote:
Hi Dan!

I wonder if you would mind if I translate parts of your infos about the Eldritch Game System into German so I can post them in our RPG Forum?
Thanks for considering this!

Olaf (Argamae)


That would be fine with me! ;-)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:47 pm 
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Banesfinger wrote:
I assume the Eldritch Role-Playing System will give players the choice to create the standard fantasy races (elves, dwarves, etc)?

How difficult is it to modify or even create a new PC race in the system? Have the 'packaged' races been painstakenly ballanced so it would be impossible to change them to suit the GM's custom campaign?


Eldritch Role-Playing does offer those classic races. Creating new races, or modifying existing ones is easy. The races I built were "prepaid" in Character Points by selecting Abilities at certain die-ranks, according to each race concept. Special racial abilities were then created to fit, categorized as advantages (or disadvantages), and the cost added in (like dark vision). It was like creating a human character from scratch, but those choices become a "race package" with a predetermined cost.

You can do the same, or just change things around and alter the base cost for the racial package. Maybe in your world elves aren't so typical as to be innately good with magic, etc. Just alter the mandatory die-ranks in the related abilities, or choose different abilities to define the race. 8)


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:51 am 
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dancross wrote:
Argamae wrote:
Hi Dan!

I wonder if you would mind if I translate parts of your infos about the Eldritch Game System into German so I can post them in our RPG Forum?
Thanks for considering this!

Olaf (Argamae)


That would be fine with me! ;-)


Great! Thanks very much. In case you or anyone with a smattering of German wants to follow it, here is the link. (Don't worry, it's a free and non-profit forum and just purely for roleplayers in my area!) :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:14 am 
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dancross wrote:
Eldritch Role-Playing does offer those classic races. Creating new races, or modifying existing ones is easy. snip...


Sounds fantastic.

The system sounds very "point-buy, skill-based" (a good thing) and I wonder if it will have any kind of "feat" mechanic? I can't wait to read more design blogs.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:56 am 
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Bump...
"The system sounds very point-buy, skill-base" (a good thing) and I wonder if it will have any kind of "feat" mechanic?"

The reason I bring this up: while the "feat" mechanic in some games can be cheezy (+2 here, +1 there), the intent is sound:

An ability that makes a character stand out, or able to do something that normal people cannot do.

Every player likes their character to feel special. That was an underlying problem with most skill-based games: one warrior felt the same as the next, etc.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:52 am 
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Banesfinger wrote:
Bump...
"The system sounds very point-buy, skill-base" (a good thing) and I wonder if it will have any kind of "feat" mechanic?"

The reason I bring this up: while the "feat" mechanic in some games can be cheezy (+2 here, +1 there), the intent is sound:

An ability that makes a character stand out, or able to do something that normal people cannot do.

Every player likes their character to feel special. That was an underlying problem with most skill-based games: one warrior felt the same as the next, etc.


Sorry, this post got buried. So...

The thing with Eldritch skills, however, is that they have so many possibilites for expansion into specialization and mastery. Also, the die-rank of a specialization can be higher than the basic rank. For example you can have a mere D4 in Melee, but be specialized in Swords at D12. Or you can have a high basic Melee, like D12, and then be specialized in several groups. Note Mastery die-rank cannot be higher than the subsumed specialization rank. But a basic ability can branch out into a very large tree. Non combat skilsl are the same. Stealth can branch out in to ambush specialization or shadowing in general, with mastery in either various types of ambush or shadowing in specific places (like the city).

See? Also, there are advantages and disadvantages (aka 'feats' of a sort), which can further make your character far less than cookie-cutter.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:28 am 
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dancross wrote:
The thing with Eldritch skills, however, is that they have so many possibilites for expansion into specialization and mastery...a basic ability can branch out into a very large tree. Non combat skilsl are the same. Stealth can branch out in to ambush specialization or shadowing in general, with mastery in either various types of ambush or shadowing in specific places (like the city).


Would it hurt the combat mechanics/balance if new combat specializations were added?

For example, under the “Melee” skill, adding several specialization tree/chain:

“Combat Style”
> Weapon & Shield
> Two Weapons
> Single Weapon

“Combat Locations”
> Ship board fighting
> Forest fighting
> Urban fighting

“Formation Style”
> Shield Wall formation
> Staggered formation
> Wedge formation

For example: If someone was fighting with “Weapon & Shield”, “On board as Ship” and fighting in a “Shield Wall Formation”, would it break the system to give them all those extra threat dice if they had all the appropriate specializations (examples above)?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:14 pm 
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Quote:
Would it hurt the combat mechanics/balance if new combat specializations were added?


It would not hurt combat mechanics, so long as those particular specializations were not added directly to a Potential-Harm roll involving a different branch (such as 'bludgeons' specialization and 'mace' mastery). In other words, no character can roll more than three dice in a single ability attempt (following the basic > specialization > mastery format) at once. Exceptions include magic items and magic augmentation spells.

You could make these skills specializations to melee, expressed as die-ranks, but I believe combat styles would work best as "Advantages", which could be purchased to augment existing Melee ability branches. These could be designed to offer a bonus to Potential-Harm, or Defense Pools (or both) when using certain combinations of weapons or defense, or as you've written with the styles, locations, and formation styles.


Quote:
For example: If someone was fighting with “Weapon & Shield”, “On board as Ship” and fighting in a “Shield Wall Formation”, would it break the system to give them all those extra threat dice if they had all the appropriate specializations (examples above)?
[i]

What I'd strongly avoid would be a skill or advantage that would allow a character to roll beyond three dice at a time (a standard ability-dice-chain), unless related to magic (which does this in several different ways) or something really unusual. Your ideas could be applied with less dramatic increases to Potential-Harm as advantages. Say an advantage that grants a +1 to threat points, plus a +5 to Deflect Defense when using a sword and shield, PER separate attack. For example, a warrior specialized in swords is using a short sword. Imagine he has D6 basic and D6 specialization. With an advantage like the one you describe, "sword and shield", he could roll 2D6 in a single attack and add +1 to threat, plus count on a +5 to his defense pool (until he drops his shield, etc), or roll 1D6 +1 and another 1D6+1 in two seperate attacks.

You could set the price for the extra advantage of 4 character points (or more, depending on how it would go in playtest) per +1 to threat points and +5 to Defense. Or 2 CPs for every bonus related to battling on board a ship, etc. Your examples could go on and on...good stuff!


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 Post subject: Re: Designers Blog #2: Character Creation in ERP
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 6:24 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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Hi All,
I am getting ready to try and run ERP and had some questions. I was making the lead NPC for the first session and to practice did him as a PC.

Fendrick The Half Orc Tinker/Peddlar
Adv & Disavd
Low Light Vision
Sense of direction

ADC's
Handicrafts D6<Cobbler D4
<Tinker D4
Endurance D6<Walking D4
Feat of Strength D6< Carrying D4
Reflexes D6
Scruntiny D6
Melee D6
Ranged D4
Unarmed D6

At this point He has 6 points left (I think) and I know what I want him to be able to do, just not entirely sure how to represent it game wise. Fendrick has to overcome reaction to his looks and race and he does this by inoffensive but he also is a shrewd bargainer. Trading abilities don't show up on the list but in Kur-Ka the trader uses Skullduggery to inflate the value of goods, am I getting hung up on the word skullduggery being underhanded deals? I see the ability to intimidaite under Coercion would the abilty I want Fendrick to have be a specailization of that, set people at ease?
Also Carrying shows up under Feats of Strength and Endurance I put Fendrick's specailty under strength be cause he carries a big pack would Endurance be carrying it for an extended time? Also should Handicraft<Tinker been Handicraft<Smith eventually adding tinker as a mastery under smithing as it is a kind of metal working?
I am trying to get a feeling for the range of skill coverage at each level so I can answer the same questions my players are going to ask me about ADC's.

Thanks,
Warren


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 Post subject: Re: Designers Blog #2: Character Creation in ERP
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:11 am 
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Greetings! Sorry it took me so long to see this. Being a shrewd bargainer is more of a "charisma" thing. You could assign a die-rank value to it, and pay for that ranking in CPs. I think the reason the gap---between abilities like persuasion and other more specific skills-- existed was because I avoided skills that mirror personality. So I'd make those things advantages, maybe 2 CP per die-rank.

You are right about Feat of Strength versus Endurance. That is how I'd deal with it. Your suggestion for "Handicraft<Smith eventually adding tinker as a mastery" makes sense. One of the strengths of the Eldritch system is the ability rearrange, re-write, or add skill chains without breaking the game. This works in part because there are not too many derivative capabilities, mechanically.


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 Post subject: Re: Designers Blog #2: Character Creation in ERP
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:35 am 
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Thanks for answering although thinking about what I was actually trying to represent as tinkering was doing minor repairs to a wide range of stuff including tradional tinker metalcraft so I decided Handicraft D6< Repairs D6 He is okay at making stuff but really good at repairing already made stuff.
On the Charisma issue I can see avoiding rules for "I want to make the guard like me. Okay roll". That was why asked to get your intent, Eldritch is not like most of the other games out there with rules for everything (a good thing) so I have to overcome years of habit. I don't really need rule to affable, just play him that way.

Warren

PS When I am not being payed to do something other than play I'll post my finished version for comment.


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 Post subject: Re: Designers Blog #2: Character Creation in ERP
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:28 pm 
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I think we're on the same page then. ;-)

Your Handicraft D6 > Repairs D6 works just as well. The ability/skill trees are designed to be malleable. Changes in Eldritch should not causes a "cascading" effect on rules as it often does in games like D&D.

I would LOVE it if you posted your sessions here in this forum, tell us what great times or challenges you've had running the game. BTW, did you buy the print book or the PDF?
I am always lurking here.

Warren1965 wrote:
Thanks for answering although thinking about what I was actually trying to represent as tinkering was doing minor repairs to a wide range of stuff including tradional tinker metalcraft so I decided Handicraft D6< Repairs D6 He is okay at making stuff but really good at repairing already made stuff.
On the Charisma issue I can see avoiding rules for "I want to make the guard like me. Okay roll". That was why asked to get your intent, Eldritch is not like most of the other games out there with rules for everything (a good thing) so I have to overcome years of habit. I don't really need rule to affable, just play him that way.

Warren

PS When I am not being payed to do something other than play I'll post my finished version for comment.


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 Post subject: Re: Designers Blog #2: Character Creation in ERP
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:38 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

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I bought the PDF although if I can get my acouple of my group to go along withplaying I am plan on getting the hard copy. I gave up running because 3.5 is to much work in my lazy opinion. I have looked at my stack of 2E books but don"t really want to step back and I don't think my group would. I am evaluating a couple of systems but ERP looks pretty good to me.

I like the way characters work as I understand it, like I posted in the other topic you really can come up with the background story of what you want to play and then build the character. Combat looks like it should be quick but not boring for players. I'm still wrapping my head around magic. The number one reason I decided to try Eldritch was your approach to money, I don't think I have ever seen a game that doesn't get into "this kind of coin is equal to this many other coins" and here is a big list of prices. The idea of a coin and using modern costs without regard to historic costs embodies what I am looking for in a game, describe the action as much as you want but breeze through stuff that doesn't matter.

Warren


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